Rental Magica Volume 2: Chapter 1
Chapter 1: Inheritance of the Magician
When you receive this letter, you should be having your summer vacation right?
Although I wanted to be at the ending ceremony, but that detestable <Organisation>’s procedures, most likely wouldn’t give me the opportunity. Files, files, files, files, files, files, files! Although I knew that the <Organisation> was like a government agency, I didn’t know it would be this exaggerated!
That… although I know that the previous <Night> and the tender I put in were excluded, so it would be troublesome, but these procedures are slow, it’s really too slow! As the leader of <Goetia>, I have learnt the lesson that an overly large organization would decay.
Anyway, the part that the <Organisation> was keeping an eye on because of the previous matter, I have almost finished everything, so I could write this letter to report to you. You should tell your lazy cat-crazy onmyouji too!
I want to tell Itsuki something.
Thanks to the files being passed around by the <Organisation>, I am now in Paris. Summer in Japan seems to be very hot, so the fact that I am able to spend this period of time comfortably in France, this makes me very happy. When I was searching in the archives of the <Organisation>, I found a name that is linked to you as well.
…No, I’ll not mention it now!
I should be able to return to Japan next week, so I’ll tell you properly at that time. Before I go back, Itsuki should train bit by bit! Anyway you are without any ability, so your studies on magic should have no advancements, right? Honami can’t handle it alone, otherwise… When I return, it’ll be fine if I take you on for a little while. Eh, but, I will want an equal payment!
Then, I wish you a good magic.
Adilisia Lenn Mathers
“ – It’s really like Adilisia-san’s style of doing things.” It was morning, before the letter box of the administrative building.
As if stretching in boredom, Iba Itsuki couldn’t help but smile wryly.
He seemed like a youth who was younger than his actual age. His black hair was cut short, on that gentle and quiet face, his right eye was covered with a black eye patch that seemed to belong to a pirate. But on that youth’s body, even that eye patch seemed to give him a comical appearance.
“A good magic… is that so?”
He looked at the letter again.
There was a stamp that had the famous lion and heron and a magical circle at the bottom. That stamp was not made using an ink pad, but it was using the same wax like the seal of the letter. The letter itself had a faint rose watermark, and it smelled a little like flowers.
Itsuki always felt that he could see that kind of proudness from the letter, as if saying “if you want to read this letter, then read it!” from the sender. Itsuki gently touched his eye patch, then pushed the letter into his pocket.
He breathed in deeply, so that he could organize his feelings properly.
“…Al, alright, I have no choice but to escape…”
He relaxed his nervous expression, Itsuki persuaded himself in this way.
– Although he had been distracted by the unexpected letter, but his battle plan had only began now.
He stopped his breathing, leaning his back on the ledge of the main door. Ituski felt the feeling of old wood, stealthily touching the door handle.
The refreshing feeling of the rays of the summer sun shining on Itsuki’s eye lids.
(Ah, it’s the summer vacation now!)
Looking at this bright light, Itsuki finally understand this. Earlier that letter had clearly written ‘summer vacation’, but he had not felt the reality of the situation.
That was right! Since it was the summer vacation, then he had to play all he could. But this summer vacation, Itsuki had not been to the sea or mountain, even the all-nighter video games that he would play with Yamada and the rest every year, and the promise to go fishing with his cousin Yuuka in Canada, all these had not been fulfilled.
Of course he had to do this.
Or it should be said, this was a top priority topic.
The sounds of crickets chirping travelled from somewhere. Although the location of the administrative building of <Astral> was a western building that was built between tall buildings and seemed strange, but there were quite a lot of vegetation. Or to be more accurate, they had treated that piece of land that was untreated for various reasons as a courtyard.
Itsuki hid behind one of the trees.
His eyes surveyed his surroundings.
Alright, no problem!
His right eye didn’t hurt too.
Previously, he had been caught here once. Itsuki had been discovered because he had not been paying attention for a short moment, in the end she dragged him back without listening to his explanation.
After a week went by, Itsuki had practiced his plans at escaping. In his house arrest, he had scrutinized the scenes that he could see from the window, and had found the geographic information using the internet; then he had checked the patrols of the whole organization, discovering the time where the watch would be the weakest, and then using his right eye to check the effective range of the magic alarm system.
(This time I have to…!)
Determination and anticipation made him feel impatient.
He crept towards the narrow gap between the two buildings. No matter what, that magic dog was here. If he accidentally woke it up, then his hard work would go to waste.
Itsuki progressed step by step.
Every step he took, meant that the distance to his summer vacation was lessened.
Sweat dripped down steadily, even these sweat made him feel good.
To reach the street there was ten meters… eight meters…six meters…
(Just a little more…)
Through his eye patch, only Itsuki’s right eye saw it.
From the wall of the large building in front of him, a girl’s face popped out softly.
Itsuki shouted and fell back. He fell on the asphalt road, and then because of the pain that struck the tail of his spine he jumped up.
The girl passed through the wall, running towards the youth who was in pain.
It was a long haired girl.
She was probably fourteen, fifteen years old, those shining eyes and energetic atmosphere, made a deep impression on people—she was that kind of girl: as long as she was in class, everyone would be able to get along well.
But this girl’s situation was different, her body was translucent and could be passed through.
“I’m, I’m sorry. I thought that as of today, you wouldn’t be scared anymore…”
The ghost girl, Kurobane Manami bowed her head and apologized with a tone that said she was at loggerheads.
“N,No, it, it depends on the situation…’
“Eh, eh. That, this, there are many reasons…”
Itsuki tolerated the pain, waving his hands in front of his face. No matter what, he had to smoke through this situation.
Kurobane was not an ‘enemy’.
Or it should be said, she was the only person who stood on his side in the entire administrative building. She was different from the other members, she was welcomed in after Itsuki had become the president, an intern student who had been personally invited by Itsuki. Now that the person who had discovered him was her, it could be said that is was luck within misfortune.
Itsuki thought frantically, at the same time he nodded his head awkwardly. If it were Kurobane, perhaps she might understand if he told her the truth.
He didn’t even finish speaking—
“Pre~si~dent~ what are you doing~?”
A cold hand suddenly gripped Itsuki’s shoulder.
Itsuki was pulled over forcefully, his vision also turned around.
When Itsuki noticed it, that youth had opened the fan in front of him.
The youth wore a safety windbreaker, on his shoulders, head and in his arms were cats, he had dark grey hair.
“Oh dear, I wanted to say that you were taking a walk in the early morning~ but it seemed rather strange. Your body check has not finished, what’s wrong, President?”
Four cats with different fur colours of black, white, spotted and trio-coloured, purred as if in agreement.
“Aaaahh~ Today’s purrs are beautiful too~ they resonate through tri-sahasra-maha-sahasra-loka-dhatu ~ even the bells from Jetavana Monastery will turn green with jealousy, even the Maitreya Bodhisattva from fifty-six years ago will listen attentively. No matter if it’s their calls, their tiny bodies, their fur colours, cats are definitely marvelous! This existence is so outstanding!”
Itsuki gathered his wits, retorting to Nekoyashiki who was praising the cats drunkenly:
“That… Compared to that, haven’t you checked enough? Be,because I have been undergoing body examinations ever since three days ago and I’ve been staying here ever since then!”
“What are you talking about? President. We moved the equipment out from the storage room with much~difficulty, if we don’t complete it using this opportunity, wouldn’t we be wasting the rare summer vacation?”
Itsuki wanted to shout: it isn’t that case!
Wouldn’t the summer vacation pass just like this?
Anyway, shouldn’t it be more free, more fun? Especially, since they were talking about the summer vacation of the first year at high school…
“—Ah! Found him, Nekoyashiki-san~”
This time, a girl carrying a large red bag came running over.
Just like what the meaning of what that bag represented, she was probably eight years old.
Not only that, her clothing were as if suiting the bag, she wore a red and white blouse and a red skirt—that was the genuine outfit of a witch.
Katsuragi Mikan waved her sleeve, as she pointed at the youth.
“Yes! Nekoyashiki-san, you let Sohryu and Byakko run into my garden again right!”
“Eh? Is it…like that?”
Nekoyashiki frantically looked at his arms.
At this moment, two of the cast seemed to want to escape Mikan who seemed cross—a white and three-coloured cat squirmed into his wind breaker.
“Ah, hey! Byakko, Sohryu.”
The two cats let out weakening calls, bowing their heads.
“Really! Didn’t I tell you, I’m doing some research on morning glories, I told you not to let Byakko and Sohryu to run into the garden right? The pots have been messed up thoroughly by them! As their owner, you have to let them listen to you properly!”
Mikan lectured with her hands on her hips. It was clearly the summer vacation, but Mikan still carried her bag, it probably was because she was doing research for her homework.
She turned to Itsuki and said:
“Ah, good morning President Onii-chan. Ne, President Onii-chan should say something!”
“Eh, eh, that, that’s true…”
Then Itsuki started laughing dryly.
Taking hold of the opportunity when Mikan turned on Nekoyashiki as she was unable to forgive him, Itsuki slowly edged towards the wall.
He had reached this step, Itsuki did not give up on escaping.
The plan can still continue, his summer vacation would not vanish!
Itsuki held this strong thought, stealthily walking: -exchanging glances with Kurobane.
Opening her mouth slightly, Kurobane nodded at him.
(It’s alright, escape now…)
Her pink lips seemed to say. Perhaps she had probably figured out Itsuki’s plans from his moves, Kurobane secretly made a way for him.
(Thank, thank you…)
Itsuki wept gratefully. This time, he was really going to step towards his summer vacation.
He dashed out.
In a split moment—
The vision of his right eye under the eye patch contorted.
“I pray under the power of the moon. Using the protection of the wind and the mistletoe, stop the calamity in the southwest.”
Words that held power sounded in the morning air.
At the same time, something fell from the front and stabbed into the alley.
The asphalt beside Itsuki’s foot cracked into fragments, the path in front of him was also cracked, blocking any chance of Itsuki moving forward.
After the grey dust settled down, a cute mistletoe dart sprang out from the middle.
“…Ah, ah, ah!”
Itsuki looked at the sky in despair.
Towards the ripples of this magic, he was so familiar with ‘seeing’ it that it was becoming detestable. Or it should be said, because this was the day that the witch was not here, so Itsuki had picked this day to escape.
“—You’re so noisy in the morning, what’s wrong?”
A girl sitting on a broom was floating midair calmly.
She was sitting horizontally on a broom’s with ogham http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogham Old irish words carved on it, shoulder length brown hair swung with the morning wind. The girl’s straight nose bridge gave people a chilly feeling, her eyes under the thin framed spectacles were a pair of blue eyes that were as clear as a lake and gave a chilly feeling. Before the summer vacation, she always wore a sailor suit under her cloak, but now she had changed to an elegant western suit.
“Ah, welcome back, Honami Onee-chan!”
The witch smiled at Kurobane and Mikan in reply.
“I’m back. Kurobane-san, Mikan and Nekoyashiki-san.”
Honami Takase Ambler—an official member of the Celts Magic.Witch’s witchcraft lesson, sketched a bow in the air. She learned how to bow properly when she was studying in London, no matter from what angle it looked very elegant.
“Then, what are you doing—President?”
Honami turned around, looking at the youth plastered to the wall of the building.
However, the youth’s eyes weren’t locked on the earlier magic, or the girl.
--It was the end of the broom.
At the end of the broom Honami was sitting on, there were four large baggage.
Itsuki couldn’t help but press a hand to his chest. It couldn’t be said that it was a prediction, but it was a was a feeling of confirmation that made his heart beat quickly. No, perhaps it should be an obvious feeling of fear?
He extended a trembling finger, pointing at the baggage.
“…That, Honami, that is…?”
“Reference books for the presidential duties and books on magic. I borrowed around a hundred books from the <Organistaion>. If we had to buy them, the treasury of <Astral> would not be able to handle the amount.”
“…A hundred books?”
Crack! Something in Itsuki’s mind seemed to shatter.
Ah ah, this was the fatal wound! It was the last attack, the mortal wound that a human body would not be able to bear.
“Don’t tell me…”
“Of course these are to strengthen President’s lessons. Since it is a rare long vacation, I’m planning to officially proceed from today onwards?”
Under the tacit understanding of everyone, Honami’s two jobs were these.
--The secretary and the president’s educator of <Astral>
With the despairing blow, Itsuki knelt on the ground.
Behind Itsuki’s kneeling body, there was an old bronze plate on the wall of the building, on the metal plate were these words.
<Magician Dispatch Company. Astral
– We rent magicians to meet your needs>
The magic in this world, is slightly more than what people think.
The secrets in this world, is slightly more distant that what people think.
On a spring day three month ago, Itsuki was forced to know this.
And at that very same time, he received knowledge that his missing father was running this kind of business.
– Magician Dispatch Company. Astral
It disguised itself as a dispatch company for fortune tellers and supernatural writers, in actuality it was a magician dispatch company that had gathered genuine magicians from all over the world, even if they were in the <Industry> they were considered a special company. But after Father left, the members left, now it was only a ruined company that was about to collapse.
But, Itsuki was pulled to be the President of this company.
At that moment Itsuki was unable to believe, the ‘President’ who used ‘Magicians’ would be such a strict duty. What was more he was the useless coward in the whole class, for him to grow and take up that kind of position, what kind of hell would be waiting for him—
Among that, the particularly vicious and horrible trap, had sharpened its fangs for this summer vacation.
“—Eh, Itsuki Onii-chan doesn’t have summer vacation?”
“S,sorry. My schedule has been occupied with my part time job…”
Although it was only a conversation through the phone, Itsuki still bowed his head and apologized. Originally he couldn’t raise his head in the presence of his cousin, but this time, he seemed to have one more reason. Itsuki could almost see Yuuka in her villa in Canada pursing her mouth.
His cousin tapped her finger.
“Oh yes! Part time job or something, why don’t you do it over here? The salary in America is better than Japan’s, and it doesn’t matter if you can’t speak English.”
“No, isn’t that too rash?”
“There’s no problem. If you pick something like Japanese restaurants, then you can just use Japanese. And, if Itsuki Onii-chan is really working, then that’s strange! Okaa-san should have sent all the money for the living necessities over right?”
“I did receive it… but there were many reasons…”
“—Onii-chan, you aren’t being bullied or threatened by anyone right?”
Wah, this answer was very close to the truth! Although the culprits didn’t think they were bullying Itsuki.
“…T,that. Eh, I, I’m fine.”
“Really? Because Onii-chan never goes back on his word…”
Her voice lowered. Itsuki was almost dragged over by Yuuka’s seemingly lonely figure.
At this moment—
“President~ Aren’t you done yet?”
A call travelled from the side.
“Ah, yes, yes, I’m finishing up now.”
“Onii-chan? I heard President just now…”
“It, it’s the president of the place I’m working at now! I’ll call you later!”
Itsuki frantically hung up with a clatter of the black phone.
Itsuki breathed out. That was dangerous! He had almost revealed the truth.
He sat down on the chair with a plop, looking at his surroundings.
—A western building.
This was the interior of <Astral>’s administrative building, old tables and chairs were arranged together. On the ceiling, a slanted fan was stirring the moist air. Comforts such as air conditioners, would not appear due to <Astral>’s financial situation. In this situation, the ceiling fan was the only air conditioner.
“Alright, President. Since you have finished using the telephone, then it’s time for you to use this bottle of eye drop, come over here!”
In a corner of the room, Nekoyashiki was happily waving his fan.
On the long thread of the fan, there was a bottle that looked muddy—anyway, it was an eye drop medicine that presented a ghastly image, Itsuki’s expression contorted.
“…That medicine, looks a little painful.”
“That’s probably the case, because this is mercury.”
“Th, Isn’t that poison!”
Hahaha, Nekoyashiki laughed lightly in reply to Itsuki whose facial expression had changed greatly.
“No no, other than that there are other components! Like arsenic, hemlock, the blood of the medusa that is poisonous and the likes.”
“That… isn’t there anything other than poison…!”
“If a dab of weak medication is added, then it will really become poison. Using the fortes between poisons to find a slight medical effect, that is the secret of witchcraft.”
Honami turned her head to a side unhappily, coldly adding on.
She placed a large pile of books on the table nearest to the entrance, and she was just picking out some text books for Itsuki to use.
To add on, last week—before the summer vacation started, the person who made this kind of eye drop was her. From when she started to stir that cauldron, Itsuki had had a detestable premonition and he had guessed it right.
These things added on to life in school, was the daily scenario that Iba Itsuki had maintained for a semester.
Itsuki let out a despairing sigh again, looking at the corner Nekoyashiki was standing in.
The place where there were usually talismans, cups and dishes or tarot cards and other items of the sort, there was a large machine placed there.
It was a contraption that had more than ten types of big and small lens, mirrors and metals. It was like a normal vision inspection machine that degenerated to hundreds of years ago, then had been completely changed and then pieced back again.
This strange contraption only by walking normally, would make a squeaking sound as it walked, it was no wonder that the tables and sofa and anything of the sort had been moved to make space. How should it be said, this scene made people feel unusually nervous.
“That… is that the examination machine from the storage room?”
“Eh, it has been left in the storage room to gather dust. It’s true that its old, but its quality is guaranteed! Its lens were carved from a colour painted glass and amber, its mirrors are first- class bronze mirrors grinded by artisans. The chances of curses being reflected is as high as 85% and above, the concentration of correction is from 18 to 76 units, it is a well-made equipment!”
Nekoyashiki hummed, waving his hand all over the place.
Perhaps it was to reflect their master’s happiness, even the cats started to dance.
This strange onmyouji not only liked cats, he also held an interest as if he were a mad scientist, no, a mad magician.
“…You seem very happy.”
“Eh, I’m very happy—ah, but actually this doesn’t really suit me.”
“I mentioned it previously, the wavelength of the onmyouji’s mantra waves is always more suitable to curses and fortune telling, servitude these areas. Although there is a side that is purely research and academics, and is able to use this kind of weapons, but it is undeniable, the effectiveness is truly lesser.”
Nekoyashiki’s words, were the truth of magic.
All magical systems, had their own fortes and foibles. Influences from different individuals were strong, and there was a certain limit to the paths that could be walked on, but basically were restricted by their characters.
When those attributes had been thoroughly researched on, then a kind of pinnacle could be obtained.
It was like, “misogi” in Shintou—a complete barrier.
It was like, “the style of the Five Phases of Onmyoudo”—completely controlled by the curse.
It was like, “the Summoning of the King’s Commandment” that the Solomon magic took pride in—a forced summon through blood.
In Itsuki’s situation, it referred to his right eye.
As long as it was a magician, anyone would be able to see spirits like Kurobane. But, Itsuki’s eye could even see past his eye patch, he was able to see the mana of the source of magic.
That eye, was called Glam Eye.
…It seemed to be like that.
(Although they said that, but I still don’t understand!)
Itsuki frowned and touched his eye patch.
This was something that he could get through training, nor was it what he wished for.
He only—saw it.
If he wished to, then even on the other side of the wall, he could yell: “Ah, there it is!” to exaplin more clearly. Even if he closed his eye, or put his hand on top of the eye patch. The situation if not intuition, then it was more of a weakness. Talking about which Itsuki had been the target of monsters because of this, in the end his experiences of being chased, should be not only two, three times.
Thanks to that, it resulted in his extremely cowardly behavior, it even gave him the infamous nickname as “the boy who can faint watching Doraemon”…
“—So, we wanted to take the opportunity to grasp the magic properties of President’s eye—are you listening, President?”
“Ah, yes. I’m listening, I’m listening.”
Itsuki nodded a few times quickly.
Nekoyashiki watched him without moving, then muttered: “Eh, that’s good” before he activates the lens of the machine.
“Then, please apply the eye drops and sit there alright? It won’t hurt!”
Large chains and cuffs, feet clasps reached out from the machine, like a Frankenstein experiment. Nekoyashiki extended the chains and smiled happily. That smile, was saying that the words he had said earlier was a large lie.
“Alright alright, h, hu, hurry up!”
Nekoyashiki struck the hand cuffs he was holding above Itsuki’s head, pulling his face close, an abnormal aura made Itsuki take a step back, as he thought about another possibility.
“Th, that… there’s the existence of a magician who knows how to make use of this equipment?”
“Ah? Of course. Because all spell items are things that belong to some kind of magic. Among the people I know, there is a specialist who handles this kind of analyzing spell items. But, that person doesn’t need to use eye drops to settle with something as trivial as settling the powers of the curse!”
“…Th…Then, what if you ask that person to do the examination? Anyway, let’s cancel it for today.”
Nekoyashiki looked at Itsuki with barely inches to spare between their faces.
“Where are we going to come up with that much money? Don’t look at me in that way, actually I want to buy new equipment too, but I still pulled this old contraption out from the storage room?”
Perhaps it was from longing or unhappiness, the youth’s shoulder suddenly seemed to have a fire blazing upon them.
Then—that fire suddenly calmed.
“…And, that person has not kept in contact with us for a very long time.”
Nekoyashiki said softly, turning his head away.
“No letters or phone calls?”
“Magicians are all like that. Ah, if he still lives—or even if he dies, he would still walk on the same path as me somewhere.”
Itsuki frowned. Because he felt as if Nekoyashiki seemed to be thinking about something. That completely different thoughtful expression, made his usual messy actions seem fake.
“Can I interrupt?”
Honami suddenly interrupted.
The girl had been piling up the reference books for Itsuki to look at with an unhappy expression earlier, but now she stood by their side suddenly.
“What is that? President.”
Between Honami’s soft fingers, it was an elegant letter.
“…Oh, this is a letter from Addie?”
Her blue eyes stared at the wax stamp on the back of the letter. When he had stepped back, Itsuki had dropped the letter.
For some reason, Itsuki felt very awkward.
“Ah, ah, eh.”
Itsuki was unable to look at Honami’s slim spectacles, turning his eyes to look at his feet and nodded.
“…Ah, this doesn’t really matter. And, this made me remember, I received a letter from the <Organisation> for Itsuki too.”
Honami placed the letter on the table, pulling out another letter from her cloak.
It was as if a contrast to Addie’s letter—a black letter.
On the black paper, there was a stamp that was red. If Addie used a stamp with a lion, heron and magical circle, this stamp had libra and a sword, it was a design that gave a feeling of misfortune.
“—the <Organisation> sent it?”
That was the name of the group governing all the magicians. All magic groups were registered with the <Organisation>, it was a group that subtly held power. It was also that group that the emotionless man—Kagezaki belonged to.
“That’s right, it seems to want to pass something to the inheritor from the previous President of <Astral> Iba Tsukasa, hoping that you will finish the work for the inheritance.”
In a moment.
The air became cold.
It wasn’t only Itsuki, even Nekoyashiki’s expression froze. But it was only for a moment. The onmyouji immediately relaxed his expression, while the youth widened his eyes.
He touched his eye patch out of reflex.
“Father… wanted to give me something?”
Itsuki said that.
The silence, was kept for perhaps a few seconds.
This unexpected words, made their thought processes halt for a moment.
Very cold fingers touched his lips which had formed a ‘o’ in his surprise.
“Are you in a daze? Did I say anything strange?”
“No, nothing like that—fingers, your fingers!”
Itsuki’s face had reddened until his ears, he quickly pulled his jaw away.
Honami herself moved her fingers away as if nothing had happened, using her fingers to comb her brown short hair.
“That’s good. If President is in a daze, then I can’t work—anyway, why don’t you open it and read it?”
Itsuki opened the black envelop, pulling out the paper in it.
The letter had a short greeting and the date to finish the procedure. The envelop had an antique appearance, but the interior of the letter was a normal paper and letters in straight lines. However this created a horrible feeling that was hard to describe, and an atmosphere.
“The letter… didn’t specify what I am about to inherit.”
“It looks like according to the contract, until the time that you are about to inherit it is to remain a secret? What strict actions.”
Honami raised her head to look at the letter, narrowing her eyes as she spoke her thoughts.
These words attracted Itsuki’s attention, he tried to ask:
“That, Honami knows my father?”
“…I don’t know him.”
“Is that so…”
Itsuki touched his eye patch, his eyes feeling slightly painful. As if forced by this pain, he opened his mouth and said:
“Eh, I’ll accept this inheritor procedure.”
Honami tilted her head in interest.
“Nothing, I thought that you would hate this kind of things.”
“…No, because at least I am the President.”
It wasn’t known what thoughts she had towards this whispered reply, the girl’s lips curved in a smile, and she turned around.
“Alright! Then I will bring you to <the Organisation>’s headquarters tomorrow. I will prepare the Western suit, President, please do what you have to do.”
“What I have to do…?”
Itsuki was surprised.
A click sounded as handcuffs clamped around his wrists.
“Yes! Please allow me to proceed with the health checkup! I’ll help you to drip in the eyedrops~ Then it’s time to learn magic! My kittens will be with you too~ Aren’t you happy~”
The youth smiled widely as he dragged the boy who looked like he was a prisoner away.
Honami walked out without seeing what happened after that.
Several seconds later—
The most horrifying scream in the world resounded in the Western suite of <Astral>.
It was already past noon, Honami was walking towards the archives by herself.
She opened the door that had the Latin words ‘thou shalt not touch’, and the smell of rotting, old papers wafted out.
It was extremely dark in the room.
Even though this was an archive found outside of <Astral>, the light had been perfectly blocked out. Although direct sunlight was the books’ enemy, but that wasn’t the only reason. Because sunlight, was the completely opposite notion of magic. So even though it was afternoon, the room was lit with oil lamps. Honami picked out a few books from the large number of ancient tomes and placed them on the table, picking up her leather notebook and a quill.
“Alright, let’s start.”
She said and started to fluidly make notes.
Honami’s words were rounder, as compared to the tightly-packed words in the magical books, but she wrote very quickly. Every time she flipped a page, she would only look at it once. Just by that, she would be able to accurately arrange out her notes, and not only the simple key words, she even added her own references and explanations.
Honami corrected the wrong magical circle, and added many points beside the different magical incantations. She didn’t alter the essential parts of the text itself, and delicately and boldly created a new magic book.
The thing she was creating—“The Book of Origin”.
Magic, was the world that one constructed in their heart. Just by absorbing other people’s works would not make you a magician.
Therefore, each magician had a spell book that was theirs.
Taking out the aged wine and putting it in one’s wine cup, it was a long process—through this process, the origin of magic would be born in the magician’s heart.
Halfway through, Honami suddenly stuck up her forefinger.
She smiled lightly, her eyes becoming gentle. Honami took her quill and kissed her fingertip gently.
“Itsuki-kun is really…”
She remembered the boy who was as timid as a small animal, his blushing face.
And there was another thing.
Honami started to write with her quill again—another memory sparkling in her chest.
“Your pride—will be paid by you!”
That was Itsuki’s figure as they fought together with Adilisia.
He said with a trembling and seemingly happy tone.
It was hard to imagine that from Itsuki’s usual behavior, but it was another appearance that was unforgettable. Every point that had changed, had started when Itsuki took off his eye patch and revealed his Glam Sight.
The one who had prepared that eye patch was the previous President of Astral.
Tsukasa Itsuki’s birth father; not only was he a magician who did not use magic, he was also the last Fairy Doctor.
Even if it was Honami, she had only met him three times.
(…The number of times that Itsuki-kun met him is even less than that, right?)
Honami closed her eyes, remembering.
“-Itsuki-kun! Itsuki-kun! Itsuki-kun!”
She remembered her crying self.
Remembering the Ghost House, and the boy that had saved her from her pursuers. Remembering the day when she decided that she would be a witch…
At this moment—
“Has your check up finished?”
Honami broke out of her memories, turning to look at the entrance.
In the open doorway, a figure that was scratching its head awkwardly, was Nekoyashi.
“How was it? Did you learn more about that eye?”
“Ah~ It’s useless! That eye doesn’t have any reaction to magic, no matter if it’s magnetic resonance or other tests, they are impossible too. I wanted to say, if we used that kind of equipment and strong medicine, there would at least be a small reaction.”
The boy nodded his head simply. As a side note, the poor soul in this situation, was probably Itsuki who was covering his eyes in agony in the room!
Honami imagined that scene, then smiled bitterly. Nekoyashi asked her:
“—Just now, why did you say you didn’t know him?”
“You’re talking about President Tsukasa?”
“Eh, you saw him before, right?”
Nekoyashi tilted his head and asked. In his shadow, the white Byakko also tilted its head.
“I did. Although that’s the case, but you can’t tell President this. Even if he heard it from other people, he wouldn’t understand what it means to be a magician. We must let President investigate, judge, analyse, then he can understand.”
“I see. Then, I have another question. You said you forgot to hand the letter to him, is that real?”
“What do you mean?”
“—I’m thinking, actually didn’t you hide it from him.”
Nekoyashi’s words made Honami sigh.
“Because the <Organisation> and the past <Astral>-- no I should say, its relation with Tsukasa-san wasn’t very good. If I were to say this wasn’t suspicious, I’d be lying.”
That was true.
To the ancient group like the <Organisation>, it wouldn’t easily acknowledge new magic groups. In addition if it were like <Astral>, a group where there were no dominant magical system, the protestations would be even stronger.
Even though they weren’t exactly facing off, but the atmosphere between the two parties was tense.
“The <Organisation> that has that kind of attitude, why would it help President Tsukasa to keep things? I’m very suspicious about this point! But, to Honami-san, perhaps you don’t want to let the present President encounter that matter?”
“Even if I don’t want him to deal with it, the other party wouldn’t think about our situation.”
Honami turned to a side unhappily, pursing her lips as she replied.
“Anyway we don’t know, compared to telling the President strange information, why not we go along with the flow. That’s that.”
Nekoyashi nodded, putting his fan under his chin.
At this moment, Byakko who had climbed to his collar, stretched out its front paws and mimicked hi. Among Nekoyashi’s four cats, Byakko loved others’ attention and it liked to mimick others.
“Ah, yes, what’s that book for?”
“This is my ‘Book of Origins’?”
“No, that’s not wrong—but you don’t have to use two books?”
Honami quickly hid the thing that Nekoyashi pointed out behind her back.
She had two note books.
“This, this is only a simple copy, I’m going to sell it to the apothecary later.”
“Ah? Sell to the apothecary?”
Honami answered with a red face:
“Books that ma-magicians copy are worth money… This way our company’s red mark can change for the better… Or, or else, Itsuki-kun’s materials can’t be paid for.”
She added the last sentence in a soft voice. Perhaps she was too nervous, Honami didn’t notice that she had used her past address for Itsuki.
“Oh~ Itsuki-kun, huh?”
Honami raised her head to retort against the laughing cat onmyouji—
Then, she widened her eyes.
The archive’s windows and a small shadow hidden by the window sill were reflected in her ice blue eyes.
It was not human—the shadow of a magical creature!
This cry made the youth notice that something was odd.
He turned around, and immediately proceeded to carry out the mudra of kujikiri, taking out a white seal from his robes.
The seal flew towards the window in a slanted line. If there were a tree here, perhaps the an image of the white energy would be left in the air.
The seal was deflected by the shadow’s cry. The backlash of the magic power sliced across Nekoyashi’s arm and left a cut, the shadow flew towards the ceiling with a flapping sound.
“…Just now… What was that ominous cry?”
Nekoyashi who was pressing a hand to his arm and Honami who had moved forward, both looked at the shadow.
The shadow yelled loudly from above them:
“I’m warning you!”
It was a black dove.
“I’m warning -- <Astral>! Honami Takase Ambler! Thou art not allowed to approach the <Organisation>! About Tsukasa Iba’s legacy—”
The black dove’s high pitched voice seemed like it was almost tearing its throat.
It was a piercing cry that could even penetrate a human’s soul.
Followed by that strong cry, the black dove coughed out blue flames.
The flames surrounded the black dove’s body immediately, and it caught light, falling to the floor of the archive.
Honami knelt down and reached out a hand to touch it, but there wasn’t even a slightest scorch mark left, only ashes.
“Honami-san, that was…”
The girl nodded vaguely towards Nekoyashi’s suspicions.
“Eh… That was Adilisia’s… one of her seventy two demons… Shax…”
She couldn’t be wrong. That was one of Solomon’s demons that had fought against them to gain the heart of the <Night>, two months ago.
“Then, Adilisia-san, she…”
They didn’t continue.
The familiar of a magician—and it was a demon that had a blood contract with Adilisia, had caught fire, what this meant, they were already so clear that it was hateful.
In the best scenario, she would be dying, but in the worst case…
“It talked about Tsukasa Iba’s legacy right?”
Honami said softly.
“Although it’s bad to Adi, but I have to go. Even though it might be forced, but I have to confirm it.”
She lowered her head and muttered.
In Honami’s tight fist, the ashes left by the black dove was held until it made a rustling sound.
The rain clouds in the sky covered the setting sun.
The tar road and the roofs of the houses were coloured the same colour under the sun light, and at times the sleepy cries of the summer cicadas and the sound of the wind passing through the alleys could be heard.
The cries of the cicadas that had seemed so piercing in the daylight, had become gentler at this time for some reason.
The street of shops in late summer, was this scene.
Itsuki pressed a hand to his eye patch as he walked home.
After the examination, the pain in his left eye had vanished immediately, but the key point was that the pain in his right eye was still pulsing till now.
In the end, after he finished the usual Presidential duties and his magical studies—from the start of the economic flow to the basics of magic—after which, the pain had not stopped. “Ah, it’ll be better tomorrow!” after getting Nekoyashi’s baseless answer, Itsuki left the administrative quarters.
“Urggghh, this is the fifth time I was given that eye drop, I thought I would get used to it…”
Itsuki muttered, swaying on the sunset road. From his tired steps, it was hard to tell that it was a sixteen year old person.
Itsuki’s house was on a street one stop away from <Astral>.
That was his uncle’s house, and his uncle had been in America for business. Because everyone including Yuuka had gone to America, it was Itsuki who was in charge of looking after the house.
Although the other members had advised Itsuki to just stay had the headquarters of <Astral>, but, if he did that he would definitely die, so Itsuki had desperately rejected the offer with all his might—resisting. Till today, this house was the only peaceful place that Itsuki had.
(…Something that Otou-san left?)
Itsuki suddenly remembered.
He almost couldn’t remember anything about his father.
Because when he had understood things around him, he had been given to his uncle and aunt to be taken care of, he almost didn’t see his father. So, Itsuki didn’t even think that his own father would be a magician. About what his father had ordered to be left to him, Itsuki had no idea of it.
(--What kind of President was Otou-san?)
Even though he had been forced, but this was a ‘job’ that he had done for a whole season.
Although he was only President in name, and it could be said that he went along with the flow, but Itsuki felt that this wasn’t only the case.
He felt that he probably liked this company <Astral>? Although he complained about it, and he encountered painful matters, but he felt comfortable staying there.
But, was it fine this way?
What kind of President was Otou-san?
And, what should I do?
(If it were Adilisia-san, what would she say…)
That proud lady who was obviously above everyone else, who was very clear of the authority of her position, who was righteous and responsible, what would she answer?
(If it were Honami, what would she…)
A lightning bolt of pain flashed across his right eye again.
Itsuki rolled around on the floor, and finally stood up shakily with much difficulty.
“Huff, hah, huh… At, at least, I’ll think about it when I reach home!”
Or else, he would die in the middle of the road.
Itsuki carefully cradled the special mizu youkan in the plastic bag. The mizu youkan from the Sumitsu-dou that was nearly closing, was a reward for himself.
Before he started on the large amount of work, it wouldn’t be bad if he ate mizu youkan and drank tea, right?
Itsuki turned into an alley, then stopped.
He let out a noise as he stood there, stunned.
The path back to Itsuki’s home consisted of several back alleys between shops, apart from the residents and the primary school students, almost no one else knew this short cut.
And in the middle of the alley filled with empty bottles and rubbish bags—there was a girl kneeling there.
And this wasn’t the reason why Itsuki was shocked.
The girl’s appearance was too unnatural. The problem wasn’t that she looked like a Westerner, or seemed to be twelve years old; it wasn’t the pitch black two-piece Western suit that she was wearing, or her flaming red hair; it wasn’t even the point that a girl like that was kneeling in the alley behind the shops, but what she displayed was dangerous.
--For example, her deathly pale skin.
--For example, her unmoving chest and fingertips.
--For example, her eyes were wide open, but they were blank and unreflecting.
Sweat dripped off Itsuki’s face. The blood in his body seemed to have frozen, and was starting to flow backwards.
(Don’t tell me…)
A helpless feeling gripped his heart, Itsuki placed his palm on the wall, slowly approaching the girl. A hateful feeling passed towards his stomach from his feet. He thought: “why am I so uncomfortable?” His body displayed signs of rejection.
That girl was too lifeless.
That’s right, the girl may be dead…
The girl raised her head unnaturally.
Itsuki jumped up in shock, his head striking the wall of the alley. The force of impact would undoubtedly cause a bump on his head, the bamboo container holding the mizu youkan that Itsuki was carrying fell to the floor with a clatter and rolled away.
“…That sh-sh-shocked me~”
Itsuki’s eyes had teared up, and he pressed a hand to the back of his head as he looked up.
The girl in front of him twisted her pale neck.
“Th-that, are you alright?”
She didn’t reply.
The long, neat tresses flowed down the back of the classic two-piece Western suit. That long hair was very red and pretty, even the trimming on her collar and sleeves, and lace weren’t inferior.
Furubeichi was originally a place where there were many foreigners, but this was the first time Itsuki had seen such a neat—how should he say? Probably a person who seemed like a French doll.
(Although Adilisia-san was amazing, but she seemed vibrant too…)
Itsuki spoke again.
“Lapis is fine.”
This time she answered.
Just as Itsuki was worrying that what if the girl spoke in a foreign language, fortunately she replied in Japanese.
After Itsuki put a hand to his chest in relief, he bent down to the same eye-level as the girl. Her eyes were different from Honami’s, this girl had clear blue eyes, it was like a beautiful glass bead.
“That, your name is Lapis, right?”
When Itsuki spoke, the girl hugged her knees, still using her halting way to reply:
“Lapis is waiting.”
“You’re waiting for someone? In this kind of place?”
“That, are you sure you really arranged to meet here? You didn’t make any mistake?”
How painful! Itsuki thought.
Although he didn’t know whether she was really waiting for someone, but he couldn’t leave her in this kind of a place.
That being said, he couldn’t pull someone away based on his choice.
So Itsuki sat on the floor, feeling conflicted. The girl—Lapis didn’t say anything, continuing to stare at the wall.
(Are the colours of Japan and foreign country’s walls different?)
Itsuki thought casually, looking at the wall blankly with her.
The pain in his right eye had reduced at some point in time, it was at the standard where there would only be small snatches of pain under his eye patch. Things like his summer homework and <Astral>’s work could wait, although there were many frustrating problems, but Itsuki didn’t care about them for that moment.
(This is the summer holidays!)
The cicadas in the distance cried.
The sound of a shop’s metal door closing sounded in the distance.
There was a slight sweet smell, probably some family was grilling hamburgers? Itsuki smelt the nostalgic smell of grilled meat.
Gruuumble… an adorable sound made itself known.
That was the sound of his stomach grumbling.
Itsuki thought that the sound had come from him, but, the sound had come from the person next to him. Lapis didn’t lower her head, or feel awkward, only staring at the wall unmovingly.
“You… Are you hungry?”
Itsuki pulled the special bamboo container that had the mizu youkan out from the plastic bag.
“That, you… Do you want to eat this?”
Itsuki touched the bamboo container that had the word special on it longingly, then passed it to her without any regrets.
Lapis took the bamboo container, rolling it on her palm as if feeling that it was unthinkable.
She seemed unsure of how to eat it.
“Eh, first blow into the hole on the back of the bamboo container.”
Itsuki took the bamboo container, and demonstrated it for Lapis.
Lapis still remained silent, but she revealed a surprised expression. She took the bamboo container with that kind of expression, eating the mizu youkan that was revealed in the bamboo container.
Ah, this time she stiffened.
“Is it good?”
Lapis nodded her head continuously.
The difference between the current her and her earlier statue-like appearance made him smile. Perhaps she felt that Itsuki’s earlier action was interesting, Lapis didn’t only eat the mizu youkan that had come outside of the bamboo container, but she blew into the bamboo container with a puff, puff, puff sound. In that moment, her eyes that were like glass beads shone—eh, this was special mizu youkan, it was to be expected that would be so happy. Itsuki thought.
Just as she finished the mizu youkan, Lapis stood up.
“The person you’re waiting for has reached? Do you want me to accompany you?”
She nodded to the first, but shook her head at the offer.
She took a step, then turned back and said:
“Lapis will return.”
“Ah, back here?”
Itsuki asked foolishly.
“Ah… that, if you want to come back, I’ll give you this. My address is on it, you can go there.”
Itsuki quickly pulled out the name card box from his pocket, pulling out a name card and handing it to her.
That was <Astral>’s name card, although it was a little—no, it was very perplexing, but Itsuki had nothing else to give her.
Lapis took the name card with the water mark, and ran off.
In the end, Itsuki didn’t see the person who had come for her, but she seemed very happy, there probably was no problem? Itsuki scratched his face.
(Ah… If she let her father and mother see something as suspicious as the name card of a magician renting company, perhaps it will make them more aware of her safety?)
Just as he smiled bitterly, his right eye suddenly clutched with pain.
Itsuki touched his eye patch. This time, the pain has already vanished.
(That was the last time, right?)
Just like that, he had a lazy false impression.
--So, Itsuki didn’t notice it.
Lapis ran on the road alone, approaching a hospital.
This was a small general hospital that had been abandoned. In this decade, several hospitals had continuously opened with the transgression of Furubeichi to a big city, Toshi city, in the end after more than half of the hospitals had been kicked out, the buildings had not been demolished, and they had wasted along with the years.
Lapis entered the hospital through a rusty back door.
As she walked through the corridor tiled with linoleum, making clacking sounds, she heard another voice.
Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.
Hearing that voice, Lapis opened the door with the word ‘pharmacy’.
Followed by a distinct odor, a strange light entered her eyes.
Apart from what the name of the room described, where large numbers of medical bottles were placed on shelves—all the walls, even the ceiling and floor—were covered with numerous clocks.
The size of the clocks weren’t limited.
There were ancient mechanical clocks, and there were very new wall clocks.
But, if it were closely examined, it could be seen that all of this were wind-up clocks, and they were following some kind of rule.
Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.
Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.
Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.
Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.
Magic, was actually a collective body of a rule. As long as it followed that rule to configure and channel the magic, even simple clocks could be magical mediums.
For instance, it was like creating a barrier that no one else could approach other than the person that made the decision—
“—You’re one minute and seventeen seconds late.”
A deep voice sounded from the middle of the clock barrier.
Lapis’s face shone.
The man held a silver pocket watch in his hand, and was sitting in the deepest corner of the pharmacy.
The person had strikingly features, the reflection of the light from the window danced on the red hair that he and Lapis had. Even though his two meter tall body was sitting, he still had an intense air about him. He wore a white collared cape, and robes that seemed to be what a king would wear.
“…We’re about to start the negotiations with the <Organisation> tomorrow, I’ve been preparing some things—you noticed that I came back? Why were you late?”
“Ah… Lapis, met someone.”
The man didn’t listen to Lapis’s explanation seriously, he seemed indifferent to the girl’s words.
His cold eyes looked at the girl’s waist suddenly.
“What are you carrying? Although it is weak, but it has a magical interference with the barrier. Did you create a new magical artifact?”
The girl reached into the pocket of her black two-piece Western outfit.
“This was what Lapis… received.”
After hesitating, she handed the name card over.
Judaix took the name card and frowned slightly.
The name card with a water mark had this.
Mage Dispatch Service <Astral>
--We rent magicians to meet your needs.
The address was indicated on the side of the printed words, and the President, Iba Itsuki’s name.
Lapis asked, troubled.
The man’s body was trembling with convulsions.
He pressed his shoulder, kneeling as he convulsed—even though it seemed like he was having a fit, but this misunderstanding was immediately cleared.
And like that.
Judaix seemed to laugh happily.
“Huhuhahahahaha, I see! It’s <Astral>! Iba Itsuki! How can it be you who meets Iba Itsuki first!? Is this karma or what? Even if I wait I wouldn’t coincidentally encounter this name, ahah, ahah, there is completely no existence of coincidence, isn’t this too much?”
After finishing laughing with much difficulty, Judaix smiled at Lapis whose eyes were widened:
“Ah, nothing, I’ll return this to you.”
Judaix forced the name card to Lapid who had shrank back in fear, standing up, Then he closed the pocket watch with a click, not allowing his ‘little sister’ to hear his soft murmur.
“Iba Itsuki, huh? I see, that child has grown till this big—”
At this moment—
The clocks started to ring. Although not all of the clocks were ringing, there probably were about half ringing, but that sound seemed to be the warning to imminent danger, as if the loud sound of hell’s gong was ringing, causing the courtyard to shake.
So, Judaix pursed his lips, waving his cape.
“Come, the time for the rising of the curtains has reached. The performance is about to begin, are the preparations to receive me ready? My teacher! My home-- <Astral>!”
- tri-sahasra-maha-sahasra-loka-dhatu: major world system
- Jetavana Monastery: Jetavana was one of the most famous of the Buddhist monasteries in India. It was the second monastery donated to Gautama Buddha, after the Veluvana in Rajagaha.
- According to Buddhist tradition, Maitreya is a bodhisattva who will appear on Earth in the future, achieve complete enlightenment, and teach the pure dharma.
- Note: Originally when carrying out the mantra with nine hand seals, every syllable has its matching hand mudra (hand seal), but in urgent situations nine cuts in the air, five horizontal and four vertical alternating lines, would be called Kujikiri
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