Clash of Hexennacht:Volume4 Chapter 15
Chapter 15: The Two Together
Strength pours evenly in here
Power shakes the heavens and obeys
Force reverberates and covers the earth
A great roar was reflected in the sky, permeated the land, and echoed back.
Across Japan, especially around Kantou, the people battling the Black Witch’s reinforcements were worried about when the descent of enemies would end.
They heard something like distant thunder in the sky and saw lightning in the Tokyo region.
The witches exchanged words as they struck the black dragons and resisted despite being pushed back and destroyed.
“Do you know what these tremors and those flashes of lightning in the sky are?”
They did. Any witch here would understand.
The noise, light, and shaking reaching them had one thing in common.
“This is the rhythm of footwork and sword fighting.”
It all came from a battle.
Just like them, something colossal had turned the eastern land into the scene of a showdown.
The threat from the heavens continued to descend, the witches were hit and had their power taken, and there was no end in sight no matter how much of themselves they poured into the task. But…
Someone else was. Someone other than them. Some unknown person.
And that unknown someone was fighting for the same goal as them.
Where was the frontline?
That would be the showdown to the east, but…
“It’s here too!”
The witches responded to the actions of the unknown eastern witch that reached them like natural phenomena. Both the women and men did. And not just those in Japan. It spread to everyone who understood the situation due to the communications, ley lines, and exchange of divine protections.
The battle continued.
Fight. Resist. There is no point in accepting defeat to the enemy before your eyes.
In the distance, someone was attempting to settle things with the Black Witch. With that in mind, they all matched their steps to the rumbling tremors, which provided a divine protection.
“No one’s going to complain if we show off and keep going tonight!”
“They’ll probably point out we’re too old for this, though.”
“Who cares? It’s like we only ever age once a decade anyway.”
The witches laughed. They laughed and resisted the enemy.
“Hexennacht is the night when everyone spends ten years together…!”
The battlefield had moved to Tokyo Bay.
Instead of the Uraga Channel, they were deep in the bay where Shihouin Academy was, so the field was approximately 20km across and the water was nearly 20m deep. That was plenty of space for two 3km Devices to move around.
The black and white opponents clashed.
The white sword collided with the twin black swords. Once the blade was blocked, they changed position and sent out another attack.
White sparks flew and black embers burst endlessly into the sky.
The giants and Hexennacht as a whole had disturbed the air currents, causing a meteorological oddity around Tokyo Bay. It began as thunder clouds rising over an area twice the size of the bay.
Lightning ran through the clouds, the din of clashing swords shook those dark clouds, and localized rain and lightning once more spread out through the sky.
The racing lightning sought somewhere to go, washed across the surfaces of the giant Devices, came to an end, and disappeared.
Three people danced amid it all.
Two were the witches holding hands on the chest of the giant white Device.
The third was the witch wielding two swords atop the chest of the giant black Device.
They danced with a view that extended beyond each other and beyond even the entire battlefield.
Their gazes seemed to view the entire world and beyond.
They stepped, swung their bodies this way and that, and occasionally spun or paused.
They showed no fear even as lightning flashed around them and rain poured down on them.
“Kagami,” said one witch. “If we destroy her Phlogiston Heart, can we separate Shouko from the Book of Creation?”
“Yes. The book said so itself. Although it would be temporary.”
“Then we need to destroy the Book of Creation in that time. …Right?”
“Well done, Horinouchi.” The other witch smiled but her expression immediately returned to normal. “Why is it everyone seems to know what I want more than I do? But in that case…”
That witch formed a sword between her and the witch holding her hand.
There was a Suzaku and a dragon on their shoulders.
They both placed a hand on the sword’s hilt and held it to support the blade.
“I will go even further than you.”
“Then…let’s go together.”
The two witches stepped forward on the stage.
After regrouping with Mary, Hunter was in the sky. She and Mary were both riding different fighters.
“It took them three steps to reach Tokyo Bay, but we aren’t so lucky…!”
They had a reason to go there and to pursue the others. But when they looked down from the sky…
Central Kamakura had lost most of its buildings, so they had an excellent view of the battle in Tokyo Bay. The three people and two Devices continued their swordfight deep in the thunder clouds that obscured the view like a forest’s trees.
The sound of ether light sparks indicated that the giant black and white Devices were accelerating their clash. The density of attacks was far greater than when they had fought Hunter and Mary.
And Mary called over from the other fighter.
“Elsie Hunter! Down below…!”
“I see it.”
Something became apparent once they gained altitude.
There were fires on the surface and shards of ether light scattered like flower petals.
Several black figures moved through those areas and spread destruction, but there were also plenty of people resisting them, using their own power, saving people, and changing position.
And it was more than just unfamiliar witches. Even the normal citizens were among them.
They were not just fighting. If surviving was to resist destruction, then evacuation was another form of resistance.
And then Hunter realized something.
“Was my dad a part of this ten years ago?”
This was the same. It was the same as her father’s battlefield, the same as her father’s sky. She felt the same thing her father had.
Tokyo Bay spread out straight ahead. As they flew straight through the thunder clouds…
The giant white Device accelerated.
The twin black swords were deflected by the pommel and they spread out.
Kagami knew their attack had hit.
Her sister’s blade had also hit them, but it only managed to scrape them.
Their attack had clearly broken something.
The black Satanic Frame’s right shoulder had obviously lost the spherical motor below the armor.
“The ‘mold’ from Mary severing the arm is still there!”
“I see,” said Kagami to praise her student.
After all, it was thanks to Mary’s consideration that she had been able to come here at all.
Lisbeth had said that Mary referred to her as “Second Headmaster” when she was fighting the Black Witch.
That had reminded Lisbeth of Shihouin Academy and of Kagami sleeping in the medical building. She had claimed Shihouin Academy might have been destroyed had she continued fighting.
Many factors had been necessary for Kagami to be here now.
“You have my thanks.”
With that, she continued attacking.
She knew what to target. Once they had caught her sister’s sword, they had to push forward, deflect the other sword with the pommel or guard, and…
Their attack reached the opposite shoulder from before.
It broke. The attack did not have much speed behind it, but it was a very heavy sword.
Ether light fragments scattered, but the giant black Device…
“It isn’t working…!”
Instant regeneration returned the motor below the armor to normal. But…
Kagami saw what Horinouchi meant.
On the giant black Device’s chest stage, her sister was raising twin swords and breathing heavily, but a book floated in front of her. That was…
“The Book of Creation…!”
Shouko tried to ask what the book was doing.
She wanted to say moving out in front was dangerous.
But she was too out of breath.
“You’ve pushed yourself too far, Shouko. …I cannot imagine things like you can, but the things you imagine and create are accumulated inside me. So I can use that to support you.”
“You idiot.” She smiled bitterly. “That’s just like when we first met. You said, ‘I cannot imagine things like you can, but the things I have seen imagined and created are accumulated inside me. So I can use that to support your writing.’ ”
“Did I say that?”
“Sorry, I might have invented that memory.”
“Then I said it.”
Amaze smiled and faced forward. Or it seemed like it.
“Let’s do this,” it said.
The Satanic Frame moved forward. Shouko had not willed it to do so, but…
If I have accumulated within Amaze, then this is everything I have been until now.
And this is Amaze’s judgment of me after watching me. That means I’m even more unrefined than I think I am.
“I desire, Amaze. …Just like when we first met, I simply desire.”
“Let’s hit them with all of ‘our’-selves, Amaze.”
“Yes,” agreed Amaze. And: “Kagami…! Don’t think imagination is enough to defeat our accumulated creation…!”
The Satanic Frame had briefly come to a stop, but Horinouchi realized it had accelerated once more.
She added the question mark because she sensed no will behind their opponent’s movements.
The motions were smooth, like something someone had practiced over and over.
They were now fighting a defensive battle. Kagami also seemed to understand what was happening with the attacks from the giant black Device and its twin swords.
“This is a combination of katas! …None of it is new, but it is the same as us!”
“Even if it is nothing special, by combining enough of them together, it becomes something new.”
“The Book of Creation does not have its own imagination, but it is trying to surpass the imagination inside it!”
The two Geo Frames crossed swords while moving around Tokyo Bay.
Their blades collided, but then the twin black swords both fired.
Each of the individual movements was something that had happened before.
But the timing and situation were different. What had previously only been trying to score a hit was being used as the optimal form of that motion.
The series of attacks was dense and unpredictable.
They fired at each other, they deflected each other’s blades, and the black power roared.
“Kagami! Did you know this!? Shouko has envied you for a long, long time and she always wanted to defeat you one day!”
“So I will make sure that happens…!”
Something changed with those words.
The entire giant black Device grew.
It grew to approximately 1.3 times its previous size. The great size did not create any kind of gap and the power and pressure grew with it.
“Do you understand!?”
The giant black Device raised its voice while swinging a truly impressive blade with even more force and speed than the white sword.
“That is her desire!” it said.
It split the thunder clouds, used its footwork to keep up with the giant white Device that slid to the side so that it would not be pushed back, and pummeled that white Device with two black blades.
“Do you understand!?” it asked again.
It continued while the twin black blades attacked without rest from multiple directions.
“To imagine is to desire! Imagination lies at the base of all forms of affirmation – be it fame, money, pleasure, knowledge, or self-satisfaction!”
Do you understand?
“When comparing you to Shouko, Shouko has the far greater complex…!”
A sword strike knocked the white Device back to the edge of the bay.
Waves broke on the nighttime coast and the white giant just barely managed to remain standing while the black queen continued a calm march forward.
“We turn imagination into power, so you cannot defeat us…!”
But a voice responded to that announcement.
Two witches firmly held hands on the chest of the giant white Device.
The one wearing a Holy Knight-style Frame spoke.
“Let me make one thing clear.”
“And what is that!?”
“Well.” The witch smiled. “If you can only view imagination as power, then you are already obsolete.”
The giant black Device responded in two ways.
First, it fell silent. And then it began a mad dash straight forward.
Horinouchi wielded Dikaiosyne with Kagami and when they leaped, the Geo Frame moved as well.
Then the 1.3x-sized twin swords struck the space they had just vacated.
“That was a splendid evasion, Horinouchi!”
“I think the buildings in the Makuhari region were squashed flat!”
“Yes, my sister once went to Makuhari instead of Ariake because she mistakenly thought the event was being held there. This was probably an indirect expression of anger over that.”
“There’s another attack coming!”
They ducked and a sword slash powerful enough to destroy a small island passed just above the Geo Frame’s head.
They stood up to take advantage of the opening after the enemy’s attack.
She nodded and had Dikaiosyne interfere.
They moved forward.
After evading the one attack, they made an attack of their own before the next one.
The precise movements that even used the scattering thunder clouds as cover were a true tightrope walk.
But as they continued moving and using their entire body to evade and attack, Kagami spoke to her as if whispering.
“Horinouchi, this is where it ends. …Fighting while protecting you and also being protected by you was truly worthwhile.”
Why are you saying this now? wondered Horinouchi, but she felt the same.
So as they dodged the enemy’s swords and the wind whipped up the bottom of her Form, she responded.
“…I feel the same. You taught me I didn’t have to do it all alone.”
“You have my thanks.”
Seeing Kagami’s smile, Horinouchi smiled back and nodded, but then they both faced forward.
“Let’s do this.”
An attack was swinging down from above, but they did not dodge it or knock it aside.
They bent their entire body like a bow and sent Dikaiosyne in from below.
Dikaiosyne shattered at almost the exact moment the twin black swords were deflected.
Shouko sensed danger in Amaze’s confusion.
Something beyond their imagination had occurred.
…They were willing to shatter their own sword to knock us off balance!?
The giant white Device stood before them with its arms spread wide, but it was unarmed.
Meanwhile, their arms were similarly spread wide, but they had a sword in each hand.
Their arms were positioned at about the right point for a mid-level sword strike, so Amaze would probably shift into exactly such an attack.
That meant they could still pull this off.
It was all thanks to Amaze increasing the Satanic Frame’s size.
She understood that Amaze was not trying to make attacks of its own but was replaying the motions found in what she had accumulated within it.
Since only the necessary attacks were made, there was no unnecessary effort and the attacks were light. They moved swiftly from one attack to another, but there was no weight to them.
That was why Amaze had grown the Satanic Frame to acquire the necessary weight.
It had also had a secondary effect on their reach and sturdiness.
Deflecting each other’s attacks had opened a space between them, but the Satanic Frame’s attacks could reach the enemy. And it was thanks to the growth that their swords had not broken even though the enemy’s had.
Shouko and Amaze had the upper hand.
There was only one area where the other side had an advantage.
The exhaustion was intense.
Her head in particular was overheating from thinking about too many things.
But this was something only she could imagine.
“And I will do what I can!”
Her opponent’s advantage was her advantage. After all…
…My sister will remake the broken sword…!
Not repair, but remake it from scratch. And if they had created an opening in her Satanic Frame for that…
“I’ll take it for myself!”
Shouko pulled in the ether from the destroyed Device.
She had the greater power because she had Amaze. So if she secured her sister’s ether light and used it to repair her Satanic Frame and the twin swords…
“You’re out of weapons, Kagami…!”
Once she shouted that, she saw two straight lines.
They were two paths cutting through the sky from southwest to northeast.
They were fighters. F-23s. Wow, they’re just like I designed them, she thought as they passed between the giant white Device’s spread arms. And they launched two figures.
“It can’t be…!”
Hunter spread her arms toward the sky as she fell along with Mary.
“Take this! And…”
“Please go get ‘em, Brigadier General! Miss Horinouchi!”
What kind of polite language is that? wondered Hunter as they used the heat of their Phlogiston Hearts to release the ether they had gathered.
They released it into the spread arms of the white Geo Frame.
“Bring out Akerindou!”
It was summoned as if in response to those words.
That giant vermilion and white bow was a Magino Device capable of scoring a bull’s-eye even at great distances.
The Black Witch recalled the night ten years before.
A similar scene had occurred during that Hexennacht too.
She said that, but a part of her told her she was wrong.
Ten years before, the giant white Device had not had any companions.
That was different now.
This was someone with talent.
They were supported by the evolution of the world.
And they could surpass anything with the changes brought on by their companions.
If this was what this world had lacked ten years before…
“They got it right in the retake!?”
She raised her voice and sent her two blades toward the center of her vision. However…
The attack launched her way scored a direct hit.
The sounds of breaking metal and falling stones spread without end.
But Horinouchi realized the Black Witch was still hanging on.
It was not over yet.
Their opponent had not yet given in.
She stepped forward to defeat that opponent.
And someone else stepped forward alongside her.
“Are you sure, Horinouchi?”
“Sure about what?”
“In a way, I am dragging you into what should only be between my sister and me.”
“I don’t mind,” she said. “Remember what you said happened to your home in this imaginary world? That the building and everything else were blown away?”
“Koutarou looked into it and I visited it myself. The house was inside a forest that you could oddly never enter from the road, but there was one part of the road from which you could see it…and that showed a scene of two sisters smiling and living together.”
That settled it.
“Our desires are the same.”
“Yes…if you insist on being my stalker, then I shall become your stalker as well.”
At any rate, the two of them stepped forward. They released the bow and reconstructed the sword.
Their opponent had fallen back a bit and ether light smoke was spewing from all over its body, but it had survived.
It bent back but then curled its body forward as if to hold in what it contained inside. And it used that momentum to attack.
It brought the twin swords together overhead and swung them down.
But Horinouchi and Kagami stepped forward.
They were not alone here. Across the country and the world, everyone stepped forward in unison.
That witch’s step struck the earth as one.
“Milady! …This is the world’s divine protection!”
Koutarou yelled over the transmission.
The movements of Kagami, Horinouchi, and the Geo Frame were being monitored by the US military via Hunter and Mary.
The Head Maid and the others here had gathered that data, taken the transmission lag time into account to predict the exact timing, and sent out the instruction for the step.
That instruction was spread to every part of the world that their will could reach: night or day, land or sky, solid footing or no footing at all.
“Let’s do this, Head Butler…!” said the Head Maid. “The world’s greatest witch divine protection will assist Lady Mitsuru’s step!”
Koutarou wondered how this would turn out, but he also thought about Horinouchi who had taken them this far.
“Well done, milady!”
Horinouchi smiled a little.
Was Koutarou relaying this battle to everyone?
That crucial step had been supported from the other side.
All the world’s witches were telling them to keep going. They must have been thinking of her and Kagami while taking similar steps of resistance.
She was glad.
She simply stepped forward, while their opponent…
Her attempt to endure the damage led to her greatest speed yet.
Horinouchi and Kagami were going to be hit first, but then Kagami spoke.
“Shouko.” She simply spoke to their opponent. “I had a dream. I had a chance to review what we did so very long ago. And there is one thing I forgot to say.”
Kagami smiled while countering the attack.
“Do you remember the many stories you showed me back then? It is about them…” She looked to her sister. “They were good. I could not bring myself to admit it at the time and that was wrong of me. The stories you wrote were good. I guarantee it. …So how about you take better care of the things you create from now on? After all, they are a part of you.”
“She said she had one thing to say, but didn’t she just say a lot more than one thing!?” protested Amaze.
“That’s just the kind of person she is…!”
Shouko thought to herself as she answered.
…I just can’t win.
Her sister had apologized to her.
She had not asked Shouko to forgive her.
She had accepted Shouko’s complex and then asked Shouko to place all responsibility on her.
She was a strong person, but Shouko understood that strength.
It was not just her strength. It came from being with other people. The more she was with someone else, the greater the possibilities of her imagination grew.
…I can’t win.
And her sister had also said exactly what Shouko had desired.
“Amaze, I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay. I understand. …You want to take care of what you created instead of destroying it, don’t you?”
She was still responsible for destroying all the previous worlds and she had her own personal issues, but her sister would accept her and had realized what she wanted to do. So…
“I can’t help but desire it. …It really isn’t fair of me, is it?”
“Now, now, Shouko. It isn’t unfair to desire something. …What’s unfair is desiring something but hiding that fact.”
“You desired something and you created it instead of hiding it. Where you went from there is where you differ from me. That is all.” Amaze seemed to affirm her decision while continuing to attack. “I exist to create new things. If you want to create a world inside you and take good care of it, that will sometimes mean not prioritizing new things.”
“I might be obsolete.”
“Don’t you let my sister influence you too.”
“It’s fine,” said Amaze. “There is nothing new in a retake, but just as combining the ordinary can lead to creation, combining multiple retakes might just lead to something no one has ever achieved. That is not my method, but if you can make that method work…you will take over as creator after me.”
Amaze moved forward.
“So watch me. …And if I do well, praise me.”
Kagami made an attack.
The enemy’s twin swords were held together and she sent the blade on an accurate path toward the center of those two blades as a counterattack that took advantage of the enemy’s movement and weight.
“Let us return everything to the way it was, Shouko. …Back when we imagined, cried, laughed, and even felt anger.”
It hit, so it shattered the blades.
The attack broke through and opened the way, so they stepped forward again.
The white Geo Frame bisected the black Satanic Frame as if embracing it.
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