Clash of Hexennacht:Volume4 Chapter 11
Chapter 11: Can I Pass?
On which fear will not arrive
There’s a black waterfall in the sky, thought Hunter.
That was the enemy. The dark cascade fell from the moon.
Starting from the first wave, the Black Witch’s minions flowed down toward the surface.
Hunter and Mary had decided to hurry toward the Uraga Channel where the European U.A.H. Representative and the Black Witch were fighting. So they had started in that direction from the ocean off of Kanagawa while protecting Akerindou, but…
…Is there no end to the new enemies!?
The Black Witch’s giant Device had appeared and a fifth wave of enemies was descending from the sky, so things had gotten much more dangerous.
They could no longer call it a river or rain falling from the sky. It was a full house of black dragons and black dolls.
It was fortunate that the enemies were no longer “building up their numbers” on the moon, but they must have all been approaching at once because they fell from the sky like a solid wall.
Hunter and Mary fired their secondary cannons while feeling the pressure from the silent communication spell circle that Horinouchi had sent them earlier.
With that, a band of explosions raced across the sky.
It was a horizontal line. Mary had laid out her annihilation spell like a razor wire and let it slice through all of the falling enemies.
Those explosions raced across the enemy and triggered further explosions that covered 3km horizontally and 12km vertically.
Of course, it did not all end there. Hunter saw something else as she fired straight up.
The gap they had torn in the enemy curtain revealed the Black Witch’s humanoid Device to the east.
That was the Yokohama region and they were still in the ocean near Kanagawa, about halfway between Oshima and Kamakura, so they were 40km away.
But the light in its eyes was visible even from that distance.
The humanoid Device’s eyes had definitely marked them. And…
The Black Witch’s humanoid Device stabbed its long black sword into the earth.
Something happened a moment later.
Hunter was in the air, but somehow an earthquake reached her.
…Are you kidding!?
The falling waterfall of enemies had suddenly shaken.
They all shook and accelerated like the string holding them up had been cut.
“They’re all going to fall!”
She needed to fight back, but…
…Is there anything I can do against this many!?
Horinouchi sent a silent spell circle, but Hunter broke it with her right fist.
She honestly thought, If only Kagami was here.
“Kagami would know how to deal with Horinouchi at a time like this…”
Kagami was sleeping.
She felt like she was dreaming for the first time in a long while.
It was a dream of her past.
But the contents were quite clear, so it might have been her life flashing before her eyes or perhaps her memories were replaying because her mind was not properly anchored.
In her memories, she was wise, considerate, and yet humble. Until having this dream, she had wondered if she was altering her memories to her own benefit, but this told her that was not so.
Now she never again had to worry as she remembered how great she was.
Regardless, she remembered a great many things.
Instead of just standing and watching, she decided to have her mind sit down and watch. She found the dream was mostly of when she had played with her sister.
Despite being in middle school, her sister had said some ridiculous things, so Kagami had asked what she was doing, swiped what she was writing, read it, and then cried.
She was pretty sure it had been a story of a dog.
Dogs were cheating.
It just was not playing fair.
Anyone would cry at that.
So she had told her sister to write a story about adults.
Her sister had done so and Kagami had read it, not expecting much since it was written by a middle schooler, but she had found herself laughing.
Her sister had been aware she was only a middle schooler and had written it to get laughs.
That was cheating too.
So Kagami had told her to write something more serious. She had starting getting into video games at the same time, so she had suggested her sister write something like that.
Kagami had always preferred world history over Japanese history and she had been learning about politics and economics, so she had checked over the story. Before long, she had been telling the story of the characters along with her sister and, before she realized it, she had found she could write a decent story herself.
That had been a mistake.
Once Kagami started making stories, her sister had grown upset, said she could not compete with her, and started obsessively gathering materials.
Then that fateful day had arrived. Her sister had previously said she had found “some amazing material”, but that was the day she had shown it to Kagami. It was a black hardcover book. The writing on the cover had been indecipherable to Kagami, but her sister had said “It’s the Book of Creation. I call it Amaze.” and opened the pages.
I remember the rest quite well. It is not hazy and I have not altered my memories.
I lacked imagination, so I couldn’t read what was created, what happened, or what changed there.
At some point, everything had fallen apart and she had traveled through many worlds. But…
Thinking back, there was one thing she had never said to her sister.
“I cannot believe this.
Wasn’t I planning to say something when I said goodbye to Horinouchi?
She had yet to do so.
She had not tried saying the words that would confirm whether or not her imagination was correct.
The battlefield had moved to Yokohama.
Fleur received instructions from the manager of this jurisdiction and she guided the people.
She did not do it all at the same place. Once the evacuating people were organized and sent in the right direction, the manager would send her elsewhere.
Each time, two or three male U.A.H.J. members would stay behind to check for people who had not yet escaped, but…
…Isn’t that really dangerous?
The ones who remained were wearing light armored uniforms and she decided to ask just out of curiosity.
“Isn’t it dangerous staying behind?”
“Don’t be ridiculous! …There might be a cute girl here!”
It was an immediate answer.
“I’ll put this delicately: what if it’s an old person or a middle-aged man?”
“They might be a cute girl’s family member!” The man clenched his right fist so tight it trembled. “And the desire to protect someone helps maintain our defense spells!”
“So your personal tastes and practicality are in alignment…”
“Just leave it to us!” he said with a smile, but his resolve was quite something. After all, the enemy reinforcements were flowing down from the sky toward the coast of Yokohama. So Fleur mimicked the drain spell she had seen before.
“Here you go. …This is enough for 3 or 4 more people, so share the Blessings with them.”
At first, he did not know what she meant, but then he checked his status on a spell circle.
“Wow! …Now I have to hope for a girl even cuter than you!”
“Go help her out then.”
Fleur smiled and left for the next next location. But…
They were working upstream along the river that flowed into the ocean through Sakuragi-cho, Yokohama.
A sign said it was the Ooka River. It grew somewhat narrower as they moved upstream and, as the next train station came into view on the opposite bank, it arrived.
She had just guided some people across the crosswalk, but…
On the evacuated eastern side, a building in Sakuragi-cho collapsed and a giant form appeared.
It was a black dragon. It was about 200m tall. It had most likely descended from the sky and bounced thrice while rolling toward them.
They had been using the buildings as cover while evacuating the people, but…
Ah, it looked me in the eye, she thought.
That was when it happened.
She first felt a tremor in the earth and then she realized the black dragon was running toward her.
But she was looking at something other than the approaching dragon.
Through the valley created by the destroyed buildings, a group of many more black figures were bouncing, running, and releasing their breath.
And standing in the center of that black wave was the giant humanoid Device that Fleur had seen the night before. That was…
The pilot of an airborne fighter saw it all.
His primary duties were forceful reconnaissance and to carry witches to the battlefield. Two F-23s had been launched from Atsugi and the latter mission had already been completed, so they were taking turns with the former mission.
They could not let themselves be shot down.
So they chose a mission altitude outside the attack range of the black dragons and black dolls fighting on the surface. They had weapons, but provoking the enemy and becoming a target would rob everyone of their wide-range surveillance. That meant they could not interfere, but…
People, primarily those assigned to the rear guard, were being evacuated down below.
The inland area had been deemed relatively safe, but the Black Witch had made a change of plans and that was no longer true. So everyone was being guided further inland or inside barriers and underground shelters, but…
“They were spotted!”
The black dolls and dragons were generally about 200m tall. Some were as tall as 500m, but those were not suited for urban areas and were descending toward the coast and rivers instead.
Meanwhile, the manmade structures were tall. Excellent work, modern architecture. Even the 200m giants had difficulty seeing the surface when there were a few buildings in between. And those buildings acted as shields and as cover when moving.
They could guess that the Black Witch was currently establishing a foothold.
The destruction of Yokohama would plow and prepare the earth for the creation of the barrier needed for the wide-range activation of her spell.
And what would that spell do? Destroy this world.
So if they could evacuate faster than the Black Witch could spread her preparation of the earth, they could survive.
Or so the theory went.
The problem was the Black Witch’s reinforcements. It was the shape and traits of those minions.
They were round. They were also soft. And that softness was the kind that bounced, not that drooped.
So when one of them fell to the ground in just the wrong way, it bounced toward the evacuees.
It destroyed countless buildings, but one building that could not be broken caused the black dragon to bounce upwards.
When the black dragon fell into the valley formed by a road, some evacuees were crossing that road 700m ahead.
They had been spotted. The black dragon ran toward them while spewing breath from its mouth.
There was nothing the pilots could do. There were no witches around to run over and help. All of those were fighting in the sky or at the center of Yokohama which had become the borderline.
“Hey! Let’s go! …I think we need to do some low-altitude recon!”
That’s right, thought the pilot as he operated the control column. Most of the fighter’s movements were automated, but this time, it rapidly descended toward the urban area. This was now his own responsibility in more ways than one and he sent confirmation to control as if asking for ex-post-facto approval. And he did not bother waiting for a response.
Just as he said that, he saw a light on his HMD.
The point of light indicated the ether reading of a witch. But…
The output was greater than the charging black dragon and it might have even rivalled the Black Witch’s humanoid Device.
“There’s a witch there!?”
Fleur stepped forward.
The city was being destroyed and the people would be kicked around at this rate.
But she knew who was commanding this.
“It’s Shouko…isn’t it?”
She wanted to believe otherwise. She wanted to think it was someone else and that Shouko wasn’t controlling them.
But she had another thought and she spoke it aloud.
“I was binding mama’s soul.”
She had not been controlling it, but her existence had definitely allowed her mother to remain in existence.
Shouko was the same. She had to be.
There had to be several factors supported by her presence.
“So maybe I have no right to say anything to Shouko now.”
But she remembered Horinouchi who had shed tears with her without feeling pity. She remembered Kagami who had taught her that her mother still existed.
And she remembered that Kagami had tried to stop Shouko. So…
She no longer had any power.
And she was honestly afraid of using her power as a witch.
…I might lose something again.
But, thought her heart as it prioritized everything else over that.
Even if she had no power and was afraid…
“I won’t let myself lose anything anymore…!”
She made up her mind. She did not know if she could use her power, but she stood to face the approaching black dragon.
“I won’t lose…!”
Just as she cried out and prepared to fight, something ran between her and the charging dragon.
It was a flower dragon. Specifically…
While Mary’s annihilation spell barrier and Hunter’s attacks took care of the multitude of enemies falling from the sky, Hunter realized the overall flow of battle was moving toward the urban area.
The river from the sky was beginning to avoid her and Mary.
They were still above the ocean near the coast of Kamakura, but from there they could receive the backup of the Horinouchi family on Enoshima. Hunter checked the surface deployment, enemy distribution, and predicted arrival points.
“Rank 3! Fire here…!”
…Dammit! She’s faster than my spell’s prediction!
Was that Mary’s ether detection sense? Since she had been top class in her own world, she was able to predict the flow of the enemy forces based solely on the ether distribution.
So Hunter fired a shot to both follow Mary’s instruction and to confirm the result from her own spell.
She felt like the enemy was more densely packed in.
They had descended like a waterfall before, but by bending that path, they wavered and their distribution grew a lot rougher. That left some less dense areas, but a gunner had to take the densest area into account, which was a real pain. Also…
…The city has got to be in real trouble!
She wanted to know what had happened to the evacuating people, but she had heard transmissions were cut off. So as she fired…
She felt the need to rush this.
She wanted to move forward. She had to crush the enemy and get Horinouchi to the Black Witch. After all, she had heard the Black Witch was preparing a barrier.
The surveillance footage from the sky confirmed that.
…What is she doing!?
Mary had fallen silent when it came to that question.
And that told Hunter the answer. The Black Witch was trying to erase this world.
Her position was dangerous. For their strategy, Shihouin Academy had become a ley line management area at the center of everything, but the Black Witch had taken up a position right in front of it.
If she placed a large barrier around Tokyo Bay, she could use Shihouin Academy as a focal point and access the entire world’s ley lines.
After that, the Black Witch could install some kind of “destruction”, no matter how mundane, and her imagination would destroy the world.
So they had to stop her. That was why Hunter wanted to hurry, but…
“Rank 3! The waves of enemies are merging over Yokohama!”
…Are we not going to make it!?
Just as she thought that, she saw something.
A silhouette flew into the sky from Sakuragi-cho in western Yokohama.
No, it was not just the one. And not just a few either.
They were countless round black forms. The Black Witch’s minions were launched skyward.
“Huh? A counterattack?”
Had we set up anything like that? wondered Hunter as something else appeared.
It was a flower.
It was a giant Magino Device with six flower petals connected together in a circle.
“…Is that Fleur!?”
Fleur felt no fear.
She had the flower dragon’s assistance and she had successfully summoned Zephyr. But the flower dragon was simply creating a “framework” to assist her ether management. The power overflowing from her simply would not stop.
She had always thought her mother was amazing. She had thought her mother was summoning Zephyr and using the environment spell when Fleur wanted her to.
But that was incorrect.
Her mother had only been controlling and adjusting Fleur’s power.
It was Fleur who had the power.
And that was what scared her. This was different from the fear she had felt of that black dragon. She was afraid she would not be able to do it right and she was afraid she had enough power for her to lose everything.
Without this power, she probably would not have lost her mother. But…
The flower dragon stood at her feet.
That was the one that had left her mother’s grave.
And it had come to her now.
Her mother would not come back. But she had a servant which had accepted her as her mother’s heir. So…
“Let’s go, mama.”
Her mother existed within her power. Her mother existed within what she needed to do. This was not control or bondage; the two of them coincided. So…
The fighter that flew past her sent information on her surroundings to her spell circle. That support information from the US military told her that someone else was beyond the descending enemies to her right and a little behind her.
There was only one thing she needed to do.
“She’s the same as me.”
That person had cried when Fleur had lost her mother.
And there was another person who she had recently gotten to know.
Her duty was to bring those two together. If she was going to blow away everything – both walls and enemies – then…
“Zephyr! …Whip up the wind! The wind of flowers!”
Shouko felt like she heard a voice.
It sounded like someone calling out to her from the distance, but all she could see was a flower as large as her Satanic Frame.
The flower was blossoming with petals that then danced through the air. The multitude of flowers and petals became a great gale.
Everything touched by or surrounded by them subsequently exploded.
Shouko was impressed that the flower petals did not destroy the city as the air currents carried them around. When they were about to hit a building, the wind would whip up and they would avoid the building, slip below elevated structures, and fly back up again.
The only things destroyed were Shouko’s reinforcements.
The black minions altered their descent trajectory and some of them fought back with their breath or Demon Eye Cannon, but they could not hope to match the great number of petals. Also…
…The main cannon!
As the giant flower approached, a thick beam of light fired from the peak at its center.
Fleur approached while typing at her many spell circles like they were a musical keyboard.
Her main cannon was smashed by a slash from the giant Device’s right arm.
But in that moment, the arm within the black dress was definitely destroyed.
It instantly regenerated, but this proved it was not indestructible.
Whip up the wind, send down the flowers, and hurry your heart.
To be honest, she had felt a cold sweat dripping down her body for a while now. She innocently realized just how powerful and amazing her mother had been for being able to control this much power.
Zephyr was already having trouble maintaining the connection between the six pieces.
…Was it too soon to go all out…!?
She could only answer that in the affirmative. But she had moved the front line away from the people evacuating behind her and she had destroyed the central portion of the Black Witch’s reinforcements.
If her main cannon could reach her, then so could her will.
There was one thing she understood: what Shouko wanted through becoming the Black Witch.
It was what they had discussed the day before and it was what Shouko was doing now. Also…
…There’s something I can understand when I think of her as if she’s the same as me.
“Shouko! You want to be destroyed, don’t you!?”
Mary listened to Fleur’s voice arriving at her spell circle.
“You came to destroy a bunch of worlds, right? And here you’ve finally shown yourself! Why!? If destruction is the world’s destiny and your goal, then there’s no reason for you to appear here!”
That’s right, thought Mary.
She could destroy the world through her minions or in another form, like she had in Mary’s world.
So why had she appeared as herself in this world? Fleur explained:
“You must be blaming yourself! The world you created with your imagination is going to fall into ruin and you blame yourself for that! So you had a thought! If what you imagined will be destroyed by your imagination, then you too can be destroyed by your imagination!”
“If what you imagined uses a power that surpasses your own imagination, then the creation will have surpassed its creator. And you feel you should be destroyed by that.”
…In that case…
“Does the Black Witch think this world might pull that off!?” exclaimed Mary.
What had caused her to think that?
“Was it the attack power!?” asked Hunter.
“Oh, it probably was!” agreed Mary.
“Let’s not jump to conclusions!” protested Horinouchi.
She just scolded us. But at the same time, Fleur had gotten quite close.
Her flower storm was filled with explosive blasts as her Magino Device began to fall apart on its own.
“Shouko…! Open your eyes!”
She fired all six main cannons while sweeping them around by spinning her Device.
Shouko decided to give Fleur’s words some thought. However…
What was she supposed to think about? She could not come up with anything. She tended to reject things, so she was probably trying to reject what the girl was saying, but “that’s right” was all that came out. But…
“Shouko. …If that is your intent, I will accept your defeat.”
She realized her expression lost all strength when she heard Amaze express its understanding.
Was she surprised? But…
She pulled out the sword stabbed into the earth. Then she stepped forward with a smile on her lips.
She had pulled out the sword which had been forming the barrier to erase the world.
Let’s make that my indirect answer, she thought while silently swinging the blade.
She sliced through the six beams of light and then…
She sliced through Fleur’s flower from straight ahead.
I got through to her, thought Fleur.
She was the Black Witch, but she was also Shouko. She was acting as the Black Witch here, but the true will lay deep inside that.
“Don’t be dumb.”
As the greatest form of penance, Shouko was letting her creation destroy her if it would surpass her.
And so she was essentially saying this:
“ ‘I can just stop myself’?”
Mama and I are different, even if we seem so similar.
“There is someone who seems a lot like you, but they aren’t you!”
Fleur could see the space that her flower storm and six sweeping main cannon blasts had cleared of enemies. A group had managed to fly into that gap.
The Black Witch had moved forward to attack Fleur. Her giant Device had turned from Sakuragi-cho and toward Fujisawa to the west, but the three Magino Devices were approaching from the north, with Yokohama behind them.
Their position would push the Black Witch toward the sea off of Kamakura.
Fleur fell through the air as she watched the three Magino Devices set up that situation.
She held the flower dragon in her arms.
Everything had looked hopeless, but she had rearranged it into a direct confrontation.
Her mother was probably smiling. So…
“The rest is in your hands…!”
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