Clash of Hexennacht:Volume1 Chapter 2
Chapter 2: The Two Meet
“Men, we’re allowed to legally touch her!”
“Commander, she’s allowed to illegally fight back!”
In Kagami’s mind, combat was no easy task.
To fight, one needed the appropriate skills such as decision-making and a powerful build. On top of that, one had to train and train some more.
After that, one needed equipment, to maintain that equipment, to learn how to use it, and to continue training with it.
But after spending years of effort and lots of money, one would earn one of two things: victory or defeat. One wrong step and death was even possible.
…The risk is great.
However, there was occasionally reason enough to take on that risk.
“Peace and safety. The acquisition and preservation thereof. Does your attempt to eliminate me come from that desire for stability? …Most notably from the preservation of order, I would assume.”
Her question was answered with sparks.
Armored men stood before her. About half of them had collapsed, but the remaining ones were quite skilled.
Even now, they were attacking her with giant jitte-shaped weapons.
“Who the hell are you!?”
“I believe I already named myself. But I am new to this place.”
“You are attempting to capture a small creature and you are attacking a newcomer. I too feel a desire to play with an adorable little life when I come across one, so I am not about to hand it over. Is that not how you feel?”
“Is this any time for that!?”
“It is!!” declared Kagami. “I was showing my love for this small animal, but you suddenly attacked us! So you have an obligation to answer my questions about small animals!”
“Do you like small animals?” asked Kagami even as the attacks sent sparks flying from the giant sword in her hands. “Aren’t dogs, cats, and even rodents great? Cats are especially ideal. You know the wonderful feeling when you crouch down in front of them and they interact with you, don’t you?”
“D-dammit! So what if I do!?”
“Then,” she said. “I saw it in the newspaper, but it seems people have started playing with their cats by creating frames on the floor for them to climb inside.”
“So what!? I’ve never done that!”
“That is not what I was trying to say.”
Their weapons were locked together and Kagami lightly pulled hers back and spoke quietly.
“When the cat refuses to enter the frame, you feel like picking it up and putting it inside yourself, but that would just be rude, wouldn’t it?”
“And when small animals do what we want, we sometimes count it as our own accomplishment. …That is wrong, isn’t it?”
“W-what does that-…”
He never managed to get out the word “matter”.
His weapon burst into scattering light.
In that instant, his servant was tossed into the space his weapon had occupied.
It was a light spirit. The small ball was immediately returned to the spell circle that was rotating in midair. Kagami’s sword had been locked with that man’s weapon, but that weapon was gone now.
Kagami spoke as she swung her own weapon through.
“Your weapons are an alternate use of those things you call servants, but as weapons, they are based on your own belief. When faced with a contradiction, they cannot maintain their form.”
She made a slashing strike. Except this was a sword with a cannon encased inside. The first shot embedded in her opponent’s armor and destroyed it as he was sent flying back.
…I have to avoid slamming them into the ground.
She had no intention of killing them.
She had no intention of losing them.
There was another opponent who would force her hand as far as that was concerned.
But for now…
“Let me ask.”
Kagami watched her opponents’ movements. They quickly stepped forward to suppress her in waves, so she continued attacking as she asked a question.
Kagami held her five meter sword and observed the approaching enemies.
“These are made of ether. They use a servant and they take training, knowledge, and – most importantly – belief to use. Their biggest advantage is…”
She looked to her enemy and their three meter weapons created with the same system. No, her own weapon had simply been created by copying how their weapons had been ejected and given form.
She smiled a bit when she saw no waver in their attack stances.
They were a well-regulated organization. Not only were the soldiers this well-trained, but…
“The biggest advantage of these weapons is that they can be preserved as long as the spell user’s belief is not broken, their life is not ended, and their ether supply is not cut off. And since they are an embodiment of a spell, their ammunition never needs to be resupplied as long as the ether is maintained. These are a type of invincible weapon.”
The enemy arrived. The three in the lead slammed their jitte-shaped weapons against her.
They came from either side, above, and below. A mid-level jab came from directly ahead. None of them left their jitte sword-breakers level. Each individual attacked with a height difference.
They created a wall.
The key to it all was the one in the center. His jab arrived soonest.
Whether she moved up, down, left, or right to avoid it, the other jitte strikes would reach her.
The only way to stop this charge was to take out that central man, but that was not easy when he was hidden by a three meter weapon.
The three men were working together quite well. And…
…To the left and right as well.
Two similar groups were rushing in to surround her.
Behind those groups of three, Kagami saw the remaining men gliding along low to the ground and raising their jitte as shields. Rectangular spell circles taller than the jitte stood out from their surface and had the word “defense” written inside them.
Kagami guessed they were determined to prevent any damage from escaping this battle.
In that case…
“What is the meaning of this?”
She moved forward.
The central jab arrived ahead of the left and right jitte strikes, but she did not care.
She held her sword horizontally and dropped it down from the hilt.
Before the diagonally lowered sword’s pommel hit the ground, she stepped on it with the heel of her boot.
“What are all of you doing?”
The sword stood up diagonally and the tip tore into the jabbing jitte from below.
It hit the bottom of the sword-breaker portion. The thick blade struck it and sent a steel sound racing out.
It hit and broke it.
The jitte was not cut, scraped, or severed. It was simply broken. The sword-breaker portion came off at the base, leaving the jitte in two pieces.
A metallic sound rang out and the light spirit vanished into the spell circle.
A moment later, Kagami’s sword reached the armored uniform of the man wielding the jabbing jitte.
The sword’s pommel dug into the ground and the tip drilled into his chest armor from below, just like a pike. The fibers woven below the armor’s hardened plastic snapped and the armor broke. His decelerated body collided with the thick blade.
His body was tossed upwards because Kagami had kicked up the pommel from below.
The hilt rose, making the sword horizontal once more, and she thrust the large sword forward. The width of the blade was thicker than the jitte coming in through the center, but…
…This is enough space to escape the attacks on the left and right!
Kagami stepped forward as if pulled on by the sword.
She made it through.
Men in armored uniforms swung their jitte on either side of her. She swung her large sword backwards and spun it around to face the gap between them.
If this weapon operated on one’s belief, she knew her thoughts would be able to reach it.
She immediately heard mechanical sounds coming from her hands.
The movement was slow, so she decided she had not quite gotten the hang of using this equipment. At the moment, the sword began to transform, the blade split down the center, and…
“The main cannon has appeared, has it?”
Just as she passed the enemy, she fired the cannon backwards.
…She’s even created a firing form!?
Koutarou, the young man leading the men in armored uniforms, saw the girl’s shellfire from head on.
He heard a tremendous noise and light seemed to explode outward.
It had been a powerful blast. The defense team’s defense barriers had their surfaces washed away and had to regain their light, so the attack was on the level of a ranker. However…
The blank explosion blew away the two who had passed her by on either side.
They had been in the middle of swinging their jitte. They had likely intended to move forward and avoid any follow-up attacks while rotating their jitte around into a defensive stance.
However, the girl had not overlooked that.
She had attacked their backs. And instead of firing a shell, she had used a compression cannon that primarily fired a shockwave.
Koutarou doubted she was unable to create a shell. She had simply lowered the front-end acceleration inside the acceleration barrel and slammed a high-speed “explosion” at them from behind.
A shell would have been better.
With a shell, she would have had to target one or the other of them. The explosive blast when it was fired may have shaken the other, but that would have been angled away instead of a direct hit.
However, a targeted blank blast was very bad. As for how it was bad…
“Left and right, spread out!”
The explosive blast sent their own jitte slamming into them and the two of them flew through the air. Their speed was already past the limits of their armor’s hardening mechanism. Unable to control it, they were tossed helplessly through the air.
And they ended up colliding with the two groups trying to surround the girl on the left and right.
“Dammit!” shouted someone from the right group. “I was getting excited surrounding an unknown witch, but all I get is a guy thrown at me!?”
Meanwhile, the guy in question collided with three men who caught him. The sound of armor striking armor was surprisingly light and the same pattern occurred on both sides.
The three who caught the airborne man moved in unison to leave the center.
Koutarou immediately saw the group on the right knocked flying.
It happened in an instant.
The girl named Kagami had charged straight into that group.
She had followed the path of the flying man, but something was not right about her immediate reaction.
…Does that blank cannon not have recoil!?
Koutarou had already seen the answer to his question.
The sword had jumped backwards from the cannon blast, but she had held it in both hands and pressed it against her right shoulder.
And she had swung it around.
She had used the recoil for a large rotating swing. She had spun like a top on one heel, but she had also leaned backwards for a splendid horizontal swing.
“Is that where you are?” she had asked while adding direction to the swing.
She had planted her other heel to transform her rotation into a charge. As her sword tore through the air, it had accurately followed the soldier who flew to the right.
The problem was the three who had tried to catch that man.
The girl had accurately sent her sword in directly below him, so they briefly hesitated.
That turned out to be a mistake.
The sword’s speed allowed it to slip below him as he flew.
The thick tip struck the man in the center. He gave up on catching his fellow soldier and held his jitte up to guard.
Koutarou heard two low sounds resembling wind instruments.
The sword’s tip pierced the jitte.
It passed through his guard and knocked him backwards. A moment later, Koutarou saw the sword perform a vertical half-rotation.
It opened up for a cannon blast and the mechanism reconfigured itself faster than before.
The blank cannon fired as if helping them obey his command.
The men on the left and right were blown away and the airborne man fell head-first.
However, he flipped around and managed to plant his feet on the ground, even if he was leaning back quite a bit.
By that time, the arc of light had already drawn a large ring. Just like before, the sword flew in a splendid horizontal swing.
Her new target was the left group.
She transferred her rotation into an attack, a great sound of impact pounded into Koutarou’s ears, and he heard a voice.
It belonged to the girl going by the name Kagami Kagami.
“What is the meaning of this?”
Even as she attacked and swept them away, she asked about the battle itself rather than them.
“Why do you need this kind of equipment!?”
Kagami asked her question while sweeping away the enemy, competing with them, and pushing them back.
“This equipment can be reproduced with ether, it can be carried around without worrying about its weight or volume, and it requires no refueling or reloading as long as you maintain your belief and have ether.”
What would something like that lead to?
“If there was a war, it could easily destroy a nation, if not the entire world.”
“But from the looks of this city, you live in peace. The people are kind and filled with life. …That is a contradiction.”
She moved forward as she spoke.
“So I ask you.”
Kagami Kagami asked her question while striking the enemy before her and opening a path.
“What are you all so afraid of?”
She swung her weapon, fired it, and asked.
“You have this powerful equipment and you are protecting this city and its people. So why are you weaponizing small lives and keeping them ready for combat?”
“What fills you with such fear and need for protection!?”
Koutarou wondered what this witch was.
Should he call her ignorant or foolish?
How could she ask why they had developed these weapons and why they worked with the witches to protect the world?
“You can see the answer all around you.”
Yet she was saying she did not understand.
However, her question was related to their “normal” everyday life, so he felt it had to be the truth.
Koutarou saw the men taking defensive stances in front of him raise their hips while leaning forward.
“We just received an order to evacuate this area!”
Koutarou understood what that meant: they could not win here.
…A witch just has so much more attack power than a male spell user!
Female spells were active ones that specialized in attack and repelling.
Male spells were passive ones that specialized in defense and buffering.
Most importantly, the active spells allowed girls to interact with servants.
Modern times had introduced artificial servants and the performance of male defense spells had vastly improved, but…
“That girl is at ranker level! I don’t understand how she could eject just a Normal Device without a servant and then swing it around like that, but she definitely has the ability needed to produce a Normal Form and complete a full Frame!”
“But we should still be able to restrain her when working together.”
The rest of the team lifted the corners of their mouth.
“I forgot to mention it, but we might need to add the word ‘top’ in front of ‘ranker’. Besides…”
The man activated several spells along with the others and switched his armor’s mobile functions to high-speed combat mode. He used his fingers to hit the “allow” button on a few spell circles.
“Look around you. That girl is fighting us, but she hasn’t done anything that would kill us. Really, she’s just been leading us around.”
“I understand that she has no hostility toward us. However, I have deemed her dangerous because she opposes our regulations for handling servants and she has produced a Normal Device without a servant.”
And if she did not want any further damage to result from this battle…
“She understands we are only fighting due to the obligations of our position.”
“Do you know why she’s fighting?”
While clashing with their unit, she had expressed her anger toward how they were fighting here. That was likely her reason to fight.
They did not understand why she was fighting and she did not understand why they were fighting.
She had asked them, but…
“We cannot truly answer that question.”
“Then what do we do?”
“We endure. Classes are still in session. This is a time of day when any question is sure to receive an answer.”
“An answerer is sure to arrive. A top ranker witch will arrive to answer her question.”
“Then,” said the others.
They all stepped back and put some distance between themselves and the non-standard witch named Kagami.
They held their jitte vertically and activated spell circles to reestablish their reinforcement spells.
“Who do you think is stronger? Her or our young lady?”
“The young lady has no reason to lose.”
“Then,” said the others again. “Is it our job to test that!?”
Koutarou swung his hand.
He spoke to Kagami who held her sword in a lowered position while surrounded.
He did not entirely understand his opponent, the situation, or the escaped servant.
However, he felt a strange emotion deep in his gut.
If she would question the most obvious facts of their situation…
…Will she act as a powerful medicine against all of our problems?
“We have no obligation and no right to answer your question.”
“Does that mean someone else can answer it?”
“It does,” he said. “But you are dangerous and we do not understand your strength. So if someone is coming to answer you, it will be the one ranked 4th in the world.”
“Let me say that I am prepared to open the way forward on my own.” Kagami then smiled slightly. “My reason for fighting has finally gotten through to you, has it?”
She took a single step forward and then a second. The man in front of Koutarou reacted by giving the hand signal for “fall back”.
Koutarou was to arrange to have the area evacuated.
He was worried about the others, but all of them lifted the corners of their mouths.
“C’mon, let’s do this. We’re a decent enough challenge for a double-digit ranker.”
“But only when we’re working as a group and only when they’re alone and limited to the ground.”
“Still, we can achieve measurable results.”
“We’re the world’s barrier,” said one.
“Yeah,” said another. “We won’t let her through. And if she can, then we’ll accept her.”
“That’s right,” said a third. “And if she gets past us, it would have to be above. …I wish she was wearing a skirt, but I’m not about to criticize a girl’s fashion.”
“Sorry about that,” said Kagami in her pantsuit and shoes.
She nodded and began moving with a light step.
“I am counting on you, gentlemen.”
She raised her weapon.
“And I am thankful.”
Everyone saw a small light in the western sky out the window.
They sat inside a stepped classroom with a high ceiling.
The girls’ turned to the oblong window and some scanned the scene with spell circles. Clapping hands reached them from the teacher’s podium.
“Everyone, we have been falling behind lately, so try to pay attention. Even if Shihouin Academy is meant to instruct witches, it’s still a high school. If you fall behind in your lessons, I’ll get in trouble and you won’t be prepared for your written and practical exams.”
Some people replied “yes, ma’am” and others silently obeyed and focused on the teacher again.
However, one girl raised her hand.
“Um, will they be okay?”
“Just now, a notification was sent out that a location-undesignated S-rank battle has begun in the corresponding area,” quietly replied the teacher. “The people have been evacuated and it seems the cause is being guided to an external area of ruins. This is not a problem.”
“No,” said the girl who had raised her hand. “Um, I was talking about the opponent.”
“The opponent is probably a stray witch,” said someone else. “Powerful unregistered witches are usually scouted by U.A.H. or the school. But when Horinouchi is sent out…”
Everyone reached a single conclusion.
“They tend to be disciplined in some flashy way.”
The teacher could only nod in agreement. She pushed up her glasses and finally opened her mouth.
“What’s wrong with that?”
A light appeared in the western sky as she spoke.
“No matter how strong or harsh they may be, our history and destiny suggest it isn’t enough.”
By the time Horinouchi arrived at the scene, it was filled with wreckage and the wind blew about scattered ether light.
These were ruins.
If one travelled a little northeast along the coast of the bay, one would arrive at modern ruins even along the rivers.
Horinouchi found several familiar faces collapsed at the entrance to such a place.
They were on a wide road. Long ago, it had apparently continued even further west.
Men wearing shattered armored uniforms stood on either side of the road.
Horinouchi had received a report on her way here and the individual described therein spoke up.
“Oh? A new challenger?”
Instead of simply wearing a suit, the girl’s clothes had a tight style reminiscent of riding clothes. She turned toward Horinouchi.
“That movement was quite sudden. Was it an Instant Step?”
She had seen through it.
However, Horinouchi had not let that show in the moment of her arrival. So was this girl bluffing? Or…
…Did she see the ether movement of a mobility spell?
To make extra certain her approach would not be detected, Horinouchi had travelled the last distance on foot. However, this girl had detected in a way she had not imagined.
“Who are you?”
“Is there something odd about me?”
Horinouchi glared at her and raised her right hand to point.
The girl noticed the pure white Normal Device she held.
It was a large sword. According to the report, it could fire a cannon built inside it.
However, Horinouchi noticed something strange now that she had seen it for herself.
“That Normal Device.”
“Those guys were making a fuss over it too, but is summoning this thing really so strange? I think they said something about needing a servant to do it.”
Something seemed off about the girl’s comment, but Horinouchi was mostly mildly irritated by it.
…This is odd.
She knew what the girl was saying, but she could not understand it.
She did not know what the girl meant by it.
She was saying she had summoned a Normal Device without a servant, but that made no sense. That was not how summoning a Normal Device worked.
A small red bird appeared on her right shoulder. It was an information entity. It had a highly simplified form to avoid exhausting itself, but as a spirit, it still corresponded to the Suzaku of the Four Divine Beasts.
It was the guardian deity of the Horinouchi Shrine that she managed and it had lived there since ancient times.
The Suzaku was puffing its chest out proudly. The bird was usually the cool type that did little to assert its presence, but it seemed to be in high spirits today. In that case…
“This is all happening so suddenly again.”
There was no point in responding to the girl. The girl had destroyed one of the defense units that were essentially under her direct control. They could defeat a double-digit ranker, but they had been utterly devastated here. And if none of them were badly injured…
…She’s equal to a high level ranker!
But was it possible for someone this skilled to exist outside the organization at a time like this?
…Based on what I can see here, it must be true.
That thought made her tremble.
She had no choice but to accept reality. Whether it was painful, unreasonable, a great division, or anything else, it was happening before her eyes. So…
“Summon Normal Frame!”
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