Toaru Majutsu no Index SS:Norse Mythology Chapter4
Chapter 4: This and That About Life. ALFAR.
I will now explain the contents of the requested investigation.
A strategic point in northern Scotland called Brick Wharf has been occupied by an enemy force.
The enemy force is Alfar, a magical life form created by the magician who manages Brick Wharf. We have information that this Alfar possesses the intelligence and skills needed to use the facilities and equipment of Brick Wharf to create even more complex and high level magical life forms and large scale spiritual items. As such, we would like for you to suppress Alfar and take control of Brick Wharf before such trouble occurs.
Also, Brick Wharf functions as the center of the northern British defense line that holds back foreign invaders.
It is important that you resolve this problem before foreign forces learn of the situation and see it as an opportunity, but it is also possible Alfar is receiving support from such foreign forces. Carry out this mission with utmost caution.
And so they headed to Scotland.
The United Kingdom was made up of the four cultures of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Scotland was the northernmost land in the United Kingdom and Brick Wharf was at the northernmost part of Scotland. It used that position to shoot down or sink any and all suspicious people who came to the island nation via sea or air.
Or it had until half a day prior.
“I thought we were finally back to England and then this,” complained the jeans shop owner. “I thought I was finally going to get some work done. I thought I was going to get to complete at least some of my huge backlog of orders. What the hell happened!? When am I going to be able to send jeans out to my customers!?”
A vein bulged out on the shop owner’s temple as he recalled the state of his business.
“And isn’t an attack on a hijacked magical fortress just a job for a Saint like Kanzaki!? There’s nothing for me to do!! In fact, if taking care of something does end up falling to me, we’re in big trouble!!”
“I-I am sorry about that, but the incident is not just going to wait,” said the tour guide girl awkwardly.
The shop owner weakly smiled in response.
“Heh heh. I’ve gotten so many complaints by email that the company that manages the mail server is even worried about me. But don’t worry. I am glad to see that middle school Saten-chan’s English has been getting better bit by bit.”
“Hmm. That makes it sound like her English is still not perfect. What level is she at?”
The shop owner answered her question by reading the latest email verbatim.
“Fuck your asshole.”
“Uuh. That certainly does get across the fact that she’s upset.”
At the side, Kanzaki silently listened to the tour guide girl’s lamenting words.
She had something that bothered her more than the business of the jeans shop.
“I can’t believe the ultra long distance interception temple used to prevent invaders from the sea has been turned inland toward the UK…”
As Kanzaki said that, she was hiding within a small thicket about 3 kilometers from Brick Wharf. The effective range of Brick Wharf’s large scale magic was over 200 kilometers, but she had managed to get that close without Alfar noticing by sneaking from cover to cover.
In other words…
If she got even one centimeter closer to Brick Wharf, she would be immediately spotted and blown away by a ridiculously huge invisible bombardment.
As he hid within the same thicket, the jeans shop owner said, “So what exactly is Brick Wharf?”
The tour guide girl responded to his simple question while hiding within the same thicket.
“Apparently, it was originally a facility from the time of the Industrial Revolution. Later, the unused remnants of the harbor were taken by the Anglican Church and remodeled into a magical facility. It seems no one but Alfar is currently inside, so there is no fear of getting anyone else wrapped up in this.”
As she would be immediately shot by interception magic the second she stepped out of that thicket, the tour guide girl was naturally pushing on Kanzaki and the shop owner’s bodies.
Being pushed on annoyed the shop owner.
“I would like to ask about that, too. What is ‘Alfar’? Is it someone’s name?”
“…I thought you were a tour guide. Aren’t you supposed to know all about cultures, common knowledge, and fads from all over the world so you can use that knowledge to help the combat magicians to accurately blend in? Or is Scandinavia outside of your area of expertise?”
“If you mock me, I’ll push you out of this thicket. I know what an Alfar is, but that can’t be what you mean, right? An Alfar is…”
“A girl with white skin, blonde hair, and long ears. You might be more familiar with the term elf,” responded a sickly-looking young man with pale skin.
He was the manager of Brick Wharf who had been kicked out by the Alfar in question. Of course, he was a magician.
His name seemed to be Slappar.
“Isn’t this thicket a little small to hide four people?” said the shop owner sounding annoyed.
“But do Alfar actually exist? Wasn’t there a report saying the similar Dvergr, or dwarves, were just a different race that had techniques of manufacturing metals that the Norse cultures did not have?”
“That was by Richard Brave, right? Isn’t he a stubborn magician colleague of yours?”
“To be honest, I did not create her on the basis of any firm theory. I found a fossil that held a legend that was at least similar. I extracted the information from there and used a giant laboratory flask to create her, so I do not know whether she is an Alfar or something else that is just similar to an Alfar. I do however know that she is not human. There are various legends about the Alfar, but I adjusted them to something like a contrast to the Dvergr. Due to that, she dislikes metal and underground areas.”
“You certainly do take your time to explain things. And there’s not enough room here. I can’t take it any longer. My ass is gonna stick out. Kanzaki, you move over that way a bit more! If you don’t, I’ll just embrace you here!!”
“…If you do that, I’ll slap you so hard you land in Brick Wharf.”
“No, I’m seriously at my limit with this pose!! If I can’t do that, I’m gonna end up with my head between the tour guide’s legs!!”
“Gyahh!! If you do that, I’ll kick you in the balls!!”
Due to those terrible objections, the shop owner was unable to move. The next thing he knew, Slappar was gently spreading his arms. He seemed to be welcoming the shop owner, but the shop owner shook his head.
“…Kanzaki. I don’t care if you slap me, can I please embrace you?”
“Do not say things like that with such a mild smile. Right now, we need to continue with the questioning.”
“What do you want to know?” asked Slappar as he hid in the thicket with the others.
Kanzaki pointed toward the distant Brick Wharf.
“What happened there and what is Alfar trying to do there?”
In modern magic, breathing techniques and mental focus techniques were used to convert the magic user’s life force into magic power which could be used to perform various spells.
Surprisingly, the very magicians that did that had no clear answer as to what the soul was. There were a few prominent theories, but there was little proof for them. It could be thought of as similar to proving a truly difficult math equation.
Even without understanding the mechanism of the soul, methods could be used to duplicate or mass produce it.
For example, scientists performing experiments in human cloning could duplicate the genetic information without understanding what a soul was.
For example, a doctor performing an organ transplant could provide a dying patient with vitality and add dozens of years to his life without knowing what a soul was.
Magicians too could create the physical body that acted as the container for the soul without understanding its workings.
That was known as a magical life form.
They were not life forms in the same way as masses of some kind of energy that existed in a different phase space such as angels and demons. Magical life forms were either subspecies created by a magician applying some kind of process to organic material or occasionally a brand new species created from only inorganic material. There was a seemingly unending variety of forms they could take.
The only material going into the creation of the aforementioned Alfar was a fossil, but she would not contain the same soul as the creature that had been fossilized.
“Yeah, I know the whole genre of creating magical life forms isn’t too popular anymore,” Slappar said with a laugh. “After all, there are just too many problems with it. The creation cost for just one is much too high and the lifespan is unstable so it isn’t unusual for one to die just after you create it. There’s also the problematic pattern where it can’t interact properly with the natural world and can therefore only live within the flask or test tube it was created in.”
Whether it was a clever beast or a long-living beautiful girl, magical life forms had one thing in common.
That was the fact that they had the ability of original thought. If one wanted to create a vacuum blade, there were various different processes that went into the spell and any portion that changed on its own could cause it to backfire. If a single order had its method randomly changed, that small difference could affect the entire ceremony and could even put the magic user’s life at risk.
Instead of focusing on an unstable magical life form, it was better to use the same amount of effort to create a spiritual item such as a staff or sword that reinforced the magician’s own abilities.
(Tools with a human-shaped terminal such as golems are created with magic and they are much more convenient because they can be quickly created and quickly destroyed.)
In modern times, magicians that seriously worked at creating magical life forms were an endangered species. Of course, the lack of creators also meant there were very few magical life forms. There probably were not any outside of hygienic ceremonial grounds, temples, or towers.
Those life forms had functionality that did not exist in the natural world, so they often had various problems interacting with the natural world and died. It was perhaps similar to bringing a deep sea fish onto land.
“Why did you go out of your way to research that kind of thing…?” asked Kanzaki.
Slappar looked troubled and scratched at his check.
“To overcome a defect of mine.”
“It’s a congenital trait. I cannot construct spells above a certain level of complexity. It’s kind of hard to explain. I’m sorry this explanation is so vague, but I guess you could say my thoughts just come undone. When I try to think about something complex, I forget what that complex thing is. It’s a weird feeling.”
In other words, he had a condition that prevented him from using high level magic. However, that confused Kanzaki and the shop owner. He was the manager of Brick Wharf and he was in charge of using large scale interception magic to destroy any invaders coming by sea. They doubted something that important would be left to someone like that, but…
“That’s what Alfar is for.”
“You have her take care of your work?”
“Yes, but I think of her more as a DNA computer than a secretary. By preparing a device to leave the complex and troublesome calculations to, I can carry out the higher level work I wouldn’t be able to do on my own. So yeah, my field of research ended up being useful after all.”
“…So this calculation device you’re so proud of betrayed you?” asked the shop owner in shock.
If Slappar and Alfar came into conflict, Slappar would have no chance because he could not use high level magic. It was the same as how the developer of a super computer would know everything about the computer but would not be able to defeat the computer in a simple calculation competition.
The tour guide girl raised her hand for some reason and then spoke.
“Umm, so why did Alfar get so mad at you?”
“I don’t know,” said Slappar with a shrug. “I thought I had supplied her with the bare minimum of safeties needed for a life form, but she may have gained a mentality that made her want something more. The only way to find out about that would be to ask Alfar herself.”
His words were calm but slightly cold.
From them, Kanzaki was able to imagine what the magician’s stance was.
“After all, she isn’t even human. It’s possible the desires that drive her actions are something unfathomable to us humans.”
Kanzaki rechecked the distance and route to Brick Wharf which lay beyond the thicket.
“The spiritual items and other equipment used to create Alfar are still within Brick Wharf and Alfar has the intelligence needed to use them. …That means we need to put an end to this before a magical life form even more dangerous than Alfar is created.”
“I see. Are you saying you would personally rather avoid creating and killing a life form for such a selfish reason?”
Kanzaki looked displeased.
Then Slappar cut in.
“Oh, right. One more thing. It may be bad to just kill Alfar.”
“Currently, Alfar is magically linked with the core of Brick Wharf in order to bring the facility’s interception system under her control. It’s possible she has put together some kind of danger. …For example, she could have set it so the magical constructions within Brick Wharf will be destroyed and made unusable when her own life functions stop,” Slappar said in the same tone as someone giving a pointer on how to cook. “If you truly want to regain control of Brick Wharf as a strategic point in the northern defense line, you should do so without killing Alfar. Once she has been incapacitated, allow me to check her over. As her creator, I will be able to immediately tell if she has applied any magical tricks to her physical body.”
As an invader, that was an unfortunate requirement, but Kanzaki was actually relieved. She may have been glad to have a logical reason to not have to kill.
“Damn softhearted girl,” the shop owner muttered under his breath before asking Kanzaki a question. “But how are you going to get close? Brick Wharf’s large scale interception spell is intended to be pointed out toward the sea or the sky where there are no obstructions, so we managed to get this close by traveling from cover to cover. However, if you get any closer, it’ll be able to detect you even behind cover and just blow you and the cover away. And we’re still 3000 meters away. Even with your Saintly legs, you might get hit before reaching Brick Wharf.”
“Brick Wharf’s system is a spell disturbance type, right?”
“Eh? Is it? So it sends the magician’s own magic out of control to cause damage from the inside? Well, I guess that would be the fastest way to take out a magician travelling by sea or air.”
“Yes. And not using any magic and simply walking toward Brick Wharf will not work. A magician refines their life force into magic power. When that invisible bombardment of interception magic hits its target magician, it forcibly changes their life force into magic power and sends it out of control. It does not matter if the magician is using magic or not.”
“You said it sends the magic out of control… When that happens, don’t your blood vessels randomly burst, damage is done to your nerves, and other terrible things happen to you?”
The tour guide trembled as she imagined it.
The shop owner looked back over at Kanzaki.
“So how are you going to pull this one off? Are you just going to accept that you’ll get damaged and strike a courageous bloody pose when you get there?”
“…Why do I have to do something manly like that?” Kanzaki sighed. “Whatever actual method it uses, a spell disturbance type attack will analyze what spells I specialize in and then send out the signal that will most effectively send my magic power out of control.”
“Basically, I just have to keep it from properly analyzing me in the first place.”
Kanzaki Kaori stood up from the short thicket.
She was just under 3000 meters from Brick Wharf. She stepped forward in that direction.
With the leg strength of a Saint, she could move faster than the speed of sound, but she did not rely on that speed. Instead, she slowly walked forward as if walking along a tightrope.
Of course, Brick Wharf’s large scale interception spell immediately reacted.
The ultra long range magic could accurately hit its enemy within a radius of 200 kilometers, so the giant invisible bombardment was accurately fired at Kanzaki Kaori.
It was a giant line of magic power with a diameter of over a meter.
That was the interception magic that could send any magician’s magic power out of control to cause damage internally. Depending on the situation, it could even hold enough power to tear the magician’s blood vessels and nerves to pieces.
“Hey, Kanzaki!! That was a direct hit! Are you okay!?”
Kanzaki looked nonchalant as she responded to the shop owner’s voice over her cell phone.
“Like I told you, this is no problem as long as I keep it from properly analyzing me.”
It had directly hit her.
But Kanzaki’s body was unscathed.
The reason was simple.
Brick Wharf’s interception magic analyzed what magic the magician was using and used the signal that would most effectively send the magician’s magic power out of control.
For Christian magic it used a Christian signal.
For Buddhist magic it used a Buddhist signal.
For Shinto magic it used a Shinto signal.
For each religion, it had a corresponding signal to use which would send the magic of the magician it struck out of control no matter what countermeasures were used.
That was how it normally worked.
However, the magic Kanzaki Kaori used was a bit different from normal Christian magic.
She used the magic of the Amakusa Church which was a fusion of Christian magic with other religions.
She used the spells of an organization that belonged to the Kakure Kirishitan who were persecuted during the Edo period in Japan. Due to their use of Shintoism and Buddhism as a front for their Christian church, they ended up constructing a unique style that fused those religions to the point of it being unclear what parts were camouflage and what parts were real.
Kanzaki could use Christian, Buddhist, and Shinto magic. Of course, that also meant she could use each separate type of magic power that was the source of their spells.
Brick Wharf would detect a Christian scent from Kanzaki and fire the corresponding interception magic. But in that time, Kanzaki would just switch her magic power to a Buddhist pattern. Even though the interception magic made for Christian magic struck Kanzaki, it did not do any damage.
After that, she just repeated the same pattern again and again.
When she could not use Christian magic, she used Buddhist magic, when she could not use Buddhist magic, she used Shinto magic, and when she could not use Shinto magic, she used Christian magic. By continually changing the pattern of her magic power, Kanzaki managed to neutralize the effects of Brick Wharf’s attacks.
Because she did not think she could avoid getting hit by relying on her speed, Kanzaki focused on controlling what was going on within her body and continued to change her type of magic power as she slowly walked forward.
Even while being hit by the invisible bombardment again and again, Kanzaki’s expression did not change.
The ineffectual attacks became a spray of magical power that scattered about around her.
After walking 3000 meters, Kanzaki reached Brick Wharf.
As its name suggested, Brick Wharf was a harbor with many buildings made of red bricks. The facility looked to be about 400 meters square. Large storage facilities and waiting areas for passengers lined the facility, but none of the large cranes and containers common in modern harbors were present.
(…Those facilities have not been used in a long time. It looks almost as if time has stopped.)
The buildings looked more like preserved cultural assets than old abandoned buildings. Someone had likely been maintaining them rather than just leaving them be. In fact, the entire facility seemed cleaner than one that was currently being used would be.
Once Kanzaki entered the facility, the bombardment from Brick Wharf stopped.
It may have had an automatic shutoff to prevent friendly fire or its user may have decided it was ineffective and was switching over to some other strategy.
Kanzaki brought her cell phone to her ear.
“I have made it inside. If I can destroy Brick Wharf’s interception equipment, you all can safely approach as well.”
“Ahh, no, don’t do that! That thing’s the core of the interception network preventing invaders from entering from the north. If you destroy it, the entire UK’s security grade will drop. How about you finish this with the least possible damage to the facility?”
“You say that, but you just want an excuse to stay there and not do anything, don’t you?”
“You’ve got that right. I’m not even suited for fighting in the first place. I just leave that kind of thing to you, our macho and muscular Saint.”
“…I object to being referred to as macho and muscular.”
“Then I’d like for our sexy and muscular Saint to do all sorts of things to me!!”
“I see. I’ll give you a good punch once this is all over, so prepare yourself.”
Kanzaki ignored the shop owner’s trembling shriek and approached a nearby building.
The facilities of Brick Wharf were not separated into individual buildings such as storage areas, waiting areas, or a lighthouse. Instead, all of the facilities were connected in one continuous brick structure. That fusion of multiple buildings made it look like a giant castle or a chaotically expanded downtown.
The door Kanzaki approached seemed to belong to a temporary lodging area for the crew of ships. The metal door was unlocked, but a single charm was placed connecting the door to the wall. It was made so opening the door would rip the charm.
(…That certainly is blatant.)
(That probably means it’s a fake.)
She checked around the door and found a small symbol drawn in marker on the back of the protruding portion of the doorknob. The symbol itself held no meaning, but when the knob was turned, it would match up with a different symbol on the center column of the knob creating a rune.
Kanzaki pulled a marker of the same color out of her pocket.
Just because she had found a trap was no reason to destroy it. Her opponent would detect that just like how gray static would inform security guards of a destroyed security camera.
Instead of destroying the rune trap, Kanzaki added an extra rune with her marker in order to prevent it from functioning properly. Even if she turned the knob, the alarm would not sound, but it would continue to send out the signal saying it was functioning properly.
“That should do it.”
After finishing her modification of the rune, Kanzaki turned the doorknob and entered.
The inside was quite spacious.
Perhaps because it had been built with a focus on the practical, the interior was made of rather cheap-looking stone. Something like a reception counter was located at the front and a map of the facility was displayed on the wall.
It was basically being used as it was during the Industrial Revolution, but some portions had clearly been remodeled. For example, it had electric lights and the map directly labeled things such as the Interception Magic Control Room and Magical Life Form Modification Room.
(I guess they saw no reason to hide anything since the facility has been made so normal people cannot get in.)
However, Kanzaki was not about to trust those labels.
In order to check where each and every room was, she looked left and right down the hallway stretching from the counter.
Kanzaki grabbed her cell phone.
“How well can Alfar adapt to her environment? Does she have the immunity needed to live one her own if she left the facility?”
“I’ve never tried it, so I don’t know. There was never any real reason to take her outside,” readily replied Slappar.
“Do you really not understand her thought patterns? Didn’t you create her?”
“Well…” Slappar said trailing off.
He may have been simulating it within his own head.
“Imagine a kitten that had never left the house ever since it was born. What do you think it would do if you opened up the front door before its eyes? Would its wild instincts make it curious or would its domesticated reason and experience make it afraid?”
“You can’t make a general answer to that, can you? All you can say is that it depends on the individual kitten. We’re talking about a life form that has a will and mind of its own. It is not so easily analyzed.”
“…You certainly didn’t see it coming when Alfar betrayed you,” pointed out the jeans shop owner.
Slappar gave no real response to that comment. He just continued speaking in the same tone of voice.
“However, I’m sure Alfar will protect that place with her life.”
“? Is that because this is her birthplace?”
“The reason isn’t so emotional. Simply put, Brick Wharf is the greatest collection of usable power for Alfar. Leaving will not gain her anything. She will do everything she can to defend that facility unless she truly intends to die.” Slappar said and continues speaking as casually as if he was making an additional order at a restaurant. “As I said before, it is possible Alfar is magically linked to Brick Wharf’s interception device so that the system will be destroyed if she dies. Defeat Alfar without killing her and then let me check her over.”
Why had Alfar taken over Brick Wharf in the first place?
She had to have had a reason to drive Slappar from Brick Wharf and take over the facility. Kanzaki had to look into what that reason was and possibly put a stop to it depending on what it was.
Just as she was thinking that…
“Who are you?” said a voice.
It sounded like the voice of a girl in her early teens.
Kanzaki frantically spun around. The voice had come from down the long passageway that was wrapped in darkness. However, Kanzaki was confused. Her eyesight was 8.0 in both eyes and she had a certain level of night vision ability. She was looking deep, deep into the passageway and yet she could see no sign of the person who should have been standing there.
She then heard the question once more.
“Who are you?”
Kanzaki narrowed her eyes once more.
She could see something like threads laid out through the darkness. Unlike the steel wires Kanzaki used in battle, these threads were very thin and made of something like silk.
“…Is that supposed to be a Tarnkappe?”
Originally, it would have been a large cloak. The wearer’s strength would be enhanced and their body would be made invisible. The person who had spoken must have analyzed and reconstructed its workings to turn it into a spiritual item in the form of narrow threads. Most likely, the threads laid out in the passageway created a magical screen like the film of a soap bubble and the person’s form was erased from the background.
The person reacted to Kanzaki’s words.
The person must have moved out from within the ring of strings because a human form suddenly appeared out of thin air.
It was a short girl.
She had long blonde hair and white skin. Her defining characteristic was her oddly long and narrow ears. Her clothes seemed to be made of cotton. Each small button on them was carved out of wood and there was not a single metal part.
She had a relatively well-featured face, but something felt incredibly off to Kanzaki.
She was not sure what caused her to feel that way.
The girl’s face was the same as a human’s and her bodily structure was the same as a human’s. She had two arms and two legs and five fingers or toes at the end of each. All of those things were completely normal, but they somehow seemed incredibly unnatural.
Kanzaki spoke the impression that came to her mind.
Kanzaki was a little shocked that the person who had taken over Brick Wharf was a small girl, but she was not human. That girl was an existence created by Slappar. Her apparent age meant nothing.
“Who are you?” repeated the short blonde girl once more without denying Kanzaki’s identification of her. “Not many people would be able to enter this place.”
“I am from Necessarius.”
Alfar took a step back.
“I assume you are here to return Brick Wharf’s defenses to normal, but I urge you not to. If you approach any further, great misfortune will befall you.”
Her words did not appear to have any hostility behind them.
However, that very lack of hostility made Kanzaki raise her guard further.
(Is this just how she is or did Slappar set her to be like this? She seems to be able to speak like a human, but…does she just have no hostility or can I not detect it because the process through which she feels emotions is too different from a human’s?)
“If this can be resolved through discussion, I have no need to draw my sword.”
“Words are not enough. I doubt you would be able to envision it properly.” Alfar silently narrowed her eyes. “Leave.”
That made Kanzaki even more uneasy because she could not grasp the girl’s emotions.
“I have taken control of this facility. There is nowhere for that man to return to and I do not intend to invite in anyone else. Anyone who tries to get in my way will have great misfortune befall them.”
“…Do you really think telling me that will be enough to make me leave? This is our facility. Brick Wharf’s interception magic is directly connected to the strength of the country’s security. If we do not regain control of the facility, dangerous elements will be invited in from other countries. I must prevent that from happening.”
“So you will come despite knowing it will bring you misfortune?”
“Sorry, but I have much more confidence than I would like when it comes to my good luck.”
This time, Alfar pointed her small palm toward Kanzaki with some clear intention.
“But I will not let any misfortune occur.”
Something jumped out.
It was a creature.
If you put a crocodile head on a giant dog’s body, you would have something similar to that creature.
(A magical life form!?)
While Alfar was a few dozen meters down the passageway, the crocodile-headed dog suddenly appeared from thin air only about 3 meters away and leapt straight for Kanzaki’s windpipe.
That affected her timing which brought the level of danger up by quite a bit.
“A connection with the Tarnkappe!?”
Alfar had used the spiritual item that eliminated a specific object from sight in order to hide the crocodile-headed dog.
A normal person would have had their throat ripped out in that one attack. Some expert acrobats could avoid a crossbow bolt aimed for their head, but even someone like that would have been killed. This was because the crocodile-headed dog was a ferocious life form. It did not head solely in a straight line like a crossbow bolt. It moved at high speed and made minor adjustments to match the movements of its target.
A surprise attack, speed, and adjustments.
With those three elements together, it would have been odd if Kanzaki did not have her throat ripped out.
However, Kanzaki Kaori was a Saint who could fight at speeds greater than the speed of sound.
With a roar, wind blew about.
Kanzaki did not evade. She had rationally decided to attack and bring down the creature instead.
(…A life form.)
Kanzaki’s hand reaching for her sword hesitated and she had enough time to change to an attack using the scabbard.
A dry sound rang out. She had swung the long scabbard around horizontally and slammed it horizontally into the crocodile-headed dog’s mouth. It acted similarly to the bit held in the mouth of a racehorse. The crocodile-headed dog instinctually closed its mouth on the scabbard and Kanzaki swung it upward.
She swung the scabbard in a half circle.
The scabbard forcefully flew to the floor slamming the crocodile-headed dog’s back into the floor. The action was similar to a judo throw.
A great sound that was mostly a shockwave exploded out and strength left the crocodile-headed dog. The scabbard slipped from its mouth.
Kanzaki looked away from the crocodile-headed dog on the floor and back toward Alfar.
At some point, she had disappeared.
Kanzaki narrowed her eyes and the no longer necessary silk threads floated down to the ground.
She had lost sight of Alfar.
As Kanzaki attempted to track her down while remaining on the lookout for traps, she suddenly heard a noise from within one of the rooms lining the passageway.
She opened the door and found a large room.
“…Is this a magical life form plant?”
Each individual device was a spherical glass container about 1 meter across. It was unclear how anything was put inside, but they were filled about a third of the way with dirt and the remaining space was filled with plants. The spherical glass containers had various different environments inside. One was like a forest, one was like a desert, one was like an icy continent, and one was like the depths of the ocean.
As Kanzaki looked over at the 20 or 30 glass spheres, Slappar spoke over her cell phone.
“The devices there are set to emulate the natural environment you want the life form to be born in. You artificially create a few unclassified phenomena you think will create the life form in the design you wish for.”
“So it starts with amino acids?”
“You could do that, but then you’d have to wait billions of years before your magical life form was complete.”
“I see,” Kanzaki muttered.
She then tapped on a nearby glass container with the back of her hand.
“So the three-headed cat and the deep sea poisonous snake in these containers are part of your collection?”
Kanzaki could tell that her tone of voice was naturally stiffening.
Most of the magical life forms in there likely had fangs and claws much more dangerous than any in the natural world. However, that was all they had. Most likely, a normal cat or dog would be stronger. The magical life forms were twisted and therefore would likely easily be killed by a problem that anything in the natural world would not find an issue at all.
But then Slappar, the man who had been doing research on that kind of thing, gave a response different from what Kanzaki had expected.
“…I don’t recognize those. As I told you, my objective was to get something that could perform my calculations for me. I had no interest in any life form other than Alfar, so I kept my focus away from just adding things onto animals.”
“So these were newly created by Alfar to increase her strength?”
“I don’t know. It would be faster to just ask Alfar. …But that’s a problem if true. Those devices are not meant to be used like that.”
In any case, if Alfar continued creating magical life forms, misfortune would befall the purposefully twisted monsters as well. Kanzaki had to quickly deal with Alfar.
Kanzaki left the magical life form plant, returned to the passageway, and readjusted her grip on the cell phone.
“Alfar saw me and chose to quickly flee. It is possible she has left Brick Wharf, but…”
“What would fleeing get her?” responded the jeans shop owner. “Alfar’s current main weapons are Brick Wharf’s interception magic and the magical life forms. If she loses those, she’ll be defenseless. If she was truly going to flee, wouldn’t she at least have increased her strength first by taking those magical life forms you saw with her?”
“So that means…”
“If she hasn’t made preparations to skip town, maybe she’s hiding somewhere in Brick Wharf waiting to get in a surprise attack.” The shop owner’s voice then lowered in tone. “(…But this really is an oddly structured incident. We don’t even know why Alfar drove her own creator out and holed up inside. The problem of the level of national security dropping due to Brick Wharf being occupied only affects us. I can’t see why Alfar would want to do this.)”
“It’s possible Alfar wasn’t able to calmly come up with a plan,” suggested Kanzaki.
“Well…” Kanzaki trailed off for a second. “I don’t want to think this, but she might have driven Slappar out after receiving inhuman treatment from him.”
“I don’t know.” Kanzaki had felt a little guilty for even suggesting it, but the shop owner sounded skeptical. “If he was planning to do that kind of thing to Alfar when he created her, don’t you think he would have added in a little insurance when he was creating her? He would just have to set her mentality so she was unable to feel hatred toward her master.”
“I suppose, but…”
“…The reason we can’t tell what the enemy is after might be because the enemy is Alfar. Her reasons may be something we just can’t understand as humans.”
“What, are you the type of person that loves dressing cats or dogs up in clothes? Only the humans enjoy that kind of thing. The pets are certainly not enjoying it,” the shop owner said sounding annoyed. “Pet lovers always say they have a strong emotional connection with their pet or that their pet loves them, but that isn’t true. The pets are just running on a predatory program that leads them to the safest and most efficient means of getting food. Otherwise, abandoned dogs would not become so attached to their new owners. In Japan, there’s a story about a dog named Hachiko, but that can be explained by the dog’s predatory program not correctly recognizing that its owner was dead. …There is a gap between humans and other creatures. Personally though, I wish it really was that the dog was just continuing to hope that his owner was eventually going to come back.”
“So you’re saying even if Alfar does have a logical and simple reason for her actions, we cannot understand or recognize it as humans?”
“If we don’t know what the enemy is after, it raises the danger of the enemy tripping us up. You might need to think more about the possibility of a trap.”
After hearing that, Kanzaki leaned against the wall of the passageway and thought for a bit.
The shop owner had a point.
A human like her trying to guess how Alfar’s mind worked could be similar to a pet lover forcing their dog to wear clothes.
(…Is all this really so complicated?)
All of Alfar’s strength was held within Brick Wharf.
Fleeing from the facility would mean she would lose all of her strength and be easily captured.
That meant Alfar was stuck.
Now that Kanzaki Kaori, one of the world’s fewer than 20 Saints, was inside the facility, she was cornered.
Given that, Alfar’s initial rebellion against Slappar did not seem logical. It had done nothing but lead her to that predicament.
That was how it looked at first glance.
But Kanzaki thought about a different, more human-like motive.
(If Alfar was being treated unreasonably, she may have wanted to escape from that situation. However, she could not escape on her own, so she might have taken over Brick Wharf so that she could get help from a foreign magic group. If I just think about this in an exceedingly human way, that is a definite possibility, but…)
Kanzaki was conflicted whether she should mention that possibility to the shop owner, but then she noticed something.
The cell phone in her hand had gone completely silent.
It was not just an issue with the electromagnetic signal. She had not actually been using the cell phone to speak to the others. A sticker-shaped charm stuck to the back of the phone had transmitted the voices using small vibrations.
That spell had been cut off.
And it had been done so secretly Kanzaki had not even noticed at first despite being the user of the spell.
She gathered a slight bit of power in her brow and the surrounding air seemed to freeze over.
No, it did not just seem to freeze over.
The wall Kanzaki was leaning against turned faintly white. A circle with a radius of about a meter had turned white. She felt cold. It was actually an exceedingly fine…
Just after that thought came to mind, she denied it. The following three things almost reflexively floated to the top of her mind:
A magical life form from Norse mythology.
Magic using text carved in stone.
But Kanzaki Kaori was an instant too slow in arriving at the correct answer.
Immediately afterwards, something activated and Kanzaki’s body was swallowed up by an explosive blast.
While hiding in the thicket a distance from Brick Wharf, the jeans shop owner lightly shook his cell phone.
(…It cut out?)
He frowned and thought of two possibilities.
The first was that someone had destroyed the spell Kanzaki had constructed.
The second was that Brick Wharf’s defensive walls had been strengthened obstructing the signal from inside.
Either way, something was wrong. The shop owner stuck just his head out of the thicket and looked toward Brick Wharf. It was about 3000 meters away.
The tour guide girl then seemed to notice that the shop owner was acting oddly.
“(…Wait, what are you doing? If you stick out any further Brick Wharf’s interception magic will fire on you!)”
“(…It looks like this situation has gotten to be a real pain in the ass, so I’ll be heading to Brick Wharf.)”
“(…You definitely can’t do that!! You can’t avoid it like Kanzaki, right? How many times do you think you’ll get hit before you make it 3000 mete—ah, wait! Why did you just steal my report!?)”
The shop owner ignored the frantic tour guide and started flipping through some parchments.
“(…So it can lock onto 50 targets at a time and it can attack 20 of those in an instant. In that case, I might be able to trick it by firing some dummy spiritual items. How many Man Eagle shirts do I have with me?)”
While muttering to himself, the shop owner rummaged through his bag. He pulled out a strange shirt with flint covering the lining and then noticed someone’s presence.
Slappar, the magician who had created Alfar, was staring at him.
The man may have wanted to help, but the shop owner was not going to take him up on the offer if so. He relied on Alfar because he could not use combat magic and then Alfar had betrayed him. It may not have been fair, but the shop owner could not get rid of his poor impression of the man.
He then heard a whistling noise.
It sounded like a cold winter wind entering through a gap in a poorly built door. The shop owner realized it was coming from Slappar’s mouth and…
“That breathing technique…why are you refining your life force into magic power…!?”
“When I heard a Saint was coming, I thought this would all be resolved much more easily.”
The shop owner tried to bring up his guard, but it was too late.
Slappar held out his palm and a strange white mist covered his fingertips.
“It looks like this situation has gotten to be a real pain in the ass, so I think I’ll be heading to Brick Wharf. …And the thing I ordered from an unrelated normal person seems to have finally arrived.”
A large object was approaching Slappar as he grinned.
It was a tanker truck.
The passageway within Brick Wharf was covered in crimson flames.
Even the places the flames did not reach directly were assaulted by a thick wall of heat. A blonde girl with oddly long ears stood completely still amid that air that would destroy one’s organs just by breathing it in.
She was Alfar.
“I do not care where you go or what you do,” the small girl said ignoring the hot blast.
The reason she did not even think of the possibility of taking damage may have been because she was constructed differently from a normal living creature.
“But it was a mistake to come into contact with those within the second factory. You would have been better off if you had realized that I can feel wrath just like humans.”
Black smoke struck the stone ceiling and slowly spread out.
Alfar looked around the area and gave a small command under her breath. The sound of a ventilation fan blowing suddenly became audible and the harmful smoke was quickly sucked away.
In order to check on the body, Alfar started to get rid of the magical flames she had created, but her slender fingertips suddenly froze.
With a roar, the sea of flames that had taken over the area were blown out in an instant.
Kanzaki Kaori stood there just as she had before the surprise attack. Not even a single one of her hairs was singed. However, multiple wires were strung up around her. Similar to a string figure, the crossing lines of the wires created a three dimensional magic circle which had prevented the flames and heat from entering.
“So that was rune magic.”
Alfar looked surprised and Kanzaki pointed toward the wall next to her with the wires still spread out.
A large number of water drops were on the wall.
That was the area that had been covered in white frozen mist before.
“Just like other crystals, ice crystals have a lot of straight line divisions. Snow is also crystallized water and I have heard that it can have so many different designs because of the effects of dust in the air.”
The two of them faced off at a distance of about 30 meters.
Alfar remained silent and Kanzaki continued speaking.
“By scattering the fine particles making up the dust and spraying supercooled water over it, you can briefly create ice crystals in the shape you want. …Runes would be the most compatible with that as they can be constructed with only straight lines. If all you need are straight lines, you can create it with just ice crystals.”
In rune magic, the type of rune changed the type of magic being fired. That also meant one’s enemy could figure out what magic was coming next if they could read the runes. By creating the runes out of microscopic ice crystals, there was no danger of them being read with the naked eye without some kind of special measures being taken beforehand. Also, that method allowed many runes to be scattered at once which increased the power of the attack.
That method was killing two birds with one stone.
Kanzaki had quickly noticed something was wrong due to the environment and the season, but that method could be set up like a landmine if used outside during the winter.
“Using ice as a material is a double-edged sword,” Kanzaki said with her voice as sharp as ice. “Rune magic loses its effectiveness once the runes have been destroyed. If they are deeply carved into wood or stone, that’s one thing, but fragile and short-lived ice is easily destroyed. For example, your carefully calculated runes can be melted into mere water droplets by pressing your palm against them.”
“…You actually used friction, didn’t you? Snow and mist will strike something, melt, and then bind together in a different form. You used your wires to create a large amount of frictional heat and melted the surface so my precise runes would reform into a different design.”
“It was mostly random. It was not enough to completely eliminate the flames.”
On a real battlefield, good luck did not mean anything on its own. However, when it was supported by great strength, good luck could be nightmarishly effective when used as the final push.
Alfar frowned at Kanzaki’s strength that was so deeply carved with her awareness of her own uncertain “good luck”. The small girl then tried to fall back.
Kanzaki pursued her.
She pursued her with words rather than a simple blade.
“Are you that upset that I saw those magical life forms because you created them?”
Kanzaki unhesitatingly continued speaking.
“Even though they were created in a twisted manner, do you love them as your own children? Or do you feel guilty that you created them solely to supplement your own strength? Can you answer me that?”
The air around Alfar seemed to burn.
This time, she had not caused some magical change to occur. Alfar’s emotions were simply so strong that they gave that illusion.
“I did not create them,” Alfar said while barely moving her lips. “The plants and animals around me merely became twisted on their own.”
Kanzaki frowned and Alfar raised her slender, white hand.
Her completely normal hand.
However, it was different from a normal life form due to what it was made from.
“The workings of the bodies of all plants and animals in this world change to match their environment. Some change to protect themselves from a natural enemy. Some change to more efficiently capture their prey. Some change to resist the heat or the cold. Some change to resist tremendous water pressure or to breathe sulfur in a place with no oxygen. …There are many different examples, but no plant or animal evolves all on its own. Functionality is added or refined based on the environment that surrounds it.” Alfar pressed her small palm against her chest. “So what if an ‘environment’ that does not exist on the earth was to come into contact with these plants and animals?”
Kanzaki thought her breathing would stop.
She understood what Alfar was trying to say.
“The path of evolution greatly changes. In response to me, an ‘environment’ that does not exist on the earth, the forms of completely normal plants and animals become rapidly twisted. Insects see me as a natural enemy and try to defend themselves and plants determine that I might be able to take their seeds far away. The intention and method are different in each case, but it is clear that the design of plants and animals changes just from my being near them.”
Even a veteran warrior like her could tell that her throat was going dry due to tension.
“The creatures in the glass containers in what you called the second factory are…?”
“They are plants and animals that were inside Brick Wharf. A cat named Bailey, a wild snake, and insects began to become twisted, so I put them within the containers. I do not know how distorted they would have become if I had not done so. At any rate, this is a part of my nature. What occurs is more of a sudden change due to extreme conditions than the usually slow changes of evolution, so their designs change in no time at all.” Alfar shook her head. “And it does not end there. The plants and animals that change due to me have begun to cause other plants and animals to distort in the same way. If that spreads beyond a certain point, no one will be able to stop it. All plants and animals in the world will be forcibly twisted and no creatures will retain their original form.”
All living things had changed over a long period of time according to natural selection in order to deal with the various areas of the world.
Alfar’s forced evolution ignored that kind of thing, so it would destroy the optimized balance that had been created within earth’s environment. That meant they could be turned into creatures to which earth’s environment was like a deadly poison.
“I took control of Brick Wharf in order to determine if the evolution would stabilize so that the creatures would no longer change past a certain point even while being near me for long periods of time. Currently, the only result is some that do not cause forced evolution in a secondary or tertiary plant or animal. However, those convenient ones are not even 1% of the whole. In most of them, the evolution continues without end.”
As Alfar spoke, she looked at Kanzaki with pitying eyes.
“And humans are no exception when it comes to these changes.”
Alfar had been born within one of the spherical glass containers inside Brick Wharf.
Slappar had color coded the map of Brick Wharf to show what areas Alfar could go in and what areas she could not. Alfar and Slappar could not stay in the same room and they had to speak through thick glass.
There had been a good reason for that.
She had not been particularly dissatisfied with her birth or living environment. Slappar, her creator, had occasionally spoken of the wide world outside, but Alfar had been satisfied with just what was within her reach.
But then there had been a change.
It had started with a creature known as a cat. It had been a very curious creature of a breed known as a ragdoll. He seemed to have been a pet. He was named Bailey and had remained on the other side of the thick glass just like Slappar so Alfar could not touch him.
Slappar had given a rare troubled expression when she had said she wanted to touch the cat.
A few days later, Slappar had given her a stuffed animal.
It was a stuffed cat that looked a lot like Bailey. Its long fluffy fur was of such high quality that she had wondered if a real cat felt the same way. Also, the stuffed cat moved like Bailey. It seemed to have a moving framework inside beneath the cotton.
But it was not Bailey.
As she had walked through the color coded area of Brick Wharf, she had suddenly started to wonder if she would be able to meet Bailey if she were to leave that designated area. She wondered if she would get to meet all sorts of large creatures like Bailey.
If Alfar had been a mere spiritual item, she would never have thought about leaving the color coded area.
But she was a magical life form. She was a living creature.
Due to that, Alfar made a decision of her own free will and took the first step.
She did however remain within Brick Wharf.
She did not leave the building and head out into the vast world outside.
She merely headed to a different room in the same facility.
She just wanted to meet Bailey the cat and see if he felt as nice as or even nicer than the stuffed cat.
Alfar had come across some strange creatures.
A giant centipede with human fingers in place of its legs had been crawling along the wall.
A mass of flesh with eyeballs crammed around it like grapes had been squirming on the ground.
A four-legged creature with a head in front, back, left, and right, with legs stocking out in ridiculous directions, and that could barely support its own weight had been there.
She had guessed that she would find all sorts of creatures outside.
But those grotesque colors had not been what she had expected. They were completely different from Bailey the cat. It may have been unfair to creatures that were born that way, but Alfar had thought of them as monsters.
Scared, Alfar had run away.
The color coded map disappeared from her head. She had no idea if she was running through somewhere she should be or not.
Alfar had been found trembling in a corner of a small room by Bailey the ragdoll cat. The cat had looked at Alfar with its large blue eyes and tilted its head to the side slightly. It had looked as if it were asking what was wrong.
When she had first hesitantly touched Bailey, he had felt so warm tears flowed from her eyes.
That comfort had not lasted long.
In reality, it may have lasted for hours.
But then something had changed.
Bailey’s breathing had become erratic. The height of his left and right eyes had wavered. When she had realized the shape of his face was beginning to crumble, Alfar had once again been assaulted by fear. It had reminded her of the monstrous creatures she had seen before. She had wondered if Bailey was just another one of those monsters in disguise.
But that was not it.
Even as his face and body were collapsing, Bailey had continued to stare at Alfar with his large blue eyes. The cat had seemed to be asking her what was wrong with its head cocked to the side. He had seemed to be reading Alfar’s emotions and trying to comfort her.
Those actions had clearly been Bailey’s.
Bailey had been turning into something else. Alfar had wondered why. She had thought and thought and thought…and then she had been struck with a possibility.
Alfar had recalled that Slappar had told her not to leave the color coded area.
What if that had been because doing so would cause that to happen?
Is this happening to everyone because of me?
Will even my creator Slappar become like this if nothing is done?
Alfar had then screamed.
She had grabbed Bailey in both arms as he continued to change by the instant and she had walked through the facility. She had wanted to run, but with the great turmoil in her head, walking was all she could manage. Alfar had headed for the room she had been born in. She had put Bailey inside one of the spherical glass containers in that room and had finally collapsed to the floor once she had seen that the changes had at least temporarily stopped. Bailey had already grown two extra heads.
Alfar had then read a report left in the same room.
From it, she had learned of her special characteristics and what Slappar had created her for.
She had had enough.
She had not wanted to turn even one more living thing into a monster.
That was why she had distanced herself from all living things.
She had wanted to die, but that would not have been enough. Alfar unconditionally caused changes in all living things around her. The report had said that characteristic would remain to a certain extent even in her corpse.
Apparently, Alfar had been magically reconstructed from the fossil of some kind of animal. That meant she would not be completely harmless even as a corpse of flesh and bone. Unless she was completely returned to being a fossil, any animal that came into contact with her would be changed.
In that case, there was only one thing she could do.
Luckily, it seemed the outer walls of Brick Wharf blocked this characteristic of Alfar’s to a certain extent. That was why she had first had to get all living things away from the building. Then, she had started searching for a way to completely return her corpse to a fossil. She had thought she could just leave her corpse and let it decompose, but apparently the decomposition of a body required the help of a different life form. Also, bones and fossils were different things. Her bones would still cause the irregular changes to occur, so that method would not work. She had to find a different method.
In truth, Alfar had been afraid.
She had been so afraid she had not known what to do.
But Bailey had continued to look at her with his blue eyes from within the spherical glass container.
His eyes had seemed to be asking her what was wrong.
Most likely, Bailey would never return to being a normal ragdoll now that he had three heads. It was not the same as an injury or a disease. Once something evolved to a new species on a genetic level, no one could conveniently “devolve” it to a previous point.
Alfar had determined that she would never again bring Bailey’s fate to another living thing.
Kanzaki recalled the cat with extra heads she had seen in one of the spherical glass containers and almost shuddered.
The issue was not whether Alfar had good intentions or not.
The danger currently drawing near Kanzaki had gone beyond the level where that applied.
Without thinking, Kanzaki took a step backwards as Alfar looked at her with calm eyes.
“I believe it took Bailey the cat three or four hours before he started to change. I will not stop you if you flee, but if you do not want to be put in one of those containers, you should leave soon.”
Alfar’s objective was now clear.
She simply did not want the plants and animals around her to become twisted.
For that reason, she had driven out her master Slappar and then had not left Brick Wharf herself.
“Evolution is normally a very long process that takes tens of thousands of years,” said Kanzaki as she stepped back further. “Even if you supply a special ‘environment’, I do not think a living thing’s appearance and functioning would change that greatly in just half a day.”
Alfar trailed off.
However, the answer came from somewhere else without Kanzaki having to press the magical life form for it.
“Isn’t that obvious? It’s because she was made that way from the beginning.”
A white mist spread around.
It covered a much wider range than the one Alfar had created.
And a large amount of powerful acid headed for Kanzaki.
The great amount of liquid ignored the straight passageway and headed straight through the wall to the side seeming to melt it. There was enough of it that Kanzaki would drown…or even be crushed by it even if it was only water.
With an explosive noise, the literally tons of acid split apart on its own before striking Kanzaki.
“Wah hah. Wow. The method was different from Moses’s parting of the sea, but you still must have read my rune in time. Uruz was originally the remains left over after smelting iron. I then added on the meaning of a powerful acid to the concept of melting iron, but maybe you used those steel wires or something to lead it.”
Hearing that voice, Kanzaki quickly moved away from the melted wall.
Someone stepped in through the wall he had melted. He must have had some kind of protection against it because he ignored the puddles of acid on the floor around the melted wall. Kanzaki could hear his wet footsteps.
Alfar’s expression changed.
However, that was not too surprising.
The intruder was her creator, Slappar.
Kanzaki looked over at Slappar once more.
He should have been with the jeans shop owner and the tour guide girl. If he had taken any suspicious actions on his own, the other two would have at least tried to stop him, but…
Slappar must have sensed something from Kanzaki silence because he lightly shook his index finger.
“I didn’t kill them.”
Kanzaki’s eyes narrowed ever so slightly.
The magician’s words continued.
“But that isn’t because I was feeling merciful. It seems that man has good judgment. I attacked at close range, but I was not able to get in a fatal wound. I’m rather surprised to be honest.”
On the surface, those were words of praise, but there was clear scorn in his tone.
Kanzaki slowly moved her lips and asked a question.
“Why did you go to that much effort to get here?”
“Y’know, I was planning to get in your way at some point, but the timing never really worked out. But at least you followed my instructions and didn’t kill Alfar. It’s unclear whether another one of her could be created with the same effects even following the exact same plans. Basically, I can’t just make a new one if I lose her.”
The original master of Brick Wharf was much more at home there than Alfar.
“Even if there was an abnormal ‘deep forest’ ecosystem where a natural Alfar would live, it would not have this special ability to cause forced evolution in other animals over just a couple of hours. If it did, all life forms on earth would have been changed. That major difference from other living things only showed itself as a result of my design. However, I do not know exactly what I did to make it show itself. You must rely on luck a bit when trying to create such a convenient life form.”
Before, Slappar had warned that Alfar might be linked to Brick Wharf’s interception system so her death would destroy the system. However, that may have been nothing more than a bluff.
A bluff to prevent Alfar from being destroyed by a Saint.
“You said you cannot use magic that is too complex…”
“Yes, that’s why I made this simple. I only use one type of rune. I just created a lot of them with supercooled water and fine particles and then cover for the inferiority of my magic with overwhelming numbers. They may not have much of an effect, but what other magician uses over 10,000 runes at once? Normally, you would build a temple instead of wasting that many.”
Alfar seemed to be carefully observing Slappar, but the magician did not even turn in her direction. He most likely understood the differences in their abilities. He then began speaking again in a joking manner.
“It would have been simple to just kill her to stop her, but she was simply too valuable. As I said, I would not necessarily get the same thing if I made another following the same plans. Meanwhile, she had messed with Brick Wharf’s interception magic, so I had no choice but to report it to Necessarius. So I could spread false information at the same time, I ‘fled’ from Brick Wharf and met up with you.”
Kanzaki glared back at Slappar.
That meant his goal in creating Alfar was not just as something to help with his magical calculations.
“I don’t have any grand aspirations or anything. I don’t intend to distort all living things in the world and I don’t intend to take over the world with an army of battle chimeras. Those things just sound like a pain in the ass. My goal is quite simple,” the magician said sounding bored. “I want to evolve.”
His words would have sounded vague if Alfar had not been there.
“As I told you before, I cannot construct magic with complexity above a certain level. No matter what methods are used or how much work is put into developing a cure, nothing can be done about that. That is why I started working on Alfar. If my very base as a living being is changed, I might be able to overcome my weakness.”
“…Even if you lose your humanity and destroy the balance of living things as a result?”
“Even though this does not just affect the present but affects the ecosystem for hundreds if not thousands of years to come?”
“Why even think about that?”
Hearing that response, Kanzaki naturally reached for the handle of her sword.
At that distance, she only needed an instant.
The puddles of acid on the floor around him were the main issue, but as a Saint, she could jump about 20 meters if she wanted to. It was perfectly possibly for her to attack him while practically flying.
However, Slappar’s expression did not change.
And he was most likely well aware what a Saint was.
“But I should warn you that it is useless. Do you really think I would attack without making any preparations?”
As he spoke, the magician pointed toward the melted wall.
Kanzaki could not see from her position.
With a movement of her fingertips, she used her wires to slice a rectangular hole in the passageway wall and finally realized what Slappar was talking about.
White mist was spreading across the area.
As if snow had fallen and accumulated within Brick Wharf’s grounds, the ground, the building walls, and the ceilings had changed color slightly. Most likely, all of it contained the artificially created microscopic runes. They had to number in the millions, billions…no possibly even trillions. She could not even imagine how many runes there had to be in all.
“I had to call in a tanker truck used to carry liquid oxygen in order to prepare enough supercooled water. Even then, it took a lot of effort to disseminate it across such a large facility.”
Each individual one was exceedingly weak and had no more strength than a push of a finger.
But when they numbered in the thousands, millions, billions, or trillions, they could hold a great power. Even a Saint like Kanzaki who had overwhelming power on her own could easily be worn down by numbers that great.
She sensed danger in the situation before her and had the following thought at the same time.
(He can produce this much power even with his inability to construct complex magic. Just how powerful a magician would he be if he truly managed to use Alfar to overcome that weakness?)
After going that far for his goal, it seemed unlikely Slappar would stop after obtaining his first goal of evolution. Once he accomplished one goal, he would move on to the next. Once he accomplished that next one, he would move on to yet another. If the damages would expand seemingly infinitely in the process, Kanzaki truly had to stop that magician.
Kanzaki glanced over at Alfar.
That magical life form had once rebelled against her creator in order to protect him. She had been acting in order to protect Slappar. If that magician gave her an order, it was highly likely she would become an enemy too, but…
“Saint, while I am free, let me say one thing,” Alfar said while looking Kanzaki straight in the eye. “The way to stop him is very simple: kill.”
The magician’s mouth reflexively formed a smile upon hearing the girl’s beautiful voice. It may have been because the words were coming from the magical life form he had worked so hard to create.
That magician only used Alfar as a tool.
However, Alfar may have wanted to only be used as a tool.
Kanzaki said nothing.
While saying nothing, she clearly gripped her sword.
However, Slappar’s body relaxed. He was of course still on guard, but he was confident that he would not be easily defeated. He felt he could counter any attack coming his way and then take Kanzaki out.
The dull sound of something being sliced exploded out within Brick Wharf.
A distance of 20 meters lay between Kanzaki Kaori and Slappar.
However, that did not matter.
Instead of wielding her sword, she manipulated the wires in her hand in order to hide what she was doing. The seven almost invisibly thin and sharp wires followed the motions of Kanzaki’s fingertips and accurately attacked her target.
A light scrape ran along Slappar’s cheek.
A few drops of blood spilled out, but his expression did not change.
However, Kanzaki’s target had not been Slappar.
It had been the Alfar girl who stood behind him.
The Alfar girl looked down at her body. A large wound ran diagonally along her upper body. An instant later, a great amount of blood burst out and she limply collapsed to the ground.
“She told me,” Kanzaki said with a calm expression and a coldhearted voice, “that all I had to do to stop you was to kill.”
To the magician who could not construct magic beyond a certain level of complexity, being “intentionally evolved” by Alfar was his last hope. And due to the delicacy of the plan, he could not necessarily create another Alfar with the same effects even by following the plans he had used before.
What was the most effective way of destroying that persistent magician’s plan?
The answer was simple.
Just rob him of the irreplaceable Alfar before his eyes.
Slappar twisted his body, checked on the disaster that had befallen Alfar, and froze up.
Suddenly, an unpleasant noise came from down at Slappar’s feet.
He had been preventing the puddles of acid from affecting him in some way, but the spell seemed to have gone away. Something like smoke started floating up from the bottoms of his feet.
The magician showed no sign of caring.
He had a few different options at that point.
One of those options had to have been to use some prearranged trap to give in to his anger and kill Kanzaki.
However, he did not do so.
There was no point in doing so.
After all, the reason behind everything the magician had been doing had been centered on his final hope that was Alfar. He had been unable to stop her death and he would likely be unable to carry out the delicate evolutionary adjustments he wanted with only her corpse.
Now that he had lost his last hope so easily, that young man fell to his knees. His knees landed directly on the acid. His clothes and skin started to burn, but his expression did not change. In fact, the muscles in his face were not moving at all.
Kanzaki must not have been able to watch that because she approached the magician at high speed. The puddles did not spread around evenly. She stepped only on the slight areas that had no acid, grabbed the magician by the collar, and threw him as hard as she could. That human body flew over 10 meters as if it were a small doll.
“Please do not die so easily,” Kanzaki said sounding annoyed. “We will be the ones to decide on your punishment.”
The magician lying on the ground gave no response.
Slappar had lost all purpose in life and he continually muttered words that held no meaning for anyone but himself.
“Well?” asked the jeans shop owner sounding bored.
He was gripping the wheel of an ecological car that looked like a classic car but was actually an electric car. Their job in Scotland was over, so they were on their way back to London.
The shop owner had a bruise on his cheek.
“I’m satisfied with running a small jeans shop in a corner of London and making just enough money to support my day to day life. I swear. So why did it end up like this!? That damn magician tried to kill me!! He’s part of Necessarius, right? I’m in my rights as one of the normal people you should be protecting to resent you over that, right!?”
“If you are able to shout that much after receiving a serious attack from a professional magician, there does not seem to be a problem. And can we really call you a normal person after you had enough leeway to protect the tour guide?”
“Oh, come on. Is this the thanks I get for feeling a bit of volunteerism every now and then!?”
The shop owner continued to yell, but Kanzaki and the tour guide did not give him a proper response.
With tears welling up in his eyes, the shop owner glanced at the back seat through the rearview mirror and asked them a question.
“…By the way, what are you planning to do about Alfar?”
“I went out of my way to prepare fake blood with which to fool her creator, so it would be irresponsible to just leave her,” Kanzaki responded smoothly.
There were a few different styles of rune magic, but most of the time, it was carried out with the process of deciding where to carve each rune, actually carving the runes, and activating the spell by pouring blood or some other dye onto the runes.
Kanzaki had gone with the method of dying the carved rune with blood.
She had used her wires to carve exceedingly shallow marks in Alfar’s body and constructed a magical trick to make it appear that blood was erupting out.
The tour guide girl looked impressed.
“Yes, if you see someone cut straight from her shoulder to her side, spew a red liquid all over the place, and then collapse, you would think she was dead, wouldn’t you? But from what I heard, you were a pretty good distance away.”
“In modern warfare, the methods of using runes have been simplified so they can be carried out quickly. I know of a magician that mass produces runes with a copier. In older times, my method might have been suspected as being a trick from the moment blood or some kind of dye flew out from the grooves I had carved.”
She had been up against a magician who had thoroughly arranged a method of using rune magic by constructing the runes with supercooled water and ice crystals. It was possible that he had forgotten such a basic fact because he was so used to using rune magic.
However, even after hearing the results, the shop owner still seemed in a bit of a bad mood.
“And where did you get this dye?”
“It was your own blood, wasn’t it? You used it up almost to the lethal level, didn’t you? We’re heading to a hospital later. You can get a normal blood transfusion despite being a Saint, right?”
Some Saints were born with special healing properties to their blood, so they could not receive a blood transfusion. However, Kanzaki was not that kind of Saint.
Kanzaki and the others got into a dispute over that, but their conversation suddenly stopped. Alfar had woken up in the back seat.
At first, she seemed uneasy because she did not know where she was, but then she looked uncomfortable when she realized she was wearing thick jeans that did not suit her at all.
Kanzaki smoothly said, “That is a type of spiritual item. I am sure I do not need to explain what it does or what it is sealing.”
“It’s just temporary though. In fact, that isn’t even how it’s supposed to be used. I had to make a few improvisations and resew it together like this, but this is at a level that mere methods of sewing aren’t going to cut it.”
Perhaps in order to match Alfar’s personality, the metal buttons and fasteners had been removed and replaced with new-looking ones made of wood.
The car was metal, but she did not show much of a rejection toward her surroundings. The jeans may have suppressed the reaction to metal as well as providing a resistance to her “evolution”.
She knew it was pointless, but she tried to get as much distance from her surroundings as she could within the small car before asking a question cautiously.
“…I told you to kill me back then. Did my meaning not get across?”
“Hm. Well, if that is what you meant, then I must have made a mistake,” Kanzaki responded not seeming to especially care.
Since he knew that she had used up her own blood almost to the lethal amount, the shop owner almost clicked his tongue, but he suppressed that urge with the power of reason.
“…What will happen to me now?”
“Necessarius has a research facility in one of the many castle ruins in the Lake District. There are records of magical life forms being created up to the beginning of the 20th century, so they should be able to isolate you and care for you properly. We will prevent you from having the kind of serious effect on the ecosystem you fear. Another team will soon gather the other animals within Brick Wharf.”
“A research facility…So they will be expecting something from me.”
Alfar looked confused and Kanzaki shrugged before responding.
“If we did not call it that, we could not use national facilities. And we may need those to develop a spiritual item that can completely suppress that evolution of yours.”