Clash of Hexennacht:Volume2 Chapter 9
Chapter 9: It Isn’t Enough
With indelible memories
Clenched tightly in your grasp
Choose to whom you will pay
The courtyard is surprisingly loud this late at night, thought Kagami.
Summer must not have been quite over yet. Perhaps due to the thickness of the lingering heat, the cicadas were chirping around the lights even at night.
Cicadas, hm? she thought before changing it to, Is this how my sister pictured the real world too?
She looked up into the night sky and saw the moon, but that too was strange. She was standing on an artificial island that generated power using the tides, yet the moon was always overhead.
This truly was an imaginary world.
…And if I mess up here, it will be a destroyed world.
The only place where she could not hear the cicadas was where she could hear the night insects. They used their shrill musical chirping to make their presence all too obvious. As the somewhat chilly night air descended around her, Kagami saw the central clearing through the trees.
“A mausoleum, hm?”
There was a small white shrine atop a short hill. It had been mentioned in her tour of the school.
…The old school’s victims of the previous Hexennacht have their graves underground there.
They were not placed on a hill with a view like the foreigner graveyard in Yokohama.
“Can you not bring yourself to place your view of life and death in a bright place, Shouko?”
As she walked further, she spotted something else.
There were four round plazas situated around the mausoleum in the cardinal directions. They each had benches and vending machines for drinks and snacks creating a slight focal point.
“Coin-operated acceleration-style prayer wheels? You did not have to put those here, Shouko.”
She put a one hundred yen coin in one to try it out and it gave her as many pieces of popcorn as times it had spun.
…Corn seems somewhat out of place for Buddhism, but since it is curry flavor, is it supposed to be Indian? Not bad, Shouko.
Ho ho? And here we have the Vs. VIPs series of the Saint Masters card game. It has the “Fury of the Burning Stake…!” one, so do they also have the crucifixion one? Ho ho? And this is…oh! They even have this one… I am glad I stopped by here.
At any rate, she needed to get back to her original objective.
There were four drink vending machines and she stood in front of the Lingalia one.
She started to put a coin in, but it took cards. When did that happen? she wondered, but then she realized the vending machines would have “opened” along with everything else when she appeared in this world. They must have been modified as a countermeasure against that.
“So you use your student ID to pay? But you would need to authorize it for payment, so mine would not work…”
Hers was only any good for proving her identity, so there was nothing she could do.
What do I do now? she wondered.
…If I return empty-handed, I will worry Horinouchi again.
She knew that much.
But then what do I do? she wondered again just as an arm in a black sleeve reached in from the side.
“This world prefers cards to coins because it helps preserve the public order and because the people transform and fly so much.”
It was Mary.
Mary had decided to remain on her guard.
She did not even need to imagine what would happen. This was her enemy. So she had decided put up her guard, say as little as possible, do what she had come here to do, and leave.
But she had been shocked to find the girl spinning the strange prayer wheel popcorn machine and wandering around inspecting the card game vending machines. Mary had wanted to avoid hiding (or what amounted to hiding) while she waited. She was not here as a challenger.
So she had reached in from behind and scanned her payment card. Once the spell circle opened, she confirmed it.
“How many do you need?”
Kagami answered without looking back.
“Don’t you mean three?”
“Koutarou has terrible taste.”
Kagami pressed four different buttons. And just as Mary thought she was done…
Mary could only spread her mouth horizontally when Kagami did not hesitate to add an extra drink.
“I see that part of you hasn’t changed, Brigadier General.”
“Yes, I always did have you buy me a drink after each futile attempt to defeat me in a sparring match.”
“You always bought an extra one, so there were rumors you had a boyfriend.”
“What was it that I always bought?”
Oh, I see, she thought. It was fairly common in this world, but…
“So your boyfriend was a cat.”
“It was for me after my bath.”
“Thank you very much for solving that old mystery.”
Kagami stepped aside, so it was Mary’s turn.
She needed five drinks. Kagami glanced over at her after seeing what buttons she pressed.
“I thought I told you to quit drinking those carbonated ones.”
“Those are for my friends.”
“Oh, you have friends now?”
She kind of wanted to protest Kagami’s tone of voice there, but she decided to think of it as the provocation of the enemy. So…
“Yes.” She kept her heart calm. “I have so many more than I used to.”
Only after saying it did she realize how heavy a line that was.
I can’t believe this, thought Mary.
Force it down, she commanded the bottom of her gut. These are my feelings.
But she could not maintain her expression.
…I can’t do this.
For the first time in a long while, she had recalled not the resentment and anger, but the nostalgic times from before that.
Yet in the past, she had told herself the present was the present and she could remember old times after her grudge had been dealt with.
“Brigadier General, you don’t change, do you?”
“No, I do not. I have always had this baby face.”
That comment was proof that she had not changed, so Mary ignored it. For some reason, Kagami was gesturing her over, but she refused to play along. They were enemies after all.
Besides, there was something else she had to say.
“Due to a distortion in space-time, four years have passed since I arrived here, but I believe it has actually been two hundred years.”
“I do not seem to age, perhaps because the worlds recognize me as their parent,” said Kagami. “But this world seems to be a little different.”
“In what way?”
“My sister definitely exists here as the Black Witch. She is not just as an embodiment of destruction. And…”
“I have some comrades here. Also…”
Something unbearable filled Mary when she heard that.
The next thing she knew, she was speaking without looking Kagami in the eye.
“Please stop that.”
Kagami listened to the girl who now went by the name Mary.
“You call them comrades, Brigadier General, but you will still betray them and flee if something happens, won’t you?”
That is true, she thought.
She was only here because the previous world had been destroyed.
Kagami wondered what this could be about as Mary’s voice reached her.
She placed her drink cans in a plastic bag she pulled from her pocket and she turned her back.
“We can settle this in our match tomorrow night.”
Her footsteps were louder than the cicadas and the other summer insects.
Only the leaving girl’s words reached Kagami’s ears.
“I will punish you and take both our grudges to the Black Witch.”
Koutarou realized that Horinouchi could not relax inside the lounge.
Kagami was taking a long time to return and that had to be the reason.
…Lady Mitsuru really likes to help people out.
She had been very well educated, so she could do most things better than most and she had twice the average sense of responsibility.
Hunter had eaten a snack and fallen asleep on the sofa, so Horinouchi had prepared a blanket and placed it over the girl. Of course, that was likely to fill her idle time while waiting for Kagami to return.
She would occasionally glance out the window, but that only gave her a view to the south. Kagami had gone to the courtyard on the north side of the building and the dorm entrance was in a blind spot from here, so that would not tell her anything.
Is she just that impatient? he wondered, but what could he do?
“Um, what are you all doing?”
A few maids were crouched down behind the bar counter. The European witch in the center had opened a ritual spell circle and they were all checking their smaller handheld spell circles.
“Please be quiet, Head Butler. We are acting as Lady Kagami’s indirect bodyguards.”
“Lady Hunter ran into trouble, so we intend to intervene if anything happens.”
“What is that look for, Head Butler?”
“…Did you never think about taking Lady Mitsuru’s feelings into account?”
“Her feelings and what benefits her most are two different things. Plus, doing it covertly is a lot more fun! Right!?”
That second explanation is the real one, he concluded just as one of them looked up.
“Head Butler, Lady Kagami is back!”
“Very good,” he replied before turning to Horinouchi. “Milady! Lady Kagami has returned!”
Horinouchi sat at the window-side table as she waited for Kagami to return to the lounge.
She stopped pretending to look out the window and acted like she had just noticed Kagami.
“Did you buy them?”
“I did. I see Hunter fell asleep.”
Kagami handed the cans to Koutarou and smiled a little.
“Did I keep you waiting?”
“If you think you did, then maybe you did.”
“You like letting others make decisions for you, don’t you?”
Kagami seemed to have recovered enough to say things like that. Horinouchi only had to nod and bring up the topic at hand. The maids moved from behind the bar counter with a light meal of toast with a fried egg on top and a mixture of blanched vegetables and cooked pork, but she set that aside for now.
“We know what Mary’s spell is.”
“You really do?”
She could answer “yes” because both the Horinouchi family and America’s U.A.H.F. had investigated it.
“She attacks by pulling in an annihilation spell.”
Koutarou stepped from behind the counter and began filling glasses with crushed ice at the side of their table. He also opened a spell circle and gave an explanation.
“As Lady Mitsuru instructed me, I recorded optical footage and had it analyzed.”
The spell circle displayed that afternoon’s battle over Tokyo Bay.
The five hundred meter black Magino Device shaped like multiple scythes was tearing into Kagami’s Dikaio-whatever and negating all of its cannons.
“This is the process she uses to erase all of your secondary cannon blasts, Lady Kagami. …Rather than a reflection spell defense, she emits a gouging type of annihilation spell and then swings it inward.”
“So it is a scythe.”
“Precisely,” confirmed Koutarou.
He then opened a new spell circle which displayed a large arrow moving from right to left.
“Lady Mary’s attack is first fired as an invisible cannon with an annihilation power at the tip.”
That was powerful enough on its own, but…
…The real attack is what happens next.
After flying straight forward, Mary’s “blade” would swing back.
“This is when Lady Mary’s attack ‘returns’.”
“And as it moves back, anything it touches counts as a ‘hit’, correct?”
Koutarou shook his head and looked to Horinouchi who nodded. Then he took a breath and continued.
“When Lady Mary attacks, everything in the range of its returning trajectory and everything within the entire area surrounded by that trajectory counts as a hit and is annihilated.”
“So,” said Koutarou. “Let us view this from above.”
The image on the spell circle vanished and then a straight white line extended from the bottom of the screen to the top.
“At this point, only the very tip will count as a hit. But…”
As he spoke, the tip of the line turned toward the bottom left.
“It turns around.”
This was the scythe swing. And in this line drawing of the phenomenon, something happened.
The white vertical line had appeared first and then the diagonal line had dropped down to the left from the top.
Then a third line appeared, horizontally connecting the tip of the diagonal line with the original vertical line.
The diagonal line continued growing from there. As it did, the triangle created from the diagonal, vertical, and horizontal lines grew in area.
The inside of that growing triangle was filled in with the same white as the lines.
A moment later, the diagonal line changed direction from diagonal left to diagonal right.
It was approaching the original location to close the loop. This created a giant triangle from the white area. Once the white line did reach its starting point, the filled-in triangle was vertically long and horizontally narrow on the left. This triangle diagram meant one thing.
“It acts as a piercing attack on the way out and the annihilation spell consumes everything at once on the way back.”
“Do you understand?”
Kagami saw Koutarou grab the window’s curtain as he spoke.
He started by half-closing the curtain.
“The return motion is a lot like closing a curtain toward the center. It is a wiping attack that connects the return path with the cannon’s starting point. It occurs at very high speed, so it looked to us like our defenses were simply being erased.”
“Having her do that from behind you would be very bad indeed.”
“Well, based on the footage from the battle, she even activates it while right in front of her opponent.”
What did that mean?
“So she has decent range without having to circle behind her opponent?”
“Yes, Lady Kagami. Didn’t you fire your main cannon because you had picked up on that?”
That butler was a perceptive one, but he had more to say.
“According to the analysis Lady Hunter had done, this spell can perform spatial annihilation.”
“During your battle, you were occasionally pulled in toward Lady Mary and she occasionally used some unexplained acceleration.”
She remembered being pulled in by something and receiving that odd acceleration.
“Are you saying she tore into space itself and then sewed it back up?”
“Well done, milady. …It is likely based on a teleportation spell. It may have originally been a spatial fusing movement spell.”
“Yes, it just might.” Horinouchi then tilted her head. “But if it is cutting into space, wouldn’t it be easier to have it scatter right in front of her? Why activate it at the distant reversal point?”
“Oh, I can answer that.” Kagami took a breath and lightly swung her right hand. “She was taught long ago that annihilation spells are dangerous.”
…Honestly, she has such a good memory.
Yes, that was a lesson Kagami had taught her. She had matched her lessons to the spells of that world.
“It is just like fireworks. They are a little too dangerous to let children hold them. …So I told her to activate them at some distant point if she was to use them.”
“…Was she a good student?”
“A little too good a student, if you ask me.”
Kagami breathed in and smelled something.
She smelled butter, pepper, meat, and the sweet aroma of steamy vegetable leaves and roots.
I must have been hungry, she belatedly realized.
“Lady Kagami, here is the McCol Strong Milk you requested.”
She held up the glass Koutarou handed her and then gulped it all down.
It seemed to clear her throat for her. Her stomach quickly set to work and she felt her throat on down being pulled toward the bottom of her stomach, but it was probably about time for this. Her mood was beginning to recover.
There was food before her eyes. How refreshing, she thought. It was not that things had been stale before, but she had something to say as she saw Koutarou serve a glass to Horinouchi as well.
“The past is the past.”
“But if it refuses to go away, you still need to turn back and deal with it, you know?”
“What about you?”
When she asked that, Horinouchi looked her in the eye but then quickly looked out the window.
“I have never had that problem.”
“Were you spoiled?”
“I prefer to say I was happy.”
“So you admit it.”
“I am proud of it. …Aren’t you proud of your justice?”
“Then how about I take your ham steak?”
“Ah,” said the maids behind the counter, but Horinouchi did not resist and Koutarou stopped the maids with a hand.
…Yes. That is how it must be, Koutarou.
After all, I provided the drinks.
Mary suddenly patted her pocket in front of the Spell Division building.
“Oh, no! I forgot to give the Brigadier General a bill! Now she’ll never pay me back…”
“You sure have cheered up,” commented Horinouchi with a sigh.
She saw Kagami starting on her third plate of food and began to wonder if she had worried in vain. Or rather, the girl was amazingly skilled at rotating the plate while operating her spoon or fork. The fact that she did it all silently made it even more impressive. It was like a hidden talent.
But as Horinouchi looked at the girl, Kagami suddenly spoke to her with a slight smile.
“You have my thanks.”
She kept that question unsaid. If she actually asked it, she would get an answer. If she got an answer, she was sure she would do more than just blush. Yes, I would definitely scold her. After all, she is carrying too much of a burden on her own. Even if she is a self-styled god who suddenly appeared from another world.
Koutarou must have sensed a gap in their conversation because he bowed and opened a new spell circle.
“How about you look over the final segment of today’s battle, milady, Lady Kagami?”
“Nnn,” groaned Hunter from across the room. “Something smells great…”
“Come on over here, Hunter.”
“Pulling an extra chair up to the side of a two-person table set? That’s a blatant birthday seat…”
She came over regardless. A plate came for her too. It had thick-cut ham steak and vegetables and a side of bread in a basket.
“I will take that.”
Kagami grabbed the bread before Hunter could. No one was surprised.
After Hunter took a drink of the glass prepared for her and gave a skeptical look, Koutarou continued speaking.
His large spell circle displayed the final stage of the day’s battle. Kagami’s Magino Device fired its main cannon and charged.
“This was the one successful part of Lady Kagami’s battle.”
“Because Mary didn’t use that cannon that makes everything vanish?”
“Yes. Lady Kagami’s final charge worked because she fired ahead of time and Lady Mary prioritized dealing with that. …Lady Kagami successfully used that opening to send her Magino Frame in, but Lady Mary will be ready for this next time.”
The same method would not work again. And…
“She will likely realize we have figured out how her cannon works and have a variety of methods to deal with that.”
Horinouchi had something to say about that fear.
And that was of course…
“I will take part from the beginning next time. That should increase our odds of victory.”
After all, their opponent had not fought her yet, but she knew their opponent’s techniques thanks to Kagami. So…
“I am counting on you.”
She nodded at Kagami’s words.
But then she realized Hunter, Koutarou, and the maids were all staring at her.
“Wh-what are you looking at!? I’m not some kind of spectacle!”
“Well… You just have a way of really letting your reaction show.”
The fact that she pretended to look out the mirror to check her face in the reflection showed that she was fairly aware of that fact.
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