Horizon:Volume 8C Chapter 57
Chapter 57: Arguer at the Sales Table
Can you tell me
What is most important
At places like this?
Point Allocation (Manners)
Masazumi assisted the others while Tomoe Gozen taught Reizei how events like this worked.
She was surprised to discover how much she enjoyed the atmosphere.
She had originally only planned to make an appearance if important figures from the other nations showed up.
She had expected everyone to be busy and for her to feel out of place since she had no experience with these events.
But when she actually arrived, she discovered a festival.
So many people were moving around, they all had an objective in mind, and everyone was brimming with passion.
…It’s not quite that they’re enjoying it.
They were absorbed by it.
They were focused on whatever objective they had in mind. That might be obtaining a book someone had made, interacting with the other people here, or just experiencing the atmosphere.
With so many people moving around and working, it was hard not to be absorbed by it. Some people had gathered in the rest spaces or the rest lounge set up on the Musashi’s deck where they could plan out the rest of their day or just catch their breath and observe their surroundings.
Masazumi was one of those.
“Masazumi, can you-”
Mitotsudaira was pointing at one of the inventory boxes. It wasn’t being used, so it needed to be broken down.
But she saw Tomoe Gozen raise her hand across the way. Reizei nodded as well. That meant they were ready. So…
“Sorry, but it looks like I have work to do. Can you take care of that box?”
“Of course,” said Neshinbara. “That is your real job, so we will leave you to it.”
He was adding his signature and thoughts on the event to a notebook being passed around to all the nearby circles. He handed it to Naruze who nodded Masazumi’s way.
“We set everything up for you, so go do what you need to do.”
Masazumi had never expected those two to be sending her off like this.
But it reminded her that this was her purpose here, so she spoke to Reizei.
“Okay, it’s time you gave us your opinion on my suggestion. Or maybe I should call it your analysis.”
Reizei could not make a decision about her master’s life and death, so she merely asked for an analysis of the request.
“Would it be possible for Akechi Mitsuhide to grant his inherited name to Musashi?”
Masazumi saw Reizei tilt her head in response to the question.
She left it tilted as she responded.
“I can make no decisions related to my master’s life and death, so let me ask this instead: why?”
I see, thought Masazumi.
She had chosen to ask a question of her own in lieu of providing any sort of answer.
…I guess I have to answer that then.
“The many ways we benefit seem obvious to me. Do I really need to list them all for you?”
“Then how do we benefit?”
“We would eliminate Akechi Mitsuhide’s death.”
Reizei responded by straightening her head and nodded.
“Do you think Akechi-sama will be lost at the Honnouji Incident?”
“Judge, we do.”
I’m making some pretty bold moves here,” thought Masazumi.
“Or more accurately, at the Battle of Yamazaki. …Akechi Mitsuhide will be lost there, won’t he?”
Her question was really only for confirmation, but Reizei opened a sign frame and held it to her ear. And after a few quiet words…
“I have news for you.” The automaton’s tone remained entirely calm. “Akechi-sama says he has no intention of dying at the Battle of Yamazaki.”
Me: “Seijun-kun’s theory has been utterly destroyed! Now, what will become of defeated Seijun-kun!? Tune in next week to find out!”
Vice President: “Shut up, idiot. And don’t give me a next episode preview. But it is true this is a major bombshell for us!”
Flat Vassal: “So what are you going to do about it?”
Vice President: “That’s the question. …And doesn’t this seem odd? Yamazaki will be run by P.A. Oda – or Hashiba really – so Akechi Mitsuhide should be forced to go through with this history recreation. So why hasn’t he accepted his death there?”
Silver Wolf: “Masazumi! Masazumi! You’re making it really obvious you failed to even consider this possibility!”
Reizei listened to what the Musashi Vice President had to say.
“Can I ask something?” She raised her right hand and asked her question. “Hashiba will be in charge of the Battle of Yamazaki, so why won’t Akechi Mitsuhide be forced to go through with his history recreation? That feels like a double standard after everything Hashiba has done.”
I see, thought Reizei.
…A sharp observation.
No, most everyone out there would have reached the same conclusion about Akechi’s fate. Since Hashiba controlled the Testament Union, everyone would assume their policy would apply to him. However…
“Hashiba-sama controls M.H.R.R. and her policy differs from P.A. Oda’s. And from P.A. Oda’s perspective, Hashiba-sama is Akechi-sama’s subordinate. She is his underclassman. Why should he have to accept her policy?”
And she had one more thing to say here.
“P.A. Oda has left the Testament Union. That means the Testament Union has no power to demand they obey the Testament.”
Me: “Seijun-kun’s theory has been utterly destroyed a second time! Now, what will become of twice-defeated Seijun-kun!? Tune in next week to find out!”
Vice President: “Shut up again, idiot. And don’t give me a sequel.”
Flat Vassal: “Um, and what are you going to do about this?”
Vice President: “Hm. Doesn’t this seem odd?”
Tachibana Wife: “V-Vice President, I think you should attempt greater flexibility of thought!”
Masazumi groaned in thought.
…I didn’t expect this.
It wasn’t that she wanted Akechi Mitsuhide to die, but everything about Hashiba had made it seem inevitable.
Why was he the only one who could escape that fate?
Reizei claimed it was because he came from a different nation, because he was Hashiba’s superior, and because P.A. Oda had cut their ties with the Testament Union.
But if that were true…
“Can I ask about something that just occurred to me?”
“If you wish.”
Masazumi raised her right index finger and pointed in a certain direction: northeast. That was where you would find…
“Hokuriku. The Shibata forces there will eventually be defeated by Hashiba and Shibata Katsuie will be lost. But according to the reasoning you just gave, Shibata could survive that, couldn’t he?”
The automaton had an immediate answer.
“No, that does not apply to Lord Shibata.”
Novice: “Hold on!”
Vice President: “I know exactly how you feel.”
Silver Wolf: “J-judge, I think she means, um…well, you know!”
Smoking Girl: “No, I don’t know.”
Silver Wolf: “Judge! Reizei’s response was not the usual optimal response you would expect from an automaton!”
Silver Wolf: “Identical conditions should have resulted in an identical conclusion, yet she instead said it doesn’t apply!”
Horizey: “What!? Such a bizarre move for an automaton!”
Horizon currently had her arms down at her feet gathering up the strings scattered there.
Horizey: “I never imagined an automaton could be so strange!”
Unturning: “Kiyonari, I feel like only I am qualified to respond to that one, but what do you think I should do?”
Uqui: “Narumi, keep in mind that it is Horizon inside that automaton body.”
Gold Mar: “That doesn’t really answer Narumin’s question.”
At any rate, Balfette responded while accepting a bamboo bottle of water from the idiot. She wiped the sweat from her hands before carrying extra books to the sales table.
Flat Vassal: “Um, so you’re saying the usual automaton rules don’t apply?”
“Exactly,” replied Masazumi.
…The same conditions and conclusion should apply to Akechi and Shibata.
Unturning: “Yes, especially since Reizei is from the Imperial Palace. The palace is inviolable, so she isn’t part of P.A. Oda even though she serves Akechi. The same of course applies to Shibata. So she shouldn’t have any circumstances or connections leading to a different decision between the two of them.”
Tachibana Wife: “I have a couple of guesses as to how she arrived at that answer. First, some special condition could apply to Shibata. And second, some special condition could apply to Akechi but not to Shibata.”
Vice President: “Which do you think it is?”
Novice: “Heh, coming to me for advice?”
Vice President: “Horizoooon!!”
Horizey: “I vote for Option 3: we have finally discovered an insane automaton.”
Uqui: “I know what you want to say, but she is perfectly sane…by Musashi standards.”
You never get used to it, but it helps if you just accept it.
At any rate, Masazumi could make a pretty good guess now. So…
Vice President: “I doubt Reizei has ever closely interacted with Shibata, so there’s only one real possibility here.”
Vice President: “There is more to Akechi than meets the eye.”
Oh? thought Tomoe Gozen. She had been inspecting a lernen figur listing the print orders Guericke and the others had received.
…They’re starting to see what kind of place the Imperial Palace is.
The place was locked up tight, so no one knew what was going on inside. It was the Emperor’s living space, so it was bound to have its secrets.
…That place is always lurking there in the background.
Her starting point more than 500 years ago would be when she left her rural birthplace with Iko and Komaoumaru, but the biggest turning point in her life had come from the Imperial Palace.
Reizei acted as a gatekeeper for the Imperial Palace. She was the one sent in to negotiate with this Protestant principality that bordered Kyou.
So this time, Tomoe Gozen had acted as an intermediary and brought Reizei here when she said she wanted to ask Musashi their reasons directly. However…
Tomoe Gozen found herself speaking. Because…
“Tell them, Reizei.”
“Tell them what, Tomoe Gozen?”
“The answer to their rude question. I’m sure Mikawa and Kantou seem like the middle of nowhere compared to Kyou, but they see the Imperial Palace as a relic of the past.” She chose her words so as not to let out her own thoughts from more than 500 years ago. “Which is why they don’t fear rudely intruding on the Imperial Palace’s business. Unlike us.”
This was a bad idea. A very bad one.
Tomoe Gozen smiled bitterly on the inside and wiped away sweat brought on by the festival’s heat.
But when the handkerchief touched her cheek, she didn’t find a bitter smile there. That was a genuine smile – a daring one even. She was somewhat surprised to feel it there with her fingers.
She had once failed to intrude on the Imperial Palace’s business and kept her distance, even if she hadn’t avoided it altogether.
And now some people who knew nothing about it and had no connection to it were intruding.
That was something she could not do. However…
…Yes, that’s right.
She wanted them to do it and she had used her position to let them.
Maybe she was running away, maybe it was an ugly thing to do, and maybe she was shoving this burden onto their shoulders. But…
…The personal feelings pushing me in this direction will set the world and this era in motion, using someone other than me.
She only had to trust in her relationship with them and ask the question.
Presently, she saw the Musashi Vice President open her mouth.
“Akechi Mitsuhide says he has no intention of dying at the Battle of Yamazaki, correct?” She pulled her head back with her right hand. “Then where does he intend to die?”
Suzu heard a creaking sound.
It wasn’t a sound she should have heard here.
That creaking wasn’t made by the sales tables, the chairs, the floor, the flagpoles, the Musashi behind them, or anything else here.
With perhaps one exception:
No. And it wasn’t Gin or Narumi’s prosthetics either. She had never heard this specific sound before, but it was a lot like…
…An automaton’s joints!
Reizei was the source.
Suzu sensed no motion from Reizei.
However, Reizei had still done something.
She had chosen to respond to Masazumi’s question with motionless and worked to remain motionless.
She had abandoned the automated movement for which automatons were named.
Suzu knew why she had done that.
Bell: “Reizei-san…was, um…surprised. But she…tried to…hide it!”
She must have been surprised by Masazumi’s question. So…
Vice President: “Judge. Thank you, Mukai.”
Masazumi kept her back turned, but she did pat her shoulder loud enough to make a noise and then raised the hand.
Suzu’s meaning had gotten through to her.
Good, thought Suzu. Because she knew this was very important.
It was a matter of life and death, after all.
…This is something Toori-kun had trouble with a long time ago…and Horizon only figured out recently.
She didn’t understand it all that well herself.
The rules of the history recreation were found in politics, war, and in the gap between the public and the private. In the modern age, people were beginning to ask what to do about those rules.
Masazumi stood at the forefront of that trend and Reizei had reacted to her question about death.
Suzu had noticed Reizei’s caution and passed that information along to Masazumi.
Masazumi had asked about something they had struggled with and accepted. And…
Vice President: “Judge. We need to know how our negotiating partner views his own fate.”
In other words…
“Akechi Mitsuhide has no intention of dying at the Battle of Yamazaki,” restated Masazumi. “But he has some thoughts about where he will die, doesn’t he?”
Reizei stopped moving altogether.
She remained motionless.
This question clearly exceeded her authority as an automaton even more than the previous one.
She was being asked about her master’s life and death and about her master’s decision on the matter.
But that didn’t mean she could just ask her master for an answer.
…I am an old-fashioned Imperial Palace model.
The Imperial Palace was inviolable. She had protected that place since the Age of Dawn, so she could not rely on her master to resolve a problem of her own making.
She nodded once. She used that gesture of acknowledgment to accept her current situation.
That girl was asking about Akechi Mitsuhide, who she had accepted as her master. The girl was asking when and where he intended to die.
That was a private matter. He had his rights and she could not violate them. So…
She could not answer this question.
Even if she did know the answer, her optimal choice as an automaton was to not answer. So…
“I am unable to answer that question,” she said. “And I doubt Akechi-sama would be able to tell you if it is correct or not.”
She cut off this line of questioning. She would not – could not – let this continue.
So she ended her motionlessness and asked a question of her own.
“Do you have any other questions?”
…She’s trying to get out of answering.
That was Masazumi’s assessment of Reizei’s decision.
Fortunately, Reizei was an automaton. She always based her decision on what she considered optimal, so she would not end the entire discussion because she was afraid or overthinking things.
She would only end the discussion once she concluded neither side had anything further to discuss and then she would refuse to listen to anything Masazumi might say.
Masazumi’s task remained unchanged.
She had to hit the bull’s eye.
Just like an automaton, she only had to make the optimal play and wait for the reaction.
This was a rough form of negotiation with no dealmaking or compromising. But now that she thought about it…
…This is just like dealing with Horizon, the Tachibana Wife, or the Date Vice Chancellor.
Futayo could also be that way sometimes.
Masazumi considered what topic to bring up next.
Reizei was asking for another question, but what other question could she ask?
Vice President: “Hey, anyone got any questions I could ask?”
10ZO: “Y-you gave up on coming up with something yourself awfully quick there, Masazumi-dono!”
Flat Vassal: “And what else could we ask if we can’t even ask if Lord Akechi has thoughts about where he’ll die?”
Bell: B-but she did…react.”
Unturning: “Couldn’t we forcibly intervene? If rejecting any forced deaths in the history recreation is Musashi’s policy, isn’t this a good enough excuse to intervene? In other words…”
Horizey: “This means warrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!”
Gold Mar: “Someone dodging a question during an international meeting might be the worst justification for declaring war I’ve ever heard.”
Tachibana Wife: “Um, actually, wars were started over petty things like that all the time during the Warring States period.”
Tachibana Husband: “Wars have been declared because a leader was served bad food or because the sister they had married off returned home. The Far East sure is broad-minded, don’t you think?”
Art-Ga: “Okay, Adele. You’re up.”
Flat Vassal: “Eh!? Eh!? For what!?”
Horizey: “War is so much simpler than trying to find another question to ask! So you’re up, Adele-sama. I feel like Musashi’s primary export will soon be be ‘a wide variety or wars, both seasonal and annual’, but perhaps that is just the character of the Far East as a whole.”
Tonbokiri: “Masazumi is a great Vice President. She makes sure I always have work to do.”
Vice President: “That is not ‘great’! Besides, we aren’t at war with them yet!”
Asama: “Um, Masazumi? ‘Yet’?”
Horizey: “Yayyyyyy! How merciful you are, Masazumi-sama, to actually give the Imperial Palace a chance to talk things out first!”
Maybe that was a bad choice of words, thought Masazumi with a hand on her forehead.
…No, I already explained that war is an option as a last resort.
But it’s only a last resort, so I doubt we’ll be using it here, she added.
Besides, this was a peaceful meeting. They were simply searching out each other’s positions. Threatening war there would make them no better than a yakuza state that threatens people into doing what they want.
Nothing’s better than peace. And the possibility of war can be used to ensure you keep that peace. So it’s important to keep that card in your deck. Yes.
“I must warn you, Reizei-sama.”
Out of nowhere, Horizon raised her right hand and spoke to Reizei.
“If you give Masazumi-sama an answer she doesn’t like or take a condescending attitude during negotiations with her, you are liable to end up on the receiving end of a war or worse.”
All of Reizei’s decisions froze.
…Wh-what was that? War? Or worse?
A subconscious safety feature forcibly adjusted her thoughts. A boot up jingle played in her head and she was functioning once more.
Automatons could not feel “panicked”, but her experiences and statistics told her that her current situation was very similar.
She needed to calm down.
She started by assessing the situation. The Musashi Vice President stood across from her. Statistically, the look on the girl’s face was one of light tension, but was that really true? Her research said Musashi prided itself in being “a combat nation with strict standards regarding jokes”, so this could be meant as a humorous facial expression.
She needed to be careful.
As a negotiator and as an automaton, her job was to seek out the optimal decision for herself and her opponent. If the optimal decisions for the two of them shifted too far apart, they could not find a compromise and neither one of them would benefit. So…
“Musashi Vice President.”
She needed to confirm whether or not a meeting between Musashi and her master was necessary. And to do so…
“War leads to many losses and creates a situation I cannot possibly call optimal. Thus, war is only optimal in the sense that it ensures one side will win and a conclusion will be reached.”
“You will not be making that choice here, will you?”
She asked just to be sure. The Musashi Vice President patted the Musashi Princess’s shoulders and hurriedly nodded.
“O-of course not. I would never.”
“Are you sure?” pressed Reizei.
This time, the Musashi Princess patted the Musashi Vice President’s shoulders thrice.
“Masazumi-sama, there is no smile in your eyes.”
“There doesn’t need to be!”
After that whispered exchange, the Musashi Vice President spoke to the group gathered behind her.
“Isn’t that right, everyone!?”
Their 4th Special Duty Officer Technohexen looked back over her shoulder. Reizei’s information said she was a Weiss Hexen, but she was wearing a Scwharz Hexen costume like all the others. That may have been some kind of rule here.
“Poor Masazumi… I can’t stand to see her suppressing her true desires like this.”
“I know, Ga-chan. She’s forcing herself to give that automaton what she wants.”
“Um, Lady Masazumi? I don’t entirely understand, but nothing good comes from bottling up your feelings. Right, Master Tenzou?”
“J-judge! Exactly right! You shouldn’t do that, Masazumi-dono!”
“Wait! Hey! Do none of you understand the situation here!?”
Hearing that, they all turned toward the crossdresser.
The Musashi Chancellor slowly shrugged while they all watched.
“It’s been more than 2 weeks since Seijun’s last war, so the urge is probably getting unbearable.”
Reizei very much agreed with the Musashi Vice President here. But then someone else joined the conversation.
“You are correct, my king.” The Mito Lord addressed the crossdresser while looking toward her Vice President. “Which is why we shouldn’t be treating this like we’re casually asking her to go grab a quick bowl of ramen. We should treat it like we are inviting her out for a big, juicy steak.”
“THIS MEANS WARRRRRRRRRRRR! …Oh, excuse me. I ended up recreating the joy I would feel if that cut of meat had just been served to me. How indecent of me. Bad Horizon.”
“I never knew you had such a healthy love of meat, Horizon!” exclaimed the Mito Lord.
“Judge.” The crossdresser nodded and looked to the Vice President. He also gave the princess a thumbs up. “There you go, Seijun.”
“There I go what!?”
Reizei realized she had gone motionless again while listening to their conversation.
…What is this?
She had a feeling things were progressing in a direction she wouldn’t like.
But then the Musashi Vice President quickly turned her way.
“Don’t worry! Everything will be fine!”
She smiled at Reizei while ignoring the others chanting “War! War! War!” behind her like baby birds asking their mother for food.
“There won’t be any war! So just relax and continue the negotiations! Okay!?”
How am I supposed to believe that?
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