Clash of Hexennacht:Volume2 Prologue
Praise wine for being old,
But the flower of song for being new
—Pindar of Argos
Prologue: So as to Never Forget This Summer
The world is connected through summer
For witches, the summer meant either the beach or the mountains.
Shihouin Academy was in the center of Tokyo Bay, so they were constantly surrounded by the ocean. That might make it sound like summer meant the beach for witches, but witches had their origin in Europe and their culture mostly blossomed in the mountains.
“After saying that much, I have to wonder. Is the history here the same as in my home world? Or did some weird magic girl pop in from an alternate wonderland to create the witch culture here? Or maybe witches came from Utsunomiya, the farthest north land my sister was familiar with.”
A white-haired girl held a spell circle labeled “Lecturer: Kagami Kagami”. She wore a two-piece swimsuit that resembled a sleeveless-style outfit and she faced forward without a drop of sweat on her.
West of the beach was a small island with a lighthouse connected to the embankment with a bridge.
In front of her, someone opened a spell circle in a beach chair shaded by a tarp.
“Horinouchi, Hunter. To be honest, I am very interested in this world, but…”
“Just to be clear, witch culture has its origins in a certain nomadic people’s Greek-based nature worshipping beliefs that mixed with Middle Eastern culture in Eastern Europe and then spread throughout Europe.”
Horinouchi wore a vermilion waterproof shirt over a similarly colored swimsuit and she had a few spell circles opened. Kagami frowned at what she said.
“Didn’t the Black Witch create this world?”
Hunter, who sat next to Horinouchi, lowered her head and slowly raised her right hand, but Kagami ignored her. The lecturer placed a hand on her chin.
“If the Black Witch created this world, then why does witch culture not have its origins in her?”
“Well…after creating this world, she left the world alone for a while…”
“She must have had trouble putting this world together and went off to write some other story. That’s one of my sister’s bad habits.”
“By the way, there’s no proof for what Horinouchi said. In the middle ages, people started wondering why things were the way they were, the dark sages made some guesses, made guesses on top of those guesses, and ended up coming to that conclusion.”
“Sounds like the arguments for the existence of god.”
“I know,” replied Hunter. “To be blunt, you’d probably start a religious war if you start questioning that at school. There are some witch factions that were created from that debate, after all.”
“Yes, the witches with their origins in the middle ages are an incredibly massive group,” said Horinouchi.
“The Teutonic Order Eastern Branch Attack Force which is made up of knight-type witches like you, Kagami. There are also a few aerial knight-types in the Rankers, but their armor is really solid. I think that was the first time I used my Magino version on the witch herself. It was so refreshing to know I could fire at a person.”
“I know what you mean,” agreed Horinouchi. “My techniques are derived from the Hussite Sisters Gunner Force and I remember shooting so many times. I remember dedicating three thousand shots below the temple’s eaves, but after firing my secondary cannons until their Magino was destroyed, I realized I could have just used my main cannon. Then I noticed the witch herself was still there, so I finished it off with a blast from my main cannon. You mustn’t hold back after all.”
“Neither of you think about what people say about you, do you?” commented Kagami.
Hunter raised her hand.
“Where is Utsunomiya?”
“A fair bit north of here. It is a land of gyoza worship. I hear they have built a holy gyoza that many people worship every morning, so I assume there are gyoza witches there.”
“Just so you know, Utsunomiya was hit during Hexennacht ten years ago, so it’s still being reconstructed.”
“Curse my sister! She did always narrow-mindedly insist Yokohama had the best gyoza!”
“In that case, is Yokohama guaranteed to be safe?”
“No, she was left half in tears there when she was served a frog at a legit Chinese restaurant, so you must not let your guard down.”
“The world was half-destroyed a decade ago over things like that?”
“Well, there would be more to it than that,” said Kagami.
Horinouchi tilted her head.
“You said there were a lot of Kantou prefectures your sister didn’t visit much, right?”
“Yes. She said something about not reaching Saitama because Harajuku acted as a breakwater, but getting there from our end of things was also difficult.”
“But the large concert hall in Oomiya was unharmed.”
“Oh, even as sickly as she was, she did go there once to see a live performance from a voice actor she liked.”
“W-wait! You mean she was mixing business and pleasure!?” Horinouchi opened a spell circle. “Call your sister and have her end this violence! Do you know her number!?”
“Look, Hunter. Manko is asking the impossible.”
“I feel like the world would have trouble accepting it if that solved everything…”
“Anyway,” said Kagami. “I see. It was a bit of a mystery, but this is probably a world my sister prepared in advance to write about later. And it has a lot of overlap with reality.”
“Reality? You mean your home? Does that overlap mean something?”
“It makes it easier to write. In other words, she could write a story there at any time. That is why she put it off until later and constructed more original worlds first. It is a common pattern once an author grows accustomed to writing. But she must have gotten tired of creating all those stories to destroy…”
“So she arrived at this older place?”
“The Black Witch created this world, but the moment of the Black Witch’s ‘return’ would be when its history was made and the world began to move. Don’t you think?”
“How are we supposed to confirm that as residents of this world?”
“Once it began to move, the past was set in place. This world and what you see here, including the past, truly exist now. If there are any holes, they will be inspected and filled.” Kagami closed her spell circle. “If I had time, I would have liked to travel overseas, but I think I can grasp the situation in the West using what Hunter can tell me. For the domestic situation, I can have you lecture me, Horinouchi.”
“Can’t you get by with newspapers and the news?”
“But you always grow angry when I ask ignorant questions.”
“…So you’re studying in order to please me?”
“Then you will help me out there?”
At that point, Hunter cut in while glaring at them.
“Wait. Am I being dragged into this?”
“The history of witches is a real pain, especially when focusing on the world at large,” said Horinouchi.
“Ugh,” groaned Hunter just as someone approached the tarp’s shade from the beach side.
The Horinouchi maid in glasses bowed.
“Milady, the targets have been set up out at sea. There are fifty of the auto-loading variety, so you may begin target practice at any time.”
“Understood. We’ll use them right away. And once we’re done…”
Horinouchi stood up and turned around. There was another tarp set up on the beach and more maids and suit-wearing Koutarou were operating grills below it.
“You there! That fire is too weak! You’re supposed to add in as much of a boost as you can for a roaring flame! What if it burns? If it’s a little burnt, it makes for a nice summer memory! This isn’t our kitchen! You there, that bell pepper is burning! Why would you let it burn!? Isn’t that an insult to the person who raised it from a seed!? And that person was me! Eh!? You’re a Mother Earth-type witch, so I need to apologize to the earth!? Do you hate me that much!? I’m the head butler, you know!?”
“Horinouchi, Koutarou is being unreasonable.”
“He always is.”
“The maids get a little bit of relief with their skirts, but is he okay in that suit?”
“Well…” Horinouchi opened a sun-blocking spell over her head like a parasol and left their tarp. “Either way, let’s get to our training. …The foothold spell is in place. We’ll each supply our own magnification. The targets can move, so how do you want them?”
“I see,” said Kagami with a nod.
She had grown fairly accustomed to her Device, but there was still a lot about it she did not understand.
“If the targets are moving, how far will the shots fly if I miss?”
She summoned Dikaiosyne into her hand and Dikaio the dragon servant appeared on her shoulder.
…Heh heh heh. It’s summer, but that blue color makes me think of cider. He’s so cute.
At any rate, she aimed out to sea and fired with her right hand. She had only summoned it to fire, so the Device immediately shattered into ether.
“I’ve seen it a few times now, but it’s strange how yours breaks once you’re done with it.”
“Is that not how it works?”
“Normally it stays around for a bit because your willpower hasn’t gone away.”
One of the maids suddenly looked up.
She seemed to have notices something, so another maid placing meat on the rib rack also looked up into the sky. A bird of prey was flying through the blue sky, but when she looked toward it…
“Lady Kagami’s shot is about to hit!”
Hunter was taken aback. She opened a spell circle and tapped it twice.
“All ships, defend!!”
“Wh-what is this about?”
The first witch to notice held her hand out toward the ocean.
“Milady, on the count of three. Three, two, one…”
Something like a white wall rose from the sea. The maid who had synchronized with the flying bird whistled.
“Lady Kagami, your shot landed two kilometers away, past the American fleet beyond the horizon!”
“Hm. So I missed it?”
“Don’t try to hit it! And don’t shoot at things hidden beyond the earth’s curve!”
“That was nearly an international incident,” commented Horinouchi.
“But it wasn’t! It was just decided it wasn’t!”
“Calm down,” said Kagami. “Don’t you understand, Hunter?”
“I won’t get mad, so just tell me.”
She had permission, so she told her.
“To be blunt, I do not really know what my Device can do.”
“Ohh… So you haven’t taken any readings on its performance?”
“She’s swinging it around like she knows what she’s doing, but it’s really a wild Device without any kind of readings taken or testing done. She’s only authorized as a witch because her servant was registered.”
“In other words, I am a deadbeat living off of Dikaio here? …Well done, you!”
The dragon child withdrew a little but then blushed at the compliment. When Kagami saw the dragon shaking its head and unsure what to do, she looked back and saw the Suzaku on Horinouchi’s shoulder.
The Suzaku seemed to stick its tongue out at them, so was it really a bird? Horinouchi must have known it was being rude because she slapped the top of its head.
“Sorry about that. Suzaku is just really shy.”
“Japan sure has a strange culture concerning small animals,” said Hunter as she watched Dikaiosyne’s scattering ether light.
“That seems like a real shame, but does it mean the school still sees you as a stray witch?”
“Wild, ain’t I?”
“They’re leaving her alone, but only because they think they can use her yet interfering probably wouldn’t end well.”
As Horinouchi spoke, Hunter opened a few spell circles.
“If American-style is fine, I can run some tests for you.”
“Won’t that mean the information will be sent straight to the American military?”
“It’s shared through U.A.H. anyway, right? And taking specialized readings is our specialty. It’s kind of fun, so how about you do it too, Horinouchi?”
“I see.” Kagami smiled a little. “This is because the American military will be providing us backup too, isn’t it?”
“We’re just taking some readings is all. …But I do wonder. You wouldn’t be able to use the swing-by, but I think you could get some GPS help through me. Oh, but only when I’m awake.”
“W-wait,” cut in Horinouchi. “You’ll need to negotiate with Japan if you’re including me in that…”
“When it comes to Black Witch countermeasures, on-site decisions are more important than international negotiations.”
Hunter said that with a look of exasperation and Kagami could only smile bitterly.
“Horinouchi is a Japanese spell attack soldier and I take it Hunter would be the American equivalent. I assume your positions are determined using the Ranker system in order to sidestep a lot of those difficulties, but what role does international law play into your interactions beyond that?”
“In Japan, the Imperial Household Agency tends to take the leading role.”
“And who is the representative of the Imperial Household Agency?”
“The main representative is the imperial family. Then me. Although I only hold the position in order to take part in the Ranker battles, so the leaders of the Horinouchi family do all the actual work. The headmaster was invited in as a special advisor. Another of the Three Sages was also invited and they’re the U.A.H. representative.”
The older of the maids bowed Horinouchi’s way.
“I see. So you have most of the connections in place. But in that case…”
“Yes.” Horinouchi gave a look of resignation. “U.A.H.’s foreign issues are handled by the Three Sages.”
“I act as a middleman there.”
Koutarou raised a hand while holding tongs, but it almost seemed like he would be in danger if he did not emphasize his contribution.
But in that case, Kagami only needed to open a spell circle and make a call.
“Lady Headmaster, Horinouchi and I would like to establish a military relationship with Hunter. Do we have your permission?”
“Oh, my! It isn’t often that Miss Horinouchi is so open about these things! You have permission.”
“Kagamiiiii!! A-and you too, headmaster!?”
“Horinouchi, you need to focus on the end result more than how we got there.”
Everyone glared at Koutarou who was currently focused on the end result of all the flames.
Horinouchi did not like Kagami’s choice, but it was too late now.
“You’ve said a lot about me, but it isn’t like I don’t have any friends, you know?”
“Horinouchi, you don’t need to force yourself…”
“I-I am not. Everyone in my class is a witch and we all have special powers, so it isn’t like I stand out or anything.”
“Ohh,” said Hunter. “Through elementary school, schools are generally coed. But the gap between the spells girls and boys can use grows more obvious as the years pass, so it can be tough.”
Girl’s spells were active and boy’s spells were passive.
For a girl, their budding abilities appeared as power, so they would go nuts when they first started learning spells but would soon calm down. That was due to the fear they gained of their own power. There were some groups or individuals that decided to almost entirely seal away their power as a witch.
But boys had passive spells which gave them constant physical abilities that began as a sturdy body. That meant the boys looked stronger during everyday life and the elementary school boys had a tendency to move out ahead.
“Yeah. On parents’ day, someone’s mother laughed and told her husband he used to be like that too, but that made it clear that the power balance had reversed since then.”
“Horinouchi, are you saying that does not occur between girls?”
“Yes, I am. Active witches don’t need to hold back around each other.”
“Who has the most destructive power in the General Division?”
“I am at the top.”
“What about accuracy?”
“That too is m-me.”
“S-Suzaku is quite fast.”
“I bet you’re the only one that thinks you’re friends with anyone,” said Hunter. “Do they all speak to you really politely?”
Horinouchi had been beaten. She also saw Hunter whispering something to Kagami.
“She’s at the top of the General Division because she’s beaten the rest of them down that far.”
“What about you, Hunter?”
“We do a lot of joint development, so we started out using a group system.”
“I see.” Kagami and Hunter looked back toward Horinouchi. “Horinouchi, I think you should avoid shooting people so much.”
“H-hold it! Don’t treat me like I’m some dangerous person!”
After saying that, she realized something, so she clapped her hands together and pointed out the delightful fact.
“The armor! It would be faster to list the people worse than my Akerindou when it comes to armor! Well, I guess everyone has their flaws. This means I’m perfectly normal. Heh heh heh.”
“Then the weak armor would be the small flaw that makes her adorable,” said Hunter.
“What does that make her power, speed, and accuracy?”
“Failings as a human being?”
“A-again! Don’t link my abilities to my personality!”
The maid managing the targets out at sea silently drank some water while thinking Horinouchi was in trouble.
Hunter found the beach surprisingly nostalgic.
Her father had died partway through elementary school, but there had been so many extra rooms on the American base that she had continued living in their house with a housekeeper coming by every so often. She had been worried about safety, but the base’s witches had patrolled the area and they had been worried about the children who had been orphaned or lost a parent like she had. They had often asked “Trick or treat!?” from the sky. If she had needed laundry or cleaning done, she had asked for a “trick”. If she had been low on food, she had only needed to ask for a “treat”.
It was the beginning of her second year in middle school that she had finally managed to accept that her father was not coming back. She had always been powerful, but that was when her abilities had really jumped up.
…A witch’s secondary sex characteristics are a real pain.
She had been a physical-style witch until then, so she had assumed she would develop in a more elegant direction once she grew up. However, she had only grown more physical. Maybe it was due to eating all that meat.
Her rank on the base had risen rapidly, so the military had started experimentally supporting her Magino Frame. After that, her rank in America had started climbing.
All the while, her surroundings had been quite lively.
But it was true there had been a period when there had not been many people around her.
It had only been the witches who would descend from the sky to ask her the same question or the few students still in the elementary and middle schools. Her father was not here and her surroundings had grown a lot busier since then, but…
“Eating lunch with two or three acquaintances, hm? This takes me back.”
“The Special Equipment Division never sleeps, does it?”
“Neither did the base. Or the ships.”
She knew her current surroundings were important, but she still remembered that short period after losing so much. Those who had remained had avoided saying so, but…
…I don’t know if you call those things important, something you don’t want to lose, or whatever else.
She knew how fragile a normal life that allowed for abnormal socialization was.
She wondered if these two knew, but that was a different issue. Given Kagami’s history, she had likely had a harder time than Hunter. Maybe.
So instead of spreading her own idiocy…
“Okay, how about we get started?”
She summoned her own Device, but…
“Let’s go without the Form. Not because it would be too hot, but to make sure you can make that kind of adjustment.”
Summoning just the Device was easy for Kagami.
With her craft-style and her unique ability in this world, she could directly manipulate ether.
She only needed the necessary amount of ether and she always produced the Device weapon and Form armor separately. But…
“The witches of this world construct the engines when summoning, but that is because it is easier to construct the Device and Form using the power of those engines, right? Or rather, it has been optimized in that way.”
“Right. So summoning just the Device or just the Form is pretty wasteful. But at our level…”
As Hunter explained, Horinouchi summoned Akerindou.
“That was pretty slow, Horinouchi.”
“You’re balancing the engines too cleanly,” said Hunter. “Can’t you be a little rougher than that?”
Horinouchi shook her head.
“It isn’t easy stabilizing the engines with the armor this light.”
“Due to that extra weight you have there?”
“This girl…” Horinouchi glared at Kagami. “When sending the ether in to power it, it can end up floating away if the ether density is too low.”
“Oh, that doesn’t affect me and Kagami’s is pretty heavy as a Holy Knight.”
“Right. Hunter, you do a good job creating the acceleration system and you use that swing-by method. But Kagami, it’s a mystery how you can keep up with me using such a heavy Device.”
“Tell me to come with you and I will follow you wherever you might go. …Hello, I am Kagami Kagami and I am currently right behind you.”
“Are you forgetting the part where you were standing in front of my house?”
“I couldn’t have you running away, could I?”
Kagami rested Dikaiosyne on her right shoulder.
“Anyway, where is the target?”
“Out at sea. …Um, on Hunter’s instructions, it’s four kilometers out.”
That number made sense to Kagami, but Horinouchi tilted her head.
“But why that far away? The U.A.H. standard is a kilometer and a half.”
“That standard is probably set to the bare minimum so the male members can use it for target practice with their guns. Now…”
Hunter raised the corner of her mouth to press Kagami to answer, so she did so.
“Hunter’s four kilometers is to correct for the curvature of the earth, isn’t it?”
Kagami explained her reasoning.
“Since the earth is round, the greater the distance between you and your enemy, the more they disappear behind the curve.”
“Kagami… You don’t need to sink down below my breasts while gesturing, ‘Like this. Like this, see?’.”
“My apologies! I thought that would make it easier for you to understand. …It is hard to picture when you are used to firing your Normal Device from visible range or firing your Magino Frame at extreme high altitude, but outside those two circumstances, the earth itself becomes an obstacle. Take Hunter from the other day for example.”
“When I can monitor my opponent with the satellites, I can fire at them without worrying about them firing back.” Hunter smiled and pointed out to sea. “From a visual height of a meter and a half, you can see a little over four kilometers away. The Form’s heels raise your visual height to about two meters and that lets you see to a little over five kilometers away, but we’re going Formless right now.”
“Well, we can do that conversion in our head. …In other words, that distance is America U.A.H.F.’s estimated limit of our effective visual range?”
“Right. If we can respond to anything at that range, then the challenge for a close-range fighter is how to fill that five kilometer gap. …That’s the absolute distance according to the US.”
“I see. And that is why you use that swing-by for so much speed.”
“No other organization can use surveillance satellites or anything equivalent, so that is a troublesome ability.”
“You two are the crazy ones for beating me.”
Hunter glared at them, so Kagami had to wonder if that was true.
“Looking at it now, four kilometers is a surprisingly long distance.”
“You can only see the top half of the target, right?”
Once Hunter mentioned it, Kagami realized it was even worse than that.
“There are waves out at sea, so it is rising and falling a good bit.”
“Lady Kagami, shall we stop the waves for you!?”
“Koutarou, limit your overprotectiveness to Horinouchi.”
“The amplitude is actually easier to read out at sea, right?” said Hunter. “Oh, and shoot without holding it.”
“Without holding it?”
Hunter nodded and removed her Device from her arm.
…It is not falling?
“The acceleration system uses a flight spell divine protection, so it can fly through the sky just by existing. Your Device should be the same since you based it on Horinouchi’s. The rest is simple. You control it like it’s the Magino instead of the Normal.”
Hunter gently swung both hands and the Device rose into the air.
Horinouchi did the same and hers looked more stable. Then it was Kagami’s turn.
When she tried, it rose a little too far, so she lowered it as if holding down someone’s head.
“The front of yours is light,” said Hunter, so that must have been the case.
Then Hunter’s explanation continued.
“When firing, you can see from the front of the cannon using the firing spell circle. Just think of it as using the Magino Device’s targeting spell while still in Normal mode. Horinouchi, you fire yours with a bow-style, so you target with visual magnification, right? That feels more accurate, but when you have your feet on the ground, it’s best to have your point of view as high as possible. So at times like this, raise it up a little.”
“I see,” said Kagami. “It is true the targeting is matched to the front of the cannon when firing the Magino Device.”
“I’m sure Horinouchi is already doing it, but you should set it so you can see all the important points of your Device when in Magino mode. You couldn’t react when I jumped onto yours, remember? You would have seen me if you were monitoring it from a little higher up.”
“Akerindou also has viewpoints pointing outwards, but it doesn’t have any looking back toward itself.”
“So go like this.”
Hunter opened spell circles around herself.
They surrounded her like a forward-facing spindle.
“It won’t cover all 360 degrees, but it leaves no blind spots above, below, left, right, in front, or behind.”
“You create additional viewpoints in Normal mode too? For more than targeting?”
“In close-quarters combat, having a rearview mirror and side mirrors is pretty convenient. Turning your head just to see where your opponent is can mess up your stance.”
“I see,” said Kagami for the umpteenth time that day.
…This is a very interesting world.
The weapons were more than just weapons. They included combat support devices. Also, all the functionality of a battleship had been gathered together and placed inside a handheld weapon.
“So these are more than mere weapons that provide destructive power and mobility. They are also physical and sensory support devices.”
“Most of the focus is on sensory support. Some witches will even use their servant or a detachable drone. Also…”
“W-wait a minute,” said Horinouchi while displaying a diagram of Akerindou. “I know this is supposed to be a training camp, but aren’t you going over a little too much material at once?”
“Horinouchi, are you worried for me?” asked Kagami.
“No, Horinouchi’s frame is just really detailed, so even a small change has to be a big deal. Let’s go over each of the parts and see what possibilities we can find.”
That also seemed like too much at this point, but Kagami decided to allow it.
Koutarou was on edge.
The maids were as well.
They were watching Horinouchi, Kagami, and Hunter standing on the beach with their Normal Device floating in the air, but…
Every time the three made a move, Koutarou and the maids prepared to applaud.
But when they saw the girls open another spell circle and begin a lecture on Frames, they stopped moving. It was most noticeable in the young maids, but they all had a dangerous level of tension in their shoulders. When Hunter pointed out to sea and the three girls simultaneously opened spell circles, everyone prepared to applaud once more.
One of the young maids nearly jumped the gun on her “Well done, milady!”, so one of the older maids teleported over and chopped the back of her neck to knock her out.
The witch managing the sea targets stood a little back and to the right of the girls, but she looked back and gave the hand signal for “safe”.
“That was a close one.”
“The younger ones view Lady Mitsuru like a little sister.”
Hunter must have heard the maid collapsing from the chop to the neck because she turned around.
“Something the matter?”
“Yes, a maid was so focused on grilling the meat she came down with heatstroke!”
“Heh heh. It really has been a long time since we’ve done anything like this outside,” said Horinouchi.
Everyone smiled back as if to say, “Indeed it has.” When Horinouchi looked back out to sea, one of the maids spoke up.
“The heatstroke may have been a lie, but doesn’t Lady Mitsuru’s nostalgic reaction seem a little too cool for something as serious as heatstroke?”
“It has been a long time, so she merely spoke the truth. I think she simply trusts in our nursing ability.”
They looked back to the collapsed maid being carried below the tarp. A maid skilled in freezing spells was waiting with a bucket made of frozen beach sand that was being used to hold the meat and other perishables. She let out a white breath and spoke.
“If we shove her in this, it should look like we’re doing something.”
“Yes, convincing Lady Mitsuru matters more than actually nursing anyone back to health.”
“I need to make sure I never come down with heatstroke…”
Witches are scary, thought Koutarou, but the three girls still had not fired. Once again, their spell circles suddenly vanished.
Just as everyone prepared to clap, Horinouchi slammed her fist into Kagami.
The maids tilted their heads with sweat dripping from their chins.
“What was that?”
“You couldn’t tell?” asked Koutarou. “Lady Kagami called her Manko.”
All of the maids gave him a look of scorn. Finally, the Head Maid smiled his way and placed a hand by her ear.
“Oh? What was that, Head Butler? Would you mind telling us what you said?”
“Either speak politely or interrogate me, but don’t try to do both!”
“Just so you know, I was the witch in charge of that latter job back in the former West Germany.”
Koutarou had heard before that she had lost badly to Horinouchi’s mother.
…She may be older than me, but my position is higher! I outrank her!
But then the maid grilling meat three grills over turned toward them.
“Head Maid, Head Butler, may I make a bold request?”
“What is it?’
“Can we do our work in swimsuits like Lady Mitsuru and the others?”
“Oh?” The Head Maid smiled a little. “The Head Butler is working in his suit, so as his subordinates, we couldn’t possibly do that. Isn’t that right, Head Butler?”
He had a feeling the look in her eyes was saying, “I accidentally only brought a really skimpy swimsuit today, so if you agree to that request, I’ll pull your teeth out”, so he decided to nod.
Then three cannon blasts rang from the beach. Everyone immediately spoke up without checking on the results.
“Well done, milady!!”
Horinouchi realized something just as they fired.
It was concerning Kagami next to her.
“Kagami, do you have any blast protection?”
That was a divine protection generally included in the Form, but at the Ranker level, attacks produced great pressure. Devices were required to have externally-directed divine protections to keep the blast from damaging the people and objects around them. They could only fire their Devices without the Form because they were protected by those externally-directed divine protections.
…But did Kagami’s Dikai-whatever have that?
She had been firing blanks at first, but she had only fired it with her Form since remaking it.
Curious, Horinouchi looked over and saw Hunter looking back from the other direction.
Kagami was missing. I knew it, thought Horinouchi as she looked back.
“That was rather exciting.”
Kagami’s voice came from several dozen meters back. Sword in hand, she stood on top of the tarp covering Koutarou and the others. She fixed the swimsuit that had been shifted out of place by the blast, peered down below, bowed toward the maids, and jumped down.
“I still cannot tell where this Device is more flexible and where it is not.”
“Yeah, it’s a weapon, but individuals tend to make a lot of adjustments to theirs.”
As soon as she landed on the beach, Kagami pointed her large sword toward the other two girls.
Then she flew forward with the sword held below her arm.
She did not run or jump. She literally flew.
“Did you put a thruster in your sword!?”
Kagami’s sword had not had its own acceleration system.
“By linking the blasts together, I can use the power of the blanks to fly. It is only a short jump, but I probably could truly fly if I used an acceleration spell instead.”
“That will seal off your mobility when you’re firing, so be careful.”
By the time Horinouchi nodded in agreement with Hunter, Kagami had landed next to them. She placed a hand on her chin in thought.
“With my method of direct creation, I actually have to remake Dikaiosyne from the ground up every single time. Even if I try to add in those divine protections, I will not be able to remember them all.”
“Oh… That’s right. We just place the designs in the spell circle console, so the parts and divine protections are added in as we control the ether. In other words, once the designs are made, we only have to control the fuel used to construct it.”
But Kagami’s craft-style did not require any fuel control and it had no concept of premade designs, so she had to rely on her memories and instincts to build it up from scratch.
“Kagami… You don’t care much for details, do you?”
Directly manipulating ether to construct objects without a ceremony was pretty much the work of a god. But…
“Not even a god can create a fighter jet without designs. I would not be able to construct my Device without the knowledge of power systems and firing systems I gained from my experiences in the previous worlds I traveled through. I can increase the armor or power, but I am currently lacking when it comes to detailed divine protections or control systems.”
“That would explain why you were shooting so wildly…” said Horinouchi.
“I’m starting to feel like I shouldn’t have gotten so serious about fighting you…” said Hunter.
They had both lost to her, so they both understood what it was like. But…
“What do you do when you need a divine protection, Kagami?”
“In fact, do you have some notes listing what you need to put in that big sword?”
“I have confidence in my memory. But anyway…”
She swung her sword and ether light scattered.
…She’s remaking it, isn’t she?
Being able to do that instantly was a major strength of the craft-style.
She swung the sword a few more times.
“There. …No designs and no ceremony. If instantaneous construction is my way, then I only have to remake Dikaiosyne to suit my current needs. Dikaiosyne is a simple weapon. It only has the sword, the cannon, the armor, and the acceleration system. So in battle, I can add on the necessary components in stages.”
She seemed to be speaking to herself more than anyone and then she fired diagonally up into the sky.
“On top of that, maybe I should make recipes for a few different versions. Anti-air, anti-ground, etc.”
The blast rang loudly, but something was different from before.
“That should do it.”
A wind full of ether light dust whipped around her, but she herself was unaffected.
“Did you make it recoilless?”
“Yes, but I also altered the effective range of the armor spells into a net shape that allows the blast to pass through and disperse. I had already done so with the back end of the Magino Device’s cannon, but I decided I should probably do the same with the Normal one as well,” she explained. “And with that, I think we can get down to some proper training.”
“For being high Rankers, we don’t have much of a common understanding on anything.” Hunter smiled bitterly. “I think that means we all still have a lot to teach each other.”
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