Clash of Hexennacht:Volume3 Chapter 7
Chapter 7: Rejection Should be Impartial
A blooming flower has extraterritoriality
From almost directly to the side, Horinouchi saw the two of them charge forward.
But she was not worried about them.
…Where was her servant!?
Where had it been when the Rank 1 had summoned her Magino Frame?
It was the same with the Normal Frame and with this attack.
“I can’t see her servant!”
“And it would seem this is not the same as with me,” noted Kagami.
“Yes, even you would have difficulty summoning a Magino Frame without a servant, wouldn’t you?”
Horinouchi doubted it would be impossible for Kagami. She trusted her that much. So she worked backwards from that assumption.
“Is her servant hiding?”
“Lady Kagami, I apologize for cutting in, but sniping a servant – while rare – is still an existing strategy. If the servant is injured, it can negatively affect the summoning and preservation of the Frame. …But when summoning the Normal Frame or higher, the servant must link with the Frame’s ether, so the damage is transferred to the Frame when necessary, and…”
“Could you sum that up in three words?”
“Hiding isn’t necessary,” offered Horinouchi.
“Well done, milady!”
Of course, that was common knowledge for any witch with any combat experience.
“Seeing the servant can help judge your opponent’s strategy and strength. Over the long history of witches, almost every servant design has been used, so just one glance can tell you quite a lot. However, we can’t see that with her.”
“I see,” said Kagami while crossing her arms. “Understood. Not to worry. You need not hide it, Horinouchi.”
Kagami placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Koutarou mentioned sniping the servant. I am sure you wanted to end this all at once by blasting her servant, but she saw it coming. Yes, that is most unfortunate, Horinouchi. But you must not take the easy way out. Even if shooting things does feel good to you.”
“Were you even listening to me!? And focus on those two!”
Actually, I should be doing that too, she thought while the other two approached the enemy.
They had moved right up to her.
Hunter felt belatedly glad she had positioned herself on the right.
She had intended that as a way to prevent her attack from getting in the Rank 3’s way and vice-versa, but attacking in the same place was best when attacking in waves.
There was no preventing her from determining where that was as she moved the Hedgehog’s Device in with her left arm, but…
…That means it comes down to mobility!
Mary spoke while moving alongside her.
“When my annihilation spell consumed the armor panels before, I saw something interesting: The armor was destroyed by the explosion, but it was not annihilated. It did not even turn to dust.”
Hunter had noticed that as well. That had only been the partially-summoned materials not being strong enough. And since the Device on Hunter’s left arm had the same traits as the Magino version even if it was smaller…
“Your spike should be able to pierce the explosion!”
Hunter would attack while Mary defended. So it got through to her after all. In that case…
With that shout, Hunter created a midair foothold and kicked off of it to accelerate.
Mary decided to make this an extremely short range battle.
Their opponent used explosions, flashes of light, and the extreme quantity thereof, so the greater the distance between them, the greater the risk. And since the U.A.H. Representative and the others were behind Mary, the Rank 1 would automatically be able to attack them from a distance.
So Mary moved in close to prevent the Rank 1 from doing that.
And directly in front of her, the Rank 1 finally moved when the distance dropped below 5 meters.
Or so it seemed.
The Rank 1 had only moved her eyes to face her. The girl had not actually made any kind of counterattack. But…
Mary realized the truth when she heard Hunter’s voice.
Without her even noticing, a glowing blizzard of flowers had filled the space between her and her opponent.
…When did that happen!?
Even as she thought that, she understood. It was same with actual cherry blossoms and the fallen leaves of autumn: they surrounded you before you knew it.
This was the flow of nature. It was the ever-changing nature of all things. Simply noticing it was not enough to stop it. But…
“If I’ve noticed it, there is something I can do!”
Her Device fired its annihilation spell.
Instead of making a cut, she released a trailing band of annihilation that rid that space of the flowers there.
The scythe’s movement was a lot like a broom sweeping up fallen leaves.
…I can consume them!
If they had yet to explode, they were no more than fragments of ether. She had feared they would react to the annihilation spell by detonating, but that did not seem to be the case. So…
“I will clear a path, Elsie Hunter!”
She used three annihilation scythes as a counterattack against their enemy’s first attack.
She swung them wide, but that was still not enough to fully cover for Hunter.
However, that girl would be able to weave through the gap and continue forward. In her fight against Mary, she had slipped past the annihilation spell plenty of times.
Had the Rank 1 ever endured that kind of technique?
Mary did not know, but a second blizzard followed the initial exchange.
When Mary intercepted this, she knew the flowers of the first attack that had arrived behind her would detonate. Basing this on the previous timing, that was when the detonation would occur.
So she focused on reading the smoke-like paths of the countless flowers arriving from ahead.
“Here they come!”
There were a lot of them. It really was like a blizzard of flowers.
“Just clear the important points!” said Hunter. “I have armor to handle the rest!”
So if you have to use your armor, I have failed. Understood. Then I will erase them all. But…
…Here it is!
She had not seen it, but she could tell from the timing.
She sensed something using what could be called her intuition.
“She is making a counterattack!”
As the ether smoke fluttered like ashes, it focused in on Hunter.
A moment later, the detonation time arrived.
Mary sensed danger and reacted just as everything around her exploded at once.
The girl laughed quietly.
It was not a mocking or scornful laugh. She was merely reacting to the result she had accomplished.
So she laughed quietly with joy in her voice.
Her opponents had vanished, but the ether blizzard did not stop. She had more enemies further away. And…
The tall figure in black who had been running toward her before had escaped to the left.
…That was a weird movement.
It had looked like teleportation, but was it really? It did not matter. The flowers would bloom no matter where she fled. The flowers would bloom, blow in the wind, and fill everything and everywhere. So…
As soon as she said that, someone suddenly arrived from the right.
When she looked over, she saw the small enemy she had supposedly gotten rid of before.
Why was she there? And why was she unharmed?
And as the girl wondered that, she confirmed a certain fact.
The ground around the trees behind the small one had been torn apart.
The tall one had likely erased a single step’s worth of space there. The small one must have escaped there and moved right back toward the girl before the flowers could catch up.
But the girl was more worried about something other than her opponent’s attack.
She could see the roots of the trees in the torn apart part of the ground.
“No,” she said. “Don’t do that.”
Hunter realized the Hedgehog’s pile bunker had failed to hit.
Her opponent had moved unexpectedly.
She had grabbed a vine hanging down from a branch in the cherry tree forest behind her.
“Those weren’t just for decoration!?”
The cherry trees were the source of the explosives. Assuming they were made of ether, they took the form of a forest, but they were actually a collection of explosives. Hunter had assumed this girl was scattering portions of it to produce small scale explosions.
But that was incorrect.
The cherry trees were more than just a form. Even the objects attached to them functioned naturally.
In that case, when they grew and expanded before, they were doing more than taking form. They were growing as trees.
…Is it even possible to create an environment out of ether!?
“That’s a pretty nice show!”
Hunter used the force of the Hedgehog’s pile retracting to adjust her thoughts.
A moment later, her opponent’s smoke arrived. It was made of ether flower blossoms and they rushed in like a wave.
But she laughed. She knew what to do if her attack missed. She raised the Hedgehog like a shield, and…
…I can take this!
The explosives hit her head-on. She took the hit. But in the instant of impact, she pushed the Hedgehog forward.
The wafting smoke wrapped around behind her, but she had still created an opening.
She could handle the rest herself, so she looked out from behind the shield.
…There she is!
While the Rank 1 was focused on Hunter, Mary rushed in from behind the girl.
…I lack experience!
When she shifted from defense to offense, Mary was painfully aware of her deficiency in martial arts.
She knew her height gave her an advantage and she thought she understood her faults, but things changed on a battlefield that required tight evasion and movement.
She had wanted to send an annihilation scythe toward Hunter too, but she did not have the time to spare.
She had to use two of them to secure her own safety. And…
She sent the third scythe to attack her opponent’s Device within the explosively blossoming flowers.
…I will not lose anything in this world!
She was entirely attacking from behind. It would be difficult to dodge the long scythe after noticing it at the last second.
But Mary heard a sudden voice from below the Rank 1’s gas mask.
“You were the one that tore up the ground earlier.”
The girl confirmed that fact without turning around.
Mary realized there were flowers blooming below her feet as she ran forward.
They had not fallen there. They had stalks and leaves and they had grown from the “ground”.
…The flowers fluttering through the air weren’t the only ones!?
Just as she thought that, the horizontal swing of her annihilation spell severed the Rank 1’s Device.
The hoe blade was cut diagonally off near the base.
“I did it…!”
That was when the flowers at her feet exploded.
Mary’s decision made use of her previous inexperience.
She had an annihilation spell scythe positioned defensively both in front of and behind her. And she had sent the third one forward to attack.
…I can use the front defensive one for something else!!
She sent it straight up.
As soon as it tore into the air and flew 7 meters up, the surrounding flowers began to explode.
A chain reaction of explosions spread through the surrounding flowers and quickly swept across the visible scenery.
It was like a wave.
And as she watched that, Mary realized that some of the flowers did not detonate.
…They aren’t all triggered at once!?
She had assumed everything would be destroyed in the chain reaction once the detonation occurred.
But she had been wrong. The explosion was arriving at Tokyo Boy with instantaneous speed, but the glowing mist and flowers did not vanish. In fact, what remained seemed to grow even thicker. Which meant…
“Once they’ve been released, the detonation space only grows denser and denser!”
It would not all be over after an explosion or two. It would only grow and grow. Also…
“What does that mean!?”
The Rank 1 was not holding her Device.
The Magino Device still existed. It rose toward the heavens and scattered flowers into the air at the center of the cherry tree forest that spread beyond even the academy.
But the Rank 1 was not holding the Device that Mary had cut.
No. It had simply fallen to her feet where it sank into the ever-growing undergrowth of flowers.
…Miss Horinouchi said she couldn’t see this girl’s servant, but…
She was maintaining and controlling her Magino Device without a control Device.
When Mary had fought Kagami and Horinouchi, she had temporarily withdrawn after her control Device had been destroyed, but was this opponent ignoring that necessity?
That did not matter. Mary had once fought a “god”. Compared to that, this was only an unknown technique used by someone at her school. And since she could see the Magino Device…
“Summon Magino Device Ira!!”
The servant that appeared in the spell circle over her shoulder rapidly released her already heated Phlogiston Heart.
The black multi-scythe Magino Device immediately appeared below her feet.
Hunter fell back while watching Mary’s attack.
…She summoned it in this space!? Is she hoping for a draw at best!?
A Magino Frame was summoned into a certain space. It could be set up to “consume” whatever was already there, but it was generally made to “reject” it all by pushing it out of the way.
Mary’s Magino Device was not very durable, so it would almost certainly use the rejection method. But…
“It won’t last when the explosions hit it!”
Hunter did not need to think about hurrying. The Rank 3 was just that kind of person. So Hunter raised her voice while riding the stream of explosions away from the center.
Or would ‘annihilate’ be more accurate? she wondered as she looked to the sky.
Transparent lines ran through the crimson evening sky as fragments of light blew through it like snow.
Nine full-power annihilation spell scythes raced toward the enemy’s Magino Device while giving no consideration to defense.
“I’ll win this…!”
Mary was relieved that she got her attack in before the explosions were triggered.
…I can make it!
The annihilation spell scythes had taken flight. Even if her Magino Device was destroyed, she could still slice through her opponent.
She was relieved, but she did not let her guard down. She put Ira through as much evasive action as it could manage. Even with everything turned to explosives in this space, she would have some hope if this movement could open a small gap. So…
“Full speed in reverse…!”
She instructed the nine scythes to move back while pointing backwards, but then a spell circle appeared next to her face.
It was from Hunter. The girl was falling back while being hit by a few explosions inside the spreading cherry tree forest down below.
“They bloom on spells!”
Mary had no idea what Hunter meant until it happened.
Flowers bloomed on the communications spell circle.
…Is that what it means to create an environment!?
Hunter realized where the danger was.
The flowers were more than just bombs. After all, the ether flowers had bloomed on the spell circle she had been using to communicate with Mary. And those flowers had dug their roots into the spell circle while growing up with stalks and leaves.
…Do these flowers grow as plants!?
And then the flowers scattered. They were clearly growing much faster than the previous ones. And Hunter had seen all too well what would happen after that.
The communication was cut off. The spell circle itself had been shattered. But she understood something.
…There’s no escape in this environment!
The density of the flowers alone was dangerous, but…
“Flowers bloom on whatever this storm of flowers touches! So…”
What about that? she wondered. The flowers had bloomed on a spell circle just now. In that case…
“What about the annihilation spell!?”
She saw explosions draw several arcs through the sky.
It happened at the midpoint between Mary’s Magino Device and their opponent’s Magino Device. A chain reaction of explosions followed the path of the nine scythes.
Mary saw the nine explosive paths in the evening sky.
The nine arcs rapidly tore through the air, but it ended there.
The annihilation spells had detonated. And it had happened because…
…Flowers bloomed on them!?
She did not need to question it. Exploding ether flowers had bloomed on all nine curving lines.
Her means of attack had been blocked.
And she doubted her opponent had given any specific instructions.
The exploding cherry blossoms and flowers grew in this space of blowing flowers. Inside that environment system, their weapons, attacks, and everything else were no more than soil and seedbeds for explosives.
And she heard a voice.
The unseen Rank 1 spoke from the forest below.
“Flowers will bloom anywhere.”
Her singsong voice contained a tinge of delight.
“They belong everywhere.”
“That is the world my mama wanted.”
With that, Mary finally understood. Her enemy’s attack was not an explosion spell.
It was something that environmentally produced explosion spells.
“Is the enemy’s Magino Frame spell a growth spell!?”
As soon as she shouted that, flowers bloomed on Ira. They quickly grew and blossomed from the tip and right up to Mary’s feet.
She had to evade. The black multi-scythe Magino Device was instantly covered in glowing flowers and lost its black color. And…
A wave of light arrived from out front.
The next chain reaction of explosions was racing toward her.
She quickly jumped away to use Ira as a shield. And the instant she threw herself into empty air, the wave of light washed over the 500 meter Magino Device and it burst.
It was destroyed as a single explosion.
Koutarou saw the explosion in the sky as he pressed his back against the front wall of the General Division building.
…What was that attack!?
It was an environment system that filled that space with explosive attacks. Constructing that was her primary means of attack.
“I see,” sighed the maid who had interfered with the General Division building’s barrier to reinforce their protection. “Head Butler, do you remember what our upperclassmen said after losing to the Rank 1 and leaving the Horinouchi family?”
“ ‘She used an absolute defense and absolute attack to become unbeatable.’ ”
That was exactly right. Everything in the environment, including the air and earth, existed to attack the Rank 1’s opponent. There was no distinction between offense and defense.
“A space where everything is ‘absolute’…”
“Head Butler, I apologize for interrupting you in your excitement, but Lady Mary…”
Oh, right, he thought as he looked to the evening sky beyond the scattering ether light.
…She lost Ira!
Is she all right? he wondered before spotting something.
Two giant objects made their presence known with the setting sun behind them and the flowers surrounding them.
They were a giant blue and white sword and a giant vermilion and white bow.
They were Kagami’s Dikaiosyne and Horinouchi’s Akerindou.
The two Magino Devices were clearly positioned right where Ira had exploded. Koutarou did not really understand, but…
“Well done, milady!”
“Um, let’s save that for when we know what happened, Head Butler.”
I have reserved the right to say it, he told himself.
Horinouchi realized how dangerous the situation was.
“Horinouchi, how is Mary?”
“I collected her. She was falling, so it was a good thing Akerindou is so long vertically.”
Mary sat on her knees on the lower right main wing that passed behind the barrel on the side.
She had likely lost her tension, so it was impressive that she had maintained her Magino Form.
…She really hates to lose, doesn’t she?
If Horinouchi or Kagami egged her on, Horinouchi was pretty sure Mary would come up with another idea and fiercely attack the Rank 1.
But the situation was not looking good. After all…
…If we fight the Rank 1 while the Headmaster watches, it might count as a Ranker Battle.
They were not ready.
And the enemy had just now revealed what she could do.
Was it too much to hope for enough time to come up with a countermeasure? But…
“Are you going to run, Horinouchi?”
“I’d like to settle for putting some distance between us.”
She had only said to protect the U.A.H. Representative.
Those two had attacked the Rank 1 afterwards because they had let her provoke them, but…
…They were trying to get her to show how she fights to help with our Ranker Battle, weren’t they?
Horinouchi should probably thank them. And then Mary looked up at her.
“What should I do? …I can try it once more.”
“Hold on,” said Hunter. “Do you have enough ether to run back home crying afterwards? You aren’t talking about a one-way trip, are you?”
“Ho ho? And who is it that is wasting a ton of ether just to howl into the distance?”
They sure do get along, thought Horinouchi, but Hunter’s intervention had come in handy.
“Here they come.”
No, they had arrived a bit ago.
They were circling in the evening sky over Tokyo Bay.
“Those American U.A.H. reinforcements from Atsugi were a lot of help.”
“That was clooooose.”
Hunter realized the waves of detonation had ceased even though the amount of flowers blowing through the air had not lessened.
And she heard jets tearing rapidly through the sky.
Eight F-23s had been scrambled from Atsugi and they had done a splendid job.
“The three-dimensional monitoring from the eight fighters is checking on the paths and movements of the ether flowers, calculating out the most dangerous airspace, and sending that to those two via me.”
Hunter was providing data on the situation below and from her position in front of the enemy.
There was one thing in particular she had to be careful about.
…I need to leave an impression that the US was involved.
It would be dangerous if this developed into a Ranker Battle.
She did not know how great a gap in strength there was between the Rank 1 and the duo of Kagami and Horinouchi. The Rank 1’s spell might be overwhelmingly more useful as a countermeasure against the Black Witch, but Hunter doubted this rushed situation would allow the two of them to draw out their true strength in a Ranker Battle.
“Of course, I attacked them at just such a moment myself.”
Despite her self-deprecating comment, the F-23s focused on making their presence known as they noisily tore through the air.
If the Rank 1 took action, they might be caught in the crossfire. That prevented her from beginning a Ranker Battle or from displaying her and the Headmaster’s “justice”.
In a way, Hunter was sacrificing herself to defend and intervene.
The rest had been up to Kagami and Horinouchi, but those higher Rankers had performed flawlessly. They had set up a barrier to secure a safe zone and then summoned their Magino Devices.
“European U.A.H., huh?”
The cherry tree forest came to a sudden stop by the main gate behind her.
It was cut off in a cross shape and someone walked in through that opening.
She had not been injured in the slightest during all of the explosions, but was that due to her technique or her experience? The woman was full of mysteries, but there was one thing Hunter could say for sure.
“Kagami, Horinouchi. …You’re in charge from here on.”
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