Volume 1, Chapter 12: RIP and Pride
People’s hearts come to rest here
Do souls also come to rest here?
Point Allocation (A Crossing of Paths)
The classroom failed to remain calm during the period before lunch.
There were a number of reasons – growing bored with the class itself, growing hungry with lunch approaching, growing tired, etc. – but Asama had a somewhat different reason.
…I need to make sure the departure process at 5 goes smoothly.
She wanted to be ready in case anything happened like when they arrived.
So in addition to the ordinary departure procedure and arrangements, she rearranged the spell field in the vicinity of the Asama Shrine. She added in an anti-ghost spell and strengthened it as a whole, but…
…I feel like this isn’t right.
She had reason to question if strengthening it was the correct choice.
3. Ghost warriors appear near the Asama Shrine and chased after something
Those ghost warriors had suddenly appeared behind the Asama Shrine.
Of course, the actual grounds of the Asama Shrine and the nature district behind it were not strictly the same thing. The spell field protecting the former was not fully applied to the latter. However…
…Would they still be able to appear there?
She guessed there was some kind of trick to it. A trick that took advantage of a hole in the Asama Shrine’s spell field or their ether defense system.
“It’s probably something simple.”
She unintentionally spoke out loud and quickly looked around to see if anyone noticed. They were in the middle of math class and the problem on the blackboard was the anything but simple.
The teacher had not noticed her comment, but Suzu was looking her way from the desk by the wall. She used her finger to write on a sign frame.
“No one noticed.”
I can trust Suzu-san, decided Asama.
Anyway, the trick was probably something simple. After all, the ghosts who had appeared had almost nothing resembling intelligence, so it was hard to imagine them coming up with a plan or setting anything up.
…Then what is it? Is there really a hole in our shrine’s security?
She did not know. She did not want to think there was a hole in the system she had inherited from her father, but he could be pretty careless and she would sometimes find things that made her think “Wait, how long has it been like this!?”
Besides, they docked at Totomi every year, so why just this year?
Where were those ghosts from? If she had to guess…
…The most recent possibility would probably be the Battle of Okehazama.
But even if that were the case, why just this year? There had to be some special condition they had met this year.
She considered what had happened to Musashi over the past year and there were too many things to list. But if she was going to limit it to Totomi…
…Is it because we changed our course to the north?
They had held meetings and made plans for that change in advance. Totomi’s shrines would have changed their previously western-facing leyline pathways to face north in order to avoid any effect on the ley lines when the Musashi docked and departed. And since they had a connection to Fuji’s Asama Okumiya to the north…
Asama sensed things fitting together weirdly well.
What is this? wondered Asama. She focused on the route change and the corresponding ley line pathway modifications. And…
…The ghosts of Okehazama?
What’s the connection there? she wondered when a sign frame suddenly appeared next to her.
It was from Kimi. It showed two sketches of uniforms, which were the ones she had been given by Sakai.
“Heh heh. This is kind of fascinating and I don’t quite understand it,” said Kimi’s divine mail. “Because the crew of the initial ghost ships were from the Imagawa clan.”
“The ghosts who attacked you all were P.A. Oda,” she continued. “That means there were two groups of ghosts there.”
“Do you know what that means?” asked Kimi on the divine mail to Asama. “The ghosts on the ships were equipped for serving on an aerial ship, but their hats were eboshi-style. The hats were short, but the shape of the brim and probably the number of ingots indicating rank were the Imperial Court style. The large cut of the sleeves and the kariginu-style also point toward Imagawa since they had a close connection to the Imperial Court.”
“The ghosts who attacked you appeared to have tightly bound sleeves and tight-cut uniforms, but they only looked that way due to their poor resolution as ghosts. Their overall silhouette suggests they were wearing P.A. Oda track suit uniforms. And with only Far Eastern hard point parts attached.”
“Then was that not really a ninja?”
“It might have been one, but it could also have been someone with a turban-style hat who happened to look like a ninja due to their poor resolution as a ghost.”
Of course, there were also times when people used non-ninja clothing to make themselves look like a ninja.
“K-Kimi-dono, why are you glaring at me?” asked Tenzou.
Take a look in the mirror and you’ll see, she thought, but she also had something else to tell Asama.
“Well, that’s about all I have to say. Heh heh. Just imagining this was too much for me, so I think it’s high time I passed out. Also…my foolish brother said he had something to discuss with you, so I wonder what that’s about.”
Yes. She took a look behind her while collapsing onto her desk, but her brother was not in his usual seat in the back row by the window.
Where had he gone?
Hori-ko: “Is that boy out wandering around with another girl again?”
Silver Wolf: “Horizon! Horizon! No weapons!”
Gold Mar: “You should probably ban anything barehanded too.”
Asama: “Anyway, the clues have been scattered around, so the answer was coming into focus amid all the turmoil. Now, can we solve the mystery and reach a peaceful resolution while still in middle school? Peaceful sounds like pushing it, so maybe we should just hope for any kind of resolution at all. Tune in next time for The Wolf’s Barking Arrival.”
Silver Wolf: “Don’t insert a next episode preview when we aren’t even at a pause in the story!”
“Given the time, I can’t stay for long.”
Down on the surface, the ground was not as hard as the Musashi’s deck, but you could still feel it pushing up at your feet.
The orange of evening was already entering the sky by the time Mitotsudaira arrived at her destination.
The Okehazama War Memorial was a large cemetery built on a western Totomi hill.
The actual battlefield had been further west, but that land was considered inviolable now. So here…
“They have gravestones bearing their names and a simple shrine to give it meaning.”
The shrine proved the existence of the deceased’s names via Kotodama.
So after passing through the cemetery’s torii entrance, she first came across the shrine building with a small patch of woods behind it. To the side, a single stone monument stood atop a large storehouse as a monument to victory at Okehazama.
The storehouse likely contained the items won during the battle. In other words…
…Totomi belongs to P.A. Oda as well.
When she visited the shrine for a greeting, a shrine maiden came out to meet her. Word of her visit must have been sent ahead because Totomi’s Student Council had been notified.
Then she visited the actual cemetery to leave the flowers. First, she synced her sign frame with the torii-style information station next to the shrine and opened the provided cemetery information.
“Good morning or good day! Thank you tons for your visit! I, Okehaza-Man, shall be your guide!”
The guide in full-body tights led her along the top of a hill bordering the ocean. The shrine was at the peak and the gravestones were lined up along the slope.
They continued a long way toward the ocean far to the west until a dark-looking forest got in the way.
There were a lot of them. Because…
“Imagawa lost around 5000 at Okehazama.”
She noticed something about the war memorial as she walked through it. The Oda clan dead were at the top and the Imagawa clan dead were at the bottom. The front area was filled with stone monuments to those who had gone missing. What this meant was obvious.
…Oda was the winner, Imagawa was destroyed, and those who might still live won’t be categorized yet.
The distinctions between winner and loser and between living and dead were made clear at this war memorial.
And she noticed something out of place among the stone monuments for the missing.
One of them was shaped like a cross.
Mitotsudaira recalled that both the Testament Union and P.A. Oda had been after this Imagawa land.
After Imagawa’s destruction, it had been made into inviolable land, yet here there was a Catholic-style cross.
The Far Eastern name felt out of place carved into the stone cross, so she opened a sign frame.
She was familiar with the Asahina clan. They had been split into two clans while serving first Imagawa, then Takeda, and finally Matsudaira. But she was not familiar with Mototomo, so she performed a search for…
Mitotsudaira was pretty sure she knew what this was about.
“They must have been sent here by the Testament Union like I was sent to Musashi.”
Since they were considered missing after the fall of Imagawa, they could use an interpretation to say their inherited name had ended its recreation or to say it had not.
…But I think I know what they actually did.
“This land has been made inviolable.”
They were most likely no longer among the living.
That meant Asahina Mototomo had been at the mercy of the changing world just like so many others.
Mitotsudaira wished they had been able to hide somewhere and find some other life for themselves.
The wolf bowed toward someone so much like herself before moving on to the cemetery proper.
Her sign frame read off an explanation.
“It’s said the Oda clan suffered light losses, but a few of their commander-level name inheritors lost their lives! Those gravestones are lined up close to the shrine’s west side!”
She decided to check out those closer gravestones. She hoped she would have something she could report back to Sakai about once she returned.
She viewed the rows of gravestones and walked west.
There were about a hundred years in between the time of Okehazama and the period when her own inherited name was active.
Even when looking at the name inheritors who made up the main force of Musashi and the other nations, there was still a fifty year gap.
That was probably because P.A. Oda had been so slow with the Oda clan’s history recreation. She had heard that had led to a lot of elderly name inheritors participating on the Oda side of Okehazama.
She barely recognized any of the names listed on the gravestones, but she did recognize a lot of the clan names. The name inheritors of their descendants or bloodlines were already active in her generation. And…
There were a fair amount of gravestones for commanders, but one of them was positioned higher than the rest. That would be someone who had fought especially hard or was more well known. Three stone steps were crudely built to surround the rising hill and the gravestone at the top read…
Wise Sister: “Tiiiiime! Time out! I need to slip out for a pee break! But listen! Make sure you’ve finished all the ghost talk before I get back!”
Asama: “Um, Kimi, we haven’t gotten to the ghosts yet, so you’re fine.”
Wise Sister: “Yet!? You mean you are getting to them, don’t you!? You’re trying to spring them on me when I least suspect it so you can see me piss myself like a certain cute wolf I could mention, aren’t you?”
Asama: “No, I would really rather not see that.”
Vice President: “I’m pretty sure you don’t have to take her questions seriously when she gets like this.”
Silver Wolf: “To be clear, I have never done that!”
Imagawa land still had a connection to Matsudaira.
That may have been why Mitotsudaira recognized the name Senshu Shirou as one of the dead from Okehazama.
At the time, it had been announced on the news. Because…
…I remember now. The Senshu clan had a shrine connection.
She did not even need to run a search. The history and origin of the deceased was displayed next to the gravestone.
The information there matched her memories.
“The high priest of the Atsuta Shrine.”
Atsuta was a shrine to a warrior god in Mikawa. They had a close connection to swords, so Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, one of the Imperial Regalia, was stored there. In fact, the shrine had supposedly been built for that purpose. As for Senshu Shirou…
“He formed a defensive line ahead of the Battle of Okehazama, but when Nobunaga approached to assist them, he and Sassa Masatsugu moved out ahead to attack the main Imagawa force.”
“Rushing to the front line prove to be a poor choice and he was killed in an Imagawa counterattack.”
She had no way of seeing if that was what had really happened during the history recreation. But…
“He must have been the name inheritor who Principal Sakai said died in their advance unit. Which is why the Battle of Okehazama was not a complete victory for Oda. They too lost someone.”
Just as Sakai had explained in the classroom the day before, the main Imagawa force’s attack had done considerable damage to the Oda fortress. Members of the Sakuma and Iio clans and members of the Oda bloodline had died in that initial skirmish. Senshu Shirou had been positioned above all those others because…
“He had his position at the Atsuta Shrine.”
The Okehazama records said Nobunaga had visited Mikawa’s Atsuta Shrine to pray for victory.
Had those serving Senshu Shirou been relieved when the very top of their force had prayed to him as the high priest?
She had vaguely remembered the name because of how important a presence the Atsuta Shrine was in Mikawa. The next generation of the Senshu clan served as the Atsuta Shrine’s high priest now and she occasionally saw him over spells and divine protections since that was a combat-focused shrine.
…Shinto has a lot of connections between the gods.
She noticed something when she placed a flower in front of the gravestone and looked up.
A piece at the top of the gravestone was missing.
It was a diagonal piece, like it had been gouged out with a claw. The broken piece was lying down below.
The break looked fresh because it was not colored by moss or mold. The suggested recency made her look around because…
…I-I didn’t do it!
No one was around. I’m safe. No, I was always safe. But…
She arrived at a sudden conclusion.
A conclusion about everything: the ghost fleet, the ghost warriors, her king’s actions – everything.
In that instant, everything clicked into place for her and she understood.
“Could it be?”
A diagram of the truth rapidly formed in Mitotsudaira’s head. The thought brought a tremor to her right hand as she picked up the broken piece of the gravestone.
It was a light stone and she slowly lifted it up before placing it atop the gravestone.
It fit perfectly. Of course it did. That was where it had come from. But she did not remove her hand from the gravestone. She shifted her fingers somewhat to touch the seam of the broken part.
“It must be!”
She inhaled, turned away from the gravestone, and took off running.
On the way, she confirmed Asahina Mototomo’s name on the cross-shaped stone monument for a missing warrior.
The wolf rushed.
She kept her back to the sun sinking in the west as she approached the shrine at the cemetery entrance. The cemetery probably closed once night fell because the shrine maiden was tidying things up at the shrine entrance.
She gave a quick greeting and the shrine maiden raised her eyebrows.
“Why are you in such a hurry?”
“Um,” she said before taking a breath. She looked up at the shrine’s sign hanging from its eaves but asked anyway. “What main shrine is this one affiliated with?”
The shrine maiden smiled a little.
“Well.” She nodded. “With the Asama Shrine.”
Mitotsudaira was struck speechless.
“You’re really playing this up.”
Shut up, phantom Naruze. But…
…There’s no mistaking it now.
That confirmed the connections she had suspected. If this was an Asama shrine, then it was all literally “connected”.
The shrine maiden explained while rolling up the teahouse flag.
“Asama Okumiya can be reached via ley line from here and both Imagawa and Oda would worship at Asama. In fact, Imagawa even held Lord Yoshimoto’s coming-of-age ceremony at Asama.”
Wow, this is getting lengthy. Mitotsudaira learned anew that shrine maidens liked to talk a lot, but this had confirmed what she wanted to know.
Her suspicions were right. However…
…I need something else.
She had to have something with her from now on. So…
“Excuse me, but do you have a transport ship I can use?”
“Sorry, but no.”
The shrine maiden spread her mouth horizontally, but she did not ask why. Probably because Mitotsudaira was here on Sakai’s behalf. But…
…What do I do now?
She thought she could solve all of this, but she needed a transport ship and she lacked the connections to get one. Who could she ask?
He would not be here, but she called for him nevertheless.
“Hm? You need something, Nate?”
Nevertheless, he stepped out of the shrine with tea and dumplings in hand.
“W-wait, what are you doing here!?”
“Well, you seemed like you had something to tell me, right? But, y’know, you seemed kinda mad and I decided to wait until you’d settled down some. So I sent Asama a divine mail about it and stowed away on your transport ship.”
“Stowed away…” she muttered, but it was true the cargo had been delayed before the ship left.
But now was not the time to worry about that. Also…
“Oh? Is the Musashi leaving port?”
The disturbed air to the northwest reached them all the way here. The noise was coming from the mountains, but it sounded like crashing waves.
That was the sound of the virtual ocean that surrounded the Musashi before it left port. A standard departure like this kept the power down low, so the large-area virtual ocean would be deployed gradually.
The sound it made was of waves crashing but not receding.
It would take about an hour to depart like that. If they were to return in time, they had to leave now for Totomi’s port and board a transport ship back to the Musashi. However…
“My king, do you know of any transport ships that can come to us here?”
“Unfortunately, I don’t have a ship hidden in my back pocket. …Could you call in the one meant to take you back to the Musashi?”
“That would be an option since it would shorten the time needed to get back, but it is loaded with cargo for the Student Council, Committees, and Chancellor’s Officers. And there is something I want to transport back to the Musashi.”
“In that case,” he said while opening a sign frame. “Asama, can you ask your dad to send out an Asama Shrine transport ship? You can’t? They’re being used for trade too? You really can’t? For really reals? See, Nate wants to use one for something. Yeah. Then you have no choice? Yeah, I guess you don’t, huh? Yeah. Just this once? Yeah. You can manage it if you send something else to take its place? Ohh, you’re the best, Asama. Yeah. Flattery won’t get me anywhere? Yeah.”
Asama, you spoil him too much! And why can I tell exactly what she’s saying at each step of the way? Anyway, her king closed the sign frame, and…
“Okay, she’s sending out a replacement, so there’s nothing to worry about. Nate, you write up what you want done and send Asama instructions. But…”
He took her hand.
His hand was soft and somewhat damp and cold, but there was definite strength in his grip.
“We’ve gotta get back to the port real fast and I’ve gotta hide in with the cargo, so let’s get going.”
He pulled on her hand and began to run. She had to wonder why he was keeping her from using her hand after telling her to write up instructions, but she could only smile bitterly about it.
She had spoken that word in her heart so many times of late, but it did not come from anger this time.
“Judge. We need to hurry, my king.”
Both of them were slow runners. Even when they hurried, she felt like they moved as fast as the others walked.
She bowed toward the shrine behind her even though its lights were off now and then she began to run.
Once word arrived that the transport ship carrying Mitotsudaira was on its way to the Musashi, Naito and Naruze left to go meet it.
They flew up into the sky where the orange of sunset was fading into the darkness of night.
They were flying higher than usual on their brooms. They were past the area around the ship allowed for the delivery business, so they could look down and see the entire Musashi below them. And…
“We’re at the necessary altitude. Linking with the Musashi’s buffering spell. Confirming cruising spell. All green.”
Naito went through the procedure and the word “approved” appeared from Musashi on her Magie Figur.
Naruze shrugged and smiled while doing the same next to her.
“We fly up this high during the vertical ascent races all the time. This makes me feel like an amateur.”
“But we just discovered how much of a pain it is to ascend at low speed, didn’t we?”
“Yeah, because we have to ‘ride’ the buffering spell instead of breaking through it. But…”
Lights were coming on across the Musashi below them. The ship was preparing for the night. The city lights began toward the stern of the Musashi as it turned.
As delivery worker trainees, they only had limited approval to fly in between the Musashi’s ships, so they would normally never see anything like this. Except…
“I can’t believe we were given pilot duty to guide the ship in through the spell field. We probably have Asama-chi’s recommendation to thank for that, but we also have to thank Almirante for being so understanding.”
“But we have to guide it all the way back to the Asama Shrine, so this is kind of a pain. The Musashi is turning from west to north while ascending and the transport ship is arriving from the southwest. And then Mitotsudaira has to descend from there. Well, she’ll have a descent spell for that, so we don’t have to worry about it. Also…”
Naruze trailed off and Naito saw the lights of a transport ship arriving from the southwest.
“There it is.”
“And we’re in place too,” said Naruze without looking her way.
Her eyes were on the southeastern sky where they could see all the way to the horizon over the ocean. And at a certain altitude above that…
“Those aren’t the lights of fishing boats, are they? …It must be the ghost fleet. They’re rising to match the Musashi’s ascent.”
At 6:17 PM, the Musashi was ascending and turning to prepare for its northern route away from Totomi when the ghost fleet opened fire from the southeast.
Adele and the others were deployed to the stern of Takao, Musashi’s 3rd starboard ship, since the attacks were concentrated there this time. She watched the defense barriers shatter as they blocked the cannon fire.
“Now, what’s going to happen this time!?”
The enemy continued to fire from close range and their appearance was gradually growing more distinct.
The Musashi began moving north while still at low altitude. It looked like they were trying to avoid the cannon fire, but the enemy fleet matched the giant ship’s movement. And…
A high school student warrior pointed into the eastern sky.
Adele pushed up her glasses to look at the night sky straight out from the deck.
“There are other lights that way, Asama-san!”
“I had a feeling this would happen!”
Another ghost fleet appeared from the east and began to attack.
Two different ghost fleets were approaching the Musashi from the southeast and the east. And…
“The eastern fleet is firing too!”
Sure enough, white lines of light were fired from the darkening eastern sky.
But Adele saw two things happen then.
The first had to do with the attacks fired by the new eastern fleet in the sky to Musashi’s starboard.
“Asama-san was right!”
“They’re hitting the southeastern fleet!”
The attacks from the second ghost fleet that had appeared in the east were slamming into the ghost fleet that had appeared first and was trying to attack the Musashi from the southeast.
There was no mistaking this. The eastern ghost fleet must have seen the southeastern one as an enemy.
The shots continued and the southeastern fleet began to return fire.
An exchange of attacks and defense played out between the Musashi and the southeastern fleet and between the two ghost fleets.
While the solid sounds of impact reverberated through the air and light shattered, Adele saw the other movement. The dogs were howling up into the sky where the Technohexen and other delivery workers had begun flying around to check on the situation, but something was approaching from the southwest there.
“That’s the transport ship carrying Mitotsudaira-san, isn’t it?”
The idiot would be aboard as a stowaway too, so Adele wondered if she should report him to the guards before it landed.
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