Clash of Hexennacht:Volume2 Chapter 1

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Chapter 1: Look Into the Sky[edit]

Hexennacht v02 043.png

Does passion come from boredom?

Does busyness come from passion?


As the target practice began, the maids heard a noise they were quite familiar with.

Most of them were graduates of Shihouin Academy. Since Hexennacht came once every ten years, the academy had no exact graduation system. Due to the Ranker system, the witches would continue on as Rankers even after completing their studies.

But ten years was a very long time. It may have seemed short in hindsight, but that was only because it was so densely packed. Once their skills had advanced and they gained the talent to match their age, they were able to view themselves more objectively. And…

“We thought we could produce the most powerful witch if we passed on and combined all of our skills,” said the Head Maid.

The eyes behind her glasses were of course directed toward Horinouchi.

But…

“Needless to say, other countries and organizations were thinking the same thing and many of them retired during the past ten years. The promising individuals were worn down and realized the innocent latest generation that took those skills for granted had a better chance at victory, so they cleared the way for that younger generation.”

“Do you think the next Hexennacht will be the decisive one?”

“When faced with the power of Lady Mitsuru’s mother ten years ago, the Black Witch showed her true power for the very first time.”

Meaning…

“She forcibly removed the sealing barrier. We had always assumed she was sealed, but she had simply wanted to avoid dealing with an endless supply of challengers. So when we were close to actually reaching her, she stripped off her bonds and fought back. And as a result…the world was half-destroyed. Well, maybe not that much, but we were taught a serious lesson,” she said. “So there is a possibility the Black Witch will forcibly remove the seal from the very beginning next Hexennacht.”

“What will happen to the Ranker system then? Oh, please turn over that meat.”

“It is not cooked yet. Lady Mitsuru prefers it at least medium. …The Ranker system means nothing to the Black Witch. But we will of course strengthen the seal and the top-ranked witch will be at the center of that. I would guess the other witches will be prepared to intercept a similar disaster to ten years ago.”

“I see. And was there any reason to tell me that?”

“That is something I only want to tell people who have no reason to hear it,” explained the Head Maid. “After all, Lady Mitsuru’s strength has unfortunately yet to reach that of her mother.”

“I am aware of that. But what do you think about all this?”

The Head Butler started to the flip over the meat in front of the Head Maid, but she deflected the tongs.

After a few clashes of metal, she continued speaking.

“I think it is headed in a good direction. …Lady Mitsuru’s mother also had friends.”

“The Three Sages. …I believe you originally served one of them.”

“A lot of time has passed since ten years ago.”

She held the Head Butler’s tongs down with her own.

“We are here in the hope of creating the strongest witch who has inherited everything we had. But even everything we had is not enough. The world is a large place and there are countless countries and organizations. However, those may have arrived here in the ‘present’.”

Listen.

“There is one thing we eventually hope to say: ‘Well done, milady. You have surpassed your mother.’ We see some hope of that here and that is why every last one of the maids sees meaning in this outing. So please do not try to serve her rare meat, Head Butler. …I will burn you.”


The maid in charge of the targets blew a whistle.

There had been enough for a total of fifty shots. Hunter received the hit statistics from her and said “thanks”. The maid smiled, so she may have been a Western witch despite looking Japanese.

At any rate, the data included Horinouchi’s and Kagami’s, but…

“Hmm. Kagami, hold on.”

Hunter had thirty-two clean hits, fifteen partial hits, and three grazes. She had not missed even once.

Horinouchi’s results were a little strange. For some reason, forty-seven of them were labeled “Success”. Three were partial hits.

Is this who I was fighting?

She had about a 95% rate of lethal hits and even her fumbles were considered partial hits. That meant she never did not hit.

She shoots entire volleys like this, so I’m glad I didn’t just try to dodge.

If they were definitely going to hit, dodging was a waste of effort. It was better to actively let them hit. She had done that on the spur of the moment the other day, but she was starting to realize that had been the right decision.

Then again, Hunter also fired scatter-shot rounds. By having her shots scatter at a certain distance and then converge again, she could confuse her opponent and also lower the ultimate scattering effect. She had chosen that technique here because she was firing on practice targets, so it was also a tactical victory.

“Y’know, I thought I’d get to see what you were good at or not and how you would handle something like this.”

Kagami’s results were incredible.

“Out of fifty shots, you got twelve clean hits, and twenty-three partial hits. You missed all of the others, but how did that happen?”

“Good question,” added Horinouchi. “Why didn’t you just keep firing without forcing yourself? And how could you miss with that long barrel?”

Kagami brought a hand to her chin and smiled a little.

“Well, the ballistic course did not fall as much as I expected.”

“Fall?”

“Yes. With mysterious weapons like these, that kind of effect is generally enhanced to increase the realism, so I assumed that would be the case here.”

Kagami looked out to sea and tilted her head.

“After trying it out a few ways, I realized the ballistic path is a lot more normal than I would have thought. In fact, it almost seems too smooth. I had not noticed before, though.”

“You mean…?”

“This is the first time I’ve heard someone blame their misses on ‘how the world is made’,” said Horinouchi.

Hunter had to agree, but once she thought about it…

The path of ether projectiles in immobile ether is generally different from the normal physical laws, so you generally just give up on calculating that out.

That was supposedly because each spell bent the physical laws in a different way.

But Kagami’s spell was a primitive one that did not use a ceremony. According to Horinouchi…

“You might be hoping for a pure calculation of an ether projectile’s trajectory.”

“That’s Kagami’s ‘stray’ side coming into play, isn’t it?”

It felt like having a god standing next to you, which was more exasperating than strange.

But they had their results. There were certain tendencies to when Horinouchi “missed” and the angles of Hunter’s convergence and scattering could use further investigation. So for the time being…

“Well, let’s take a quick break. I’ve got a decent grasp on your Normal Devices now and I’m sure Kagami’s running low on fuel.”


“Well, yes. Japan is in the middle of summer break at the moment. Our girls are nearly shut-ins, but Miss Mitsuru and the others went to the beach. Ahh, I want a vacation too. Yes, a maid from Mitsuyo’s place dropped off the seeds inside a cooler earlier. Koutarou is apparently going to the beach too.”

A voice filled the sunny headmaster’s office.

The person making light gestures and turning around as she spoke was of course the headmaster.

She narrowed her eyes as she spoke into the communication spell circle.

“I’m sure you’re busy too. I’m betting you thought American Representative Hunter was the better bet, after all.”

She nodded at the response and laughed.

She moved over to the window, sat on the windowsill, and finally sighed. Then she laughed again.

“That’s right. You had never lived anywhere with the ocean so close by. Do you remember Shonan?”

She laughed much harder this time. She held her stomach and wiped the tears from her eyes.

“Yes, we were three women leaving their husbands at home. Mitsuyo really did like visiting different places to show you around.”

After all…

“Mitsuyo apparently didn’t like going out much. Her husband told me. She would at best visit shrines, so he was curious how she could show us around like she knew what she was talking about.”

“————”

An exasperated voice arrived from beyond the transmission.

The headmaster replied while looking to the academy visible outside the window.

“That isn’t possible,” she said. “I too am allowing a flower to bloom. A very important flower that is separate from the reconstruction of the Kantou region. …I do have my pride as one of those involved. Yes…”

She smiled and spoke into the spell circle.

“If you have any thoughts on this, then come meet them, Lisbeth. I, Cerisier Shihouin, may be no replacement for Mitsuyo, but I will show you around.”

Yes.

“I will show you the current cutting-edge and upper limits of witches. Yes, if you’re going to come, do it at the beginning of fall. You’re making some corrections at the American mainland right now, aren’t you? Wait until you’re done with that. I’m sure those girls will be delighted. Those children are honing themselves while training like we once did. The autumn flowers are sure to be quite beautiful by then.”


Autumn is a long way off, thought Horinouchi with a sigh as she used a towel to wipe off the sweat below her sunblock divine protection.

The three of them were drinking some water below a parasol. It was time for lunch to be served and they were all drinking from their water bottles with their servants on their heads, but Kagami suddenly looked over.

The silhouette of Enoshima was visible to the west.

“It looks like Enoshima was not destroyed. How kind of my sister.”

“Is that how it works?”

“Yes.” Kagami formed a smile on her lips. “My sister handled more of the writing. And if you are putting a location you know in a story, would you destroy it or preserve it?”

I’m not sure, thought Horinouchi, but this was not a test and she did not have to worry too much about her answer.

Hunter clasped her hands behind her head and gave her answer.

“Before I knew anything about Hexennacht, I bet I would have destroyed it.”

“You sound sure of yourself.”

“Well, destroying somewhere you’re familiar with has more impact, you know? I bet any beginner writer wants to do that.”

“Are you a writer too, Hunter?” asked Kagami.

“No, I’m not really interested in that,” she said. “But before Hexennacht ten years ago, American movies always had the US nearly destroyed by zombies, a natural disaster, or some evil organization. Until ten years ago, the US was something of a safe zone.”

“In that case,” said Horinouchi.

A sudden thought had occurred to her and she tilted her head while sweeping her gaze from Enoshima to the Atami region.

“Does that make the Black Witch relatively peaceful?”

“Perhaps so,” replied Kagami while crossing her arms. “We lived in northern Yokohama, but do you think my sickly sister longed to visit this area?”

“How are we supposed to answer that?”

Only after asking did Horinouchi realize that was meant to be rhetorical.

What a complicated person.

She had expressed her intent to punish her sister, yet she also expressed an understanding of that sister.

How many days…no, months and years would she have had to pursue her sister to view it like that?

“Kagami.”

“Yes?”

“Have you visited your home in this world?”

“Yes…I have. I appeared right in front of it when I arrived here.”

“Really?” asked Hunter, looking a little taken aback.

In Kagami’s blind spot, Koutarou was gesturing if he should record this, but the Suzaku slowly shook its head on top of Horinouchi’s shoulder.

I guess that means it has a head.

She had a feeling she had seen that several times in the past, but she also had a feeling this was her first time noticing it.

At any rate, Kagami began speaking while staring toward Yokohama in the distance.

“There was a hole there. It all started when I decided to go to the police and ask what had happened.”

“You seem rather accustomed to that sort of thing…”

“I’m guessing it was supposedly destroyed ten years ago.”

“This is kind of strange,” said Hunter. “If you’d come here ten years before, you might have seen the house that might have been there. But if your sister is writing this story as ‘ten years afterwards’, then…”

“Most likely, this is the only time I could appear in. This world is ruled by the world creation divine protection that my sister and I created, so you cannot move any further back than Page 1.”

She sounded like she had personally experienced that a few times. Horinouchi thought she understood but also thought they needed to investigate a few things.

“In that case, when did our world begin?”

“The beginning would be this time period of ‘ten years afterwards’, but the world born there will fill in the gaps to explain why it and those inside it exist. If it all seems consistent, then either my sister was just that skilled, my guidance was that effective, or…”

Kagami smiled toward Horinouchi and Hunter.

“The people of this world managed to determine their own past apart from the two of us.”

“Oh, you mean like how authors will say the characters in a story start doing things on their own?” asked Hunter.

I’m not so sure about that, thought Horinouchi.

Kagami opened her mouth and licked her lips after removing the water bottle’s straw from them.

“I thank you.”

“Once again, I have no idea why you’re thanking me.”

“Yes.” She smiled. “I hope you will eventually understand, Horinouchi. You too, Hunter.”

Horinouchi could only agree with the self-proclaimed god, but then Hunter raised her right hand.

“Um, Horinouchi, can you step out into the sun and wave to the left?”

“What?”

She was confused because the ocean was to the left.

Is there someone there?

She stepped out from below the parasol and did as she was instructed, but it was more to answer her question than anything.

Over there?

She tried waving.

“Higher than that.”

“Are they far away?”

She leaned back and more raised her hand than waved.

“——————”

A great roar passed by in the sky to the north.

It was an airplane. It had a somewhat diamond-like silhouette and Koutarou immediately ran out.

“Is that an American U.A.H.F. F-23!?”


Horinouchi was familiar with American fighters because some of her witch work involved the American military.

However, things like fighters generally acted as the rear guard during training. After all, the only time they would be sent out with witches would be Hexennacht.

But one was flying through the sky now.

“You know what that is, Koutarou!?”

“Yes. American U.A.H.F. is probably using it for period observations of the moon from the earth. But its orientation is a little odd.”

Sure enough, the aircraft was flying upside down.

Its wings were shaped like flat isosceles triangles and they had spell emblems on them. Quite a few of what looked like targeting spells were opened on the back end of the aircraft.

“Yeah.” Hunter pointed her right thumb up toward it. “After that last battle, you’ve gotten really popular, Horinouchi. You’re known as the Ginger Shrine Maiden. They said they wanted to take some pictures of you, so they had the moon observer fly by.”

“Was it flying upside down to get pictures of the earth?” asked Kagami.

“No, they take pictures of the moon reflected in the ocean. But they came here since Horinouchi is in a swimsuit. They said something about working hard to get the settings right for some extreme macro photography. The distance they’re focusing on is completely different after all.”

“Y-you could at least warn me in advance.”

“If she had, would you have let them take the photo?”

She could not answer that question. Besides, who would let them? But…

“Oh, don’t worry. Everyone in our unit is pretty West Coast.”


“Okay, men! Out of the 216 shots, we got 12 clean shots of the target!”

“Second Lieutenant! For all the help I gave on the macro photography settings, I request the full size data!”

“Just between us, did you get some thermographic images too!?”

“This is 7th Fleet Detached Force Blue Bloom. Pass over us and we’ll fire our anti-air guns at you, so stay away.”

“But, commander! We want some eye candy too! …Oh, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you, okay?”


Hunter saw some intense static fill the transmission from her comrades out at sea.

That XO can be pretty strict…

Meanwhile, the fighter tilted a bit to say goodbye and then made a steep ascent.

“Is there any reason to photograph the moon from within the atmosphere when you have satellites?”

“You saw the Black Witch reach out her hand before, right?”

“I did,” said Horinouchi as she held up her bottle.

A maid brought over a new one.

Hunter’s was swapped out too, but that seemed a waste when she still had plenty left.

Does that mean I need to drink this one faster so it doesn’t go to waste!?

No, probably not, she thought while continuing where she left off.

“The distance from the moon to the earth’s atmosphere and from the atmosphere to the earth are completely different, right? But her hand seemed to move at the same speed while we were watching.”

“Does the thickness of the arm take that concept into account as well?” asked Kagami.

“Yes, that’s right. Meaning…”

Horinouchi continued for her while tilting her head.

“That arm was an optical illusion?”

“No, not that.”

She did not understand much. In fact, not many inside the American military had seen that phenomenon before.

“It was the same as ten years ago. The ‘side effects’ of the Black Witch came from the moon, but they moved at extremely high speeds before reaching the earth’s atmosphere. And once they entered the atmosphere, they slowed to a speed we can perceive. …I wonder if that’s the world conforming to our reactions.”

“I will leave it to you two to decide how much that performance conforms to this world’s rules.”

“Yeah.” Hunter simply nodded. “The Black Witch probably has some control over ether. Just like you, Kagami. Ether runs through the ley lines and controls both time and destiny, so if you could ‘ride’ that, it might behave in accordance to your wishes. When reaching out her arm, her hand is quickly moved forward until it can clearly be seen as a symbol of fear. Once it’s close enough for us to recognize that performance, it slows down to a speed that she can actually control. That would be my guess,” she said. “So if we measure the waves of ether coming from the moon both inside and outside the earth’s atmosphere, the difference in amplitude can tell us how quickly the Black Witch approaches.”

“Well done!” announced Horinouchi.

“To be honest, your family and Shinto as a whole are a lot more impressive when it comes to anything related to ley lines. Maybe that’s because we don’t really have any big names in nature worship.”

“I see,” said Kagami while opening a spell circle.

She must have taken a picture of the previous aircraft. It was already starting to leave in the photograph, but…

“So you use the F-23 here?”

“Was it different in your home, Kagami?” asked Horinouchi.

“We used a different model.”

Is that how it works? wondered Hunter.

“I think this one was chosen because of its stealth ability and the fact that divine protection emblems could be evenly arranged on the surface of the wings. The rival model had more acceleration, but all-around defense proved impossible.”

“Curse my sister. That change was clearly targeted right at me!”

“Um, can you stop revealing the petty secrets of our world?”

“Calm down,” said Kagami while holding her palm out toward Horinouchi.

She then looked to Hunter and showed her a spell circle.

“More importantly, look at this.”

The old-fashioned boxy design of spell circle contained a vanishing Phlogiston Heart.

It likely contained the heat from the Device used for training earlier. She had yet to dispose of it, but Hunter was unsure if she should call that careless or just unusual. Regardless, Kagami tilted her head.

“Hunter, you said you have a technique to immediately summon your Magino mode from Normal mode.”

“Yes, it’s an American summoning technique.”

She more or less knew what Kagami was trying to say.

Summoning her weapon was of utmost importance for a witch, so there were a broad variety of methods and Kagami likely wanted as many options as possible.

But Hunter had to think.

“Hmm. That would be American-style training, so I’m not sure I could get permission.”


Horinouchi saw Hunter open a spell circle and make a call.

After a while, she tilted her head a few times, but then she raised her right hand while still looking at the screen like an operator.

“Horinouchi.”

“What is it?”

“Can you take off your shirt? Oh, and move as close to the water as you can get.”

“Eh? Are they going to take pictures of me from a satellite or a fleet out at sea!?”

She complied as payment for the leaked information.


“Yeahhhhhhhhh! Thank you so much, commander! Thank you so much! Eh? What do you mean we all have to line up on the deck?”

“Yeahhhhhhhhhhhh! Wait, why are all the witches fully equipped? It’s hot outside, you know? There were sharks off of Kanagawa the other day, you know?”

“Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Commander! To be blunt, how do you want us to beg for our lives!?”

“What was that last ‘yeah’ for!? Now line up and point your asses this way! …Don’t strip!”


I’m glad they all get along, thought Hunter while listening to the screams coming in over the transmission.

But she had permission.

They moved over to the cooking area. Below the tarp, they started by eating the meat and vegetables that were already prepared. She was surprised to find the meat had a bit of a breading on it. She could not get enough of the flavor when the sauce soaked into the breading and she ate it with the vegetables.

But…

“About what you were saying, it mostly comes down to preparing your willpower in advance.”

She had something to show them, so she grabbed a nearby skewer.

“Like this.”

She stabbed a partially cooked piece of meat onto the tip. The Head Maid working the grill muttered something about that one still being rare, but Hunter knew she just had to finish cooking it later.

Anyway, she continued stabbing meat onto the skewer.

“This is how Horinouchi and the others prepare their ether and willpower. Basically, they gradually build it up.”

“So they gather it on site when they need it, right?”

“Yes,” agreed Horinouchi while looking at Hunter’s hand. “That is why we build in the engines. If we start up the engines first, we can increase our ether extraction even when starting from zero.”

“That’s right.” Hunter held up the skewered meat like a spear. “And once you have this much meat, you transform, right?”

“Yes. Is that wrong?”

“You need to change your way of thinking.”

She handed the skewer to the Head Maid who hated rare meat so the woman could resume cooking it.

Hunter instead grabbed some other meat with a pair of tongs.

“These are spare ribs. They still haven’t been split apart.”


Kagami watched Hunter prepare the meat.

She had actually had her eye on the spare ribs already.

After all, pork always had a way of showing up in the alternate fantasy worlds.

However, her sister had not known much about the slaughtering side of procuring meat. She always had her doubts about it when she saw it, but since they still managed to procure the meat, she could only assume there was some kind of correction in place.

Hooray for fantasy. It is even kind to meat.

But in this modern setting, it was a bit of a strange sight.

Human ribs and pig ribs were not all that different. The meat between and around the ribs was generally similar to breast meat, but it was also very soft since it was rarely used. And these were cooked in rows of five or six instead of splitting them apart first.

They were kept in the shape of ribs. There was a natural desire to split them apart when seeing those bones, but there was a reason not to do so.

They were easier to cook like this.

If they were separated, the cook would have to think about how well done each and every one was and the flavor would grow too strong when they were individually soaking in the sauce.

But when all together…

“I was familiar with the idea of a rib rack, but this is my first time seeing one.”

“A rib rack?” asked Horinouchi with a tilt of the head.

Hunter only smiled.

“It’s a standard for barbecue, but the American-style is pretty crude.”

The maids carried it over.

It was structured like bookends made of thin metal rods. It looked something like a toast stand.

“It looks like that thing that holds the tires of bicycles.”

That is called a bicycle stand, Horinouchi.

But as for the rib rack…

“After covering the spare ribs with sauce, you stick them on here without separating them.”

Hunter applied a thick coating of reddish brown sauce and stuck the meat on the device.

“Should you really be putting that much seasoning on them?” asked Horinouchi.

“They are standing up and the fat will cook out, so most of it will drip down. And it is generally cooked from below with a cover over the top, right?”

“Right. After it’s been cooked just the right amount, the meat gets nice and tender. Anyway, we’ll be leaving it on low heat for about an hour.”

Koutarou carried over some already cooked ribs on a plate with a lid.

“I thought this might happen, so I already prepared some.”

“Makes me question why we’re cooking these other ones, but thanks. Now…”

Hunter held a knife out toward the steaming ribs on the plate.

“This is over a kilogram which makes it three times as much as that skewer of meat. …Oh, and don’t worry about the bones. Anyway, when eating it, the host will cut it up. But…”

Just as Hunter said that, the Head Maid walked over.

“This has finished cooking.”

She placed the skewer of meat next to the ribs Hunter was holding up.

Hunter nodded and then continued.

“The skewered meat is small, so it cooks quickly, right? That’s why you grab them right when they’re done cooking and gradually fill your stomach. But…”

Hunter stuck her knife into the ribs.

Instead of cutting them apart, she lifted them up and took a bite from the end. She clearly tore a piece off, chewed it with her back teeth, and swallowed.

“I’d like a drink! …Thanks. What I’m talking about is eating a giant piece of meat all at once instead of grabbing smaller pieces one at a time.”

Finally, she began separating the ribs. She took the half she had bitten into for herself and then separated the other half, bones included.

“Your way is like sticking a skewer through the cooked meat. My way is like preparing a bunch at once and then cooking it.”

“In other words, you prepare a pool before entering battle?”

“No.” Hunter raised her eyebrows and smiled. “I always have it.”

The American representative laughed as she spoke.

“I’m always pooling my ether. So instead of using my engines for ether extraction, I use them to speed up the summoning. I always keep a bunch of ether…and cook it.”


“You can do that?”

Horinouchi’s techniques were meant for Shinto ceremonies, rituals, and tuning of the surrounding environment, so carrying ether at all times sounded dangerous.

“Wouldn’t it be a disaster if you lost control of it?”

“But you do it anyway.” Hunter split the first rib. “You keep your Phlogiston Heart running at all times but don’t summon your Frame. If you’re worried about losing control, you just have to be careful.

“That sounds like carrying a gun with the safety off.”

Kagami was right and Hunter must have agreed too.

“It’s actually more like having the gun cocked too. But with Ranks as high as yours, I’m sure you can do it.”

“But…”

Horinouchi had her doubts. In a way, ether control was Shinto’s specialty. Shinto spells like barriers and divine protections were a packaged form of ether control. But…

“Can you really build up enough willpower to summon your Magino without a battle?”

For a witch to maintain her Frame, she had to keep her Phlogiston Heart heated.

“Storing ether without summoning your Frame means to keep your Phlogiston Heart heated without summoning your Frame, but maintaining the Phlogiston Heart requires a high level of willpower.”

“It does sound difficult in a stressful society,” agreed Kagami.

“Take a look.” Hunter turned her spell circle so they could see. “You surround yourself in some words or a scene that keep you focused. This is the American National Anthem written on the left and right. …I remember my dad singing it.”

She summoned her Normal Form.

“Oh,” said Koutarou and the maids.

“Summon Magino Frame!”

With those words, a structure suddenly appeared behind Hunter.

The wind whipped up as the five hundred meter magic wand appeared.

“Magino Device Hedgehog.”

She had gone through her Normal Device on the way, but she had still summoned her Magino Frame right away.

That summoning would be impossible without maintaining her willpower and ether.

She smiled and clapped her hands to end the Frame summoning.

With a high-pitched sound like a steam whistle, the Hedgehog vanished into the sea. More than fall, each part fluttered down like snow and created giant pillars of water.

Waves washed in, but they did not reach their part of the beach. Hunter was wearing her swimsuit again and she smiled bitterly.

“That’s what I mean. You use up some of your pool each time you do it, but with some still built up, it’s easier to do it again. The only question is if you have the kinds of words or scene necessary.”

“I…”

Horinouchi was fairly certain she did have some words or a scene to maintain her willpower.

She recalled the night when she had said goodbye to her mother ten years before. She had carved it into her memories because she had not wanted herself or anyone else to feel anything like that again, but…

“Ah…”

The part of her memories that had left the strongest impression on her was not her mother.

It was the moon.

“—————”

The white circle floating in the blue sky seemed even more distinct than it really was.


Why? wondered Horinouchi.

Why did I not think of my mother here?

Why did I think of the moon?

She had barely ever looked up at the moon before.

Who was it that had pointed that out?

She knew the answer: Kagami.

She had lost her mother ten years before and she had sworn revenge, but she had not been able to look up at the moon.

Only after having that pointed out had she looked to the moon. And…

Yes, that idiot laughed.

That foreigner had looked up at the moon, turned her back, and laughed. Everyone saw that moon as a target of revenge, but she had laughed with joy and satisfaction in her voice.

That knight had not been worried about the opponent that everyone else feared they could not defeat.

She had laughed and intended to defeat it.

Mankind had been cornered, but she had announced that she had cornered the Black Witch.

It was not the moon.

The impression left on Horinouchi’s memories was the announcement targeted toward the moon.

Those words overturned my previous focus on nothing but my mother, myself, and the Black Witch.

I can’t believe this, she thought.

How could those ridiculous words and that ridiculous scene be what keeps me focused?


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