Toaru Majutsu no Index:Crossover Chapter 4
[Series Introduction 5]
The Unexplored Summon://Blood Sign
After thoroughly researching summoning ceremonies, this world accidentally discovered what lurks beyond the gods. Shiroyama Kyousuke cannot ignore the cursed words of “help me” and he continues to throw himself into deadly battles with summoners.
13990th Strategic Intelligence Analysis Report.
Concerning the three biological weapons created by Loki.
No answer found. Incomplete analysis included.
Written by Light God Baldr.
Classification: “Frozen” Level 4 – Authority to refuse access requests included. Strictly managed.
What exactly is Hel?
She is one of Loki and Angrboða’s three children. Fenrir is prophesied to eat Odin and Jörmungandr is prophesied to grow too large and crush the land, but no one knows what Hel will do.
And because we do not know, she is viewed as dangerous.
Odin sealed her in the depths of Niflheim and that is where she gained her position as queen of the underworld.
But looking at this story rationally reveals several strange points.
First of all, Norse mythology is a society of combat ruled by a god of war.
Anyone one dislikes, anyone dangerous, and anyone in the way of one’s growth or path will be killed. There is no reason to forgive an enemy. That is the culture and religion of our world. The most famous form of trial is by combat. The one in the right will gain the favor of the war god and will surely win. In other words, the victor can name himself just. Strength says everything in this society because of the religion and the god at the foundation of it all.
In that case, why would he need to let Hel live?
If Odin had feared her, he would not have simply imprisoned her in the underworld. Wouldn’t the normal response have been to kill her as soon as she was born?
There is no answer to this question.
But I do have a guess.
Odin does not have a sympathetic enough heart to have felt sorry for his young enemy and gone easy on her, so perhaps he did not actually let her live.
In other words, it was not that he did not kill her; he could not kill her.
That line of thinking supports an extremely interesting theory.
Now, what exactly is Hel?
She is the queen who rules over Niflheim, she is the grim reaper that manages the souls of the dead, and she holds one of the triggers to Ragnarök because she is the one that orders Níðhöggr to bite at Yggdrasil’s roots so the tree will wither and the nine worlds will be destroyed.
And besides these frightening facts, she also possesses another noteworthy characteristic:
Hel has been given the authority to rule all nine worlds.
To put it simply, that is the same authority as Odin and no one knows why this is. One theory says Odin gave her the authority because he felt sorry for her after unfairly casting her into the underworld, but as previously stated, it is highly suspect whether that god of war has a sympathetic enough heart for that.
Now, let me suggest a bold theory.
A grim reaper that manages the souls of the dead may sound frightening, but Odin actually possesses the exact same power. He gathers the human souls that come to Asgard and uses them to form the Einherjar army.
How is that any different from Hel who rules the underworld and creates an army from the souls of the dead?
And as previously stated, she has the authority to rule all nine worlds “for some reason”.
Doesn’t this mean Hel is identical to Odin? Doesn’t this mean she is a second head god?
If so, she has the power and role needed to be just as much of a threat to Odin as Fenrir and Jörmungandr. And yet it does not matter if Hel herself is evil or not. In fact, the better a person she is, the less of a leg to stand on Odin has.
Only one head god is needed.
And people will want to worship the most just, kind, and powerful god they can.
If there were two candidates for head god, a festive mood would fill the nine worlds and a general election would begin. If they have the exact same power, then the more popular of the two would end up on the throne.
Now, it is time for a fundamental question.
Is Odin all that desirable of a god?
He is a cunning god who fears the prophecies, he frantically prepares for Ragnarök, and anyone who will not help him win that fight is branded a sinner and cast down into Niflheim.
Meanwhile, Hel was sealed in the underworld due to the fears and anxieties of that other god. She retains the purity of the driven snow and can still develop into a good or evil person.
The current head god has only held the position because he is the only one who can do the job.
But if someone else could wield the same power under the same conditions, which one would the people accept as head god?
This is why Odin did not kill Hel. She has the exact same power as him, so it would come to a draw if they fought. He could not afford to make such a foolish mistake. And if he truly tried to kill her, Hel’s survival instincts could awaken the power within her. That would signal the beginning of the end for Odin. He could not let it get out that there were two head gods with the exact same power.
And so he sealed Hel in Niflheim.
That way, her “role” would be overwritten with the silly “queen of the underworld” title and she would forget about her power as the head god.
But how long will that last?
Odin is aware of the problem, but he cannot reflect on his own actions and he can only feel safe and secure by oppressing others. He is undoubtedly walking onwards despite having already swallowed the seeds of eternal destruction.
- This document is far removed from authentic Norse mythology and would negatively influence many cultural traditions, so Odin has personally frozen it. To unfreeze or view it, Level 4 or higher permissions are required. Also, please be aware that the names of anyone who does view it or even requests to view it will be automatically sent to Odin.
There was no longer any reason to hesitate.
Kamijou and the others ran toward the massive pitch-black vortex and plunged inside.
They did not know what kind of effects it had, but if it was based in Norse mythology and thus constructed from a supernatural power…
“I can negate it.”
Kamijou swung his right arm as he spoke.
He could not exactly negate the tree itself. It would immediately regenerate no matter how much of it he destroyed. Still, he could briefly scatter the portion around their group.
“We can do this! Hel’s power isn’t altogether hopeless!!”
“Hah. And we’ve got the Princess on our side. We ran into one of Hel’s soldiers before, but that robot was nothing against the Baby Magnum’s cannons. There’s no stopping us now!!”
Yes, they had the firepower of the Baby Magnum on their side.
For the moment, only the Black Dragon Níðhöggr had been able to endure its attacks. Most of Hel’s forces could be destroyed with a first generation Object and the confusion of suddenly being thrown into this Norse world had contributed to her trouble in the fight against Níðhöggr. They would have the advantage now that they were on top of things.
That sense of safety may have helped them charge into the vortex without hesitating.
“Wait… What is that?”
Mikoto frowned as she ran.
She was a Level 5 esper who controlled electricity. She could use it as a simple attack, but she could also use magnetism and electromagnetic waves to scan her surroundings.
That was why she was the first to notice.
A massive form was approaching them from beyond the black screen.
“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” groaned Quenser as he came to a stop.
The others stopped as well. It felt more like a giant mountain than an enemy. Nothing could be better described as “blocking the way”.
It was over fifty meters tall.
Its spherical main body could endure a direct hit from a nuclear weapon and its surface was completely covered with over one hundred cannons. Some were low-stability plasma cannons, some were laser beam cannons, some were railguns, some were coilguns, and some were rapid-fire beam cannons.
It used a cross-shaped air cushion propulsion device and had chainsaw-like treads for auxiliary propulsion.
A main cannon resembling a metal bridge was attached to either side of the cross-shaped footing.
They were rapid-fire beam Gatling guns made by strapping together five barrels each. At close- or mid-range, that grim reaper of the battlefield could provide enough overwhelming cannon fire to unilaterally wear down the enemy Object.
Kamijou Touma did not know its name.
Neither did Index.
But Quenser did and he squeezed out the words as if he was having trouble breathing.
“Isn’t that an Information Alliance second-generation Object? Isn’t that the Oh Ho Ho’s Rush!?”
Hel stood in the center of the pitch-black vortex or black tree.
She had already discarded her title as “queen of the underworld” and returned to simply being “Hel”. She was aware Kamijou and the others were approaching and what they were saying.
The blackness raging about her was an illness eating into her yet it had also become a part of her.
It was her fingertips, her eyes, and her ears.
So she had noticed the people trying to save her.
So she had despaired.
They were trying to save her. They saw the swirling blackness as evil and they were trying to strip it from her.
But stripping it from her would mean she could not save the people deemed to be sinners. It would mean saving her alone, forcing the sin back onto the sinners, casting them back down into Niflheim, and starting their eternal torture anew.
(Why can’t you show this same kindness to everyone else?)
Kamijou Touma and the others may not have realized how it worked.
They may not have known rescuing her would mean suffering for so many others. They may not have known just how raw and repulsive the torture techniques hidden behind those words were.
But it no longer mattered.
Hel had decided she would save them…save all of the humans.
She had decided to bear it all herself and become another great god.
She cried out in despair.
She called to the blackness that swirled around her and had become a part of her.
The nine worlds of Norse culture were supported by the branches and roots of the world tree, but Loki had twisted those branches in impossible directions and stretched them out to the completely foreign places Kamijou, Quenser, and the others had come from.
What Hel did may have been similar.
However, she did not use Yggdrasil.
Some who saw it may have seen it as a massive hurricane. Others may have seen it as a black tree.
In other words, this second great god had created a brand new system with a brand new tree.
This was why she was said to have the same power as Odin and why that one-eyed god had sealed her away along with the true fear she brought him.
Somewhere in the world, a great mass welled up like mist.
It was a colossal weapon of war that exterminated its foes with great firepower instead of the more peaceful methods of the nuclear age. After the collapse of the United Nations, a few different world powers had risen. One of those was the Information Alliance and this second generation Object was a crystallization of their military technology.
The black tree guided a new form in from somewhere.
It was a freelance agent who had set an artificial Youkai known as a Shikigami as her hypothetical enemy and thoroughly modified her body until she could kill the Youkai that were unaffected by physical attacks.
Somewhere else, someone was pulled up like bubbles rising from a swamp.
She was a dangerous criminal who freely massacred people like a natural disaster even after being designated a banned killer. She had reached the depths of madness in her obsession with the preservation of corpses and collected the corpses she created with a modified stun gun so as not to spill any blood.
A white torrent appeared that threatened to destroy the black tree itself.
It was the manager who gathered together every Absurdity. This overwhelming existence had been connected to Prometheus who gave fire to man and to the Banshee said to predict people’s deaths. A certain inhumane organization even viewed her as the Philosopher’s Stone.
And the deciding factor was released.
It was Academy City’s #1 Level 5. His power let him freely transform momentum, heat, electricity, or any other vector. He had even shown signs of taking one step beyond the realm of science and into the realm of magic.
Hel had the authority to rule the nine worlds and therefore the entire world. She had created a new black tree, sent its branches and roots out without holding back, summoned great violence from other worlds, and continued to scream. She yelled on and on as if to say this was not enough and that she was not going to let it end here.
The violence she birthed spread devastating destruction instead of the crying of infants.
The monsters did not hesitate to charge toward Kamijou and the others.
Without a doubt, this catastrophe would continue until she was truly saved.
But they had all realized something: this was the true scream of the girl known as Hel.
The eldest sister Brynhildr.
The second sister Gerhilde.
The third sister Ortlinde.
The fifth sister Schwertleite.
The sixth sister Helmwige.
The seventh sister Siegrune.
The eighth sister Grimgerde.
The ninth sister Rossweisse.
When Waltraute, the fourth sister, was included, the nine of them formed the Wagner-style Valkyrie sisters.
They would descend to the human world of Midgard, gather the souls of powerful warriors and wise sorcerers, and take them back to the heavenly world of Asgard to join the gods’ Einherjar army. There, the souls would be welcomed with combat training (usually in the form of fighting to the death), food, and drink while they prepared for the final battle of Ragnarök.
But one would be wrong to assume they relied on the souls of warriors to fight.
The Valkyries themselves were more than enough to crush the enemies of the gods.
The relationship may have been similar to that of a huge warship or aircraft carrier with their escort ships and aircraft.
Currently, the voice of Heimdallr, manager of the rainbow runway called Bifröst, reached their ears.
“Excitation of takeoff catapults one through seven is complete. You can reach critical speed at any time!”
“Understood. We will leave in order, form up, and exterminate Hel before she can cause more chaos.”
As Brynhildr gave a business-like response, Rossweisse gave an exasperated comment in her overly thick armor.
“Why does Bifröst only have seven colors, anyway? If it had enough for all nine sisters, we could all head out at once without any kind of time lag.”
“Slowing us down is meant to balance our power. If it looks like another force could defeat him, Odin changes the rules. That’s just how the world works.”
Ignoring Brynhildr’s explanation, Gerhilde gave a doubtful comment from elsewhere.
“By the way, I see Waltraute didn’t join us yet again.”
“There’s been something wrong with her ever since she came into contact with that human boy. …And I’m not just saying that because I’m jealous of my younger sister for getting married before me.”
No one was listening to Ortlinde’s muttered comment and another transmission came in from Heimdallr.
“Lady Grimgerde, Lady Ortlinde, Lady Gerhilde, and Lady Schwertleite, I have confirmed your connection with the catapult. I will divide up the energy and redistribute it between all seven to shorten the recharging time for the other three. Is that okay!?”
Rossweisse laughed as she replied.
“Sure, sure. A line’s forming up, so just get us out there!!”
Their bodies were broken down into colorful particles and a tremendous surge of particles shot along the runways with an aurora trailing behind them. It looked less like an aircraft taking off then it did some strange kind of thick beam weapon.
Their extreme acceleration took them to 87% of the speed of light, but this extraordinary method accomplished that on the scale of Newtonian physics instead of Schrödinger quantum theory.
This wartime infrastructure allowed them to instantly send a great military force anywhere in the nine worlds to slay the enemies of the gods.
However, something strange happened this time.
There was trouble during takeoff.
Waltraute interfered and hit her sisters with an incredible attack as they prepared for takeoff.
She used a Spear of Destroying Lightning, a beam weapon created by compressing massive amounts of energy. This projectile weapon could melt any kind of metal and could burn away everything all the way to and beyond the horizon if its energy was released.
This time, it dropped down from above to tear into the rainbow runway.
The Valkyries who had been broken down to particles lost their balance when this sudden interference hit them. They rotated wildly around like defective fireworks and dropped randomly to the surface before they could recover.
Brynhildr instantly roared a name as she and the second wave prepared for takeoff.
“I am sure you see this as an irrational disaster, but unfortunately, my husband says he is going to save Hel. That means he will have to face the gods as well as Hel, which I would much prefer not to happen.”
“Are you planning to start a fight here?”
Everyone listened to Brynhildr’s quiet question yet ignored Heimdallr’s scream at the damage to the runway.
However, Brynhildr was the least amused.
Needless to say, she could not use her full power while preparing for takeoff and the nine sisters’ top priority was to quickly stop Hel and the chaos she was spreading, not to fight each other.
Wasting time here would be getting her priorities backwards, but at the same time, she could not think of any way to avoid Waltraute and safely takeoff.
After some thought, she reached a decision.
“Heimdallr, prepare the second group of takeoffs as planned.”
“Are you serious!? I think you’ll be shot down if you force yourself to accelerate!!”
“That is fine. I saw Waltraute’s accuracy just now and she cannot shoot down every last one of us.”
She coldheartedly decided to sacrifice her allies…her sisters.
“It doesn’t matter if only two or three make it through. Getting the Valkyries to Hel is what matters here. We don’t need all nine of us to crush her and we can’t waste our time fighting one of our sisters. This is the quickest way to settle this.”
Meanwhile, Waltraute took a leisurely step onto one of the runways and she lightly swung the Spear of Destroying Lightning she held.
“It was Grimgerde and Ortlinde that I failed to hit. They don’t stand out much, so it doesn’t matter. They won’t be able to do much even if they do get there.”
“Um, Waltraute! We have communications open, so we can hear you from down here!”
The cry of Grimgerde’s soul exploded out, but Waltraute and Brynhildr ignored her complaint and clashed head-on.
Misaka Mikoto gave an out-of-character shout.
As one of the seven Level 5s, she was known as the Railgun, Academy City’s #3.
However, even her life was in danger when attacked by one of the colossal weapons that had ended the nuclear age.
She was up against the Rush, an Information Alliance Second-Generation Object.
Its main cannons were rapid-fire beam Gatling guns created by strapping together five barrels each. A single shot contained enough firepower to melt a warship into an orange puddle and it was accurately firing them at a rate of several thousand every minute.
Beam weapons were a military technology using electron beams.
That was good news for Mikoto who could control electricity. The barrage would normally have been unavoidable, but they bent “unnaturally” just before hitting and flew off in a different direction.
However, this was far from a perfect defense.
“Oh, crap!! This thing’s more powerful than that #4! I’m going to be pushed back at this rate!!”
A concerning rattling started coming from the clasps to her bikini armor.
It was the Princess in the Baby Magnum that responded to the threat.
Objects could survive nuclear weapons, but another Object’s firepower could send them to their grave.
The base of the main cannon arms rotated to select low-stability plasma cannons. The seven arms moved and the weapon that could end a war with a single attack released all of its stored energy such that it filled even the Rush’s possible avenues of escape.
The tremendous bluish-white beams tore apart the black screen, but just before hitting the Rush, their trajectories split and another form came into view.
Kamijou’s eyes opened wide when he saw it.
“This isn’t good! You need to get out of the way!” he shouted.
His words were not going to arrive in time.
The plasma had reached tens of thousands of degrees, but Accelerator easily manipulated their vectors just before they hit him. They reflected right back at the Baby Magnum and the Princess frantically moved the machine to the side, but one of the bridge-like main cannons was still torn off by the orange light.
Most likely, the #1 could only be defeated by Kamijou’s right fist.
However, he could hardly make it all the way up to that enemy.
Strength on the level of a crane grabbed his collar.
He saw Hishigami Mai, a girl in a tank top and hot pants, directly in front of him. She accurately threw off his balance to briefly but surely keep him from moving and she held long, thin knife in her other hand. It looked like a sashimi knife dyed in military colors.
She was going to take off his head.
But just as a chill ran down his spine, dry gunshots burst out to the side.
Heivia held an assault rifle, but Hishigami Mai kept one hand on Kamijou’s collar and simply moved her upper body around to avoid the 5.56mm rifle bullets.
“You’ve gotta be kidding me!!”
Could he have changed the outcome if he had used the time spent shouting to do something else?
Kamijou heard the sound of a swinging bat as his entire body was thrown through the air. The high school boy crushed and knocked over Heivia who was still trying to aim his rifle.
Heivia struggled and saw Hishigami Mai switch to a small handgun with a suppressor attached, so he made a split-second decision.
“Hey, Sir Knight!! Throw a bomb in there!!”
What looked like a mass of clay flew through the air.
Quenser had thrown the military explosive named Hand Axe and, without even hitting the ground, it exploded right in front of Hishigami Mai’s face.
More than ear-splitting, the explosion felt like a punch to the gut and a prickling pain raced across Kamijou and Heivia’s skin. Index was forced to hold down her cape with one hand.
“Did that get her?”
“Not yet,” said the Zashiki Warashi in a tropical leaf swimsuit. “Someone who works for Hyakki Yakou won’t be defeated so easily!”
A blast of wind swept away the dust and revealed Hishigami Mai.
A girl wearing a short kimono stood next to her. It was the Deadly Dragon Princess, an artificial Youkai – or Shikigami – created as her hypothetical enemy. Normal physical attacks meant nothing to a Shikigami, so Mai had used it to protect herself from the blast.
“You monster! Were you sent back by a time machine wearing sunglasses or something!?”
However, the despair did not end there.
As Index hid herself below her cape, she opened both eyes and instantly divulged the makeup of the Shikigami.
“The image source is Otohime from Urashima Tarou. The trait of luring humans down to the depths has been distorted and broadly interpreted to put together a combat Shikigami. Okay, nothing to worry about. That isn’t a monster with no weaknesses!!”
Elsewhere, a dull crack filled the air.
It came from the White Girl and the rope of special rubber wrapped around her neck.
The Killer Queen spun around and around like a dancer and her weapon made use of her specialization in crushing deaths. Simply put, she had applied enough pressure to the delicate White Girl’s neck that it had broken.
The head swung loosely, but there was no hint of pain or fear in the White Girl’s eyes. Her neck was unnaturally bent almost to a right angle, yet she thrust her slender fingertips toward Satsuki.
The bottom of her pure white dress came apart, became rolls of film, and filled the entire area.
“She...has no life?”
The Killer Queen shuddered at the odd sensation she felt through her weapon, but she immediately rejected the idea.
“No, wait. What is this!? This is something even more dreadful. It feels like simply touching it means the end!!”
“Parameter change. Abandoning anti-Anzai Kyousuke bodily structure. Applying ‘Horror’ storyline patch. From here on, the ‘story’ will not end at mere loss of life.”
The infinite rolls of film stretched out eternally and attacked Satsuki with the sharp edge of a razor blade.
Higashikawa Mamoru and the bunny girl faced the other killer, Shizuna of Electrocution.
The stun gun in her hand emitted an explosive sound one would never expect of something so small.
“What do you think, archenemy?”
“I’d say this is unbelievably Absurd, but unlike us, it doesn’t feel like the actual person has been dragged into this world. It’s more like a shadow from another world was brought here.”
“Then if we defeat that, it won’t affect the original person?”
“Isn’t she a killer? Wouldn’t we be doing her world a favor if we took her out?”
As the two discussed the issue, Shizuna took a casual step forward and threw something into the air from with her other hand.
It was a large number of small screws.
And just before those screws fell, the killer in charge of electrocution swung her modified stun gun.
A flash of light covered everything.
The deadly lightning rushed every which way like a complex spider web, but…
“Don’t think you can get by with just that.”
“We may not look it, but we’re the Unbeatable Emperor and the Ever-Victorious Challenger. We both possess an Absurdity that won’t let us lose any kind of luck-based gamble☆”
It did not matter if the odds were one in a million or even one in a billion.
As long as there was a slight gap in the spider web, they could slip through it with ease.
“Have you forgotten? I’m the killer in charge of electrocution. Youkai and gods are one thing, but do you really think I’ll lose in a fight to the death against other humans?”
In yet another spot, college student Anzai Kyousuke and the never-dying boy, Nanajou Kyouichirou, cowered down while surrounded by explosions and gunfire.
Really, this was the normal reaction.
“Hey! What are we supposed to do!?”
“Trying to do anything with all these monsters around will just get us killed. I may not die, but I’ll still be out of the fight if I get a limb blown off! So let’s just try to help someone who can actually do something. Let’s see, the closest person would be…”
They spun around to look but their gazes froze on a single spot.
They saw Jinnai Shinobu’s ice coffin and the flat-chested Yuki Onna pressing up against it in her impish bondage bikini.
“Eh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh.”
“How about her?”
“Yeah, not bad. Even kids have heard of the Yuki Onna. It’s changed a lot over time, but she used to be a frightening enough Youkai to get passed down by word of mouth. She has to be one hell of an Absurdity, so let’s try to get her motivated to do something.”
“But how? If we swipe that frozen guy, we might get shattered by liquid nitrogen ourselves.”
At that moment, the Rush was firing its rapid-fire beam Gatling guns on the Baby Magnum and a stray shot fell close enough to graze the Yuki Onna’s cheek. Jinnai Shinobu had been encased in the supernatural ice created by a Youkai, so he was fortunate enough to not be evaporated inside his ice coffin.
However, he did not escape entirely unharmed.
The perfect rectangle of the ice coffin melted like a popsicle dropped on the asphalt during midsummer.
When she saw that, the yandere Yuki Onna gave a roar that seemed to destroy her characterization.
The imp transformed into a true demon.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing, you biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitch!!!!?”
A new vortex of white swirled violently around the short Youkai. The pebbles and sand began to float because the temperature had dropped so low that the surrounding minerals had, in all seriousness, become superconductors.
It seemed they should have been worried about more than liquid nitrogen.
The insane number of -273 appeared in the back of the college student’s mind.
Nanajou Kyouichirou converted the number into the term “absolute zero” which sounded like an attack name a teenager would think up.
The two boys came to an understanding.
“Yeah, let’s not mess with her.”
“You’re right. I can’t imagine any way I could avoid a fatal injury inside that storm.”
The boy watched the battle.
Kamijou and the others had said they would clear a path for him, but it was not going perfectly. In fact, more powerful enemies from different systems appeared from the black vortex each time Hel cried out, so the chaos was only growing.
And then a great shadow covered the boy.
It was Níðhöggr. The two hundred meter black dragon was a faithful servant of Hel’s and it possessed enough firepower to match the Baby Magnum when they fought aboard Skíðblaðnir.
If the boy was hit by an attack from that beast, he would not even leave any ashes behind.
In fact, he would be crushed beyond recognition if its massive form simply continued straight down.
However, Níðhöggr approached while splitting apart the surface of the ocean like an airplane making an emergency landing and it stopped so perfectly in front of the boy that one would think it had used lasers or ultrasonic waves to take measurements down to the micron.
The wyvern then pressed its head against the ground and seemed to create a slide from its entire body.
It was ready to have a human climb on top.
“Are you helping me so I can save Hel?”
The boy did not receive a response.
Níðhöggr was not equipped with the organ needed to speak the human tongue, but that did not mean it did not understand human emotions.
This dragon had always done what it thought would help Hel and that usually meant faithfully protecting her.
But now it had decided that not doing so would help her more.
“Take me to Hel so I can take her away from there!” said the boy.
The dragon’s growl contained a hint of agreement.
The boy climbed up the dragon’s head, crossed its long neck, and reached the top of its large torso. After making sure the boy had taken up his position, Níðhöggr flapped its wings which were the size of a small plaza.
However, a new light appeared in the heavens to prevent it from taking off.
It was a giant chariot drawn by two goats. The only comparable method of flight was Santa Claus’s sleigh, but this chariot was not filled with the hopes and dreams of children or with piles of presents.
It instead contained the god of destruction who ruled over lightning, thunder, and divine punishment.
This was Thunder God Thor’s chariot.
“I am here on the orders of my father Odin!! Unclean one, cast aside your wicked hopes and give yourself over to the divine hammer!!”
Thor held Mjölnir.
As far as pure destructive power was concerned, that hammer was greater than Odin’s Gungnir and it was so heavy that only two people in the entirety of the nine worlds could wield it.
One swing and it could smash to pieces even a mountain-sized giant.
Even Níðhöggr would have no way to withstand the blow.
An attack from a third party pierced Thor’s side.
It resembled a dragon and most people would see it as an Eastern dragon rather than a Western wyvern.
This being had continued to grow without limit from the moment of its birth and was now long enough to encircle the nine worlds.
And during Ragnarök, this great serpent was prophesied to kill and be killed by Thor.
“Are you Jörmungandr!?”
“Did you really think I wouldn’t show up, little boy?”
One might have likened it to a missile trailing smoke if it had not been so large.
The serpent’s lizard-like eyes approached with no discernable emotion within and it spoke via its thoughts.
“My cute little sister is all worked up about saving some people and a lot of other people have gathered to save her, so did you really think her brother could just sit idly by and watch?”
“Wait, so that’s it.”
With a sharp click of the tongue, Thor stared not at the approaching Jörmungandr but at something far overhead.
And he gave a roar while glaring up at Asgard.
“Was Hel only a diversion meant to bring our forces down here, Loki!?”
Incidentally, after being beaten to a pulp by Waltraute and left only able to speak like a pig, Loki had mocked her (while using the fact that she could not understand him to his advantage).
(*Fine, fine. I lose.)
(*Or maybe we should call it a draw. I lost, but I managed to sow the seeds. Once the buds of evil sprout, the world will be renewed all on its own.)
“Yes, I already know you used Skíðblaðnir and Yggdrasil to call in several strangers from truly foreign worlds. You used the world tree’s ability to grow when it absorbs the water of the well of wisdom to extend the branches to worlds other than our nine. …But how do I return those strangers to their original worlds? Depending on your answer, I may just let you drop from here.”
(*Well, my objective was halfway complete from the moment those strangers were summoned here, so I don’t really care about returning them to their original worlds. But if you do want to know how, I’ll tell you.)
“Hm? The branches are still connected to the other worlds?”
(*Yes. All I needed to do was drive Hel insane through contact with foreign morals and foreign ethics.)
“The water of the well of wisdom makes the world tree grow, but it can wither when that water is sucked out? Just like when Níðhöggr bites into the roots? So you damaged the base of the irregular branches to make them wither?”
(*And despite Odin’s great influence, Norse culture still justifies anger at having one’s family killed. Now, who are Hel’s brothers? The Great Serpent Jörmungandr and the Giant Wolf Fenrir. …I think it’s about time for that wolf to break his chains and devour Odin.)
“So if the wounds are plugged with something and the ‘leak’ is stopped, the withered branches will return to their original positions and function as bridges again? So if the strangers return to Skíðblaðnir, they will be automatically returned to their worlds?”
A single river flowed through Asgard.
If one followed it upstream to its source, they would find a prison that intimidated anyone who approached.
The river was actually the drool overflowing from Fenrir’s mouth. That beast was prophesied to devour Odin, so a sword had been thrust upwards through his lower jaw to forever prevent him from closing his gaping maw.
His entire body was bound by the unbreakable rope known as Gleipnir. That rope had been made from several “impossible to acquire” materials and no beast could tear through it. But once that impossibility was accomplished, Fenrir would be released into the world and his anger and hatred would consume Odin.
The rage and resentment at the source of his power had already exceeded the critical point.
The upper limit meant to last until Ragnarök had long since been passed.
Or perhaps this very day was the end of the world.
That had been Loki’s goal in driving Hel, Fenrir’s sister, insane.
“Fenrir, you understand, don’t you?”
A god stood in the prison.
He was Týr, god of combat. Before Fenrir had been bound by Gleipnir, he had been the single individual to understand the raging and uncontrollable beast. Just before being bound with Gleipnir, Fenrir had suspected a trap and insisted one of the gods place their arm in his mouth before he would let them bind him. If it was a trap, he would bite that god’s arm off.
That was why Týr had only one arm.
He was a former friend who had had no choice but to obey Odin. Behind the name of a combat god was a man who had done as the higher ups insisted and betrayed his friend.
“This anger is exactly what Loki wants. That would be the greatest disgrace to you who wants to live free without being bound by anyone. So you can’t let him get the better of you. Loki is simply using Hel to have you eat Odin ahead of schedule and change the scenario of Ragnarök.”
Despite being unable to move his legs or close his mouth, the beast’s gaze was as frightening as any of the gods and he used his thoughts to ask his former friend a question.
“Then who will save Hel? You?”
“No matter how hated we are by the world, we are family. We are siblings who share the same blood. …If someone was going to save her, this may not have happened. But no one will save her. They won’t even try. And yet you all have the nerve to call yourselves gods!”
The prison creaked.
The supposedly unbreakable Gleipnir gave a cry of discord greater than ever before.
“If no one will save her, then what’s wrong with her brother doing so? What’s wrong with wanting to save her!? I don’t care about Loki’s schemes. I will save Hel of my own free will and I will bite through anyone who stands in my way, whether they’re that evil god or that head god!!”
What is the greatest reason for which people kill? suddenly wondered Týr.
Money? Hatred? Honor? Family? Love? Pleasure?
None of those was the answer.
He was certain that justice was the correct answer. He doubted any other motive had taken more lives.
Fenrir was filled with anger justified by the familiar (or even clichéd) desire to protect his family. That was why he would not be easily dissuaded. No logic could defeat justice. No logic could refute justice. No matter how much bloodshed it brought, anyone with justice filling their hearts could not be stopped. If you wanted to stop them, you had to be prepared to crush their very soul.
Justice and evil were different.
Justice would prevail.
And that was why justice was a dangerous thing that had to be handled with care. If it was sent out of control, it would produce a tragedy greater than glorification of evil could ever hope to match.
“Let me give you one chance here, Týr.”
Fenrir looked on the verge of breaking free of Gleipnir at any moment, but he spoke quietly.
“Are you prepared to stick your remaining arm into my mouth? Can you swear to me that the gods…no, that someone in this world will befriend that girl…will befriend Hel? If you can, then I will stay put. If someone will save her, then I will stay here. But only if someone will feel anger for her and cry for her. I do not need some nice-sounding words. I need to know you find your words worthy of supporting something you hold dear.”
A slight pause and silence followed as if some slight gravel had caught in some delicate gears.
But that was enough for Fenrir.
There truly was no one who would save Hel.
There truly was no one who would be her friend.
There truly was no one here he could rely on.
This result filled him with even more anger and hatred. The strength needed to tear Gleipnir asunder grew even further.
Týr realized the world might be done for.
In fact, it may have been done for long ago if it contained no one who could grant this desperate wish.
“Hold on, big guy. If you want someone to promise you that, I’ll take the challenge.”
A sudden voice reached them.
Fenrir moved his eyes and Týr turned toward the prison’s entrance.
One of the strangers stood there.
He was a high school boy with hair dyed blonde and an untidily worn school uniform.
It was Jinnai Shinobu.
Technically, it was his disembodied spirit, but he still spun his right arm around as if checking on his shoulder.
“So I just have to stick my hand in your mouth and make the promise, right? You want to know if someone will save Hel-chan, do you? Well, someone will. Of course someone will. Don’t look down on the world like that, big guy. If no one else will, then I’ll do it.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You didn’t hear me!?”
Shinobu stomped forward, shoved Týr aside, and stood before Fenrir. The wolf was as large as a bus or truck, so his gaping maw was large enough to swallow the high school boy whole.
But he did not hesitate.
Jinnai Shinobu practically threw his right arm forward and into the beast’s mouth.
“Are you people done complaining yet!? I said I’ll go save Hel-chan right away! You got a problem with that!?”
“I don’t know how much I can do. I’ll try everything I can, but I can’t guarantee that’ll be enough to save her. I’m just a high school boy, after all. But I will do everything I can. I really will put my life on the line to save her. Is that enough?”
“Why? What is Hel to you?”
“How should I know? That all depends on what happens. It’s even possible you might end up jealous of me, but I don’t care if it doesn’t go that well. I want to save her, so I will. Do I need to think through it any more than that? Did you?”
“I don’t know why, but Youkai and similar things have always really liked me. To be honest, I really don’t think you’re going to eat me here. But that’s the point. This isn’t about form, power, or attributes. What moves your heart and fills you with strength comes from somewhere else.”
The massive fangs pricked at his right arm as he spoke.
“If things are fun, we can laugh. If they’re sad, we can cry. That’s all there is to it. So anyone would get mad if someone tramples that underfoot. Yeah, I’m pissed too. But let me have this one. I’m asking you to leave your anger with me so I can take the stage. Can you promise me that? I’m only sticking my arm in your mouth because I think you’re someone who can keep a promise. So can you live up to my expectations?”
“Fine then,” accepted Fenrir. “But I will be watching, human. You have claimed you will put your life on the line, so do everything you can. If you hold back with anything at all and you fail to save Hel, I will tear off your arm as promised. Even if your physical body is not here, your arm will never move again if I tear it off of your spiritual body. That is the contract we will be making.”
“Fine by me.”
Shinobu smiled and his arm silently left the mouth.
However, he had not pulled out his arm. His entire body had floated up. He had belatedly remembered that this was his disembodied soul and not his physical body.
“Looks like someone’s finally come for me.”
“My body didn’t quite die and it seems someone’s breathing life back into it. That’s what’s pulling my soul away like this.”
Shinobu never took his eyes off of Fenrir as he floated unstably away.
He directly faced this beast that not even the gods could look in the eye.
“So I’m heading back. I’ll return to the surface and save Hel-chan with the others. And I’ll do everything I can to pull it off. You watch from here. I’ll protect your sister and keep my promise with you.”
Fenrir quietly shut his eyes as Shinobu’s body began to rapidly leave the prison.
But just before he did, Týr used his one arm to grab Shinobu’s hand.
Not even the god knew why he had done so, so he asked a question.
“What am I supposed to do? What led you to do this must be something I was meant to do. This is something I have to understand. If I do…!!”
While floating upside down, Shinobu gave a clear answer.
“Figure it out on your own. Just think about what kind of life won’t leave any regrets. Don’t let yourself rot by doing things because of what others say. That’s a disgrace to the title of god.”
That settled something.
Týr turned back toward the great beast that had closed his eyes to reject the world.
He thought of his former friend’s maw as an extension of his lost arm.
“Someday, I’ll promise to stick my arm in your mouth again. Even if your chains have broken and your compassion has died away, the god of combat and victory will stand up to help a friend in need!!”
Týr kicked off the ground with his own two feet.
With their support gone, Jinnai Shinobu and Týr flew from Asgard like a dwarf holding a balloon to soar through the sky.
They shot in a straight line toward the front line where Shinobu’s body was.
Even at the very last moment, Fenrir did not open his eyes.
He almost looked like he was sulking, but his thoughts gave one last snort.
The shot from the Rush melted the ice coffin and Jinnai Shinobu was brought back to life.
He placed his hands behind his head to pointlessly show off his body.
“Jinnai Shinobu☆is back!! Sorry about the wait, everyone, but we all know the true star always shows up fashionably la- oh, god!? Wh-why is the Yuki Onna indiscriminately attacking everything with that demonic look on her face!?”
The flat-chested Yuki Onna was charging toward the Rush with a truly monstrous visage.
“And why are all of you showing so much skin!? Why didn’t you call me back sooner!?”
That fifty meter weapon had ended the nuclear age, but the white storm of absolute zero
(Don’t be embarrassed! It’s a legit chemistry term!) swirling around the Yuki Onna was apparently enough to affect its movements.
And once one link in the chain broke, the entire battle shifted.
First, the Baby Magnum was freed from the Rush’s attacks. Accelerator had torn away another of its main cannons, but the Princess made a quick retreat. Needless to say, the person who charged in to arrive just as the #1 Level 5 landed was Kamijou Touma.
Misaka Mikoto was also freed from the Rush’s fierce attacks. She used her eponymous Railgun to snipe Hishigami Mai with a coin accelerated to three times the speed of sound. Just as the Deadly Dragon Princess was busy dealing with that, Quenser and Heivia fired on Mai herself from a different direction.
There was no way to defeat the White Girl who was scattering film everywhere, but she seemed to defend against any and all attacks by altering her parameters in order to eliminate her weaknesses. If one constantly switched between a variety of killing techniques, they could buy time indefinitely even if they could not kill her. The Killer Queen left the White Girl in a state that was “as good as dead”.
And as he watched it all, Shinobu was asked a question by Týr who had descended to the surface with him.
“What should we do!?”
“I promised Fenrir I’d do whatever I could, so I’ll do just that whether it’ll be any help or not!! By the way, what can you do as a god!?”
“I am the god of combat and victory.”
“Then let’s use that. Let’s try for everything we need to win!!”
Having left his ice coffin, Jinnai Shinobu ran over to the Zashiki Warashi in a leaf swimsuit.
Meanwhile, Týr looked down to his one remaining palm.
“In the name of the god of righteous combat and true victory…”
He clenched his fist and thrust it toward the heavens.
“I promise these fighters certain victory!!”
There was no brilliant explosion or flash of light, but the result was tremendous.
Nike of Greek mythology and Hitokotonushi-no-Kami of Japanese mythology were known as goddesses of victory. Like them, some gods were deified for pure results such as “victory” or “success” instead of methods such as “violence” or “destruction”. An army with their favor would gain certain victory or success, so there were roundabout legends of obtaining their favor by fighting a war for the purpose of winning another war or completing a test to achieve success in something else.
Týr was the same.
He himself could not win, but he could allow any force aligned with him to win.
Higashikawa Mamoru gave a strange shout as he fought Shizuna of Electrocution.
The bunny girl next to him looked confused.
“Our Absurdities are being amplified…no, overwritten? Oh, this is bad. This is really bad. We’re already manipulating probability to a ridiculous extreme, but this is pushing that up even further!!”
The battle quickly pushed onward.
The mountain began to move.
The only one who did not benefit was, as usual, Kamijou Touma.
That pointy-haired boy heard the flapping of large wings, so he looked up and saw a black wyvern. He did not know how it had ended up this way, but the small boy was sitting on its back.
Pushed on by his emotions, Kamijou shouted to them.
“Go!! The way is clear right now! Fly to Hel and save her!!”
As if to obey, Níðhöggr began to flap its wings even further.
But it was not flying higher into the sky. It was gathering strength to charge straight toward its goal like a rocket or missile.
But just before it did, Kamijou thought he heard the zapping of electricity.
However, this was not the same as Misaka Mikoto or Shizuna of Electrocution. The sound did not even come from electrical sparks. Instead, it came from the swirling power inside the great black tree.
That power was out of control.
This was clearly different from when the colossal Object or Academy City’s #1 Level 5 had appeared. The guiding hand had left this surge of power which produced intense staticky noise that hurt their ears. The space split destructively apart and its fingertips crawled out into the world.
“Who…is that?” groaned Kamijou Touma.
This was someone he had never seen before and someone he should never have run across.
And that “someone” slowly split apart the black screen and stepped out.
“Who the hell is that!?”
Loki had been cast aside like garbage in one corner of Asgard, but he had done everything he needed to. That god only needed to wait for the coming result, so he grinned as it arrived.
“So it’s finally here.”
Many truly foreign worlds existed outside of this Norse culture: A Certain Magical Index, Heavy Object, The Zashiki Warashi of Intellectual Village, Killer Queen and Deep End, and A Simple Survey.
But another secret territory existed beyond them all.
“The original world that was never to be spoken of: ———————’s ———”
That was a city that granted the wishes of any visitors but in a twisted fashion. It was a story of the very short time between when a boy and a girl ran across each other there and when they escaped.
“No, wait. This is the wrong address.”
For the first time, Loki voiced a question.
The situation was moving beyond what this trickster could control.
“Where has that black branch gone? I’ve never heard of this world!”
An unprecedented monster answered Hel’s cry and showed itself.
That was the name of a summoner who freely fought by calling in Materials, the residents of other worlds, from completely foreign places.
That was the name of a boy who controlled the uppermost limits of power and the greatest blasphemies by fighting with that which lurked beyond the gods and were classified as Regulation, Divine, and Unexplored.
Countless red balls of light scattered around the area.
The boy who controlled them looked average enough and he wore a sports brand track suit and a hooded jacket. The one odd aspect to him was the 180 centimeter pole he held.
The catastrophe began as nothing more than a blonde girl dressed as a shrine maiden.
A moment later, the girl crumbled away. It resembled green translucent slime and the seven hundred liter monster surrounded the boy.
By the time they realized what they were seeing, it had changed form again.
It became an iron maiden-like grandfather clock filled with deadly gimmicks, it became a massive squid with thick chains in place of tentacles, it became a huge ball made up of countless beasts and dragon heads, and it became a creepy cherry tree that only blossomed after draining nutrients from humans.
“Wait a second. How much is this thing going to change!?”
The monster never retained a single form.
Sometimes it gained another body as soon as a few seconds later.
The dreadful appearance and great speed left Kamijou and the others watching in a daze.
They eventually realized that very human reaction could easily be a deadly mistake, but only after they heard Index muttering to herself while holding her cape down with both hands.
“What is this…? It’s growing…no, it’s being strengthened!?”
“You mean this thing just gets stronger and stronger!? We all need to attack it now before it grows too big!!”
Kamijou shouted to the others, clenched his fist, and charged in. The others followed suit.
But it was already too late.
A tremendous beam of light shot out.
If the Baby Magnum had not immediately moved forward and had its nuke-resistant armor melted to orange, all of the others might have been burned to ashes.
And while being protected by the fifty meter Object, Quenser looked up and trembled.
Their opponent stood a head higher than the Baby Magnum.
“Yamata-no-Orochi,” said the leaf swimsuit Zashiki Warashi. “A river, steel, and fire serpent. This isn’t some unique monster. Can this guy freely choose different monsters and gods from legends around the world and summon them!?”
“It’s moved up a step. Everything else was setup to reach this point!” shouted Index.
However, Týr glared at the monstrous serpent as if challenging it.
“But you have the god of victory on your side. Keep moving and I’ll support you even if I have to twist fate and causality so you can win!!”
They might be able to pull this off with his help.
Even in a fight between gods, the divine power of general “victory” might be of some help.
But a moment later, the Baby Magnum was flipped over like a toy.
Why? How? For what reason?
There was no time to ask those questions because Kamijou and the others had to scatter in every direction to make sure they were not crushed.
The Baby Magnum easily rolled thrice.
It did somehow manage to get its upside-down Y-shaped static electricity propulsion device back on the ground, but its one hundred odd cannon barrels were almost all smashed or bent. Needless to say, this was because its own two hundred thousand ton weight had crushed them.
But what had flipped over something so heavy?
And what was powerful enough to do so despite Týr’s power making this a field of certain victory for Kamijou’s group?
“Heh heh heh☆”
With the massive wall of the Baby Magnum cleared, the summoner boy was visible once more. And standing next to him was the “end result” of the monster he had built up to the very, very end.
It was a lovely girl.
Her silver twintails reached her waist and she wore a silver outfit modified from a wedding dress. She was covered in the color white and she leaned up against the summoner boy while crossing her arms and looking down on the others.
What had she done with those slender arms and how had she done it?
Kamijou could not find an answer, but the girl spoke with absolute confidence in her voice.
“A god? The power of victory? Who cares about any of that? That’s just one type of divinity in just one of many mythologies. Unexplored sits beyond Regulation and Divine, but I stand at the peak even beyond that. Did you really think you could stop even one of the hairs on my head?”
Her clothes rippled.
The cloth instantly transformed into massive spears, axes, and swords and released them in every direction at terrifying speed.
They destroyed any and all materials and tore even into the scenery.
They easily skewered deep into the two hundred thousand ton Object’s armor and the cloth rippled further and flipped up.
The roaring of the wind sounded like a train passing through the subway.
What appeared before Kamijou and the others’ eyes was no longer a reliable weapon of war.
It was much more primitive and much more overwhelming.
It was a massive flail that could smash through any and every obstacle in its way.
It moved vertically, horizontally, and every which way.
Each and every attack had enough weight behind it to truly form a crater and this girl casually swung it around like the limbs of a child throwing a tantrum.
Everyone was overturned in an instant.
It was like running across the queen in chess.
“Fwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!”
“Y-you’ve gotta be kidding me!!”
Heivia was too busy rolling around and trying to flee to raise and aim his rifle. If he stayed put for even an instant, he would be smashed up more finely than mincemeat.
Quenser then gave a screaming shout.
“Wait! If she keeps that up, the Princess will be smashed to pieces inside there!”
“Hey, Zashiki Warashi! Quit nonchalantly pretending to be weak. Physical attacks don’t work on Youkai, so go grab that thing and stop it!”
Jinnai Shinobu shouted at her from close range, but the Zashiki Warashi only looked annoyed.
“My body may be tough, but my reflexes are no better than a human’s. It would be one thing if it was heading straight toward me, but when it’s moving around this quickly and unpredictably, do you really think there’s anything I can do?”
And that queen had more to offer than the two hundred thousand ton blunt weapon.
This was just her having some fun in her free time.
There was more to her and she would immediately switch over once she grew tired of watching Kamijou and the others running around. She would switch over to her true means of attack that had been honed to swiftly bring any battle to an end.
Satsuki squeezed her special rubber rope in both hands.
“So what do we do? We could always attack the summoner boy.”
“No, it would be deflected by the protective circle. Nothing will get through unless we have Touma’s right hand or something destroy the irrational field surrounding the summoner.”
The queen laughed with a look in her eyes that was oozing contempt.
“Surely, surely you aren’t planning to lay a finger on my darling brother in my presence. You do know that warrants at least ten thousand deaths even if it is just an April Fools’ joke, don’t you?”
The queen’s clothing once more rippled and transformed into countless weapons.
Something shot in a circle from her back. One might have called them wings or mountains of blades, but that did not quite cover it. Whatever they were extended behind her like the halos drawn around the gods in religious paintings.
Each and every one of them undoubtedly held enough power to easily pierce through the Object.
Kamijou clicked his tongue and shouted to the boy and Níðhöggr who were also being held back by the queen’s attack.
“Go!! We’ll do something about her, so you just think about saving Hel!!”
“Hel,” muttered the boy from the great dragon’s back.
Níðhöggr gave an even more powerful flap of its wings and the impact of the tremendous speed wrapped around the boy’s body and sent them tearing through the sky as if the dragon had kicked off the entire world. The entire scenery grew streamlined, they tore through the black screen, and they approached the central core of the chaos where Hel waited.
Pure white cloth wriggled after them and easily broke the law of conservation of mass by creating an ocean of cloth. It all transformed into giant axes and swords and swung down one after another. But it was just barely too slow to keep up with Níðhöggr. When the weapons missed, they tore into the ground and broke down the composition of the very world, but the boy did not turn back.
His looked straight ahead.
He looked toward the girl who was crying in pain all alone after abandoning her “Queen of the Underworld” title and announcing she would save everyone.
(I’ll save her.)
He did not hesitate and he felt no fear.
(I’ll reach Hel and I’ll take her back from here!!)
At that moment, the boy may have carried a light no less powerful than the one held by Kamijou Touma or Quenser Barbotage.
But that was exactly why Hel, as his enemy, took action to thoroughly eliminate him.
Let us go back over something.
Hel had cast aside the title she had been given and was simply the girl she had been born as, but what was the blackness swirling around her?
Some would call it a black hurricane.
Others would call it a black tree.
Neither view was wrong. It was a new world tree that Hel had created as the “other” head god. By extending its branches and roots without end, it could freely summon countless armies from outside the Norse culture made up of the nine worlds.
But at the same time, it was all the sins of the people who had been sent to Niflheim.
It was the brand that Odin had placed on anyone he saw as useless. The people’s backgrounds and actions were ignored, so they were simply cast into Niflheim and simply forced into an eternity of torture with no hope of salvation.
It was what sent people to the underworld.
It was what robbed people of all dignity.
Hel was attempting to cleanse all other souls by taking it all into herself and it was overflowing into her surroundings without end.
And worst of all, a certain boy had thrown himself into that vortex to save her.
It was human sin, so Youkai, dragons, gods, or other non-humans may have been able to endure it.
But a human stood no chance whatsoever.
In other words, it was death itself.
To protect Hel from anything approaching the center, it rushed toward the boy.
He did not even have time to cry out.
Níðhöggr had managed to escape the White Queen’s attacks as they approached from the distance, but it was unable to fully avoid its master’s attacks.
It was over in an instant.
The boy’s body was unhesitatingly tossed into that black crucible of sin and catastrophe of death.
No miracle occurred.
It was obvious what would happen.
Something tiny snapped within Hel.
The blackness was a disease eating into her yet also a part of her body, so it acted as her fingertips, her eyes, and her ears.
That was why she realized what had happened.
Her own blackness had crushed that boy.
She had wanted to save everyone and she had been willing to bear all sins to accomplish that.
But in that desire, she had sent that sin against a human soul and cast it into Niflheim.
It was not supposed to end this way.
The sin had formed the black tree and been her tool, but she had not known it had enough of a will of its own to drain the boy of life.
But those words were meaningless.
Only the result mattered.
Even after all this, Hel had retained some form of her pride.
But now even that had shattered.
As the other head god, she had hated Odin for selfishly forcing sin onto people and casting them into the abyss. She had sworn that she would never become like him and that she would produce something better.
But that crumbled away.
In the end, she had done the same.
So this time, the being once known as Hel completely broke.
In Asgard, Waltraute stopped preventing her sisters from leaving and instead stared blankly down at the surface.
She left herself so defenseless that she was just about skewered, but Brynhildr held back her Spear of Destroying Lightning.
It was the laughter of a male god.
Waltraute turned her head like a machine and eerily silently stared at the god standing on one edge of Bifröst’s seven runways.
It was Loki.
“Ha ha ha ha ha ha!! This settles it! This finally settles it! Hel has completely broken and begun down the path of destruction. When he sees it, Fenrir will tear apart Gleipnir and devour Odin!! It was all, all for this. It was all to overturn the prophesied scenario of Ragnarök that spells all of our dooms!! And now that goal has been fulfilled, everyone!! How about you rejoice!?”
“What are you going to do?”
Brynhildr was asking her sister instead of Loki.
“If you’re going to kill him, I’ll help. Just tell me what I can do.”
“I don’t mind.” Loki seemed unable to stop laughing. “Either way, calamity will spread without end once Fenrir is released. Odin is sure to be killed, but I doubt I’ll escape unscathed when I’m the one that pulled the trigger. Did you really think I would alter the end of the world if I wasn’t prepared for that?”
New movement appeared on the expanse of land below.
After enveloping the boy, the especially thick blackness scattered and cleared away.
Mere human sin was not enough to harm Níðhöggr, but no strength remained in the boy on its back. His limbs dangled limply and his hair blew loosely in the wind. He was now an object instead of a living being. He was just a misplaced lump of flesh.
But another fact stood out to the onlookers.
The boy had not been killed by a strange occult power.
A small blade was stabbed into his throat.
Paper was still considered a high-class item in this Norse civilization, so a children’s painting set contained a wooden board and a few different art supplies. The “brush” looked more like a chisel. This was partially because their runes were made of straight lines and it could easily carve into wood or bone.
That was what had stabbed into the boy’s throat.
And not by some criminal’s hand; the boy had done it himself.
“Now, this is something else.” Loki was in his element. “Ha ha!! Was the pain and fear so great that he took his own life before it could swallow him up!? It’s too bad, Waltraute. He wasn’t swallowed up by the sin, but this is no different. Odin will never accept someone who avoided a battle through suicide. That boy’s soul will be cast into Niflheim, so you lost your chance to retrieve him as an Einherjar!!”
Siegrune and Rossweisse shared a secret thought: Oh, dear. Waltraute’s definitely going to kill Loki this time. She’ll rip him in two, decide that isn’t enough, rip him into nine pieces, and use them to decorate each of the nine worlds.
But they were wrong.
Waltraute did not even look at Loki as she muttered to herself.
“No, something isn’t right.”
“What is that? Wait… Is this why he took his own life!?”
Valhalla was Odin’s palace within Asgard. And in the throne room, the eyepatched head god sat silently in his throne.
He was not shirking his duties; the throne itself was a magical item with a special ability. It was named Hliðskjálf and simply sitting in it gave him a view of all nine worlds.
And when the symbol of his power, Gungnir, was added in, he was essentially invincible.
Gungnir was a throwing spear. When thrown, it would always fly to its target’s vitals, it could not be shot down or deflected by armor on the way, and after it hit, it would always return to its owner.
All an enemy could do was try not to become his target, but Hliðskjálf stripped them of even that opportunity.
As long as they lived in the nine worlds, there was no escaping Odin’s attack.
“I had left this with my son and the others, but it looks like this is their limit.”
Still sitting, he reached out into empty space.
At some point, a spear appeared in his hand and he began inputting targets based on the scenery visible with Hliðskjálf.
Range of Effect/Hel and the black tree expanded around her.
Maximum Radius/Unspecified. Exterminating the target takes top priority.
There was nothing that spear could not destroy. If he made a mistake, it could even destroy the world itself, but he did not hesitate. He did not particularly care about anything he could fix if it was destroyed. He was only focused on crushing the source of all this chaos.
“Why don’t you realize you’re committing the greatest atrocity?”
A goddess spoke out against the man who stood at the peak of the gods.
It was Frigg. She stood at the peak of productive works which made her the polar opposite of that head god of unproductive works such as war, magic, and fraud, but she was also Odin’s wife.
However, Odin paid her no heed.
“Creating new things is wonderful, but when those things multiply without end, it brings about more chaos than destruction ever could. That is why someone must control it. This is no different from protecting the human body from cancer through the carefully controlled destruction of cells.”
“That doesn’t change the fact that your spear is powerful poison to humans.”
“But in the end, it will save them. No, it may be more accurate to say it will reduce the level of damage. …But either way, this one throw will solve everything. It will all be washed clean.”
There was nothing more Frigg could do.
She could speak on equal footing with him as his wife, but she was clearly a lesser god than Odin. Odin might put his spear away after listening to what others said, but it was extremely rare for him to be forcibly stopped after he had prepared to throw.
So if he stood from his throne, Frigg knew it was all over.
However, something strange happened.
Odin looked down at his own palm.
He had noticed some strange static running through his entire body.
“Wh-what is this? Someone is interfering with my very existence!?”
With a staticky racket, the muscular male god with an eyepatch and long beard vanished.
In his place, a short girl with wavy blonde hair, a witch-like hat, and a cape sat in Hliðskjálf.
The only thing left unchanged was the eyepatch and Frigg gasped when she saw this “goddess”.
“Are you Othinus!?”
“You sure are rude. Is a mere god really going to refer to me without some kind of respectful title?”
This girl was another form of Odin and distortion filled her voice.
Static frequently ran through her entire being and the muscular male god and the witch-like goddess switched back and forth again and again.
The girl forced herself back into being and sat down in the throne.
Frigg chose her words carefully.
“After all this, what could you possibly want?”
“Ha ha. ‘After all this’? I don’t care about this place. Just like that bearded guy, I can’t stand to just watch on any longer. Of course, what I’m doing is stopping him from doing anything.”
Othinus placed an arm on the armrest and gently placed her clenched fist against her cheek.
“I’m just buying time before that war-obsessed god can throw his spear. I had to force my way over here, so it probably won’t last longer than a few minutes or even a few seconds, but even a little bit can change things.”
“Are you saying they have a way of fighting what a god…what the one standing at the peak of heaven has determined?”
“Of course they do. That boy clenching his fist may have a stupid look on his face, but he’s the one who once saved the god you’re talking to now.”
Index raised her head while still holding down her cape.
“This is bad… This is bad, Touma!! It seems Odin has started to act. Once he joins in, he’ll throw Gungnir and that will destroy everything we’ve built up here!!”
Kamijou Touma gulped, but not because he did not understand.
He had once challenged a different god who had truly possessed Gungnir.
“It’s going to fall from the heavens at any time. It’ll probably target Hel, but I doubt we’ll be safe. If we’re caught in the explosion, I’m not sure your right hand can stop it.”
“There’s still a way,” said Mikoto.
A moment later, the ground quickly froze over. This was the work of the Yuki Onna who could literally achieve absolute zero. The frozen patch of ground was a meter wide and extended beyond the horizon. A streamlined box that resembled a bobsleigh floated above the rail of ice.
“If this mess has a diameter of eighty kilometers it means we’re forty from the center, right? With low-temperature superconductivity and my high-voltage current, we can rocket there using the theory behind a linear motor train. I don’t know where this spear or whatever is going to fall, but you should be able to stop it since you can restrain my power. So leave the rest to me.”
Everyone focused on a single point.
The twintailed queen who had overturned everything was smiling calmly.
Quenser toyed with an additional explosive in his hand.
“We have to stop her, even if it’s just for an instant!!”
Everyone but Kamijou and Mikoto rushed forward, but the queen’s expression remained unchanged.
“How many times…”
She smiled as assault rifle bullets rained down on her.
“Must I tell you…”
She grabbed the Killer Queen’s neck with one arm.
“You stand no chance…”
She grabbed the bunny girls’ neck with the other arm.
Every part of her white clothing writhed about and countless weapons such as swords, spears, and axes shot out.
“You get it?”
Her attacks seemed to explode out in every direction. The color white destroyed any and all materials.
“Touma, hurry up and go! If Odin ends this, we can’t save anyone! So…!!”
Kamijou clenched his teeth aboard the bobsleigh-like box, but the floating device lurched downwards.
But this was not due to Imagine Breaker.
The Yuki Onna who had created the ice rail and the bobsleigh box had been skewered in countless places by white weapons, so she could not maintain her power.
They could not make it in time.
They could not arrive in time.
“It’s no use,” groaned Kamijou.
Even further back than the queen, he saw an orange light fall in a straight line from heaven. The twintailed queen’s elegant smile did not move a millimeter. She must have been confident she and the summoner could survive even if the world came to an end.
But that was not true of everyone.
If that reached the surface and filled everything with destruction, there was no saving Kamijou’s group. And it went without saying what would happen to Hel who was being directly targeted.
Yet there was nothing they could do.
The queen’s wall was absolute. They knew the danger, but they could not reach the spear.
The boy’s right hand flailed through empty space.
Othinus’s delaying tactic ended before long.
She vanished and Odin returned.
He grabbed Gungnir and silently left the throne room. Once he arrived on the edge of Asgard, he silently raised the spear.
He did not hesitate.
He threw that divine spear straight into the center of the black vortex and at the base of the black tree.
It fell to the surface surrounded by orange light.
This divine power would destroy whatever was necessary whenever necessary to maintain order, so no one should have been able to defend against it.
Hel should have been killed, a portion of the world should have been destroyed, and everything should have been resolved.
With an ear-splitting sound, a single palm stood in the way of Gungnir.
“I can’t believe it.”
Waltraute’s eyes opened wide on Bifröst.
The owner of that right hand was not Kamijou Touma.
The power that had stopped it was not Imagine Breaker.
Even Loki stared in disbelief at the massive light on the surface.
“What is this? That’s…that’s the boy who committed suicide earlier, isn’t it!? How did he come back to life!?”
“More importantly, isn’t that the power of Baldr?” asked Brynhildr. “It’s said that god of light can deflect any attack and not even Odin can harm him, but I thought he had already died in one of Loki’s schemes. …No, wait. He died? And went to the underworld?”
“That’s right,” said Waltraute in a trembling voice. “That boy did not kill himself because he could not take the pain and suffering. He intentionally ended his own life to take a trip to the underworld and borrow the power of the god of light imprisoned there!! And he made sure to use a method that would send him to Niflheim and not Asgard!!”
A little earlier, the boy (technically, just his soul) arrived in Niflheim, that white world of snow and ice.
Normally, the great guard dog Garmr would manage the souls of the dead like a sheepdog, but his master, Hel, had left and her role as queen of the underworld was gone.
To help Hel, Garmr had guided the boy’s soul to the ice palace of Éljúðnir.
Deep, deep, deep inside was a room that resembled a luxurious prison cell more than a guest room and a young man waited there.
He was Baldr.
His death had been prophesied shortly after his birth, so a contract had been made to ensure no objects, phenomena, or life forms could harm him. The one exception was mistletoe which had been considered too young to kill him, but Loki had killed him using a spear of mistletoe and Höðr, Baldr’s blind brother.
Even so, it was prophesied he would be resurrected like a phoenix from the rubble left over after Ragnarök where he would rule over the new world.
“Oh? You don’t see this every day.”
Baldr emitted light as he welcomed the human boy.
“Things are quiet outside and the sin filling Niflheim has vanished. …I suppose Hel has finally run out of patience.”
“Are you Lord Baldr?”
“I am. But let me be clear about something: don’t expect much from me. I’m praised as the god of light, but I wasn’t able to do much of anything before I was killed in one of Loki’s schemes. My brother Höðr was set up as the murderer, so he was killed for my death. I couldn’t save anyone and even led to my twin brother’s death, so don’t assume I can live up to any of your expectations.”
“You don’t like it? But my voice will not reach Hel. If I was truly a god of light, Niflheim’s darkness would have been dispersed much sooner, but I could not even accomplish that. Hel has gone, hasn’t she? What more proof could you need?”
This god had been unable to save anyone.
He had been the cause of his blood-related brother’s death.
That may have been why he ended up in the underworld after dying. He may have sealed himself in the depths of the earth out of shame for what he viewed as his greatest sin.
“That’s not a reason.”
“I’m saying that’s not a reason to give up on Hel!!” declared the boy. “She wasn’t listening to you, but that’s no reason for you to stop speaking to her. She didn’t want to be saved, but that’s no reason to stop reaching out to her! If you give up here and everyone lets go, she’ll be left all alone. She’ll lose her way out!! I can’t let that happen. You were trying to call out to her because you understood that, right!?”
That god emitted his own light, yet something seemed to dazzle him.
But the boy did not notice.
“I want to save her, I want to see her smile, and I want to play with her! So help me. It doesn’t matter if she wants it or not!! Lend me your power to open up a whole list of options before she reaches a dead end with no way back!! Then we can let her choose again what path to take! I need your power!!”
That was all Baldr said.
He saw this puny boy as an equal, so he held out his right hand for handshake.
“Let’s save her. First, you need to return to the surface. …I am the god of light, so I will protect you as long as something shines in your heart.”
Intense light surged from the boy’s palm.
That was the light of Baldr, who was supposedly impossible to kill by any means.
Not even Odin’s Gungnir was an exception.
The boy thrust his small hand upward and Gungnir struck it. The spear bent like a fishing rod and the released power blasted the spear in a different direction. It had failed to hit Hel, but it had another target: the black tree swirling around her. It spread destruction as if to ensure it at least accomplished that.
It all happened in an instant.
The great black vortex measured eighty kilometers across, but it was smashed to pieces like a popped balloon. This also eliminated the individuals called in by the blackness.
However, that was all the spear could accomplish.
It always returned to the one who threw it, so it returned to the heavenly world like a boomerang.
The shadow at the boy’s feet grew unnaturally.
Eventually, the shadow took a form made up of white shining light.
“Father truly is amazing!!” shouted the white shadow before the spear could be thrown a second time. “I, Baldr, saw it with my own eyes!! Washing mankind clean of its sins and saving Hel from her own rampage is truly the great accomplish of a true head god!! I can see now that only Odin could stand at the peak of the gods. And by saving Hel, he has proven that she is not another head god and that she must be ranked below him!!”
Odin grumbled as he grabbed Gungnir in one hand when it flew in from empty space.
That comment prevented him from finishing off Hel.
It was a complete coincidence that he had blown away the sin without killing Hel (or so he thought since he did not realize he had been set up), but if he threw his spear again, he would be ruining that unexpected accomplishment.
Hel looked up at the light.
It took the form of a boy on a giant dragon’s back.
She had assumed no help was coming.
The boy riding Níðhöggr slowly descended toward the ground.
The light was now within her reach.
She had assumed saving her would sacrifice the souls of so many humans.
Who was she at this moment?
Was she the queen of the underworld or another head god and savior of the world?
Most likely, she was neither.
As she stared blankly up at the sky, she was surely nothing more than a girl.
She had assumed her resolve had been smashed by the boy’s death.
“It’s okay now, Hel. It’s all over, so let’s get back to the others.”
No fancy words were needed.
No strict announcement of capitulation or end of hostilities was needed.
She looked up toward heaven.
She hesitantly reached out and embraced the boy who descended from the black dragon.
Hel wept like a normal girl.
And that signaled the end of a battle that would have brought the end of the world.