Clash of Hexennacht:Volume4 Chapter 1
Chapter 1: People are a Gathering
Praise me for nothing more than this
“Everything just got a lot noisier over toward Tokyo Bay, didn’t it?”
“Did you see all of the bulletin boards on the main road switch to ‘stop everything’?”
“Yes,” said the girl as she shook her short black hair in response to the white handbag by her left side.
The sky was illuminated by a late October setting sun.
She walked along the same riverside road as the previous night, but the road was full of cars now.
The lines of cars belonged to the evacuating people. The people had been instructed to use public transportation instead of private cars, but no one was listening.
“And yet they even increased the number of trains and buses,” commented the girl. “They’re running some exclusively for evacuation.”
“The people probably want to get their own possessions out. Not everything is going to go as planned.”
“C’mon, don’t act like you’re better than everyone.”
“I think you should tell that to yourself last night.”
Meanwhile, some horns began blaring down the congested road.
The girl sped up to see what that was about and she found a car stopped up ahead.
“Out of gas?”
“If so, they would only need to refuel, but it doesn’t look that way. Maybe it broke down.”
As the girl wondered what they would do, two people descended from the sky. A male and female police officer wearing lightly-armored uniforms flew down on mass-produced Normal Device cowling brooms.
They hopped down instead of landing and the woman instructed the male driver to get out onto the sidewalk. She held out her hand to the waiting cars and held up a spell circle containing her signature of jurisdiction.
“That was fast,” said the handbag.
“That’s the police for you.”
The girl saw the driver get out with whatever luggage he could hold. The male police officer shook the driver’s hand and got inside the car in his place.
“I wonder what he’s doing,” said the handbag. “Using a spell inside?”
“Maybe securing temporary ownership rights? Guys use passive magic, so I think he’s making the car his possession so his spell can apply to it.”
“What kind of spell? Is he going to lift it up and move it?”
“Lifting it up would be a physical strengthening spell, but I think using that on a car would cause it to bend.”
The girl approached as she spoke and she saw the woman open a spell circle and get the driver’s signature. Then the man got out of the car and placed a spell circle on the hood.
When the man said something to the woman, she held her palm out to get the driver to stand back and then casually lifted up the car.
There was a spell circle above her head, but it only displayed authorization to move the car and her qualifications.
“She’s carrying it?” asked the handbag.
“I doubt she would lift it up and support it using one of her active spells. That would cause a continuous burden, making it pretty inefficient.”
The handbag trailed off because the woman “placed” the car over the man waiting in the road.
“Oh,” said the voice from the girl’s side.
“If he’s only ‘supporting’ it instead of ‘lifting’ it, then passive defense spells will work just fine. This way the car won’t bend.”
“That seems more like a play on words to me.”
But the man began walking with the car supported by his raised arms.
He moved nimbly. He likely had a destination in mind. While walking down the center of the 4-lane road, he even positioned it vertically when passing by a bus. That did not seem to dump the contents of the car to one side, so they too must have been “supported” by the spell placed on it.
“They probably have motor pools set up in places so they can gather up everything blocking the flow of traffic,” said the girl.
“And the people responsible will be placed on the public transportation, I suppose.”
The driver bowed and the woman passed him a spell circle telling him where to go.
Then the driver walked off in a different direction.
He left the flow of traffic and was probably on his way to a train station or something.
To clean up, the female police officer erased the spell circles from the road and bowed toward the waiting cars.
After that, she only had to fly away as a witch. Everything was back to the way it was.
The girl looked up into the sky from the sidewalk.
“Witches like that must be going on standard patrols.”
She could see groups of 2 and sometimes of 3 or 4.
“Accidents like this are less than 0.01% of the whole,” said the voice from her side. “So if they remove those, I’m guessing they only need to deal with the traffic congestion like normal. Their thinking is a bit forced, but they know people will use their private cars even if told not to, so having something like this in place is the right decision, even if it doesn’t score a perfect 100.”
“Wow. That scoring really, really makes it sound like you think you’re better than everyone.”
“But if that’s how they’re doing things, I kind of want to see it for myself.”
“There was an elementary school near here, so maybe they’re temporarily carrying them there.”
“Should we go take a look?”
The girl hesitated but ultimately shook her head.
“There’s something else I want to see.”
“You should have gone last night.”
“I wanted to walk through the city at night then. Because I was never able to do that. But…”
The girl looked into the eastern sky.
Beyond a line of buildings, she saw the elevated buildings and roadways along the coast from the Uraga Channel to Tokyo Bay, but she could not see past there. She sighed.
“The world is in motion and connected even in the places you can’t see.”
She began walking. She was headed deep into the congested flow of people and cars. She turned her back on Tokyo Bay and quickened her pace.
“I wonder how much of it has been made.”
Koutarou and the others were helping U.A.H.J. by constructing tents in various places.
They were currently constructing the European U.A.H. Headquarters Expansion in front of Shihouin Academy’s main gate.
While they quickly worked, the Head Maid approached. She stepped into the tent where they were beginning to line up the communication equipment and command desk carried in by an outdoor transportation wagon.
“We are constructing similar tents in Yokohama, Yokosuka, and Enoshima. Enoshima will be our external headquarters. We have already geographically distributed our posts, but we will head there to assist with the advance team with construction once we finish here, so hurry it up, everyone.”
They all said they would and continued working. Then the Head Maid asked a question.
“Head Butler, will you be heading back to the mansion for today?”
“No. The mansion has already been locked up, so we will all be heading out. Most likely to Enoshima.”
Hearing that, several of the maids working on the tent nearby raised their voices.
“Ehhh!? You’re coming with us!?”
“All right! That means those of us here will be safe!”
“Head Maid, please say something to the Head Butler!”
“J-just in case I wasn’t clear enough, all of the mansion’s witches will be going, too!”
“Well, I suppose so.” The Head Maid used a spell circle to link a parabolic antenna to a relay truck. “The Black Witch’s minions do not attack with simple explosions. They use ‘destruction’, so it permeates belowground too. The mansion’s basement may be able to endure the smallest level of ‘destruction’, but from midlevel and up, a direct hit would leave us with no escape. …But why Enoshima?”
“Because we have determined that not even the Black Witch will be able to move freely while fighting Lady Mitsuru and Lady Kagami.”
Magino Device battles naturally covered a wide area, but given the effect that terrain had on the collection of ether and the barrier placed on her, the great “fluctuations” of a city or the mountains would be inconvenient for her.
The best terrain would be the sky above a large river that matched the flow of a ley line. That allowed one to secure the ether welling up from there, but there were no large rivers matching those conditions in Japan. So…
“We think the Black Witch has an all-around strength with no fixed specialty, so she will likely choose to fight over the ocean for the lack of ‘fluctuations’ instead of finding somewhere with a specific advantage.”
“That’ll be the area of fiercest fighting,” said a witch with an eyepatch over her left eye.
She was the maid who had supplied her eye power to the 7th Fleet during Mary’s Ranker Battle.
She opened a spell circle while tying the tent canvas to the poles.
“The 7th Fleet is currently calling the 5th Fleet to Hawaii for backup. It looks like the battlefield will be the backwards ‘L’ of the coast from Tokyo Bay to Kanagawa.”
“Where is the 7th Fleet?”
“In a position where they cannot be seen from an altitude of 10 kilometers at the widest range of the battlefield.”
“They’re using the curvature of the earth as cover?”
Because the earth was round, that curvature would come between two positions with sufficient distance between them.
“Even if the Black Witch’s ‘eye’ applies to all of her minions, the final stage should be fought almost entirely on the surface. The fleet intends to attack them by using the earth as cover and traveling along the appropriate latitude.”
Everyone briefly stopped moving and nodded at what the eyepatch witch said.
When they were mopping up all of the Black Witch’s minions, would they be winning or would it be the opposite? No one had any way of knowing.
But there was something Koutarou had to say.
“Not to worry. …Lady Mitsuru is beginning to surpass her mother. And this time, she has a partner who more than rivals her in strength.”
Let me say one thing.
“We are leaving the mansion and heading into the fiercest of the fighting, but not just to support those of you there. It is so we can praise Lady Mitsuru when she emerges victorious.”
As soon as he said that, light sprayed through the sky.
At the same time, the maids trembled and the barriers opened around their bodies and hair began to glow.
They were the witches’ persistent defense and protection spells. A large quantity of ether had flowed into them and overloaded them.
He knew why.
“Did Lady Kagami dispel the Devices she had put together?”
She did so as carelessly as she created them.
A look up in the sky showed scattering light and no sign of the 2 giant forms that had been there a moment before.
She’s causing some kind of commotion again, thought Mary as she looked into the sky alongside Hunter who was doing the same.
She lightly raised a hand.
“So are we really having a strategy meeting here, Brigadier General and Horinouchi-san? Oh, and New Headmaster.”
“Yes, that is right, Mary. I am willing to give you some of my valuable time. How about that?”
She ignored her. And…
“New Headmaster, you seemed to be performing an experiment using the Brigadier General, but could you please tell us how the Black Witch’s sealing barrier works?”
“Oh?” replied Lisbeth with a smile on the corners of her lips. “You are a clever girl.”
“It is a natural question. After all…” Mary gestured into the sky. “Earlier, the Brigadier General created a Device as a form of defense, but that consumed a great quantity of ether. That leads to a question: can external ether be sent into the sealing barrier where the battle will take place?”
This was much like a strategy she herself had once used.
After dividing Kagami Kagami from her buddy and taking just Kagami to the North Pole, she had used a certain tactic against Kagami who had a crafting ability and the ability to acquire massive amounts of ether.
“I surrounded that space with a barrier and thinned out the amount of ether within. As a result, the Brigadier General had considerable trouble repairing her Device and attacking.”
“Didn’t that end with you getting hit by some intercontinental arrows?”
Quiet, Rank 3.
At any rate, that result told her one thing.
“If this barrier is the type that cuts off ether, it is a poor match for the buddy system. After all, the Brigadier General and Miss Horinouchi both use techniques that consume a lot of ether, so they will automatically run out of fuel quite quickly. …In that case, the Brigadier General’s Device repairs will be all the more dangerous.”
“Why don’t you consider the possibility that the Black Witch will be bound by the same conditions?”
“Because the Black Witch is much like a creator god.”
Mary knew that it had been a “god” that destroyed her world and that the “god” had only been a subordinate of what this world called the Black Witch.
This was a being higher than the gods. The normal rules did not apply with someone like that.
“Even though she was cornered during the previous Hexennacht, the Black Witch sent out her minions to turn things around. That tells us that she can be injured and ultimately destroyed and that her creation ability is likely only limited by what she can think of.”
“True… Summoning minions that could cause such great destruction to the surface is not possible using the existing ether conservation laws.”
“While I have brought in my own unique rule while still fundamentally being bound by the rules governing this world’s characters, my sister is most likely using her own unique rule but is bound by that.”
“Why, Brigadier General?”
Mary had a question.
“She would be invincible if she did not construct that rule, so why create it?”
“The pride of an author.” Kagami smiled a little with her eyebrows still raised. “She creates and destroys this world, but she feels a pang of conscience from that act. So by establishing a rule that makes her highly unlikely to be harmed but still technically able to be harmed, she can remain almighty and yet soothe her conscience about what she does to the world.”
“Oh, you mean like how you feel guilty playing a game on god mode, but that guilt almost entirely vanishes when you can still die if you fall in a hole?”
Mary did not know what the Rank 3 was talking about, but there was one thing she understood.
“In other words, the Black Witch can be hurt, but she has excellent means of recovery and defense…”
That led to a certain conclusion.
“Just how obsessed with attack power is the Horinouchi family…?”
Horinouchi realized that Lisbeth and everyone else were looking her way.
This just took a turn for the worse, she thought, but she decided to say something regardless.
“Wh-what is that look for, everyone!?”
“Horinouchi, you said before that you have made a number of improvements over your mother, didn’t you?”
“Yeah,” said Hunter while throwing her hands in the air. “And she tested them on me.”
“E-either way,” said Horinouchi, “defeating the Black Witch is our most important task, so greater attack power should be a good thing.”
“Looking at it another way, this means we already have attack power equal to the Black Witch’s, doesn’t it?” asked Horinouchi.
Now that you mention it, thought Horinouchi before saying more.
“It may be somewhat insane, but we can also rival the Black Witch’s defense…or rather, we have a way of repairing our Devices. And on the level of recreating them entirely.”
That was Kagami. And Kagami clearly knew it because she puffed out her chest and tried to get Horinouchi to praise her some more.
…She sure is full of energy…
Kagami had been messing with a lot of people lately and doing all sorts of unnecessary things. Horinouchi wondered what had her so worked up, but would she answer if Horinouchi asked?
But Horinouchi had another question too. It was the same one Mary had asked earlier.
“How is the sealing barrier formed?”
Lisbeth’s answer was simple.
She took a breath and then spoke.
“Currently, the seal connecting the moon and the earth does block ether.”
That meant the ether inside was limited.
Hunter knew most of this already.
American U.A.H. had not been on the scene during the previous Hexennacht, so they had not been affected much by the Black Witch’s “eraser”. That left them with some information and predictions concerning this Hexennacht’s battle.
“There are 2 problems with an ether-blocking barrier. The first is that it blocks spell communications. Of course, that can be overcome by using optical communication spells that compress the data.”
The other problem had already been mentioned:
“How to handle the fuel efficiency.”
“Rank 3, you make it sound like your Hedgehog has cleared the fuel efficiency problem.”
Mary’s sharp, she thought before nodding.
“The truth is, both Fleur and Horinouchi’s mom had also cleared it.”
“Yes,” said Horinouchi while looking her way. “You mean great size with heavy armor or high density, don’t you?”
“I should have known!” Kagami looked to Horinouchi’s chest. “Great size indeed.”
Horinouchi attacked with a no-motion iron claw.
That was fast.
“Ow, ow, ow, ow! Your bow-holding grip is truly impressive, Horinouchi!”
What kind of compliment is that? thought Horinouchi since she might as well view it in a positive light.
“Fleur’s giant Device and the Geo Frame are both created with massive amounts of ether. But they are more than just large. They are made to hold ether inside, so they can continue fighting even when the ether density is low.”
She felt a vibration much like a flopping fish from beyond her left hand, but she ignored it. I am actually a very good cook. Squeezing juice out of apples, for example.
But Mary spoke after taking a quick glance beyond Horinouchi’s left hand.
“I have a question. …If the ether density drops, won’t the Device come apart?”
Mary’s question was a good one. But…
“A 500m Device might just barely survive, but a Device or Frame larger than 3km will carry its own ‘phase’.”
“That’s right. Instead of a ‘space’ through which ley lines flow, they become large enough to create their own ‘geographic phase’. Then again, that requires more than just size. It also needs a geographic function and purpose, but Devices contain plenty of elements that grant that.”
“Yes,” agreed Horinouchi. “I understand why Fleur’s Device created an ‘environment’ and why my mother’s giant humanoid Device is known as a ‘Geo Frame’. Geo is an indigenous mother earth goddess. So if we can summon the Geo Frame, the Device will maintain its form as a ‘phase’ even within the ether-blocking barrier and it will continue to function based on the ether contained within it. …Of course, that will then become the upper limit of our fuel.”
“When you think about it, becoming your own ‘phase’ is really the work of a god.”
“Your Hedgehog is the same, though.”
That was because the heavy armor of Hunter’s Device increased the density of the ether. So depending on the circumstances, it might create its own “phase” separate to its apparent size.
…It’s probably on the border of being able to do that or not.
Becoming a “phase” would mean being dragged around by that “phase”. And in the Hedgehog’s case…
“A ‘phase’ made from heavy armor would probably be similar to that of the earth’s crust or of boulders. So once you reached that level, you would probably have difficulty moving very quickly.”
“That’s right. And that’s why I didn’t keep the heavy armor airtight during the Ranker Battles. The swing-by method would require a hell of a lot of power if I was being dragged around by my own ‘phase’ and that would slow me down. …So after winning the Ranker Battles, I was planning to seal it all up in preparation for Hexennacht. …Because if the Hexennacht barrier blocks ether, I wouldn’t be able to use my satellite swing-by method anyway. I would have needed to strengthen the interior.”
“Was that how it worked?” Mary sighed lightly and Horinouchi understood why she felt disappointed. “My Ira was not designed to function in a zero-ether environment.”
“In that case, U.A.H. would have provided advice and assistance, so worry not.”
Lisbeth was right. And Horinouchi felt Mary had done more than enough.
“Your annihilation spell would work against the Black Witch, you know?”
“It didn’t work against the former Rank 1’s environment spell.”
Horinouchi needed to correct her.
“It did not work ‘against’ it. During the final battle, Kagami and I adjusted to match the environment in order to avoid being hit. …It’s all in how you think about it. And we were only able to make that decision after seeing your earlier battle.”
It still was not clear why Mary called her “miss”, but the girl lowered her head regardless.
“Thank you for your kind words.”
“Did you hear that, everyone!? Lady Mitsuru showed concern for a friend and received respect in exchange! Eavesdropping was worth it after all! You have to accept that now!”
“Head Butler, while I must say ‘well done, milady’, what you are doing is the worst.”
“Yes, thank you for the valuable scene, Head Butler. But you are the worst.”
“That’s right. This deserves a major ‘well done’-ing, but the Head Butler is the worst.”
“Ahh, I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you! This is all thanks to me, so I’ll just ignore all of that! …Well done, milady!!”
Anyway, thought Horinouchi.
…Our strategy for Hexennacht is becoming clear.
“Once the battle begins, we need to use Kagami’s ability to prevent any damage and then we need to summon the Geo Frame if the battle is going to last very long.”
But a question arose.
“During the previous Hexennacht, the Black Witch called in her minions for reinforcements. If all ether was blocked, how did she do that, Kagami?”
She removed the iron claw and asked her question, so Kagami shook her head and immediately answered.
“Well, that would be because she did not use anything like a spell, Horinouchi. Let us discuss this while we head out for some food. This involves some private information, after all. Mary, Hunter, you come as well. What about you, Lisbeth?”
They looked over to find Lisbeth glaring at Kagami and waving her right hand. She then wrinkled her brow.
“I have work to do!”
It looks like she really, really wants to come with us.
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