Clash of Hexennacht:Volume4 Chapter 4
Chapter 4: If Some Return
If I seem full of energy from the outside
Am I looking at myself from the outside?
The girl had gained a strange companion.
Based on the school uniform worn by the other girl accompanying her through Shinagawa Station, she was from Shihouin Academy.
That was the school where witches gathered and competed to be the world’s best.
That school seemed so far removed from the girl’s life. Both the witches and the chest-accentuating stitching option available on the uniform. And this companion seemed the same as far as that second one was concerned.
Her name was Fleur.
The girl was curious, so she looked into where this girl ranked at Shihouin Academy. Any Shihouin witch would be registered in the world witch rankings. Or they should have been, but…
“…She isn’t there?”
“I can’t find her name or anything else in Shihouin Academy’s registry.”
This seemed somewhat awkward, but the girl tried asking while guiding Fleur to the gift shops inside Shinagawa Station.
“That uniform is from Shihouin Academy, right? Aren’t you busy right now?”
“Ohh, due to, um, reasons, I’m rehabi-…training in the reconstructed area of north Kantou.”
“So they have a trainee system?”
“Kinda like that, yeah!”
There seemed to be more to this, but digging into it any further would not accomplish anything.
“I believe there is a Shihouin student dorm in the north Kantou reconstructed area,” said the voice from the girl’s handbag. “Their pamphlet says, ‘To increase your spell power, work in this reconstructed land and train your mind and body to thrice their previous strength’.”
She might be tougher than she looks, thought the girl, but she also felt some relief. If she was training somewhere like that, Fleur would not have much of a connection to the Tokyo Bay Shihouin Academy.
So I should be fine, she thought while letting her guard down.
“This shop sells specialties from different regions.”
She corrected Fleur’s pointing finger and walked through the station, but they did not have to walk far.
Once she saw the line of counters that looked a lot like stalls, Fleur dashed over.
“…Oh, you sure are full of energy.”
“I’m gushing with it!”
Is that really how you want to describe it?
The girl had honestly been planning to leave after showing Fleur the way, but Fleur turned back.
“This is amazing! I can actually pull through with this!”
If she had said “thank you” or “that was a huge help!”, the girl could have waved goodbye.
But sometimes it was hard to find a good ending point.
Would a witch call this a jinx? But even for the girl…
“What do I do?”
“It’s still a lot earlier than last night,” said the handbag.
She decided to move up alongside Fleur and view the north Kantou products with her, but…
“Fleur, this is the Kyushu section.”
“That’s close enough! It should work!”
The girl decided to just assume Fleur was giving it to someone who would be fine with that. But she decided she should probably ask about it when Fleur started comparing a few wooden swords.
“How old is the person this is for?”
“Oh, she’s my age, but she’s more like my mama.”
“Is she grown up?”
“Yeah. Her boobs are pretty incredible.”
…So it’s about the chest-accentuating stitching!
Witches are amazing… she thought, but could a witch’s life experience really cause that much of a difference at the same age? And that brought another question to mind:
“Fleur, which year are you in?”
“3rd year. What about you?”
“Oh, um, 3rd year.”
“Ahh! So we’re the same!”
“Yeah,” confirmed the girl while thinking something different.
…Oh, no… I’m only in the 3rd year of middle school…
She’s really acting like we’re equals, she thought, but why was it Fleur actually seemed younger than her? Fleur herself was slowly but surely moving to the Tohoku pickled foods section.
“Maybe this would be best since I bet everyone thinks I’m someone who swings a hoe around to grow flowers.”
“Would someone your age really want something pickled…?”
“But the dorm mother said food makes a good gift because it doesn’t stick around! Think of it that way!”
In that case, the T-shirts, keychains, and lacquered chopsticks were off the table.
Fleur had been looking at a bag in a corner that said “Kiritanpo with One Character Wrong!”, but who made that? It wasn’t me.
Please don’t buy it, she willed Fleur and it seemed to work. Do I have psychic powers?
Then they looked at what was lined up on the counter.
There was hard candy, but Shihouin Academy had to be busy. It seemed wrong to send that to someone in such a rushed place.
“And the fugashi package is a little big.”
“Don’t you want something with more individuality?”
Oh, I’m saying the kind of thing my sister would.
And yet she had promised herself long ago that she would not just randomly shoot down other people’s ideas.
But Fleur was different.
How was she different? She was different from the girl. So Fleur simply smiled.
“Oh, I get it! Individuality! Yeah, it has to show where I came from!”
In that case, checking the Okinawa section would not work, but after hearing that line spoken straight to her…
Someone else had just hit her with the same thing she had said constantly in the past.
And it really affected her.
The excuse that they were two different people did not seem like anything more than an excuse.
Instead of interpreting the situation differently, it felt like the truth was passing her right by. And when faced with that…
She realized she had grown a little stubborn. She could not correct it right away, but she was certain that the warm sweat on her back came from her appreciation for Fleur who she had only just met.
And Fleur spoke to her with a few products in hand.
“Sorry about keeping you from getting home on time.”
“No, it’s fine. …I was only stopping by a family restaurant for some food before heading home.”
“A family restaurant!?”
Fleur really leapt at that one and the girl felt overwhelmed by the intensity.
“Um, yes. The Safe Restaurant over there.”
What is? wondered the girl, but Fleur grabbed her hands and shook them up and down.
“How wonderful! I want to stay with you forever for today!”
What is going on? But you’re gathering attention, so stop. Just stop.
“Huh? Is Fleur still not here?”
Hunter tilted her head in front of a lit building below the dark sky.
“Wouldn’t Fleur be confused if she got here ahead of us?” asked Horinouchi.
“I thought of that, so I told her to wait if we weren’t there yet. There was a margin of error of about 2 or 3 minutes.”
She looked down the road toward Shinagawa Station, but there were no Shihouin uniforms walking below the streetlights.
After disembarking from the bus, they heard an FA-18 passing overhead on the way to Yokosuka. The city seemed stiller than normal and there were fewer cars than normal, but…
“Wait a second.”
Hunter used a spell circle to connect to Fleur’s cellphone via the communication line.
“…Isn’t that going way out of the way?” asked Horinouchi.
“Oh, well, this technically belongs to American U.A.H. That means all of the related fees are managed by them, so any time I use it has to have something to do with the 7th Fleet.”
“…I can only guess, but that is using a satellite for part of the journey, isn’t it?” asked Kagami.
“Rank 3, aren’t you going a little too far for a personal call?” asked Mary.
“Don’t ask how much it costs! Don’t you dare ask! Got that!?”
“Wouldn’t it be better if I just called her instead…?”
“Horinouchi!” said Kagami. “This is part of the management mission that Lisbeth gave to Hunter! So it would be best to put it all on a bill we send to Lisbeth.”
I think that’s exactly what I’ll do. But anyway…
“What is it, Hunter!?” said the woman on the spell circle. “Calling from Shinagawa!? What geographic point do you want us to send a spell missile strike to!? You can mark it, can’t you!? Yes!”
“Hey, A-un Silver Coin!” shouted another voice. “The sea is rough after creating those Magino Devices, so don’t fire from the SS! The higher ups have been saying they want to see the Michael Monsoor fired, so use that! We can get away with 2 shots or so that way!”
Don’t just decide that on your own. And what am I supposed to do with this GPS that appeared on the right?
“Kagami, is there a restaurant around here you don’t like?”
“That Gyudon – Kiraiya place with the sign over there had a pretty bad mayo gyudon, but I have no hard feelings.”
“I started targeting it, so don’t make feints like that!”
“What in the world are you doing, Hunter?” asked Horinouchi.
Okay, okay. I’ll make the call.
After some static as it connected, she heard the noise clear up as it entered the allotted space meant to ensure privacy, but…
She checked the spell circle and found the number she had called either did not have a signal or was powered off.
“Oh, Fleur’s phone is old, so it’s probably drowned out by all the spell communication waves,” explained Horinouchi. “That’s bound to happen at this time of day in a train station like Shinagawa.”
“Then she must have made it to Shinagawa Station.”
If she had gotten lost, the call would have gotten through.
This is actually pretty easy to figure out, thought Hunter as Kagami placed a hand on her forehead and fanned her body.
“Horinouchi…does this still count as a call for Hunter’s communication spell?”
Hunter looked back to see Horinouchi hold a hand to her mouth and avert her gaze.
“Oh, shut up! Don’t ask how much it costs! Don’t you dare!”
“How much is it, Rank 3?”
“…Including the security, about 20 thousand…maybe? But that’s pretty cheap all things considered!”
They all covered their faces and turned their backs.
What are we supposed to do about this? wondered Horinouchi. She was aware her mouth was twisted and Kagami indicated a three-way junction off of the main road instead of the main road itself.
This path bordered a building that was surrounded by an “under construction” cover and had remained untouched afterwards. It was only a difference of about 30 meters, but it apparently meant a lot to a local like Kagami.
“This way is actually shorter when coming from Shinagawa Station. …Of course, this assumes Fleur notices it.”
The road cutting by in front of the restaurant bordered a wide river on the left. The family restaurant they would gather at provided a view of Shihouin Academy thanks to that river.
…It’s kind of strange.
Shihouin was visible from a place those sisters remembered fondly, but had that been caused by the Black Witch’s creation? If so, the Black Witch was a warped individual. If not, this world was harsh to the Black Witch.
But if Fleur came along the route Kagami had mentioned, she would be able to see Shihouin the entire way. That would provide a landmark, but…
…Hunter didn’t tell her that much.
However, Hunter glared at Kagami and lightly raised her left hand.
“Kagami? …Isn’t that only true if the Black Witch made things that way?”
It took Horinouchi a second to realize what she meant.
Kagami must have realized the same thing because she slapped her forehead.
“My apologies! You are correct! It might be different.”
“Well, it is true we always arrive by bus,” said Horinouchi. “Have you ever come here via Shinagawa Station, Kagami?”
“No, no,” said Kagami as she shook her hands. “It seems I am surprisingly trusting of Shouko.”
“But, Brigadier General, if everything else around here is how you remember it, it seems only natural to assume the rest is too.”
“Should I run on over and check?” asked Hunter
“Can’t we just check the city map on a spell circle?”
Kagami stopped Horinouchi as she raised a hand.
“No, it would be crass to check on the truth. I would appreciate it if we kept this the way it is.”
How complicated, thought Horinouchi, but she also realized a certain truth.
“My hostility toward the Black Witch has softened a lot more than I thought.”
Horinouchi saw Hunter and the others quickly turn back toward her.
“Are you okay, Horinouchi!? Losing your hostility isn’t going to lower your attack power, is it!?”
“That’s right, Miss Horinouchi!? Your hostility is our overpowered ATK! The carefree killer intent I felt when you shot me from the pole really squeezed at my spine! In a bad way!”
“Ha ha ha. Your deadly power is quite popular, Manko.”
“What are all of you saying!? And that last one! I don’t like that look that says, ‘I might as well say it since the others did’!”
But she did look at this different than before.
“This is very complicated.”
“From what I’ve heard from you, Kagami, this world has less to do with the Black Witch than it does recreations of your sister’s memories.”
Before meeting Kagami, she had only thought of the Black Witch as toying with and then destroying the world.
But that was wrong.
“I wouldn’t be able to destroy the memories of my mother.”
Hunter and Mary were likely the same. If they were fighting for what they had lost, they would not be able to reject what they had lost. But…
“Why is the Black Witch trying to destroy this world?”
“Ah,” said Hunter when she realized what Horinouchi was trying to say.
Horinouchi probably understood the contradiction in what she was saying, but her feelings had not fully grasped it yet.
“The Black Witch is trying to destroy her memories?”
“Yes. Kagami just now assumed that a back way only they knew would be here, and it might indeed be here. She’s recreated it to that level, but then there are the things about Utsunomiya being the kingdom of gyoza and frog not being available at Yokohama.”
“Miss Horinouchi, you’re getting sidetracked in a weird way.”
“Try to understand,” said Hunter. “This means she’s memorized everything Kagami has ever said.”
“Y-you! Don’t make any weird interpretations of this!”
At any rate, it would be best to ask someone who was involved, or at least related.
“What’s the meaning of this, Kagami?”
“I would imagine that is because my sister was ill and saw no future in her own world.”
Horinouchi remembered hearing something about that early on and it made some sense to her. But…
“You would imagine? So are you just guessing here, Kagami?” asked Horinouchi. “Listen, we do not understand the Black Witch.”
After thinking on Horinouchi’s words for a moment, Mary nodded.
She wanted to eliminate the Black Witch.
The Black Witch had killed, erased, and annihilated the others from her world. And partially just for fun.
“I cannot forgive her for what she did.”
That much was certain. But at the same time…
“It is true we do not know much about the Black Witch.”
Until now, they had simply assumed that this was how the Black Witch was.
But there were some questions.
“Based on what Kagami has said, it doesn’t sound like the Black Witch created this world to destroy it,” said Horinouchi. “Of course, a lot has been lost and we all have our own thoughts on the matter. Everyone in this world probably does. And many of us won’t be able to forgive her. That means she cannot be allowed to exist any longer. But…”
“But? But what?”
“The Black Witch wants to destroy this world for some reason. Unless we figure out why that is, we are no different in our desire to destroy the Black Witch.”
“That’s true.” Mary spoke while thinking about the standards inside themselves. “I cannot forgive the Black Witch. So I do feel a need to destroy her with all my might and there is no way of undoing what she has done.”
“I did the same thing. Yes, I tried to.”
She had tried to erase Kagami because she could not forgive her.
But Kagami had accepted the fight, heard her out, and chosen not to criticize her.
Mary had been that way. And…
“I was just about to become a ‘fool’ too,” said Hunter as she looked to Kagami. “Kagami, can you do to your sister what you did to us?”
Kagami wrinkled her brow.
And in that instant, Horinouchi spoke up.
“Kagami, you are surprisingly awkward.” The shrine maiden put on a small smile. “You are so tolerant when it comes to victims, the weak, or those in danger, but you are so harsh when it comes to aggressors, the strong, or those who put others in danger. …That might be the proper form for those with power, but if you oppose the aggressors, the strong, and those who put others in danger in the same way, then we will be standing in the same position as our opponent.”
“Since you guided us this far, we want you to do the same thing for your sister. If you don’t, we will become the same as the Black Witch.”
“Yeah, I don’t want this to be a case where the hero who defeats the monster turns into a monster herself.”
Hunter was exactly right.
And Kagami had prevented them from doing that so far.
Mary found she understood why Kagami had done that.
“Were you hoping that only you would become a monster because you will be leaving this world after we win? …Were you thinking of wrapping this all up in that way?”
She’s such an idiot, thought Horinouchi with a small smile.
She did not know if Mary was correct, but…
“We have our own thoughts and we aren’t powerless. Also, the Geo Frame is needed to destroy the Black Witch and that requires us to work together.”
“It is no longer possible for only you to become like the Black Witch and turn into a monster. At the very least, it will affect me as well.”
She said it. And after a while…
Hunter and Mary gave some scattered applause. Some citizens and witches passing by also noticed her and joined the applause.
“Wh-what is this about!?”
“You should know since you’re the one that said it.”
Did I say something bad? But she was more interested in Kagami’s reaction to her words.
She noticed the white-haired girl had closed her eyes.
After taking a breath and laughing through her nose, she looked to Horinouchi. It was a direct, testing look.
Sensing that Kagami was going to do something to her, she tensed up, but she kept herself from moving away.
It was fine.
If this girl was going to become a monster, she would stop her. And if that was not possible, she would go with her.
Was it an excuse to claim that was necessary to protect their world?
But if she did not think of it that way, she felt like her emotions were going to explode inside her.
She was clearly sending herself in a dangerous direction, but she also sensed hope there.
If it was the world that just barely kept her from forgiving herself for the irresponsibility of not caring how this turned out, did that mean she had already surpassed this world?
But then Kagami averted her gaze. She turned toward Hunter. And then toward Mary.
“You have my thanks,” said the visitor from another world as she relaxed her body. “Perhaps it is now my time to be stopped by you.”
Horinouchi sensed relief in the air.
She did not know what was “right”, but she believed that it was a good thing.
She might be being idealistic and some might say she had grown soft or treacherous.
But because she could criticize the Black Witch’s actions…
“Just as we don’t want to be the same as the Black Witch…Kagami, we don’t want you to end up that way either.”
She did look Hunter and Mary’s way. And when they noticed her…
“Oh, can you include us in that too?”
“Yeah, um, us. Include us.”
“Y-you don’t have to put it like that…!”
Maybe it can’t be helped since the Geo Frame is between Kagami and me, she thought, but outside of that…
“But if we do have to stop the Brigadier General, how exactly will we do it?”
“…Couldn’t I just wait for her to charge out ahead and then shoot her in the back?”
“Kagami, Horinouchi just said something pretty damn amazing!”
“I might need to think twice about making any careless actions!”
Well, maybe so, thought Horinouchi. And when thinking about who would be best for the job…
“Who would best be able to respond to Kagami’s starting dash?”
“The Rank 3.”
“Yes. So you catch up to the Brigadier General and stop her long enough for Miss Horinouchi to shoot her.”
“I’ll be caught in the blast too, won’t I!? Won’t I!?”
“In that case, Mary and Hunter can work together to stop her.”
“What do you mean ‘in that case’, Horinouchi!?”
“I-if those are your orders, Miss Horinouchi…!”
“Horinouchi, I feel like Mary is growing less respectable, so can you do something about that?” asked Kagami.
What am I supposed to do?
That said, they were waiting for Fleur. When they peeked inside the family restaurant…
“The corner seat by the entrance is open,” commented Horinouchi. “If we wait there, won’t we be able to see Fleur no matter which road she arrives on?”
“You still have to worry about the reflection on the window,” pointed out Hunter. “And I’ll be focused on eating.”
“Yes…someone is going to have to restrain you.”
Hunter’s face stiffened at that, but it was somewhat amusing.
“Let’s go in and wait there. And Kagami? While we do…no, afterwards as well, I want to hear more about you and your sister. I want to learn any clues we can about why the Black Witch created this world and yet is trying to destroy it.”
- Change the “ta” to a “chi” and it sounds like “severed penis”.
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