The Unexplored Summon Blood Sign:Volume6 Opening2
Opening X-02: Hopper the Wizard and the Small Key
(Opening X-02 Open 07/05 00:00)
Hopper the Wizard and the Small Key
Toy Dream 35 was an amusement park city created by a foreign company’s capital injection into the financially bankrupt city of Natsumi. Countless high-rise buildings towered up from the old city’s coast and out into the ocean and giant bridges connected those buildings to create a single giant city over the water. Rollercoasters and Ferris wheels stuck up between the high-rise buildings and the city was divided into 26 blocks labeled from A to Z, each with their own unique theme.
“Let’s look to the stars for Tanabata! Toy Dream 35 is holding an astronomical observation festival leading into July 7. So we ask that all visitors understand that strict lux restrictions will be in place. We strongly recommend the use of glass accessories that will prevent any light from escaping when you use your cell or smartphones.”
A pamphlet blowing in the wind provided that lengthy explanation.
The Milky Way was as clearly visible as in the starry sky seen from a tall mountain.
Even this late at night, it was unusual to find darkness this deep. Toy Dream 35 would normally be full of lights from not just building windows and trains, but from the countless lights decorating the attractions, the projection mapping covering entire walls, and the tens of thousands of fireworks dying the night sky. But all that artificial light had been thoroughly eliminated. The building windows were covered with the thick light-blocking curtains as designated by the administration and the yukata-wearing people crossing the giant bridges had bento box like covers over the edges of their cellphone or smartphone screens to keep the light from escaping. How they had forced their way past the laws was anyone’s guess, but even the legally mandated aircraft warning lights on the building rooftops had been deactivated. The sight brought some legitimacy to the half-joking claims that the regional cities taken over by Toy Dream had grown into a “Toy Dream Federation”.
It was fortunate the city did not use cars.
Or maybe that did not matter with self-driving cars that detected people and obstacles using radar.
And at the moment, two people swam through that inky darkness with no need for light or reflected electromagnetic waves.
Shiroyama Kyousuke and Biondetta Shiroyama.
Those man-eating sharks lived in the muddy depths of the world and they avoided people’s eyes with such speed and grace that they almost seemed more comfortable in this deep darkness.
Their goal was in M Block.
That area was filled with various museums, but this was still an amusement park city. It was less about tranquil scholarship and more about gathering the materials that had become the basis for foreign cartoons and 3D movies, so it felt more like an exhibition than anything. The center of the main plaza contained a pure gold statue of the cartoon sheep that was said to be the king of the box office and the walls were covered in posters for the Gozaru Samurai who was said to have been created as the concentrated form of the Toy Dream founder’s oriental ideals after he was deeply impressed by Japanese culture.
The most extreme example of these museums was the Founder’s Gallery.
The Toy Dream president was a normal person with no connection to the world of the Summoning Ceremony, but that old man had enough of a fortune to support a superpower on his own and he had supposedly gathered an impressive collection of priceless items that not even the top level summoners and vessels had ever seen. He did not know how they were truly used, but he hoped they would help him create movies that would bring him more money than anything else. In fact, he had spread smiles without causing anyone’s death while also creating a fortune that would never run out. On the simultaneously worldwide release dates of his new movies, it was said all conflicts across the world would temporarily stop, so it was hard to say which was truly the “right” way to use those items.
But Shiroyama Kyousuke had no interest in that discussion of cultural anthropology.
He needed to take a peek at that gallery to defeat the White Queen. This was a legend that could be anywhere in the wide world, so he needed a treasure map to find it.
“The Natural History’s missing entries?”
Kyousuke replied simply to horned Biondetta’s question.
The Natural History was a 37 book encyclopedia written in Latin by Pliny during the Roman era. The 8th through 11th books that covered animals and the 12th through 19th that covered plants were the most important because they had entries on the unicorn, phoenix, manticore, cockatrice, and other beings very familiar to summoners.
“It has been pointed out that there are a few missing entries in the Natural History. The question is whether Pliny himself was hesitant to preserve them or if those around him got rid of them.”
“But either way, they must have had information powerful enough…or to put it another way, dangerous enough to require that.”
“However, it’s said those missing entries are sleeping in the Founder’s Gallery.”
It was only a few scraps of parchment.
But if he got his hands on those and filled in the gaps to complete the true Natural History, he would have a complete encyclopedia that covered even the unseen parts of the world.
“I’ve checked everywhere I can, but I’m still missing some of the puzzle pieces. The only way to fill in that variable is to rely on the missing entries sleeping in the Founder’s Gallery.”
He would doubt everything and use everything.
To do that, he would even use the widely known Divine-class Materials as a stepping stone.
“I need the Diamond Master Key and the Golden Treasure Chest. Open the chest with the key and I’ll have the path to the Founder’s Gallery.”
“Which one are you going to go for first, sir?”
“The easier one.”
With that whispered answer, they walked to one of the museums.
Even during the Tanabata campaign which allowed people to enjoy the starlight, the museum was closed by midnight. And when light sources were strictly forbidden, there was no risk of a guard patrolling around with a flashlight. Plus, any invisible rays like infrared or ultraviolet would interfere with the highly sensitive cameras connected to telescopes, so they were also off limits. The guards inside were probably equipped with sensors and goggles that used ultrasonic waves or the like. Despite the inky darkness, the difficulty of breaking in was far greater than on a normal day.
But that was actually preferable for summoners like Kyousuke and Biondetta.
Normal people could not perceive them when they were not viewed with the naked eye and mechanical sensors or cameras were entirely negated when using an Incense Grenade. It was all about using the right thing at the right time. At times, setting up an Artificial Sacred Ground was worthwhile even without a vessel and with no enemy to be found.
However, they could not carry enough Incense Grenades to keep that up the entire time. The standard tactic was to sneak in as far as possible under their own power.
This museum had a central hall and it extended to the left and right from there in stereotypical Western symmetry. Kyousuke thought for a moment and then headed to the left end within the faint light of the emergency exit and firehose signs.
“Oh? You’re starting with the key?”
“We could always split up, but only after I feel like I can trust you.”
Instead of a camera near the ceiling, there was an active sonar device that turned its head back and forth, but this was not the empty sky. Active sonar detected objects by picking up the waves that bounced back from them. So if they crawled behind the labyrinth of glass cases, they could slip past it. Of course, they had to dash from one piece of cover to another when its fan-like turning head was pointed away, so this was not something amateurs could pull off.
Kyousuke was using this as a test case for Biondetta.
Since she was the one auditioning, she took the lead while Kyousuke kept watch from behind to make sure she did not betray him.
And so they crouched down in the darkness and kept their bearings by feeling the tile divisions on the floor. They circled behind the rows of glass cases to avoid the ultrasonic waves of the sonar and continued further in. But…
“The way we’re positioned here is reminding me of a time back in the Queen’s Miniature Garden. And I see you still like white and pink stripes.”
Biondetta wiggled the tail on her butt, smiled back at him on all fours, and sent a kick straight toward his face.
That was precisely when they heard an unrestrained footstep. It was almost certainly a guard. This museum displayed priceless antique art and historical documents, but the guards were not even patrolling in pairs. They were probably ignoring the manual to make the patrols easier. It was doubtful they were even checking over the entire facility.
It made security look lax, but Kyousuke actually bit his lip a little. People were harder to read when they ignored the timetable and acted unpredictably. Most of the security information they had gathered in advance had to be crossed out and it was all thrown into a black box.
The demon crouched down like a feline beast but whispered excitedly.
“(Should I kill him?)”
“(That won’t be necessary.)”
Biondetta had been about to crawl out, but when Kyousuke pestered her, she backed up as if sticking her butt out toward him. The only thing they could use here was…one of the glass cases. For some reason one of them was on display despite being empty, but it was probably a performance based on the Phantom Girl fairy tale that no one seemed to actually know. The two of them crawled underneath it together.
The alluring demon embraced him and he felt the smooth sensation of skin with more subcutaneous fat than any boy could hope to match. Biondetta’s heartrate was entirely normal. Similarly, Kyousuke was focused on the world outside the narrow gap as he ignored the warmth and sweet smell. They heard the rhythmic footsteps of the guard who wore ultrasonic visualization goggles to negate the darkness.
Summoners could not be perceived by normal people if they were not seen with the “naked eye”, but if those goggles were wirelessly connected to the security system, things would be more complicated. The mechanical cameras and sensors still worked when they were not using an Incense Grenade.
“(Wouldn’t it be better to kill him?)”
“(No, he hasn’t noticed us.)”
“(Are you aware of the urban legend about the axe murderer under the bed? He might only be pretending.)”
That urban legend was an apt comparison…for the guard. He might have a wife and kids back home and he might be working the night shift to help pay off the loan on the car he bought for a family trip, but if he happened to look below here, it would be a bloodbath. Biondetta would do it. With a smile on her face and without hesitation.
Leave, urged Kyousuke. Don’t notice us. Just keep going.
There was no strategy or logic behind those thoughts.
The rhythmic footsteps continued.
But then they heard the rubber soles leave that set rhythm.
The ferocious beast immediately shot out from below the glass case.
As Biondetta crossed the starting line from behind the entirely defenseless guard, she gave off a dense aura of death. Kyousuke rushed out a moment later and tackled the seductive girl’s thin waist with all his might. The demon’s smooth claws just barely missed the guard’s neck bone. Then the two of them slid underneath the glass case across the way.
The oblivious and carefree guard looked back, tilted his head, realized his shoelace was untied, and retied it. After tapping the heel against the floor to check on the knot, he resumed walking. He finally followed the patrol route to a different part of the museum.
Still shoved inside a tight space while doubled over on her side and with Kyousuke’s arms around her waist, Biondetta softly narrowed her eyes.
“Yahn☆ Sir, you’re so passionate.”
“…Biondetta, next time I’m going to give you your orders like this: ‘Sit. Stay.’ So think about whether you really want to be stuck waiting back at the safe and comfortable cruiser with a drink in one hand.”
“That would be a problem. I wouldn’t be able to take part in your wonderful revenge story.”
Her tone was light, but her face paled somewhat. The insane operated under their own insane rules. To a demon of vengeance, nothing was more frightening than having that vengeance end without her involvement. Whether it succeeded or failed was of lesser importance.
Having just barely regained his grip on the demon’s reins, Kyousuke crossed a few more sections while slipping past the active sonar.
The Diamond Master Key was not hidden in anything like a bank vault. It was inside one of the many glass cases. The explanatory text in front of it said it was the basis for the titular item in Hopper the Wizard and the Small Key. That was probably true, but it was not how the key was originally used.
It was a dulled silverwork key with a 30-carat diamond contained in the swollen back end. In the movie, the protagonist traveled around the world to regain the clear stone’s shine so he could open the large door in some ruins, but the stone was not the main attraction for the real one. What Kyousuke needed was the actual silver key which could not be replaced even after growing worn down and oxidized from long use.
“I can’t believe they would just leave this out here. Maybe it’s like how easily stolen jewels are transported with normal bike couriers that can blend in instead of highly conspicuous escort teams.”
“They probably didn’t give it that much thought. I don’t think the Toy Dream workers know anything about summoners and vessels.”
The glass case itself had vibration sensors, but no security was entirely unbreakable. In this case, transistors were attached to the four corners to read the vibrations in the entire panel of glass. The devices themselves vibrated a miniscule amount, so these models were made to interfere with any external waveform to make it easier to pick up. In other words, it was the same as a microphone and speaker. It was a simple but difficult to deactivate system. If the multiple devices were not deactivated simultaneously, the other sensors would pick up that vibration.
But there was one pitfall here.
“I’ll have this done in 5 seconds.”
Biondetta swished her tail behind her as she pulled a smartphone from her pocket. A highly sensitive pin mic that looked like an ear pick’s puffball was attached to the bottom. She brought the smartphone as close to a panel of glass as she could without touching it and then used her other hand to smash the glass case with a hammer meant to break open a submerged car’s window.
That normally would have set off the alarm, but there was no reaction whatsoever.
What was going on?
It was a phenomenon everyone had heard at school when the principal was speaking at an assembly.
In other words, a feedback loop.
“Each panel has 4 of them, the entire box has 6 panels, and who even knows how many glass cases there are in this section. With that many devices in here, they’ll be sending little high-pitched waveforms all over the place. It’s utter chaos.”
And a microphone and a speaker actually worked in the exact same way.
Even normal microphones and speakers would not pick up or put out the proper sound (i.e. vibration) during a feedback loop. The museum had used multiple devices for safety, but too many of them presented its own problems.
At any rate, they had gotten through the most difficult part. Since that lazy guard had left the proper patrol route, they had no idea how long until this was discovered, but they would probably have time to go for the Golden Treasure Chest as well.
Biondetta casually reached in and grabbed the old key.
And at that exact moment, all assumptions were overturned when the museum suddenly filled with red light.
It was like the emergency alarm in a submarine. And that was probably exactly what this was. They could hear frantic footsteps scrambling around.
Kyousuke put his hands on his hips and gave Biondetta a look of utter disappointment.
“Wait, no!? Y-you have it all wrong, sir! This shouldn’t be happening!!”
For once, Biondetta actually waved her hands around and argued her case, but something was odd. Time passed and yet no guards showed up to surround them. The guards seemed to be going elsewhere. And after a delay, the floor hopped up from a low tremor that shook the entire building, like a giant kaiju was walking around. It was very similar to an explosion, but it was not. It really was an unusual sort of footstep.
Kyousuke thought for a moment.
“The chest? Someone besides us must have snuck in.”
“So I’m innocent! That means I’m innocent, doesn’t it!? That silent pressure is surprisingly painful, so you should really say something at times like this!”
Biondetta tearfully puffed out her cheeks and Kyousuke somehow found himself rubbing her horned head.
At any rate, the blaring alarm meant a change of plans. There was no point in sneaking around anymore. It was also the time to take action. If a 3rd party knew that item’s value and was here to take it by force, they were probably using the Summoning Ceremony. The guards had no way of stopping them, so they would get away with the treasure chest.
And that led to only one conclusion.
The two of them moved out from behind the glass cases, broke a nearby window, and climbed outside. Black smoke was rising from the opposite end of the museum. The firefighting system that used carbon dioxide so as not to harm the cultural assets was not going to act fast enough to prevent the damage. The tranquil-looking Milky Way was now scorched red by the reflected light of the fire back on earth. But that was not the crux of the issue.
Someone was trying to leave the museum grounds just like Kyousuke and Biondetta.
It looked like a graceful nun and a small boy who only came up to her waist, but they were more than that. They were Government Award 666, The Saint. Just the other day, Kyousuke and Biondetta had run across this summoning pair while attacking the fortress of an elderly collector known as the Colorful Museum.
They belonged to a group of White Queen devotees known as Bridesmaid.
They were the polar opposite of Shiroyama Kyousuke who wished to destroy the Queen.
The nun held a small box made of gold. It was known as a treasure chest, but it was no bigger than the case that held a new smartphone. There was a single keyhole in the center of the upper lid which would open upwards. Overall, it looked like an antique music box.
“I’m surprised your motley group hasn’t fallen apart yet.”
“Even if each of us is headed in a different direction, we all worship Her Majesty. This is more than just Azalea Magentarain and her Guard of Honor. An amusingly large number of us have gathered from all across the world.”
The master key and the treasure chest.
The summoners slowly narrowed their eyes as they viewed the other’s prize.
There was no need to mention the Natural History’s missing entries. Unless it was to confuse them or trigger some infighting, nothing was gained by giving the enemy information.
“Do you two seek the Founder’s Gallery as well?”
“I don’t have to tell you anything.”
“But that treasure would go to waste with you. Harming Her Majesty is simply impossible.”
“Then you shouldn’t care if I keep trying every way I can. More importantly, you’re not acting on the Queen’s orders here. I seriously doubt she has any interest in the manmade Summoning Ceremony at this point.”
“No, of course not.” The nun put on a lovely smile. “But if we are to serve our master, isn’t it only natural to want to know as much about her as possible? What does she see, what does she hear, what does she eat, what does she smell, what does she touch, what does she take, what does she wear, what does she bathe in, what does she feel, what does she like, and what does she love? If we know all that up front, we will not have to bother Her Majesty by asking.”
Biondetta put her hands on her hips and sighed.
“I have a feeling writing ‘Shiroyama Kyousuke’ in every single blank will get you a perfect 100 on that test.”
“Please don’t give her any ideas,” said Kyousuke as he took a step back.
Then he spoke.
“Biondetta, this is your final test. Defeat The Saint and retrieve the chest.”
Biondetta unfolded her silver Blood-Sign and approached the battlefront with a demonic smile on her face. Something thick and white slithered out from her cleavage. It was a large and unnaturally colorless snake. It had been part of Colorful Museum’s collection of any rare items related to the Summoning Ceremony, including humans. It was an animal vessel.
The horned demon had a serpent wrapped around her body. From head to toe, every last pore on her body exuded stifling allure and wickedness. She looked just like a painting’s depiction of the Antichrist, so the devout nun lightly crossed herself in front of her ample chest.
“Now this is interesting.”
She went on to raise her right hand toward the heavens. That hand held a spherical container made of transparent glass. It looked like a bottle of holy water, but since it used a chemical ignition device instead of a cap, it had to be an Incense Grenade built using the same system as glass anti personnel mines developed to slip past metal detectors.
“Yes, yes. This is all the result of Her Majesty’s love. She went out of her way to call in the irreverent one to test our loyalty, didn’t she!?”
As soon she detonated it by squeezing it in her hand, the countless tiny shards of glass were accompanied by a transparent spray that spread impossibly far. With that, a cubic field with 20 meter sides was isolated from the world. For only 10 minutes, this became a forbidden region known as an Artificial Sacred Ground where the gods could be called down as physical flesh.
At the same time, the nun’s habit spread out like it was caught in a gust of wind. And a moment later, it changed form like a stage magician’s handkerchief. It was now an asymmetrical cloak colored a detestably dark black. A nun’s hood hid her hair to keep demonic power out, but this one must have contained wires of shape memory alloy because it transformed into a wide-brimmed hat that emphasized her beautiful wavy blonde hair. She wore no real clothing below the cloak, so her beautiful body was covered by nothing more than some bustier-style lingerie colored a sinister blood red. This was not a pure heart challenging the demon. The way was blocked by the spells of a witch dyed in the same evil.
A holy woman and a wicked woman. This summoner woman was both at once. She had cut her index finger on a glass shard when her Incense Grenade had detonated, so she placed it between her lips. When she then removed her hand as if blowing a kiss, a long, thick Blood-Sign made of a single piece of material stickily appeared from either her finger or mouth like she was a sword swallower.
Below the red-scorched Milky Way, the long-tongued summoner grabbed the weapon that was sticky with sweetly dangerous saliva, used her other hand to rub the small boy’s head, and made an announcement.
“Now, make your offering!! A Blood-Sign battle is nothing more than a dance performance for Her Majesty. And the living sacrifice is an important role in this performance. As one of those who wish to soothe Her Majesty’s boredom, I, The Saint, will gladly take on even the irreverent Anti-Queen!!”
Shiroyama Kyousuke looked troubled.
And he spoke.
“You’re rotten to the core.”
- At the present time, Shiroyama Kyousuke has not made a contract with a vessel.
- Biondetta has made a contract with a white snake from the Colorful Museum’s collection and made it her vessel.
- The Saint is a summoner that uses the two faces of a holy woman and a witch. It is unknown if this was always the case or if she was broken after coming into contact with the White Queen.
- Both Kyousuke and the devotee group named Bridesmaid are after the Founder’s Gallery and the Natural History’s missing entries found therein. Kyousuke believes the knowledge in those missing entries will be the key to defeating the Queen while Bridesmaid thinks it will show them how to be blessed with the Queen’s love.
- If the treasure chest is opened with the master key, it supposedly contains information concerning the Founder’s Gallery.
- Biondetta is used to being yelled at, but she is surprisingly weak to silent pressure. And she is honest to her desire for revenge above all else, so being told to “sit” and “stay” by the master of her contract is her greatest weakness.
- The demon of vengeance apparently still wears white and pink stripes like she did back in the Queen’s Miniature Garden. It is unknown if that is a personal preference or if she is giving her client what she believes he wants.
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