Clash of Hexennacht:Volume1 Chapter 8
Chapter 8: People Have Tears
The words of an infinitely small fraction
Are given to the sunset
The pier was empty.
Normally, the water-element witches would rest and hold their afterschool training there.
Their ships and floats were absent now, but that had to be due to the previous day.
…The ley lines in the water must still be disturbed.
Any training on the sea would have to wait until after the water had fundamentally calmed down. That meant the pool was likely crowded. She reminded herself that the pool was located between the general and special equipment buildings, but then…
…Wh-why am I still thinking like a tour guide!?
She looked forward and saw Kagami walking below the setting sun.
She passed through the decorative gate to the pier and walked along the wooden tile floor. Horinouchi followed five steps behind Kagami while feeling the movement of the waves in the soles of her feet.
“I want you to listen to something. Think of it as a nonsense story.”
Kagami began speaking without warning and did not give Horinouchi a chance to say anything.
“Once, in a world different from this one, there were two sisters.”
Only then was there a pause.
Feeling she was being invited to ask, Horinouchi spoke the question on her mind.
“What do you mean?”
Kagami claimed to be from another world. Horinouchi found it hard to believe, but the girl was clearly talking about herself here. And that she had a sister was of course new information.
“How about I give you a better understanding?”
Kagami had her back turned, but Horinouchi heard a bitter laugh and more words.
“There was no magic in that world.”
“You don’t believe me?”
It was not so much that she did not believe her than it was that she did not understand.
If there was no magic, did that mean there was no ether, no spells, and no divine protection? If so…
“What did they use for fuel and on what was the value of currency based? In fact, what kind of civilization could there have-…”
“Sadly, you can chalk that up to a lack of imagination. That world did not look all that different from this one.”
But there still had to have been a major difference on a fundamental level.
Of course, Kagami probably understood that. She spread her arms a little before continuing.
“Because of that and because the younger of the sisters was quite frail, the two of them enjoyed imagining a world that had everything.”
As for how…
“They expressed it in pictures and writing. The younger sister dreamed of being an author, so she began searching through the materials in the back of her mansion.”
That probably meant she had looked around for history books and other reference materials for writing a book. There were similar people in Horinouchi’s class. In those girls’ case, their drawings and text became spells, but they said it was difficult to balance faithfulness to the reference materials with their own creativity. But in Kagami’s case…
“Their father was a collector and, one day, they found something.”
“What was it?”
“The Book of Creation.”
Kagami placed her hands on her hips after reaching the end of the pier.
“It was not that our world never had magic.”
In other words…
“Magic was deemed dangerous, so all the world’s magic was concentrated into a single book.”
“And that was the Book of Creation?”
All she did was ask questions, but Horinouchi’s curiosity had been piqued.
What if all of this world’s magic were gathered together?
She had never imagined something like that before, but something like it had once been in Kagami’s grasp.
…I-I’m starting to believe her!
Well, it’s just a play on words. Yes, that’s how I need to think of it.
But Kagami must have understood what she was thinking.
“You do not need to know what the book contained.”
“It gave physical form to its owner’s imagination and linked that physical form to itself.”
Kagami noticed that Horinouchi was not reacting to what she had said.
…Honestly, what a clever girl.
She had likely directly grasped what Kagami was trying to say.
And after taking a few breaths, Kagami heard Horinouchi’s voice behind her.
“It gives physical form to its owner’s imagination? If you had a ridiculous artifact like that, you could become a god!”
“Yes.” Kagami crossed her arms and gathered strength in her hands. “A great many worlds were created.”
They truly were, she thought to herself. They were definitely crated in the space one could call “the palm of your hand”.
If one wished for it, countless worlds could be made in any form they wanted and those worlds would be as accessible as the other side of a small door.
Thinking back, it had been an entrancing and dangerous game. After all, to establish the worlds they created…
“Countless lives were created, lived, clashed when they grew in number, reached a mutual understanding, and lived once more.”
But there was more she had to say.
“Due to her illness, the younger sister constantly felt the shadow of death.”
“That may have been why each world obeyed the younger sister’s imagination and was destroyed.”
“What is it?”
After her question, additional words reached her from behind.
“What happened to the older sister?” asked Horinouchi. “If the younger sister began destroying the created worlds, what happened to the older sister?”
Horinouchi looked to Kagami’s back.
The girl had her arms crossed and her sides slowly tensed at Horinouchi’s question. Strength filled the hands holding her arms in place and it looked like she was restraining her own body.
Kagami began with a sigh.
“The older sister was trapped in the expansion of the worlds and she had some authority over the worlds she created with her sister, although not as much authority as that sister. So she traveled across those many worlds to stop her sister, but…”
“She did not make it in time,” she said. “And so I will defeat my sister.”
With that announcement, Horinouchi understood. She understood Kagami’s questions during the battle the day before, her joy when looking up at the moon, and her anger when firing that final shot.
…Her younger sister is the Black Witch!?
“Ha ha,” quietly laughed Kagami. “Listen.”
“Wh-what is it?”
“If her imagination of death will destroy this world, then I will stop her and end this even if it means killing her.”
Horinouchi could not say a thing.
She too had a starting point: ten years before when she lost her mother. She was where she was now because she had chosen her path as a witch to wipe away what she had felt back then and to make sure no one else would ever feel that way.
She did not want to lose anything and she did not want anyone else to lose anything, but…
She was prepared to lose something out of necessity.
That conflicted with Horinouchi, but Horinouchi was at a loss for words regardless.
That was partially due to what she had been told, but she had also noticed something in Kagami’s words.
Horinouchi did not want to lose anything or for anyone else to lose anything, but…
…If I kill the Black Witch, that will mean I am losing “her”.
The Black Witch was an enemy. She was both Horinouchi’s enemy and the world’s enemy. Going easy on her would mean a repeat of what had happened to them ten years before.
But Horinouchi’s starting point contained a contradiction all the same.
Part of that came from not knowing the Black Witch’s identity. She had thought of her as something like a natural disaster that could never be defeated no matter what. But…
Kagami turned around with a smile in her eyes.
“Did you actually believe all that?”
“Wh-what is that supposed to mean!?”
She felt like it had all slipped away from her.
It felt like all of her thoughts had been for nothing and it embarrassed her. She had thought too much about this other girl even though her standard policy was to avoid empathizing with others if at all possible. Her loss would be too painful otherwise, but so much of this information had been completely unexpected.
Kagami looked behind her.
“You are the one from yesterday.”
Horinouchi looked back and saw Koutarou at the end of the pier. He bowed.
“Lady Mitsuru, dinner is ready.”
“Whaaaaaat!? Head Butler! It’s still evening! What is this about dinner!?”
“Whaaaaat!? Lady Mitsuru is going to be spending the night in her school residence, and just how long would it take you to make dinner and carry it over to herrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!?”
“D-don’t think I’ll forget this, Head Butler! When you get back, I’ll curse you!”
“I can’t exactly laugh that off when you’re an actual witch!”
Kagami followed Horinouchi as the girl walked back down the pier in a huff.
The butler named Koutarou then stepped between them. He seemed to be communicating with someone using a simple magic circle, but he closed it and bowed.
Kagami bowed back, but…
“Are you fine with this?”
“Are talking about what happened yesterday? While we work with U.A.H.J., our actions are based on different standards.”
“So it is up to Horinouchi? …But it would seem she does not like me very much.”
“That is not true.” He shook his head. “When she is in a bad mood, Lady Mitsuru hides what she truly thinks.”
With that said, his expression changed. He was glancing over at her from the side, but he was definitely looking at her.
“If I and the rest of the Horinouchi Group had been providing backup during that battle, Lady Mitsuru would not have fallen behind.”
“That sounds promising.”
“I am honored you think so. Personally, I would like for you to be Lady Mitsuru’s ally.”
“You get to the point quickly.”
“Yes.” Koutarou nodded. “I am sure you understand, but Lady Mitsuru is doing her best. …That said, progress is being made in the analysis of the compression technology used for unlocking the seal on Hexennacht and, now that the buddy system has been introduced, the other rankers will be pairing up while receiving support on a national level. Lady Mitsuru has been working hard to face all that alone as the head of the Horinouchi family.”
“As the head of the family?”
Kagami had more or less realized that, but it was a difficult subject to openly ask her about.
Realizing she was still soft, Kagami remembered that the best person to ask stood before her. This person could decide whether she should or should not be given that information about Horinouchi.
“Koutarou, this is an awkward question, but what happened to her parents?”
“The previous generation passed away at a young age. Her mother…”
Koutarou gave a silent bow before continuing quietly.
“Her mother was lost as the participant in the previous Hexennacht.”
So I was right, thought Kagami.
Even here, something that should not have been lost had been lost.
But Koutarou was not finished speaking.
“However, I believe she was fortunate that she at least had a chance to say goodbye.”
After stepping off of the pier, Horinouchi realized the other two were still halfway down the pier.
…They’re probably talking about me.
She felt she was being overly self-conscious, but Koutarou could take his support of her a little too far. She could guess he was trying to recruit Kagami. She felt it was none of his business, but she was also thankful. That was why she did not stop them. Instead…
“Hurry up, you two!”
But as she turned back, she noticed something.
As Kagami stood halfway down the pier, there were powerless tears spilling from her eyes.
Everything was a surprise with that girl and Horinouchi never understood what was going on.
“Wh-what is it now?”
But by then, Kagami must have noticed her tears because she wiped them away with a hand.
“Sorry. You may find it rude, but I asked about your mother.”
Koutarou bowed deeply. It was a pose that showed he knew he had been impolite but still felt no remorse. She had known him long enough to know that, so she said what she needed to tell Kagami instead.
“You did not need to do that, but I am not someone to pity.”
“I do not pity you.”
Kagami’s eyes were still damp, but she raised her eyebrows.
“It saddens me that it was in a world we created that you lost your mother and were filled with sadness.” She breathed in. “I have power, so if I had not erred, I could have written a story of happiness for your family.”
When she heard that, Horinouchi realized that Kagami was telling the truth.
She did not know how much of a product of that girl and her sister they were. Based on what she had said, they had likely only created the overall “world” and had not been directly involved in creating the individuals. Perhaps they had only thought of certain stories that occurred there.
However, if they had done everything right, then Horinouchi would have been living happily with her mother and everyone else.
“But…it’s far too late for that.”
“Yes.” Kagami placed a hand on her shoulder. “It is far too late. And that is why I have something to tell you.”
“Well done getting through it all, Manko.”
“I told you to stop calling me that!”
She suddenly realized Kagami was smiling. She thought that girl’s expression changed too much, but she too had shown a variety of expressions that day, although more on the exasperation and annoyance side of things.
…I can’t stand this.
She sighed and let her shoulders droop.
“You don’t have anywhere to eat dinner or to spend the night, do you? Then you can come to my-…”
As soon as Horinouchi said that, Kagami’s expression changed again.
A moment later, the hand on her shoulder gave a tug as if pulling her down and it threw off her balance.
She pitched forward and was spun back behind Kagami.
Horinouchi could not even respond to Koutarou’s call as she straightened back up.
She did not know why she had suddenly been pulled down, but…
She heard a metallic sound behind her.
When she turned around, she saw something there.
It was a green wall and it was large enough to seemingly cover the entire sky.
Kagami’s right hand was held toward the sky. A defense spell magic circle and a shield of light had formed there. They were quite powerful.
Horinouchi knew what it was that girl was using her full strength to support.
“A Magino Device!?”
Koutarou recognized the Magino Device.
It was an aircraft-type that looked like a rectangular block standing vertically with armor panels covering it.
It was impressive that Kagami could support the five hundred meter device. After all, she stood on a pier, so the earth would not receive the enemy’s weight. She had put together an impromptu reinforcement spell to fill the space between her feet and the bottom of the sea.
…She is familiar with the battlefield!
With that thought, Koutarou looked up.
A Magino Device had suddenly appeared and made a physical strike.
As soon as he decided he needed to tell her, Horinouchi gave a shout.
“This is the Rank 3 witch from the special equipment division and the American representative. Her name is Elsie Hunter!”
Koutarou had nearly opened his mouth to explain, but when he heard Horinouchi’s voice, he was glad he had not robbed her the opportunity to give her own explanation.
…I would expect no less of Lady Mitsuru!
He did not lament his wasted effort. In fact, it was more that he had let the chance slip away.
Regardless, even an outsider like him could tell what this was.
“Is a higher ranked witch challenging her to a ranker battle!?”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
Far above, a figure stood vertically atop the vertical Magino Device.
The short, redheaded girl wore a Magino Form that resembled a karate uniform.
“I’m Elsie Hunter. …Now, will you accept this ranker battle against me, lower rank?”
No, thought Koutarou.
…It has already begun!
The girl had suddenly summoned her Magino Frame and made a press attack using its great weight. Her power devices must not have heated up yet, so fortunately she had not been able to fire any cannons or other projectiles. However, even though she had swung down the five hundred meter Magino Device…
…She still doesn’t count this as a battle?
As he asked that, he saw Hunter raise her eyebrows in a smile.
She looked to Kagami who had stopped her Magino Device.
“With the surprise attack and weight, I thought you’d be crushed with this first attack, so I’m impressed you managed to stop it!”
The Magino Device suddenly vanished.
Hunter had removed the bonds of the ether.
As a massive amount of ether light scattered, she dropped down from several hundred meters up, now wearing her Normal Form. Her Normal Device looked like a miniature pile bunker and it was attached to her arm like a shield.
“Here I go!”
Her first strike pursued Kagami who had prepared to dodge.
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