Clash of Hexennacht:Volume4 Chapter 2
Chapter 2: Think About It
Instead of wondering how this happened
You think “not again” because you know exactly how this happened
“Oh, I think I’ll go buy a drink!”
Even the traffic jam filling the roads had ended. The girl quickened her pace as the majority of the traffic became witches who were no longer hiding who they were and U.A.H. vehicles.
She had come to the entrance of a train station.
The station building doubled as a shopping center and it bore the words Sagami Railway Main Line – Mitsukyo Station.
Leaving through the north ticket gate led to an elevated terrace in and out of the station.
The area around the station was hilly and the green of trees was visible from the terrace.
“Over there, by that hill.”
“Is that where the drinks are?”
“My home. You can’t see it from here, though.”
The girl pointed toward a hill to the northwest. The bag by her side sighed.
“That’s pretty far. And we couldn’t use the train anyway.”
“Thanks for sticking with me.”
She walked across the terrace and out the north entrance. There was a shopping district there, and…
“Oh, the open café really is here.”
“That seems really out of place. Do I have your extreme authority to thank for this?”
“You should thank me for not letting it disappear on its own.”
The girl walked over to the open counter bearing the logo of a chain café. There were already 2 or 3 people there. After walking below the roof, she realized there were a few witches inside and they were gathering information with spell circles.
The girl casually looked over the shoulder of the person ordering ahead of her, so the voice at her side spoke.
“Is this your first time somewhere like this?”
“I sometimes went to the burger place inside the station. I always got the fish burger.”
“I look forward to seeing how badly you screw up ordering.”
“Prepare to be disappointed,” said the girl as her turn arrived and she stepped forward.
The clerk was a tall woman who opened a standardized spell circle prepared by the restaurant.
“What would you like?”
“Oh, I’ll have a medium-sized icing brulee with extra chocolate chips, chocolate sauce, and double cream. To go.”
“Isn’t there a more specialized way of saying that?”
Hearing the voice, the clerk smiled and the girl tapped her side.
The clerk jotted down the order, and…
“Yeah, something like that.”
“I see. …Oh, is the bitter caramel sauce okay?”
“What’s the difference?” asked the voice.
“With this combination, it has a powerfully melty texture with a thick and heavy sweetness, so the bitter caramel can make it all fairly heavy. Using the sweet caramel makes a clear difference and mixing it in improves the flavor, but that’s just the average opinion. I think some people prefer it heavy.”
“Then I’ll have it heavy.”
“Okay, then wait just a moment. …Oh, and what herb? Mint?”
“Oh, yes, I’ll go with that.”
“Thank you,” said the clerk as she passed the written order to the cook further behind the counter.
She opened a takeout bag and placed some paper napkins inside.
“Do you have a post for the day after tomorrow? You know, for Hexennacht.”
“Ohh…” The girl hesitated a moment and then smiled with her eyebrows lowered. “Well, I’ll be taking part.”
“I see. …Then if you have a seal, let me see it. If you’re in charge of this region, this will be on the house.”
“Oh, no, I’m not in charge of this region. I’ll be more…out to sea I think. I only came here to see my family home.”
“Oh, then you do that. It’s important, isn’t it?”
The girl blushed a little at that and lowered her head.
“Thank you very much.”
“No, no. …When most witches are assigned to a region…well, Japan is Shinto, so they have a lot to do with the local shrine and such. It apparently makes a better ‘match’ than you might think, but I hear they will try to fit in by continuing with their lives like normal and following the local god.”
“Is that how it works?”
“Well, it’s more of a jinx based on the idea that it would be nice for things to continue like that. It apparently spread on the internet and I think everyone does it nowadays. Since you don’t seem to worry about that, does that mean you’re from the academy?”
“Eh? Umm, something like that.”
“No, you aren’t. Don’t just agree to-…”
The girl snapped her hand up from below to silence the contents of her bag. The clerk had not heard that exchange, so she smiled calmly to fill the gap.
“The Rank 1s at the academy are causing a commotion again, aren’t they? The coast was in a panic with the combat-form Magino Devices that were summoned without warning. Did you know that?”
“Oh, um, I knew something happened, but I didn’t know that’s what it was…”
“I see,” said the clerk as she turned back toward a voice from the kitchen.
When she turned back around, she held a clear plastic cup.
“Here you go. …Should I put the straw in?”
The girl answered in the affirmative, so the clerk did so and then put the cup in a plastic bag. The girl listened to the woman as she handed her the bag.
“Those Rankers have been eating out a lot recently. The academy has been busy lately and U.A.H. has been more active here in the Kanagawa region, so it’s probably quieter if they head out somewhere.”
“So they’re on their way to Shinagawa? …Well, middle management jobs aren’t easy, Lisbeth Lueger.”
The sea breeze blew in the afternoon sky and a slab of steel floated in the vast, dark blue ocean below.
It was a giant aircraft carrier. Currently, both sides had opened, the anchoring floats were out, and the waterline was positioned high as several moving figures and voices were found on the deck.
The ship faced north, a fellow ship was positioned far to port, and 5 giant spell circles were opened in the sea between the 2 ships.
In response to the loudspeaker spell from the ship, the spell circles on the ocean surface began to rotate like screws.
Fog appeared in that area of sea, a 2nd and 3rd spell circle stacked atop the existing ones, and they all slowed or sped up their rotation while repeatedly moving down and up.
Something grew from the center of the spell circles as they did so.
It was a giant sword made of light which was even larger than the aircraft carrier.
The sword quickly grew black.
“Lisbeth Lueger. You originally created these with only the ether of the mountains. And you designed them for that purpose, didn’t you?”
A blonde woman in a jumpsuit sat on the edge of the deck while smoking a cigarette.
The woman looked to the sea. She was a witch with the insignia of a rear admiral and a badge of a musical note and shot glass on her shoulders.
She quietly clicked her tongue toward the communication spell circle opened at the end of her cigarette.
“We specialize in the ‘phases’ of the sea, the sky, the wind, and the night. …This is a bad match. We still have 2 more to go and it’s taking an awful long time.”
“Can your aircraft carrier not fly to the mountains of Europe?”
“If you told me to, I’d get it flying. Are you sure you want to see more of the chaos that I, Song Café, can cause?”
And just as the woman, Song Café, said that…
“Ah, Song Café! I’m boooored! Is that Lisbeth!? Having a class reunion?”
“…Now that is not someone I wanted catching wind of this.”
“Who is it?” asked Lisbeth. “No, if it’s someone there, it would have to be-…”
Before Lisbeth could speak the name, Song Café’s communication spell circle shook. A moment later, someone wearing a vice admiral’s jacket ran up from behind.
She wore sunglasses and her long black hair fluttered in the wind as she opened her own communication spell circle.
“Lisbeth! …What’s this? What do you think you’re doing with our cute Hunter!? Give her back!”
While intercepting the communications at the bus stop in front of Shihouin Academy, Hunter held a hand to her head.
While waiting at the bus stop next to her, Mary moved out of the way of Kagami who was trying to capture Horinouchi with a video spell.
“What is it, Rank 3? You’ve had your ear to that communication spell circle for a while now.”
“…I’ve only been gone for a day, but it’s already sounding like a drama is starting.”
“I see,” said Mary, but there was nothing Hunter could do about the drama developing out at sea.
“Listen!” shouted A-un Silver Coin, commander of the 7th Fleet, on the transmission. “If Hunter doesn’t get to eat meat every day, her barbecue flavor will turn to salsa!”
Hunter had no idea what that meant.
…Am I really that bad?
But that incoherence was just how A-un Silver Coin worked. As that Urban Name suggested, she used strategies based on fortunetelling using medallions, but she oftentimes took her foresight too far and had trouble holding a normal conversation. Song Café was on old friend of hers and had come along as her aide to translate for her and help her along, but…
“Hunter is our girl, so if you don’t feed her enough meat and get her injured, I’ll destroy you!”
Don’t just jump to the conclusion, thought Hunter, but she could tell she was cared for.
Then Lisbeth responded. She answered the outrageous behavior in a calm voice.
“…I will crush both of you.”
…Please spare me this!
Should Hunter cut into the transmission and say, “Hi, hi. I’m on my way to a family restaurant to eat some meat, so don’t worry! Okay!?” She was fairly certain they would demand that the child stay quiet, but was that only her timidity talking?
Regardless, that was when Song Café cut in.
“Hey, Lisbeth.” After a short pause, she spoke an admonishment. “Right now, you’re asking us to repair your Magino Devices. I know one of our people is being a little full of herself, but try to keep yourself under control.”
Yes, yes, yes, thought Hunter. Cool. Stay cool. When cooking meat, you can’t just constantly flip it over.
…Staying calm is important!
That must have gotten through to Lisbeth because she cleared her throat and spoke in the transmission.
“Yes, I understand that, American U.A.H.”
She understands that…? thought Hunter, but did that make her more of a normal person than she thought?
Then Lisbeth continued with her words of understanding.
“I understand that, but this is a different matter.”
“…What is it, Rank 3?” asked Mary.
You don’t have to say anything. I know there’s something wrong with this. Have you ever even heard the word “understanding” before?
Hunter just hoped a great witch war would not break out between Tokyo Bay and the ocean off of Kanagawa while her group was visiting Shinagawa to eat meat and parfaits. But…
“Oh, here it is, everyone.”
The bus had arrived. Hunter sealed the communication spell. She could not allow anyone in the bus to overhear those voices.
But as she erased the spell circle…
…Will this be okay?
A-un Silver Coin’s voice reached her ears.
“Fine then! Let’s fight it out just like last time! …Just like the fight to be representative 10 years ago!”
Ah, thought Hunter as she tried to stop the spell circle’s erasure, but it was no use.
…The European U.A.H. Representative and those 2 knew each other?
Lisbeth could tell it was time for a change of pace.
…I’ve had far too much work and far too many things to think about for work.
She wanted to take a break, but that would never work inside the academy. When she could see the Devices surrounding her in the sky, she felt like she had to work.
Am I being infected by the Japanese spirit? she wondered, but Germans were hard workers during the work hours. And it was still before 5.
With that logic, she felt like she had to work.
Americans were the best when it came to forcing themselves to take breaks at times like this. After all, they were loud and incomprehensible.
But one of them was saying something nostalgic.
“You defeated us, so why did you lose to the 2 above you!?”
That was a simple question.
“Because I lacked attack power.”
“Lisbeth, you destroyed my ‘counter’ with a single attack.”
“Let me make one thing very clear,” said Lisbeth. “I lost to Mitsuyo because I did such a bad job cleaning the bathtub.”
Ever since, she had made sure not to leave any grime around the edges. That was her promise to a lost friend.
“…Thanks for the confusing answer,” said Song Café.
You’re welcome, she thought but did not say. Still, this did remind her of old times.
“Come to think of it, you 2 were the first to use the buddy system in the representative battles, even if it wasn’t called that at the time.”
“I did the fighting and A-un Silver Coin did the strategizing. With the Hexennacht barrier in mind, we used optical communications to exchange instructions, but you saw through that, didn’t you?”
“We fought in the sky above the ocean and the battlefield’s range was limited. You had sent the 7th Fleet below to ‘observe’, but my ‘eye’ can see laser light.”
“I managed to communicate my prediction, but before I could tell her the details, the battle began, we lost, we unfortunately had to retreat, and we arrived too late!”
That was right.
When America’s representatives lost that battle, they had given up on holding a position during Hexennacht. They had been growing independent from Europe at the time, but they had lost to Lisbeth, who was effectively the European representative. With that and Cerisier, who was also European, at Rank 2, America had lost any room to intervene.
That had kept their 7th Fleet from moving, but…
“But 3 of my medallions pointed to good fortune here! So I might have received a lot of mockery, but the next thing I knew, I was the commander, I found myself here, and I was telling Hunter to enjoy her connections even after the Ranker Battles were over! Agh, I just wish I could have predicted back then exactly what was going to happen.”
“I suppose prophecy and foresight abilities do grow more inaccurate over longer periods of time.”
A-un Silver Coin responded to Lisbeth’s comment with a sigh.
“My ‘reading’ predicted victory. …And so I let my guard down.”
Lisbeth started to say “I see”, but held her tongue.
Come to think of it, A-un Silver Coin did indeed use foresight fortunetelling. So back then and now…
Calm down, she told herself before asking a question.
“Are you talking about the representative battle against me?”
Lisbeth felt like her question chilled the air. A-un Silver Coin likely knew what her question meant. Finally, the woman sighed with a slight smile.
“This is top secret,” she said. “My ‘reading’ back then was pretty long-term, but it said the final representative should have defeated the Black Witch.”
…If Mitsuyo was supposed to win, why did she lose?
Lisbeth asked a few “why” questions and followed the mental path that the answers laid out for her.
Why had A-un Silver Coin’s “reading” said Mitsuyo would win?
Why had that “reading” been wrong?
And if such “readings” were possible, why…
“…Did you ‘read’ that you could not win the representative battle against me?”
“No? Destiny…or would you call it a thread? A lot of it changes as you draw that thread in. I can ‘read’ things, but it takes time, right? I look down at that thread and read it, but some people will draw the thread in partway through and some will intertwine it with another thread.”
Fortunetelling witches often said there was more than one destiny.
“In my case, I simultaneously read a series of about 30 threads located around the target, but I lost that time. …Thanks to some sudden interference.”
“…? No one interfered in our battle.”
“There were the 2 above you, remember?”
“Wait,” said Lisbeth. “Neither Mitsuyo nor Cerisier interfered in our battle. That was how our relationship worked.”
“And that’s the point,” said Song Café. “You had that relationship with them. If it was just your destiny and your thoughts, that would be one thing. But that powerful relationship caused you to think of them in battle, allowed you to entrust your destiny to them, and even led you to wonder what they would do in certain circumstances.”
“The report from Shihouin Academy says we and this world are the product of someone’s imagination. But…we can use our own imagination to compare ourselves to someone else. I think that means we aren’t the product of someone else. No, um, we aren’t just the product of someone else. So…”
“At the time, Song Café and I knew each other well enough to know what the other would be thinking even with the ether blocked, but it turned out you were the same. …I thought we could win, but we were defeated by the breadth of the solid relationship you had formed. We lost because we didn’t realize you had that breadth. But that doesn’t mean that ‘you won’.”
Hearing that helped her understand a lot about those 10-year-old events.
Lisbeth had held some doubts about some of it.
…Like that I was 3rd best and could never move any higher than that.
She still felt she had lost to Cerisier and Mitsuyo because of her insufficient attack power. But…
“It is true that when I fought those two back then…I felt I could entrust everything to them even if I lost.”
“I think the other two were a little different. Saying this might be a little mean, though.” A-un Silver Coin’s calm tone belied what she was saying. “Those two probably were willing to entrust everything with you, but I think they had also resolved themselves to carry everyone else’s thoughts and relationships.”
Lisbeth could always just say they had had the greater resolve, but Mitsuyo and Cerisier had had children.
That gave them something to protect. Having that gave them the resolve to carry everyone’s thoughts and relationships, and it also gave them someone to entrust everything to if they lost.
Lisbeth had only had half of that. Yes, she thought.
…Maybe I should have gotten married.
No, I doubt it’s that simple.
Oh, no. I’ve never once felt I should do that, so am I only thinking it now because I’m feeling timid with Hexennacht approaching?
But understanding this told her just why Cerisier had made a school.
The witches of the school had been someone Cerisier could entrust everything to.
But Cerisier’s desire to protect them had been stronger and she had felt regret.
…Honestly, what is all this?
Had Lisbeth understood all this when she had pressed Cerisier about it?
And now the act of taking over the headmaster position felt like supplementing something that was never there.
I can’t believe this.
Cerisier’s spell had been based on flowers.
Flower spells were standard for fortunetelling.
Had she perhaps “read” this future?
If so, it made sense that Lisbeth had been no match for her.
Mitsuyo had been the strongest, Cerisier had been second, and Lisbeth had been last. And thankfully…
“Was I guided to victory over you two by my relationship with and thoughts about those two?”
“Maybe so. Predicting a single person and reading their relationships with 30 other people is simple enough, but including the relationships and thoughts built up inside that one person is much more difficult. …I mean, they don’t actually exist and you don’t know when they’ll show up.”
I see, Lisbeth said in her heart.
Over the past 10 years, there had been a few questions and signs that she would gradually forget and then suddenly remember as something like a regretful worry. She had never expected to find the answer here.
Without thinking, she sighed and spoke.
“You have my thanks.”
Song Café smiled bitterly as she crouched on the deck and viewed the half-formed European U.A.H. Magino Devices.
…Now that’s some high-level thanks.
The European U.A.H. Representative was bowing to her and A-un Silver Coin who were essentially America’s representatives. Then again, this was a private issue. It was nothing worth informing the mainland about.
But they could tell some ill feelings were being cleared away inside them.
“And you have our thanks.” Song Café sighed. “I still sometimes wonder what would have happened 10 years ago if American hadn’t distanced itself from Hexennacht.”
“We will make sure there is no next time. Count on it.”
That German spirit could be scary.
“Yeah, but what are you going to do?” asked Song Café. “You’re changing the makeup of the barrier for the buddy system, right?”
“The old barrier still exists, so we only have to alter it. The authority to change it is naturally held by U.A.H. and U.A.H.J., but there is one change that should be made as soon as possible.”
“What is it that’s worth breaking tradition over?”
“We must stop blocking the ether.”
Huh? thought Song Café before A-un Silver Coin’s voice joined the conversation.
“Wait! Do you know what will happen if you do that!? It won’t be able to contain the Black Witch or our witches, so the kaboom will get through!”
Not even Song Café knew what exactly that meant.
But her own knowledge did reveal a risk in Lisbeth’s idea.
“The barrier is supposed to prevent the Black Witch and our witches’ spells from getting out, so won’t this render it useless? Even if the restrictions still apply to the Black Witch herself and the Devices, spells are almost entirely composed of highly-active ether.”
“There might be a benefit that outweighs that risk.”
“That isn’t something I expected to hear from a German. So tell us what it is.”
“When the Black Witch felt cornered during the last Hexennacht, she called in ‘reinforcements’, right?”
“Yes,” agreed Song Café while A-Un Silver Coin sent a blank message to express her understanding.
Lisbeth then said more.
“That summoning probably wasn’t a spell. So we have concluded that the blocking does no good.”
Lisbeth heard both the Americans express their confusion in unison.
…Well, I can’t really blame them.
So she would first let them have their say. She fell silent for that purpose and they seemed to understand what her breath meant. A-un Silver Coin spoke first, as if trying to reject the idea.
“You’re saying she instantly gave form to so much ether and called down that great army, but she didn’t use a summoning spell?”
“Then what? What? What was that? Did they already exist? Or did the Black Witch have a summoning spell on the ‘outside’ that was set up to activate once she was in danger?”
“It was not a spell. …Weren’t you listening?”
“Then,” cut in Song Café.
She selected a portion of what A-un Silver Coin had said.
“They already existed?”
“That isn’t possible!” insisted A-un Silver Coin. “If they did, we would have been able to ‘see’ them! There would have been some kind of reaction. I mean, once they were summoned, our detection devices went haywire!”
“Then they weren’t summoned, A-un Silver Coin,” corrected Song Café. “Were they simply created? Not with a spell, but with some power that ignored the ether and ley lines?”
“Yes,” confirmed Lisbeth.
A-un Silver Coin was likely trying to say “that’s impossible”, but she knew by now that it was not impossible.
“Earlier, Kagami Kagami, one of the Rank 1s, said something interesting. While instantly creating 2 Magino Devices, she said that her power used ether when processing ether.”
What did that mean?
“Kagami’s crafting ability looks like a spell that consumes ether, but she is simply securing the energy needed for the ether processing. The system itself is no more than her own power.”
“Yes.” Lisbeth sent out her own speculation that had since been confirmed. “That crafting ability is not a spell at its core. That power is at a higher or deeper level than ether or ley lines. …Perhaps you could call it the hand of god.”
She now understood what had happened during the previous Hexennacht.
“The Black Witch felt cornered by Mitsuyo. She had always prepared a massive stock of spells, fought in the ether-blocking barrier, and won under the same conditions as her opponent. But she found herself helpless against Mitsuyo’s Geo Frame, so she broke her own rules.”
She used her power.
“The Black Witch used the same power she used to create this world. Fearing she might lose, she panicked. She probably still tried to follow her rules as best she could, but she still created her minions outside the barrier. She did not intervene with the battle within the barrier, but she created those destructive reinforcements in the outside world.”
The ether-blocking barrier meant nothing when she used a power that surpassed both ether and the ley lines.
She had only been following their rules voluntarily, so she could always destroy or simply ignore them.
Up until that point, humanity had been underestimating the Black Witch.
She had never used her power in any serious way. She had only been placing herself in a cage she could destroy or ignore at any time and seeing how her creation was doing every 10 years.
It made Lisbeth wonder just how much she looked down on them, but there was a troublesome aspect to this.
When someone rose to her level so she could no longer look down on them, she would destroy them.
“This time, Mitsuru wields the power that was inherited from Mitsuyo and further improved upon. And she is joined by Kagami who claims to be the Black Witch’s older sister and can use that crafting ability. …The Black Witch could very well choose to destroy this entire world.”
“And that’s why we needn’t bother shackling ourselves with the ether blocking?”
“That’s right,” replied Lisbeth with a nod. “To let Kagami use her crafting ability to its fullest, we should remove the ether blocking and allow her to resupply with ether at any time.”
“But, but, but? What about the Suzaku-user’s attacks? Without the barrier’s defenses, a stray shot could hit the mainland.”
Lisbeth held a hand to her head.
Song Café could tell she had hit on a critical point. Lisbeth had probably been worrying about that and trying to not to think about it.
But after a while, Lisbeth resumed speaking.
“We will make sure she does not hit the mainland.”
“Who will and how?”
“She will not hit the mainland, so no one has to do anything.”
“Now you’re making less sense than me!”
Apparently A-un Silver Coin was aware how little sense she made. But Song Café had a feeling pointing that out was more trouble than it was worth.
…Removing all the stops for a head-on battle with the Black Witch, hm?
What would happen if they were wielding even more power than last time? No, the Black Witch would have learned her lesson last time, so she would have prepared for this.
They could not let their guard down. But something still bothered her.
“Is the Black Witch’s crafting ability superior to Kagami’s?”
“Conditionally, yes. …But there is one concerning external factor.”
Song Café wondered if the power came in different forms or directionalities, but Lisbeth’s answer was different.
“There is something known as the Book of Creation.”
“? …That is a focusing tool for the technique, correct? I saw the report.”
“I thought so too, but what Kagami said suggests it is on another level entirely. Most likely,” she explained, “it is an Intelligent Artifact and it was the item used to create this world with ease. The Black Witch possesses it and it allows her to create anything she wants while ignoring the ether consumption that Kagami requires. …That is what defeated us during the last Hexennacht.”
If Hunter was here, she would have said something funny here, thought Song Café.
Just like A-un Silver Coin, Song Café’s name was widely known among the American witches and the European witches, but…
…We pale in comparison to this ridiculous power.
“We did receive a report from U.A.H.J. We read about the supposed resident of another world who was joining the Ranker Battles.”
The girl claimed to be the Black Witch’s older sister and she claimed this world was no more than a creation of her sister and her. And the Book of Creation had indeed been mentioned there.
But it had been unclear if that was true or not. And even if it was, what did that matter?
The American mainland had taken a more realistic stance.
“If it is true but does not provide a way of immediately eliminating the Black Witch, then it is no more than a profile.”
That was exactly right.
Even if the details about the Black Witch’s family and past were true, it was meaningless if that did not let them erase the threat of the moon hanging in the sky.
So her presence had not been all that meaningful.
A visitor from another world would not immediately rid them of the Black Witch.
Hexennacht was still the only way of defeating the Black Witch.
In that case, it was all up to Kagami’s ability.
She just had to be skilled.
If a meaningless person got involved by merely making herself look important, it would cause great damage.
Thus, they had left this in U.A.H.J.’s hands, but their ace, Hunter, had been defeated and the visitor had risen to Rank 1. At that point, Song Café had looked at it thusly:
…From here, we just have to see how useful she is when compared to the Black Witch.
What mattered was that she did not betray them and take the Black Witch’s side. From that perspective, Song Café could see why Shihouin Academy had introduced the buddy system.
It had looked like the rest came down to ability, but…
“…The Book of Creation, huh?”
“Yes,” replied Lisbeth over the transmission. “We may have finally begun planning a full countermeasure against the Black Witch instead of merely throwing brute strength her way.”
“And? And? What do we know about this Book of Creation? Anything at all?”
“Kagami’s group is probably discussing that now. …Want to visit a Shinagawa family restaurant?”
What would happen if they did? The answer was obvious.
“It’s still the afternoon, but Hunter is definitely eating meat.”
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