Toaru Majutsu no Index:Volume17 Chapter3
Chapter 3: Magic Cabal of the British Labyrinth. N∴L∴
After all that, they finally landed in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh was a city in Scotland, the northern part of the United Kingdom. London was in the south. They had to switch to a domestic flight to get to London.
“There certainly were a lot of TV cameras there. I guess it was because of the terrorist attack.”
Kamijou had managed to get through the immigration gate with the little bit of English he knew and he was checking the time on his cell phone.
“Hm? Oh, that’s right. I have to correct for the time difference.”
The phone most likely had a function to switch the clock to the times of the different major cities in the world, but Kamijou wasn’t the kind of person that read thick instruction books. He put the phone back in his pocket and looked around until he found a clock on the wall.
“….8 at night… We’re not almost at the last flight again, are we?” muttered Kamijou as he knew very little about airplane schedules.
“Ee!? I-Index-san!! I think I heard some beast-like growling in the middle of my name there!”
“That’s because I’m starving and starving and starving and about to collapse!! The beef or fish never came and I didn’t get to eat anything! Any more of this and I’m going to die!! If I don’t get anything to eat, I’m really going to die!!”
Index was still wearing the dress instead of her nun’s habit (even on a domestic flight, taking those safety pins on a plane was a bad idea), and she was swinging her arms around at full force in her attempt to appeal Kamijou for some food. In response, he sat down on his suitcase and crossed his arms as he thought.
“Won’t there be an in-flight meal on the domestic flight?”
“I have a feeling there won’t!! I have no proof, but I have a feeling there won’t!!”
It was true that, according to the flight schedule, the Edinburgh to London flight was only an hour long. It was possible they wouldn’t provide a meal on such a short flight.
Kamijou continued to think.
“…No, I’m hungry, too. Let’s go get something to eat.”
“You’re too happy!! That’s scary! There are stars in your eyes! I think this is the most dynamic smile I’ve ever seen!!”
As they spoke back and forth, Kamijou took Index along as he began searching for the airport’s light meal area. He had started studying English using an app on his phone, but he was still a ways away from knowing enough to be practical. But he managed to find his way through the vast airport by relying on the knife & fork and coffee cup symbols on the signs.
(I’m pretty sure there was some British currency in the luggage Tsuchimikado gave us. I suppose this qualifies as a necessary use.)
“T-Touma! I smell coffee from over there!!”
“Eh? I don’t smell anythi-…What!? There really is a café around the corner here!!”
In front of Kamijou was a stylish coffee shop with glass on all sides. He felt that people truly used to travelling would disapprove of them going to a chain store that they had in Japan after coming all the way to the UK, but for a normal lower middle class person (who helped stop a terrorist attack) like Kamijou Touma, he felt like shouting “Yay, food!!”
He was almost like how Index normally was. And speaking of Index…
“Wah, wah, waaaahhh!! Index, those aren’t even words!! Those eyes! Those eyebrows! Those lips! Really, your face as a whole looks rather amazing!!”
Kamijou renewed his resolve to get in the café as soon as possible to start eating a ham and lettuce sandwich and he grabbed her hand to pull her towards the glass entrance.
That was when someone suddenly tapped his shoulder from behind.
He turned around and found a girl standing there. She was about 18 years old. She had Asian facial features and was greater than average height. Her long black hair was tied in a ponytail and yet still stretched down to her waist. She was wearing a pair of jeans with one leg cut clean off all the way to the top and a t-shirt tied so her navel was visible. Above the shirt, she was wearing a jacket with one sleeve cut off so her arm was bared. But what drew the most attention was the ridiculously huge Japanese sword Shichiten Shichitou that was hanging from her belt that looked like something a gunman from a western would wear.
“Long time no see,” she said.
Hearing those words, Kamijou responded.
“Wh-why is the Fallen Angel Ero Maid here…!?”
The Japanese sword girl, Kanzaki Kaori, started coughing. As she struggled to breathe gasping in air, she desperately moved her lips.
“Th-the English Royal Family requested that I bring you and Index to Buckingham Palace. If you had just taken the non-stop flight on the supersonic passenger plane prepared by Academy City, I wouldn’t have had to do this.”
“That doesn’t really answer my question. There’s no real reason that had to be done by the Fallen Angel Ero Maid!!”
“I am not a fallen angel, I am not erotic, and I am not a maid!! I-it’s true that…after the battle with Acqua, I…did v-v-various things. I admit that. But ‘Fallen Angel Ero Maid’ should not be the first words out of your mouth when you see me!!”
“I can’t help it!! That really was a fallen angel-like ero maid!!”
“Stop recalling the details and getting distracted!! D-don’t blush like that!!”
Kanzaki was shaking Kamijou by his shoulders, but it seemed as if Kamijou was not looking at her in the eyes.
“A-anyway!! I am not that kind of indecent person! I have come to get you as a messenger of the Anglican Church and as the Priestess of the new Amakusa Church. I am not embarrassed!!”
“Isn’t that a bad idea in and of itself? I mean, you’re walking around an airport with a sword! What did you even come here for today! Whenever 2 or 3 magicians gather, it’s always bad news!! Just tell me what’s going on!!”
Index finally cut into the argument between Kamijou and Kanzaki.
Her gaze was not on Kamijou or Kanzaki. She was staring at the stylish coffee shop.
“…If you drag this out any longer, I’ll never forgive you.”
“Ehhh!? You’re saying this is my fault!? I wouldn’t say so! How is it my fault that terrorists attacked the plane or that Kanzaki started talking to us!?”
He attempted to argue his case, but it didn’t get through to Index as she was being controlled by her empty stomach. Kamijou decided that he had to quickly end the conversation with Kanzaki and head to the café with Index.
That was when Kanzaki Kaori the Ero Maid spoke.
“Th-that’s right. Food. You need to hurry, because we don’t have much time.”
(Ohh, she understands!! A girl that can pick up on the mood is so wonderful!! And I’m pretty hungry myself!!)
Kamijou started towards the café, but then Kanzaki continued speaking.
“Due to the terrorist attack, all the other flights have been cancelled so they can inspect all the planes. I have a helicopter and a pilot ready, so we’ll head to London that way.”
Kamijou remained silent for a bit and then looked towards her.
“…What do you mean?”
“You were originally supposed to head directly to London in the Academy City supersonic passenger plane. However, you hurriedly switched to a different plane putting us 7 hours late already. We can’t delay this any longer. Index Librorum Prohibitorum was summoned with an official order by England, so you need to do your duty as her guardian. …By the way, she needs to change into her Walking Church nun’s habit. There’s a space in the back of the helicopter she can use to change.”
“…What about the food?”
“There’s no time to eat. Come with me. If you were just making us wait, it wouldn’t be a problem, but right now you’re keeping the entirety of the English Royal Family waiting. You’ve neglected to follow up on a promise made with those of royal blood for 7 hours without contacting anyone…I’d be less worried about the Royal Family itself and more worried about how the obstinate Knights would react if they knew.”
Kanzaki Kaori dragged Kamijou along by the hand while talking about things he didn’t understand. He then tried to explain what he felt was most important.
“Let me repeat: What about the food!? Index-san has been at her limit for a while now!! I have a feeling that her anger will bring forth a tremendous energy if we leave her hungry for much longer!”
“You are her manager, so you do something about it.”
“How can you act like it isn’t your fault!? …Wait, are you mad? Did I make you mad by teasing you about the Fallen Angel Ero Maid thing!?”
“No, not at all. I’m perfectly calm, so just get on the helicopter already.”
Kanzaki used the strength of a Saint to drag Kamijou by the arm.
The third princess of England, Villian, stood in a large room.
That space half the size of a tennis court was Villian’s territory. Simply put, it was her private room. The royal family had constant political intrigue not just inside and outside of the country, but in their home as well. Her room was the sole safe place she could shut it all out and be alone in.
“…I see. Yes, yes. That the plane managed to land in Edinburgh safely is what matters most.”
Villian was holding the receiver for an antique phone with a ceramic surface. Apparently, the line went through a cutting-edge switchboard in Buckingham Palace that heavily encrypted the signal, but she didn’t know much about technology.
She was talking with the person in charge of the Edinburgh airport.
What Villian was currently worried about was the cargo packed on that plane.
“Yes. I think you should inspect everything because of the terrorist attack, but please make sure the liquid foods get to the individual households as quickly as possible. For the people who cannot eat normal foods, this is literally a matter of life or death. …Yes. Please give them relief as soon as you can.”
Villian slowly put down the receiver and gave a light sigh.
It was possible the intelligence agency had been listening in (regardless of whether it had been encrypted or not), but she hadn’t said anything she didn’t mind anyone hearing.
The United Kingdom was a complicated nation.
It was made up of four cultures: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
It contained three factions: the Royal Family, the Knights, and the Anglican Church.
The interconnections between those two categories formed the United Kingdom. Depending on the situation, one knight from England and another from Scotland could get into a fight and a member of the royal family from Wales and a member of the church from Wales could have a connection between them.
Of course, as the third princess, Villian was part of the royal family. She had been since the moment she was born. The only way to join the Royal Family faction was to either be a descendant of the monarch or demonstrate one’s political skill as a close aide of a member. Theirs was the faction that represented the nation, but it had significantly fewer members than the knights or the church.
The royal family’s duty was to intervene and seize control of the parliamentary government in order to take substantial control of the country. While the knights and the church worked in the shadows, the royal family had the most power in a public sense because it needed to be able to control the police and the military.
That said, Third Princess Villian had no real power.
The three daughters of the Queen of England had the following qualities:
The eldest daughter had intellect.
The second daughter had military might.
The third daughter had a natural benevolence.
In other words, despite Villian’s popularity, she had no trump card with which to move the country. The man from the Edinburgh airport she had spoken to on the phone had likely thought she was very kind for being worried about that kind of thing, but he wasn’t about to swear his eternal loyalty to her or anything.
Her benevolence did not give her connections within the factions.
Her sisters would say that everything she did was wasted effort.
Her duty was to be treated as the public face of the royal family by the media and, in the common magazines, she was referred to as the princess people would most like to marry, but that was the entirety of her role within the royal family.
The prospect of a political marriage with her was used to make foreign leaders lose focus, but the idea of marriage was just bait and not a serious offer. The queen and her sisters would use the opening this created to negotiate the best treaty for England.
Keeping up her etiquette as a member of the royal family and carrying out her official duties gracefully made Villian feel like she was a mental stripper. And if England was ever in an unavoidable crisis, she would probably actually be forced into a political marriage.
Villian gave a heavy sigh in the large room.
The recent quarrel between England and France was enough to suggest the possibility of that terrible trump card.
Her thoughts were then cut off by a small knock.
The person calling out to her from the other side of the thick door was a young maid. She was a civilian who knew nothing of magic. There were special workers for the royal family, the royal maids, that were essentially a type of shrine maiden because they looked after the royalty who were traditionally said to gain their authority by having a piece of divine power, but Villian chose to use civilian maids.
“The heads of the Knights and the Royal Family as well as the boy who is a guest from Japan’s Academy City have arrived in the palace. The audience will be held soon. Lady Villain, please prepare yourself.”
“…Understood,” she responded, but there were no preparations she had to make. Even in her private room, Villian remained dressed at the minimum needed for an official appearance. Her life was constantly filled with a certain type of tension.
She walked across the large room, opened the door, and exited. A woman wearing a green maid uniform was standing so as not to get in Villian’s path. The maid nodded in her direction and Villian started walking down the hallway. But then she suddenly stopped and looked up.
The ceiling of the long, long straight hallway was very tall. Much like the lights in a tunnel, shield-shaped crests were lined up on the walls at even intervals.
They were the crests of knights throughout history.
There was a similar hallway in the royal family’s secondary residence, Windsor Castle, but the one in Buckingham Palace held the meaning of a magical faction, so only the crests of knights were displayed. Having one’s family’s crest displayed in that hallway was the first step towards becoming a noble family and it was what everyone who wielded a sword for England wished for.
Perhaps because the crests had been developed so they would be easily distinguishable on the battlefield, each one was extremely distinct. It was to the point that it almost ruined the harmony of the hallway. But there was something else that ruined the hallway’s harmony even more.
There was an empty space.
Amid the evenly spaced escutcheons, one spot had nothing in it. It gave Villian a strong uncomfortable feeling much like a comb with a missing tooth.
She knew the reason behind the empty space.
A certain man had fought for England and was supposed to have been made a knight in recognition of his valiant actions. The man had still been a mercenary when he had disappeared from the country, but the head of the Knights left that space empty to show his respect for the man.
Seeing that empty space, Villian’s lips moved almost on their own.
The maid walking next to her said nothing.
The helicopter Kamijou and the others were on landed in a large park in London…or so Kamijou thought. Apparently, it was on the grounds of Buckingham Palace where the Queen of England lived. An entire section of England’s capital city was left open as a combination of two adjoining parks, so his mistake wasn’t too surprising.
Normally, Kamijou would have raised his voice in admiration at the scale of it all, but something else had his attention.
“Hgyaaaahhhhh!? This isn’t just a bite!! I think you’ve started chewing, Index-saaaaaaaaaannnnnn!!”
The silver-haired green-eyed monster (she had finished changing into her nun’s habit on the helicopter) had climbed up on his back and was declaring her intentions in a dreadful way. Watching the two of them from the corner of her eye, Kanzaki Kaori stepped down from the helicopter ahead of them.
“I screwed up. We took longer to arrive than scheduled because we were flying into the wind. We need to hurry. Everyone will already have gathered.”
“Hey!! How can you say that while this tragedy is unfolding before your eyes!? Surely, you can at least get her a sandwich!! I think she’s so hungry she’s about to turn into a completely different creature!!”
“Hee hee. Managing Index Librorum Prohibitorum is your duty. I’m relieved to see how flawlessly you are handling it.”
“You are mad, aren’t you!? You’re mad about the whole Fallen Angel Ero Maid thing, aren’t you!? But you’re the one who came bursting into the hospital room dressed like tha-ggghhhhghgh!!”
Kamijou’s words became suddenly garbled because Kanzaki had covered his mouth with her hand.
“(…You must not mention that in front of the pilot or anyone else. Do you understand?)”
“Mggghghg-Your Saint’s-ggghhghghh-your Saint’s strength is-ghgghggghhh-crushing-ghghghggghhh!?”
Still crushing his face, Kanzaki dragged Kamijou along and they moved from the square rest area that had guide lights so it could be used as a heliport to Buckingham Palace. Since Index was still clinging to Kamijou’s back, they must have looked like an odd group.
Kanzaki did not lead them to the large main gate, but to a small back entrance.
However, Kamijou opened his mouth to speak just before she grabbed the doorknob.
“Wait a second, Kanzaki!!”
“Why are you speaking while your head is being held like a volleyball?”
“I don’t want to hear that from the person doing the grabbing! Anyway, is it really okay for me to go in the palace!? My right hand contains the power of Imagine Breaker, so I’m not going to destroy all the national treasures the second I set foot inside and have to spend a lifetime of misfortune trying to pay back my debt, am I!?”
“…Oh, that’s what you’re worried about?” Kanzaki finally let go of Kamijou’s face. “You don’t need to worry about that. England may be the country magic was developed in, but all of those kinds of security measures have been removed from Buckingham Palace.”
“Eh? Really? The Queen lives here, so I was sure it would be a ridiculously strong magical fortress.”
“Strongholds like that do exist. Windsor Castle, the secondary residence of the royal family, is a good example.” Kanzaki sighed slightly as she spoke. “Buckingham Palace is used for meetings with important people from other countries. If it was covered in magical mechanisms, it would look as if they were inviting the foreign leaders into a trap. That would be a major diplomatic problem. Public parties are held in Windsor Castle, but only those who trust the queen regnant enough to not lead them into a trap are invited to those. There are types of danger other than physical danger.”
She then glanced away from Kamijou who still had Index connected to his head.
“The Queen doesn’t need that kind of security.”
Speaking those significant-sounding words, Kanzaki opened the back door.
The door itself was small, but the scenery beyond it was quite something. The sheer scale of it was clear by the fact that the inside of a room could be referred to as “scenery”.
When Kamijou had heard it referred to as a “palace”, he had been imagining a world of sparkling gold, but that was not what actually lay before him. The hallway was as wide as a small room. Inside the hallway were carpets meant to be looked at instead of stepped on, paintings and sculptures scattered around, and even a maid carrying around a tea set.
“There you are.”
While Kamijou was being overwhelmed by the scenery and the maid, a man’s voice reached his ears. The man spoke in Japanese and was wearing a suit. However, this was not the kind of worn-out suit someone in a packed train would be wearing; it was a suit one wore to display one’s status at a party. Frankly, it was the kind of suit that would most likely never be a part of Kamijou’s life.
Seeing the man, Kanzaki opened her mouth to speak.
“Knight Leader, many thanks for supplying our means of transportation.”
“If you mean the helicopter, think nothing of it. It was a necessary expense.” The blond man Kanzaki had called Knight Leader turned his gaze in Kamijou’s direction. “So you are the one carrying the duty of being Index Librorum Prohibitorum’s manager.”
“E-eh? This whole manager thing is really pretty vague…”
“I had been curious as to what kind of person was maintaining those 103,000 grimoires, but I never expected he would do so with her attached to his head. The mystic secrets of the Orient truly are a sight to behold.”
“I knew this was wasn’t right! The only reason we’re in this odd situation is that she lost to her hunger!! If you don’t mind, could you at least get her some bread to eat before she actually breaks through my skull!?”
A warning glare from Kanzaki told him he was acting improperly, but Knight Leader used a hand to call over the maid carrying a tea set. Kamijou and Index received scones from the maid. They were sort of like a mix between bread and cookies.
“Hm…Nnn!? What’s this!? I-it’s spreading! This scone feels like its spreading throughout my stomach filling it up bit by bit!”
“I see. That’s good. Now, everyone is already gathered, so if you would come this way.”
“Eh? It’s free? This is free!? In that case, we’re not holding back. Index! Eat as much as you want!!”
“I was never planning on holding back!! Scones!! Scones!!”
“That’s right, Index!! Keep at it!! Let’s eat them all!!”
“…Excuse me, but the situation is developing even now, so we need to hurry and…”
“Oh, they level up even further when you put butter on them!!”
“Blueberries work, too!!”
“But eating them plain is great, too!! That way you can enjoy their natural flavor!!”
“Okay, then all the butter, blueberries, strawberry jam, and honey are mine!!”
“That’s not what I meant, you stupid nun!!”
“Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!”
“Wa ha ha ha ha ha ha!!”
“So good!! Ah ha! So good!!”
Knight Leader was left speechless for a while until he finally cast his eyes down and muttered to Kanzaki.
“…Do you mind if I draw my sword?”
“If you’re trying to persuade them, let me do it!! Don’t worry. I’ll do something!!”
Kanzaki then punched Kamijou and held Index’s hands behind her back. The maid hurriedly left and the scone heaven was over.
“So why exactly were we called here?” Kamijou suddenly asked as they walked down a large hallway in Buckingham Palace.
“Did Tsuchimikado not tell you anything as your guide in Academy City?” Kanzaki asked sounding a bit flustered.
Kamijou shook his head.
“No. He just gassed us out of nowhere and left us at the airport.”
Kanzaki closed her eyes and gritted her teeth, but Kamijou didn’t seem as worried about it.
(Isn’t he always like that? He did kick me out into the air with a parachute over Avignon.)
Knight Leader opened his mouth to speak after listening to their conversation from the side.
“Something like a strategy meeting is about to be held. Members of the royal family, the knights, and the church have gathered here for it. However, the top members of the royal family – that is, those who have royal blood – are present, so it is officially an ‘audience’.”
Having said that, Knight Leader glanced over to check what Kamijou was wearing.
“As such, it would be best if you were dressed more formally, but I suppose nothing can be done about it at this point. And they aren’t the type to get angry at you for wearing a T-shirt and casual trousers.”
Kamijou gave a slight start at being pointed out like that.
Kamijou started panicking at the thought that he had made some extremely basic faux pas, but then he saw Kanzaki walking next to him with her bare leg and navel.
“With Kanzaki like that, I guess there shouldn’t be any problem with me…”
“That is a rather rude assessment. My clothing is accepted as a means of configuring my spells.”
There was a bit of anger hidden behind Kanzaki’s words and she made a slight attempt to keep her body out of Kamijou’s gaze. That was when Index spoke up.
“You said this was a strategy meeting, but what are we making a strategy for?”
“It was the Queen’s decision to officially summon you, but that shows just how serious the situation is.”
Knight Leader stopped in front of a certain door.
It was an impressive set of double doors that was large even for the huge palace.
“You may have seen it on the news, but the Eurotunnel connecting England and France was bombed by someone. All three tunnels were hit. The destruction of that undersea tunnel has delayed the transport of personnel and goods which has had a major impact on our economy.”
“In short, it is possible magic was used in the bombing. That makes it a magic attack on a national level.”
As he spoke, Knight Leader reached for the knob of the large door.
When Kamijou thought about the fact that a room where an audience with the Queen of England and a strategy meeting awaited him, a natural anxiety ran along his spine. He was being treated as Index Librorum Prohibitorum’s protector, so he probably wasn’t expected to say much, but he was still going to be present at a meeting that would guide an entire country.
Knight Leader turned the knob.
But before he could fully open the door, a voice came through the gap.
“Gwohhh… This dress is a pain in the ass. Couldn’t I just wear a track suit?”
Knight Leader suddenly froze.
Not knowing English, Kamijou merely looked at him quizzically.
“…Excuse me a moment,” Knight Leader said quietly and then slipped through the cracked door.
“Ngh!? At least knock before you come in!!”
“I apologize for that, but I need to have a word with you. …Were you really thinking of wearing a track suit to an official appearance? You idiot!!”
“Yay, Knight Leader’s the first in!”
“The order we enter the room does not matter!! Please, just act like a queen!! No, that isn’t necessary. No one is expecting you to have some surprising character, so please don’t bring out an electric guitar!!”
Kamijou heard sounds of a commotion and stared at the door suspiciously, but Kanzaki wasn’t translating the conversation into Japanese for some reason and Index just looked sleepy because she had just eaten.
Eventually, Knight Leader stuck his head out through the crack in the door.
“…Sorry for the trouble. Everything is in order now. Queen Elizard has had her eyes opened.”
Kamijou didn’t really understand what he meant, but he entered through the door anyway.
The room did not contain a large throne on a stage with stairs leading to it as was often seen in RPGs. The spacious area looked more like a party hall. A number of tables were set up in concentric circles like the rings of a tree. It reminded Kamijou of the UN conference room he had occasionally seen on TV.
And in the center was the Queen of England. He was pretty sure she had been called Elizard. She was around 50 years old. Her skin and hair were beginning to show the shadows of age, but in some more fundamental way – perhaps you could call it her core or her frame – she outdid even a teenager like Kamijou.
She was wearing a long dress that covered even the tips of her toes. The dress was colored white and black and it looked expensive enough that Kamijou would have to spend the rest of his life paying for the cleaning costs if he got gum on it or something.
The other point of interest was Queen Elizard’s right hand.
She held a sword in it. It looked like a stereotypical double-sided Western sword that was about 80 cm long if the hilt was included. However, it had no tip and no blade. What looked like a long square board was attached to the hilt.
The queen looked like a model English lady and yet she was walking around with that sword out not even putting it in a sheath.
Seeing that sword brought an initial impression of the queen to Kamijou’s mind.
And Kamijou then spoke his impression out loud.
“What a surprising character…!? H-Himegami tried so hard and failed to gain some individuality and she’s acquired it so easily!!”
“No, that is normal! The electric guitar, the soccer ball, the cup-and-ball game, the surfboard, and all the other unneeded tools have been taken away!! You may not be familiar with it, but that sword is the symbol of Queen Regnant Elizard!!”
Knight Leader was holding his head in his hands as if he were recalling a nightmare.
In contrast, the queen gave a broad smile.
“This is a sword exclusive to the royal family known as the Curtana.”
“Curtana?” Kamijou repeated questioningly, but Knight Leader spoke before the queen could continue.
“It is a sacred sword that is passed down generation by generation to each head of state. Following that sword’s history would be the same as understanding the history of the English royal family.”
“You are making too much of it. I admit that it is a useful tool, but the royal family would not be destroyed if it were to be broken,” denied Elizard ostentatiously with a smile on her face.
The familiar way the queen spoke of the sword showed just how used she was to carrying the Curtana.
She looked back towards Kamijou and continued speaking of the Curtana.
“The Curtana is a ceremonial sword used in the coronation of the king or queen. It is not the sign of being the queen, but the proof of being the person who chooses the ruler. As you can see, it has no blade and its tip is flat, so there is no danger in letting it hang down.”
“It may look odd to you, but it would be helpful if you could get over such cultural differences,” added Knight Leader.
As neither a knight nor a samurai, Kamijou didn’t understand the point of a sword without a blade.
“(…Is that really such an amazing sword,)” he whispered to Kanzaki.
“Well, yes,” she nodded. “It’s only artificial, but it provides the bearer with the same type of power as Michael. It is a sword that lets you freely control the power of not just an archangel, but the leader of the angels. It can hardly be called a normal sword.”
“The leader of the angels…?”
Kamijou stiffened at those dangerous sounding words and Index drowsily spoke.
“That refers to the most powerful of the angels.”
The term angel alone brought bad memories to Kamijou’s mind, but now they were talking about the strongest one.
He looked back in Elizard’s direction and she rested the Curtana on her shoulder.
“However, it can only be used within the boundaries of the United Kingdom. Basically, the Curtana is a sword that provides a large amount of Telesma to the queen and the knights,” she explained bluntly. “Basically, there is a special rule that only take affect within the four cultures of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland and the three factions of the royal family, the knights, and the Anglican Church exist to enforce that rule. The Curtana functions as a sword that provides great power to those who enforce that rule and protect the United Kingdom.”
“A special rule…?” Kamijou asked and Knight Leader continued the explanation in Elizard’s place.
“The Anglican Church is a Christian Church original to this country. Henry VIII, a king in the 1500’s, created it because he hated having other countries interfering with the governing of his own country. In order to get rid of all external influence, he made sure of two points when he created it. The first was that the country would never be violated by foreign influences and the second was that the King of England would be at the top of the Anglican Church and that the king did not have to listen to what the Roman Catholic Pope said.”
“Henry VIII established the position of the king as the leader of the angels because it was a position higher than that of the Roman Pope. He would then lead the people of England with his knights as an army of angels. Thanks to this, the queen regnant can even now possess the same type of power as Michael, the leader of the angels, so long as she holds the Curtana and is within the country,” said Elizard as she swung the Curtana down from her shoulder.
The queen spun the bladeless sword around like a baton and Knight Leader continued the explanation.
“In the 1500’s, Henry VIII used the four countries of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland to create this mechanism. Four is a number that indicates the earth. It seems he wanted to create a magical meaning that only held true within an ‘all-English land’ by constructing a map made up of a meaningful number of countries. He created a great land that glorified being very independent and received no influence from the many areas of power the Roman Catholic Pope held at the time. It is possible that he was troubled by the complicated politics of the surrounding countries, and he wished for the legendary land spoken of in old stories.”
The reason had been political, not religious.
By preparing an “all-English land” created of the 4 nations making up the United Kingdom, he had made the king the leader of the angels and the knights into an army of angels.
It couldn’t have been done with only one country. A symbol of multiple nations had been necessary for the “all-English land” to receive that blessing. And since it was also politically all under the control one large country, it all was exceedingly beneficial from a political standpoint.
That was the United Kingdom.
And the ruler standing at the top of the kingdom could use that power to its fullest.
That was the queen.
“(…Be that as it may, I can’t get as flashy as what was detected during Angel Fall. I may have power, but I’m still human. Using angel-level spells isn’t that easy.)”
“Nothing. But Henry VIII didn’t have it quite that easy. He wanted to use the four countries of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland to construct the rule that would make him the leader of the angels, but Scotland was an independent nation at the time and was actually at war with England. He had assumed Scotland would be easily conquered when he came up with the rule, but it turned out to be a formidable opponent. For a while, it started to look like his rule was in danger of failing.”
Apparently, there was also a problem in that it could only be used within the 4 countries, so he couldn’t use the power of the leader of the angels while in colonies outside the UK.
“Incidentally, part of Ireland is currently regarded as independent, so that area is not used in the symbol of the 4 nations. Keeping Northern Ireland as a part of the United Kingdom was necessary in order to maintain the four country structure,” Elizard said as she spun the Curtana around. “By setting up that rule, the Curtana leveled up from being the sword that decided who the King of England would be to the sword that determined who England’s leader of the angels was. …Although, the sword only has an effect on royalty and nobles, so it is a tad unfair to the common people.”
Then Kanzaki cut in from the side.
“Members of the Anglican Church such as myself are not affected by the power of the angels. We are treated as those who use the power of the Christian Church as humans like usual, so we do not receive the blessing of the Curtana. Just think of the Curtana as giving a large amount of power to the queen and to the knights.”
“The United Kingdom is a land made up of 4 cultures and is protected by 3 organizations. The Curtana is used as a little tool to construct the relationship between those 3 organizations.”
As usual, the queen was the only one that spoke lightly about the Curtana.
It wasn’t that she didn’t understand its importance. She just had enough power to spare that she could laugh off tradition.
“Okay, that’s the end of the Curtana lecture. Do you understand a bit more about this small tool from England’s history now?”
“So the reason Buckingham Palace doesn’t need security is…?” Kamijou asked timidly and the queen responded lightly.
“Do you know of any human that could kill the leader of the angels? I’ve never see one, at any rate.”
Kamijou didn’t fully understand, but he had gathered that it was used in some ridiculous ceremony, so he decided he should make sure not to accidentally touch it with his right hand. He put his caution at its maximum level. A sword used in a ritual that chose the king or queen sounded like a national treasure to him and he knew it would be very, very bad if something did happen.
Queen Elizard saw Kamijou drawing back from the sword and gave an unconcerned smile.
“Even if you did damage or destroy it in some way, no one would blame you. After all, this is historically the Curtana Second.”
“Just the name doesn’t really tell me anything…”
“That means it’s the second one. Historically, the Curtana Original disappeared somewhere. This Curtana Second was hurriedly created so there wouldn’t be any hindrances to the ceremony. So even if this one was broken, a new Curtana could be made. You don’t need to worry too much.”
“Really…?” Kamijou said with a questioning look on his face and a voice spoke up from behind him.
“That isn’t true at all. It’s true that the Curtana Second is a second sword that was artificially created by the royal family, but the method to do so has been lost. A third or fourth sword cannot be created so easily.”
The voice was coming from the doorway.
A beautiful woman that looked to be in her early 30’s entered dressed in a dress just as luxurious as the queen’s. Her dress was mostly blue, but her skirt did not spread out. Instead, it stuck with the lines of her legs. She had a monocle over her left eye which increased her intellectual – or rather, cool-headed – appearance. Her black hair reached her shoulders. The hair was unnaturally glossy, so it may have been dyed.
Her outfit was luxurious but not gaudy. She left one with an odd but graceful impression.
“(…That’s the first princess, Rimea,)” Kanzaki whispered in his ear.
Knight Leader seemed shocked that the princess had arrived without being accompanied by an aide or even a single maid.
“If you had asked, one of my men…no, I would have gone myself to get you.”
“Oh, no, no. I can’t have others accompanying me. That just adds to the risk of being stabbed in the back. I have no intention of putting my trust in those who know me.”
It looked like Knight Leader was going to get upset over that, but he instead gave a sigh of exasperation. It seemed Princess Rimea’s distrust wasn’t unusual.
“I see you’re still as gloomy as ever, sister.”
This time, a woman in a red dress entered the room. Unlike the other two women’s dresses, this one was made up of bright red leather, so it was reminiscent about something bondage related. The woman wearing the red dress looked to be in her upper 20’s. She had two knights accompanying her, one on either side.
In contrast to Rimea, she was a very gaudy woman.
Her skirt did not spread out, but it appeared to be supported by a wire framework. As she passed through the door, the skirt made a noise and expanded to an unnaturally large size like an umbrella.
“Why must you always be so depressing, sister? If you truly cannot trust anyone, why don’t you just get it over with and die?”
Kamijou looked on in confusion and the woman in the red dress glanced over at him.
“I am the second princess, Carissa. Have you at least been taught your history, boy?”
Kamijou was shocked by the scale of someone whose name was in the history books just by being born. On the other hand, Carissa didn’t seem interested in Kamijou.
“Oh, so you came too, Villian.”
A woman in a green dress who had appeared in a corner of the room at some point gave a start at those sudden words. With her long blonde hair, her white skin, and her dress with a spread out skirt, she was the kind of stereotypical princess one would expect to see in a picture book. However, it seemed she didn’t like to stand out too much. While shrinking down and holding down her skirt with both hands, the woman who had been called Villian silently nodded and hurriedly moved away.
“She is my younger sister, the third princess. Boring, isn’t she?” Carissa said calmly.
Her difficult to comment on words had surely reached Villian, but the third princess only shrunk down further.
After seeing that the three princesses had entered the room, Queen Elizard spoke.
“It looks like everyone’s here.”
Those words must have indicated the beginning of the strategy meeting that was being called an audience. Most likely, a large number of soldiers and magicians would enter. From the number of seats prepared, it looked like the meeting would have more than 100 people in it.
(…I feel so out-of-place here.)
As Kamijou was giving a bitter laugh in his heart, the queen continued speaking.
“So let’s get out of here.”
Kamijou looked over to Index, but she was still just looking blankly ahead. When he looked at Kanzaki’s face, he saw she was giving a sigh of exasperation. Knight Leader averted his gaze with a bitter look on his face when Kamijou turned his questioning look in his direction.
Amid it all, Elizard spoke with a smile on her face.
“In a large meeting where everything said is recorded, a lot of people can’t say what they want to say. In a situation like this where every second counts, having people argue is just a waste of time. At times, making a decision quickly with a small number of people is more effective.”
“…In Your Majesty’s case, I feel there are too many of those cases,” murmured Knight Leader.
Kamijou was taken aback and looked around the conference room.
“But…um…Is that really okay? Doing it with just a few people is fine, but won’t the others feel bad about being left out?”
“Oh, that’s simple enough to deal with. We just tell them that they are free to butt in, but, if we go with their policy and fail, all of the responsibility lies with them.”
“Those people acting like specialists love to give their opinions, but very few of them are willing to take responsibility for those opinions. And having people like that complicating things can be a problem. Especially when we’re trying to lead a nation.”
Second Princess Carissa nodded at Queen Elizard’s words.
“As long as we have a representative from the royal family, the knights, and the church, I don’t mind. I don’t like that the head of the Anglican Church, the one who summoned Index Librorum Prohibitorum, isn’t here, but I suppose it’s fine since we have a Saint here in her place.”
“I-I’m very sorry. It seems our Archbishop is acting secretly behind the scenes as usual,” said Kanzaki as she lowered her head.
Kamijou started thinking.
The knights had Knight Leader, the Anglican Church had Kanzaki Kaori, but the royal family had the queen and all three princesses. There appeared to be a bias in who was invited.
“Hee hee hee. For better or for worse, this country is, in the end, a kingdom. …That is, the land of a king or, in this case, a queen,” First Princess Rimea said while looking at Kamijou’s face.
Apparently, the royal family had the most weight when it came to decisions on the national level. As Kamijou was thinking that, Third Princess Villian silently lowered her head apologetically for some reason.
On the other hand, Carissa pointed towards Kamijou and spoke.
“By the way, the representatives of the three factions are fine, but what’s that boy’s role? If he’s going to be in the meeting, I’d like to know what his position is.”
It sounded like she was saying that she would rather he be left out if he wasn’t needed, but the queen smiled.
“He is the brave boy who saved the lives of our people and protected our national interests in his unpaid efforts to eliminate the French terrorists who attempted to hijack a passenger plane. In recognition of his achievement and experience, I am willing to listen to his opinion.”
“Hmm. I see. So that’s what you’re going with.” For some reason the second princess smiled and she moved her face closer to Kamijou’s. “So you are brave. Then it won’t be a problem. That is an excellent word.”
Kamijou felt like drawing back, but Queen Elizard brought the discussion to a close.
“Now then, let’s get this meeting started. If we waste any more time, it will take all meaning out of running off.”
The queen, Kamijou, and the others used a staircase to climb up from the 1st floor to the 3rd floor, walked around a bend in a large hallway, and gathered in a simple reception area. As they all sat down on sofas and got comfortable, a maid passed by and looked surprised to see them there.
Kamijou quickly looked around at the faces of everyone there.
The Queen of England, the three princesses, and the head of the knights were all people that sounded like they were from a picture book. Even with the people Kamijou knew, Index and Kanzaki, one was the Index Librorum Prohibitorum who had 103,000 grimoires precisely memorized and the other was one the world’s fewer than 20 Saints. That group of people made him doubt for a second that he was really in a 21st century society.
(Honestly, could I be more out of place…?)
Kamijou was feeling uncomfortable, so he stood up from the sofa and pulled his cell phone from his pocket out of habit. He was just planning on checking the time, but he remembered the phone had a small lens on it.
It had a camera.
“(…Hmm. With the queen and the princesses here, it kinda makes me want to get a picture of them, but using a cell phone in such a fancy palace just seems wrong.)”
After mumbling that, he started to close his cell phone.
But the next thing he knew, Second Princess Carissa was much closer to him than she had been when she spoke to him before. Previously, she had just been facing him, but now she was standing right next to him with her bare shoulder almost touching him. She was tilting her head in Kamijou’s direction looking at his cell phone’s screen. It was much like when someone on a train started looking at the magazine the person sitting next to them was reading.
He wasn’t reading an email or anything, but Kamijou still hid the screen from view.
“…The screen has a film on it so you can’t see it from the side.”
“You fool. A princess wouldn’t secretly do something like that. I thought you wanted to take a picture.”
With a puzzled look on his face, Kamijou held the phone in one hand and spun his head back around. He saw that Carissa had tilted her body in front of the camera and was pulling her chin back slightly to make the softest expression he had seen on her face up to that point.
Kamijou drew back a bit.
“…Hey, did you practice that face for photos?”
“What are you saying? This is just the basis. Unlike when addressing the general public, you can retake this as much as necessary, so I can easily maintain my majesty by just going with the best one. I’d say that’s plenty fair since we don’t have any special lights or makeup like they use for sample photos of food.”
Carissa gave her rebuttal with her face frozen in its photo-taking expression.
He got the feeling she was urging him to hurry up and take the photo, and from the fact that she was making that expression, he decided she didn’t have a problem with having a camera pointed at her.
He had a feeling Carissa would stay like that forever if he didn’t take a photo, so he switched the phone into camera mode and held his arm out.
“But, um…Is this really okay? I’m not making some kind of ignorant mistake by using a cell phone camera to take a photo of a princess, am I?”
“It’s true that most people don’t use cell phone cameras, but wanting to leave behind as lovely a face as possible is something of a conditioned reflex. …And just so you know, this isn’t just a bad habit of mine. Look, my sister has noticed the camera and is headed this way.”
The next thing Kamijou knew, First Princess Rimea was standing on the opposite side of him from Carissa. She spoke with her eyes on the cell phone screen.
“…Oh, dear. You have a nice shot of my little sister, but I’m not fully in frame. I won’t allow that. Let’s see…like this, no, more like this. If I get closer…and that should do it…”
Fitting three people on the small screen was a difficult task, but Rimea forced her body up next to Kamijou to fit in the frame. This caused various soft portions of her body to be pressed up against Kamijou’s arm.
“(…Gwah!? What? How did this situation spring up so suddenly!?)”
“(..Hm? I don’t mind, but we should probably hide this because Knight Leader can be rather hard-headed and he might draw his sword if he noticed.)”
An extremely stiff smile appeared on Kamijou’s face.
A third figure was now standing behind him having arrived so silently he hadn’t noticed. Third Princess Villian was silently working her way into the frame.
(Wait a second. Unlike the other two, I had taken her as a proper graceful princess!!)
“Oh. As I thought, when it comes to taking photos, you’re actually willing to take the initiative.”
“…I…wasn’t really…” she mumbled in response to her sister’s words, but she maintained the kind of cool expression one used for an ID photo.
Kamijou started wondering what was going on in the English Royal Family and he decided to just take a picture to end it.
But there was one person who stopped him.
It was Queen Elizard.
“…Really, where do you people think you are?”
The queen spun around the Curtana Second’s flat tip and pushed it to the floor and then gave a sigh of exasperation. Seeing that, Knight Leader (who didn’t notice that the first princess’s breasts were pressed up against Kamijou’s arm) and Kanzaki Kaori nodded in agreement. It was as if they were saying, “That’s right, that’s right.”
But then Elizard continued speaking.
“This is the United Kingdom, the nation of the queen. Why are you taking pictures leaving out the leading part!?”
“Ahh, you fool!! Don’t show off your unrestrained love of festivities in front of someone from another country!! This is a strategy meeting!!”
The queen had started to dash towards Kamijou and the princesses, but Knight Leader tore at his hair with both hands and then stopped her with a full-force tackle. Seeing the two of them fall to the ground, Kamijou’s face paled, but the second princess tugged on his elbow. The look in her eyes was telling him to ignore the idiots and just take the photo.
A slight electronic noise sounded as he took the picture and Elizard looked up from the floor with a look of despair on her face.
“Ah! You took it!! You really took it without me!! You can redo it! How about you take another one with me in it!?”
The queen swung Curtana Second as she shouted, but the three princesses walked back to their spots on the sofas with expressions saying they had done what they were there to do.
Elizard lay on the floor stricken with various emotions, but she must have finally remembered why they were there. She got to her hurt feet shakily.
“W-we are here to discuss France.”
Kamijou assumed she was taking him into consideration and the others had mastered Japanese, because that was the language she was speaking.
“What about France?” asked First Princess Rimea with a number of magazines all open to horoscopes and other forms of divination.
“Yes, I suppose I should explain everything in order. The problem started 5 days ago with the Eurotunnel explosion,” the queen said nodding slightly in response to her daughter’s words. “That sole land route between England and France has three separate tunnels, but all three of them were blown up. I have determined that it was done by the French government.”
“…Do you have any proof of that?” asked Carissa.
However, she was not saying it because she doubted it. She had a dangerous look on her face that made it clear she wanted to be able to just start a war and physically deal with the problem.
The queen shook her head.
“That is why Index Librorum Prohibitorum was summoned. If a French-type of Roman Catholic spell was used, she should be able to analyze it using the 103,000 grimoires.”
Index looked on blankly while Elizard brought the focus to her.
The queen lightly tapped her own temple with her index finger.
“As long as we can gather some evidence, we can take action. It may be none of my business, but France has its own complicated decision-making process it has to go through. There is a group there that hates the Roman Catholic Church’s one-way interference in France’s business. If we can contact the people that want this to end peacefully, it is possible this could all be resolved through talks. …Of course, that plan comes from the wishful thinkers here in England and it’s really nothing more than a nice thought that has little chance of succeeding.”
“If this is about France…” Kamijou timidly said with a frown. He wasn’t really sure if he should be speaking up at such an important meeting. “Then does this have to do with the plane hijacking earlier today? I’m pretty sure they were French.”
“That likely had nothing to do with this,” Elizard said while looking at Kamijou. “At the very least, I don’t think the government was involved. However, I cannot deny the possibility that they knew it was going to happen and let the terrorists do it.” She sighed. “According to the police, they received aid from multiple organizations in exchange for teaching those organizations how to hijack a plane without using guns. However, we do not know if those multiple terrorist organizations actually exist. The French government is asking us to hand over the terrorists because they wish to punish criminals from their country themselves. It certainly does seem suspicious.”
She spoke of a certain level of suspicious, but did not follow it too deeply.
She was not the type of person to pointlessly keep at a problem when there wasn’t enough information to come to a proper conclusion.
“The Sky Bus 365 is the primary model used in air shipping to the United Kingdom and the weakness this hijacking pointed out makes them unusable. And all the other models of passenger planes are being inspected to ensure that they are safe. At normal times, that would be an acceptable loss, but with the land route cut off, it is a terrible loss.”
“If they cut off the sea route, we’ll be completely isolated,” said First Princess Rimea in a bored voice as she read the various magazine divinations for some reason.
She was looking at standard horoscopes, blood type horoscopes, tarot, and kigaku (The last one had kanji that Kamijou didn’t even know how to read).
“For example, what if they used airplanes to scatter mines throughout the sea around the UK? If just one was hit, it would make the private companies think twice even about going in areas of the sea that weren’t known to have been mined.”
“…Your thoughts are as cunning as ever,” muttered Carissa in a provoking way.
Either Rimea took it as a compliment or one of the bits of divination in a magazine had said she would have good luck, because she smiled before speaking some more.
“But even if we dealt with France, it isn’t clear if that would truly solve the issue. We’re looking for a French-type of Roman Catholic spell. This time the attack was carried out by France, but ‘they’ are surely behind it. It would be best not to think of this as a dispute between England and France, but as antagonism between the England/Academy City side and the Rome/Russia side. We mustn’t be satisfied with having taken out just the vanguard. If we use up all our strength on that, we won’t last afterwards.”
Knight Leader seemed to agree with her.
“Now that the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church have joined forces, most of the nations affiliated with the EU and even most that are not, are being supported by the Rome/Russia alliance. Currently, the United Kingdom is on its own. There is a good chance that other countries are part of the vanguard along with France.”
“And that is not the only problem,” said Elizard and everyone focused on her. “In the confusion of the previous hijacking, there was one thing that caught my attention.”
“Something that caught your attention…?” muttered Kamijou without thinking.
The queen nodded in response.
“That incident was resolved with the help of the Anglican Church’s Necessarius. They used a type of illusion to alter the display of the fuel gauge in the cockpit. If it had succeeded, it would have appeared that the amount of fuel was rapidly decreasing, the pilots would have mistaken it for a fuel leak, and they would have been forced to perform an emergency landing on a highway. The knights would have been waiting for the plane and would have used Robin Hood to quickly shoot straight through the wall of the plane in order to hit the terrorists.”
“But…when did that happen?”
Kamijou had been putting forth great effort aboard that plane and he didn’t recall anything like that happening.
“It didn’t. It ended in a failure because someone interfered with the illusion from a distance,” responded Queen Elizard.
She took some documents from Knight Leader and lightly threw them on the table in front of her. The numerous reports spread out like a fan and stopped right in front of Index.
“It’s still under investigation, but do your 103,000 grimoires agree?”
Index looked down at the reports for a quick moment.
The grimoire library Index Librorum Prohibitorum showed no signs of worry.
“It was a Norse spell,” responded Index smoothly with no hesitation. “Seiðr magic is used primarily by female Norse magicians. It uses a certain type of song to cause one to see an illusion while it is used, but it also has a spell that can be used to remove its ‘intoxication’. This works with both illusions that trick the brain and illusions that directly cause an image to appear.”
“I see,” nodded Elizard.
Rimea seemed to be done with the divination pages and she was folding in the corner of a page about an effective type of massage.
“If someone created interference, he – well, I suppose this is most likely a she – must be a magician,” she commented.
Carissa frowned at that.
“But didn’t they say the terrorists in the hijacking didn’t have anyone like that in their group?”
“The problem is that the interference came from the direction of Scotland,” the queen responded bitterly.
Carissa’s expression twisted sadistically.
“So the enemies aren’t just on the outside.”
“Depending on whether a French magician has made it inside the country or a British magician has betrayed us, and how we deal with this changes, don’t you think?” Rimea said with a smile as she threw one magazine to the side and grabbed another.
But Elizard shook her head.
“No. This magician has only interfered with an illusion of ours once. If this magician had truly wished for the terrorist attack to succeed, he or she would have seen it through to the end. The magician could have shot down the plane from the ground after the hijacking had been dealt with.”
That idea sent a chill down Kamijou’s spine.
“Think of it like this: If this magician is skilled enough to interfere with an illusion from a distance, she is very likely able to use those skills to attack. And yet the magician did nothing more. This brings forward the possibility that the magician was not attempting to aid the terrorists.”
“What reason could this magician have had to interfere with the illusion other than helping them?” asked Carissa.
“For our plan, a runway had to be prepared so the passenger plane could make its emergency landing. This was to be done by sealing off a portion of a large highway. If this magician had no interest in the fate of the plane, her aim had to be preventing that highway from being sealed off.”
“…So this magician had some reason she had to pass through that area at that time?” muttered Kamijou.
Elizard gave a bored sigh.
“If this magician interfered with the illusion to achieve her objective knowing that Necessarius was creating the illusion, she would have to be rather stupid. However, it feels like she was willing to make an enemy of the country to carry out whatever her objective is. Of course, that would mean the objective could be something truly dangerous indeed.”
“Just the dispute between England and France was enough to make my head hurt and now you’re saying there is an independent terrorist within the country?”
The queen nodded in response to Knight Leader’s question.
They now had two major problems. England now had to deal with an attack from the outside and one from the inside.
“The highway in question connects Scotland to England and the interference came from Scotland. This leads me to believe that the dangerous magician was heading south from Scotland.”
“Just in case, we at the church will investigate the cabals based in Scotland,” said Kanzaki. “However, there are quite a few magical groups within the country both large and small that would see this chaos as an opportunity. I cannot guarantee that we can determine which one it is quickly.”
“That’s fine. Just do as much as you can,” responded Elizard.
That was when Third Princess Villian spoke up for the first time and did so even more timidly than even an outsider like Kamijou. Her eyes were downcast and she fidgeted her fingers in front of her chest.
“France, the Roman Catholic Church, and the terrorists are all taking these actions because they want to get a message across. Could we possibly listen to that message and find a non-military way to resolve this?”
“Of course not,” said Second Princess Carissa. “I admit that conversation is important, but talking when it isn’t needed is just a waste of time. And even if they would respond favorably to a conversation, we need to at least get back at them for what they did to us.”
First Princess Rimea nodded as she looked through a special article on methods of face-washing that helped one’s looks.
“I prefer methods that aren’t quite as physical as Carissa’s, but I agree that we need to get through this situation quickly. Oh, don’t worry. There is a way to keep the ill-will between nations to a minimum.”
It looked like Villian wanted to say something more in response to her sisters, but she remained silent in the end.
Seeing that, the queen finally entered the conversation again.
“In any case, there are two things we must do. First, we need to investigate the cause of the Eurotunnel bombing in order to deal with our external enemy, France. Second, we need to find out what group this inner enemy, the magician, belongs to, find out what he or she is after, and precisely crush the threat if needed.”
“Which enemy has priority?” asked Carissa. “I feel the first is more important. For the sake of military diplomacy, I would like to begin preparing our forces.”
“No.” Elizard shook her head. “This is a decision between investigating an incident that already occurred and stopping one that could occur in the future. We should focus on the magic cabal within the country.”
“Tch,” Carissa clicked her tongue without even trying to hide it, but she didn’t argue the point. The queen then continued.
“Let’s go ahead in the usual way. As it deals with an external enemy, the investigation of the Eurotunnel will be led by the knights and the magic cabal within the United Kingdom will be handled primarily by the Anglican Church. However, Index Librorum Prohibitorum will not go with the church in the search for the magic cabal. She will help with the Eurotunnel investigation.”
The queen plainly laid out the direction everyone would take.
There were no expressions of exaggerated majesty, no attempt to push the reputation of one organization or another, nor was there any of the other unnecessary “ornaments” that those in power tended to add in. She gave only practical instructions about what different people should do.
That method of assignment was the method a true commander used.
“Report what was decided to your respective organizations. Let’s get the inevitable questions over as quickly as possible. After all, there is no kind of rule that makes it so only one incident occurs at a time.”
Kanzaki Kaori was holding a cell phone to her ear.
At first glance, it looked like she was having a conversation over the phone, but she wasn’t. The phone was not sending or receiving the information, the dove strap connected to it was. The rubber mascot created a “voice” by vibrating.
“Yes, yes. That’s right. We are investigating the magical groups in Scotland using Edinburgh as a center point, but the main organizational structure here is cabal reserve armies.”
The person speaking was Agnese Sanctis.
The girl used to lead a unit in the Roman Catholic Church, but she and the rest of the unit were now affiliated with the Anglican Church. They were using their greatest weapon, numbers, to investigate the group that had prevented the emergency landing so they could use the highway to head from Scotland to England.
Kanzaki looked to the side at Kamijou and Index who were listening in and she spoke.
“Cabal reserve armies are not the polished organizations known as magic cabals, right? Aren’t they more a club created from a gathering of novices who are merely interested in magic?”
“Yes, they seem to usually be a gathering of around 3-5 people. We have found one organization with a hundred or so members, but it does nothing more than love fortunes. Most of them do nothing more than mediation and mental exercises, so they disappear naturally without having any effect on others or society as a whole.”
“…People like that are trying to do something that will make an enemy of the country?”
“One characteristic of cabal reserve armies is that there tend to be truly refined and therefore important groups mixed in with the worthless ones. I would say this incident was caused by a collection of golden eggs.”
“So you’ve figured out who it was at least to a certain extent?”
“I’ll give you the details later, but there is evidence that they’ve been carrying out secret activities for quite some time. It seems they had a lot planned out ahead of time, but they hadn’t had a good ‘chance’ to make their move. This information came to the surface as we looked into some retailers of unnatural equipment and reports of seeing suspicious things,” Agnese responded in a natural voice. “We are a unit that battles using our numbers. With this many people to throw at the problem and the authority of the Anglican Church added in, it isn’t hard to get at least some information.”
Agnese then sounded like she was reading from a memo.
“Their group is called New Light. They have the usual structure of a cabal reserve army, but their refinement outdoes all the others. It seems they are only using the cabal reserve army structure to maintain their position. The group has 4 members. I will send you the documents with their names and photographs later.”
“What about their headquarters?”
“We went by there, but we were too late.” Bitterness was mixed in with Agnese’s voice. “However, it was set up to be an excellent environment for creating spiritual items. Also, the place had a Norse smell to it. We found a detailed map of a certain city. It didn’t just have the locations of streets and buildings on it. It also had the locations of the hundreds of thousands of security cameras in the city.”
“Hundreds of thousands of security cameras…? You don’t mean…”
“Yes,” Agnese responded after a short pause. “It was London. It seems they plan on doing something there.”
Kanzaki bit her lip.
This time Agnese asked a question.
“The highway they’re using splits, right? How about you calculate the route they will likely take to London from there and set up an inspection point?”
“…I’ll have it set up, but it isn’t a perfect measure. They use Norse magic, so they could use a spiritual item to hide their presence and existence. Or they could even just break through the inspection point.”
“Don’t be so halfhearted. If you just physically seal off all the roads…”
“We would if we could. But with limited supplies from outside the country, sealing off the internal shipping routes would just be strangling ourselves. An inspection point is all we can do.”
“We’ll do everything we can to stop them outside the city, but we may have to take action within London.” Kanzaki altered her grip on the cell phone. “Do you know what they’re after? Do you know specifically what they want to do in London?”
“We got a hint of that from those ‘secret activities’ I mentioned they had been carrying out.” Agnese lowered her voice. “I have no proof, but the New Light members may have been excavating something here in Scotland. …Well, we don’t really have any document describing their plan or anything. It’s just a deduction based on the list of equipment they acquired.”
“It seems they were mainly working at a spot where a fortress used to be, but it is unknown what they were trying to obtain. However, from the amount of time and money they spent on it, it must be central to their plan.”
It was most likely something magical like a spiritual item.
And if they were digging it up instead of making it, it must have been something that would be difficult to make with modern materials.
“I suppose it would be best to assume they excavated some spiritual item and are taking it to London to destroy something.”
“There is no proof of that, but we did find a short memo. It was dated with today’s date and had a short and simple piece of text.” Agnese paused for a second. “It said, ‘Today is the day we change England.’”
“It’s true that we can’t tell what that means, but it doesn’t sound like it has a peaceful meaning.” Kanzaki adjusted her grip on the cell phone again. “Agnese, you continue your investigation of New Light’s headquarters. See if you can find out what they excavated in Scotland and what they plan to do with it in London. If we can figure out what they’re after, it will be easier to stop them. We will try our best to intercept New Light outside of London, but we have to be prepared to do battle within London if it comes to it. Investigate the equipment New Light uses to help with that possibility.”
“Understood,” Agnese said and severed the connection.
Kanzaki then spoke to Kamijou and Index who had been staring blankly at her the entire time.
“The Amakusa Church and I will be on the lookout throughout London.”
“Are you going to fight those magicians who are in the country?”
“Yes. You…or rather, Index will go to the scene of the Eurotunnel bombing. To meet up with the investigation there, head to Folkestone.”
“Folkestone? But I thought the Eurotunnel went through a place called Dover?”
“Yes, but the terminal for the England-side entrance is a few kilometers away in the city of Folkestone. So hurry there.”
Kamijou started getting flustered, but then someone interrupted.
“Oh, sorry, boy. It seems you can’t go with her to Folkestone.”
It was Second Princess Carissa.
She pointed at his right hand.
“According to the report I received, that can negate all kinds of magic. As such, it would probably be a bad thing to let you near the Eurotunnel bombing site because it’s being preserved through magical means. Also, it might have an effect on the analysis.”
“But both the Anglican Church and Academy City recognize him as Index’s guardian.”
“I understand that, but this is influencing the relationship between England and France. Not to mention that the exact workings of and theory behind that right hand are unknown. You can’t know whether it will have an effect on the investigation or not.”
“Then…” Kanzaki said hesitatingly.
“Index Librorum Prohibitorum, my sisters, and I will be heading to the terminal in Folkestone in order to carry out the Eurotunnel investigation. We will take a unit of knights as guards. A unit under the direct control of Knight Leader. That shouldn’t be a problem, right?” Carissa spoke lightly.
“If you insist on having a guard from the church along, you could always come with us to Folkestone. But I doubt you want to give up any manpower here. I have no intention of getting in your way.”
“Well, yes. But…”
Given her position, it was possible Kanzaki couldn’t actually complain.
This made it a situation where an outsider like Kamijou could speak much more easily.
“You said your sisters and you, but what about the queen?”
“My mother seems to have some kind of work at our secondary residence, Windsor Castle. She might be preparing something to use against France. It probably has something to do with the secret actions the head of the church has been taking.”
Kanzaki and Necessarius would search for the magicians heading for London.
The three princesses and Index would carry out the Eurotunnel investigation.
The queen and the head of the Anglican Church were taking secret actions at Windsor Castle.
“…But what am I supposed to do?”
“Touma!!” Index yelled with her hands on her hips before the second princess could respond. “This feeling you have of needing to go deal with every incident is a bad habit of yours!! You’re just a normal person, so you can just wait here until it’s all over!!”
“But what’s wrong with helping? Necessarius needs as many people as it can get to search, right? It would be more effective if you used my help.”
“N-no. It’s true that we can use as many people as we can get, but I can’t condone putting civilians in danger.”
That was when Queen Elizard passed by.
“Oh, right. That’s right. It isn’t necessary to force civilians to help. You can just do whatever you want here until the situation is under control.”
Index nodded in agreement, but the queen continued speaking.
“But we can’t exactly spend the people’s tax money on room and board for someone who isn’t giving anything in return. We’ll charge you at a later date. You don’t mind right? If you just think of it like 2 or 3 suites at a ridiculously high-class hotel, it’ll actually seem like a pretty good price.”
“…Please let me help you protect England’s peace,” Kamijou said lowering his head.
The scenery looked like something out of a milk or butter commercial.
The land had nothing but rolling green hills all the way to the horizon. An occasional barn or silo was the only obstruction. It was currently 11 PM, so the cows were asleep within the barns, but during the day, plenty of grazing cows would have been visible.
A single road cut down the green pasture dividing it in two.
A single vehicle was driving down that road. It was a small car that seemed a bit too cramped for a family to ride in. Four girls were packed inside the rental car.
One girl sitting in the backseat was sticking her head out the window. The girl was in her early teens and was wearing a bluish miniskirt and an unfashionable jacket zipped all the way up to her neck. Her long black hair was braided together only at the end.
“Dahh. I can’t wait to be rid of this green smell…”
“Lessar, I can see your ass. And that tail is in the way,” said a displeased voice.
The voice belonged to the girl of about 18 who was sitting next to her. The silver-haired girl was wearing the same outfit as Lessar, but without the jacket. She had a long-sleeved sports shirt on and the chest portion bulged out greatly. The collar had a few small buttons, but they were all left undone leaving her cleavage slightly visible. The portion of her legs sticking out of the miniskirt had blue leggings on them down to the ankles.
She slapped the tail swaying in front of her eyes.
“If you don’t draw it in, I’m ripping it off.”
“Don’t be so mean, Bayloupe. What has you so mad anyway?”
Lessar sent an order to her tail with her eyes still looking out the window. By drawing it in, she didn’t just put it away somewhere. Instead, it started wrapping like a snake around the base of her thigh within her miniskirt.
In what may have been a necessary action to draw in her tail, Lessar raised her butt up high.
Having Lessar’s white panties thrust in her face, Bayloupe’s eyebrows twitched.
“I told you to get it out of my face!! I told you!!!!!”
“Gwaaaahhhh!? Why are you grabbing it with both hands like that!? Bayloupe, you always get mad so easily just before a mission!! Floris, please tell her to stop!!”
“Eh? But I’m concentrated on driving right now.”
The blonde girl holding the steering wheel didn’t seem to be very motivated. She was around 15 and was wearing a similar outfit to the other two. She had the jacket draped over the sports shirt and had spats on underneath the miniskirt.
“…It seems no matter how far we go, the scenery stays the same. This is a straight path, so I don’t see how I could have gotten lost, but is this really the right road, Lancis?”
The conversation turned in the direction of the brown-haired girl acting as navigator in the passenger seat.
“S-stop… That tickles…aha…Wh-whenever I take in magic power…i-it tickles so much. Ee hee hee hee hee…”
“Dammit. You always start trembling like that from the magic power you create. Whenever you purify your life energy into magic power, for some reason you always get attacked by a tickling feeling.” Floris clicked her tongue and checked on the back seat via the rearview mirror. “Hey, you two lesbians who look like you’re from some erotic novel or something. Have you finished the preparations with Skíðblaðnir? Since we managed to excavate ‘that’, we need to focus on its container.”
“You idiot!! Using your hands like that is just going to make my ass hurt!! …Eh? You mean the cases? Preparations are done on all four of them.”
“Excellent job, Lessar. I suppose I’ll tell you that Bayloupe’s weakness is her calves.”
A slight vibration rocked the car as the two switched positions. Floris took one hand from the wheel and lightly rubbed her stiff shoulders.
“My wings are doing well. …And from the looks of things, your tail is fine, too.”
Looking in the rearview mirror, she could see the wriggling tail coming from Lessar’s miniskirt as Lessar struggled. It didn’t really look like an animal’s tail. It was more like a distorted demon’s tail.
“Lancis, how are your claws doing?”
“Aheh…They’re ready….A-ah, that tickles…Ee hee.”
Hearing that response from the passenger’s seat, Floris looked back into the rearview mirror.
“You haven’t finished adjusting the scissors yet, have you? Do it before we get there. As you can see, I have my hands full driving and Lancis is useless while she’s trembling from that ticklishness of hers, so you two are the only ones who can do it.”
“I’ll do that and more if you tie up Bayloupe!! And she isn’t responding to her calves at all!!”
“What a pain,” Floris muttered as she ignored Lessar and stared straight ahead. “Now let’s get focused. After all, we’re about to destroy the very framework of the United Kingdom.”
A traffic sign stood at a fork in the road. It had English words on it and a simple diagram made of an arrow.
It signified that it was 30 km to London.
Kamijou was sitting in the passenger seat of a convertible.
Nighttime London smelled of exhaust. Hundreds of years of historical buildings were lined up all over the place, but it was all wrapped in that stench which ruined the mood.
“I never expected to run into you here.”
“Oh. It was an unexpected turn of events for onee-san as well,” said a magician with a giggle as she gripped the steering wheel with sparkling manicured fingers.
It was Oriana Thomson.
The young woman had blonde hair, blue eyes, and very large breasts. She had once taken advantage of Academy City’s large-scale sports festival, the Daihaseisai, to carry out an attack along with her partner Lidvia Lorenzetti.
She had an astounding battle ability that had allowed her to have the upper hand against Kamijou, Stiyl, and Tsuchimikado all at once, but, in the end, her plan was stopped and she was captured by the Anglican Church.
“Well, onee-san has been through a lot. I made a deal and am now working for England.”
“…But the Eurotunnel bombing was done by France with the backing of the Roman Catholic Church. I don’t know about the magicians acting inside the UK, but they might have some connections in that direction. Should you really be working against them?”
“Just so you know, onee-san is a magical courier. I haven’t sworn loyalty to any one organization. I’m free to work with or fight against whoever I want. …So, as long as you make sure to pay, I’d even be willing to work up a sweat for you. Okay?”
Kamijou’s body stiffened at having that alluring breath blown in his direction. It seemed that high school boy had various problems regarding that young woman.
“I-I see. It feels like they’re expecting that you can find these magicians using your courier skills.”
“Well, the skills for running away and the skills for pursuit are actually completely different, but there are some things you can’t understand until you’ve experienced them for yourself.”
“So where are we headed now?”
“There was talk about whether New Light, the suspected magic group of four, would get to London or not, but it seems the inspection point they set up ended up being useless. The traces of something odd were spotted.”
“…So they’ve already made it into London?”
“Are you aware that a few hundred thousand security cameras are set up around London? It was spotted on a camera from north London.”
As she spoke, Oriana operated the car’s navigation system with her slender fingertips. It switched to the strange video footage that looked like it was gazing down at a street from a street light.
“This is from 10 minutes ago.”
Kamijou stared at the video as it fast forwarded.
“…Hey, nothing’s happening.”
“Oh, something most certainly is. Look at the top edge of the screen. You can see the shadow of a car, can’t you?”
Once she mentioned it, Kamijou felt like he could, but he found it odd that she had showed him the footage from that specific camera. Surely there was footage from one of the other hundreds of thousands of cameras that had a better view.
“There isn’t any,” Oriana answered Kamijou’s unspoken question. “There is no footage showing where that car came from. The car was purposefully driven through the blind spots of the cameras and stopped there. …It would be quite difficult to write this off as a coincidence.”
“But is that really enough to say that the car belongs to the magicians?”
“No, but that’s why we’re headed there to find out,” Oriana said as she brought the navigation screen back up. “London has roads running across it like the mesh of a net, but the points that are important to traffic are limited. Even more so when you’re driving through the blind spots of the cameras. Whether this is the magicians or not, we’ll catch up to them soon. If we find anything odd, we can just go check it out. All we have to do is continue doing that until we find them.”
That description made it sound like they would just fall behind, but it was the only method they had. After all, Kamijou and the others still didn’t even know what this New Light group had come to London to do.
“…Can we really find them like this?”
“Oh, it’s actually quite rare to know every little thing about the person you’re chasing after.”
One member of New Light, Bayloupe, was leaning up against a wall near the stairs leading down into a subway station. She was keeping an eye on an old rectangular case at her feet while occasionally checking the lit-up face of a clock tower.
She used a communications spiritual item to contact the other members.
“Now then. I suppose it’s about time we started. I’ve made Lancis the keeper. If we succeed, England’s current political administration will be destroyed from its very base. London may not fare well. But there’s no real reason to destroy the city any more than is necessary.”
One member of New Light, Lancis, placed an old rectangular case on the ground and sat on it. She had a long, narrow bag in her hand and trembled while looking up at the night sky.
She used a communications spiritual item to contact the other members.
“…I-it tickles…Th-thyat’s why...fwah! Everyone’s aiming for this as the time they’ll get back…Ahah. At the very least, there’ll be less chaos than in the middle of the day…Hyaahhhh…”
One member of New Light, Floris, was walking down a small road a bit removed from the main road. She swung an old rectangular case around onto her back in a similar motion to brushing back her hair.
She used a communications spiritual item to contact the other members.
“I wish I could just put up a people-clearing field, but they’d find us right away if I did. We could use that to draw their attention away, but we halves should just end this with a swift attack.”
One member of New Light, Lessar, was in a bar in a run-down area. It was at one edge of the Islington District in North London and everyone in it looked like they would drink at least 2 liters.
A girl in her early teens like Lessar clearly stood out, but she just told the muscular bartender she was in London on a trip and no restaurants were open. He then gave her some free fried fish to eat and orange juice to drink. Lessar was at a counter seat stuffing her mouth with the sizzling fried fish with the strap to a narrow, meter long bag over her shoulder. She also had an old rectangular case on the floor at her feet.
A voice came directly into Lessar’s head.
“Getting something to eat is fine, but don’t forget that you’re a half, too. We can’t have you screwing up now.”
“I won’t, I won’t. But being the Forward sure would be nice. Oh, Bayloupe. Should we really be using communications magic in London? This is the stronghold of the 0th Parish, after all”
“It’s actually because we’re right under Necessarius’s nose that we don’t have to worry about that. Uuh…I don’t want to rely on someone like you…”
“You’re just mad because you’re hungry, aren’t you? Look, I’ll add in the olfactory information. Isn’t that smell of grease so wonderful?”
“(…Agh, and she of all people is the most powerful one in New Light in actual battle ability. Hoo, but I really do want to eat something now. Maybe some fried fish…)”
“Hee hee. Your thoughts are coming through loud and cle-..bgyah!?”
The transmission ended with a tremendous amount of static. The way Lessar held her head made it clear that it had bothered her and she then resumed her battle against the fried fish.
(Now then. After I eat this, I just have to take the case to the designated spot and wait for instructions. I wonder if England really is going to change. I hope it does…)
She started humming and kicking her feet underneath her stool when the tip of her foot bumped into the rectangular case.
Lessar froze in place.
It wasn’t because the rectangular case was gone.
The case she had brought in was right there at her feet where she had left it.
But another rectangular case was sitting there, too.
They both had the exact same features and would be very hard to tell apart.
Lessar timidly looked next to her.
The customer who had been there before was gone and a large black man was sitting in the small stool and gulping down a frothy beer. The other case most likely belonged to him.
Now, which one was the case Lessar had brought in?
(Gyaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!! O-oh, crap! Oh, crap! Oh, crap! Oh, crap! Oh, crap!! Oh, crap!!!)
Bayloupe had just finished warning her and she was already in trouble.
Of course, she could tell by checking the contents. Lessar’s case was a magical item called Skíðblaðnir. When opened, its magic would activate. But she couldn’t do that. She couldn’t open the case in a place like that and activating a major piece of magic would raise the risk of being found by Necessarius.
As she thought, the large black man finished off his large mug of beer.
“Ahhh. I think I’ll leave it at that for today.”
“What? That’s only your third one.”
“My doctor’s been telling me to be a little more restrained in my drinking.”
“Then three’s already too much.”
As the large man spoke with the bartender, he started counting money out onto the counter.
(Not good. I don’t know which is which…)
For an instant, Lessar’s focus turned to the narrow, meter long bag on her back, but she managed to stop herself at the last second. Bringing out a weapon there would just cause a panic.
(Ahhh!! Which one? Which one!? Right!? Left!? Which one is Skíðblaðnir!?)
As Lessar tried to decide, the large black man reached toward one of the cases at his feet with an unsteady hand.
Lessar’s small hand grabbed the large man’s wrist.
The man looked at Lessar with a puzzled expression.
“Th-this one’s mine. That one’s yours.”
“Nnn!? Oh, I see, I see. Sorry about that, little girl.”
With a bitter smile, the large man grabbed the other case.
As she watched the drunk black man get up from his seat, Lessar breathed a heavy sigh of relief.
(…Made it in time. Just a bit longer and Bayloupe would’ve ended up crushing my ass…)
If she had to guess, Lessar had felt that her case was more worn out. She had stroked the surface of the cases with her fingertips to determine which one was hers by touch.
She finally relaxed and leaned limply up against the counter. Seeing her, the bartender looked a bit worried.
“Huh? You didn’t drink any alcohol did you?”
That was when Lessar saw something.
There were now 3 rectangular cases on the floor.
Sweat started dripping from her cheeks.
The other 2 must have belonged to other drunks. Or perhaps they had been left by someone. But now that she saw three of them, Lessar’s confidence wavered.
(Which one is the real one? Is it this one? Is the lighting making it look different? Is this the one that black man had? I need to line them up and look at them! Ahh, but that man is about to leave!!)
“E-Everybody, stay where you aaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeee!!”
…When Bayloupe learned what happened via the communications spiritual item, she started foaming at the mouth and almost passed out.
When Kamijou and Oriana had almost made it to the car parked in the blind spot of the security cameras, Oriana suddenly changed the direction of the convertible. A staticky male voice speaking English could be heard coming from the car’s navigation system that must have functioned as a radio as well.
“According to that transmission, one of them made a major mistake!!”
“Wah!? That was from Necessarius?”
“No, it was from the London Police that are controlled by the Royal Family. It seems some idiot caused some trouble at a nearby bar!!”
A number of police cars with red and blue lights could be seen on the roadway. Oriana must have gotten permission somehow because she ignored the speed limit and roared down the road through them. When she turned right at high speed without using her turn signal, something odd caught Kamijou’s attention.
A short girl was running down the brick walkway.
She was wearing a thick jacket and a miniskirt and was carrying 3 rectangular cases for some reason.
“Umm, which one, which one, which one!? It’s this one!! Dammit. I just had to pick them up and check how much they weighed!!”
Kamijou didn’t understand her rapidly spoken English, but from her expression and gestures, it looked like she regretted something. She threw two of the cases to the roadside and ran off with the third one in hand.
But there was something beyond those odd actions that caught his attention.
It was the object she was holding between her shoulder and cheek like a businessman holding a phone.
It was a spear.
More specifically, it had a metal shaft about 1.5 meters long. It seemed to be made so it had a narrow portion of the shaft that could be packed inside a thicker portion in order to make it more portable. The end had a blade on it that made it about 40 cm longer. However, this wasn’t just one blade. It had three blades on the top of that end and single blade on the bottom of that end. The spear had what looked like a car’s brake on its lower portion which was probably a lever to open and close the blades on the end.
“What the hell is that…?”
“Probably some kind of spiritual item. She’s pretty much an explosion of suspicion, so I’d say it’s safe to assume she’s the New Light member. Do magicians really not realize how odd they look?”
Kamijou silently stared at Oriana’s body, but it seemed she didn’t notice the irony.
Oriana removed one hand from the steering wheel and stuck it into her cleavage. She pulled out a bundle of papers that looked like a booklet of flashcards. She bit one of the pages and tore it from the metal ring with a movement of her chin. She then tossed the page towards the walkway as they passed by the running girl.
Something seemed to activate as she spoke.
Kamijou didn’t understand, but the target girl lifted her head up in surprise.
The card Oriana had tossed flipped over at about the same time as she tossed a second card.
At some point, letters had appeared on the blank page.
The yellow letters read “Fire Symbol”.
That was the key to the magic used by Oriana Thomson, a courier who never used the same spell twice.
An explosion of flame ripped through the walkway.
The nearby shutters and windows rattled and the darkness of the night was lit up with a crimson light.
Having confirmed the explosion, Oriana pulled on the hand brake and turned the wheel to the side sharply making a U-turn without losing much momentum. Once the convertible was facing the explosion, she stopped the car.
Kamijou started panicking.
“H-hey!! Wasn’t that a bit much!?”
“No, this is actually quite bad!!”
As she yelled her response, Oriana threw open the car door and practically jumped out of the convertible.
Kamijou looked on in confusion until a metallic scraping noise reached his ears.
The noise was coming from the side.
He didn’t have time to turn his head in that direction. In an amount of time that could only be called an instant, he barely managed to move just his eyes in that direction to see the girl from before sliding along right next to the passenger seat. As the girl moved along at what seemed like the speed of a bullet, something was following behind her. It was a tail. The tail was stretching out from within her skirt and it was a flat metal chain within a clear tube much like a bicycle chain lock.
Their eyes suddenly met.
“No complaints, right?” she said in English.
The girl struck the metal door with the end of her spear.
She was intending to pierce straight through the door and into Kamijou’s gut.
Kamijou ignored the structure of the car, stepped up on the passenger seat, and jumped forward towards the hood. The instant he kicked off from the seat, the four blades pierced the door and he felt them scrape lightly along the bottom of his basketball shoes.
The shock of the metal door being torn through reached him an instant later.
Kamijou landed on the hood and then jumped down to the roadway.
He heard an odd roar and spun around to find that the short girl in her lower teens had torn off the convertible’s passenger side door. With the end of the spear still stuck in the door, she had forcefully swung the spear around by its handle. In contrast to the ridiculously violent scene, the tail coming from her miniskirt swayed humorously.
The girl then swung the spear, door and all. She wasn’t stabbing; she was swinging it down. However, she wasn’t aiming for Kamijou.
She was aiming for the back of the convertible – specifically the fuel tank.
With a cracking noise, the metal wall easily broke. The tip of the spear sank into the fuel tank.
With a tremendous noise, the convertible exploded.
But that wasn’t what surprised Kamijou.
The flame should have spread out in all directions, but the four blades on the girl’s spear forcibly “grabbed” it.
He had no idea how it worked, but the four blades opened up like they were human fingers. They then forcefully closed again and the flames that were about to spread out were restrained.
The flames leaked from the gaps between the four blades, but they were given a new form in the air.
The flames became an unnatural block-shaped crimson mass. The sides weren’t even in length, but no side was longer than about a meter.
The four blades looked like a fork stabbed into a giant carrot.
Instead of extinguishing, the flames moved along with the motions of the four blades.
The girl swung the spear with the mass of flames down like it was a hammer and met Kamijou’s gaze as he had fallen to the ground.
Kamijou immediately held up his right hand to cover himself, but she altered the trajectory diagonally a bit to slip past it.
“You’re kidding, right…!?”
Kamijou’s body froze up and he used just his eyes to follow the flame-covered spear the girl with the miniskirt and tail was swinging down.
A shock then knocked the girl to the side.
Her body doubled over from the impact caused by Oriana’s magic.
Her small body flew a few meters. She was still holding the spear, but the giant mass of flames slipped away like a carrot flying from a fork when it was swung around. The mass of flames flew off at an odd angle and exploded sending orange light around the area.
Even then, the girl did not collapse.
The bottom of her shoes scraped along the ground as she killed her momentum and she used the rectangular case in her other hand to stop Oriana’s magic.
Smoke rose from the surface of the case and the light of the girl’s eyes shined from behind the shield.
“Ahhhhhhh!? I used the most important thing as a shield without thinking!!”
Kamijou couldn’t understand a word of her native English, but the magician seemed to be panicking.
Kamijou turned from the flustered girl who had just tried to kill him and spoke.
“Hey, Oriana. I don’t really understand, but that rectangular case seems to be an important item. I’d rather not kick a girl’s ass, so let’s focus on that case instead.”
“Fine with me. If it’s a type of spiritual item, it should be interesting to see what happens if you punch it with your right hand.”
The girl’s shoulders jumped upon hearing that short strategy meeting.
“W-well done determining my weakness in such a short time! But I can’t let it be destroyed here! In order to prevent my ass from being crushed by Bayloupe, I’ll have to make a strategic withdrawal here. Toh!!”
The girl moved her tail like a pendulum once and then jumped straight up into the air.
Their fight had not caused an uproar because Oriana had used a people-clearing field at the last second.
The girl herself didn’t seem too worried about causing a scene, though.
“Dammit… Can we follow her!?” cursed Kamijou.
If she could jump like that, she could ignore the layout of streets and go about the city as she pleased. It would be difficult to chase her in a car, much less on foot. After all, a car had to follow the roads.
“That isn’t necessarily the case,” Oriana said in response to Kamijou’s unease. “Even if she can travel inside buildings and along rooftops, she’s still limited. The buildings are built along the streets. If she is going to use the buildings to travel, she will naturally have to follow the flow of buildings.”
“You don’t get it? If she comes across a wide road with 3 or 4 lines on each side, she won’t be able to reach the next building. It’s just like having a road cut off by a wide river.”
“Can’t she jump from the building down to the road!?”
“If she could do that, she wouldn’t need the tail. She uses it to ensure her balance in midair. Some types of monkeys use their tails in the same way when jumping from branch to branch. Since she prepared a spiritual item like that, she must be afraid of heights above a certain point!”
That meant there were some things the magician girl couldn’t do.
Her escape route was naturally limited.
“Shall we go after her?”
Kamijou and Oriana nodded and ran into the London night.
About a kilometer away from that turmoil, another member of New Light, Bayloupe, stood near the entrance to a subway station holding her head.
(That idiot…!! How could she cause an uproar that not only got the attention of the 0th Parish, but of the normal London police, too!?)
Even then, she could hear a high pitched voice yelling “Help, help!” through the communications spiritual item, but Bayloupe’s thoughts were turning in the direction of wanting to finish the girl off herself.
The stairway into the subway area was surrounded on three sides by walls. It was almost midnight and the time for the last train must have been nearing because a large number of company workers and drunks were pouring down the stairway. Amid it all, Bayloupe was leaning against one of the walls focusing on the meter long bag hanging on her back and the old rectangular case lying on the floor at her feet.
(…At the very least, one of them must be activated. All I can do is wait for Lancis to contact me. The real problem is that we don’t know the coordinates until the last second. Having to ad lib everything due to the unknown destination makes this difficult.)
She sighed and folded her arms as she watched the company workers walk by. Amid the stereotypical English securities men, she caught sight of the occasional Japanese person. The black hair stood out amid all the blond heads. Her eye was naturally drawn to them and, once the number of heads with black hair grew to 8 or 9, she realized that everyone around her was Japanese.
Having been surrounded, Bayloupe looked to the bag on her back. One girl stepped forward from the group of Japanese and approached Bayloupe.
“We are from Necessarius, the 0th Parish of the Anglican Church. Do you understand?” The girl, Itsuwa of the Amakusa Church, spoke in a manner similar to a police officer.
Despite the fact that they were still amid the crowd of passersby, she was already wielding a type of cross spear.
In response to that introduction that only those on that path would understand, Bayloupe pulled the edges of her lips up in a smile with her arms still folded.
“…So you’ve already made it this far?”
“We are a sect that focuses on blending in with the environment. This also makes us proficient in the techniques needed to find those who do not belong. These skills were originally used for early detection of spies of the shogunate mixed in with the townspeople, though.”
“Tch. I see. So you’re affiliated with them. The 0th Parish really does just gather whatever personnel it can, doesn’t it?”
“We will have you accompany us to the Tower of London. Just in case, would you like to verify what you are being charged with?”
Bayloupe unfolded her arms and put her hands in her pockets. In a motion much like putting on headphones, she attached what looked a bit like hearing aids behind her ears. However, on each side, there were two of what looked like vacuum tubes sticking out of them.
“Until this case is activated…”
With her special ears – or perhaps they could be called horns – put in, Bayloupe stuck the tip of her foot into the handle of the rectangular case lying on the ground.
“I have no intention of being captured!!”
She kicked the case up into the air and grabbed it with one hand. Using that motion as a sign, Itsuwa unreservedly struck with her spear. She was aiming to thrust the spear into the joint between Bayloupe’s right shoulder and right arm.
A roar of sliced air resounded.
But Bayloupe’s soft flesh was not torn.
This was due to the bag hanging from her shoulder. In response to her will, it tore from the inside and she swung the weapon inside horizontally. The weapon couldn’t quite be called a spear and it couldn’t quite be called a hand. It was a long metal pole with four blades stuck on the end. It struck Itsuwa’s spear causing sparks to fly and the two of them were knocked back.
If Kamijou had been there, he would have recognized the weapon as the same type of weapon the magician girl he had run into had.
Along with the high pitched clang caused by the blow, the Japanese surrounding Itsuwa and Bayloupe pulled out their hidden swords and axes. Bayloupe was surrounded by sinister shining steel, but she still smiled fearlessly. She put even more strength into the hand holding her weapon.
She swung her weapon by rotating her entire body.
Itsuwa stood at the ready, but the attack was not aimed for any of the Amakusas. Bayloupe destroyed the concrete wall she had been leaning up against previously.
The stairway down to the subway was surrounded by walls on three sides and Bayloupe’s intentions in smashing the wall like a biscuit were clear.
She was going to flee.
Itsuwa let out a frustrated breath as she attacked with her spear. However, her strike did not pierce Bayloupe’s body. Bayloupe had already gone with the rubble down into the subway station the stairway connected to.
“I know!! Tatemiya-san, you and everyone else guard the entrances and exits!!” Itsuwa yelled in response to her colleague and ran down to the subway station. She didn’t really use the stairs. Instead, she just jumped down to the lower floor all at once.
When she landed, she stuck a hand into her pocket and pulled out a gun. The magazine was only loaded with blanks, but she still pulled the trigger.
Multiple eardrum-piercing gun shots reverberated throughout the underground area.
Hearing that noise, the passengers all headed for the exits. They must have thought there was a terrorist or a gunman. Before long, all the panicked people had left the underground area.
(Tatemiya-san and the others are watching the customer exits. If the magician is still in the station, we don’t have to worry about getting civilians involved now.)
Itsuwa threw the now-empty handgun to the side and raised her spear again. As a magician, she could have set up a people-clearing field, but sometimes a physical method was more effective in an emergency situation. Especially since the Amakusas drew out the magical meanings from the normal objects around them. When it might take some time to find the necessary items, the way she handled it was much faster.
She ran down a fairly long passageway with ticket machines and automatic ticket gates at the end. Itsuwa jumped over a ticket gate as if it were a hurdle and continued running to the platform.
She arrived right when Bayloupe was about to climb down from the empty platform. She was most likely thinking of running directly into the tunnel instead of getting on a train.
Itsuwa’s and Bayloupe’s gazes clashed.
In that instant, Bayloupe made the first move.
Holding the rectangular case in one hand, she gave a large swing of the 4-bladed weapon that was part spear and part hand. She was throwing the sign it held.
The sign flew more than 10 meters until it was sliced to pieces by 7 strikes right before Itsuwa’s eyes.
She hadn’t done it with her spear.
She had laid out 7 wires.
“The Norse symbol of supernatural strength,” Itsuwa said as she held up her spear and silently walked forward while measuring the distance between them. “Its form almost led me astray, but that is not a spear. The magical symbol leads me to feel that it belongs to the thunder god Thor who is known for his valor. But…”
“Please don’t be so stupid as to say it’s the thunder hammer Mjölnir. When the Christian Church is taught in northern Europe, the hammer is often used in many magical ways in the cultures that have no cross. However, that is not what we are using.” Bayloupe grinned. “Thor is famous for Mjölnir, but he used weapons other than that once. They were weapons he borrowed from a certain female giant. This is a spiritual item created from an analysis of that story. It is the steel glove. It is much more convenient for a girl to use.”
“A weapon for a girl to use…?”
“Sorry, but all the members of New Light aim to be gorgeous girls. A spiritual item made from an analysis of Mjölnir would be a bit too heavy to use easily.”
Bayloupe stabbed the end of the glove forward.
She moved the lever on the lower portion of the grip and the four blades opened and closed like human fingers.
“First of all, we don’t even think of Thor as merely a thunder god. Thor is essentially a god of agriculture, so his lightning strikes are interpreted as just one of the weather-controlling powers he has as the god that rules over the blessings of nature. Even so, Mjölnir is too strongly associated with the thunder god aspect, so we decided to prepare a weapon that isn’t just used as a means of attack and possesses the softer side of a god of agriculture.”
Itsuwa held out the tip of her spear and carefully estimated the distance between them.
As she did, Bayloupe continued speaking.
“As a substitute for Mjölnir, Thor borrowed a belt that increased his arm strength, an iron club with exceedingly powerful destructive force, and the iron gloves. The role of the gloves is unknown, but we interpreted them as an interface to accurately control very powerful spiritual items. In any case, there was one thing we ended up saying.” As she spoke, Bayloupe spun the steel glove around and struck the floor of the platform with the four-bladed tip. “Wouldn’t it be easier to just have all of them in one spiritual item?”
The four blades sunk into the tile floor.
With the steel glove still stuck into the floor, she swung it forward with all her strength. Like a golf club hitting a bunker, a large amount of small fragments flew toward Itsuwa.
Itsuwa curled up her body as the barrage went by and then charged in. But Bayloupe spun the steel glove around in one hand like a tree branch and immediately attacked.
But this was not a slashing attack.
The steel glove “grabbed” something.
(The wind? …No, the dust in the air!?)
Just as Itsuwa realized it, the concrete powder expanded with explosive force near her face.
With a loud blast, Itsuwa’s body was blown to the side. The bottoms of her shoes slid along the ground as she tried to slow herself down and Bayloupe jumped up. At about a meter up, she curled up her legs and thrust in rotating vertically.
She was still holding the steel glove and, as before, it was “grabbing” a large amount of condensed dust.
(Not good!! And that thing’s bad enough with her arm strength alone…!!)
For an instant, Itsuwa brought her spear up to block out of reflex, but then she relaxed her muscles and jumped to the side. It was just too much force to block. Meanwhile, Bayloupe rotated twice in midair and used centrifugal force to swing down the steel glove. Her arm strength and the power of the dust caused the floor of the subway station to explode like a volcano.
Itsuwa had avoided a direct hit, but her body flew spinning through the air.
She had been hit by a few of the scattered fragments.
Even so, she did not fall to the ground. Like a figure skater who had failed a jump, she landed on the tips of her toes. Bayloupe “grabbed” more dust from the air and swung her weapon to the side towards Itsuwa.
Itsuwa had already lost her balance, so she couldn’t move back any further.
The large amount of dust expanded near her as if it had exploded.
Having received a direct hit that time, Itsuwa’s body was thrown to the ground and then knocked a good distance back. The handle of the Friuli spear she was holding broke to pieces and scattered about the area. The tip spun through the air and stabbed into the ground right next to Itsuwa’s face.
Holding the rectangular case in one hand, Bayloupe leaned the steel glove up against her shoulder with the other hand.
“Looks like this is over. We can go on if you like, but I’ll be using the horn of wisdom, the Gjallarhorn, next.”
As she spoke, she used the hand she had been holding the case with to lightly touch the side of her head as if she were checking on headphones she was wearing.
She had hearing aid-like devices behind ears with two vacuum tube-like objects sticking from each one.
“To reproduce the steel gloves, we gave them the destructive power of the club obtained from the female giant, the increased arm strength of the belt, and gave it the ability to 'grab'. But by adding in wisdom, I become the only member of New Light that can also partially use the thunder attribute. Unlike Thor, I use it in a different way than using Mjölnir. If you don’t want to be turned to ashes, I suggest you remain where you are.”
Itsuwa wiped the blood spilling from her mouth with the back of her hand, but she did not stand up.
Bayloupe grabbed the case again before speaking.
“With this, we will change the history of the United Kingdom. We will change the royal family, the knights, the church, England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. But it isn’t all bad. Make sure you enjoy the change we will be bringing about.”
With the case still in one hand, Bayloupe straddled the steel glove like a witch’s broomstick.
She did not fly with it.
The tip of the steel glove, the four blades, grabbed the floor. Then the individual blades skillfully moved causing it to move across the ground as if it were walking on tentacles. Riding the steel glove, Bayloupe jumped from the platform and disappeared at high speed into the train tunnel.
Itsuwa remained motionless for a bit.
Finally, she slowly stood up and reached over to a microphone on a pillar used for announcements.
Straddling the steel glove like a witch’s broomstick, Bayloupe held the rectangular case in one hand and held the grip of the steel glove upside down with her other hand. She moved down the train tracks at the same speed as a car on the highway.
She gave a slow sigh and relaxed her shoulders.
(…At least I managed to escape trouble for now. I’m sure Lancis is fine, but I’m worried about Floris. Really, it’s all because of Lessar’s incredibly stupid mistake!!)
Bayloupe clicked her tongue.
She gave the steel glove instructions to match the gentle curve of the tunnel. She decided to head for either a nearby station or an exit for workers. As she thought about that, she realized something was odd.
(…Why was there a curve just now?)
According to the route map, the rail was nothing but a straight line to the next station. The route made no curve and there shouldn’t have been any branching points.
Bayloupe stopped the steel glove and stood on the tracks.
She thought she might have entered some strange path, but she couldn’t have. There had been only one path up to that point. But then why had the track curved? And where did that unnaturally curving track lead to?
As she thought, a sudden voice reached her ears.
It was coming from a speaker installed in the subway tunnel. It was most likely intended to be used to inform workers of coming trains. A familiar voice was speaking.
“…It won’t really help to explain it to you now, but I’m sure you know that all of Necessarius’s battle personnel must have a certain level of skill.”
The voice was that of the girl she had just fought on the subway platform.
She wasn’t sure what the girl was getting at, but she had a bad feeling about it.
“As such, there are a surprising number of magical facilities throughout London used to test the skill of new members. They are something like labyrinthine obstacle courses full of traps. So can you make a guess where that track that was magically ‘switched over’ to an unnatural curve could be leading?”
“It can’t be…”
Bayloupe was already trapped within the spell.
Itsuwa left some final words for Bayloupe now that she could no longer escape.
“Make sure to work hard to ensure you don’t die. From what I’ve heard, someone failed in regulating that labyrinth’s difficulty. It’s off limits now because people kept dying in it.”
Modern traps were made to be quite convenient. The giant spiritual item in the form of a labyrinth was made so the victims that succumbed to the traps would be automatically transported out and any items that were dropped partway through were separated and collected.
Itsuwa was at the subway station’s lost article storage room. Simply put, it was a room where items people had left behind or dropped were gathered.
A rectangular case and a single sheet of parchment had been collected there. The results from the tested actions and battles within the labyrinth and an objective result of the person’s battle ability as a magician were recorded on the parchment. It seemed those periodic tests were still being carried out to this day.
She heard a faint rummaging sound.
It was coming from a duct near the ceiling. As a new member of Necessarius, Itsuwa wasn’t sure, but she thought it must have something to do with the mechanism that somehow connected the labyrinth to the lost article storage room. Itsuwa tried to peer inside it, but…
“Ignore any sounds you hear from there. Its self defense functionality is active.”
Itsuwa hurriedly turned around upon hearing that sudden voice from behind her.
A woman wearing a worn out black gothic lolita dress was standing there. The woman’s name was Sherry Cromwell and she had blonde hair like a lion and light brown skin. She was a senior magician to Itsuwa within Necessarius.
“This was originally created as a test facility for battle-hardened Necessarius members. It’s been toned down a bit this time, but it’ll still tear you to pieces if you let your guard down.”
“…Ha. Ah ha ha.” Itsuwa drew back and a laugh came out.
The rectangular case that Bayloupe of New Light had protected to her utmost had dark red stains in places.
“Don’t be so scared. This test facility was too much so it isn’t being used anymore. For the periodic tests these days, they just throw you in an empty room for a week and make you magically create food, water, and anything else you need to survive.”
“Um…That sounds bad enough on its own,” said Itsuwa as she gave a bitter smile because she wasn’t quite sure how to respond. “Sorry for calling you here this late.”
“I’m not a nun, so I don’t have to follow all those rules. I have no set time I go to bed.”
Starting with Sherry’s direct battle style of using a golem, she was an expert in deciphering the magical codes hidden in spiritual items as well as in arts and crafts such as symbolic paintings and religious sculptures.
She scratched at her disorderly blonde hair with one hand.
“You know, I don’t mind helping out Anglican magicians, but I don’t like doing something that helps out those damn knights.”
“Nothing. I guess worrying about the past isn’t going to help anything. I need to focus on my work here. You called me here because there was something you wanted me to take a look at, right?”
Itsuwa had called in Sherry to investigate the workings of a certain spiritual item.
Sherry turned her gaze towards the rectangular case on the metal shelf of the lost article storage room.
“Is this the item in question?”
“Yes. Please analyze it.”
Sherry gave a slight breath from her nose and put on the thin gloves one used to handle antiques.
“Optical illusion techniques are harder to use with three dimensional objects than with pictures. After all, they must be constructed or carved without relying on making objects bigger or smaller to show perspective. That’s actually one of the reasons I like the genre.”
“Huh? But aren’t there types of three dimensional trick art that use a large ball and a small ball to show perspective? You think it’s just two balls, but when you change the angle…Things like that.”
“When the viewing angle is fixed, it isn’t that much different from a flat picture. That kind of optical illusion can’t be done at all angles. It looks one way from the front and another from the side. Frankly, that’s the same kind of art that can be constructed in a picture.”
She felt across the contours of the case.
Her analysis as a magician that specialized in sculptures began.
“…It is primarily made of oak. The wood was carved down to only a few millimeters thick and then exposed to steam until it would bend. It is a complicated structure, but no nails or screws were used. It was made similarly to the weaving of bamboo baskets or the creation of wooden mosaics. It was complexly made by hand, but it could also be taken apart by hand and rearranged in a different form.”
“U-umm…? What does that mean?”
“The case was made so that it could transform.” Sherry lightly clenched her fist and lightly knocked on the side of the case with the back of her hand. “And its original form was not that of a case. Some other object was folded up in a regulated way much like origami in order to forcibly give it the shape of a case. If I recall correctly, New Light’s field of expertise is Norse. In that case…”
“Hehh. Origami, huh?”
While listening to Sherry’s explanation, Itsuwa casually stretched her hand out towards the surface of the rectangular case.
When she did, she heard a clicking noise.
It was the noise of the case unlocking due to its lock being broken from the beating it took in the test facility.
“Wah! Wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah!?”
The rectangular case expanded.
It didn’t just expand to two or three times its size. The growing mass of wood destroyed the shelf it was sitting on and went on to knock over the metal shelves lined up like in a library one after another.
When it stopped expanding, the rectangular case had become a large boat.
It looked like a large canoe made of wood. It was more than 10 meters long.
Sherry sighed in exasperation.
“…I think you’re harboring airheadedness on the level of Orsola Aquinas.”
“D-don’t say that!! There’s no way I could possibly be as bad as that nun!!” denied Itsuwa frantically.
Orsola Aquinas was a specialist at solving written codes, but she was an extremely large-breasted nun well known for being airheaded and moving at her own pace.
Itsuwa became a bit embarrassed about the state of the lost article storage room and averted her gaze from Sherry.
“C-come to think of it, did you not call Orsola here for this? The field may be different, but I get the feeling that she is very good at analysis work.”
“I decided not to in order to make sure no mistakes like this would happen.”
“Oh,” said Itsuwa in a (to men) cute-sounding voice.
Sherry looked over in an annoyed fashion towards the case that had transformed into a large boat.
“…So its original form was a boat. From a Norse mythology standpoint, Skíðblaðnir would fit best I suppose.”
“Skíðblaðnir? Isn’t that the boat that can hold all of the Æsir including Odin? From what I heard, it could be folded up until it was small enough to fit in a bag.”
Of course, the boat before them was not the legendary boat. It was just a spiritual item with that name. However, since that story had been referenced, there had to be some kind of connection.
“Well, the case was just being used to transport something. Something else was likely put inside this ship in order to carry it around. …What could they have been trying to transport that required preparing the finest of ships that the gods chose to ride in?”
“…That’s the cornerstone of New Light’s plan,” Itsuwa muttered.
The item within, not the case itself, was the important item that would overthrow England.
The case they were looking at was clearly empty, but it was clear New Light’s objective wasn’t just to transport the case itself. It seemed that New Light’s plan was centered around bringing whatever they had excavated in Scotland to London.
However, it didn’t make sense that Bayloupe was just a dummy and one of her comrades actually had whatever it was.
“When I was fighting the magician who held this, she never let go of the case even once during the battle. A dummy case doesn’t seem like enough reason to add the risks created by fighting with one hand in order to protect it. If she ended up being killed along with the dummy, she would have lost everything.”
The piece of parchment that had come from the testing ground along with the case recorded her test actions and battles. From the looks of it, Bayloupe had continued guarding the rectangular case even after her steel glove had broken and then to the very moment she had passed out. That was clearly not how one would treat a mere dummy case.
“So it still has a secret left. A secret that gave her a reason to protect this empty case.”
Sherry reached into her pocket and pulled out a small brush and magnifying glass as if she were about to excavate a fossil. It seemed she now had a genuine desire to investigate.
“So it isn’t just a mere jack-in-the-box. I can investigate its detailed effects as a spiritual item, but I can’t guarantee that I will find anything anytime soon. Agnese and her unit were doing a search of New Light’s base in Edinburgh, right? They may find something before I do.”
“U-understood. Thank you very much.”
“No problem. You head back aboveground and destroy the remaining pieces of trash.”
Sherry didn’t even turn around as she gave that relaxed reply, so Itsuwa bowed once more and exited the lost article storage room.
She ran through the subway station heading for the exit and, just in case, contacted Agnese with her cell phone. Technically, she didn’t use the phone line. She used a magical technique instead.
Instead of coming from the small speaker installed on the phone, Agnese’s voice was created from vibrations of the strap.
“No, I’m sorry. We have investigated it, but we haven’t gotten any information on Skíðblaðnir. We will focus our search in that direction from now on though.”
“I see. Please do,” responded Itsuwa as she walked up the stairs and aboveground.
“So we’ve finally taken one of them out, huh? According to the information on them, New Light has 4 members. If there are still 3 of them left, this is still pretty bad.”
“I actually have some good news in that regard,” Itsuwa muttered in the direction of the phone.
Something had just cut across right in front of Itsuwa followed by a sound of destruction. She looked in the direction of the noise and saw a girl sunk into a large sign. The remains of a wing-shaped spiritual item were scattered about the area and the girl had flown over 20 meters without hitting the ground before slamming into the sign.
Itsuwa looked at the girl who had clearly lost consciousness and spoke.
“There are only 2 left.”
Itsuwa looked in the direction the girl had flown from just in time to see Priestess Kanzaki Kaori putting her sword back in its scabbard. It seemed she had knocked the girl away with her strength. Apparently, the effects of the steel glove were nothing compared to the physical strength of a Saint.
Itsuwa severed the connection with Agnese, picked up the rectangular case that had fallen to the walkway, and regrouped with Kanzaki and the rest of the Amakusas.
“I-it looks like there wasn’t just one case.”
“Yes. If the important contents are not in that case, we have no choice but to go after the next one. It looks like we can’t relax until we stop all of them, but I would prefer to avoid any violent means.”
A lamp giving off a faint light shook slightly on the roof of a carriage with a luxurious interior.
The carriage was heading down a dark path with almost no street lights about 100 km away from the center of London. The carriage was not alone. With the large carriage at the center, there were about a dozen carriages in a row. The carriages weren’t particularly armored, but the cavalry-like horses flanking them were covered in formal protectors.
It was a scene right out of a picture book or a fairy tale, but they were all moving at over 500 kph despite their antique appearance. This was not due to the abilities of the carriages. It was due to the magical effect of the magic circles that had been set at fixed intervals when the old pathway had been constructed. From a distance, the line of carriages may have looked like lit linear motor cars.
The carriages were colored with gold leaf and other precious metals giving them an unreal glitter, but what stood out the most was the large carriage in the middle that was travelling with a large number of guards.
It was known as the Travelling Fortress.
It was a long distance convoy carriage solely for the British Royal Family.
The parade carriage had a license plate for travelling on public roads and its wheels and wooden frame were strengthened, but it was also thoroughly fortified with over 700 spiritual items and magic circles.
Inside the decorated carriage that looked like it was from a fairy tale were 3 women.
They were Second Princess Carissa, Third Princess Villian, and Index.
“…So our older sister really didn’t come,” muttered Carissa while staring out the window.
The skirt of her dress was spread out to the limit and she was taking up a space that would normally have fit 3 people. In contrast, Villian had folded up her clothes as much as possible and was forcing herself to fit in half of the usual space a person would take up.
“She finds it a bit hard to trust people,” she responded hesitantly.
“I wouldn’t call that ‘a bit’. Even if you prepared her a carriage strong enough to last for 3 days even if you threw it into the sun, she would still factor in a risk of attack.”
“Isn’t that why, though? She is the kind of person that refuses to trust in security that someone else set up. If you prepare it all for her like that, she is not going to get in it. She cannot trust things that she cannot check on for herself. …You do know she detached her private room at Windsor Castle and rearranged it as she saw fit, right?”
“I can understand getting a pet just to get an idea what it’s like, but she is constantly sneaking out of the palace and into the city.”
“I believe she said that the words of townspeople who do not know who she is hold no malice.”
“Hmph,” said Carissa. “Right now the Eurotunnel is more important than her anyway.”
Carissa glanced over at Index who was idly kicking her feet because she had nothing to do.
“Even though our country is protected by Curtana Second, it is not guaranteed to have eternal prosperity. Even with the people obeying the queen as the leader of the angels and the knights as an army of angels, the country will still cease to function if a large number of people riot. And we can’t exactly wipe them all out with a great flood like in the scriptures.”
“To avoid a crisis like that, the knights work in the public view and, when the knights fail, the church works in secret to keep the peace in various ways. However, the Eurotunnel bombing, and the attempted terrorist attack on the passenger plane back to back have been more than enough to shake the people of our country.”
“But,” Villian carefully chose her words, “even if France was involved in that series of events, the Roman Catholic Church most likely influenced them. What will only blaming France solve?”
“You may be right, but even if someone else is pulling the strings, France needs to be stopped.” Carissa folded her arms. “The Vatican is strong. We can’t bring it down quickly, so the only other option is a drawn out war. For that, we need to create a supply base on the front lines. That makes this a geographic issue. We have to do whatever it takes to get France to ‘cooperate’ so we can construct a base right in front of the Vatican.”
“Aren’t you forgetting the option of creating a large scale supply base on the Mediterranean and simply applying pressure?”
“France is the one guarding the Mediterranean. That would still require quieting them down. Also, a sea fortress would require guarding against attack both from the air and within the sea, so I wouldn’t really call it a realistic option. There is also the issue of strength. If a land base’s walls are broken, they can be closed up again, but a single hole can sink one on the sea.”
Villian frowned uneasily and brought her hands up to her chest.
“…We can request for cooperation from France. Is this really something that can only be solved militarily?”
“If you really think it isn’t, just tell me how.”
Villian looked up after hearing Carissa’s words.
“Our sister specializes in her intellect, I specialize in the military, and you specialize in that benevolence of yours. This kind of method is naturally all that comes to my mind, but you may be able to find a more effective method. …Perhaps even one to deal with the Roman Catholic Church as well as France.”
“And to gather the information needed to make a decision, we need to investigate the cause of the Eurotunnel explosion. If you want to lead us to the best solution, make sure you stay focused. We’ll be in Folkestone soon. We’re almost to the Eurotunnel terminal that connects to Dover.”
Kamijou Touma ran through London late at night.
He didn’t know it, but the girl he was chasing after was named Lessar. He wasn’t foolishly running directly after the New Light member. Kamijou was running through a straight, narrow pathway between buildings.
He heard a high-pitched noise travel across the nighttime city above his head.
It was the security alarms of the different buildings. Lessar was jumping from building to building breaking out of a 3rd or 4th floor window on one and into another next. This activated the alarms each time, so it gave the illusion that it was a mass of sound that was travelling along.
The buildings must have been empty business buildings because he didn’t hear any screams or any other signs of a commotion from within, but he doubted the girl really cared about that. There was no sign of a people clearing field having been set up and Kamijou was willing to bet that the girl would cut through a building even if it caused a commotion.
(Ahh!! What’s with her careless methods!? She isn’t acting at all like a magician trying to be covert!!)
Kamijou continued running as he yelled internally.
That was when something changed.
He all of a sudden realized something was moving alongside him.
It was a small orange pumpkin.
The pumpkin was about the size of a clenched fist and it had eyes and a mouth carved into it. The small pumpkin was moving along a nearby alley wall so as to meet Kamijou’s gaze.
“From the looks of you, you aren’t a magician or even from the UK. Why is someone like you chasing after me?” said a young female voice in a joking manner. The voice was speaking in Japanese. “I apologize if you’re just an immigrant living in Japantown, but you aren’t, are you? I can smell it. I doubt you know all that much about England.”
“…Are you from New Light!?”
“Correct. I am Lessar of New Light. If you’re just a civilian I want to ask you to just leave, but since you’re working with the 0th Parish and you know our organization’s name, I don’t really know what to make of the situation.”
Her words made her sound troubled, but there was no seriousness in her voice.
(She’s making fun of me.)
“Well, whether you’re a magician or not, you’re still out since you aren’t from the UK. You’re not qualified to participate in this. Don’t get involved in what doesn’t concern you and just leave.”
“I’m not qualified to participate!? What the hell are you talking about!?” shouted Kamijou in a voice that rang throughout the narrow alleyway.
The pumpkin responded with a voice that sounded like someone giving directions.
“Of course you aren’t qualified. As representatives of the magicians living in the UK, we are carrying out this absurd plan to send the country in a better direction. If someone were to appear to block our path, they have to at least love the UK as much as we do to have any legitimacy at all. This isn’t an issue a traveller can get involved in.”
“Fuck that! We know you people excavated some strange spiritual item in Scotland and have brought it to London! You’re clearly planning on doing something horrible. How can I just ignore that!?”
“Oh, so that’s what the 0th Parish’s analysis came up with. Well, I’d have to be an idiot to give a hint to the enemy, so we can just go with that.”
“What are you saying?”
“You don’t really need to understand, but I’ll say this: all we want to do is give a last-minute course change to the UK since it will definitely lose in a war as it is now.”
The girl did not deny having excavated a spiritual item, having brought it to London, or planning on activating it.
The specifics of New Light’s plan weren’t clear, but Kamijou couldn’t imagine that it would result in anything good.
“Anyway, this is an issue that only the people living in the UK can feel real urgency about. I doubt you’ll willingly kill someone who isn’t clearly evil, so just keep quiet about this. You’re just the kind of person that gets enraged over things that don’t concern you.”
With those words, the pumpkin burst.
As colorful paper streamers spewed from the pumpkin as if it were a party cracker, Kamijou punched at it with his right hand knowing it wouldn’t be any good.
(Dammit! She isn’t just fast, but she’s tracking my route of pursuit even though she shouldn’t be able to see me here!! I wonder how she’s doing!?)
Kamijou clicked his tongue and ran out of the small path to a larger one. This one was a large road with 3 lanes on either side. It was almost midnight, but there were still plenty of cars heading home and late-night buses going by.
Kamijou stopped running.
The bottoms of his feet slid across the ground due to his sudden stop and he looked up at a certain portion of one of the buildings.
Specifically, the 3rd floor window.
Lessar was standing in shock with both hands on the reinforced glass. She had an astounding jumping ability and was excellent at jumping up onto things, but apparently she had no way of softening the blow of jumping back down.
She also could not jump all the way across the large road all at once.
Lessar had basically run into a dead end and then yet another hardship came for her.
Oriana had caught up with Lessar and dropkicked her in the back.
The reinforced glass shattered and Lessar’s body was thrown out into the air.
The plan Oriana had suggested had been as follows: I’ll kick her down from the building next to the large road, so you catch her down below.
Kamijou spread out his arms and yelled up at Lessar.
“Ha ha ha!! You’re either dead or captuuuuuuurrrred!!”
Lessar was at a loss for words and she couldn’t do anything about her situation.
That was when Kamijou realized something.
Raining down along with the girl’s small body were hundreds of glittering glass shards.
“I-I’m dead, I’m dead, I’m dead, I’m dead, I’m dead, I’m dead, I’m dead, I’m dead, I’m dead, I’m dead, I’m dead!!”
“Hey, don’t go hide!! If you don’t catch me, I’ll die!!”
After yelling something in English, Lessar held out her four-bladed spear, the steel glove. She struck the wall of the building with the end and, with a tremendous noise, Lessar’s body flew horizontally.
She continued on between the trees on the side of the road and hit a pile of Halloween decorations. She fell down further and further breaking the decorations as she went. She seemed to have used them for cushioning and she landed on the ground with her clothes torn up. She then turned her back on Kamijou and ran off again.
Kamijou was completely dumbfounded and he saw Oriana’s face poke out from the shattered 3rd floor window.
She put her hands around her mouth and yelled so that her voice reached him.
“You just lost a hell of a lot of pooooooiiiiinnnnttttssss!!”
“Well, sorry!! I just have to chase after her, right!?”
Kamijou ran after Lessar with slight tears in the corners of his eyes due to fear of the raining glass.
Agnese Sanctis was in Scotland.
She was at a yacht harbor in the large city of Edinburgh. The yacht harbor was inside a bay and its location prevented many large waves from reaching it, making it useful for leaving yachts or cruisers for long periods of time.
Agnese was on a boat, but she was not on the water.
There was a large open area of asphalt in front of the yacht harbor. Cruisers worn from wind and rain were lined up there. They had been set up on the land because they could no longer float in the sea due to having holes worn in them.
Most of them were there temporarily waiting to be disassembled or waiting for repairs after being bought by people who couldn’t afford a new one.
“So this is the third place,” said Lucia, one of Agnese’s colleagues. “It can’t be used in the water anymore, but the living space has been repaired. It also has the same security as the other two hideouts. It definitely is one of New Light’s bases.”
Agnese narrowed her eyes.
The majority of modern day “advanced wizards” did not build extravagant castles or towers. If you focused all your power in one place, you would lose everything if that place was searched. As such, they would instead prepare numerous places that could be easily abandoned such as an apartment, a rented room, or an RV. Splitting up one’s assets into smaller areas lowered the risk of losing everything.
This implied something about New Light.
Basically, they were not just a group that had an interest in love fortunes. Instead, they had real power as a magic cabal.
(What a pain in the ass enemy…)
Agnese sighed and then spoke to Lucia.
“Was there any information left inside? Was there anything about the details of the cases they’re using, the Skíðblaðnir, or on their plan that involves using those cases?”
“As before, it seems to have been set up so that all the information sources inside could be erased remotely with a single signal. Sisters Catarina and Agata are currently doing a thorough check inside.”
The hatch installed directly on the cruiser’s floor opened. A nun with glasses, Agata, stuck her head out and beckoned at Agnese.
“We have found a prototype of the case in the engine room. The fact that the spiritual item was not destroyed more or less confirms that they erased the information remotely and didn’t come by themselves. This also points to the possibility that some irregularity caused New Light to start this plan of theirs sooner than they had originally intended.”
“So what are the effects of the case – of Skíðblaðnir – as a spiritual item?”
“I can’t guarantee that this is correct because we have no actual proof, but I have done a certain level of analysis on it.” Agata flipped through a notepad. “It most likely teleports the item inside Case A to Case B, Case C, Case D, or any other related spiritual item. Its effective range is about 100 kilometers. If they’re within that range, they can ‘pass’ the item around as they please.”
“I see. So they’re attacking London while passing some important item around between the 4 of them like they were playing lacrosse.”
They didn’t know what that important item was, but it was something worth preparing those cases for. It was unlikely to be “important” in a good way.
“It could be a bomb or something that could be used as a weapon.”
“Yes, we need to look into that.”
Two of the four members of New Light had already been taken out by the Amakusas. However, since they could pass around the contents of the Skíðblaðnirs, it was highly likely that any one of them could activate the contents.
Agnese took a report handed to her by another nun, Angelene.
“According to the other two hideouts we found, New Light seems to have excavated something near Edinburgh. That was most likely this important item.”
“Sister Agnese! Emergency!!” said Catarina loudly opening the door connecting to the living area. Agnese looked over and Catarina threw a rolled up piece of parchment at her. After spreading it out, Agnese’s shoulders jumped in shock.
“…You’ve got to be kidding me…”
Kamijou Touma ran down an alley.
He started wondering what he would do if Lessar made another astounding jump, but it seemed something wasn’t going right for her either. Even if she had cushioned herself with the decorated trees, she hadn’t been able to land unscathed after falling from a building.
Currently, she was running down the back alley like a normal person with her tail made of a metal backbone within a clear tube swaying back and forth. That said, she was much faster than a normal girl. She was like a short distance sprinter maintaining her speed over the course of a marathon.
It must have taken Oriana some time to get down from the building because she wasn’t nearby.
If he lost sight of her here, it would really be over.
Every time Lessar disappeared around a corner, Kamijou’s anxiety spiked. Suddenly, he heard his cell phone ringing. Looking at the screen, he saw a number he was unfamiliar with. In fact, the leading numbers hinted that it wasn’t a call from anyone in Japan.
He pressed the connect button while running and he heard a familiar female voice.
“You answered! Thank God! I was right to ask for your information from the Amakusas!!”
(Wait, why do the Amakusa’s know my phone number?)
Despite Kamijou’s question, Agnese’s voice sounded pressured enough that he doubted she would welcome an unnecessary question.
“We know a portion of New Light’s objective! Their final target is one of the British princesses heading to the Folkestone terminal in order to investigate the Eurotunnel!!”
Kamijou’s body stiffened in shock.
“For diplomatic reasons, there are no magical security measures used on Buckingham Palace, but it is still heavily guarded by a large number of knights, magicians, and – most importantly – the queen herself. Now that the princesses have left the palace in a carriage, New Light has a great opportunity!!”
The assassination of a British princess.
A chill ran down Kamijou’s back.
“And that isn’t the only problem. The royal family ‘officially’ denies it, but the existence of Curtana Second gives me reason to worry. There is a certain large-scale spell that uses a member of the royal family as an activation key.”
The royal family Agnese mentioned wasn’t just an issue of bloodline. It apparently referred to someone magically inserted into the framework of the royal family. Due to political marriages, the English Royal Family possessed connections to the leaders of a number of countries, so it wasn’t something that could merely be explained as “people of the bloodline of the English monarch”.
If bloodline were all that determined whether someone was of the royal family or not, a princess from another country that became part of the royal family by marrying the king would then be the only person unable to use the magic of the royal family.
“There are many rumors about magic that uses a member of the royal family as an activation key, but the most extreme is a large-scale spell that activates on the death of a member of the royal family.”
“It really is just a rumor, but, simply put, it is an attack spell that creates destruction on a national level. It was supposedly deployed during the 16th century and, of course, the enemies it was targeted at were the other European countries. If it were to be activated, it is said that entire area would be completely blown away.”
There was no longer any sense of reality to Agnese’s words. She went on to say that it was possible that the rumor was merely exaggerated, but that wasn’t much consolation to Kamijou.
“But if that ridiculously powerful spell were activated, it would cause a change in the earth’s crust and cause other natural disasters within England, too. It would literally be a ‘final attack’, so the aftermath wasn’t considered at all. You could say it’s something like firing an insanely powerful magnum with only one hand. This is all just a rumor, but it is said that most of the people living in the UK would be killed by the recoil and the aftermath.”
If that information were true, then New Light’s true objective was…
“One of the New Light members told me something about someone who wouldn’t put his life on the line for the UK not being qualified to join in this fight.”
“From that, it seems that they really are thinking of assassinating a princess and that they are serious about the magic that would be caused by the death of a member of the royal family.”
Another chill ran down Kamijou’s spine and he hurriedly said something to Agnese.
“Wait a second. The English Royal Family has been continuing on for hundreds of years, right? A number of kings and queens would have died during that time. If this large-scale spell actually existed, wouldn’t the UK and the rest of Europe have been wiped out ages ago!?”
“In the Christian church we have what are known as the last rites. Simply put, it is a type of ceremony that prepares the dead for the final judgment allowing them to reach heaven. It’s possible that they applied some kind of code that avoided such a disaster then. Historically, royalty who died within the castle or were executed all had their last rites performed. However, if a sudden death in battle or an assassination succeeded and there wasn’t enough time to carry out the last rites…”
“The spell only applying to the royal family would activate…”
The death of a king was the death of the country.
Even if it was a final attack that gathered up all of one’s strength, you should get revenge.
It was a piece of magic left over from an age when people truly believed that. And it was still functioning.
Kamijou shuddered at the mere thought of it.
He desperately searched for something that allowed him to deny it.
New Light had placed a spiritual item that acted as a transmitter on the carriage for the royal family.
But that didn’t mean they would succeed in the assassination right away.
“That’s right. The princesses didn’t go out there unarmed! I don’t know if it’s the usual for heads of state, but the cars and airplanes the president uses are specially made, right!?”
“It’s true that that carriage is known as the Travelling Fortress because of all the different forms of security built into it. But it seems the transmitter they put on it doesn’t just tell them its location. It also tells them whether the door is open or not.”
“So they can attack when one of the princesses is getting out of the carriage?” As Kamijou muttered those words, he felt a cold shiver run down his spine. “Don’t they have guards with them!?”
“Of course they do, but they’re guarding based on the assumption that the carriage’s defenses are functioning properly. If that turned out not to be true, there would be a hole in their security. If a long distance attack was used through that gap…”
“Fuck,” Kamijou spat out. “How did something like a transmitter get on a royal carriage anyway?”
“We don’t know exactly how. Also, since a transmitter was put on, we can’t deny the possibility of something else having been done to it. For example, they could have done something that temporarily weakens the magical defenses on the carriage.”
“…This is horrible,” Kamijou groaned.
Index would be on that carriage along with the princesses.
“We still don’t know how they plan on attacking. London could merely be nothing more than a shortcut to the terminal in Folkestone or they may be able to use some kind of long distance attack. Either way, you need to restrain the remaining members as soon as possible!”
Kamijou glared at the fleeing back of Lessar.
“There’s still a member we haven’t found, right!?”
“New Light is made up of 4 members and two have already been defeated. That leaves the one you are chasing and another one we don’t know the whereabouts of. Given the characteristics of Skíðblaðnir we just discovered, their actions will be more limited if they are alone.”
Agnese explained the effects of the rectangular case that was a spiritual item known as Skíðblaðnir. It seemed the contents could be freely moved from Case A to Case B.
“There are only two of them left. One of those cases must contain whatever it is. But…”
Even if Lessar had the contents, she would just “pass” whatever it was to the final member if she were cornered.
In other words…
“It’s true that the final one won’t be able to pass it on, but that isn’t enough to ensure this assassination won’t happen!! As long as they have whatever is in there, I get the feeling that any one of them could carry out a fatal attack!!”
“Yes. We cannot relax until each and every one of them has been found and restrained. So hurry!”
Kamijou hung up his phone, stuck it in his pocket, and focused his attention forward once more.
Lessar turned around a corner, but when Kamijou followed, she had disappeared.
For a second his heart almost stopped, but he quickly figured out what had happened.
There was an emergency staircase stretching up a building to the side.
Kamijou looked up and heard a metallic clanging coming from the metal staircase.
“So she went up.”
He regulated his breathing and started up the stairs. The building was about 5 stories tall. The door on the 4th floor was open. Looking at each landing as he went back and forth up the stairs, he headed straight for that door.
He then heard a metallic noise and saw four shining silver blades.
Lessar had jammed the blades into the space between the metal emergency staircase and the brick wall and she forcefully cut the connector.
With one of the bolts cut, the entire staircase wobbled. The sudden weight caused a bolt on a different floor to break like a shirt button popping off. Kamijou immediately grabbed the handrail, but the entire staircase tilted. It wasn’t going to last much longer.
The entire staircase was tilted at about 15 degrees when it suddenly stopped. Looking up, Kamijou saw that the top of the staircase had hit the building on the other side of the alley due to the alleyway being fairly narrow.
Seeing that, Lessar started to attack with the steel glove again.
However, Kamijou moved before she could. He ignored the normal stairway, stood up on the handrail, and jumped up to the 4th floor where Lessar was. When he did, the bent staircase started to collapse and fall down under its own weight.
As Kamijou approached, Lessar stabbed with the steel glove.
But there was one thing she didn’t know.
A power known as Imagine Breaker resided in his right hand.
As the staircase fell, Kamijou’s fist swung down striking the top of Lessar’s steel glove. The four blades shattered. Before Lessar could respond in shock to that, she was forced into a collision with Kamijou.
Behind her, she heard the sound of the staircase completely collapsing.
Kamijou lost his balance and fell to the floor and he stood up again breathing heavily.
In front of him, Lessar was refusing to let go of the rectangular case despite having lost her weapon. That case was Skíðblaðnir, the spiritual item that allowed her to freely pass around its contents.
Lessar looked around the area searching for an escape path, but Kamijou spoke cutting into her search.
“You no longer have the power to quickly run away like you had at the beginning. And you’ve also lost that weird spear-like weapon that gave you ridiculous strength. Right now, I could easily beat you down with my fists.”
Lessar was still staring towards the elevator refusing to give up, but then Oriana appeared having run over hearing the noise.
Lessar’s escape routes were cut off on both sides and she sighed slightly.
She then threw open a nearby door and jumped inside. However, there was no exit that way. Kamijou and Oriana nodded at each other and followed her inside.
It seemed to be a multi-tenant building and the rooms had been made into offices. The building itself was stylishly made of brick, so the stereotypical desks and office copy machines that were almost enshrined within it seemed a bit surreal.
Lessar was at a window.
However, she could not jump down. She knew that if she did, she wouldn’t get out of it uninjured.
“We know what you’re after,” Kamijou said. “It seems you’re aiming for the princesses while they’re away from Buckingham Palace, but it appears you’ve failed. The others have been captured, too.”
Lessar gave a slight laugh upon hearing Kamijou’s words.
She responded to him in Japanese.
“But you don’t know where Lancis is, do you?”
“The reason is simple enough. Lancis isn’t in London.”
A chill ran down Kamijou’s spine.
He imagined that a member of New Light had already made it through London and was headed to Folkestone where the princesses were.
But it seemed that wasn’t what Lessar had meant.
“Lancis is waiting in a place 30 kilometers north of London. The rest of us were merely relay points. We just had to adjust our locations to match up with the location of the royal carriage. If any one of the three of us here acts as a relay point, our plan will succeed.”
“What are you saying…?”
Kamijou frowned doubtfully, but that was when Oriana looked up as if she had realized something. Her instincts as a courier must have told her something.
“A relay point…? You don’t mean…!!”
Oriana quickly pulled out her booklet of flashcards, but Lessar just laughed.
“When you figured out that we had mass produced them, why didn’t you realize that there could be five Skíðblaðnirs!?”
Lessar tilted the rectangular case to the side by quite a bit.
What looked like a blue laser shot into it ignoring the presence of the walls. The light then changed directions as if it had been refracted and shot off for some other destination.
According to Agnese, Skíðblaðnir had an effective range of 100 kilometers. It could reach Folkestone from there.
(…That Lancis person clearly sent the contents here.)
“Who did you send the contents to? Who has the 5th case!?”
Kamijou instinctually tried to grab the case, but Lessar threw it to the side since she didn’t need it anymore and spread her arms wide. Kamijou looked on in puzzlement and she spoke.
“I’ve completed my objective, but it’s true that I lost this battle. I guess causing even more trouble for you all and the Forward after such a boring result wouldn’t be right since we’ve allied with you.” Her smile turned to a look of resignation. “I’ll take it. If you’re going to silence me, do it now.”
Kamijou saw a spot in the night landscape outside the window flash.
He immediately jumped forward to pull Lessar out of the way, but something happened when he grabbed her arm.
The window behind Lessar shattered and something red spurted out.
“A sniper!?” yelled Oriana.
Kamijou wasn’t even pulled down with her. Lessar merely spun around from the blow and struck the floor. Perhaps because he had grabbed her arm, the aim had been off just slightly. Whatever had struck her shoulder had almost torn her arm off. It must have broken an artery because an unbelievable amount of blood was flowing out.
“You idiot! Get down!!”
Despite being yelled at, Kamijou couldn’t move.
Lessar had said she was being “silenced”.
If that were true, this wasn’t someone coming to help Kamijou and Oriana.
That attack had clearly been intended to kill Lessar.
Finally able to move, Kamijou looked around the area and found a bundle of copy paper. He balled it up and pressed it against the wound. Probably because of all the blood she had lost, Lessar had begun to convulse slightly. She was going into shock.
She would be in serious trouble at that rate.
“Call an ambulance, Oriana!! No, wait. Is there any healing magic you can use!?”
“Unfortunately, no,” Oriana said regretfully.
Then she froze in place.
The object that had broken the window and pierced Lessar’s shoulder had stuck into a steel office desk. It was an odd projectile made up of a streamlined arrowhead stuck onto a pole about 30 cm long.
Oriana was not shocked by how much destructive force it had.
She was shocked because she recognized it.
“It’s a long-distance sniping spiritual item used by the knights. But the Anglican Church was supposed to be in control of magical incidents within the country. I hadn’t heard anything about the knights helping out with this.”
Oriana pulled the projectile out of the steel desk.
She traced its surface with a fingertip.
“Robin Hood was developed for military purposes by a famous unit under direct control of Second Princess Carissa. If that unit is involved in the silencing of New Light…It couldn’t be…!”
As Oriana responded in shock, Kamijou’s body stiffened.
He stiffened because of Lessar.
Her wound was being held down by a large amount of copy paper and she moved her shaking lips to speak either to brag about her success or in thanks for the emergency treatment he had given her.
“…We were transporting Curtana Original…”
A smile appeared on her bloody face.
“That’s the ceremonial sword that was once used for coronations and the Sword of Mercy that can only be used by the royal family. …Of course…it greatly outdoes the Curtana Second…that was created later and the current queen possesses it. It is the UK’s greatest spiritual item… It is truly the proper sword with which to change the country…”
Folkestone was a port town about 100 kilometers from London. In that city was the terminal to the Eurotunnel, the undersea tunnel that cut across the Strait of Dover.
Innumerable carriages were stopped near the terminal that was wrapped in darkness. They were the carriage for the royal family and the ones guarding it. A number of military horses along with a few dozen knights wearing silver armor were waiting there as well.
There was no light in the entrance.
As the undersea tunnel had been destroyed in an explosion partway through, the terminal was not operating. Index was headed towards it. A bit away, a young maid was handing a thermos of tea to Third Princess Villian.
That was when Knight Leader’s eyebrows twitched.
He looked down at the rectangular case he was holding.
He checked the weight of the case and then moved silently over to the second princess. Still holding the case, he whispered in Carissa’s ear.
“It has arrived.”
Second Princess Carissa gave a slight nod.
Knight Leader continued speaking so that no one else could hear.
“From our monitoring of electronic and magical communications, it seems the church mistakenly believes that New Light intends to activate a large-scale anti-European attack spell by assassinating a princess.”
“Hah. And yet that ridiculous legend isn’t even true.”
“If we really had such destructive magic, the negotiations would have gone much more easily. And more than anything, we would simply need a plan to ensure that the people weren’t killed so easily.”
Carissa moved her right arm so as to quiet the man and her smile deepened.
“Convey this to the knights hidden all across the country.”
That was the sign.
That single command would burn a nation down from the inside.
“Begin the invasion. I now have Curtana Original, the sword that decides the king, within my grasp. This makes me, Carissa, the ruler of the United Kingdom. Anyone that does not want to see the country decay under the rule of the previous pacifist queen, stand up of your own will. To bring about the new United Kingdom, leveling some things will be necessary and some destruction will be necessary.”