Toaru Majutsu no Index:Volume9 Chapter2
Chapter 2: A Stadium of Magicians and Espers. “Stab_Sword.”
The next event was ‘Roll the Ball’.
Kamijou and his peers of the same age had already entered the arena. In this not so spacious compound, where the ground was covered with asphalt, both sides were lined up like they were in a cavalry war.
The rules were somewhat different from standard rules. When the gunshot to indicate the start of the match was fired, competitors would have to push 50 large balls—25 on the left side, and 25 on the right side—to the enemy’s line. The winner would be the year group who pushed more than 25 balls past the opponent’s line.
What was different from normal Roll the Ball was that participants from both sides would have to touch all the balls at least once. In other words, during this event, participants could use their powers to obstruct the opponent.
Like the other students, Kamijou placed his hand on a white team’s ball that was 2 meters in diameter, as he smelled sweat and dust. Before the shot was fired, the atmosphere was tense. Although the nature of this match was similar to a game, the surrounding atmosphere made anyone feel serious.
But in this situation, Kamijou was worried about another thing.
He was thinking about the conversation he had with Stiyl and Tsuchimikado 20 minutes ago.
“Academy City is busy hosting ordinary tourists, so they had to neglect security?”
“Then a magician saw a loophole and decided to exploit it.”
Kamijou’s class was responsible for 3 large balls, and there were three groups: one for boys, one for girls, and one for both boys and girls. Kamijou was in the boys only group. From nearby, Himegami Aisa gave him a wordless stare, like she was trying to say something. But Kamijou, who was too busy thinking about the conversation, didn’t notice her staring at him.
“But, what’s the reason? Are these people here to kidnap Index? I won’t sit back and watch if it really involves her!”
“Don’t panic, Kamijou Touma. The enemy’s target this time isn’t her. To the enemy, if she gets involved, it’ll only make things more difficult for them.”
“Ah? What does that mean?”
“I’ll explain this to you later, Kami-yan. Let’s talk about the main issue, which is the main reason why the magicians snuck into Academy City.”
“Everyone, get set,” the loudspeakers in the campus blared.
Everyone was holding their breath, bending their bodies slightly over. Kamijou took a glimpse around. Tsuchimikado, who was wearing sunglasses, placed his hands on the ball like everyone else.
“Those magicians……? There’s not just one?”
“Right now, we can confirm that there are at least two of them. Lidvia Lorenzetti of the Roman Catholic Church and the courier that she hired, Oriana Thomson from England. Both of them are women. There should be at least one person they’re dealing with, but right now, it isn’t clear. Rumors have it that the biggest suspect is Bishop Nikolai Tolstoy of the Russian Church, but we can’t confirm it as of now.”
“Courier? This deal, what’s it all about?”
“Exactly what it says on the tin, Kami-yan. Those guys intend to trade some spiritual stuff that the Church passed down.”
BAM!! The gunshot signaling the start of the match was fired.
Kamijou Touma, who was thinking about these things, was late by a second.
“Why here……isn’t Academy City the least associated place with magic?”
“That’s right nya. But that is the reason. Neither the guards of Academy City and Judgment can catch magicians from the magical world anyhow. Also, the Cross Army and Necessarius of the magical world cannot step into Academy City, which belongs to the science world. So now, this has become a situation where both sides are unable to take action.”
“If it wasn’t for Daihaseisai, the actions of Lidvia and everyone else would be limited due to the tight security. Only in this extremely busy period will Academy City loosen its guard. That’s why they’re able to act.”
In order to keep chase with the large ball, Kamijou frantically ran forward.
The sound of footsteps and balls rolling continued to rumble the earth. Because the inside of the ball was just air, one wouldn’t feel that it was too heavy, but rather the ball was so light like a balloon that it’d be affected by the wind, and would roll sideways if one didn’t pay attention.
“Then can’t you guys send in many Necessarius members like Stiyl to arrest them?”
“The reason why I can be here is because of the proper reason that ‘I’m your friend, and I’m here personally to sightsee.’ If the situation changes such that ‘A group of Anglicans’ is here, other magical organisations will use this opportunity to request that ‘we want to come in.’ Do you think that all these people are friendly to Academy City? There would definitely be people who would do some sabotaging. Do you think that these people will protect this place that’s completely different from the magic world?”
“As the leader of the scientific world, Academy City’s voice is a lot louder than any small and nameless magical group, nya. But at this moment, if they reject the proposal, larger groups will then request to go in. Thus, this situation with Lidvia and Oriana is rather sensitive, Kami-yan. In this troublesome situation, if we call in other comrades, Academy City will be swallowed in chaos. In order to limit the number of people who know of this issue, the only people allowed to get involved are ‘magicians who are familiar with the people of Academy City.’ There are few magicians with links to Academy City. So this time, we can only use a few elite troops to get in.”
The large balls were moving even faster now. The one that Kamijou’s group was pushing was the furthest in front. In other words, it had the highest likelihood of touching the enemy’s ball first.
“??? Isn’t Kanzaki Kaori another person who’s familiar with us? Isn’t she supposed to be some superhuman called a Saint? Isn’t it better to have more people?”
“Kanzaki cannot be here, especially in this situation, because this spiritual item is rather special.”
“Ah? What does that mean?”
“Kami-yan. Speaking about this spiritual weapon called the ‘Stab Sword’, its effects are—”
Because the ball was too big, Kamijou was unable to see ahead from his position. Hearing Aogami Pierce shout ‘Incoming!’ Kamijou gathered his consciousness.
“It’s said that the sword can kill a Saint with one blow.”
WATCH OUT! A shout came from behind.
Every student other than Kamijou ran away from the ball.
(Eh? Isn't there some more time before we touch the enemy's ball?)
Just when Kamijou was puzzled…
An impact came from behind.
From behind, the ball that belongs to the girls’ group was rolling extremely fast, catching up with them and swallowing Kamijou. When the ball that belongs to the mixed group passed by, Fukiyose Seiri coldly said, “What on earth are you doing? Kamijou Touma?” while Himegami Aisa glanced at him, her expression seeming to say, “I was right, you were looking troubled.”
“That’s the one, the humans who are similar to the Son of God in Christian teachings. In the Idol Theory of Christianity, when duplicating the Cross that the Son of God was executed on, the duplicate will have some power as well. By using this theory on the relationship between the Son of God and humans, any human similar to the Son of God will have power equivalent to him. These people chosen by the heavens are known as ‘Saints’. These people have an inexplicable amount of power. However……”
The Roll the Ball Match was over now (Luckily, Kamijou’s school won). As they were leaving the arena, both Kamijou and Tsuchimikado were continuing their conversation and drinking sports drinks given by Fukiyose Seiri, who had said “You need to replenish your amino acids. This drink includes black vinegar and soy isoflavone.”
“The Saints have a weaknesses.”
“Really? But isn’t Kanzaki strong enough to take on a real angel on her own?”
Angel. This word didn’t sound very real, but because Kamijou had seen it for himself, he had to believe it. That angel who called herself Misha Kreutzev had enough power to destroy the entire world with a single finger, and yet Kanzaki had been able to fight the angel till the end. No matter what Kamijou or anyone else did, they couldn’t match up to her.
Tsuchimikado was gulping down the drink, saying,
“But her powers do have a weakness. Listen closely, a Saint is a human who has the same type and nature of body as the Son of God, so not only do they have the same amount of power, they have the similar types, characteristics and features.”
Tsuchimikado took a deep breath,
“—Basically, they have inherited the weaknesses of the Son of God.”
Ah! Kamijou inadvertently cried out.
“The Son of God died once. It doesn’t matter that he resurrected and rose to Heaven; the fact that he died cannot be denied. Kami-yan, do you know how the Son of God, who was hung on the Cross, was killed?”
Tsuchimikado grinned at Kamijou, and continued,
“He was stabbed. After his arms and legs were nailed onto the Cross, he was stabbed through by a spear. Whether the spear gave the critical blow, or whether it was used to confirm that he was dead, is still being hotly debated by Bible scholars. But the fact that he got ‘stabbed’ wasn’t changed, nya.”
Tsuchimikado took another gulp of drink, and continued,
“The ‘Stab Sword’ has the religious meaning of execution and assassination, a spiritual weapon that can expand and contract at will, to any length. It’s said that it can ‘Stab through a dragon and pin it onto the ground.’ It’s useless against humans, but it’s a sure kill against Saints. No matter how far, just pointing the sword at something is enough to kill it.”
Hearing this, Kamijou broke out in cold sweat.
Seemed like Tsuchimikado wanted to add on to Kamijou’s imagination, as he proceeded on,
“Sounds scary? When the ‘Stab Sword’ is activated, whether one’s in a nuclear shelter, or in the core of the Earth, or even if the person hides in the netherworld, just pointing the sword at a Saint is enough to kill him or her. It’s much more convenient and ruthless than a nuclear weapon. Because this sword was created to destroy any selfish and greedy Saints, nya!”
“What are these magicians thinking, dealing for this kind of thing……”
“It’s for war, Kami-yan. A Saint is the magical equivalent to a nuclear bomb. After killing the enemy’s Saints and protecting all your comrades in the first place will result in a drastic change of tide in battle.”
To ordinary high school students living in modern Japan, this didn’t sound sensible. But Kamijou had come close to it once. Once, because of the magical Book of the Law and the nun who claimed to have cracked the code, Orsola Aquinas, the Anglicans, Roman Catholics and Amakusas had a three-way battle. If there was a real war, the scale would definitely be much larger. A war that would affect the entire world, a war that would involve ordinary and innocent people, a war that would change the landscape.
“However, there are a lot more magicians who aren’t Saints, right? Like the Anglicans, they can battle on even if they don’t have Kanzaki, right?”
“Kami-yan, the problem isn’t there. It’s not whether we can win. Once we get the wrong feeling that we can win, we’ll provoke a war. Once a Saint, who signifies power, is dead, it’ll likely destroy the balance of the Magical society. It’s like how an entire country grieves when a member of Royalty is killed, nya. People who feel that this is a great chance to succeed will jump into battle without hesitation — these people never notice, however, that what awaits them is a tragic failure.”
Tsuchimikado’s words had a cold and oppressive feeling in them.
It was probably because of his status as an agent, working in different places, that he knew the weaknesses of this world.
“A Saint being killed wantonly will destabilize a country and its organizations religiously. If they are attacked from within or from outside by magical organizations, they’ll get destroyed. These situations won’t appear on stage, but they’re enough to cause the countries and the world to collapse. Once the balance of an area is unstable, many different groups will plan and set up a new order, and end up causing war as a result. As an international security maintenance organization created to counter magicians, the 0th Parish of the Anglican Church, Necessarius, won’t let this off easily, nya.”
This really sounded like a resolve, but Tsuchimikado’s tone at the end was really frivolous.
(Is this tone of his really a relaxed one from the view of a spy, or is he trying to suppress his feelings as a professional?)
The amateur Kamijou was unable to judge this.
Kamijou drunk the drink that was not so cold now, and said,
“However, in this serious situation, isn’t it better to ask Index for help?”
That was right, Index was still not around.
After hearing Tsuchimikado and Stiyl’s explanation, he had run immediately to the arena without meeting Index.
If it was related to magic, she was a very reliable helper. To Kamijou, nobody knew magic better than her.
However, Tsuchimikado rejected this proposal with just a sentence,
“No way, we can’t use Index. Not only must we not allow her to be near the scene, we can’t let her know anything about this.”
“Hm. Because there are a lot of complicated reasons. Alright, I’ll explain everything from the beginning.”
Tsuchimikado seemed to find it bothersome as he scratched his head.
“Like what I just said, the science side cannot cross over to the magic side. Right now, there are many problems inside and outside Academy City…do you understand if I say it like this, nya?”
“Ah? I do know that security guards and disciplinary members cannot face off against magicians directly.”
He seemed to have heard of this before when he had snuck into ‘Misawa Cram School’ with Stiyl to find the alchemist hiding himself inside.
The science and magical worlds were two different worlds on their own, two completely different sides. In this situation, if any policing agency of Academy City was to catch a magician, it would cause the risk of information regarding the magical world being leaked to the science world.
“For example, it’s like our newest and most advanced fighter jet fell into the hands of the enemy?”
“That’s right. And if there are a lot of magicians who stepped into Academy City as a group, the situation will be much worse. Because in this case, the magicians who intend to do the trade in Academy City can do whatever they want. How can anyone leave them alone?”
Kamijou felt that this was a rather stupid structure. Everyone had the same intentions, but were unable to move because of this kind of reason.
“So this time, we have an exception. We’ll have me, Kami-yan and Stiyl, the three of us working together.”
“Of course, some organisations will be unhappy about this. These people are observing, but are unable to get into Academy City. Some of them want to solve this case, but for the wrong intentions. These people are using spells that act like radar, sensing any magical flow. Once there’s movement, they’ll rush in.”
“Hmm……so that’s what it’s all about?”
Kamijou could only say this, since to be honest, he was unable to imagine what a magic flow was like.
“But, what has this magic detection got to do with Index? She can’t use magic! Even if those guys can use radar-like spells, there’s no need to hide Index.”
Although Kamijou Touma had lost his memories, he still had this knowledge. Although Index was the keeper of 103,000 grimoires, she couldn’t use it. This was to prevent her from getting into trouble by using them.
Facing Kamijou’s doubts, Tsuchimikado bitterly laughed,
“This is the difference in values. Hear this, Kami-yan. For the past few months, there had been quite a few magical occurrences—and you were able to settle them perfectly—but in the magical world, nobody knows that you were involved.”
“It doesn’t matter. I’ll have a larger headache if too many people know. But why?”
“What I’m trying to say is that in comparison, Index’s name is a lot more noticeable. The people in the magical world won’t feel that this is ‘Something that happened around Kamijou Touma,’ but rather ‘Something that happens around Index, the keeper of the 103,000 grimoires.’”
Kamijou thought — So that was it.
Tsuchimikado seemed to be able to sense something from his face. He happily said,
“So these people will think that ‘everything happens around Index.’ So, using common knowledge, they’ll focus their search on Index, right? But in reality, a sensing spell that can cover Academy City entirely doesn’t exist. Even if an organization like the ‘Gregorian Chant’ uses this spell, the maximum range for them is around 500 meters. So by putting Index away from this case, those guys outside will focus on her. This way, if there’s a magical war somewhere, it’s likely that it won’t be found out, nya. On the other hand, if we get her involved in this, we’ll be in for a lot of trouble.”
“In other words, we cannot allow Index to sense any magical presence, or anything related to it?”
Kamijou thought, this sounded easy, but was actually difficult. Index had memorized the 103,000 grimoires in order to counter all magicians. She wouldn’t let go of any tiny clue easily. Once she found one, she would spring into action.
That said, even if he explained it to Index first and told her ‘not to move,’ she’d likely not agree to it easily. Normally, she hated getting others involved in any magical related cases, so she would definitely not agree to having others take care of this for her.
As Kamijou was thinking about this, Tsuchimikado gently shook the empty bottle.
“However, Kami-yan, this is another ‘misfortune’. I guess you won’t be happy since Index’s been getting all the credit?”
“Idiot. I’m worried for her. Really, that Index is too much. My troubles are already so much!”
Kamijou sucked his tongue as he continued his thoughts. Seeing his face from the side, Tsuchimikado laughed. That laugh had no sense of irony or mockery.
“Anyway, this is how it goes, nya. Kami-yan will take care of Index, and try to hide any hint of what’s happening in Academy City. Oh yeah, you can go shopping with her; try and get her away from any place where there might be a magical battle.”
“Ah, what are you saying! You’re making it sound so easy…!”
“There’s no problem! To this unfortunate Kamijou Touma, this is but a trivial matter!”
“Where is this confidence coming from!? What’ll happen for our next match? Fukiyose will go berserk if we play hooky! Isn’t this much scarier?”
“I’ll leave that to you! Right now, the most important thing is Index. However, that Index, she can be easily controlled with food, nya. If anything happens, throw the food in the opposite direction, nya!”
“……You rascal, if Index heard this, she’d bite till your skull breaks. Wait, that’s not right, I never saw her bite a human other than me……”
Tsuchimikado patted Kamijou’s shoulder hard as Kamijou said this listlessly.
The asphalt road under the hot sun was really hot.
This was what Index, who was hungry and lying on the road, thought.
After the tour was over, the female security guard, Yomikawa Aiho, who was removing the ‘no access’ sign, couldn’t take it anymore. She stopped what she was doing and picked Index up. Although it was not going to cool Index down, Yomikawa placed Index on the long bench under the tree. The calico cat followed behind Yomikawa before jumping onto the bench.
Komoe-sensei, whom she had just contacted, finally arrived. This teacher, who was older than Yomikawa-sensei, was wearing a light green sleeveless vest and a short white dress. This get-up probably meant that she wanted to cheer for her students, and it was really scary that this attire was suitable for her even at her age. Deep inside, Yomikawa sighed.
“Hi! Yomikawa-sensei! I got a call saying that someone I know is with you now. WAH!”
Seeing Index like this, Komoe-sensei cried out.
“Sister……Sister-san!? Why are you as listless as a shrunken vegetable? Don’t tell me that you got heatstroke because this Komoe-sensei came late!!”
Hearing her high decibel scream, the calico cat gave a disgusted cry as its fur stood up.
Er……Yomikawa looked at Index, who was lying on the long bench, and thought. It looked like she got heatstroke, and no matter what anyone said, fainting when she was wearing such a thick nun's habit in such hot weather, it was not weird for anyone to think that she got heatstroke.
“Komoe-sensei. SENSEI!! Okay okay, calm down, will ya?”
“How……can I calm down! Although Sister-san isn’t from my class, a teacher should act as the guardian of the children.”
“Okay okay, you can talk about what you think an ideal teacher is later! That’s the child, she doesn’t have heatstroke, she’s just hungry.”
What? Komoe-sensei tilted her head, puzzled.
She then continued,
“That’s……that’s why I can’t calm down! Malnutrition can be dangerous, you know!!”
“What? Being unflappable in such a situation, Komoe-sensei is really a sempai I respect. However, this child has eaten three packets of rations already.”
Hearing Yomikawa’s irritated tone, the calico cat seemed to say, “Ya ya. I got some biscuits too,” as it gave a comfy cry. There were still some crumbs around its mouth.
“……Then it isn’t that she’s hungry, but she ate too much! I say, as a teacher, you should manage a person’s diet and nutrition……!”
“Then shouldn’t you ask this child directly?”
Seeing Yomikawa point with her finger, Komoe-sensei said “Don’t point at others like that” as she grabbed Yomikawa’s finger and pointed it down. She then inspected Index’s face.
The white nun, now all weak and wobbly, spoke in a soft voice,
“I……I’m hungry……is……is Touma not here yet?”
“You’re really hungry?”
“Didn’t I tell you? Ah, can I hand her over to you?”
Okay, it must be hard on you. Komoe-sensei gave a polite greeting, as Yomikawa walked away, waving her hand behind her. Although this was a bit too sloppy, Yomikawa felt that Komoe-sensei didn’t really need to care so much for the girl.
Komoe-sensei re-inspected Index.
Index was lying lifelessly on the bench, trembling as she said,
“The……the smell of sauce……I’ll reach my limit if I continue to smell this……”
Komoe-sensei finally let down the burden on her shoulders (Not because she felt helpless, but because she was relieved). Hearing Index mention ‘sauce’, she started to sniff around.
“Hm? Is it that store?”
She looked around. Opposite the road where Yomikawa Aiho had removed the ‘no access’ billboard, one could see an entire row of stores set up and manned by students like a carnival.
“Sister-san, I bought something back.”
Seeing Komoe-sensei chose a few types of food at the hawker stores, Index suddenly jumped up from the bed.
She let out a cry that was like an archaeologist discovering something that wasn’t excavated yet. The calico cat in her arms let out a similar cry.
“I bought fried noodles, okonomiyaki, smoked sausages, takoyaki……ah, can Miss foreign nun eat octopus?”
“I’ll eat! I’ll eat! Even if it’s natto or dried salted fish, I’ll eat them!”
Seeing the food that the students had cooked packed into transparent plastic containers, although they didn’t look very tasty, Index’s eyes were glowing brightly as she eyed them greedily. The calico cat in her hands slightly trembled. Maybe its animal instincts could sense that Index had a strong attachment to eating.
Komoe-sensei bitterly smiled,
“Ah……ah ha haha. Then let’s use this opportunity to learn how to use chopsticks. One shouldn’t use a fist to hold chopsticks……ahhh!!”
Before Komoe-sensei could even explain, Index had already bit into her target, gobbling down the food in large mouthfuls. The food that was as tall as a mountain vanished in an instant. The calico cat followed suit, but its critical weakness was that its tongue couldn’t take scalding stuff.
Komoe-sensei dropped her shoulders dejectedly.
“Uu……uuuuu. I wanted to……use this opportunity, to let Sister-san experience a bit of the Japanese culture.”
“(Chewing) Eh? Komoe, what did you say?”
After stuffing the last piece of okonomiyaki into her mouth, Index blinked her eyes. The pile of food was now reduced to nothing.
Komoe-sensei, who was passionate about teaching, had a weakness. It was that she’d feel extremely dejected once she lost the opportunity to teach others. But Index, who was too full and satisfied, didn’t know this.
Komoe-sensei’s shoulders trembled as she said,
“Nothing! Sensei does not regret it! I won’t cry because of something like this.”
“??? Ah, I haven’t thanked you yet. I’m full now; thanks for your hospitality. Eh, weird? Why do you look like you’re about to cry?”
Index tilted her head slightly.
“……Come to think of it, where did Touma go? It’s almost lunch.”
“……About that, speaking of lunch, you just……?”
But Index did not hear Komoe-sensei’s words at all.
“Where did Touma go……? I’ve been feeling that Touma’s been separated from me quite often today……”
VRROOM!! Komoe-sensei’s passion for teaching was reignited again.
The nun in front of Komoe-sensei didn’t seem to belong to any school (That should be the case). In other words, it was hard to go out with Kamijou during Daihaseisai. Although the visitors could take part in competitions, they were ‘only for visitors’, and thus not allowed to compete with the ‘students’. The girl in front of Komoe-sensei was unable to attain her dream of taking part in the competition together with Kamijou.
Komoe-sensei felt that she could understand what Index was thinking.
Being abandoned alone in such a large-scale activity, although one couldn’t see it, the emotional damage done to her should be rather big. On the other hand, if there was some way for her to take part in some event, she should be able to feel a sense of satisfaction. Why couldn’t Kamijou understand this? To abandon this child like this? Komoe-sensei was disappointed in her useless student, and wondered whether there was a solution.
Not a compromise, but a solution.
“No problem, there’s an event which Sister-san is able to take part in as well.”
The answer emerged. If she was unable to help this child who looked so helpless, then she had no right to be a teacher, yes? Thinking about this, Komoe-sensei giggled before letting out fits of laughter.
“Eh? What did you say?”
“I’m saying, that there’s a way for you to enjoy Daihaseisai with Kamijou! Sister-san won’t be abandoned and be all alone now!”
Hearing this cheerful voice, Index was initially stunned, before calming down, even forgetting her hunger. The calico cat did not care as it gave a yawn.
“Wha……what? What must I do?”
“It’s this, this!”
Komoe-sensei smiled as she gently pulled her sleeveless vest.
She was wearing a cheerleader uniform.
“He……hehe. Although you can’t take part in the competition, there’s no problem if you’re a cheerleader. Of course, we still have this option. I feel that you’re suited for this! You may find this embarrassing if you do this alone. Don’t worry, Komoe-sensei will accompany you!”
Komoe-sensei continued to smile. Her capability as an educator was radiating outwards, her face shining brightly like never before.
Seeing Komoe-sensei like this, Index was naturally wary of what was to come.
“Wh……why is Komoe-san so happy?”
“Don’t ask that kind of trivial question. Although it’s an unexpected find, this sensei will still be very satisfied at being able to teach Sister-san. Hehe, I’m not thinking about repaying that debt from being unable to teach how to use chopsticks!”
Komoe-sensei disregarded the fact that Index was an acquaintance, and pulled Index, who was all stiff now, to some place.
Kamijou Touma finally got back to where he had been denied access. There was no sign of Index, the ‘no access’ sign had been removed, and the security guard nee-san wasn’t around.
Though Tsuchimikado had said,
“Although finding Lidvia and Oriana is important, it’s also important that Index doesn’t find out about what’s happening in Academy City, Kami-yan. We’ll take care of the safety of Academy City and see whether there’s any trace of magic, while you’ll meet Index regularly to keep her busy. Otherwise, if she finds something fishy with our actions, she’ll rush to the center of this incident.”
According to how things were going now, he couldn’t do a thing.
(There’s no one I can ask regarding Index’s whereabouts, and there aren’t any clues either. Her zero-yen phone has no power, so it’s impossible to contact her……no way, don’t tell me she got lost?)
To Kamijou, who was used to life in Academy City, this didn’t seem like anything. But if Stiyl were to know that Index was missing, he’d probably say, “I understand; go die now,” and attack him indiscriminately.
(Hm. Of all these places, where would Index go……)
Kamijou looked around, suddenly fixating his eyes in front. Opposite the road was a group of students manning many food stores.
“No……no way? Don’t tell me she can’t handle her empty stomach and decided to rush all the way over without having any money? If that's the case, a corner may be blown off by the ‘rampage of a hungry girl’……!!”
Kamijou’s expression was greenish now. His right hand had the ‘Imagine Breaker’ ability’. No matter whether it was esper powers, magic or even miracles, he just needed to touch these with his right hand in order to negate them. But facing that girl who bites onto others, he was just a powerless Level 0.
Even so, he had to stop her with this hand of his.
Kamijou decided to walk towards the stalls.
Suddenly, somebody tapped him on the shoulder.
Turning around, Himegami Aisa, who was wearing a short-sleeved shirt and shorts, and Tsuchimikado Maika, who was sitting on a cleaning robot and selling bentos, were staring at him. Himegami was having a conversation with Maika.
“Up till now, you looked like you’re about to face a demon king. Why put on a brave warrior look?”
“Why do you look so dead? Are you hungry? Do you need a bento?”
Kamijou, who was intending to head out to battle, was shaken by the duo’s smooth voices.
“I say. That’s because I left Index, who was hungry, behind, and couldn’t find her when I got back. The nearest source of food is at those stalls. I’m thinking whether that girl is creating a riot down there……!!”
Hearing his tearful complaints, both of them were stunned.
“That nun, I just saw her down there.”
Himegami pointed in a direction completely different from where the stalls were.
“Seems like she was pulled aside by that famous miniature-sized teacher in Kamijou Touma’s school.”
Maika was still sitting on the robot as she tilted her head up, recalling as she said,
“??? She was dragged forcefully……that’s impossible. Komoe-sensei knows Index. What’s the deal? Is she going to introduce Academy City to her? Never mind about that. Anyway, thanks girls; I’ll find them on my own.”
After Kamijou finished speaking and headed towards where Himegami pointed, Tsuchimikado Maika gave a long ‘Do your best!!’, while Himegami remained silent.
(Hm……since when did Himegami and Maika became such good friends? Ah, did she get to know Maika when Maika came over during the summer holidays?)
He thought as he walked along the road. The pedestrians on the streets were admiring the wind turbine rotor blades that generated electricity. The scene did give a fresh feeling.
Suddenly, a cat’s ‘meow’ mewing could be heard.
One would know just by hearing the sound—it was the cry of a calico cat.
Kamijou stopped and turned around to the direction where the cry had come from. It was a little park that was surrounded by buildings. The wired fence was a lot taller than usual, and it looked like it was rejecting and oppressing anything within a large radius. It was hard to see anything if one looked in from outside the entrance because the lush foliage of trees blocked the line of sight.
Kamijou thought, it couldn’t be helped.
Strictly speaking, it wasn’t a park. There was a sign hung on the wired fence, saying ‘Property of Tadayama University Botanical Department.’ It was a place where they collected data on plant growth. Even during Daihaseisai, where the security was much tighter, nobody was patrolling around here. Though the place was open to the public, it didn’t mean that anyone should go in.
The familiar calico cat stuck its head out. After seeing Kamijou’s face, it hid back into the bushes.
(Only the calico cat……? No, Index won’t let go of that cat so easily. In other words, she’s inside? Hm, if they’re growing apples inside, maybe Index just went in unknowingly.)
Thinking like this made Kamijou go berserk, and he thought that he should check it out. He carefully avoided the branches blocking his way as he entered.
“Index? Are you there? Shout out if you hear me—”
He continued forward, widening his eyes when he saw what was in front of him.
Index was right in front of him.
But why was she changing?
Kamijou and Index stopped what they were doing.
Komoe-sensei, who was wearing the cheerleader uniform, was facing Index, and her back was facing Kamijou, so she had no idea that he was there.
Kamijou thought — strange.
In his memory, the last time he had seen Index, she was wearing a white nun's habit with gold embroidery that was like a teacup. For some reason however, her robes were folded neatly on the floor. Also, why were there similar colored undergarments stacked on her robes?
And why was she wearing a cheerleader uniform, a white sleeveless vest and a light green short skirt that was similar to what Komoe-sensei was wearing?
However, Index had only gotten an arm halfway in, as the slanted tail of the vest was covering Index’s small breasts. The most surprising thing was that Komoe-sensei was at Index’s feet, helping her put on a pair of underwear that was used for cheerleading (it should be the same type as those worn with tennis skirts), and Kamijou just so happened to witness all of this.
Index had already pulled her underwear through one leg, and was about to let it through her other leg, as she maintained this posture, not moving at all.
Of course, in this situation, a skirt wouldn’t be able to fulfill its usual purpose. Furthermore, the attire of a cheerleader didn’t have a ‘cover’ function.
Let me repeat again, Index’s nun's habit were folded and stacked neatly on the floor.
There was similar colored underwear placed on top of it.
Komoe-sensei was helping Index put on some underwear. If her head hadn’t been blocking Kamijou’s field of vision, he would have seen something that he wouldn’t forget easily.
Her facial expression went from shock to ‘I’m going to kill that guy.’ Kamijou was absolutely terrified, breaking out in a cold sweat, and was unable to move. Komoe-sensei, who was wearing the cheerleader’s uniform, was talking to Index casually, not knowing what was going on.
“I’m so sorry. Only students are allowed in the schools’ proper changing rooms. I’m sorry to ask you to change here……eh, ya!?”
Index wasn’t listening at all. The underwear still hanging on her thigh, Index rushed madly onto Kamijou.
“TOUMA!? HOW MANY TIMES HAS IT BEEN!?”
“WAHHH! I’M REALLY SORRY! PLEASE DON’T BITE ME AGAIN!!”
Kamijou twisted his body, wanting to dodge Index’s ‘bite the head’ attack. Index, who had leaped over, pounced onto Kamijou with two hands and stuck tightly onto his body. She was unable to aim at his head however, as her target started to move suddenly.
Chomp! Index’s small mouth bit onto Kamijou’s face.
Kamijou could feel the soft texture of her lips, as well as her hard jagged teeth. That warm thing between the two rows of teeth should be her tongue. The breath warmer than Kamijou’s body temperature blew onto his face. Feeling Index’s saliva, Kamijou couldn’t help but tremble.
Kamijou, whose face was all red now, shouted out, but was unable to hear Index’s reply.
Shua!! Index got away from Kamijou in a fast yet silent manner. Normally, Index would be shouting, but this time, she silently kept her head down, her facial expression could not be seen as even her ears were red. He wondered if she was having any special thoughts about biting others subconsciously? She seemed to have taken a huge blow, not even noticing that her attire was untidy.
Kamijou looked at Komoe-sensei. She just placed her two hands on her face, giving a vague “Wa……aaaaa……” sound, which didn’t sound reliable at all.
“It’s……it’s not, that, Index-hime? It’s alright, this is an accident! An accident! This is unexpected! Please don’t be so serious……eh, WA! Wait a minute, Index, why are you flushed red with anger now? You were shy all over just now! Don’t tell me I said something inappropriate!?”
Seeing the cheerleader girl trembling silently, Kamijou took one step back, two steps. Just when he was about to take a third step.
A woman’s cold tone pierced through his back.
Kamijou paid attention to Index carefully as he nervously turned around.
Wearing a thin committee jacket over her sports attire, she said,
“I’m here to look for Tsukuyomi-sensei for some administrative work, and came over to check it out because I heard voices……you’re here again?”
She looked at Kamijou together with Index, who was half naked and was trembling slightly, and then at Komoe-sensei, who was flushed red now, then the neatly stacked clothes and underwear, and finally at Index—or more accurately, the underwear hanging on her thigh.
“WHY ARE YOU STANDING AROUND HERE!? YOU SCHOOL REBEL!? GO CHEER FOR EVERYONE!!”
Taking a hard punch that didn’t have any powers in it, Kamijou Touma flew out, rolling on the ground.
Kamijou Touma, who was covered in bruises and injuries, finally walked out from the park (more accurately, the botany test site). More accurately, he was being dragged out by an angry Fukiyose Seiri, not by his hand, but by his collar. Inside, Index had probably allowed Komoe-sensei to help her change clothes.
“Really. Do you have any intention to make this event a success? I know that as a committee member, I should be the one putting in the most effort, but I’m angry upon seeing people like you act like it has nothing to do with you!”
Fukiyose said this as she pulled out a packet of milk from her jacket pocket. Maybe her anger led to lack of calcium.
From the atmosphere, one could tell that she was not hiding anything when she was saying “I hate Kamijou Touma,” but rather, they were words from the bottom of her heart.
As Kamijou was being grabbed by the collar and dragged around by her, he said,
“Fu……Fukiyose-san. Wha……what event is our school participating now……?”
“You can’t even remember that? It’s because your brain lacks nutrition. Oh yeah, right now, the highest priority should be in getting enough sugar intake!”
After saying this, she tossed the empty milk packet into the rubbish bin, and dug through her pockets before finding a bar of sugar that was used for coffee.
“Ugh! To think that it would be ordinary, unprocessed sugar!”
Just when Kamijou was about to sneak away, trembling, Fukiyose locked his head under her left arm, and tucked it under her armpit.
“Your sleepy head better wake up now. Otherwise, do you want some soy isoflavone? Maybe some soy bean pudding?”
“Uuuu! If you offered soy pudding from the beginning, this Kamijou Touma would be especially grateful! There should be some sugar content in it, right?”
Facing Fukiyose, who was about to stuff sugar into Kamijou’s mouth, Kamijou’s arms and legs started to move about wildly, but was unable to move away due to his head being stuck under her armpit. He continued to resist until he felt something soft touching his right cheek.
It was Fukiyose Seiri’s ample breasts.
Kamijou’s resistance multiplied by three. Fukiyose didn’t seem to realize this, frowning slightly as she held the sugar bar with one hand.
“Wait a sec! Wait a sec! Even if I eat that, my goofiness can’t be cured!!”
“……Don’t you feel sad just saying that?”
I’m not sad at all! Kamijou quickly tilted his head sideways, only to feel the elastically of Fukiyose’s breasts. His body went stiff immediately.
Fukiyose gave a surprised look, and finally let Kamijou out of the lock.
I’m saved, Kamijou thought as he gasped for air.
Fukiyose then grabbed him by the collar again.
“Right now, our school is participating in the second-year girls tug-of war, and three events on the guys side. Which side do you want to cheer for? I guess you want to go to the girls side, because you’re that kind of person!”
“Why are you saying something so vicious? Why are you so cold to me, Fukiyose? Are you promoting internal CoolBiz sports?”
(Note: CoolBiz is a campaign originally launched by the Japanese. It’s made up of two parts, ‘Cool’ means ‘cooling’ and ‘Biz’ means ‘business’. Workers are encouraged to wear short-sleeved shirts without jackets or ties, and air conditioner temperatures are to be set at 28°C. Right now, Kamijou is mocking Fukiyose for purposely showing such a cold front.)
“Sorry, my defense isn’t that thin.”
This was exactly like a WarmBiz that was as thick as an iron wall! Kamijou thought. He felt that she wouldn’t find it funny anyway, and did not say anything.
(Note: WarmBiz is the opposite of CoolBiz, and that it’s done during the winter instead. Air conditioner temperatures are to be set at 20°C, and people are to wear more clothes. Kamijou is mocking Fukiyose’s defense for being as thick as those clothes worn during WarmBiz.)
“However, Fukiyose, is there any problems with your committee work?”
“……Why do you have to worry about this for me?”
“This so-called feeling of helplessness should be like this, I guess……isn’t organizing this event very difficult and tiring? Although I’m not sure regarding the details, is it right for me to only bother about my own things?”
A committee member had to do all sorts of various things in Daihaseisai, like preparing a match, refereeing, carry out broadcasts before, during and after the events, taking care of lost children and giving basic road directions. Not only that, they had to take part in the competition as participants. Compared to an ordinary student, their free time was so little it was pitiful.
Fukiyose stared at Kamijou’s face.
“It’s alright. I’ve already passed on a message to Tsukuyomi-sensei. And in order to cope with unexpected events, there’s a certain amount of free time in my schedule, so there’s no worries!”
“Too bad. How about you leave me alone and go shopping with your friends?”
“There are many ways to create memories. They should be able to understand this!”
Fukiyose only realized that what she said was insensitive after saying those words.
Kamijou, whose collar was still being grabbed, said,
“Okay okay……what you say is correct, but can you please stop pulling me by the collar?”
“Then let’s hold hands.”
Fukiyose unexpectedly let go of Kamijou’s collar, and extended her small hand out. Seemed like she applied some hand cream over her soft hands; it was either the Coenzyme Q10 or some popular health product that was highly recommended.
“Ah? Erm—then if you don’t mind.”
He hesitated, before holding Fukiyose’s hand. He thought that her hand would be cold, but it was unexpectedly warm. Kamijou felt his heart thumping crazily.
Fukiyose glanced at him.
“You’re too slow.”
Kamijou, who was lamenting “Why is my heart beating so violently,” was pulled away by the iron wall girl, who was not in the best of spirits.
Kamijou was dragged along the street by Fukiyose, who was holding onto his hand.
There were a lot of people there. Maybe it was because it was a place where the subway trains and the automatic buses met. From the train to the bus, from bus route A to bus route B……just like this, the passengers arrived and then proceeded on.
It was quite a distance from where he had gotten separated from Index. Fukiyose seemed intent on bringing Kamijou back to school to cheer for their schoolmates, but he had to get to work once Tsuchimikado and Stiyl, who were searching for Oriana, contacted him. This was bad, what could he do? Kamijou continued to worry on his own.
“Oi, Kamijou, is Daihaseisai really that boring?”
Fukiyose, who was holding hands with Kamijou, suddenly asked.
“I’ve been feeling that you seem absent-minded, it’s like something’s on your mind.”
Kamijou was startled inside.
Fukiyose stared at Kamijou,
“I can’t force you to focus entirely on Daihaseisai. I can’t stop you if you want out of Daihaseisai.”
From the looks of things, it seemed that Fukiyose was purely suspicious about Kamijou’s concentration, and not that she found out something about Daihaseisai.
“As an organizer of this event who worked so hard for this day, even if it’s just my own stubbornness, I hope that everyone can get some wonderful memories. I’ll be happy if everyone can laugh happily……but you seemed bored today. No matter what, it seems that there are still some shortcomings in my preparations.”
“……Your sense of responsibility is really strong. I’m not feeling bored at all; it’s interesting when everything’s so hectic.”
Kamijou didn’t understand for what reason was Fukiyose a member of the Daihaseisai committee. She was not forced by anyone to be one, and since she had volunteered herself, there must be a reason for her to want this event to succeed.
But she didn’t know.
She didn’t know that there were magicians that wanted to take advantage of her hard work, she didn’t know about the secret plot regarding the ‘Stab Sword’ trade, and she didn’t know about the clash of ideas inside and outside Academy City.
I have to work harder, Kamijou thought.
Not just Fukiyose.
The other committee members wanted to make Daihaseisai a success. The students and the visitors from outside would also like to make wonderful memories out of this event.
Because of this, he had to work harder.
Seeing Kamijou’s face like this, Fukiyose gave a surprised look as she stared at him.
“……There is something on your mind.”
“Ah? There’s nothing! I’m really motivated. Why are you so worried, Fukiyose-san?”
Seeing that Fukiyose looked so down that her glory was all gone, Kamijou panicked and ran in front of her while still holding onto her hand, staring at her face as he said this.
He was pushed on the back.
In this busy road, it seemed that someone’s shoulder had knocked into him.
Kamijou was knocked forward by this unexpected accident, and because of this, the distance between Kamijou and Fukiyose, who was staring at him, was shrunk in an instant.
The distance between their faces was merely about 30cm.
Just when both of them cried out, the distance between the two became zero. Bong! Kamijou and Fukiyose’s foreheads gently knocked into each other. Their noses touched each other, and although their lips didn’t meet, Kamijou could feel her soft breath blowing onto his lips.
Kamijou’s inadvertently stopped breathing.
“Move away, Kamijou Touma!”
The next moment, BAM! Fukiyose rammed in hard at Kamijou with her head.
Kamijou’s upper body swung backwards. The hand he was originally holding onto was let loose. He knew that his head was hot. Fukiyose’s expression didn’t seem to change, but she was becoming more irritated.
“……To think you’ll do this even when people are talking to you seriously. You really can’t change your habits.”
“No……it’s not that. I’m really thinking seriously about this situation!!”
“Let me say this to you, I won’t reconcile with you ever in this lifetime.”
“Uuuuu! Why is Fukiyose-san even colder now!!?”
Kamijou cried out. Fukiyose slapped him hard on the back of his head with her hand. If this was an act of rebuttal, it might be a bit too unaffectionate. Just when Kamijou bent down and gently rubbed the back of his head…
This time, his head hit something rather soft.
After he calmly confirmed it, he realized that it was the breasts of a female.
Kamijou frantically moved backwards. What’s with this sudden series of events!? Facing Kamijou, who was really scared, the female who had collided with him only said “Aiyaya,” and didn’t seem to mind.
Beside Kamijou, Fukiyose gave a low bellow “……Kamijou,” her tone full of vengeance.
The person who had knocked into him was a female, about 18-19 years old, who was wearing plain working clothes. Her age should be similar to Kanzaki Kaori.
She was taller than Kamijou, and although she was tall for a Japanese, after seeing the eye-catching blonde hair and blue eyes, he couldn’t say that this was an accurate guess. Fukiyose was considered to have a rather good body compared to his classmates, but it was lacking in comparison to this lady’s beauty. Not only were the curves of her breasts and waist wicked, she was giving an invisible flirtatious sense.
The lady’s hair seemed to be either curled or waxed, and it seemed like a lot of effort was put into it. She had separated her hair into many small bundles, and curled them using an electric perm, before she tied them into bundles of three. She also put in quite a bit of detail in other small areas, so this should be a hairstyle which she had spent quite some time creating. Although there weren’t any decorations on it, the hair itself looked like a refined gold ornament.
She was most likely a painter, as there was paint all over her uniform. She was holding a 1.5m by 0.7m billboard that was covered by a white cloth. The tip of her fingers barely managed to grab the bottom of the board even after she stretched her other arm.
The one who cried out wasn’t Kamijou, but Fukiyose, who was right beside him.
The woman was wearing a rather clumsy looking work uniform, but her clothes were wide open. It was not that she didn’t button up the second button, but rather, ‘beside the second button, all the other buttons were unbuttoned.’ The cleavage of her breasts and navel were wide open for all to see. Kamijou felt that it was like she was wearing a swimsuit.
Her pants were rather loose, and it seemed like they were hanging onto her waist. Although Kamijou didn’t purposely go behind her to confirm it, it was likely that he would see her butt on the loose side of the pants.
Not only was this get up revealing quite a bit, there was also the danger of her clothes dropping off if she moved in the slightest bit. Unlike the busty security guard nee-san who was dressed up in sports attire, this woman was rather conscious of her wonderful body.
The painter nee-san made a random movement to show her apology with the other hand that was free, and spoke in unexpectedly fluent Japanese.
“Ehyaya. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m not used to so many people around me. Is there any place that’s hurting? Ah, here? Is the back of your head still hurting?”
“Uu… Although this isn’t the case, your warmth has infected my entire body. I really feel like handing myself over to you……”
Seeing Kamijou complaining like this, Fukiyose closed one eye before smashing a fist into the back of Kamijou’s head, causing his head to sink into the breasts of the painter nee-san. That nee-san didn’t shriek, as she gently pushed Kamijou’s head aside, saying,
“Haiz. Let me see, are you alright? You, cannot, fight, on like this forever. It’s rare to have such an activity, so of course you have to make some wonderful memories.”
Wah, Kamijou looked like he was going to cry.
“So magnanimous! So completely different from those girls who bite others and those who give others a punch! I’m about to sink in this warmth!”
“Aiya, to say that you like someone for your own benefit, isn’t this a bit too childish?”
Fukiyose gave a ‘you idiot’ look at Kamijou, while the painter nee-san smiled and nodded at her.
“Ara ara. That Miss over there, I’m sorry about this.”
Fukiyose looked surprised, and asked,
“Wh……why are you apologizing to me?”
“Because this onee-san seems to be the main reason why you’re so angry, right?”
Hearing this direct adult speech, the girl inadvertently cringed.
Kamijou shouted out, “Watch closely, this is a mature woman; watch and learn, you iron wall girl!”
Fukiyose then gave him an overhead aikido throw, slamming him onto the ground.
“Ah, are you alright? If you still can fight, you should be fine, I guess.”
Seeing the boy pinned onto the ground and the girl pinning him in front, the painter nee-san said this. She then extended her hand out, requesting a handshake with Kamijou.
“This is an apology for knocking into you. Normally, you Japanese would lower your head to apologise, but we normally do this.”
“Ah……that’s how it is?”
“Ara ara. Do I need to give a kiss?”
Poof!! Kamijou did a spit-take.
After trembling for a while, the pure and innocent Kamijou Touma shouted,
“I WANT A KISS!!”
Fukiyose Seiri’s fist instantly smashed into Kamijou’s solar plexus. The painter nee-san stared at him, who was still shaking his head, laughed, and extended her hand out again.
It’d be great if Index were to have such cultured habits and not bite others. Kamijou used his right fist to shake the painter’s hand.
A wonderful sound was heard, like something fell and broke into pieces.
The one who made this sound wasn’t Kamijou nor the nee-san, but Fukiyose Seiri, who was staring at them. As both sides understood what happened, they didn’t make any noise.
Kamijou Touma suddenly remembered the power that his right hand had.
The painter nee-san was trying to confirm if anything was broken.
The nee-san tried to force a bitter smile, and failed.
“I should be going back to work. Can I go now?”
She said this, but left before Kamijou and Fukiyose could respond. Though her actions weren’t any different, that regal feeling up till now was now lost.
“……What, she didn’t shake hands with me? Why, Kamijou Touma!?”
“Ah? Maybe she doesn’t want to be friends with you!?”
When he finally snapped back, his head got smacked again.
Deep inside, Fukiyose sighed. She grabbed Kamijou’s hand, wanting to pull him away. At this moment, her cell phone suddenly rang. Seemed like she got a call from a committee member, as Fukiyose started to speak in a formal tone. Hearing her speak so softly, it seemed like something cropped up. Fukiyose stared at Kamijou’s face, then turned to her watch, before saying, “Don’t be late for the ‘Bread Eating Race’!” She left behind this typical committee member sentence, leaving with her cell phone still in her hand. Kamijou looked at her back, and thought as he touched his face that had been punched hard with one hand.
The thing he just broke, was it ‘magic’ or ‘esper power’?
After thinking about it for a while, Kamijou concluded that it was less likely to be ‘esper power’. The espers in Academy City were all students. During Daihaseisai, they would be participating in competitions. Of course, he couldn’t make this conclusion easily because there were exceptions like Tsuchimikado Maika. But the dress up of the painter, just looking at the label of the company gave a sense that it was an ‘outsider retailer’. He had an impression on it because it was a name he had seen in television advertisements. Of course, students in Academy City would have no chance to wear clothes like that.
So that meant……
Kamijou Touma took out his phone, and scanned around to see if Fukiyose was still there. It would be troublesome if any of the guards or discipline committee members were to take action, so he didn’t want her to hear this. He then proceeded to press Tsuchimikado Motoharu’s number.
“Har Low. Kami-yan, have you tricked Index properly nya? We were checking security loopholes that Oriana may use as a trading point, there’s quite a lot in sector 7. So please don’t let Index near—”
“Wait a minute, can I check with you something, Tsuchimikado?”
Tsuchimikado seemed to have realized that Kamijou’s tone sounded urgent, and lowered his tone,
“……What do you want to ask?”
“It’s that thing. We’re trying to prevent the deal of that tool……er, the whatever sword, it’s our objective, right?”
Kamijou looked back at the crowd, and could still see the back of that woman who was wearing loose work clothes.
“It’s the ‘Stab Sword’. Also, it’s not a tool, but a spiritual armament. Eh, what now? You chickening out, Kami-yan? But there’s no other reinforcements besides us, you know.”
“What’s that supposed to mean, Kami-yan?”
Kamijou straightened his back, trying not to lose sight of the woman. But the woman was turning around the corner.
“When I shook hands with someone, the Imagine Breaker seems to have broken something. I don’t know what it was, but the person doesn’t look like a student. From her attire, I’m guessing she’s from outside Academy City.”
“Wait a second, Kami-yan. Let me ask a question. Is that person holding some large baggage? The ‘Stab Sword’ is 1.5 meters long, and each side of the cross guard is 35 centimeters. If anyone is to try and hide such a large sword……what would that person use? It can’t possibly fit into a luggage bag.”
Hearing Tsuchimikado’s words, Kamijou turned green.
“She’s holding it.”
“She’s holding a billboard. That woman is carrying a billboard like thing that’s covered in white cloth……”
“Kami-yan, where are you right now?”
“Eh? Wait a sec…… in front of the Bank of Ichizai.”
After saying a ‘Wait for me there,’ Tsuchimikado hung up the phone.
Seeing the phone which was cut off, Kamijou wondered whether he should chase after the woman or wait there for Tsuchimikado. After thinking about it for a while, he decided to dash towards where the woman had disappeared. They’d definitely lose her if he waited till Tsuchimikado arrived.
Kamijou had a premonition that some things were going to occur.
He thought about it at the same time, and it was not something to be happy about.
The blonde lady wearing loose clothing tucked the large billboard underneath her armpit as she moved through the crowd. At the same time, she felt aware of herself. Although she had to admit that she noticed what she was doing, her feelings were unable to handle anything that was unplanned for completely.
The lady placed her empty hand into the pocket of her pants. At this moment, her pants dropped slightly, but she didn’t seem to mind. She pulled out something from her pocket. It was flash cards used for memorizing English words, but there was nothing written on them. It was just thick white pieces of paper passed through a metal ring.
The lady bit a card with her teeth, and pulled it from the metal ring. At that moment, words appeared on the paper like it was litmus paper. In print font, the yellow words ‘Water Symbol’ appeared on the card. They were written in yellow ink and were in English.
The lady put the other flash cards back into her pocket, and placed the card she was biting on near her ear, like a seashell.
“Ah-ah, hello hello. I’m Oriana Thomson. Can anyone hear me? Please respond.”
Though it seemed like she was talking to herself, the flash card that was near her ear transmitted a voice that was so soft it didn’t seem to vibrate the air at all.
“Don’t say your name aloud. Be careful, your voice may be heard throughout the surroundings. It’ll be more difficult if your real identity is exposed.”
It sounded serious.
Hearing this, the woman named Oriana bitterly laughed, and said,
“I’m already in trouble now. This onee-chan prefers an improvisational performance. But this isn’t a situation you’ll like, right, Lidvia Lorenzetti?”
The other person on the phone, the one identified as Lidvia, remained silent for a while,
“Don’t speak to me in such a wretched expression. For religious reasons, I can’t keep in line with your tone.”
“I guess. To a nun who likes to use endurance to cause people to panic, it’s hard on you to punish others verbally. Do you know? The illusions of the angels that those martyred Saints saw before their deaths may be seen as an abuse of ecstasy from the viewpoint of science.”
“Aiya? Don’t tell me you don’t like to hear anything from science’s viewpoint? You’re the type that’ll check for those who are rejecting the Word when you’re using mass psychology?”
“……The one that’s mindful is actually you……”
Hearing the other party say this, Oriana unhappily kept quiet. She was starting to panic, as this call would be meaningless if this kept up.
“Is it that I played with a bit too much fire, Missy? Then this onee-chan will apologize to you now.”
“I remember that you’re younger than me.”
“Even so, you’re still a Missy. No matter how old you are, you’re still a Missy. Isn’t the greatest wish of a nun to age while retaining the identity of a Missy?”
“To people who advocate the Gospel to the poor, it’s inappropriate to call someone older a Missy. You must have received the word of the Bible, once a nun becomes a member of God’s family—”
You’re going to nag on? Oriana sighed.
A typical Roman Catholic, Lidvia Lorenzetti would get emotional the moment she started to talk about praying to God or the truths about spreading the Gospel.
Oriana listened to her nagging without paying attention, as she tried to find an opportune time to butt in.
“Then, regarding this trouble that I was talking about just now……”
“—We nuns are the brides of God, thus having a relationship with others is like being disobedient to God……what I want to say is……”
“Maybe another time.”
Oriana simply changed the topic,
“Basically, the spell that this onee-chan cast on herself is now broken.”
The name of it was called ‘Chaos and calm on the surface.’
The spell that Oriana used was used to ensure her safety. It was a spell that absorbed the mentality ‘to chase after her’ from her pursuers. It was useless when one was facing her in a conversation, but by turning her back on the other party, the other party would feel, ‘there’s no reason to call her,’ ‘I’ll talk to her next time,’ and not call her. It was a spell that used the ‘Repel bystander’ spell and expanded on it.
While this spell was working, even if Oriana was holding a fireball or anything dangerous in her hand, ‘nobody would want to call her.’ Because of this, she was able to carry out the plan and the ‘deal’.
But for some reason, Oriana was unable to reconstruct that spell that had been broken.
“Then what’s the reason?”
“I don’t know.”
“I have no idea either.”
“Oi, don’t hang up the phone! This nee-chan has no interest in sinking and drowning in this painful silence.”
“Then what will you do now? Come up with a countermeasure.”
Oriana Thomson chuckled.
“……First, I have to get away from that little kid behind me.”
In front of Kamijou Touma, the lady in workers’ clothes—likely to be the courier, Oriana Thomson—turned at a corner.
(……Have I been found out!?)
Anyway, he couldn’t lose her. Kamijou gave up on stalking her, something he was not good at anyway, and started to run among the crowd. He didn’t know whether there was a television interview somewhere, as this path wasn’t crowded with people.
He ran along the building, and turned around the right-angled corner.
Kamijou could see the blonde hair swaying about in a location further than he expected. He passed through a child holding a balloon and a couple holding hands, and began to speed up. He thought,
(Luckily, I’m wearing sportswear for the competitions.)
Although these clothes weren’t made from some high-tech material that used aviation mechanics to reduce the air-resistance, it was better than the school pants.
Though he was trying his best to run hard, nobody was looking at him like a weirdo. The pedestrians may have thought that he was in the Scavenger Hunt. He was moving faster now, and he was 1 kilometer away from where he had collided with the blonde lady and split up with Fukiyose.
Not to mention that Botany test field where Index was changing clothes, it was now bothersome for him to even walk back.
A cell phone ring could be heard from Kamijou’s pants.
It’d be tiring if he talked while he was running. Kamijou wondered if he should answer the phone as he was keeping his eyes on the target. The caller was Tsuchimikado Motoharu.
He hastily picked up the phone.
“Kami-yan, where are you!? Why aren’t you waiting for me there!?”
“Sorry, I’m afraid that I’ll lose her if this keeps up!”
As they were talking, the figure wearing worker clothes turned again at a corner 20 meters in front.
“Bastard, where now? Where are you right now?”
Turning around the corner, Kamijou gave a low moan. The street in front was split into 3 different alleys. He pricked his ears, and could hear where the footsteps were headed. It was the middle alley.
“The location……There’s no road sign around!! I’ll send my GPS password to you through SMS. Look for me there!!”
The GPS function of the cell phone had a service of ‘showing where one’s friend was,’ but they had to use the special password sent over by the target. The code would change automatically every 30 minutes.
Kamijou sent the required code to Tsuchimikado’s phone, and hung up. Of course, the power must remain on in order to allow the GPS function to work properly.
He continued to run in the alley. This stretch was really long, as the small space between the towers soon became a gradual arc. Rushing forward, he finally heard the voices of the crowd and their footsteps in front.
Running out of the alley, he found another road. Kamijou looked around, before spotting Oriana running away on the right side of a trail that extended to both left and right of him.
The distance was rather long now, about 50 meters. It was pretty fast for her to run while holding such a large billboard (or it’s disguised as one, it should be something else though, right?).
Kamijou frantically chased after Oriana.
Luckily, the billboard of hers was rather large, and obvious, so she couldn’t mix into the crowd easily. In this situation, Kamijou would lose sight of her the moment he lost a teeny-weeny bit of concentration, meaning that he had to focus on her. This psychological thought narrowed Kamijou’s vision, as not only did he nearly knock into the people walking around, he didn’t notice the unevenness of the ground and nearly fell down.
Kamijou shouted out. As he was about to run forward, someone tapped him on his shoulder.
It was Tsuchimikado Motoharu and Stiyl Magnus.
They were fast.
They hadn’t chased him from behind; they had come out from the side alleys. It was likely that after they had looked at the GPS map, they guessed where Kamijou would be from looking at where Kamijou was and where he was running.
“Which one, Kami-yan? You just said that the ‘Stab Sword’ was disguised as a billboard, right?”
“It’s that……that person……that blonde lady wearing workers’ clothes.”
Tsuchimikado and Stiyl then proceeded to run where Kamijou was pointing at. The reason why they left him behind was because they’d say that it was the work of the experts now. But Kamijou didn’t bother adjusting his breathing as he proceeded to run after Stiyl and the rest.
(Cheh, they’re tough……!)
Oriana muttered as she continued to run while glancing backwards. Though the distance between them was about 50 meters, conversely, they only needed to run 50 meters in order to catch up to her. She continued to run, and ran into several alleys where it would be easy for them to get lost, as she tried to shake them off, but there didn’t seem to be any effect.
The reason why she was disguised as a painter holding a billboard was because she wanted people to think that she was ‘working’. No matter whether it was a hotel, department store, or a restaurant, if there was no billboard, others would think that ‘she’s here to rest in the shop.’ She’d be questioned by the employees if she walked into a shop together with the customers like this. Even if they were to ask for an explanation, she wouldn’t have time to reply. She’d be noticed if she got away from the employees several times.
Even if she disguised herself as a worker and walked in from the back door, she’d need keys and an ID card. Thus, she could only run on the streets outside. This was one of the reasons why she couldn’t shake them off though.
Even so, with this distance, it was abnormal for the other party to catch up with her so accurately.
And, the moment she turned back, the number of people chasing after her was now three!
The first one looked like an amateur, but the precision required now had increased by a lot now that two more people were chasing her. They were likely experts. The opponent should have read her trail of thoughts and predicted how she was going to escape.
(Although I heard that Academy City and various Christian organisations cannot take action on these busy streets now, it seems that I was too naïve……!)
Suddenly, Oriana stopped moving. There seemed to be a television broadcasting crew doing an interview ahead, as there was quite a group of people around. Oriana, who was holding the large ‘billboard’, was unable to pass through. The billboard was jammed inside the crowd, and she couldn’t move about freely. Of course, she could abandon the billboard, but doing so would defeat the entire objective as to why she was running about with it.
She looked around, and thought,
(Although it’s difficult, looks like that road is the safest……)
After thinking, calculating and making a decision, Oriana ran onto another road on the side.
Tsuchimikado was running the fastest, and was followed by Stiyl, then Kamijou. That was because Kamijou had used up quite a bit of energy, as he should be running faster than Stiyl.
Right now, Oriana, who was 30 meters in front, stopped in the middle of the road. Looking around, she decided to run into another road on the side. Tsuchimikado frowned as he ran,
“What now, it’s different from her usual modus operandi nya……did she change her mind?”
He continued to maintain his breathing as he ran after her, feeling that he’d lose her if there was a slight error. Kamijou increased the power of his legs as well as he chased after Tsuchimikado.
Arriving at where Oriana had stopped just now, they found out that there was a broadcasting agency carrying out an interview. One could hear the reporter reporting the news excitedly, and to the residents of Academy City, it seemed that he was confusing the situation. The people around him were packed together as if he was in a train. Oriana must be afraid of getting blocked by them, so she changed her direction.
Kamijou’s view turned towards Oriana.
“……Where is this place, a bus depot?”
It was an empty place with asphalt on the ground.
It was an enclosed rectangular area that was surrounded on all sides. It seemed like they had bulldozed and leveled the abandoned buildings that had originally been there in preparing for Daihaseisai.
It was 30 meters wide, and several hundred meters long. There was no impression of it being ‘wide’, though. Many large buses were stacked tightly together like oil tankers. At first glance, there were about 50–70 of these buses. There were metal pillars everywhere, and the entire place was covered with a galvanized iron roof. There were robotic arms that were used in car repairs hanging from the ceiling.
All the vehicles were unmanned automatic buses.
It should be a temporary depot for automatic buses. There had to be a place to refuel the buses, to wash them, and do repairs when needed. Maybe they were using a three-shift rotation system or some other measures during this period. So all the buses here were on standby.
The automatic buses were only in use during Daihaseisai, and such a large amount of preparation was done for this. Kamijou re-realized the scale of this operation.
An auto-bus marked as ‘return’ silently passed by Kamijou and company into the depot. Tsuchimikado followed the auto-bus that was slowly moving, and just as he was about to step silently into the depot—
Suddenly, blue and white explosions occurred underneath the ceiling.
The unnaturally-colored flame continued to fall directly onto Tsuchimikado’s face like a transparent cylinder. It may be a magical attack — although it was a magical flame, it was definitely not caused by Stiyl. If so, who did this?
“Bastard, is she trying to stop us by using runes? Get down, Kami-yan!”
Tsuchimikado jumped backwards, and was about to push Kamijou down, but—
“What are you saying? Shouldn’t we be relying on him in this kind of situation?”
Stiyl grabbed Kamijou’s collar and tossed him in front.
Tsuchimikado rolled sideways, not knowing how far he would roll, and in place, Kamijou was standing under the blue and white flames.
Looking up, Kamijou saw a flaming pillar that was coming down like a guillotine swinging downwards.
“Eh? WHAT ARE YOU DOING?? AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!”
Kamijou frantically swung his right hand up like a hook. The blue and white flames dispersed in many different directions, and vanished before it could spread.
Stiyl shook the cigarette in his mouth, and said,
“My my, to think that even I couldn’t think of this perfect teamwork. To be able to share the work like this, you can really understand the situation and take action.”
Kamijou was trembling, and without hesitation, was about to hit the red-haired priest.
“Hurry up and finish your work.”
Stiyl kicked him, and pushed him backwards.
PEW!! The sound of wind being cut could be heard, as blocks of rocks that were as big as baseballs passed through the underside of the auto-bus that was moving forward. Suddenly, the surface of these rocks became sharp and edgy, like a sea-urchin, as they bounced up towards Kamijou’s jaw.
“Wait……wait a sec!!”
Kamijou quickly stretched his right hand out, and the rock bullets vanished in the air like an ice sculpture breaking. Tsuchimikado and Stiyl were using the auto-bus parked nearby as a shield, and jumped away left and right respectively. Kamijou, who was unable to trust them any further, jumped in Tsuchimikado’s direction.
Tsuchimikado, whose back was resting on the bus, said to Stiyl, who was leaning his back on the bus opposite,
“Stiyl, stay here, set up the runes, and stand by. I’ll catch the courier inside.”
“Roger that. Do I have to use the ‘Repel bystander’?”
“I’ll leave it to you. Though I don’t want to use too much magic, it’ll be bad if this uproar is to build on. It’s alright as long as Index doesn’t arrive here.”
I see, Kamijou just realized this. Right now, they weren’t fighting in a ‘win or lose’ battle, but a war about ‘arrest or escape’. Once the objectives were different, the ways to tackle it were different.
Tsuchimikado stared at Kamijou’s face, and asked,
“Oh yeah, Kami-yan. What do you want to do? I feel that it’s safer for you to stay here……”
Stiyl stared at Kamijou, and grinned,
“Yeah, to me, it’s better if you stay here. Not for your safety, but mine.”
Kamijou picked up an empty can on the ground, and threw it at Stiyl, wanting to proceed on with Tsuchimikado. From a blind corner of the bus, Tsuchimikado stared inside the depot, and dashed out.
Kamijou followed him, thinking, if I have the Imagine Breaker ability, shouldn’t I be using myself as a shield?
As this sound was heard, a yellow flame flew towards them. 10 meters in front, a flame appeared out of nowhere.
Right when Kamijou stretched out his right hand, a high pressure wind cut between the buses on the left and right side of him like a scalpel.
Just when Kamijou was unable to respond, Tsuchimikado grabbed his collar, avoided the scalpels that were flying over, and ran in an arc to avoid the flames. He then let go of Kamijou’s collar, and said,
“Kami-yan, you don’t have to take them all on! These are traps that the enemy set up. She’ll escape if you take them on seriously!!”
“Although you say that……!!”
Five blocks of ice that were as big as balloons came descending from the ceiling. Kamijou tried hard to resist using his right hand as he dashed forward. The shockwaves and sounds created by the heavy blocks of ice landing caused him to feel chilly on his back.
Passing through a row of parked auto-buses, he saw a large machine that was used to wash the buses. It was about as tall as two stories of a building, and there were machines that were used for washing. It was not those drum-shaped brushes, but rather a flat sponge that used ultrasonic vibration.
Oriana seemed to have ran into a dark corner, and he could see her blonde hair swaying about.
When Kamijou jumped out from the blind corner, the ground started to uplift in a row, as if it was trying to get in between him and the huge washing machine. It was a 5 meter tall ground wall, and it swept his legs over like a tsunami.
The wall extended from one end of the depot to another. This was unavoidable, as he’d be crushed even if he hid behind a blind corner. What was more dangerous was that if the metal pillar supporting the ceiling was broken, the entire depot would collapse.
“Kami-yan, I’ll leave it to you. It’s some provisional material that’s like ectoplasm. Your right hand will definitely settle it!!”
As Tsuchimikado shouted out, Kamijou came forward. Facing this large target, his teeth started to clatter, but it was not the time to run away crying. He reached the base of the wall, and hit it with his right hand.
With the sound of glass breaking, the 5 meter tall wall collapsed. The wall seemed to have dissolved in the air, and there didn’t seem to be any changes. The asphalt ground returned to its original state as well.
Kamijou was about to pull back his right arm when Tsuchimikado ran past him to the place opposite the large washing machine.
Oriana wasn’t there anymore.
A thick piece of paper that was as big as a chewing gum wrapper was stuck on the body of the machine. Kamijou rushed past Tsuchimikado, and looked around. There was a backdoor in the corner of the machine, but further down, a manhole was opened, and the windows of the buildings were broken. Basically, it was impossible to tell which way she escaped.
“‘Tracking sealer’ Oriana Thomson huh……what a joke!!”
Tsuchimikado angrily tore down the piece of paper. The ordinary boy Kamijou Touma could tell from his actions how critical the situation was.
(Ara ara. I don’t know if I lost them……)
Oriana Thomson looked behind for a while, and walked on the road.
She had stopped running the moment she lost sight of her pursuers. Since the opponent lost her, it was more important that she was not found than to put distance between them. It’d be very obvious if she was to run in the crowd.
Even so, she was rather satisfied. Oriana held on to the billboard that was covered with white cloth, and reconfirmed everything again.
(……Even if I lost them for now, it doesn’t mean that the matter is over. I have to set up the next piece.)
Oriana, who was only caring about what was happening behind, knocked into someone in front. Her exposed navel felt not human skin, but metal. Two boys that seemed to be committee members of the Daihaseisai were setting a pole horizontally for a ball tossing contest, and she had knocked into them.
“Aiya, I’m really sorry.”
Oriana gently apologized and left, leaving the boys dumbfounded as they stared at her huge breasts.
Too soft, she said softly, forcing back the urge to laugh.
(I’ve just set up my next piece, it’ll likely give them some hell.)
Tsuchimikado had pulled out his phone and was talking to someone. It seemed to be Stiyl. Although both of them were magicians,
Tsuchimikado couldn’t use magic, or strictly speaking, he could use it, but it’d cause a rejection due to his esper powers, which was the risk of a small-scale explosion.
Tsuchimikado said “come quickly,” and hung up the phone.
Kamijou looked at the piece of paper that Tsuchimikado was holding.
“Oi, what’s that?”
“O, that’s the spiritual item that Oriana uses.”
Tsuchimikado said in a frustrated tone, and let Kamijou see that paper. Some blue colored words were written on it in a hard to read font, ‘Soil Symbol.’ Of course, Kamijou, whose English was atrocious, didn’t understand what it meant.
“It means, ‘the Symbol of Soil.’ You’ve probably heard of the five main elements in RPGs, nya? Fire, water, earth, wind, whatever. It’s referring to that.”
“So this is a ‘Soil card’? I don’t understand.”
“No, not only that. The color of earth is ‘green’, but this is written in blue.”
Tsuchimikado turned the card around, saying,
“‘Blue’ is the color of water, and normally, it wouldn’t be used on earth-based magic. If one wanted to use earth, they’d put matching features like ‘green’ or ‘disc-shaped’. It’s like how Stiyl uses red cards to control flames.”
“……Did that woman make a mistake?”
“Impossible, she’s doing this on purpose. She’s using incompatible colors and uses the reaction as an attack. Basically, this is risky, as a bad mix will result in a bad effect.”
As Tsuchimikado said this, Stiyl ran over from the other side of the depot.
Tsuchimikado waved the thick piece of paper, and said,
“I found her magical spirit tool. If Oriana is to use this while she’s running, this will receive it like a cell phone. I’d like to use this method, can you guys give me a hand, nya?”
Tsuchimikado Motoharu could not use magic.
Strictly speaking, if he used it, he’d lose control of his body. As the human body wasn’t numerical, it couldn’t decide how many times could he endure it. He may endure it up to 4, 5 times, or he may die in one use.
It was like playing Russian Roulette; there was a chance where he would die. In this situation where he was uncertain, Tsuchimikado was trying his best not to use it. If he was to end up being unable to take action, one could expect what would happen after that.
Thus, Tsuchimikado was unable to use the ‘Seeking Magic’.
He placed the thick piece of paper that Oriana had left behind on the floor, and drew a perfect circle around it. He then positioned many different colored papers, and that was all. Basically, it was Stiyl’s job to activate it.
“The name of the spell is called an ‘all-around reality array’ — it would have been easy if I used it during the Angel Fall incident nya……in order to prevent any interference, I only used a single defensive spell, and got damaged really badly. Kanzaki nee-chan isn’t good at setting up a boundary either, so it was really troublesome. Of course, I can’t possibly teach the important figures of the Russian Orthodox Church this……”
“Stop yapping and start working. I heard that the effective range is about a 3 kilometres radius?”
“Ah, to interrupt me like this. Ahhh, Kami-yan, please move away bit. What if your right hand breaks this ‘all-around reality array’?”
Hearing Tsuchimikado mention this, Kamijou frantically backpedaled. Tsuchimikado continued to make some markings on the ground, and after he was done, moved back to where Kamijou was.
A black circle with approximately 50cm in diameter was drawn on the ground, and the piece of paper that Oriana had stuck on the bus washing machine. The blue, white, red and black pieces of paper divided the circle into four equal quadrants, each set at 90 degrees. Seemed like this was to represent north, south, east and west.
Stiyl knelt halfway down in front of the circle that Tsuchimikado had drawn, clapped his two hands together, and closed his eyes. A drop of sweat flowed down his forehead.
“―Through the wind, but not through air, but to convey thy will.”
As he recited this, the four pieces of paper started to float in the air. Like a clumsy puppet being pulled by invisible strings, the colored paper stood up. The edges of the pieces of colored paper reminded one of the sharp edge of a sword blade.
“This so-called rune is the idea of magic by adding and removing colors.”
Tsuchimikado stared at the circle on the ground, saying,
“First, one has to imprint something that’s of significance, and forcefully input some energy to activate the spell, and deactivate it by removing the stains. For Stiyl, he uses ‘pre-prepared dyed cards’ that were printed, so the spell activates extremely fast. When the card ‘burns’, the removal of the color will be over in an instant nya. So normally, people will use spells that ‘are pre-prepared’……”
The four pieces of paper continued to draw a spiral. The papers continued to draw a line that was of the same color. The line continued to get closer and closer, and the circle got smaller and smaller, as they got closer to the middle, where the card that Oriana had left behind was.
“As long as we follow the basic rule of ‘adding and removing colors’, even if it’s Futtark, which doesn’t follow the normal regulations, one can activate a rune spell nya. In fact, different types of ‘rune words’ formed during different ages.”
―There was only 15cm to the center of the circle.
Kamijou stared at the fast rotating pieces of paper.
“If we use this, we can accurately determine where Oriana is?”
“Um. If we use it, we should be able to determine it in a 3 kilometer radius. However, we won’t get anything if she leaves the perimeter.”
“……3 kilometers. It’s rather far. But if we find her at exactly 3 kilometers from here, wouldn’t the enemy move somewhere else?”
“One more thing. After activating an ‘all-around reality array’, it’ll take fifteen minutes for us to set it up. However, it’s no problem if it works once.”
Tsuchimikado said this, but if they failed……
“Although 15 minutes sounds short, wouldn’t it be bad if the opponent takes a bus or tram?”
“I don’t care where she runs off to. Kami-yan, have you forgotten? I’m a magician too. Don’t I have the Red Spell as my last resort? Although I only have one shot.”
―There was now only 10cm to the center.
Kamijou revealed an irritated look, and said,
“What you are talking about……is that gimmick that you used to bomb my house from the seaside resort to prevent that Angel Fall? It’s alright if we can use such a long range strike……wait a minute, if everyone knows about how someone used magic brazenly in Academy City, wouldn’t the many magicians waiting outside be using this as an excuse to invade?”
“No, they won’t. Kami-yan, because their excuse is to ‘protect ordinary civilians from those bad magicians that invaded Academy City.’ As long as we settle this with a single strike, take the ‘Stab Sword’ back, and announce that ‘the danger is gone, so we don’t need your help,’ isn’t it alright nya?”
Tsuchimikado grinned at Kamijou, and said,
“Even so, I’m not comfortable with solving this as a magician. So I used that Red Spell, and not my specialty, the Black Spell nya. If anyone was to ask who was the one who used magic, I'd just lie to that guy and say that it was Stiyl, the fire manipulator, who launched the strike.”
“……That……that is a bit too bold. Can you really trick them like that?”
“I can. Because Necessarius is keeping the knowledge of 103,000 grimoires. It’s not weird for them to even learn spells that are not of Christian origin. Stiyl’s runes themselves have no relation to Christianity. However, they can’t use these spells the Eastern way, so they have to refine it such that it looks Western.”
“What’s with your expression? Anyway, we win if we can confirm Oriana’s position. The ideal case is if we can capture her, and force her to talk about Lidvia’s deal with this other party. Right now, the main priority is to prevent the deal of the ‘Stab Sword’ from taking place. In other words, it’ll be alright even if we blow up the ‘Stab Sword’ or Oriana to pieces.”
―The distance was now 0cm.
The four pieces of paper touched the thick piece of paper that Oriana left. With a crisp ‘BAM!’ sound, the pieces of colored paper were flying all over the place, drawing an intricate map quickly on the ground. At first it was as blurred as a camera with the lens not at the focal length, then it gradually became clearer.
This map showed everything, from the roads, constructs, trees, benches, vending machines, and wind generators, to each and every single empty can on the ground. Maybe it was more accurate to call it an ultra-high resolution photo taken from a satellite than a simplified or marked map.
Finally, the place that appeared was……
Oriana looked up suddenly.
With one hand, she was holding a billboard-like thing that was covered with a white cloth. She slightly raised her ample breasts, as if she was trying to add to the pressure on the second button, which was the only button she had buttoned. She looked up at the sky.
In the late September blue sky, there was white smoke from the fireworks that were fired, and one could feel the cool breeze in this ruthless summer. The mottled clouds continued to move in the same direction, and everything seemed calm.
Even so, Oriana’s skin felt a sharp sense of tension.
It was like trying to get into a bank that had been overrun by robbers and strongly fortified.
Oriana Thomson started to take some time to wonder what was approaching her.
“―Through the wind, but not through air, but to convey thy will — this onee-chan heard that, you know.”
Then, she cracked a smile.
Suddenly, Stiyl seemed to be hit by something in the chest, as he bent forward.
Picha! The map on the ground was scattered around like how someone sneezes and blows a sand painting away. A loud breaking sound could be heard, and Kamijou was so scared that he instantly took a deep breath, wondering if Stiyl’s bones were broken.
“This is a space-bending sound due to him losing control of his power — it’s just the sound of air molecules colliding with each other! Kami-yan, hit Stiyl’s body! It’ll probably stop!!”
Hearing Tsuchimikado call out like this, Kamijou was shocked. Anyway, it was rather scary when ‘he didn’t know what was going on.’ Kamijou rushed to Stiyl and frantically smacked his back that was bent. As he was thinking about doing this fast, he forgot to adjust his power.
Suddenly, the sound of air being depressed was heard.
Stiyl relaxed his body as he lay on the ground, but the strange situation seemed to be over, and he couldn’t hear that sound just now. Stiyl panted heavily, and finally pulled his hand away from his sweaty hair—
“What’s this? Is this……some spell to prevent being snuffed out……?”
The pieces of colored paper weren’t moving anymore, so Tsuchimikado picked one of them up with his fingers, placed his fingers on the paper, and folded several creases on it.
“If so, since I used the ‘all-around reality array’, I should be affected as well……but there’s no such phenomenon.”
He waved the neatly folded colored paper, and said,
“Stiyl’s magic should have been read by the opponent, and the opponent probably used a counterspell that will cause a reaction in Stiyl. That Oriana, I thought that she suddenly decided to counterattack, so this is her goal. She’s trying to force us to use our magic, read and analyze them, and set up a magic array that sends signals nya.”
Kamijou did not understand what Tsuchimikado, who was folding the paper, was talking about, as he extended his hand out to Stiyl. Stiyl irritatedly waved Kamijou’s hand away, and swaggered as he tried to stand up.
Stiyl spat onto the ground.
“Is it a spell that identifies a person and seals him up? Really, to think that she could come up with that.”
“……What’s that? You mean it can target Stiyl and attack him directly?”
“This thing called magic……because of the approach of the caster, the quality and quantity will be different……but, I don’t think that this is enough to create a perfect counterattack nya.”
As he spoke, Tsuchimikado placed his hand into his pocket, and pulled out a red pen……or maybe it isn’t.
According to his explanation, this thing called magic was like gasoline. It was originally like the gasoline that we rely on so heavily, and was refined heavily through sects or religions like an oil processor.
“For Stiyl, if he were using the Aztec method to train his magic, the type of magic formed will be vastly different. Like using crude oil, one cannot refine it into gasoline, but into heavy oil and light oil nya.”
For an Amakusa Saint like Kanzaki Kaori, besides Christianity, there was still some essence of Buddhism and Shintoism. So they could freely adjust the type of magic and quality of the spell according to the situation.
What Tsuchimikado was suggesting was that, to Oriana, in order to take on Stiyl himself, she’d try and grasp what type of magic that he could possibly use, and try her best to focus on sealing Stiyl’s magic. It was hard to imagine Oriana having peace of mind now, as she probably didn’t have all the information about Stiyl’s power. No matter his strength, one would normally consider about that.
“That……Oriana, what did she do?”
“About this……I guess, it should be something like this.”
As he spoke, Stiyl stood up, his legs still wobbly.
“This thing called magic has multiple forms of existence. But the previous stage is no longer the same. The methods we can use to refine this talent will be dependent on religion, spells, and one’s own lifeforce. After that, it’s like a math problem. As long as one calculates it backwards, the answer will be out.”
Imagine if there was 20 pounds of magic A, and a way to process magic called B. By comparing the two, if a person used the magic procession B needed to process 20 pounds of magic, how many pounds of this lifeforce would be required—this way, one could calculate the original ‘lifeforce’.
Stiyl irritatedly pulled out a cigarette stick from a pack with his mouth, and stared at Tsuchimikado. Tsuchimikado was using something like a red pen to draw some markings on the colored paper in his hand.
“In order to overcome this situation, I’m making a new array.”
Tsuchimikado told Kamijou, still focusing on the paper.
Stiyl’s gaze returned to Kamijou.
“Although magic doesn’t have a personality, lifeforce does. In other words, my lifeforce was read by Oriana. Bastard, I shouldn’t have set up the rune cards so easily……no, if the opponent is using an underground large-scale interrogation facility for magicians, like an execution tower or the basement of Windsor Castle, it’s still possible. To think that it’s possible for a magician to be able to do every single step—research, analysis, reverse calculation, application, and engagement all by herself—as expected of the ‘Tracking Sealer’, Oriana Thomson.”
Said Stiyl unhappily as he pulled out a matchstick, a rare sight, and struck it against the soles of his shoe. It was likely that he was wary of using magic to light a stick. Right now, he couldn’t strike back, and could only wait for Tsuchimikado to finish his preparations. For such a man who had such a high self-esteem to ‘be cautious’, one could see how unfathomable Oriana was. Hearing him say this, during the battle at the depot, Stiyl had been the only one who used ‘magic’ outright.
“If she’s doing a reverse calculation and counterattacking, the one hurt should have been Tsuchimikado, who set up the ‘all-around reality array’. Since nothing like that happened, I guess it reacted to my lifeforce.”
Stiyl continued. Tsuchimikado was working hard on some weird project, so only Kamijou and Stiyl were conversing with each other.
“Which means, that Oriana can still analyze Stiyl’s magic while she’s escaping?”
Kamijou tilted his head, not knowing what was going on.
Seeing Kamijou like this, Stiyl couldn’t help but blow out some smoke irritatedly. Maybe it was because he lost his cool after being damaged, or maybe he felt that it was troublesome to talk about things that were straightforward to magicians.
“If she knows this move, then it should be even more potent……than your right hand.”
He inhaled some smoke deeply.
“Oriana’s counterspell……which is on par with those spells used for execution, requires a magic array — no, something that’s even higher than it. Oriana didn’t just use a spell, she set up an entire area of effect. It’s like setting up a high-speed computer, and letting it do all the analysis. This way, Oriana can focus on running away, but……”
When Kamijou said this, Stiyl replied in a bitter voice,
“……No, maybe I’m thinking too much. I feel that I have seen this inhuman ‘auto-processing’ before……no way. Even if she’s Oriana, she can’t possibly have that……”
It was like he was muttering to himself.
Kamijou, who didn’t understand the situation at all, frowned. Tsuchimikado, who was beside them, was drawing something on the paper. He opened his mouth, and grinned.
“No, Stiyl, I’m thinking the same thing as you.”
“Really? …If so, it would explain why Oriana is able to let it work despite being someplace else. But if so, she’s not a magician, but a sorcerer.”
“Aiya, is this really the case? I always felt that there was something wrong about Oriana. If she’s really a complete warlock, there should be some magicians whom she taught that will act as her underlings. Shouldn’t that be something that Lidvia should be doing?”
As he spoke, Tsuchimikado continued to create markings on the colored paper. It was like a marking was add on another marking.
“??? What is that?”
The two magicians continued to mutter among themselves, causing the amateur Kamijou to be confused. Seeing Kamijou like this, Tsuchimikado gently smiled.
“Oh yeah, Kami-yan probably hasn’t seen an actual situation. But, just having knowledge of it means that you know it. By stuffing any knowledge related to magic into someone, the knowledge will form a magic array without the caster’s will. Even if the caster doesn’t use magic, it’ll cause the ‘power’ released by nature and lifeforce to multiply, making it active semi-permanently.”
Tsuchimikado’s smile now had a deeper meaning.
The lens of the blue sunglasses were reflecting light.
“You still don’t understand? It’s the person closest to Kami-yan nya. ‘That’ Index that memorized 103,000 grimoires, isn’t she with you?”
Even if he didn’t understand completely what Tsuchimikado meant, he knew what that referred to.
“That’s right, Kami-yan.”
Facing Kamijou, who was muttering right now, Tsuchimikado gently shook the colored paper in his hand, and casually said.
“The original copy of the grimoire.”
A book that had the secrets of magic. At first glance, it didn’t look impressive, but any ordinary human would get a nervous breakdown if they just read the contents only. Also, the chapters, paragraphs and words of the book would become a semi-permanent magic array that would automatically counterattack if anyone was to try and destroy it.
Nobody had the power to destroy the ‘original copy’ of a grimoire, so they could only use emergency measures to temporarily seal it. This was why people like Index, who had memorized 103,000 grimoires in her head, and Orsola, who tried to analyze the original Book of the Law, did this to counter these dangerous grimoires.
Kamijou was a complete novice when it came to magic. And he had never seen a real ‘grimoire’ before. Even so, there had been quite a few incidents around him that involved magic or grimoires, so in this sense, he had quite a bit of knowledge.
Tsuchimikado exhaled deeply, and made the four corners of the folded piece of paper with a pen.
“A grimoire has a similar nature as a magic array, since the secondary effect of a grimoire originates from the effect of a magic array.”
Kamijou frowned. He didn’t understand what Tsuchimikado was talking about.
“How is a grimoire similar to a magic array? Isn’t a grimoire something ancient? And isn’t a magic array some star painted circle symbol that commonly appears in RPGs?”
After Kamijou asked this, Stiyl looked somewhat frustrated as he narrowed his eyes.
“……You’re using such a stupid analogy again; that’s the star of Laksami. This isn’t a single product, but a Middle age magic array that’s used within a circular array.”
He stared at something beside Tsuchimikado’s hand.
“First, we’ll explain from the ‘array’……the first magic array was just an ordinary circle. It’s just like that.”
As he said this, he picked up a stone, sat on the ground, and drew a circle with an approximately 50cm diameter on the asphalt road. Though it was hand-drawn, the circle was rather accurate. Kamijou looked surprised, but Tsuchimikado, who continued to draw on the colored paper, didn’t bother to even look. Seemed like a magician who had to create his own magic array or rune cards had very dexterous hands.
“The pentagram or the Star of David that you novices can think about is used to add an additional effect. In order to add on to the basic effect of the circle, we add the seal of King David or the seal of King Solomon.”
Stiyl puffed out a cloud of smoke, and continued to add a pentagram on it. The five tips of the star divided the circle neatly into five different parts, and there was no deviation in any of the straight lines.
But what did this have to do with the grimoires? Kamijou tilted his head, thinking.
Seeing Kamijou like this, Stiyl gently clicked his tongue. Besides his irritated feelings to Kamijou and his own injuries, the reason why Stiyl was all panicky now was that Tsuchimikado was taking too long to plan (or so he thought) a way to break this status quo.
“Then, there’s the last step of setting up a magic array……it’s too troublesome to explain it a few times, so watch carefully.”
Stiyl shifted the small rock away as he said,
“The last step of setting up a magic array is to add other things, like words. Most of the time, we write something outside the circle to declare which angel we want to borrow power from.”
While speaking, he continued to write some things along the circumference of the circle. Because it was a scary magic array, Kamijou thought that he would use an unknown ancient language. But he was just writing English.
Stiyl continued to engrave words on the asphalt floor.
“Just like this case, I’ll have to write down the name of the angel whom I want to borrow the power from. I’ll then have to specify the type of power I want, like ‘fire’ or ‘wind’. I will also have to write down what kind of ‘Angel’s power’ I need, and how much power. The quality of the power is important, but what’s more important, and maybe surprisingly, is the quantity. If it’s too little, I definitely won’t be able to activate the spell. But if it is too much, the excess will go out of control, so it’s difficult to find an optimal amount.”
It was only a little while, but there was already a line of words around the circumference. Stiyl’s hand continued to work as he started to write another line of words on the circumference.
“Once I get the correct amount and quality of ‘Angel’s power’, I’ll have to write down how I’m going to use it. Maybe the caster will input this power into his staff and get some special ability, or maybe he will set it up around the magic array for defence, etc. With that—”
The second line, the third line, the fourth line, the words continued to pile up like a Swiss roll.
Maybe one should call it a magic array that had markings that were continuously added onto it.
“—Doesn’t it look like the page of a book?”
Stiyl puffed out some smoke at the magic array.
“In reality, it was as Stiyl said. Although the way it was written wasn’t conventional like ordinary books, where there was a specific rule that one had to write horizontally or vertically. But what if one was to read the text along the circle in a horizontal manner? If it just ‘required any type of quality and quantity to mix and match before getting some effect’—wasn’t it like a formula or some sorts?”
The formula of a spell.
This was basically what a grimoire was about.
“But there’s still a weakness about using this type of magic array. The more complicated the picture is, the more difficult it’ll be to control it. Like the word ‘front,’ besides the meaning of facing forward, there’s also the meaning of ‘promenade.’ If there’s a difference in what the caster intended and what is interpreted incorrectly on the magic array, the spell will go out of control and cause the caster much trouble……but if it’s one’s own misinterpretation, the caster must be pretty talented.”
Stiyl finished speaking, and slowly stood up.
He tossed the small rock in his hand away.
Seeing this, Tsuchimikado spoke up,
“In the end, the amount of information given for this magic array has a direct relation with its power. The complicated look and the lines added are just details that are added onto it. The reason why I used four pieces of colored paper for this ‘all-around reality array’ is to add decorations that signify that I want to collect information from every single direction. With this, how much power does a grimoire that’s entirely stuffed with magical knowledge? —Basically, an original grimoire is a high-intensity magic array. Even specialized magicians find it tough to handle nya.”
Tsuchimikado brought this conclusion. The colored paper in his hand was somewhat wet as he was continuously making some markings on the colored paper with his red pen.
Kamijou remained silent for a while.
“If so, in preparation of Daihaseisai, Oriana actually prepared an original grimoire to form this auto-activate counterspell?”
This was something that makes people freeze up.
Once, because of the grimoire that was called The Book of the Law, Kamijou himself had been involved in a battle started by three magic factions. Of course, there were differences in the value and tiers between the grimoires, but no matter how anyone thought, this wasn’t normal. To say that the scale was too big, one may say that it was so big that it was almost a waste.
Stiyl disagreed with Kamijou’s views.
“……Is this really possible? The alchemist Aureolus Izzard was also a grimoire author. Even if the fastest person in the Palace of Secret Records was to write on without sleeping or resting, it’d take three days to write up just one thin book, and probably a month to write a thick one. I don’t think she has time to write up an ‘original book’ while she’s spending her life running around. Or maybe the enemy had set up an ‘original’ beforehand……”
“I don’t think so. It’s true that one needs a lot of time to complete a book. But this isn’t Oriana’s objective.”
Tsuchimikado spoke in a relaxed tone.
“To her, she just wants the effect of the grimoire that strengthens her magic array. She doesn’t care about the genre. Doesn’t it feel like nobody can read her cursive handwriting nya?”
Tsuchimikado said this with a thoroughly red piece of paper in his hand.
“……You’re implying that it’s a ‘shorthand original’? I still feel that’s impossible……no, alright. Right now, we have to consider all the possibilities no matter what.”
Kamijou lowered his head, as the words of these magicians continued to echo in his mind.
Finally, he raised his head.
“This original, it means that nobody can destroy the grimoire, right? If there’s a need to create originals for every battle, wouldn’t the world be filled with originals?”
“That’s right nya— Necessarius never got this kind of report as well. This is just my guess, Oriana’s ‘shorthand original’ is definitely not perfect. A real original can turn each page into a semi-permanent magic array. But because Oriana’s one is sloppy, it’ll crumble in a short time.”
Tsuchimikado smoothly replied as he continued to write on the wet piece of paper. Not only the surface was important, the order the markings were added, and the type of markings added were also important.
Tsuchimikado bitterly laughed,
“In the past, there were many magicians who wrote flawed originals, and ended up losing control over them before dying. Oriana may have used this the other way to destroy the ‘shorthand original’ on her own. If so, it’s better to consider her as a spellcaster. A hybrid that involves the original and a magician — in other words……it’s not to pass on the techniques and knowledge to the future generation, but to destroy this original instantly when needed nya.”
Hm — Kamijou folded his arms.
“Right now, I still don’t understand anything about the original or the magic array.”
“……Explaining this to someone like you is really useless.”
Because he was injured, Stiyl’s face was somewhat green, as his mouth was slightly twisted.
“With the counter, it means that Stiyl is unable to use magic on Oriana?”
“Yes. If we don’t settle that counterattack spell, we can’t use any magic spells. That spell should be ‘ready to strike when it senses that I’m about to use magic.’ It won’t differentiate each spell on ‘what purpose it does,’ and besides, it’s useless to add that order.”
Stiyl sounded like he was confessing his own weaknesses, but though one could tell from his tone that he was having some reservations, there was no sign of giving up. It was like he was trying to say that it wouldn’t end like this.
“So how? Stiyl is unable to use magic, right? That ‘all-around reality array’……right? Wouldn’t it be hard to find out Oriana’s position? Since Tsuchimikado can’t really use magic well.”
Tsuchimikado shook his head. That colored paper he was holding, which was drenched in red ink, it was a miracle that it was not torn after all the liquid added on it.
Kamijou and Stiyl stared at him.
“I said this before. This is an auto-counter spell created by the ‘shorthand original’, so we just need to settle it. If we are successful, we can use some talismans to prevent her from doing it again. Still, the most important thing is to destroy the ‘original’ that the enemy has, so that Stiyl can safely use his magic nya—”
Kamijou stared at his right hand. The ‘original’ was definitely a grimoire that could not be destroyed by any means, but his Imagine Breaker may have been able to deal with it.
Stiyl puffed out some smoke.
“It’s alright if we destroy the ‘shorthand original’, but wouldn’t Oriana use this time to run outside the perimeter where the ‘all-around reality array’ is effective?”
“It’s possible. But don’t you guys think that the enemy wouldn’t use these counterspells if she could escape fast enough? It takes a long time to prepare that. In this tight schedule, one won’t do this to add on to her workload.”
Hm, Stiyl folded his arms.
Kamijou frowned, thinking that it’d be fine if this was what she was planning.
“That……that ‘shorthand original’ that you mentioned just now, where is it?”
“I’m guessing it’s set up somewhere.”
“Is it possible that Oriana is carrying it with herself?”
“I’m not too confident about it if I’m clear about the conditions required to use this ‘shorthand original’. But in order to check out the type of lifeforce that Stiyl has, Oriana set up quite a few traps. She then sent some lifeforce that she got from those traps to the auto-magic array. To set up something like this from the beginning to the end, one has to do it all in the same system……is there such a possibility nya?”
“Then where did she set up this ‘shorthand original’?”
If they didn’t know where she ran off to, it was impossible for them to find out where did she had set up the counter magic spell book.
“We’ll be looking into this next nya.”
What should we do? Tsuchimikado didn’t immediately reply to Kamijou’s question.
Tsuchimikado breathed out a small amount of air to adjust his breathing. He then placed the red pen he was swinging about into his pocket, and with both hands, he carefully carried the colored paper that was all sticky and wet now.
He then said,
“Stiyl. It doesn’t matter what kind of magic it is, just use it. I’d like to know where the interference came from.”
Such cold words.
“After Oriana read Stiyl’s lifeforce, she used the ‘shorthand original’ to hinder our work. That counterspell should involve some magic as well, so I set up this ‘divination circle array’ that acts like a litmus paper around you to react to her magic. This is a yet unused magic array that doesn’t have any magic power yet. The ‘divination circle array’ will activate when there’s magical force from a counterspell. It can also calculate where the spell came from, and the direction and distance.”
Tsuchimikado said as he knelt down on the floor, still holding onto the colored paper that was dyed red. He then shifted the paper around like he was wiping a table with a cloth. A red circle with diameter of 2 meters appeared immediately on the ground. When he finished this, he stood up, looking bored.
Like he was reading a manual, Tsuchimikado’s voice was emotionless, leading Kamijou to wonder whether Tsuchimikado’s brain was alright. He frantically grabbed Tsuchimikado’s shoulders,
“But this isn’t the way to go, Tsuchimikado! You should know what will happen if the counterspell arrives!? If we do this again, Stiyl will fall again!!”
Tsuchimikado inexplicably frowned.
“Who said that? It can’t possibly end once, right? Stiyl can’t possibly fall here. At least if we destroy that counterspell, we’ll have to activate the ‘all-around reality array’ to look for Oriana. Before that, if one ‘divination circle array’ isn’t enough to find out where the spell is, I can only allow him to retry as many times as it takes.”
Kamijou’s expression changed.
“……Are you serious?”
In contrast, Tsuchimikado gave a straightforward answer.
“Kami-yan, you seemed to have forgotten, so let me remind you again. Even if Oriana Thomson isn’t in front of us, even if there are no swords or bullets flying around, this is still a war that concerns human lives. Countries, or even the world, may be overturned as a consequence, you understand?”
Kamijou stomped onto the ground.
“I can understand if we’re able to win as a result of Stiyl getting injured. But why can’t we get this clear!? If so, there’s a possibility that it won’t be effective no matter how much damage he takes! Also, even if we find out where the counterspell is, and destroy it, are you going to drag Stiyl around to battle? STOP JOKING WITH ME!! I CAN’T POSSIBLY AGREE TO THIS!!”
Stopping himself there, Kamijou swallowed down his final words at the last second.
……Tsuchimikado, you’re asking Stiyl to use magic because you hate getting hurt in a battle……
“I got it. Let’s do this.”
Stiyl accepted this proposal that nobody would find sensible to agree with.
“Kamijou Touma, this is gross, stop acting familiar with me. If this can solve everything, there’s no problem.”
After saying that, he glared at Tsuchimikado.
“Conversely, we have to find out where the spell is no matter what. Also, we have to do this on our own, and we can’t let it develop into a bigger problem, got it?”
Being glared at by Stiyl, Tsuchimikado didn’t look away.
“OK. I promise not to escalate this incident and cause Index to forcibly return. I’ll protect her life while she’s still in Academy City, is this your condition?”
Hearing Tsuchimikado’s words, Kamijou was at a loss of words.
No matter how injured he was, Stiyl was only thinking about a certain girl’s happiness.
Even if that happiness didn’t involve him.
Even if where he had been was now occupied by Kamijou Touma.
He wouldn’t pull back because of that fact.
The magician Stiyl Magnus turned his back at Kamijou and Tsuchimikado, and pulled out a rune card from his torso.
‘Divination circle array’.
Without hesitation, Stiyl stepped into the red circle that Tsuchimikado had drawn on the ground.
“Kamijou Touma……I’m unhappy that you’re here right now.”
The red-haired priest said in a firm voice,
“Why aren’t you beside that child? It’s your fault if that child is unhappy because of this.”
After that, the rune flames exploded, and the counterspell activated.
With a scream, one could hear someone fall onto the ground.
This was how Stiyl Magnus lived his own life.