Clash of Hexennacht:Volume3 Chapter 6
Chapter 6: Rejection Arrives Without Warning
Slap the surface
To make a nice noise
Koutarou saw an instantaneous exchange of offense and defense.
…Has it started!?
The maids had called off their tea party and scattered to various points within the academy. A few of them continued the tea party, but that was a diversion against the surveillance from the surrounding Magino Devices. Koutarou and one of the maids (a Latina witch from South America who specialized in stealth) were rushing toward the main gate.
The maid kept her stealth spell active and held it up like a cloak as she spoke.
“This jaguar-style spell can erase my footsteps, but it honestly won’t work against something on that level.”
“That is fine. As long as I can confirm the situation-…”
He trailed off as offense and defense intersected 40 meters away.
The gas mask girl, who had a pink Normal Frame with what seemed to be a flower motif, rushed at Lisbeth.
It was timed to catch Lisbeth by surprise and Koutarou only noticed it once she stood up after landing.
She reached forward while standing and swung her hoe-shaped Device forward. But…
…That isn’t going to hit!
The hoe could only manifest its power along the path of the swing. Mary’s scythe could slice the things on the inside edge, but a hoe only effected things along the path of the blade itself.
Why would she use something like that here?
…Is she a reckless warrior for justice!?
As expected, the attack did not hit.
But a row of objects appeared along the path of the hoe.
They were flowers.
“What is that?”
“Please get down, Head Butler!”
Just as his head was held further down, the ether flowers that blossomed over an arc began to scatter into the wind.
Immediately, light and power appeared straight ahead.
“Those are explosion spells!”
A chain reaction of explosive light covered a radius of three meters between Lisbeth and the girl.
Kagami saw Lisbeth’s reaction.
She found it interesting because the woman did not fall back.
The European U.A.H. witch simply swung her right hand. That light upward snap brought something into existence.
…A straight sword device!
It only took a moment.
But the blade did not hit the expanding arc of explosive light as it approached her.
The blade tip produced a path of bluish-black light.
“What is that?”
“That is Aunt Lisbeth’s spatial cutting!”
“You are a knowledgeable girl, Horinouchi!”
That was exactly what happened. The explosive light and power were sliced in two before reuniting and exploding behind Lisbeth who was covered in a slight bluish-black shadow.
Kagami heard something. Power was bursting and the ground was shaking, but Lisbeth’s surroundings remained entirely uneventful, as if she were contained inside an invisible scabbard.
The explosive flowers’ ether petals scattered through the air and the wind whipped them up a little later.
Then Lisbeth moved forward. She held her sword upside down as she did so.
Immediately, the gas mask girl swung her hand.
Ashes spread gently through the air. And as ether light surrounded them…
Just as Lisbeth swung her sword upwards, another series of explosions occurred.
Their density was even greater than before, which meant…
…That gas mask girl’s Phlogiston Heart is heating up!
But as the flowers scattered and the wind actually reached her this time, Lisbeth spoke.
“A flower spell…!”
After confirming that her opponent was using a spell with a flower motif, Lisbeth continued.
“That spell is Cerisier’s-…”
She was not able to finish her question.
The girl cut her off after taking a quick step back.
“The Rank 1.”
It was a quiet, restrained voice. And after a breath, she concluded her thought.
Horinouchi shuddered when she heard the gas mask girl.
…So that really is what’s going on here!?
This girl had attacked after the headmaster’s announcement, so she was clearly working for the headmaster.
The Rank 1’s identity was not publicly known, but the headmaster knew.
That had been a worrying fact.
Horinouchi had wondered if the Rank 1 and the headmaster were connected in some way.
If the Rank 1 was a powerful individual who could act on the headmaster’s behalf when instructed to, it changed the meaning of keeping her identity hidden.
The series of events playing out here and the headmaster’s instructions had revealed something.
The Rank 1 witch was indeed under the headmaster’s control.
Kagami seemed to understand the same thing. Horinouchi knew perfectly well why she had called her name.
Horinouchi was the Student Council President.
Her job was to gather the students’ opinions as their representative, convey them to the headmaster, teachers, and administrators, and return to the students with the decision they made.
The headmaster could be seen as her enemy and the headmaster had just made her stance clear. But what was Horinouchi supposed to do as a student? Just as she began to make that decision…
Kagami had walked up to her side and grabbed her right hand.
“You are the final boss of the students, so you cannot be in the very front, now can you?”
Lisbeth Lueger had been a candidate for the Hexennacht representative.
She was here now as a U.A.H. representative.
She used spatial cutting, so teleportation spells were familiar to her. The power of 2000 Magino Frames had teleported half that number here, but…
…This was the limit when starting from Europe.
That was a practical range, but it was still less than half the circumference of the earth. However, teleporting something smaller would not extend that range. In fact, the weaker the “field” of the object, the shorter the distance it could travel.
Those had been the optimal conditions.
And once she had arrived, it had looked like Horinouchi’s daughter had brought the other Rankers to see her, but…
“The Rank 1 is here to greet me!?”
Straight ahead, the gas mask girl took a step back in her pink Normal Form and swung both arms toward Lisbeth.
“I’m not greeting you. I’m eliminating you.”
It was ash.
She threw blossoms full of ether.
The explosion spells could not actually hit Lisbeth. She used her Device’s spatial cutting to slice through the ashy smoke and push it to the left and right. But…
…It’s spending more time in the air?
Before, it had been split and pushed away before exploding. But now, after being split to the left and right, it approached Lisbeth from behind as if the wind were carrying it.
“Is this ‘wind’ meant to respond to my spatial cutting!?”
“I won’t tell you.”
Fine. I can figure it out on my own. In fact, I already understand it fairly well. And…
As soon as she stepped forward, the pink Normal Form flipped backwards.
Lisbeth swung her Device’s blade up toward her. But…
Her opponent had swung her hoe Device during her backflip.
They both swung their weapons up toward the heavens.
Blade clashed with blade tip.
Sparks and ether light flew and a portion of Lisbeth’s spatial cutting was negated.
A moment later, the flowers bloomed.
The ash that had been gently blown behind her was transformed into flowers which exploded.
Things had gotten quite troublesome behind her, but it was in front that required her attention.
…She interfered with my spatial cutting.
The next attack would be dangerous.
Her opponent had created a hole in her spatial cutting, so the girl was undoubtedly planning to shove the flowers through there.
This girl was pretty good. Lisbeth could think of a few ways to deal with this, but one was more exciting than the others.
Thus, she instructed herself to take a step forward and do this in a different way from her opponent.
Instantly, eight pillars of light dropped from the sky toward the pink Normal Form.
Eight Magino Devices waiting in the heavens had fired their main cannons.
Hunter saw European U.A.H.’s decision.
…They’re eliminating the Rank 1 here!?
She had noticed the eight Magino Devices instantly turning in the air. The Rank 1 also would have noticed those giant forms directly above her.
But Lisbeth had moved in close to keep the girl from escaping.
Then the Magino Devices fired.
A hit would be devastating.
That meant two things.
One, the European U.A.H. Representative named Lisbeth was taking a hostile stance against the headmaster.
Two, she did not want the Rank 1.
This would show that she saw the headmaster’s protégé as unneeded.
…Is she prioritizing control of this place over victory on Hexennacht!?
The Rank 1 was higher in the ranks than Hunter and the others. That meant she had higher odds of victory if she fought at Hexennacht. But…
“If you don’t do what European U.A.H. wants, you’ll be eliminated!?”
Had there even been a chance to talk this out?
No. The headmaster had been the one to pick this fight. That made Hunter think that European U.A.H. had not been given a choice in the matter, but that may have been due to her familiarity with the methods of a powerful nation like America.
If someone sought to shake your hand, you were friends. But if they made themselves an enemy, you would crush them with all your might. That was how a powerful nation did things.
What would American U.A.H. think of this when they heard of it? And…
“I doubt this is the end of the Rank 1.”
As if to agree, Horinouchi remained motionless a step ahead.
Even after those eight blasts…
“Even we could endure that much,” said the Rank 3 standing to Hunter’s side.
And that was when it happened.
The eight descending blasts were deflected by something rising from the ground. They were transformed into explosive light and knocked back up into the air. The eight strikes had been deflected by something growing up from the ground:
“An ether forest…!?”
Lisbeth saw a forest appear.
But this was not like the Black Forest of her homeland. Instead of a forest so thick it was hard to even walk through, this was an artificial forest with plenty of walking space. And…
…A cherry tree forest…!
It covered a square of about 30 meters.
The forest let cherry blossoms scatter into the wind as it forcefully grew up toward the sky.
The eight blasts of power collided with the flowering branches that had pale enough colors to look like clouds.
A moment later, the upper layer of cherry blossoms exploded. An explosion spell blossomed across them like a burning fuse had reached the flowers and the light and sound spread faster than anyone could respond.
A great tremor reached the air and earth, and the cherry tree forest shook.
And that caused the cherry blossoms to scatter.
But they did more than just scatter as before. After being hit by that great force, the forest spread as if in resistance. The entire forest swung up toward the sky with an even greater motion.
The eight cannon blasts were hit by a fierce counterattack from the flowers.
And a chain-reaction of explosions roared through the air after the initial one.
The sky split apart.
Or it seemed to as Koutarou watched the wind whipping up and colliding with the school buildings and dorm buildings.
The immediate shockwave crashed into the buildings which had seemed so solid. The walls were scraped as if by claws and they shook from the loud noise of the explosion-resistant shutters lowering. That power also reached Koutarou where he lay on the ground.
Ah, I feel like a hero forced onto the defensive, he thought just before a stone was peeled up from the stone paving and struck him on the side of the head.
“Raise your head and you’ll get hit, Head Butler! Oh, you did get hit! Ah ha ha!”
Why do Latinos always have to be like this!? he thought as the peak of the blast passed by over their heads. It was a lot like having a steamroller of power sweeping across the stone paving.
In exchange for a moment of silence, great brightness filled their vision.
Then the blast passed them by. And…
Hearing that, he realized a forest had appeared.
The cherry tree forest was made of ether, it covered the area from the main gate to the General Division building, and it continued to grow.
He gulped when he saw the ether rapidly fill the school building and pathway like a jungle.
There was only one thing he could say about this.
…Is the Rank 1’s cherry tree forest an absolute defense against Magino Devices!?
After all, she was still using her Normal Frame.
A forest constructed in that form had surpassed eight Magino Device main cannons.
And yet European U.A.H.’s Magino Devices had combined the power for attack and movement, so if they focused on attacking, they should have been able to attack with twice the power of a normal Device.
She had endured that.
But the situation was still underway. The eight Magino Devices in the sky moved down, and…
“Something else is coming! 16 shots from the side!”
Just as a maid shouted that and held his head down, he saw it.
It was a blizzard of cherry blossoms.
Along the hundreds of meters from Shihouin Academy’s main gate to Tokyo Bay, pink ether light blew through the sky.
When did she do that? wondered Lisbeth.
The girl had not had an opening to make a firing command. After all, Lisbeth had been viewing her every movement with her one eye.
She could see every single action the girl took using a speed, strength, or movement spell.
She knew all of the movement techniques the girl used.
So as long as she saw the initial movement, she had thought she could tell what the girl was doing.
But she had been wrong.
“Was it the cherry tree forest!?”
The forest had moved, not the girl.
No, it was more than that.
The branches and petals were all moving autonomously. They would protect the girl even without a direct command from her. And…
“They use wind spells, don’t they!?”
There was no wind, but the branches were creaking and the leaves rustling.
The clouds of petals covered everything. They pushed endlessly toward Lisbeth and the girl and they all scattered at once.
Lisbeth drew a sword.
Instead of just the one in her right hand, she raised her left hand to her eyepatch and pulled a second sword from there.
“I will be using this!”
The sky was split.
A diagonal cross stabbed through it from south to north.
The cherry blossom blizzard was growing to a kilometer in length, but an X-shape pierced it. The two intersecting strikes easily split through it all while expanding to a length of several hundred meters. The bottom edge severed the roof of Shihouin Academy’s General Division west building.
A moment after being quartered by the spatial cutting, the cherry blossom blizzard burst into light.
A largescale ether explosion began beyond Shihouin Academy’s main gate and spread toward Tokyo Bay.
Shihouin Academy’s defense barrier used its full power to stop the blast. Instead of just enduring it, reactive spells activated for an offensive defense. The impact resistant structures just below the surface and inside the building walls were purged by the reactive force. The explosive blast collided with the building materials that shot up toward it.
By counteracting the force of the explosive wave, the initial impact was weakened enough for the proper defense spells to function.
The blast hit.
With the outer walls and surface gone, the pulsating divine protection conduits and the armor were exposed on Shihouin Academy’s southern side. The blast hit there, but then the defense divine protections kicked in. The impact was distributed out to the edges of the buildings and then erased.
But the part of the blast that escaped outside the academy was a problem.
The shockwave hit the waves of Tokyo Bay and gave the water enough force to expose the shallow ocean bottom. That pressure bent the earth’s crust, and Shihouin Academy’s southern side supports, which were driven deep underground, sank by about a meter and a half.
A moment later, the reactive force sent everything hopping back up.
And this happened while the academy’s defense system was responding to the blow on the upper surface.
A few of the south side supports broke and the structure ruptured. Starting from the area cut during the former Rank 2 and the Rank 4’s battle, the academy’s foundational structure really did split from the main gate to the center.
Warning spell circles appeared here and there to warn of the danger and the thousand blades arranged in an arc in the sky were thrown out of position along the south edge.
The seawater had been launched skyward when the bottom of Tokyo Bay sprang back up, so it fell back down as rain.
But a woman sliced apart that dark, muddy rain.
It was U.A.H. Representative Lisbeth. She split the pouring rain with a cross shape and let the blue sky wash over her.
“Ha ha ha…! Yes, I thought so!”
Her enemy was right in front of her.
“That spell is Cerisier’s, isn’t it!”
Her enemy did not respond. Her small, slender form simply reached behind her as the cherry tree forest continued to grow.
Flowers bloomed, but they were not meant to explode. They decorated her neck, wrists, and head.
With those words, something manifested above her.
It was a great wand more than 500 meters long, but it looked something like a hoe and something like a small plant with a single leaf and a single stalk.
Horinouchi used a Shinto barrier spell for defense.
Shinto barriers “separated” the space inside and outside. Rather than defending, they shifted the internal space out of phase, so they were generally safe even if an ether explosion hit.
Or they should have been.
“Horinouchi! Is it just me or is this barrier creaking?”
“The pressure outside is too powerful, so the ground forming the foundation of this space is in a bit of trouble!”
The pouring rain was also a problem. The sand from the ocean bottom naturally had the “phase” of sea, so it was interfering with the “phase” of their temporary earth.
A barrier defense was based on the definition of its “space”, so this was a difficult situation for it. Hunter must have realized that because she summoned her servant and sighed.
“Ohh, I thought your three arrow defense was way too convenient, but I guess it has this flaw.”
“It is not a flaw! This is simply an exceptional situation!”
At any rate, something had caught Horinouchi’s attention. Mary had not taken her eyes off of the Rank 1 and she seemed to have noticed as well.
“Where is her servant!?”
The Suzaku stepped out of its spell circle and onto Horinouchi’s shoulder in a highly exasperated way, but…
…She wasn’t talking about you.
Mary meant the Rank 1 who stood below her summoned Magino Device.
She had a pink Magino Form and the clothing likely had a flower petal motif. But…
“I didn’t see a servant even when she summoned her Magino Frame!”
A voice answered Mary’s question.
It came from overhead and from the school building behind them. They looked back and saw a spell circle in sky full of wind from the explosions.
It displayed the headmaster. She must have come outside because she stood in the center of the flower garden on the north end of the courtyard. Her flat gaze was directed at her old friend.
“Fall back, Lisbeth. You will get hurt.”
The Magino Device immediately started moving.
The wand-shaped Device looked like a hoe or like a clover with a single leaf. It should have been designed longer horizontally to help it fly, but…
…It’s longer vertically?
That may have been to help the flower and plant motif.
But then the hoe blade of the single-leaf design split apart.
The leaf separated to the left and right. The three leaves that looked like a triple hoe had several turretless cannons on their surface.
Something arrived while Horinouchi spoke.
They were flowers. The many turretless cannons produced a great cluster of flowers as if spreading a cloud of pollen.
The pink cloud was even larger than before and it became smoke or balls as it tumbled down through the sky, but those scattered before they actually reaching the ground.
Lisbeth responded by stepping forward to protect the witches behind her.
A moment later, everything exploded.
The explosion in the center of Tokyo Bay swept light to the southeast and triggered a chain reaction.
Each individual explosion differed in size. Some turned into shockwaves at a diameter of about a meter and others devoured the surrounding explosive light to reach several dozen meters.
The water of Tokyo Bay was consumed.
The spreading explosive blizzard detonated the water once it reached the surface.
Holes formed in the water, but the water caused the explosive cacophony to reverberate high into the sky and vibrate deep into the ocean.
A low sound much like rock being struck scattered along many levels from the bottom of the ocean. And as the many roars of noise joined together, something happened.
The ocean bottom was exposed.
By that time, the explosive blizzard in the sky was about to reach the opposite bank of Tokyo Bay.
That meant the blizzard was about 10 kilometers long and it was also about 3 kilometers wide. The flowers danced through that vast space and the explosions swept through after them.
Wind, sea, sky, water, and air were all split and detonated as long as the flowers reached them.
As a result, the sky and sea of Tokyo Bay were split from south to north.
The water was ruptured, the sea bottom was dug up, and it was all blasted into the sky in a V-shape.
And light scattered through it all. The flowers’ lifespans were only momentary. They all returned to ether light and dissolved back into the air.
All that remained were the roiling sea returning to its original form and the wind that could not blow the flowers away.
As the light decorated the vast space like mist, the girl spun her hoe Device in her hand and passed it over her hips and to her other hand.
After two rotations, she spun it with her twisted fingertips and took a breath.
She looked to where her enemy had been beyond the ether light remaining from the explosions.
The lenses of her gas mask pointed in that direction and she re-summoned the ether cherry trees behind her.
And when she faced forward, she spoke with a voice that echoed inside her mask and sounded like it had passed through a cave.
“I did it, mama…”
There was nothing in the direction she looked.
Nothing but the main gate lit by the setting sun.
The artificial crust had split apart and the spray from the waves reached as far as the main gate.
…So this is the Rank 1’s strategy!
Koutarou watched as he moved toward the school buildings on the maid’s instructions.
The power that had split Tokyo Bay had launched the water up from the valley and changed the color of the sky.
The moisture in the air was likely being compressed and falling as rain on the shore of Chiba to the east of the academy. The somewhat darkened sky was only dark where it was raining, so it looked like a 300 meter wall rising from the ocean.
“Head Butler, is this what they call a cataclysm? Splitting the ocean and making it rain?”
Of course, Horinouchi, Kagami, Hunter, and Mary could likely do the same thing. Firing their powerful main cannon into the ocean would easily split it.
But that was simply tearing apart the ocean with their power.
Simultaneously splitting it across such a wide area was something else entirely.
The flower blizzard could hover in the air and it could produce great destructive power by detonating.
In just a short time, that girl had split about half of Tokyo Bay. Based on that speed…
“If you tried to move into a firing position, she could cover all of Tokyo Bay with that flower blizzard.”
What did that mean? The maid clicked her tongue and communicated with the other maids as she spoke.
“She uses massive simultaneous explosions over a wide area. And you can’t just defend against these bombs for an instant. They blow down on you in stages, so they keep coming even if you defend against them. And that wave-like structure is the default.”
“Do you think there is a way to avoid it?”
“A barrier that defensively solidifies the surrounding space. Although then you wouldn’t be able to attack either. Just think about it. You can’t defend against water while soaking in the pool and this is instantly spreading that pool so far you can’t escape it. Her previous opponents must have realized that and solidified their defenses, but then they couldn’t do anything themselves and their defenses were eventually worn down.”
“This isn’t about being shot, cut, or erased. Each individual blast might be weak, but the explosions fill the entire battlefield and place it under her control. That is the #1’s strategy.”
The girl thought to herself.
She had driven the enemy off. She had defeated the leader who was the central figure of her opponents.
She had done a good job. She wanted to be praised for that.
After all, there was no one at the split in the artificial island beyond the scattering fragments of ether light.
Now she only had to do something about the 1000 Magino Devices around the island.
But she looked forward.
The main gate was about 10 meters away. The gate itself remained, but the artificial crust had split all the way up to that entrance and the ocean waves were crashing there. There was nothing else.
But she noticed something odd.
“…It’s too close?”
The scenery was strange.
The scenery through the gate was slightly shifted from everywhere else.
The shifted area was exactly as wide as the gate and about 15 meters tall. The sky and waves of Tokyo Bay were different there. It was almost like she was looking at a screen displaying footage taken from beyond the shifted area.
A flower petal flew out.
The pink petal reached the space where the scenery was shifted one step forward.
Her request was answered by an explosion.
Destruction ran through the sky. The single explosion of light destroyed the shifted scenery and the scenery split and fell away, showing what was really there.
The scenery of Tokyo Bay reverted to its non-shifted distance and the enemy stood there: the woman named Lisbeth, the witches working for her, and…
Two unfamiliar witches were with them: a black executioner and a white and green karate fighter.
Hunter was sweating in her heart.
…Thank goodness my Magino Form summoned in time…
Horinouchi had instructed them to defend European U.A.H, so Hunter and the Rank 3 had moved between the two combatants.
Hunter tended to operate the Hedgehog primarily with her left hand, so she had approached the Rank 1 from the left while the Rank 3 did so from the right.
They had approached by stepping backwards with their backs turned toward European U.A.H. to make it clear they were here to support them. Just in case, Hunter had also held her right hand behind her back and made American military hand signs.
Then they had summoned their Magino Forms.
They had needed to endure the Rank 1’s attack, but that flower blizzard had been a pain.
Even if they had summoned their Magino Devices, they would still have been contained in the space covered by the flowers. They had settled on the following plan:
“I’ll summon just the armor of my Device to defend. Rank 3, you use you annihilation spell to create a barrier cutting off the surrounding space.”
The #3 created her barrier in the same way as she had at the North Pole during the previous Ranker Battle. By annihilating the space around them, she created gaps that isolated them from the space outside that.
She had not used as complex a shape as during the North Pole battle, so from the outside, it would have looked like the isolated space was missing and the surrounding scenery was shifted.
It had been Hunter’s job to defend against the flowers already inside the barrier and that entered through gaps in the barrier. She used a simple method.
“Intentionally taking hits when you summoned the armor panels and then slamming them against my annihilation spell? That was a very violent method, Rank 4.”
“Immediately using everything available to you is the trick to survival, Rank 3.”
The European U.A.H. Representative turned toward them.
But Hunter did not have time to return the look. She had no Magino Device and their opponent did. The Rank 1 had also started by summoning her cherry tree forest.
Not only had the enemy taken the initiative, but they had been hit by a surprise attack.
But as the witches behind her fell back, the European U.A.H. Representative opened her mouth.
“Do you know each other?”
She did not mean Hunter and the Rank 3. She was talking about what the Rank 1 had said earlier.
“She asked ‘who’ when she saw you…”
“Oh, dear.” Mary spoke to the Rank 4 without turning around. “Miss Hunter, you are the Rank 4 and you support America, but she’s treating you like a nobody.”
“Yeah, it’s pretty amazing that a shut-in from another world is being treated like a nobody.”
After provoking each other, they named themselves.
They spoke directly to the Rank 1.
“Nice to meet you. I am a jobber.”
“I’m a stalking horse.”
Then they moved forward. Mary used her long stride and Hunter used quick steps to accelerate.
|Back to Chapter 5||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 7|