Clash of Hexennacht:Volume2 Chapter 8
Chapter 8: To Where It Simply Is
The smallest unit of currency these days
Is the double burger
Hunter thought about the concept of money.
But not so much as precious metals like gold. Gold was often used in magic, but it could be a pain since its quality dropped as it grew harder and bronze started to work better.
Her thoughts on money were centered on the currency economy.
“You sure can find a lot of it in some places…”
She looked around a hall. The square room had fifteen meter sides and a five meter high ceiling. There was a tiered platform in the back and there seemed to be an entrance at the top, but…
“Is this your private room, Horinouchi?”
“Yes, it’s the top floor of the General Division dorm. That said, I’m the first one to use it.”
“Yes.” Horinouchi nodded. “This dorm was originally part of the school Shihouin Academy was based on.”
“It was moved?”
“Yes. …That school was wiped out during the previous Hexennacht, but a few of the buildings survived. They were equipped with the most advanced spell defenses of the time and they were moved by eighty feng shui witches over three hours. That’s why this school is known as the One Night Castle. …Although since the school itself had been lost, I’m not sure how much the dorm’s defenses actually helped.”
“Well, if it survived, it’s still a nice jinx for safety. …Witches do like to live in the houses that mysteriously survive landslides and things like that.”
But a question did occur to Hunter.
“Why are you the first one to use this top floor room?”
“It’s simple. There were never any standout Rankers from the General Division, so everyone refused to use it.”
Horinouchi placed a hand on her cheek and sighed.
“There were even some witches who reached the single digit Ranks, but they still refused. They said they had to make it even higher. …This room is based on the one my mother used during her student days, so I think she would have wanted everyone to use it.”
“I’m pretty sure that’s exactly why no one wants to use it…”
Especially when her daughter was at the school. And if that daughter was climbing the Ranks, no one would want to use it. Hunter felt all the previous witches had agreed this was the Horinouchi castle.
…It’s more like a safe house for the head of the Horinouchi family than it is a dorm room.
Then the door on top of the tiered platform opened and the glasses guy who had caused so much trouble during the summer training camp stepped out.
“Welcome to the room of Lady Mitsuru, head of the Horinouchi family.”
He bowed, but Hunter was unsure what to do since Horinouchi was standing right next to her.
“It is time for dinner, so would you like to eat now?”
Koutarou looked to Hunter and then behind her.
Someone else stood there and Horinouchi looked back to call out to her.
“Kagami. It’s time for our strategy meeting.”
When she heard Hunter’s shock, Horinouchi ignored her with a glare.
…This is no time to be eating!
After all, Kagami was being too quiet. That in and of itself was nice, but Horinouchi would have preferred a normal sort of quiet. Fat chance of that, she thought to herself, but she could always hope.
…She’s been lost in thought this whole time and she won’t be much help like this.
Kagami must have been exhausted after the battle over Tokyo Bay because she had fallen asleep on the way back, but she had been thinking ever since waking up.
Even when they had taken a bath, she had not noticed Horinouchi calling out to her.
Horinouchi knew why.
Mary Sue at Rank 2 was most likely a resident of a world that Kagami had seen destroyed. On top of that, they seemed to have had a teacher and student relationship.
“We need to come up with some countermeasures in this meeting.”
Without an excuse like that, Kagami would carry it all inside herself.
Everything here was a fictional world to her, but she was the sort to empathize with its residents even if they were now living outside the author’s control.
It was not that Horinouchi did not enjoy stories. She had even shed tears over fiction. There was that one story in Japanese class during elementary school…what was it called? That one where the man rescues the crane and the crane came to repay him. The husband was told not to peek when his wife was weaving her cloth, but he did and found out she was the crane. And when the crane prepared to leave in shame…
“ ‘Wait! I’m actually only attracted to birds! Please stay in your true form!’ And then the aroused man spread the crane’s legs and prepared to-…”
The very end had been so awful that she had cried. Their teacher had asked them if this was a happy ending or not and the class had been divided. The radical furries among the boys had gathered together to insist humans and animals should receive equal treatment and it had ultimately led to a class trial, but Horinouchi had to wonder what the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology was thinking with that.
…I’m getting way off track here.
At any rate, she understood why Kagami felt depressed. She had likely seen destruction quite a few times in the past, but this may have been the first time a survivor had appeared before her.
In her battles with them, Kagami had proven to be an insane adlibber who could adapt to just about any situation.
But if this was what happened when she was not used to something…
…Were her previous adlibs all things she had studied before?
…Can she only adlib when up against “others” like us but not when she’s up against “herself” in the form of her emotions?
Which was it? But Horinouchi had a feeling she somehow understood this ever-troublesome person. So…
“We need as many countermeasures as we can get. This is undoubtedly a formidable foe.”
Headmaster Cerisier looked out the window as she cleaned up her office.
From here, she could see the courtyard woods, the Spell Division dorm and school building on the left, and the General Division school building and dorm past the woods.
It was still only eight in the evening, but…
“It looks like they’re really taking action.”
She snapped her fingers to turn off her office’s lights and peered out.
“It’s rare for the Spell Division building to still have its lights on at this hour.”
There was a smile in her voice, but she had more to say.
“And it’s also rare for the back lounge of the General Division dorm’s top floor to have its lights on now. …We used to chat and discuss our training there all the time. I wonder what those girls are using it for.”
Hunter felt “you sure can find a lot of it in some places” for the second time that day.
“Wait, wait, wait, wait. What’s with this carpet? I could sleep on it.”
…My home’s floors were all boards cut with an electric saw.
They had been used without much done to them, so she remembered them being stained with drips of barbecue sauce. For her, “home” brought a fairly spicy smell to mind. When a bully in her class had said her house smelled of salsa, she had yelled “It smells like mustard sauce!!” and punched the bully in the face. She and her father had stood in front of the principal and defended her actions because “Mustard makes for a better general-use sauce!”
…But I’ve started to think salsa is pretty good too, papa.
But anyway, the floor.
“The cleaning costs have got to be astronomical when you drip sauce on it…”
“Actually, Lady Hunter, we have stain-removal spells. Yes.”
The maids nodded in agreement with the glasses guy and Hunter recalled that the Shinto magic system was pretty obsessed with cleanliness. So…
“Oh, that must be nice… You can go nuts while eating and still keep everything looking nice.”
She got down on hands and knees and leaned down.
“It doesn’t even smell.”
“Wh-what are you doing, Hunter!?”
“Well.” She got up and looked around. “I’ve seen places like this in mafia movies. Y’know, the red carpeted lounge with a grand piano and a dedicated bar.”
“It’s from my mother’s time, so of course it seems dated.”
Hunter looked to the many lights on the ceiling and the side lights that illuminated the walls for ambiance.
“Talk about a wealth gap…”
“Um, well, my family has donated a lot of money to Shihouin Academy. And it helps that my mother and the headmaster were old friends. But don’t you have a nice room as a Ranker?”
“Well, in the Special Equipment Division, we bring heavy equipment like milling machines and winches into our rooms for our homework. Some of the true heroes bring in lathes, but those feel like they’re about to break through the floor.”
That was true and it gave a certain impression upon entering a Special Equipment Division Ranker’s room.
“It feels like a warehouse or parking lot…”
Horinouchi clapped her hands and a wall opened to allow a tiered platform and sofa set out.
“Is there any reason to not just have that out all the time?”
“I was told it’s normally stored away and only used for parties. That table set is enough for me, so I never really bring it out. But…”
Meanwhile, the maids moved behind the dedicated bar’s counter. They used spells to silently control the electric burners as they began preparing to cook.
The smell of melting butter was already filling the air.
…It’s a bit light for dinner, but I guess it’ll do.
Hunter saw Horinouchi looking toward the large window.
It faced south, so it gave a view of southern Tokyo Bay. From here, they could see the lights on the pier and coast of Shihouin Academy’s artificial island, as well as the lights of the recovered areas primarily from Shinagawa to Yokohama on the western coast of Tokyo Bay.
The lights of trains were occasionally visible, but those had apparently been restored with the help of the Special Equipment Division about three years before.
Someone stood in front of the glass, looking at those lights.
Horinouchi gestured toward the sofa.
“I’d like to begin our meeting. If there’s anything you want to say, you can start.”
Only after reacting in surprise did Kagami realize she was not herself.
…We cannot have that.
She was not her usual self. She also wondered if her usual self was her real self, but she was fine with that usual self. But despite thinking that, she was not maintaining that usual self.
In that case, the self she currently saw in herself was not her usual self. So…
“Going along with what you two are doing would be the right thing to do here.”
“I see you don’t change even when you’re depressed…”
Hunter was crouched down and having fun letting her fingers sink down into the carpet, but then she looked up at Kagami.
“What are you going to talk about first?”
Horinouchi relaxed in front of her and she was glad the girl did not feel the need to put up her defenses. But she was having some difficulty with this topic, so she asked a question instead.
“What would you like to hear first?”
“How about The #2’s crazy story about some kind of fantasy world? Is that true?”
“Stop that,” said Horinouchi with a glare at Hunter, but it was too late.
…You are getting a little overprotective, Horinouchi.
However, watching the exchange between the two girls had improved her mood a little.
“Yes,” she admitted about Hunter’s question. “I have traveled through many worlds. They were all destroyed, but that was one of them.”
She added a “most likely” before continuing.
“It was the most recently destroyed world. It must have been. As you heard during the battle, I was there and I worked with the others there to fight a ‘god’.”
“Then,” asked Horinouchi. “When she said you fled before the end…?”
I had a feeling she would ask about that, thought Kagami. Horinouchi is a sharp one.
“That was not a lie.”
In other words…
“I did indeed flee from there.”
Kagami’s declaration left Horinouchi speechless.
After all, even if it had happened many times before…
…It means that world was destroyed.
It was not that she had not believed Kagami when she had said it before, but having a witness to back it up changed her image of it.
That meant the same could happen to this world and they would become more “witnesses”. Also…
…She fled from the previous world?
Questions like “why?” and “you aren’t serious, are you?” entered Horinouchi’s mind, but then she looked to Kagami.
Her shoulders relaxed when she saw the way Kagami was standing.
Kagami must have noticed the change because she tilted her head.
“What kind of reaction is that? Aren’t you going to criticize me and question me further?”
“What good are criticisms and questions against someone who is determined to say nothing no matter what I say?”
Yes. This girl strongly empathized with others, so most likely…
…She would accept any criticism I sent her way.
She would not oppose any kind of protest and she would accept it all in silence.
Needless to say, accepting people’s protests would not bring back what had been destroyed. Nothing could be done, but that was exactly why she would accept those accusations. She felt that was the right of those who had been created and destroyed with no say in the matter.
…But that isn’t the case.
As the world moved and the people developed over generations, it all left the god’s control. Even if the god was responsible for the destruction, the people had had the right to fight it and to overcome it.
Any accusations over the destruction could be viewed as no more than complaints, but this girl would accept them. Because she had been unable to stop it as the other creator. So…
“What an awful sort of resolve.”
“I trust you enough to understand that.”
Kagami did not react to Horinouchi’s words.
Horinouchi had hoped she would say something to either support or reject those words, but she did not.
…I-I hate these awkward pauses.
And so she said more. She hoped she was not talking too much, but she felt this must be Kagami’s turn to listen. And…
She added an admonition to her previous kind words.
“Kagami? You…most likely do have some form of obligation to that world, but you are one of us right now and we have a goal. Please don’t forget that.”
…Hunter, quit whistling.
But Kagami did smile a little. Horinouchi had a feeling Hunter had ruined the mood, but then the Suzaku whistled back from her shoulder and she had to wonder again if it was really a bird.
At any rate, Kagami sighed and looked back at Horinouchi.
“Yes. You have my thanks.”
This wasn’t something to thank me for, she thought, but when she tried to say it…
Tears spilled from Kagami’s eyes as she smiled and nodded.
It was so sudden that Horinouchi’s heart reacted first and she could not respond properly.
Before she recovered from her confusion, Kagami raised her right palm toward her. Still smiling, Kagami lightly shook her head to throw off the tears.
“I think I will go buy us some drinks. You two start the meeting without me.”
“Lady Kagami! We have plenty of carbonated beverages at the bar!”
“Do you have Lingalia’s McCol Strong Milk sold in the courtyard?”
“I am so very sorry!”
“Who just said ‘keh’!? You need to be less straightforward when you say it!”
“Head Butler.Was there a reason for that?”
“Ah. What were those gaps for!? And what do you mean be less straightforward!?”
“I will be back.”
Horinouchi watched as Kagami left with a quick wave. But…
“Ah, Kagami! The lock spell is-…”
“I am used to opening things.”
Without even looking back, she waved her fingers past the door to open it.
How did she do that? wondered Horinouchi, but then she remembered how so many things had “opened” when that girl had come to this world. It had to be the same as that.
But what were they to do now?
…I could chase after her.
She decided not to. She felt like that would be getting too nosy, so she decided this was the most she could do.
Then Hunter spoke up from the floor.
“Why are you blushing?”
Since this was the most she could do, she decided there could not be a reason.
|Back to Chapter 7||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 9|