Clash of Hexennacht:Volume4 Prologue
He who holds no aspirations will not find happiness.
—Aeschylus of Greece
Prologue: A Walk in the Moonlight
The night is lonely because there are fewer people around
The night is enjoyable because that loneliness is a relief
A girl stood in a city with a view of the moon.
She was on the outskirts of the city. She walked toward the city’s lights using a sidewalk that began at the river mouth. Her gray uniform blew in the autumn night wind.
Her shoulder-length hair fluttered as the wind carried in the mixed scents of the river and the sea.
“Amazing. …I’m glad I put so much effort into it since it came out so well.”
“I personally can’t recommend this much, but I suppose it’s valuable for you to see it.”
“That’s right,” said the girl with a smile on her lips and in her eyes as she viewed the city.
Her black eyes captured the nighttime lights before her that took the form of a city.
“I’m going to keep going.”
“I’m sure you would do so even if I told you not to.”
“Ha ha. Should we spend the night somewhere?”
“You do not have permission to spend the night!”
“Yeah, I said it because I knew you’d say that.”
“Why do you always get so energetic when you use your imagination?”
“Because it feels like I can arrive at something even better if I do.”
The girl directed the words “don’t worry” toward her left side. She carried a white leather handbag there and a voice spoke from within.
“We’ll head back together. Of course, we arrived together too.”
“Thanks. What does this feel like to you?”
“It’s the same thing you always do. It’s like flipping through a book and pointing to a word on a page.”
As they walked and approached, the city arrived at their sidewalk. It felt more like it was accepting their walk than spreading out before them. The scents of the river and the sea were overpowered by the sounds of cars, trains, and people living their lives.
The sounds, lights, smells, sensations, atmosphere, and aura were all the product of the people who lived there.
The girl entered that manmade amalgam. She had already passed the increased density of light that acted as a border. So…
“We’ve arrived in Yokohama,” said the girl.
“We should have gone to the center to start with.”
“I wouldn’t be able to bear that. I’d die.”
“Stop exaggerating,” said the voice from her side. “Look. Over there.”
The sidewalk ran along the river, but there were several buildings across the road on the other side. At an even interval between the buildings, information towers displayed spell circles.
A certain announcement scrolled across one of them along with some news and ads from sponsors.
“3 days until Hexennacht,” read the girl.
“That’ll be 2 days once dawn arrives.”
A map from Tokyo Bay to the ocean off of Kanagawa was displayed along with footage of a woman with long white hair, a black suit, and an eyepatch.
Some roads on the map were marked with red lines and those extended toward western Tokyo, western Kanagawa, or northern Shizuoka. They were…
“Are the city’s people evacuating?”
“It looks like they’ll start evacuating by block tomorrow.” The girl looked around. “I would think they would have to evacuate sooner, but let’s just assume that means a lot of witches live in this region.”
“I really don’t think you should just assume you’re always right.” The voice from the bag under her arm spoke quietly. “You have to make sure you’re right in the end.”
“Only 3 days remained until Hexennacht.
“On that day, the world would settle things with the Black Witch. They would do battle with and destroy the very person who created this world and sealed herself in the moon.
“That was the day on which mankind had continually lost and received incredible damage.
“It always occurred at the end of October.
“The official date had been determined suddenly but also quite late, and everyone knew why.
“One of the Troika had been lost.
“The Troika were the 3 witches who had competed to the end over becoming the representative for the previous Hexennacht.
“The one who won that competition, Horinouchi Mitsuyo, had already been lost in the previous Hexennacht.
“But one of the remaining two, Cerisier Shihouin, headmaster of Shihouin Academy where the Ranker Battles were fought, was no longer with them.
“This was due to the loss of Fleur Shihouin, the previous Rank 1 in the witches’ Ranker Battles which were used to determine who would fight on Hexennacht.
“Cerisier had been her daughter Fleur’s servant, but she could not ‘last’ any longer.
“She left the fate of the world up to a new Rank 1 who had summoned the Geo Frame, the ultimate witch’s Frame that had also been summoned by Horinouchi Mitsuyo during the previous Hexennacht.
“Thus, Lisbeth, the last of the Troika and the new Headmaster of Shihouin Academy, decided on the date of Hexennacht.
“…How does that sound as narration for the PR Committee’s documentary, Horinouchi?”
“Please stop writing your own script! And Aunt Lisbeth has called for us, so we need to gather in the courtyard!”
A cage surrounded the sky.
It was a circular cage with a diameter of about 3km.
Each of the bars on the cage was a long gunblade.
They were 500-meter Magino Device’s colored a uniform black. 1000 of them were arranged in a circle which surrounded a great expanse of water and the structure that floated there.
That structure was Shihouin Academy.
The floating island’s giant academic facility was not functioning properly.
Classes were in session. A look inside the windows of the school buildings positioned in the cardinal direction would show teachers speaking in front of their lecterns and writing words or drawing diagrams on the blackboards.
But the classes were not academic in nature.
In the General Division building to the south, a teacher in glasses spread her arms in front of her students.
“Listen up. Just like last time, we predict the Black Witch will scatter her minions over a wide area from the sky. You need to consider the possibility that your post will be destroyed or evacuated when that happens.”
They were being taught the means to survive and to fight.
Each division was learning a distinct witch survival method.
The General Division teacher raised her hands which had countless stiff scars on them.
Her hands had more scars than fingers. When the students saw that, they gasped, nodded, and continued listening.
“Listen, everyone. This here…is an example of success. Because I’m still alive.”
In that case…
“If your post is destroyed, is your best option to join the U.A.H. troops stationed in a nearby region? You might think so, but you would be wrong. After all, it is likely they will be in combat. So what should you do in that case?”
A student with pine leaves and branches on her desk raised her hand. She had white skin and blonde hair.
“Shihouin students are a part of U.A.H., but we also have our own exclusive communications channel. I think it would be crucial to first search for members of the Special Equipment Division posted nearby.”
Why was that? The answer was given in the Special Equipment Division building to the west.
In front of the students’ lab tables, a teacher in a lab coat drew a map of Japan on the blackboard and drew a horizontal red line between Tokyo Bay and the ocean off of Kanagawa.
“You will be positioned along this line. You are to protect Japan from there. But listen. There are 2 problems about that.”
She tapped the line she had drawn.
“The first is that, assuming things are the same as last time, the Black Witch distributes destruction by dropping down her minions. Last time, she dropped black candy boxes which exploded, but even the small ones spread ‘destruction’ over a diameter of 300 meters. That is the first problem, but the other one is based on your own abilities.”
“The Special Equipment Division is an engineering school. You have trained in two things: combat ability and how to magically construct and repair defensive formations. But that is why you will form the foundation of our defenses while retreating and why you must take command to prevent our formations from collapsing.”
“You’re telling us to be leaders?”
“Not telling you to. I am saying you will have no choice but to.” The teacher smiled bitterly. “I mean, if you see a collapsed formation or a structure that could probably function as a shield with a little work, would you be able to ignore it? But the truth is that only you have that kind of discernment. You need to understand what that means before heading home today because it’s too late once you’re actually out there.”
“Wait a second, sensei. …In that case, well, I guess the General Division isn’t too surprising since a lot of them are only witches for fun, but what about the Spell Division?”
The answer to that was being given in the Spell Division’s school building.
There, an old woman in a black coat walked around the classroom.
“Listen. You all have a role to play. The Special Equipment Division will end up being defenders and assisting in retreat. But what will you be doing? Defending? Assisting in retreat? Or guiding people? Surely you don’t intend to divine people’s destinations or love lives on the battlefield. You’re not going all the way out there just to determine tomorrow’s future from some beer foam, are you? C’mon, you tell me the answer.”
“Of course! …We are to attack. We are to take the initiative and make accurate and effective strikes, especially while the enemy is approaching from outside our field of vision.”
“No, that’s not the answer.” The elderly teacher rubbed the student’s head. “Only a small fraction of you will be able to do anything that cool on the battlefield. And as one of those who couldn’t, let me tell you the real answer.”
She slowly pointed toward the ceiling.
“The moon is there. Ever since the previous Hexennacht, my right hand’s nails have always been able to accurately point to the moon. So…”
“If you aren’t sure what to do and think it’s hopeless and if you think you still have some strength left, then remember this: fire toward the moon. They always come from the moon, so you have a much better chance of hitting them that way than by making a poor horizontal or homing shot or attempting some kind of martial arts. …Listen. The Spell Division is the foundation of our offense. You’re allowed to use this world’s most advanced magic for violence. Isn’t that the best? So don’t just cling to your magic power and die. But with that in mind, don’t forget this: if you survive, you might just get another shot at this. That will mean spending another pathetic and bitter 10 years on this, but you won’t even get that if you die.”
She said “listen” once more.
“Each team will receive a single member of the Special Equipment Division for reinforcement and support. You’re good communicators, right? Yes, here is where you can use your fortunetelling and foresight. I believe I have raised the world’s greatest attackers with social skills to match. The Honors Division tends to have trouble with that last part, though.”
“But, sensei, the Honors Division…”
“Yes, they lost their most powerful Ranker. Fleur Shihouin has lost her ability to grasp ether, so she is actually weaker than a normal person. I wonder what they’re going to do about that.”
They all nodded in agreement with that.
Fleur had been at the top of the worldwide witch ranking, but she had lost both the Ranker Battle and her power. The greatest advantage of the Ranker Battles was how the losers were not lost, but that did not apply to this result.
“That means everything will likely be focused on the current Rank 1, but how will the Honors Division view that?”
The question was also asked within the Honors Division.
That voice came from a closed white space without windows. Fewer than 20 witches sat in floating chairs with armrests.
A few of them kept their hands busy by repeatedly opening and closing locks or making random structures out of floating building blocks, but one of them asked a question.
“Will we be useful at all?”
“Well, all of you have unique powers,” said the sweater-wearing teacher. “But that is why we have long been thinking about how to use your abilities. Your deployment this time will take that into account and the witches in command will have been instructed how to use you, so you don’t need to worry. Of course, that’s what makes it such a disappointment that we lost Fleur who had such incredible power in combat.”
The teacher said “but” again.
“Witches are people. You and we are people. We are analog and cannot be reproduced no matter how many gears you put together. …We can’t blame someone if circumstances and happenstance led them to lose their power.”
“Then…” said a girl holding an origami crane in the air.
Her blue eyes looked to the teacher.
“Do we just have to place all our expectations in the current Rank 1?” She took a breath. “They might have a greater power than Fleur, but we don’t know if they can win. I mean, that Geo Frame they summoned was already defeated 10 years ago.”
“That’s the question I think we’re all asking right now.”
During the Hexennacht 10 years before, Horinouchi’s mother Mitsuyo had been the representative, but she had lost to the Black Witch. And she had summoned the greatest witch’s Frame known as a Geo Frame.
“The daughter is using the same technique that was defeated last time. …Can they really win like that?”
With that question, the crane took flight.
The white origami crane flew lightly through the white classroom without flapping its wings.
It suddenly opened up.
It did not tear or come apart. It unfolded, and…
The blue sky spread out within that closed white space. Something opened with a sound like struck cloth.
“A window!? But those were only included during the initial planning stage!”
As the teacher asked that, everyone turned back toward the blue sky and saw something there: a giant blue and vermilion weapon.
Two Magino Devices, which measured more than 500 meters, had appeared in the sky above Shihouin Academy’s central courtyard.
“Hold it! Kagami Kagami! How dare you!! We’re having enough trouble with the evacuation schedule for this area changing on such short notice, so why are you doing something so noticeable and threatening!?”
As the woman’s voice passed in one ear and out the other, Horinouchi watched the silver-haired and uniformed girl in front of her shrug.
…Now she’s done it.
Horinouchi thought this was absolutely ridiculous, but the other girl did not notice her glare. Kagami simply ignored Lisbeth who stormed quickly over from beyond the courtyard.
“What do you think, Horinouchi? I used the ether I was given and the designs you let me see to summon both Dikaiosyne and Akerindou simultaneously! What do you think!?”
What did she think? There was only one answer to that.
“How in the world did you do that?”
“You cannot tell!?” Kagami struck a pose with her hands and elbows bent. “I was told I could do what I wanted with the ether, so I simply took control of all the ether that is normally collected using the engines. I made the whole thing all at once! The entire Device! I always preferred bananas, but Shouko is so narrow-minded and only allowed the production of strawberries.”
It took an extra leap of logic to figure out what that idiot had done.
After all, the rules of this world did not entirely apply to her. So…
“You secured the ether needed to summon the Device without using the engines?”
“Yes, that is correct, Horinouchi. It was a request from Lisbeth who is running over here right now. To confirm the Device repair technique I used in the battle against Mary, she wanted to see how much of Dikaiosyne and Akerindou I could ‘construct’.”
Horinouchi understood what that meant because she had checked with Lisbeth about it earlier.
“That’s to see how much of a Device you can repair with your crafting ability, right?”
“Indeed it is!” Kagami spread her arms wide with the 2 summoned Magino Devices behind her. “With my power, I can repair and even create the Devices so long as I have sufficient ether.”
Horinouchi looked to the voice from her right shoulder.
“…Suzaku, was that you?”
The servant intentionally looked the other way and made fake-sounding bird cries, but its identity did not matter at the moment. But just as the Suzaku’s comment was meant to point out, there were some problems with Kagami’s crafting.
First of all…
“Milady! This is the mainland team! Why are you summoning your Magino Devices!? The evacuating vehicles were so distracted they crashed, the trains suddenly lost power and stopped, and U.A.H.J. sent us a message saying, ‘what is it this time’!”
“Tell them it’s ‘the usual’. You must maintain your presence of mind.”
“Well done, milady!”
With Hexennacht the day after the next, evacuation orders had been sent out for the area from Shihouin Academy to the ocean of Kanagawa where the seal would be established. The same was true for the residents along the east-west line where damage was expected from the “reinforcements” summoned by the Black Witch.
They could have done this earlier, but most of Japan was still reconstructing. If those areas could not function for long periods of time, it would cause losses from something other than direct damage. So it had all been calculated out so those areas could remain active right up to the limit. They would also have been preparing everything for evacuation as that limit approached.
“They apparently redid their evacuation preparations last night almost on a whim,” said Horinouchi. “So those areas are a little on edge.”
“Ho ho? Then the sudden appearance of our Devices must have gone a long way toward improving their morale.”
“…It would seem they’re panicking a little because they think Hexennacht might have started early.”
“My, aren’t they quick to jump to conclusions.” Kagami smiled bitterly. “Then again, I hear most of those evacuating are children and the elderly because approximately 1.2 million of the other witches and men with spell training will be assisting from the coast of Tokyo Bay to the Kamakura region. It sounds so incredible.”
“Thanks to Shihouin Academy’s presence, all of the schools in the reconstructed areas have classes in those things.”
For the past 10 years, a foundation for opposing Hexennacht had been established even at the governmental level.
Everyone from high school age to age 50 would generally remain to combat the disaster during Hexennacht. The women as attackers and the men as defenders.
If the Black Witch called in her “reinforcements”, U.A.H. would handle it. But the local people would provide backup for U.A.H. while also handling the disasters and human damage caused by those reinforcements.
The need to protect your own city was a constant lesson in the reconstructed regions.
U.A.H. would make up for their anxiety about intercepting the actual enemies, so they both made up for what the other lacked.
…So even if a lot of people are evacuating, we don’t have to worry too much about them.
It was hardly surprising that those evacuees would be surprised and concerned when Kagami used her crafting ability to create 2 Devices without warning.
“Heyyy, Kagami, Horinouchi,” said Hunter’s voice. “The internet is going nuts about something.”
“Yes, I suppose they would be,” was all Horinouchi could say.
But Kagami’s crafting had another problem beyond this kind of event.
Horinouchi put her hands on her hips and turned back toward Kagami who only tilted her head.
The look on Kagami’s face said “Is there a problem?”, so Horinouchi pointed at the 2 Magino Devices overhead.
“Listen,” she said. “Repairing them without using their actual ‘mold’ and just creating the whole thing at once is definitely amazing. In fact, it seems to reject the very foundation of our techniques. But you won’t be able to activate the engines when they’re made like that.”
…From a technical aspect, what she’s doing is on the level of a god.
Horinouchi could not help but enviously wish she had the same power because this crafting ability allowed one to directly convert ether into a desired form.
While Horinouchi would use spells and the engines to smoothly process the ether in stages, this was more like taking a giant hand to knead out some clay.
…It’s just plain ridiculous.
It broke the rules of witches.
When making her giant Device, any witch would first use ether to create the engine system needed to support the gathering and circulation of the necessary amount of ether.
Looking at it like a human body, it was like creating the circulatory and respiratory systems first and creating the rest while sending blood and oxygen to the entire body.
That drastically reduced the burden and stress to a lot of the components when compared to making it all at once.
After all, that meant instantly creating a structure measuring more than 500 meters long.
It was difficult for an individual’s skills to secure the necessary amount of ether and to periodically send it to the various parts of the structure.
“The engines have enough power to create the rest from scratch, but if you try to activate the entire thing at once, the strain will be too great and it will forcibly shut down.”
“You mean it starts in low gear and rises to top gear by the time the entire Device has been made?”
“So you understand it intellectually at least.”
“My engines took yours into consideration…well, they were mostly copied straight from yours, so I leave a lot of that up to Dikaio.”
Something about Kagami’s crazy abilities bothered Horinouchi a bit, but she put it off until later.
She opened a performance graph of her engine system.
“It might sound like you can just increase the output of the low gear, but starting with too much power right away puts a real burden on the engine system itself.”
“And what do you do about that?”
“You prepare a secondary engine system to act as a starter for the primary engine system.”
In other words, they would create a small engine to turn the large engine.
In response, Kagami looked up at the giant sword and bow floating in the sky.
“That sounds like a pain. …But even with that, there is another problem, is there not?”
She knew the answer already, but she still asked it. Of course, Horinouchi went along with it by shrugging and answering.
“The Device’s ether pathways will be destroyed if it receives too powerful an ether circulation right away. It’s like a sudden spike in blood pressure.”
“How do you avoid that with Akerindou?”
“Accumulated experience,” she said. “Witch techniques are always being reformed, but that happens on a personal level as well.”
As soon as she explained that, someone grabbed Kagami’s shoulders from behind.
“Kagami Kagami! I can’t believe you!!”
It was Lisbeth.
Lisbeth had predicted that this would not happen.
She now realized that had been far too naïve, but she blamed her mistake on assuming Kagami would have anything resembling common sense.
…How much can you repair Dikaiosyne and Akerindou using your crafting ability?
Asking that had been the problem.
She had guessed the girl could do this much.
When predicting the accuracy and scope of Kagami’s crafting ability, she had only needed to imagine the girl was the god who created their world.
But she had carelessly assumed Kagami would not go this far.
“I can’t believe you! You forcibly stole that ether, didn’t you!?”
“Forcibly? How rude, Lisbeth. …I merely opened things up and found it there, so I took it.”
“Took it from where!?”
She had received reports from within the school that everything from windows to cabinets had unlocked and “opened”.
The same thing had happened when Kagami came to this world, but this was different.
“What did you open!?”
As soon as she asked that, several spell circles appeared next to her face. There were 7 in all. Each one was an emergency transmission.
…From the surrounding Magino Devices!?
She looked up into the sky just as the voices reached her.
“Mistress! I’m sorry, but I can’t hold on any longer!”
“Emergency! …What is this? Some kind of malfunction!? Or…”
“C17 through C24, evacuate to the surface!”
It was impressive that none of them were screaming. They were surprised, but they were handling the situation even as light exploded in the sky.
More than 1000 Magino Devices surrounding Shihouin Academy and 7 of them suddenly self-destructed.
The Device management spell reports Lisbeth had seen on the way here had told her what this was. And…
“Lisbeth. Even if they are mass-produced, you should not use the same name for so many of them.”
“…Did you ‘open’ them by using the name of that block of Devices!?”
“I needed the ether. Dikaiosyne and Akerindou each seem to need as much ether as a bit more than 3 of your mass-produced models.”
“Your crafting is more wasteful than you might think, so I believe the actual amount is more like 2.7.”
The person more familiar with the girl made a correction.
But as the Devices scattered in the sky, a voice cried out beyond the trees surrounding the courtyard and the other Devices moved to fill the newly created hole and retain the overall balance.
They would not panic and make themselves look bad.
But the situation was still quite out of the ordinary.
…She broke down the Devices starting from the “name”?
The concept of a “true name” required caution among witches.
Names were the definition of the thing itself. All things physically “existed”, but they also received a name to “exist” as something with meaning.
Give a name to an animal and it became a pet. The name given to a building could turn it into anything from a rundown shack to a frontline base.
Also, the namer became the parent of the named and they gained the right to control it.
From a magic perspective, the name of the magic user could be a difficult issue. If you knew your opponent’s name, the ether could better reach your opponent and produce greater power against them. But if your opponent knew your name, they could control your spells via your name instead of via the spell itself.
Of course, any higher Ranker would have protections applied to their name to ensure it was grounded. But…
“The internal structure of the Devices was supposed to have multiple names for the various parts to increase their defenses.”
“In other words, you used multiple passwords.”
“They were linked together, so controlling just one part shouldn’t have been able to stop the whole.”
“I did not stop them. I opened them, Lisbeth.” Kagami shrugged. “I mean, there was no need to stop them. I wanted the ether as a material, not to control your devices. So…”
“I saw it when you were fighting Fleur near the main gate. When Fleur’s attack destroyed the blade, the individual parts had spells built in to direct the explosions inwards and thus avoid damaging their surroundings. From there, I only had to read the text written on the spell circles.”
“So you found the name and ‘opened’ them?”
“Precisely, Lisbeth! You catch on quickly!”
Beyond Kagami, Horinouchi placed a finger next to her head and spun it in a large circle.
…Um, yes, that’s about right…
The threat here was not a difference in skill or quality as it had been when Lisbeth had taken on Cerisier and Mitsuyo.
…She used the name as a hook to “open” it?
What Kagami had done could simply be described as follows:
“You discovered the ‘name’ of something that isn’t even a door, but you still used the control provided by that ‘name’ to use it like a door, didn’t you?”
Using that, she could also “open” people, weapons, the sea, or the sky like a door.
Lisbeth had heard Kagami’s ability was crafting, but that was not actually the case.
“You have the power to control phenomena…and the ether is no more than the fuel and material used for it.”
“That is correct. …I have a pen in my hand and this world is my notebook. I can make anything I want. But I need the proper motivation and the pen I use runs out of ink very quickly.”
“You shouldn’t refer to someone else’s Device as your spare ink,” said Horinouchi.
You’re the one that just defined it that way, thought Lisbeth, but it was an accurate description.
As a result, 2 Devices had appeared and 7 others had been lost.
…Creating 7 of them all at once is going to be a pain…
The idiot would just keep making them and destroying them, but securing that much ether would affect the amount of ether in the surrounding ley lines. That was why Shihouin Academy was located in the middle of Tokyo Bay where it would have relatively little effect on anything else. U.A.H.’s European headquarters were in the mountains for the same reason.
We should get the help of the 7th Fleet at Yokosuka to do this out at sea, thought Lisbeth before Horinouchi spoke up.
“But Aunt Lisbeth?”
“Don’t call me ‘aunt’.”
That’s not great either, she thought, but then Kagami whispered in Horinouchi’s ear.
“You must not rush things, Horinouchi. People are slower to make decisions as they age. And what you call someone can be dangerous as it is connected to their name. So, Horinouchi, let us decide what is best here. …What is your relationship with Lisbeth?”
“She’s an old friend of my mother’s, so I’ve always called her my aunt.”
“I see. And what is the safest thing to call her?”
“Well…Lisbeth, I suppose.”
“I see. Then it would be best to put those two together! Go for it!”
“Damn you two…!”
The two turned their backs and ran about 7 steps away as she swung her right fist down, but she was also painfully aware of how much Horinouchi had changed.
…I’m not sure if Mitsuyo would have liked this change, though.
She knew Mitsuyo would forgive her that much of a criticism.
But then Horinouchi asked a question.
“So, Second Headmaster, why did you have Kagami do this nonsense? Hexennacht is only 2 days away.”
“Well,” began Lisbeth.
…2 days away, hm?
How had it been 10 years before? She remembered working to cheer them up so Mitsuyo would not be worried, but she now realized it was she who had been worried.
And Horinouchi would remember what had happened 10 years before.
So Lisbeth had a question for her.
“Mitsuru. We weren’t doing this at this stage 10 years ago, were we?”
“At our home, we were living relatively normally. My mother was giving me my normal spell training, teaching me how to do the work around the shrine, and completing those duties herself…”
“She assumed those normal days would continue like normal after Hexennacht.”
“In that case, this idiot is a powerful drug that provides an accent to those normal days.”
She looked to Kagami, but the girl only placed a hand on her face and smiled a little.
Of what? Your skin? Are you talking about how young your skin looks…? thought Lisbeth, but Horinouchi placed a hand on Kagami’s shoulder.
“Kagami, stop that.”
“You would stop me?”
“Yes. …German witches are scary when they hold a grudge, you know?”
Lisbeth raised her right fist and they fled 5 meters.
“Anyway,” she said with a sigh. They were incredibly lacking in tension, but as a veteran, she tried to understand that was just how the current Hexennacht was going to be.
But she did have one thing to say.
“It’s simple. Hexennacht is a clash between Devices. Even if you summon your Geo Frame, that does not change the fact that it is a fight between Devices.”
“If Kagami can use her crafting ability for regeneration as a superior form of defense, you have a considerably better chance of victory.”
Do you understand?
“The Black Witch has never faced a witch with such a powerful recovery ability. Or witches using the buddy system for that matter.”
That’s true, thought Horinouchi.
“Throughout the history of Hexennacht, the battle with the Black Witch has always been 1-on-1. The battle inside the barrier has always been focused on offense and it has never been focused on a recovery spell.”
“I see. In other words, Horinouchi, you and your mother are witches optimized for Hexennacht.”
“I don’t like what you’re implying there.”
Kagami turned to the side, held her right hand out toward Horinouchi, and opened a communications spell circle.
“Yes, is this Hunter? What? You’ve been placed in charge of us? Why do you sound so glum? I will come by to cheer you up later, so rest easy. …Don’t come by? Now, now. Be honest with yourself. …Anyway, I have a quick question. In your opinion, what is Horinouchi’s greatest strength? Her giant breasts? Yes, her giant breasts. I see.”
Kagami closed the spell circle and smiled Horinouchi’s way.
“My apologies, Horinouchi! A meat-eating American assures me that you are all about giant breasts and not attack power!”
Lisbeth gave her a silent nod, so Horinouchi threw Kagami to the ground.
“I think we got off topic,” said Horinouchi.
“Is it normally like this with all of you?” asked Lisbeth.
“Not at all,” said Kagami as she got up, but that elicited a glare from Horinouchi.
The idiot stood up and brushed off her uniform.
“Listen. Normally, I would ask Mary for confirmation and she would provide a course correction back on topic, Lisbeth.”
A communications spell circle appeared next to Kagami’s face, but the idiot crushed it from the top and bottom between her hands.
“Kagami, what was that?”
“Oh, nothing to worry about. You can pretend it never happened.”
That was Mary wasn’t it? thought Horinouchi, but she left it unsaid. She was afraid what the glaring Second Headmaster would ask. But another thought did occur to her.
…I’m not at all on my own like I used to be.
Hunter was there and so was Mary. She of course understood that Kagami stood at the center of it all, but she was thought of as “one of the gang” in her current environment.
It was the crazy visitor from another world that had triggered such a change in her and her environment.
And she then realized what Lisbeth had meant earlier.
…Even if Kagami acts as our healer…
“I understand, Second Headmaster. Even if the Black Witch has never fought someone who used recovery spells, that is only true in this world.”
Lisbeth looked toward her.
The woman was otherwise motionless.
She did not confirm that was what she had meant, but she did not deny it either. So Horinouchi had something else to ask.
“Kagami? Can you tell us? In the worlds you passed through on the way here, has the Black Witch fought any battles like that?”
“To be honest, I do not know.”
Kagami told the truth.
…Has Shouko ever fought someone with a complete grasp of recovery spells?
She did not know.
Or perhaps it was better to say she was not certain. But there was a reason she did not know. After all…
“Do you remember what I told you before, Horinouchi? …It has finally happened.”
Horinouchi’s eyebrows rose at those final words.
After an “oh” of realization, she gave the answer.
“This is the first time the Black Witch – meaning your sister – has a clear presence, right?”
“Yes. It was originally just the destruction of the world as a phenomenon. From there, it gained a clear cause, became the work of a supernatural being, and ultimately became an act of a god or deity. And here, she is finally…finally seen as a single witch.”
After saying that, Kagami snapped her fingers. A tall figure appeared from behind some nearby bushes.
It was Mary who carried a plastic bag full of drink cans. She entered this part of the courtyard and looked up at the 2 Magino Devices overhead.
She glared at Kagami and clearly wanted to say something, but Kagami pretended not to notice.
Then Kagami spread out her snapped fingers while raising her hand toward the sky.
“Mary, do you remember what happened to your world?”
“If you are asking if there was a recovery spell squad, that would be the War Wound Healer Division of the Eastern Pure Law Team.”
“Curse Shouko. Did she think it sounded cool to give them kanji names…?”
“Aren’t you reading too much into that?” asked Horinouchi.
“No,” said Mary. “The Brigadier General was always using a powerful translation spell or mutual understanding spell, so I don’t think she noticed, but the Eastern Pure Law Team was read as the Far East Extra Lawyers and the War Wound Healer Division was read as the War Wound Healer Band.”
“Where did the pure part go!? And where did the band part come from!?”
Hunter parted the bushes as she ran over.
“So they used kanji and English in another world?”
“Horinouchi, please tell my sister that the next time you see her. That is a truly bad habit of hers, but she only ever says, ‘But everyone’s doing it!’ ”
“Um, Brigadier General…she didn’t destroy our world because she was sick of having that pointed out, did she?”
Please don’t suggest something so scary, thought Hunter.
But it was nice that she could skip the annoying “classes” by saying she had to look after Kagami and the others. And then they would take her out to eat with them and they would let her borrow a bed that didn’t smell like oil.
…I can sleep on the floor of Horinouchi’s room!
That was the best. Her family home had wooden floors with gaps between the panels, so sleeping there was the perfect way to end up eye-to-eye with a snake or scorpion from the foundation below.
Regardless, she had to ask about something Mary had said.
“You had a unit like that? So if you can have healers in a battle with a big army, could that be implemented using something as big as a Magino Device?”
“What kind of world are you imagining, Hunter?” asked Kagami.
The answer was obvious.
“If you had a war in outer space with warships the size of Magino Devices blasting each other, you could do some fleet-wide healing, couldn’t you?”
“Too bad! My sister can be very hardheaded, so whenever she has machines appear, she generally only treats them like machines.”
“You couldn’t use a magic wand to heal them like with a Device?” asked Horinouchi.
“When it was a space war, she had injuries dealt with using individual superpowers or a healing pack while machines were repaired using repair equipment. The common pattern was for it to look like the enemy was in the center of the universe, but then everything would gather there and begin to be annihilated.”
It sounded like Kagami was remembering the actual topic at hand. But in that case…
“Is this the first world where things like machines could be healed?”
“Due to the rules of witches, the magic wands were likely given that ability automatically.”
“Even if there had been some development of healing spells, this should be the first time it has been at the Device level. At the very least, I have seen nothing like it in the worlds I visited in pursuit of my sister. Plus, Lisbeth, an older representative of this world, was shocked when she saw what I had done.”
“In that case, will it be effective?” asked Horinouchi.
“Yes,” said Kagami with a nod.
However, she then looked up at the 2 Devices in the sky.
“If I can do it, then she can as well assuming the conditions are right. Besides, she is the creator of this world and much crueler than me,” she said. “Now, I see a way to strengthen our defenses. But that still leaves how to defeat my sister who also has this power. We need to give that some thought.”
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