Clash of Hexennacht:Volume1 Prologue
He who least needs tomorrow,
Will most gladly greet tomorrow
—Epicurus of Athens
Prologue: The Time is Third Period
The daytime witch hides her identity
“10:07 AM: Lightning detected in the west coast of Tokyo Bay: The lightning was reported to have ‘risen’.”
“Same time: Automatic doors, active elevators, and train doors malfunctioned and opened across eastern Tokyo. Fortunately, no one seems to have been injured.”
“Same time: The opened doors across Tokyo malfunctioned and automatically closed. Some believe this explains the lack of accidents with the previous malfunction.”
“10:12 AM: Lightning warning canceled for western coast of Tokyo Bay.”
“10:17 AM: Central Tokyo Bay’s Shihouin Academy is annihilating an experimental servant.”
“10:21 AM: Escape of experimental servant confirmed at Central Tokyo Bay’s Shihouin Academy.”
“10:30 AM: Requesting pursuit and inspection of experimental servant at Central Tokyo Bay’s Shihouin Academy.”
<The request was sent to…>
“The lightning warning was canceled, but is that what allowed the servant to escape?”
There was no wind underground, so it seemed terribly boring.
Instead, she had to brush a hand through her hair, but it did not flutter much in the air conditioning. It was black hair which went well with her dark green uniform. It would have looked fine with red or blue as well, though.
It was not the most individual color.
…Which does a good job of showing my position and focus.
After that thought, she spoke aloud.
“This is Horinouchi Mitsuru, Private Shihouin Academy’s General Education Rank 1 and Overall Rank 4 and representative of the Horinouchi Shrine in charge of servant management. I will now pursue Servant Experiment Registration Number JDPH-a707.”
She took a breath and started by looking up at the large white ceiling.
She was in the underground spell experiment space. The ceiling was twenty meters up. The box-like room was thirty meters on each side and it felt a little cramped with all the work desks, targets, and anti-shock equipment for blunt strikes.
However, she spread her arms upwards.
The empty air split open and a small bird flew out and to her shoulder. It was vermilion. It had an abstract appearance because it was “taking it easy” as an information being, but this did more than enough to provide the basis for Divine Beast Suzaku.
Something spread from the girl’s palms.
It was a ring of light.
It was a vermilion circular torii.
It had a diameter of five meters and it rotated and lowered while displaying something along its path.
“Expand my vision to confirm the extent of its escape. The information will converge from that state.”
The whole would be made into a single unit. The scattered would be brought together. That process was necessary to trace something distant.
And the image displayed on the surrounding barrier was the color blue.
It was the external world seen from a great height.
All 360 degrees were visible, but for the “convergence”, the vision was rapidly dropping.
Her vision returned to the earth where she was, but looking up into the heavens showed the blue sky.
Looking down showed a large bay with an island floating in the middle.
She could not stop her vision from dropping to that point.
The many tall structures surrounding the bay formed a great metropolis.
However, most of that city was not functioning.
It had been destroyed.
The area by the eastern bay and the northern area looked like a giant fist had struck them in places and long canyons had been carved into them. Most of those already had trees and other plants covering them and some had even filled with water to create a water source.
But there was color in the city near the bay, in the west, and in the south. There was plenty of smoke from factories and ships coming and going through the bay.
Those areas contained life that seemed to turn its back on the destruction.
The projected vision dropped toward the island in the center of the bay.
At some point, that vision grew horizontal.
The island scenery growing up from below began with the central forest.
There were green trees and clearings. In the north was a flower garden. The forest had something like a mausoleum in the center.
A few buildings were located around it.
They formed a school.
The image displayed on the barrier provided coordinates and labels. The labels on the buildings contained the blue checkmark of a safe place.
The school buildings were labelled general education, special equipment, spell, or honors. Buildings labelled gym, library, and cafeteria could also be seen.
“Nothing passing through the sky above Shihouin Academy’s artificial island. Nothing out of the ordinary in the surrounding areas. …Visually confirmed.”
As she spoke, her eyes moved around.
She saw something to the southeast between the school buildings located in the four cardinal directions.
It was a large white building. The building was a development laboratory for servants and equipment.
Her vision dropped inside that building.
It converged and connected.
She looked up and saw the cylindrical translucent barrier showing her the outside world in every direction.
She was underground, but the aboveground projection was the same as standing on the development laboratory’s roof.
The inside of the barrier had labels for cardinal direction and scale as well as the courses of the planets in the sky.
…I can’t perform astrology with my spells, so it’s not much use for me.
She produced a spell circle in her hand and it spread a ley line net out in every direction. The convergence of the high-altitude vision had bound a connection with all of the land she had seen.
“I will begin the pursuit now.”
She brought the magic circle closer.
The underclassman on the floor with her spoke up. The girl was in charge of examining her work here.
The girl was continuing to type on a document spell circle as she spoke.
“Are you really going to dispose of that servant when you catch it?”
“Yes, its power is too great, so no one can control it at the moment. In fact, the power leaking from the servant could destroy nearby people’s spells.”
She lowered her vision.
She saw a plain wood box fixed to a stretcher. Its automatic Hakone-style lock was opened and it contained tangible pale light.
It was a small creature.
It was a dragon.
The girl named Horinouchi looked to the thirty centimeter square wooden box.
The dragon inside was only about fifteen centimeters tall.
Its blue and white was surprisingly matte. It was made not to show up much even under illumination spells.
Its obedience despite understanding the situation showed how well-made it was.
However, this was not the real thing.
A small ring of light circled the outside of the box.
This was a circular torii emblem. It pressurized ether readings. It was meant to forcibly amplify the afterimage left by ether components.
“The temporary ley line convergence has successfully reproduced JDPH-a707’s afterimage from the pressurized ley line vibration afterimage. The only question is what to do about this thing.”
The dragon child was scattering light form its entire body.
…Even if it’s found, handling it barehanded would be dangerous.
The light was ether light and ether was the foundational element of all things and the fuel of all spells.
“If it can emit this much ether, even our top class students won’t be able to handle it. And if it has escaped…”
“Was it that lightning? I hear UAH sent out a warning. There was a bit of a commotion when all of the school’s doors opened at once.”
“What did the teachers say?”
“That the lightning caused an error in UAH’s defense system that controls all of eastern Tokyo. That may have cast an ‘open’ spell on the entire area.”
“This was more than just opening.”
Horinouchi recalled a certain scene.
“When I went to check on the faculty room, the instant coffee’s lid was open too.”
“This wasn’t the door system that handles the opening spells. It looked more like everything that can open was forcibly opened.”
“Is that even possible? Well, um, I know that’s how spells are, but it covered all of eastern Tokyo and even interfered with our school and UAH that have anti-spell defenses.”
“I was saying it with a fair bit of disbelief, you know?”
“Ah,” said the underclassmen when she finally realized what Horinouchi meant.
She smiled bitterly.
“To do that would require phenomenon level interference over the entire region, wouldn’t it?”
“Yes, it would. But UAH is probably investigating and our job is to confirm our pursuit information.”
“But,” said the other girl. “Will you really dispose of it when you catch it?”
“Yes. It would take a very powerful spell-user to fully control it.”
The girl immediately replied.
“Horinouchi, aren’t you powerful enough to-…”
“I already have Suzaku. And the three above me have their own as well.”
“It’s a shame after being involved from the beginning of production, isn’t it?”
But, she thought to crush the other girl’s words. She almost seemed to be trying to convince herself.
…What if my mother was here?
That great existence had left the Suzaku with her, but she was gone now.
So there was no other option here.
But, she thought again. Is that really true?
After a bit of thought, she opened her mouth.
She tried to change her train of thought.
When faced with a harsh fact, it was easy to use regulations as a shield to convince herself. There were exceptions like this, but she had to get herself moving regardless of whether she liked it or not.
This was just an odd whim.
Would this underclassman say it was not like her?
“Most likely, Koutarou will command the retrieval team. After the retrieval is complete, I will see if there is any other solution.”
“Instead of disposing of it by disintegration, it could be broken down to strip away its special characteristics, leaving only the basic form. It will no longer have any use as a servant, but…”
“That’s a great idea, Horinouchi!”
Horinouchi paused briefly at the shout and grabbed hand of agreement.
It was wrong to rejoice when an exception was supported. They could not make decisions like that all of the time.
“I have not finished yet, so it’s too soon to say whether it’s a great idea or not.”
Horinouchi smiled bitterly and gave her defense for making this kind of decision.
“This is an exception. There is no need to thank me.”
She held a hand over the box and activated a spell.
The ley line convergence was expanded from the traces of the dragon child.
The tracking had begun.
“I am very thankful. I truly know little of this land.”
Below the clear morning sun, someone bowed toward a police station.
It was a local station a ways into the city along the salty bay coast.
Armored vehicles with rotating blue warning lights were travelling up and down the surrounding roads.
“Well, miss, I’m just glad there hasn’t been any real trouble. Are you on your way to Shihouin?”
A police officer pressed his back against the police station’s door.
If he moved at all, the door tried to open, so he lowered his shoulders in annoyance and looked to the other person.
She was a woman still young enough to be called a girl.
She was tall, had long hair, and wore a men’s suit.
“Your Japanese is pretty good,” said the officer. “But what country are you from?”
“Do I not look Japanese to you?”
“No Japanese is going to walk into the center of Tokyo and ask where they are. Oh, but you don’t have to answer.”
Another armored vehicle moved past, but the officer pointed past it with his chin. He indicated the collection of buildings on the bay’s island.
“There are a lot like you in Shihouin. They sometimes stop by here after crashing during flight training.”
“I am actually from Japan, but I will be careful not to do that when I fly.”
“Well, it’s usually only the first years who crash. …And where in Japan are you from?”
“That’s pretty close by.”
“I have been in a different country for a while.”
The girl produced a case from inside her suit and pulled something out of it.
“This is my license. Does it work here too?”
“Ahh, is that the one from the country you were in? It’s a little different from the ones here.”
“Yeah, well, look at this part.”
The officer pulled out his own and showed it to her.
“You were part of that country’s UAH? It says brigadier general here.”
“You can read it because the writing is pure information, can you? And you are not bad yourself, marshal.”
“What country are you from? Based on the writing, I’d guess the Middle East. I heard they had it pretty bad there with what happened ten years ago.”
“No,” she said while pointing to her own name. “Kagami Kagami. People say it is a real stylish name.”
“Is that really something to point out yourself?”
“I really like it,” she said with a smile.
Just then, a bell rang.
It came from Shihouin Academy in the bay and the officer commented on it.
“Oh, it’s third period. My wife will be making her delivery to the cafeteria before long.”
“Then I should be going. I want to take a bit of a look around.”
“Oh? You’re going? Can I ask what you’re doing?”
“Looking for someone.”
“Did something happen ten years ago?”
“No, it goes back further than that. …But why do you bring up ten years ago?”
“Just how peaceful a country were you living in?”
He gave a bitter smile and Kagami shrugged.
“I will admit it was originally a horribly peaceful country filled with nothing.”
With that, she started to move. As she began to leave, she tapped on the door the officer held in place.
“What a nuisance.”
“Yeah, and take care. …Once you can fly, check in the back of the reconstructed land. There’s a croquette shop with a sign visible from above, so make sure you stop by.”
“You should get to Shihouin before classes end. They’re reviewing a lot and doing some exciting stuff before determining who gets to take part in the next Hexennacht. This time, they say buddies are accepted. The higher ranks are bad enough alone, so it’s got to be quite the group they’ve got there. Maybe it’s for the best to restrict witches to the young.”
“I see. I will keep that in mind.”
Kagami raised a hand in parting.
The bell rang again and the officer assumed she would head in that direction, but…
“Hey, that’s the wrong way.”
“Something is bothering me a little. I am on my way to school; this is just a shortcut of sorts.”
The officer just about ran after her, but he stopped.
At some point, the door had lost all power.
He heard the siren of a nearby armored vehicle and the distant and fading sound of the bell.
Third period was beginning in Shihouin Academy.
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