Clash of Hexennacht:Volume2 Chapter 2
Chapter 2: Fun at Night
To play with fire is to manipulate your partner
“Head Butler. Lady Mitsuru and the others are chatting, suddenly summoning their Frames, and otherwise being quite aggressive, so our remaining food supply is not looking good.”
One of the maids raised her right forearm.
“Head Butler. We are all busy grilling the meat and we can’t drive the truck to go shopping, so you take care of it!”
“If you need someone to drive the truck, I’m pretty sure some of you are former JSDF witches! But…”
Koutarou relaxed his shoulders and looked to the three witches who were rapidly yet politely eating through all the food.
“Head Butler. Lady Mitsuru seems to be in a good mood, so this is a good thing, isn’t it?”
“Yes. I think it’s good she is thinking about things other than herself.”
“Head Butler. You only say that because she never showed any concern for you.”
“That goes for you too, doesn’t it!?”
Koutarou pointed at them all as he started walking toward the embankment.
“I forbid you from bringing out the sweets until I get back! I had to preorder those to make sure I could buy them.”
“The staff later ate them with Lady Mitsuru and the others.”
“That! That is what I’m afraid of! …In fact, where are they? Where’s the cooler of sweets I had prepared!?”
The maids exchanged a glance.
“We brought that to the headmaster before leaving. You said something about providing enough seeds to last a few days. Wasn’t that the cooler?”
“Oh? Now, now, Koutarou. Why are you treating this old lady so wonderfully?”
The headmaster smiled and tilted her head when she opened the cooler on the table in her office.
“I thought this was the seeds, but is he trying to get on my good side with these sweets?”
She saw handmade pudding in beakers. They appeared to be katayaki puddings and there were more than thirty of them. That would be why the maids had so much trouble carrying this in, she thought with a sigh. She briefly glanced out the window where the sun was gradually setting and then she opened a spell circle.
“Faculty room, is there any room in your refrigerator? And everyone who’s working today, Miss Horinouchi sent us some dessert. Come and get it.”
Horinouchi grew cautious when a mysterious message of thanks arrived from the headmaster, but once she read it, it turned out to be something Koutarou had arranged. And speaking of Koutarou…
“He has heatstroke after running to the city and back in this heat? Well, I am thankful for the sweets.”
The three of them were eating their beakers of pudding while taking a break on the beach.
They left Koutarou collapsed on the sand, ate a dinner that was barely distinguishable from their lunch to rebuild their strength, performed some more fine-tuning of their cannons by the waterside, and practiced the techniques they had learned in their exchange with Hunter.
She had not often had such a change to her training methods or trained so hard all at once. Plus…
…It isn’t like today is the last day of summer break or anything.
Meanwhile, the maids began setting up the fireworks. Some were already waving around handheld ones, but looking at them now made it clear they were older than her.
They really were the “current” generation continuing from ten years before.
She had memories of them all teaching her things, but…
“Here. I don’t know much about handheld fireworks.”
She was handed some charcoal inside a hanging metal basket to light the fireworks. Feeling its heat told her the beach’s temperature was beginning to fall.
Hunter must have been thinking something similar because she looked out to sea where her comrades were.
“So if what Kagami says is true, what does that mean about the position of our world?”
Kagami nodded, lit a handheld firework, held it up, and let it dangle down from her hand. The sparks coming from the tip of its longish shape changed color and gave off a unique scent as it disappeared.
When the light finally became a green chemical flame, Kagami spoke.
“You can resent me if you wish.”
“Yeah, but…what are we supposed to say?”
Hunter smiled bitterly, opened a spell circle, and displayed something on the screen.
It was a game. A witch-like character jumped through a medieval-looking city while dodging curry. It was a confusing idea for a game world, but…
“Kagami, what you’re doing is like being inside this game and speaking with us, the characters. And let’s say the way the game is made puts us at a disadvantage.”
That would mean…
“What you’re talking about is having your own character telling you to make them jump better.”
Horinouchi started to speak because she had sensed a misunderstanding in what Hunter was saying.
She did not know if Hunter really meant it or not, but she had separated them from Kagami.
…Of course, she was trying to say the characters wouldn’t want to complain to the player.
But, she thought concerning Kagami as an individual.
…She’s the type to get emotionally invested, you know?
She recalled when Kagami had wept on the pier. So even if Hunter categorized herself as a character, Kagami would weep for her. After all, that girl had wept over the death of Horinouchi’s mother. So…
She had started to tell Hunter she was overthinking this, but she decided against it.
…I’m not that nosy.
Hunter was still having difficulty judging her distance from Kagami. And she was probably trying to swing back a little from the truths she had learned today.
In other words, Hunter was not actually trying to distance herself from Kagami.
That said, misunderstandings were frightening. They could lead to a loss.
That was what it meant to be a witch Ranker.
And that was why Hunter had said they would not complain about Kagami even if they were characters and she was the player.
That was likely Hunter’s way of providing a positive sense of distance. It was a line that would only work with Kagami.
They would most likely only grow closer from here on out. Kagami would play a role in that. She did not hide the fact that she was special and she interacted with them in a way that told them not to worry about it.
“Even if she created this world, Hunter, couldn’t you say the things that were born and raised in this world were not created by her?”
That was something they had confirmed several times today.
That was the common point between Horinouchi and Hunter, so it would tie them together here.
They would think about the present more than their worries.
Her past with her mother was important, but she had not thrown it away.
The fact that she was looking to the moon in the present was what mattered.
Hunter must have understood that because she crossed her arms and tilted her head.
“Thinking about it isn’t going to change anything.”
“You’re so strict about that kind of thing, Horinouchi.”
Hunter smiled bitterly and then looked to Kagami.
“Do you have anything to say to this ‘fool’, Kagami?”
“The fact that you are hoping for a solution is more than enough, Hunter.”
Kagami responded immediately.
Horinouchi could only respond with a look of exasperation, but Kagami suddenly smiled.
“I am thankful.”
She immediately swung her right arm outwards.
She suddenly summoned her Magino Device.
“Was it like this?”
“Well done,” said the Head Maid when she saw the sight.
Kagami had a clearly abnormal ability to control ether. The Head Maid understood that on an intellectual level, but it was simply too different from their own abilities.
…In our day, you were considered quite skilled if you could summon a Magino Frame at all.
A church bell rang behind Kagami and a giant sword was constructed.
“Magino Device Dikaiosyne. …Well done.”
Hearing that, the Head Butler looked up where he had collapsed from heatstroke.
“Well, of course.”
He grabbed a nearby bottle, presumably for some water, and drank some through the corner of his mouth.
“Lady Kagami is on equal footing with Lady Mitsuru!”
“Head Butler. That is the spare rib sauce.”
A new commotion began when he spat something red from his mouth and fell back to the ground.
Hunter whistled and Horinouchi gasped as they looked to the giant sword that had appeared over the ocean.
It was over five hundred meters long. That was the same length as Hunter’s Hedgehog and the Hedgehog had more volume overall, but…
…A sword just isn’t fair.
The shape alone gave off a sense of power.
“It is well-made and that was nice and fast, but…it could use some work.”
Kagami lifted the corner of her mouth and let her Magino Frame be destroyed.
The ringing of the bell split and reverberated across the ocean to Enoshima. It must have distracted the cars and motorcycles on the road beyond the embankment because horns began to honk.
But as the sword broke apart and fell, Horinouchi looked back.
“Wh-why do you say that?”
“Well.” Kagami placed a hand on her chin and looked up at the purged light scattering across the ocean. “Yes. The ether reacts to my focus by increasing the amount I acquire, but I have trouble storing it. During battle is one thing, but I have little to keep me focused during peaceful times and I cannot maintain that focus for long.”
“You should be able to do it once you know you have a battle coming up, so just keep it in mind. But anyway…”
Something else interested Hunter.
“What about you, Horinouchi? Have you thought of a way to stay focused?”
The question was so sudden that Horinouchi had nothing to say in response.
…I have nothing prepared!
Hunter had already mastered this technique and she used the American National Anthem to remain focused. For Kagami, that focus and her ether manipulation ability seemed to be the key.
But for Horinouchi…
“Not to worry, milady!”
The three girls turned toward the voice and saw Koutarou getting up from where he had supposedly been sleeping off his heatstroke. He had something red staining his mouth and chest, but Horinouchi decided to pretend she had not seen it.
“What is that, Horinouchi?” asked Kagami.
“Later! We’ll send him to the hospital later!”
“Who was it that could drive the truck?”
“N-no, wait! We have some maids from the JSDF!”
“That is kind of an amazing thing to say if you think about it.”
However, those maids were currently waving their hands back and forth below the tarp. The surrounding maids were gesturing that everything was fine and that there was nothing to worry about, so they could likely ignore this.
“C’mon, Horinouchi. Everyone’s waiting.”
“C-could you not put so much pressure on me!?”
At any rate, she had to think of a way to maintain her focus.
“I-in my case…”
There was something she had thought of earlier: Kagami laughing toward the moon, Kagami weeping, and…
…During the battle with Hunter.
Kagami had clearly told her to trust in her.
As someone who had always fought alone, that had felt embarrassing.
But Kagami’s skill was real. Her strange actions had a way of standing out, but Horinouchi wanted to believe it was unintentional. However, using all that to maintain her focus felt…
“You do not need to force yourself, Manko.”
“D-don’t call me that!!”
As she shouted back, she summoned her Normal Device into her hand and her Magino Device behind her.
With the ringing of a shrine bell, the sky briefly split apart and Magino Device Akerindou appeared. The blowing wind whipped up Horinouchi’s shirt and stirred up the waves at her feet.
She took a surprised step and looked back, wondering what that was…no, wondering what had happened.
…I-I did it?
She questioned it, but the results were plain as day. The Normal Device in her hand, the five hundred meter or more Akerindou behind her, and the Suzaku calmly smoking a cigarette on her shoulder were all real.
It had worked well, so she calmed her breathing.
“S-see? I did it.”
Hunter and Kagami held their palms out and took three steps back.
What is that for? she wondered as Hunter glared at her.
“You grow focused when people call you Manko?”
“Dirty words get you excited, Horinouchi? Quite the covert pervert, aren’t we?”
“S-stop right there! Don’t just decide what kind of character I am!”
Koutarou, stop praising me and get to the hospital.
After a few visits, exchanged techniques, and emergency scrambling of the F-23s, the period of time known as summer break finally approached its end.
In the middle of Tokyo Bay, Shihouin Academy began welcoming back the witches who had returned home to or gone to train in other regions or countries. The second term had yet to begin, but the school was filled with people and voices.
After August 20, the chimes for class periods began to ring to ease the students back into the school schedule.
“I see you’re methodical as ever even this early in the morning. Did you end up spending summer break here?”
“No, I did visit a few places, even if they were nearby. They were all day-trips.”
A tall girl spoke inside the headmaster’s office.
The headmaster stood by the window behind the large desk and the girl in a black summer sweater, a black uniform, and long socks brought her hands to the reception table.
She was looking at the potted plant on the table while protectively placing her hands around it.
Something fell from the flower into the girl’s hands: ether light.
“That hasn’t actually been tuned for recovery purposes. That’s a perfectly natural potted plant, but they end up like that when grown somewhere with good ether line exposure.”
The headmaster looked out the window to the flower garden on the north end of the large courtyard. The witch tending to it must have noticed her because the girl waved her hand. The headmaster waved casually back.
The tall girl next to the table breathed a sigh of relief and slowly removed her hands from the potted plant as if making sure not to spill any of the ether light.
“Thank you for showing me something so lovely. Now, about my request…”
“Yes, that is not such a gentle topic. Why do you want to challenge Miss Kagami to a match?”
“I do think I would be best off challenging the #1 instead of someone ranked lower.”
She seemed to stab her fingernails into her short white hair and brushed it back.
“Oh, dear,” lightly said the headmaster, but the girl bowed in silence.
“My apologies.” The girl nodded. “But I cannot bear to let that great criminal Kagami Kagami live.”
The headmaster smiled bitterly without rejecting that reason or providing any other feedback.
“Then there’s no helping it. Um…”
As soon as she said that, the headmaster saw something.
Or rather, she saw nothing. The girl had already vanished from the office.
She had announced her plan to challenge Kagami and that was it.
“Oh, dear. Is she saying she’ll do this even if I stop her? What an impatient girl.”
She smiled bitterly and looked out the window.
“Such a shame when you can see the fruits of this final summer out the window.”
She looked back to the flower garden outside and waved back when the girl watering it waved up at her.
“It looks like we’re going to make it in time, Mitsuyo.”
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