Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei:Volume 2 Chapter 6
Just before the school gates closed, in the club headquarters.
"The situation is concerning the Kenjutsu Club’s barging in on the Kendo Club’s demonstration for new members."
Tatsuya, having witnessed and experienced the event, provided details concerning the attempted brawl — including how after Mibu Sayaka and Kirihara Takeaki started arguing, he had stepped in their struggle and personally challenged the Kenjutsu club — to the three people standing before him.
"Even so, after taking on more than ten opponents, it’s a wonder you’re still so well."
Facing him to the right, the Student Body president, Saegusa Mayumi.
"To be exact there were fourteen people. As expected of Kokonoe-sensei’s disciple I guess."
In the center, the one who in a sense is his boss, the Public Morals Committee chief, Watanabe Mari.
Laughing interestedly — not in the sense of 'strange', but in the sense of 'amusing' — while commenting made her words rather ironic. Though her expression was somewhat insincere, she's probably praising him.
What most impressed Mayumi and Mari (?) was, after overpowering Kirihara, Tatsuya had only defended against the frenzied mob of Kenjutsu club members without attacking. However, Tatsuya had not shown off any techniques worth praising.
He seemed to have the skill of an average high school student, but they didn’t know of what level.
That was why those attackers fared that much worse than the Yakumo temple students — they had no idea he could manage fourteen opponents at once and sustain no injuries and how valuable that was.
Instead, Tatsuya’s awareness was focused on the 3rd Year male student, on the left side.
It’s likely that he is the Club Management Group Leader, Juumonji Katsuto. Bearing the number '10' in his name, the eldest child of the Juumonji house.
(He looks pretty steep alright…)
Standing up, he was about 185 cm. That alone didn’t make him a big man to be looked up upon.
Rather, it was the thick chest and broad shoulders and the rippling muscles, easily recognizable even under a uniform.
It wasn’t just his physical features; every element that makes up a human seemed to be condensed in him, giving his character an incredibly heavy sense of presence.
As expected of one who stands alongside Mayumi and Mari as part of the First High School Big Three, Tatsuya thought, understanding just from his appearance and impression.
"You didn’t see the incident’s beginning circumstances?"
Being questioned by Mari, who had changed her expression, Tatsuya snapped back to reality. Once again, he recalled the event of the report he had just finished and replied affirmatively to her question.
"That’s right. Whether Kirihara-senpai had provoked the Kendo club or the Kendo club had earlier caused some grievance against the Kenjutsu club, we cannot say for certain."
What he had seen was from the point when Mibu and Kirihara had been quarreling. Along with Erika, they were behind the stands and were about to exit the gym when they heard the buzz of an argument breaking out, but they hadn’t heard the contents. By the time he had waded through the crowd and arrived on the scene, both Mibu and Kirihara were at swords’ points already.
"Is that why you didn’t act straight away?"
That question was from Mayumi.
Katsuto seemed to have assumed the listener’s position.
"I intended to intervene only if I deemed things became too dangerous. If they only ended up bruising each other, that’s a problem between themselves."
Tatsuya answered Mayumi’s question conditionally.
As Mayumi said, Tatsuya had initially taken the attitude of a bystander since he didn’t know who he should stop.
You could possibly say that he had the option to simply stop both, but since that would result in him gaining the reputation and notoriety of defeating both of them, that case wasn’t considered.
However, that wasn’t the only reason. The duties requested of him by the Public Morals Committee was the prevention of magical violence. Neither Kirihara nor Mibu, when they started sparring, had used magic. Had Kirihara not used the magic "Sonic Blade", it was likely that Tatsuya would have simply watched until the end.
"…Well it’s fine. It’s certainly a fact that we don’t have the personnel to intervene in every fight."
The trouble during recruiting was how club headquarters generally handled things. Mari’s remark was based on that, so neither Mayumi nor Katsuto objected.
"Then, what did you do with Kirihara?"
"Kirihara’s collarbone was fractured, so I handed him over to the Health Committee. That level of injury was easily healed rapidly with magic. He admitted his error in the infirmary, so I didn’t judge any further action to be required."
The truth was that while the blow Kirihara sustained from the shinai cracked the bone, it was Tatsuya’s slam that broke it. Tatsuya didn’t feel the need to add such an extraneous detail.
And as Mari had not actually seen Kirihara’s condition, there would be no way to tell.
"Hm… very well. Prosecution is left to the discretion of the apprehender, after all."
Nodding at Tatsuya’s words, Mari turned her eyes towards Katsuto.
"It’s as you heard, Juumonji. As the Public Morals Committee head, I don’t intend to bring this matter to the Disciplinary Committee."
"I’m grateful for your leniency. To have used a highly lethal magic such as Sonic Blade in such a place, even though no one got hurt, we had thought that a suspension at least was unavoidable. I’m sure the person in question himself realized that. We’ll give him a full lecture, and make sure he takes this lesson to heart."
"We’ll leave it to you."
Katsuto gave a light bow, which Mari returned.
"But, is the Kendo club satisfied with that?"
"They share the same offense of provocation. They’re in no position to make a fuss."
Mari brusquely dismissed Mayumi’s concern. Mayumi didn’t refute her. This was a matter under the jurisdiction of the Public Morals Committee chief. The Club Management Group Leader accepted it, and the Student Body president didn’t object. With this, the incident was closed.
Tatsuya paid no attention to the exchange. It was not his job to combat the smoldering fires of discontent.
"Chief, I’m sorry for being discourteous."
By that, Tatsuya was signaling to Mari that he wanted permission to leave.
"Ah, before that, there’s one thing I want to confirm."
Mari also had no intention of detaining Tatsuya from his duties (although that would probably be it for today), so her question was brief.
"Was Kirihara the only one who used magic?"
"That is correct."
Tatsuya answered Mari’s question simply.
To be precise, Kirihara was the only one who successfully activated magic, is what he should have said, but Tatsuya had no intention of going into such a detailed explanation.
"I see. Thanks for your hard work."
Receiving permission, Tatsuya turned around and left the club headquarters.
After coming out of the club headquarters, Tatsuya turned to head towards the Student Council room.
Sunset was only a little while away.
However skilled one was at magic, it was improper for a girl to go out alone at this time, and Miyuki had earlier requested Tatsuya to return home with her.
His plans were to meet her halfway along the road.
The club HQ was in a building separate from the main buildings the Student Council room was in.
In order to get from HQ to the Student Council room, it was necessary to leave the campus for a moment (although there was no need to change shoes, the phenomena known as indoor shoes was rarely seen anymore) and walk around to the main entrance, but there were already some familiar faces waiting there.
"Ah, good work~"
Erika called out first, but it was Miyuki who rushed over to him.
The others stared amazed at that unexpected agility.
"Thanks for all your efforts. Today was rather tiring wasn’t it."
"It wasn’t a big deal. Good work today as well, Miyuki."
As Miyuki stood before him with both hands clasped onto her bag in front of her, Tatsuya, with a fond look, gently stroked her hair two, three times.
Miyuki half closed her eyes in pleasure as she gazed up at her brother, and their eyes met.
"I realize that they’re siblings, but you know…"
As they walked towards the two, with an embarrassed expression, Leo muttered to himself.
"It’s almost like a scene out of a painting…"
Beside him, Mizuki, with her face red, stared at the two as if to devour them.
At that, Erika narrowed her eyes towards Leo and Mizuki.
"Hey, you guys… just what are you expecting from those two?"
Shrugging exaggeratedly with both hands extended from her body, shaking her head leisurely from side to side would have looked rather contrived normally, but somehow suited Erika.
"As you said, they’re siblings right?"
Her expression, along with those lines, seemed to bring the two back to their senses. In a panic, Leo and Mizuki reacted to that incident in an absolutely eloquent manner.
"D-D-D-D-Don’t say such obvious things! I, I wasn’t expecting anything at all!"
"Y-Y-Yeah that’s right, Erika-chan! D-Don’t say weird things!"
"…Yes yes, I’ll leave it at that."
Most likely, if not for Erika’s chaffing retort, both Leo and Mizuki wouldn’t have known where to stop with their misunderstanding.
Unaware of Erika’s lone struggle, Tatsuya at long last took his hand from his sister’s head and turned to the three.
Miyuki, with a reluctant expression, followed her brother.
Seeing that expression, one would definitely get weird delusions.
However, Tatsuya made no such colorfully suspicious guise and, with a sincere face, called out to his friends apologetically.
"Sorry, I’ve kept you guys."
The delicate atmosphere dispelled, Leo shook his head with a crisp smile.
"Don’t be so distant, Tatsuya. There’s no need to apologize."
"I just came from the end of club orientation. I haven’t been waiting at all you know."
Mizuki agreed with a soft smile, and also insisted that she didn’t require an apology.
"She’s also just come from her club. Don’t worry about it."
Erika laughed mischievously as usual, and gave a biting remark.
Leo, Mizuki, and Erika; each of the three greeted Tatsuya with their own smiling face.
Tatsuya immediately perceived that their words were contrary to the truth, but he didn’t want to waste their thoughtfulness.
"Since it’s this late already, why don’t we go eat? If it’s under 1000 yen each, it's on me."
The current value of currency was worth around twice what the denomination would have been 100 years ago.
For a high school student, 1000 yen was a bit more than usual, but still reasonable.
Instead of swallowing his apology further, he offered an invitation.
There wasn’t anyone here who didn’t understand that, or felt the need for any unnecessary reserve.
On the next day of the entrance ceremony, the five talked about the days happenings — clubs they joined, boring housekeeping matters, people who asked their names in an attempt to hit on them, all sorts of experiences, but in the end the topic that drew the most interest was the drama involving Tatsuya.
"That 2nd Year, Kirihara, he used a rank B lethal magic didn’t he? It’s a wonder you weren’t hurt."
"Even though you say it has lethality, in the end, Sonic Blade is a magic with limited application. Apart from having an untouchable blade, it’s pretty much no different from a sharp sword. It’s not such a difficult magic to deal with."
Responding to a visibly impressed Leo, Tatsuya replied in a tired manner.
"But, didn’t you stop someone using it seriously with just your bare hands? Wasn’t that dangerous?"
"It’s fine, Mizuki. If it’s Onii-sama, there’s no need to worry."
"You’re considerably calm about this aren’t you, Miyuki?"
As Miyuki reassured the now somber Mizuki, Erika drew attention to her unnatural confidence.
"Certainly, I can only praise Tatsuya-kun’s prowess in being able to handle more than 10 opponents in melee, but Kirihara-senpai’s weapon was by no means a blunt sword. Rather, it’s more like he ended up slipping out from the midst of all those people.
Miyuki, weren’t you worried at all?"
Being accused by Erika, Miyuki’s reply was simply,
"Of course not. There is no one at all who can defeat Onii-sama."
An answer without the slightest hesitation.
Even Erika could only be at a loss for words.
She had seen Tatsuya’s techniques up close at that time.
Even through her eyes, Erika could tell that Kirihara’s swordsmanship was flawless. And Tatsuya should also have realized that the cutting edge was not inferior to that of a real sword. Not only that, but Tatsuya also hadn’t tensed any part of his body — that showed that he hadn’t felt any anxiety or fear even on a subconscious level — and had reached up faster than Kirihara could bring down the shinai, grabbed the hilt and slammed him down by the wrist with essentially Aikijutsu. No, rather than Aikijutsu, it might be called No Swords style.
It was no exaggeration to say that such techniques are on the level of an expert. Long before his current age, Tatsuya had already mastered enough techniques to be called, if not a master, then something very close. Yet even with that, Erika wasn’t able to just confidently shrug things off without worrying.
"…I don’t mean to doubt Tatsuya-san’s ability, but Sonic Blade is far from just a normal sword. I mean it emits ultrasonic waves, doesn’t it?"
"Come to think of it, I’ve heard of something similar. There’re practitioners who wear earplugs in order to block out ultrasound. Although, you’d have to be prepared for that from the start."
"That’s not it. It’s simply that Onii-sama’s Taijutsu is superior."
Miyuki laughed lightly as she replied to Leo and Mizuki’s concerns.
"Countering magic rituals is Onii-sama’s specialty."
Erika immediately latched onto Miyuki’s words.
"Countering magic rituals? Not just Data Fortification or Zone Interference?"
Looking between Miyuki who was nodding proudly and Tatsuya who was chuckling with a look of "it can’t be helped", Erika could only mutter in shock with an admiring expression.
"That’s got to be an amazingly rare skill."
"That’s right. Or at least, it’s not something taught at high school. And even if you’re taught, that doesn’t mean anyone can do it. Erika, just after Onii-sama jumped out, do you remember an illusion as if the ground shook?"
"Ye~ah, it wasn’t such a big deal for me, but it seemed like there were numerous students suffering symptoms similar to severe motion sickness. Come to think of it, it wasn’t just at the start, but also fluctuated during the course of the battle…?"
"That was Onii-sama’s doing. Onii-sama, you used Cast Jamming, didn’t you?"
Faced with Miyuki’s broad smile, Tatsuya could only sigh in resignation.
"I’m unable to match you as always, huh."
"Oh come on. If it’s about Onii-sama, Miyuki knows everything."
"No no no no."
Leo interrupted the two as they exchanged smiles and laughter.
"That’s not a conversation between siblings is it? In fact that goes beyond the level of lovers."
"You think?" "Is that so?"
After a second, faced with Tatsuya and Miyuki who were in perfect harmony, Leo fell flat onto the table.
"…Trying to throw a tsukkomi against these lovey-dovey siblings will be a difficult task. You stood no chance from the beginning."
To the regretful Erika:
"Ahh, I was wrong…"
Leo responded remorsefully, while rising.
"I’m very much opposed to those words."
Tatsuya objected (?) with a tone one could think was terribly reluctant, and,
"It’s not a problem. It’s simply a fact that Onii-sama and I share a strong bond of sibling love."
Miyuki lightly soothed her brother.
This time, it was Erika and Leo whose faces hit the table at the same time.
Leo expressed his feelings with a sound effect similar to a spray of blood.
"That’s because I love and respect Onii-sama more than anyone else in this world."
Miyuki didn’t stop there. In full view of their friends, she nudged her chair closer and snuggled up to Tatsuya, looking up at her brother’s close face with a flushed expression.
"Ahhー I think I’ll goー homeー now."
With her cheek still firmly pressed to the table, Erika began to sulk.
"Miyuki, there’s no need to get carried away alright? We’re with people who don’t fully understand that we’re just playing around."
"…" "…" "…"
As Tatsuya smiled wryly while chiding Miyuki, Miyuki, Erika, and Leo’s gaze turned to the one person left.
"…Eh? Eh? Playing around?"
Mizuki, whose face was dyed red, began shifting her eyes restlessly at the sudden silence as everyone held their breath.
"…Well, this is pretty much a characteristic of Mizuki."
At Erika’s sympathetic murmur, Mizuki’s face went red for a different reason.
"…In any case, you were talking about something like Cast Jamming?"
Not able to put up with the unbearably prickly atmosphere any longer, Leo forcibly returned to the previous topic.
"Since it’s already been revealed, that’s right."
To Tatsuya, this was a less than desirable subject, but more than that, he too wanted to do something about this atmosphere. With nothing for it, he joined Leo’s conversation.
"Cast Jamming, is it some sort of electromagnetic wave that hinders magic?"
"It’s not exactly electromagnetic."
"That was a figure of speech!"
At Leo’s retort, Erika smacked him with a straight face, then glanced over at Tatsuya as if nothing had happened.
Cast Jamming is also a magic ritual, but it’s a kind of magic that interferes with the phenomenon-altering mechanism of Eidos. In a broad way of speaking, its nature is similar to that of a magic cancelling system.
There’s a similar magic that disables the opponents magic called "Zone Interference". This procedure affects a fixed area with the caster at its center without bringing about a change in information, and the technique is such that if the strength of interference is less than that of the defined magic ritual, then the interference will be shut out. In contrast, Cast Jamming scatters vast amounts of meaningless Psion waves, and as such, it is a technique that prevents rituals from affecting Eidos.
Zone Interference in a sense does not reserve magic, but rather directly prevents the opponents’ magic, and it is fundamental that the strength of interference be greater than that of the opponents’ magic.
On the other hand, Cast Jamming works by overwhelming a Magician's data with a large amount of extra data, greatly reducing the speed of a Magician's data upload to his base station. Therefore, the strength of the interference is not so important. Instead, the Psion noise propagates randomly and rapidly across all the eight varieties of the four Systematic frequencies, and essentially becomes an antennae that blocks all transmissions.
"But for something like that, don’t you need some special kind of stone? Anti… anti something…"
As Erika struggled to remember the remnant of the word, it was a somewhat revived Mizuki who came to her rescue.
"It’s Antinite, Erika-chan. Tatsuya-san, you have Antinite? I thought it was something really expensive."
Antinite is known to fulfill the same conditions by emitting Psion noise. In theory, it is possible for a magician to evoke noise for Cast Jamming by themselves, but in practice it’s exceedingly difficult.
Unlike Zone Interference, under the influence of Cast Jamming, the user’s own magic would also be affected, since even if the magician in question consciously tries to tune the noise of Cast Jamming, his subconscious would reject it. (Magic processing takes place in the subconsciousness, and thus the actions of the subconscious have priority over the conscious.)
Because of that, it is thought that in order to use Cast Jamming, it’s essential to use Antinite, which satisfies the condition of emitting just Psion noise… but Tatsuya’s reply overturned that common sense.
"No, I don’t. In the first place, Antinite is a military resource. Price notwithstanding, it’s not something a civilian would be able to obtain."
"Eh? But, you said you used Cast Jamming…"
It was not just Erika making a confused face as she spoke out, but Leo and Mizuki as well.
"Ahー I’d like to keep this conversation off record alright?"
Giving Tatsuya puzzled looks as he lowered his voice and leaned over the table, the three nonetheless followed suit.
"To be precise, it’s not Cast Jamming. What I used is a practical application of Cast Jamming, ‘Specific Magic Jamming’."
At Tatsuya’s words, Mizuki’s face blanked out as she blinked a few times.
"Uhmm… there’s such a magic?"
"I don’t think so."
It was Erika who answered Mizuki’s question directly.
"Then, doesn’t that mean it’s a theoretically new magic?"
Erika’s voice this time carried not so much a nuance of admiration or surprise, but rather total shock.
The number of Magicians who use original magic is not insignificant. There are also numerous expert Magicians who have been devising original magic since childhood. However, that’s just instinctively, and in a way intuitively working out one’s own natural magic, and the Magicians who can devise theoretically entirely new magic are few indeed.
Magic is highly dependent on the subconscious.
Even though it’s simple to work back towards the theory on magic one’s subconscious can use, to make up a new magic theory, even if it’s just a variation of an existing magic, requires a full intimate understanding of the structure and operating principles of that magic.
It’s not exaggerating to say that devising theoretically new magic at a high school age is insane.
"It’s probably more accurate not to say devised, but rather that I discovered it by chance."
At Erika’s honest reaction, Tatsuya laughed as he answered.
"You guys know that when you use two CADs simultaneously, Psion waves are given out and it’s impossible to use magic in most cases right?"
"Ah, I’ve had that experience!"
Leo nodded at Tatsuya’s words.
"Uwah, how arrogant!"
Erika responded in shock to Leo’s line.
"Using two CADs at the same time.... were you trying to pull off a parallel cast? Thinking you could do something so high tech, I'm at a loss for words."
"Shut up. I thought I could! One day, if the conditions are right I’ll definitely be able to do it!"
"No wayー you’re jokingー stop itー"
"…I get that you’re making fun of me, so could you please stop with that tone? It’s incredibly annoying!"
"Y, you two, let’s just listen to Tatsuya-san’s explanation alright? Ne?"
Erika and Leo looked away from each other.
As Miyuki flusteredly glanced about back and forth between the two, Tatsuya gave a shrug.
"I think that’s pretty much enough about me but… you want me to continue? Well, that’s also fine I guess…
The point is, when using two CADs simultaneously, the incident Psion waves resembling Cast Jamming envelope a Magician and emit Idea containing Eidos phenomena. If you initiate an interference magic activation ritual with one of those CADs, and start a reverse ritual in the other, those two activation rituals will amplify one another without needing to be translated into magic rituals. Then if you release those Psion waves as a Non-Systematic Magic, each CADs developed activation ritual will naturally build up and the two types of magic rituals that are the result can cause interference to some extent.
Even a persistent magic, such as Sonic Blade, cannot be sustained indefinitely with just one magic ritual. After some time, the formula must be recast. So I simply catch it at that point."
In a small voice, Leo whispered "You gotta be kidding…" The utter lack of inflection along with his stunned look showed that he was utterly serious.
Abruptly, Mizuki began to cough. Because she kept sucking on her straw after her glass became empty, it seemed she'd choked. Once the coughing fit subsided and she regained composure, her expression settled into that of shock.
Erika crinkled her brow and contemplated in silence. From her grim expression, she wasn’t enjoying it much, but it didn’t seem like she was recalling something bad.
"…I have no idea how to actually do it, although I guess I kinda understand the theory behind it. But why is this all off-record? If you patent it, I’m sure it would be very profitable."
To Leo, who had recovered his faculties somewhat, Tatsuya presented an inscrutable expression.
Tatsuya smiled bitterly as he answered Leo, who was tilting his head, and it was evident that the bitterness ran deep.
"For a start, this technique is still incomplete. It can only be used on magic the opponent is in the midst of casting, and moreover it’s not like they can’t use it, it’s just more difficult. Also, of course I can’t use any magic whatsoever myself. That alone is fatal enough, but moreover, being able to interfere with magic without using Antinite is a problem in itself."
"…I don’t see how that’s a problem?"
As Leo asked with not so much confusion as dissatisfaction, Erika scolded him in earnest.
"Don’t be an idiot. The reason is huge. In terms of national defense and security, magic is now indispensable. If the ability to disable magic without great magical strength or the exceedingly expensive Antinite became widespread, the foundations of society could crumble."
"I also believe exactly what Erika said. Within the world, there are supremacists who discriminate against magic, as well as extremists who condemn it. Yet since the production of Antinite is so small, they remain below the surface and are not a real threat. Until a way is found to counter that, I have no intention to publicise this mock Cast Jamming."
Whether he was finally convinced or not, Leo bowed his head numerous times. For some reason, Mizuki was also nodding her head in a similar fashion.
"That’s amazing… to have thought so far."
An admiring breath escaped her lips.
"If it were me, I’d probably jump at the chance for fame."
As Leo continued to sigh, Miyuki smiled softly and gave a modest laugh.
"Onii-sama’s over thinking things a bit, don’t you think? In the first place, being able to read the activation ritual your opponent is in the middle of and projecting CAD interference waves, it’s not like just anyone could do it. But then, my Onii-sama’s like that I suppose."
"…Are you implying I’m an indecisive, good-for-nothing?"
At his sister’s point, Tatsuya made a face best described as no mercy.
"Who knows? Erika, what do you think?"
With an offhand attitude, Miyuki passed the ball to Erika.
"No idea? I think I’d like to hear Mizuki’s opinion on this."
Erika, with a deliberate tone, passed the ball to Mizuki.
"Eehh? I, uhm, that is…"
"So no one’s denying it…"
Miyuki averted Tatsuya’s eyes with a cheerful smirk, as Erika hid her face behind a menu and Mizuki’s nervous gaze hovered about everywhere. But no help came from any direction.
One week had passed.
For Tatsuya, recruitment week had been like the stormy season.
Within the Public Morals Committee, the busiest person was probably him.
—In addition, his duties had changed slightly from before.
On the first day, he had overpowered Kirihara Takeaki, one whose combat magic had been amongst the most promising in the school.
By the time Tatsuya had stepped in, he had already taken damage from Mibu Sayaka, so there are some who view that as the reason he was taken down so easily, but those who had not known the circumstances of the match were only interested in exaggeratedly touting that a 1st Year student, and a Weed at that, had defeated a regular combatant.
As a result—
"Tatsuya, do you have committee work today as well?"
As Tatsuya got ready, Leo handed him his bag.
"I’m off duty today. Seems I finally get a break."
"You’ve done a great job huh?"
"That doesn’t make me the least bit happy."
As Leo stood before Tatsuya, who was sighing in disappointment, he made a face as if barely suppressing a laugh.
"You’re a real famous guy now, Tatsuya. The enigmatic 1st Year student who defeated a swathe of Magicians without magic, you are."
"What’s up with the 'enigmatic'…"
"According to one theory I’ve heard, Tatsuya-kun is an assassin sent by the magic deniers."
Popping her head up unexpectedly, Erika was finishing her preparations to leave as well.
"Who the heck is spreading all these irresponsible rumors…"
"Just joking of course."
"Give me a break… that was too much."
"But, the contents are really true."
Hearing the particulars of the rumor from Erika, Tatsuya once again let out a sigh.
It’d be nice to think that there wasn’t a single person who would believe such a hoax, but enough had jumped on the bandwagon to almost lend credibility to the stories.
"That was a pretty big sigh just now?"
"Getting all worked up over other people’s affairs… I’ve felt like I was gonna die three times this week already."
"That’s pretty bad."
At Leo, who wasn’t even trying to hide his amused expression, Tatsuya had the urge to make a fist, but eventually settled for a third sigh.
The Kenjutsu club’s next ace, 2nd Year Kirihara Takeaki, whose strength was widely viewed as top class, had been defeated by a 1st Year Weed.
As stated earlier, this news had greatly startled the ones who believed in the "perfect" magic evaluation process, and caused a not inconsiderable uproar.
They had directed their unreasonable anger and mutual hostility against Tatsuya, even going as far as to take misguided retaliation.
Meaning that their conflict made him the target of their purge.
Even for those who didn't know the specifics, it was easy to guess that the Public Morals Committee chief was on Tatsuya’s side, and that both the Student Body president and the Club Management Group Leader would come to his defense.
If so, then what should be done?
At times like this, the established tactic is to make it look like an accident.
Which is what they did.
They would wait for Tatsuya to approach as he went on patrol, then cause a commotion.
When he went to intervene, they’d shoot off magical attacks under the pretense of misaiming.
That was how the pattern pretty much went.
From Tatsuya’s perspective, it simply seemed like disturbances were breaking out one after the other, and they were taking their toll.
Due to his position as a Public Morals Committee member, he couldn’t just pass by, and had to try to settle the situation.
On top of that, magic randomly came flying his way daily. Most of them could be avoided or negated before they took effect, but there were always some that couldn’t be blocked in time.
He had realized that he was being targeted within a day, but until he could find evidence of collusion it was out of his hands, and by the time he did a week had already passed.
In other words, he was constantly only able to escape from their traps.
He had only caught someone red handed on the fourth day, but in the end, that person escaped.
As expected of students from the prestigious First High school, in general, their tricks were successful. It rather felt like they were using all their strength to demonstrate their excellent capabilities at the entirely wrong time, place and purpose, but still.
"…Come to think of it, I’ve come out of that rather well, haven’t I…"
"From today, restrictions on devices will come into effect, so you shouldn’t need to worry anymore, right?"
"I sure hope so."
At Mizuki’s comforting words, Tatsuya wearily nodded.
Even when off from the Student Council, one wasn't off duty. It was not a shift based system in the first place.
Miyuki had work in the Student Council room today as well.
Yet for the siblings, the concept of leaving the other and going back first simply didn't exist.
—Looking at it objectively, there wasn't even any point teasing them with labels such as "brocon" or "siscon" anymore.
"I’m terribly sorry, Onii-sama. I'll be making you wait all this time…"
Just by having these concerns, like feeling guilty for keeping the other waiting, showed that they may still be able to be saved.
"Even if I say something like don’t worry about it, it probably wouldn’t work…"
Laughing affectionately, Tatsuya *pon* *pon* lightly tapped his sister’s head.
Rather than saying tapped, it was probably more accurate to say stroked, and, at the tender chastisement, Miyuki half closed her eyes with a look of utter bliss. Other students were also just happening to be walking back and forth along the corridor on their way home.
Confronted with this scene, which was sure to cause misunderstandings everywhere (?), there were numerous hostile glances directed at the two headed towards the Student Council room. However, there was a marked difference in the feelings directed at the couple with the too good relationship, with Tatsuya single-handedly soaking up all the animosity.
When walking alongside Miyuki, up until last week, the primary intent behind the malicious gazes would be scorn.
Now, behind the enmity was, with careful discernment, fear.
Not a fear of strength, but a fear of the unknown.
Also, those who should feel less bitter about his "activities", the Weeds, felt the same way.
Because of that, this became the first time they were called out to by someone unfamiliar.
Both Tatsuya and Miyuki looked back at the same time.
In terms of physical specs, Tatsuya far exceeded her.
Yet the reason they reacted at the same time in spite of that was because while Miyuki turned reflexively, Tatsuya had spent a period of time debating whether the voice had been intended for him.
It was somewhat husky, but definitely a female voice.
"Good afternoon. Should I start by saying, pleased to meet you?"
Her semi long hair done in a ponytail, she was a rather attractive girl.
The hairstyle had changed, but her face was somewhat familiar to Tatsuya.
"Ah, nice to meet you too. Mibu-senpai, correct?"
To Tatsuya, she was the 2nd Year student from the Kendo club who had kicked off a whole week of headaches.
The Kendo club had been the other party in the incident that had broken out.
She rapidly approached the stationary Tatsuya without a hint of hesitation.
It could be because she wasn’t the shy type, or not worried since he was an underclassman — or simply because she was taking him lightly.
Regardless, this was strangely less unbelievable than if she had reservations.
Miyuki, despite being a Bloom, had earlier stopped in front of her brother but now moved to the back.
Standing in such a way as to not be in Tatsuya’s view if he needed to focus, yet naturally just within eyeshot, such was her position.
"I’m Mibu Sayaka. In class E, same as Shiba-kun."
Tatsuya’s eyes were naturally drawn to her left breast.
Sewn onto the green blazer was a green, plain pocket.
The meaning of 'same' was rapidly deduced by Tatsuya.
"Thanks for earlier. Even though I was saved by you, I never properly expressed my gratitude."
Bound by that friendly smile, most males of the same age would immediately be drawn in.
-- These are words that come easily to one well versed in the use of magic, but it would probably be more appropriate to use the literary term that they 'contained the power to subtly charm one’s mind', although when saying literary, it’s referring more to popular literature.
"I wanted to properly thank you, as well as have a little talk with you…
Is it possible for you to accompany me for a bit?"
She was probably well aware of the power of her smile to captivate the male students, whether consciously or subconsciously.
However, as Tatsuya constantly had an all too beautiful little sister by his side, he differed in that slight advantage.
"I can’t now."
Being rejected so unceremoniously, she didn’t seem so much offended as simply taken aback.
"If 15 minutes later is alright with you..."
At Tatsuya’s follow up line, Sayaka’s expression fell, or rather, she slipped on a blank expression, and after blinking a few times, she finally seemed to take in what had just been said.
"Um, then, I’ll be waiting in the café."
While the response was totally different to what she had expected, Sayaka at least successfully managed to extract that one promise from Tatsuya.
Tatsuya accompanied her only as far as the Student Council room entrance.
If he entered, the possibility of meeting up with Hattori was too high. Since neither would be particularly happy at such turn of events, naturally, Tatsuya simply avoided the Student Council room in which he had no duties.
"I’ll be waiting for you in the library then."
Up until yesterday, it had been Miyuki waiting for Tatsuya.
Today was the first time for Tatsuya to be waiting for Miyuki, but he had already simulated such a situation even before admission.
He had known that without a doubt, Miyuki would hold some position of office.
Therefore, he was not at a loss as to what to do with his time.
One of the reasons he had originally come to this school was because of the presence of a large amount of private literature one couldn’t access unless they were somehow connected to the National Magic University organization.
"The library is it?"
However Miyuki, who should have known that, questioningly tilted her head to one side. It didn’t help that she seemed to be slightly suspicious.
"…That’s the plan, but why the doubt?"
"No, it’s just that I had thought you now have a meeting with Mibu-senpai at the cafeteria…"
Miyuki’s glance focused on a region around Tatsuya’s throat.
Even at Tatsuya’s call, she didn’t raise her head.
It seemed she wouldn’t meet his gaze.
Rather, she was averting her eyes.
As to why his sister would take such an attitude, Tatsuya was at a total loss.
Thinking rationally, this would be considered sulking, but concerning this particular sister, it couldn’t simply be just that.
Even if he asked, they were standing right in front of the Student Council room, and they were starting to hold people up.
"I won’t be having such a long conversation with her. In any case, she’s probably simply going to try recruit me to her club."
It felt rather like he was guessing in the entirely wrong direction.
However, a chance to defuse the situation nonetheless appeared.
"…Is that, really all?"
"I’m wondering if she’s really only trying to recruit you.
I have a different feeling.
I’m not sure why.
But… Miyuki is worried.
That Onii-sama would have such a reputation makes me very happy… but if your true power is found out, there would be many who flock to you out of self interest or gain.
Surely, those that do not would be the exception.
Please, be very careful."
It would be a simple matter to laugh that off as needless worry.
If he had not been Shiba Tatsuya.
If she had not been Shiba Miyuki.
"…There’s no need to worry. Whatever happens, I’ll be fine."
"That’s why! That is exactly what I’m afraid of!"
At last, Tatsuya began to faintly understand what was worrying his sister.
"…There won’t be a problem. Whatever happens, I won’t cause any grief."
"…It’s a promise, Onii-sama."
…Speaking of which, Miyuki, saying that I have gained a reputation simply from high school committee activities is a bit much."
There’s nothing wrong with that, is there?
To me, Onii-sama’s name has the best reputation out there!"
As Miyuki spun around and swiped the card reader, her cheeks, hidden by her flowing black hair, seemed to faintly glow with a red tinge.
He soon found the one he was to meet up with.
The reason was because Sayaka was standing to the side of the crowd.
"I think it would have been better if you sat down to wait."
"If I did, then Shiba-kun might not have found me, right? I was the one who invited you. It would be a fault on my part."
Whether it was a feminine thing or because she was concerned as a senior, this person really didn't seem to understand herself, Tatsuya thought. She stood out about as much as one possibly could.
Now another troublesome rumor couldn’t help but surface.
To be greeted so eagerly by an upperclassman. As such thoughts emerged, Tatsuya sighed inwardly,
Then again, even if only outwardly, he was not one to carelessly pretend.
Meeting for the first time with a lady, it would be rude to keep her waiting.
"In any case, let’s sit down. We can talk from there."
"It’s not that crowded, so it would be better to sit after we buy some drinks."
That was neither a question, nor a suggestion, but an assertion.
He faintly remembered something startling.
However, he didn’t disobey.
Tatsuya got a coffee, while Sayaka had juice; then they sat down face to face at a vacant table.
Sipping at his coffee, Tatsuya sat up with his cup in hand and eyed the opposite seat.
Sayaka was sipping dazedly away through a straw at a bright red liquid.
After finishing off almost two thirds of her drink, she finally looked up.
Their eyes met.
Her expression was vacant, but her cheeks were red.
It almost looked like the juice had come up and dyed her face.
"…Do you like it?"
Tatsuya asked a simple question, but,
"Uu… What’s wrong with liking sweet things?! You can say I’m childish as much as you want!"
Suddenly getting angry… or rather, pouting.
If you’re going to get that embarrassed, then you shouldn’t have ordered it in the first place, Tatsuya thought.
To properly cover her embarrassment, he felt that it may be somehow necessary to correct her defenselessness.
But what he said lay in a different direction.
"I like sweet things too. I haven’t had that particular one before, but I often drink juice at home."
"Is that so?"
That’s not really the case, but the Sayaka who was looking down at her chest right now didn’t seem like an elder. It was quite the different impression from last week.
"Um, I’ve been rethinking…
Thanks again for last week. It’s thanks to Shiba-kun that I didn’t get seriously injured."
She placed her hands on her knees and, correcting her posture, gave a bow.
Whether to say it was something to be expected of a "kendo swordswoman", she changed notably from the "cute schoolgirl" she was just a while earlier.
"You don’t need to thank me. I was just doing my job."
Tatsuya, semi automatically processing his thoughts whilst paying no actual attention, gave a bland reply.
"No, it’s not just for stopping Kirihara-kun."
However that formal answer didn’t seem to put off Sayaka.
"Despite having such a wild duel, the one who spared not just me and Kirihara-kun from punishment, but both the Kendo and Kenjutsu clubs as well, was due to Shiba-kun’s insistence, wasn’t it?"
"The truth is, it wasn’t such a big deal. Apart from Mibu-senpai and Kirihara-senpai, no one else was injured. The subsequent brawl was entirely the fault of the Kenjutsu club, so the Kendo club couldn’t be blamed in the least."
"The reason it wasn’t a big problem was because of you. Anyone else wouldn’t have been able to prevent further injuries to the bystanders. They may have been able to overpower the offender without harm, but even now I still almost can’t believe that you pulled it off without incurring extraneous damage. Even though I think you went easy on them, the Kenjutsu club has plenty to be grateful to you for. Along that point, I hurt Kirihara-kun but… I’ve often heard the excuse, and Shiba-kun may think 'you’re just a girl'… if I knew martial arts to that degree, it’s something I’d feel as well. The appeal to not suppress your strength, and display your power openly for all to see, would definitely be there.
Shiba-kun, do you recall that?"
"That’s right. I know what you mean."
—That was a lie.
Or at least, half of it was.
He had no concept of having practitioned martial arts.
What he had learnt was merely the concept of combat. He could see the appeal of gaining the efficaciousness to complete objectives, but had no desire to simply show off that strength in any way.
However, naturally for Sayaka, who only began speaking with Tatsuya today, there was no way to know that.
"There’s no need to make such a big deal.
In any case, if too many people had come out injured from that melee, then it’s likely there would have been numerous issues, but the only one who seemed to have had sustained any injuries at all really was just Kirihara-kun. Both Kirihara-kun and I were prepared for the possibility of getting hurt, so that’s not really anyone else’s concern."
That’s incorrect, Tatsuya thought. One of the problems was that Kirihara had broken the rules by using a high risk magic. The principle during recruitment was to let the clubs handle their own troubles internally. If Sayaka and Kirihara had only been swinging shinai at each other, Tatsuya would not have intervened, and it’s likely Mari would not have felt any need to get involved either.
This was what he thought, but he didn’t voice it out loud.
"And yet, it seems like so many people have a problem with that. Even now, there are many students who keep going on about the incident over and over. The Public Morals Committee is trying to score points or something aren’t they?"
"…Actually, I’m also a member of that committee… I apologize."
"Ah, s, sorry! I didn’t mean it like that, honestly!"
Looking down at the bowing Tatsuya with a panicked face, Sayaka, who had become flustered all of a sudden, launched into a hurried explanation.
"What I wanted to say was, Shiba-kun is different from those people. It’s because of that that you saved me, and uhm, it’s not like I wanted to say bad things about the Public Morals Committee, the only ones I dislike are those guys, and, uh, huh?"
Tatsuya had been expressionlessly watching the wildly gesticulating Sayaka.
…But his eyes were,
filled with laughter.
The rambling series of words gradually petered out to a halt until Sayaka was just silently opening and closing her mouth, having finally noticed Tatsuya’s smile, and the embarrassment really started to settle in.
"…Hey, Shiba-kun, is actually quite a bully…?"
Those were words that were quite familiar.
"I don’t possess any such specialized trait."
A little white lie. Then straight back to the point.
"In any case, what was it that you wanted to discuss with me?"
"…I’ll say it bluntly."
Her lips were forming different sounds, but whether it was because she had resigned herself, or regained her sense of purpose,
"Shiba-kun, won’t you join the Kendo club?"
Sayaka, at length, cut to her original intention.
While this didn’t exceed his expectations, and it could not be denied this was rather anticlimactic in a sense, his answer was already ready. If she had just come out and said it from the start, they could have finished off nice and quickly, but now with a hint of irritation, Tatsuya immediately replied with his prepared answer.
"I’m going to have to refuse."
"…Could I please hear the reason?"
At that instant answer without even a hint of consideration, Sayaka couldn’t hide her shock.
"Let me ask you why you want to recruit me instead. The abilities I possess are completely different to those that are required in kendo. Someone as skilled as Mibu-senpai should definitely know that, right?"
His voice held neither roughness nor provocation, but there was a definite edge to it that would not forgive any concealment.
Sayaka’s glance wandered away.
With such a gesture, it was like she was desperately searching for an escape route.
In a sense, that was probably exactly right.
At length she uttered a sigh and, with a resigned look, opened her mouth.
"At a magic academy, the performance of magic is paramount… I knew that from the start, and I certainly did enroll with that in mind, but for that to be the be all and end all, don’t you think that’s wrong?"
"Please go on."
"It’s a certain fact that we’re discriminated against in class. Simply because we have no ability. But, a high school life shouldn’t involve just that. For magic to be prioritized so much over clubs is totally wrong."
From what Tatsuya had seen this week, he could understand that clubs that did not involve the use of magic received unfair treatment. Indeed, the clubs that did received various backings from the school.
However, that was a sort of propaganda to raise the profile of the Academy, and done so by the school management.
Thinking about it, the passionate girl was not making a distinction between "preferential treatment" and "being snubbed".
However, such a conclusion seemed hasty.
"Just because I can’t use magic well, they go as far as to mock my swordsmanship. I can’t stand being disregarded any longer. Everything about me shouldn’t be denied just because of magic."
Without thinking, she took a strong tone.
Within those words, was something beyond conviction bordering on obsession. Tatsuya certainly sensed it.
While it seemed like she found it uncomfortable to look into Tatsuya’s eyes, she nonetheless cleared her throat and continued.
"People like us sought solace in clubs that didn’t require magic. There are also many people who think like this in the Kendo club.
This year, we want to create a different club organization and tell the management of our ideas.
Magic shouldn’t be everything.
For that, won’t Shiba-kun lend us his strength?"
He had simply considered her an idol, but she was closer to a crusader.
Tatsuya laughed at his own blindness.
"…Are you making fun of me?"
Seems she had misunderstood.
If he had left it at that, it would have saved him a lot of trouble later, but Tatsuya went on to say something unnecessary.
"Not at all. I was simply laughing at my own ignorance. I had thought of senpai as merely a beautiful Kendo girl, so I couldn’t see beyond…"
He had said the latter portion to himself.
Since he had entered, he had met one beautiful girl after another who were difficult to deal with, so why was he expecting this one to be normal? He felt like laughing at himself.
Since his thoughts were facing inwards, Tatsuya rather failed to notice that Sayaka was suspiciously blushing furiously and mumbling.
Stifling the impulse to laugh without even noticing, Tatsuya changed his expression.
Sayaka’s voice as she responded was rather heated, but Tatsuya didn’t register it.
Then finally, Tatsuya uttered one last unnecessary line.
"After telling your thoughts to the school, what would you do then?"
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