Horizon:Volume 1 Chapter 09
 Chapter 09: The One Waiting Beyond the Door
When I had thought that it was nobody existsnobody .
That was not it.
It was not no need for somebodyno body either.
Then, what was it.
Point Allocation (The Edge of Death)
An underground passage exists. A horizontal passage of the residential divisions, an underground passage with lights present.
In its corner, in front of a single western sliding door, a boy was standing, his shoulders sagged.
It was Azuma.
Without even paying attention to his mussed hair, he-
"In the end, I came back here, but I really failed..."
I was planning on resolving the situation where there was already a previous resident of the room which would be my new residence, but-
...What kind of wild goose chase was I subjected to.
First, I went to the office which manages the room. In a position outside of the horizontal passage, the manager's office at the entrance to the vertical passage.
However, at the office, even though the managing of the rooms was going on, they weren't proceeding with the paperwork of things like my move. Therefore, I was told that I would have to bring residence change documents from the Academy if I wanted to change my room.
At least, I was able to confirm at the office the existence of the previous resident who had moved into the room.
Miriam Poquo, 18 years old. She was in the same class. The aged werewolf who was the manager looked at that and burst into laughter-
"Isn't that fine! Is appearance so important among the young!!"
-he said, but: 'If that's the case, then as expected, this won't do,' I thought. I had largely completed my transition into normal life the day before, but staying together with a girl from the same class the moment I become a citizen after being one of the imperial family is too large a character change.
...Rather than that, the other side of this equation is troubling.
However, when I went to the Academy's business office in an attempt to acquire residence change documents-
...'You need the permission of your guardian,', I was told.
After, I was stuck with searching for Oriotorai, but it was important. Even though she wasn't carrying the paperwork for my return home, it wasn't in the teacher's office either, and to find it I looked around the school. In the classroom which the tea ceremony club was using, Asama, who counted as a an acquaintance of mine, was there, and along with her club members she was performing the tea ceremony with sports drinks for the athletics club. And then, Asama placed a hat, pierced with arrows, on its side, drinking IZUMO-type's lemon-flavoured sports drink "CC-EMON" while kneeling, so I was able to explain myself, but-
"Isn't that fine? Is appearance so important among the young?"
In short, all that happened was that it was made known to me that this girl was also an exception.
However, according to their information, Oriotorai had the habit of checking her territory around this time, and with everyone's cooperation, I found Oriotorai at the cafeteria after two hours.
And, when I tried to head to the cafeteria, breaking out in laughter, having drunk the local brand of sake since noon and being completely smashed, an amazing woman was there.
I don't really understand, but at what Oriotorai, recklessly cheerful, was saying-
"Ain't that fine!? Is appearance really so important among the young!?"
...Could it be that the residents of Musashi had been brainwashed such that their thought patterns have been completely standardized?
And besides conversing for about an hour about a lot of things-
"I've been overruled..."
Anyways, Azuma was now in front of the room. The thought, 'this is bad,' was in his heart.
Being overruled meant that I can do nothing but stay in this room. But, if I stay in this room, appearance will be a lot of trouble, even from this young age. As I thought, I can't. Let's live outside. There should be a place sheltered from the wind and rain even outside, right? But, isn't being homeless immediately after my return to normal life too large a character change too?
...Could it be that now, I[1J 1] am in the midst of running away from reality?
He thought. At that moment. From the other side of the sliding door before his eyes, the voice of a girl could be heard.
"Even though it's fine if you come in, what are you doing?"
At the question, he panicked and glanced around at his surroundings. The time now is after school. The sun is leaning towards the setting side. The students in clubs are going out to each of their respective activity areas, all that are in the roads are the people walking the roads on their way for the cleanup of their rooms or the laundry. However, the voice just now was indeed audible from the room in front of him. Therefore-
In response to that voice of question, a pause came.
In the empty time, he continued with one breath, two breaths, and around the third breath-
...Huh? Did I say something wrong?
At that question, he started sweating heatedly. At that moment.
"--I don't really understand what you mean, but it's fine even if you don't come in, I guess?"
Naturally, his hand reached to the sliding door. 'Is this fine?' he thought. But, he felt that not entering was more wrong. Therefore, Azuma opened the door to the left-
Faster than he was able to clearly look at the figure of the girl seated in the wheelchair in front of him, she said this.
"Azuma--I want to talk with you a little, is it fine?"
Azuma did not close the sliding door.
He didn't want to give the feeling that he was going to stay by closing the door, but-
"Please close it. This is a room with a girl in it, you know."
Spoken to, he decided to close the door. He closed it, hands behind his back. Such that he would make the least amount of noise possible.
Directly in front. A girl, Miriam Poquo continued to face her wheelchair towards the desk, and looked this way with nothing but her face.
What should I say? No, what should I start talking from is the question.
"I was told that I would stay in this room from today onwards by the Academy--"
His words were cut off. Miriam seemed as if she was thinking a little, but-
"It's something that happens all the time. Generally, everone gets perplexed, but you'll get used to it."
"Get used to it..."
"This isn't the first time I've shared a room--It's the first time a boy came, though."
"I-if that's so-"
"It'll be fine once we get used to it, that applies for the both of us. Until now, there's been a lot of cases where boys and girls are assigned to the same room. I think that that's just what happened this time...Also, if this room was assigned to you, then your right is the same as mine.
Even so, asking whether it's fine for yourself to be here is the same thing as asking me whether you should leave, you know? I don't want to leave. So it's fine if you stay as well."
"Use the space in front of you as you please. I'll be in the corner. Also, I want to use the bed on the bottom, but is that fine?"
Azuma could not answer the question. His actual position was one where he had lost all words.
...Doesn't she think it's a problem?
She said, 'It's something that happens all the time.' The girl who lives the life of one in a wheelchair. The 'all the time' she's saying is different from my 'all the time.' When he thought about that meaning, Miriam tilted her head.
"...Well, whether it's some sort of consideration or whether it's a mistake, it's something the Academy decided upon, right? It's something that happens all the time. I think that I'll be able to get used to it, but is it fine for you? Staying in the same room as I."
He said himself and realized, 'Is this about the distance between boys and girls?' Therefore, Azuma returned a question with the same words.
"For you, is it really fine to share a room with a boy?"
"...Umm, you don't really understand what I'm saying, do you--Well, whatever. You know Azuma, if you really think that it's wrong for boys and girls to live together, why're you standing there?"
Miriam's voice could be heard.
"I'm at a level where I've showed things like my body to doctors, you know. And there's no distinction between doctors and male students in that if there's a mistake, it'll become a crime, and I don't think you're that kind of person."
'You know,' Miriam said.
"I basically understand what you did after you left earlier. You understand the meaning of boys and girls being in the same room, so you went to object, and you were argued with because you're too nice. You're honest to an extent where you couldn't think, 'but it's fine if she understands,' so you were standing in front of the door, right?
Isn't it fine? If you understand just that one thing, I know that when both of us get rid of this nervousness, it'll be over and done with. That's why...first, I want to make a promise from my side, but is that fine?"
"Yes--to not speak out against each others' lives. For example, I'm an overly religious Catholic but you're a Shintoist, right? That's also included...that's right, if we were to talk about the extremes, I wouldn't say anything even if you brought a girl here."
"I-I won't do anything like that."
"My, 'won't' means that it's something that you 'can' but won't do?"
Spoken to, Azuma felt that heat was rising to his cheeks. Words like 'No' or 'Um' leaked from his mouth, but in response, Miriam suddenly relaxed her eyes, and with a small laugh she waved her hand.
"I'm sorry, I was joking. That was my bad. I know that you're serious."
"That's why you made fun of me?"
"Not that. I wanted to confirm if you were even more serious than what I had known. It was unnecessary, I apologize."
'You know,' Miriam said again.
"Fundamentally, that I take classes through the notes that everyone brings to me means I'm treated the same as taking lessons at home. And, I'll choose times when the bath and meals are empty, so if you're interrupted by my life, you won't be able to do anything. I move at different times from everyone else."
"Sh-should I help you?"
Her eyes opened, and being asked in question, Azuma noticed that he had reflexively said the words of just now.
Therefore, while feeling panic in his heart-
"I mean, things like the movement of people in wheelchairs..."
Following how the feeling that he was saying something unnecessary became strong, his voice became small.
In response, Miriam closed her opened eyes in a relaxed manner and narrowed them, smiling wryly.
"You didn't share a room for that purpose, did you?"
He was remonstrated. And, Miriam looked around the room-
"Is it fine? Being treated the same as us, if that wasn't a mistake or a misunderstanding--then it means you'll be trusted by us, you know? Looking from your viewpoint, this is probably because there was some sort of mistake or misunderstanding, but looking from my viewpoint, it'd be nice if the guilt stemming from the fact this room is being wasted was gone. That I'm treated equivalently as a human is also proof of my thankfulness."
At her words, Azuma felt something hard around his throat.
...equivalently as a human...huh?
Something is the equivalency which the girl in the wheelchair hopes for.
...That is, to welcome the resident of the same room just like other people--.
That what everyone is doing, she herself can do. She can say that she is thankful for that kind of normal thing.
Azuma thought of himself. His power sealed, he returned to normal life, and started to live as a normal person, but-
...That it was something to be thankful for, he didn't even try to think.
It was not something which he had to think. Because, his and Miriam's standpoints were different. However, Azuma thought this. 'The daily life of she and I hold a different weight for both of us'.
And now, Miriam was saying not to care about her legs.
She was saying that it was fine even to live together with a boy if she got used to it. Even saying that: besides, this had happened before.
'She also has something like obstinacy in her,' Azuma thought. To not make others hold concern for her, she tried to be normal, and there were also times where she would use the words 'it's alright', he thought. Therefore-
"Then, let me also make a promise."
"?...What? What promise can I make to you?"
To she, who was frowning slightly and tilting her head, Azuma spoke. After giving a single gesture-
"--If the other looks troubled, I hope that it will be allowed for one to at least ask about that."
"...You won't suddenly make a move?"
He nodded, and Miriam showed a smile where the corners of her eyes dipped.
"Serious, aren't you."
With the same expression, Miriam shook her head up and down.
However, when she raised her face, she had already changed her expression to its regular smile-
"But, if asking questions is allowed, then can I ask a single question right now?--You know? Why have you been talking while being afraid since earlier?"
"--Eh? No, um."
"Would it have been better if I were a cute, silent girl?"
No matter what he answered, it seemed as if it would be an insult, but without a doubt, denying that would be a lie. Therefore, Azuma-
"That's unfair--it seemed as if you were testing me since before."
"Is that so? Even if I'm the one to give you points, you're the one that can earn points, you know?"
"? Why is it that girls can't earn points?"
"That is, a girl's points are...the points of the boy she's with."
'Huh?' Azuma faltered. In front of him, Miriam was laughing softly while waving the palm of her hand.
"Is that fine? No matter how one is dressed up, if it's just dressing up then it's a hobby. An expression of being aware of the self that people see, and dressing up. Because of that, it's fashionable if you are able to dress up such that people are captivated. And if you are able to dress up such that you can steal the eyes of a person who holds the points that you want--"
Thickening her smile, she looked up from drooping her head-
"--To reach your hand to the one you yearn for, is what it is."
Saying that, Miriam looked this way. She left a smile at the edge of her lips-
"What kind of person are you? An honest person, a caring person, unable to throw away your seriousness--"
"Le-let's stop giving points."
"--you're rather conceited, so I jumped to the wrong conclusion, didn't I."
He was laughed at. 'But, that really is true,' the himself who thought that--
...Am I serious?
'That's a bad point,' he also thought.
And looking at Miriam, who wiped away the tears at the corners of her eyes which came about from laughing, Azuma thought this.
Marking the lines of each others' spaces, without interfering in each others' lives, we ask if we take interest. In short, this is-
"Good for strangers, isn't it."
"If you say 'let's start as strangers,' that'll be the time I say, 'what's the end. Get out.', you know."
"Ahh, then--now, my points have been given."
So he said, and Miriam raised her eyebrows. For about a breath, she looked this way with an expression which could not take hold of either a smile or surprise, but suddenly she bent her body forward, burst out laughing, and formed words.
"--If you didn't say that you'd have rather high points. You really are an idiot, and you really are serious."
'But', saying that, Miriam stuck her left hand out this way. Lightly opening her hand of handshake-
"--I can't be suspicious of stupid, serious people."
The checkpoint at the foot of Kagamihara had a bridge.
It was a checkpoint different from the quarantine and trade checkpoint at the upper side of the mountain. Such that things that descended from the mountain would be unable to immediately enter Mikawa, it was a place whose purpose was a second inspection.
The gate which was proof of the checkpoint was built on the riverbank of the river running down the mountain, in front of a bridge.
The wide, roofless gate was open, and from the opened gate, a bridge around 10 meters in width was visible.
And south from the bridge, if one looked at the sea, on the other side of the wide fields and forests, at the foot of the gentle slope, a village stained with blue was there.
At the center of the village, the flat New Nagoya Castle existed, as if covered by brown cloth.
Before its background, there were three figures.
One was a past middling, slender man.
One was a full-figured man, around the same age.
And the other was a girl sticking close to the back of the second.
The three were standing, the village of Mikawa to their backs.
To that place, another figure came. He too was a past-middling, hunchbacked man-
"Oh, that two of the Matsudaira Four Heavenly Kings, Sakakibara Yasumasa and Honda Tadakatsu would come to greet me. Was this to not disappoint me? Where's Ii? Sakakibara, Dacchan."
At his words, the middling, slender man called Sakakibara raised his face slightly. He brushed his white hair aside-
"About that, Sakai-kun, actually, Ii-kun has--"
"Don't say a word about Ii. Have you forgotten, Sakakibara?"
The middling, full-figured man called Tadakatsu spoke without turning his gaze to Sakakibara.
Sakakibara, beside him, let his lips falter, but looking in Sakai's direction, he shut his mouth together with a nod.
As if a substitute, Tadakatsu stepped forwards half a step. Tilting his body forward a little-
An instant. The figure of the girl at Tadakatsu's back disappeared.
In response, Sakai raised his face slightly-
"Huh? Heyheyhey, the 'show me' that you're saying isn't something good is i--"
Faster than the end of his line, a figure which outlined two arcs approached Sakai's back.
One of the arcs was the trajectory that the tied hair of the girl from just now had traced.
The other arc was a silver trajectory which told of a drawn blade.
The movement did not stop. And as such-
Sakai also put his body into motion.
 Translator's notes and references
- Azuma uses 余, a rather old masculine first-person pronoun.
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