Toaru Majutsu no Index:GT Volume2 Chapter4
Chapter 4: The Phenomenon of Kamijou Touma — Not_Right_Hand.
It was two against two.
The small girl smirked.
She was the monster who would simply travel along a straight line to her destination, destroying all that stood in her way.
“Now, this is a little more interesting. Can you expand on this unexpected turn of events and send it my way?”
On one side, Kamijou Touma and St. Germain.
On the other, Anna Sprengel and Holy Guardian Angel Aiwass.
The naked little girl who looked about ten held the red cloth to her skin below the falling snow and smiled confidently with the bizarre angel by her side.
She seemed to threaten the hospital’s front gate like it was a mystical barrier.
She began to walk with an unbelievable amount of strength for someone who looked like you could blow her over with your breath. And that strength was not just figurative. The snow at her feet really was blown away, the asphalt sank down slightly, and cracks formed around her.
“If you’re going to talk big, then stop me from taking this one step. R&C Occultics is a new trend the world over. If you can’t push back a mere global trend, I will be sorely disappointed. And you can figure out for yourself what that would mean.”
Kamijou Touma silently clenched his right first.
But that was not all he did.
He pressed his other palm against the center of his chest and spoke toward that point.
“St. Germain, can you do this?”
“Who do you think I am? Leave the ley line landmines to me. You only need to fight the threat before your eyes.”
Two different statements came from the same mouth.
Kamijou saw Anna Sprengel’s eyebrows move ever so slightly.
That other voice was audible to other people and it was accompanied by a visible breath.
And it was Kamijou Touma who readied his fist now. He would not hold back no matter what form his enemy took. In fact, something inside him was telling him it was abnormal for an enemy so great to be contained in a body so small.
He could not ignore what R&C Occultics was doing. Or that the girls who had stood up for him were collapsed on the ground here.
He could work to understand this person after he had punched her and settled this.
They were still a good bit apart.
Kamijou would have to take five steps to reach her even when running at full speed.
The instant Anna’s young lips whispered that name, the angel next to her was gone.
No. She had clenched and unclenched her small hand and gently swept it to the side like she was using a fan.
And she made an announcement.
“Open the pathway from Gevurah to Hod and reside in my right arm.”
The distance did not matter. That was all it took for the distant skyscraper that formed a crucial corner of the scenery to be sliced through by five slashes and drop to the ground like a poorly-made Daruma Otoshi. Since the building had no windows, it must have been an automated agricultural building that could be harvested more than twenty times a month.
“Structure Breaker,” said her small mouth.
That great firepower had been entirely unpredictable.
That kind of unfair attack would normally kill you before you even realized what it was.
Yet Kamijou Touma remained alive.
He had dropped straight down.
He got face-down on the ground with his limbs spread out, grabbed at the ground with his arms and feet, and then launched himself toward Anna Sprengel while down on all fours like a beast.
Right hand clashed with right hand.
Of course, the symbolism brought in by the Rosicrucian leader was worse than the actual destructive power.
“Shall I take over?” asked St. Germain. “The slightest hesitation will lead to death here, esper!!”
Anna apparently had no intention of keeping her distance and wearing him down with a barrage of attacks. It was possible that over-the-top attack had only been a way of shocking Kamijou into moving in closer since he had no projectile attacks of his own.
She had only moved her opened hand as casually as swinging a tennis racket.
That was all it had taken to mercilessly slice through space itself with no regard for distance or material. The mere touch of her palm would negate the world, tearing through whatever was there along with the dimension and space itself. Kamijou felt impatience burning at the back of his mind, but he was now within a meter of Anna Sprengel.
He took aim at her small jaw with an attack that tore upwards from below.
That fist could return all magicians to being mere humans. That attack stole their means of fighting back against the cruel world and threw them out into the wilderness with no way of defending themselves. But Anna calmly took a step toward that critical attack. That was all it took to avoid it.
She seemed to be nestling herself up against the boy’s chest.
Moving even closer than the swinging fist naturally kept it from hitting her.
With her other hand, the left one, she held a perfectly ordinary but deadly knife.
Kamijou Touma could negate all forms of the supernatural, but he had no way of defending against those fatal ten centimeters.
There was a loud clang, but the knife held by the little girl was not equipped to make that sort of noise.
So what had caused it?
“A diamond? Is that eternal light a variation on the lamps that illuminate the tomb?”
They had traded places.
An unseen baton had changed hands.
And in that moment, the weapon used by the pointy-haired boy changed from his right hand’s fist to his left hand’s magic.
Specifically, some kind of glittering particles were scattered in the few millimeter gap between the boy’s chest and the bare-skinned monster’s palm.
It was said diamonds were so hard that they were in fact easily breakable, but that did not mean the blade that hit one would escape intact. The knife’s tip broke off and the blade chipped when it split the stone.
“You were never planning to block that with the strength of the diamond. Was it more like a matador’s cape? That glitter throws off my visual aim and the chipping of the blade diverts the speed and vector of destruction. Still, Academy City must have very polluted air if you can manipulate that air to produce diamonds.”
“So what if I did?”
St. Germain’s magic did not require a special sword or cards.
He could create anything with just ordinary carbon.
“I would call it inefficient,” said Anna. “Using magic with that body requires circulating his lifeforce throughout the body and refining it into magic power, right? You will always have a large chunk of that precious magic power negated before you can use it.”
“True enough. This boy’s right hand is powerful indeed and it is not something I can fully control even with his permission.”
St. Germain could not use Imagine Breaker.
Kamijou Touma could not use diamond magic.
No matter how hard they tried, they had to support each other as they fought.
So their best bet was to switch back and forth between those two sides based on what was currently needed to fight the conflagration before them. Even if something was deadly to one of them, the other might be able to break through it. They switched back and forth like they were moving a tennis racket from one side to the other during a high-speed match. It sounded convenient, but their opponent was Anna Sprengel. One wrong decision and the ball of survival would slip past them and they would lose the game.
“But even if the Sephirah and the channels between them correspond to parts of the human body, you never hear of someone who can no longer use magic after being injured or falling ill,” said St. Germain. “Magic is a means of making up for what we lack and making our dreams come true, so a lot of students enter the world of magic after just such an injury or illness.”
“Are you saying you can separate out his right hand or divert around it?” asked Anna.
St. Germain’s words contained fear and respect, but he still bared his fangs.
“I was always a lowly magician who refused to be defined solely by the two characters of RC. I instead worked to make my mark on high society under the individual name of St. Germain. There is a considerable loss in power from diverting the flow around that hand, but I am accustomed to wasted effort and this is not enough for my diamond spells to fail. The acute version of me you created appears to be even more powerful than you thought.”
The boy’s body veered to the left while those two spoke.
But not because they had any kind of plan.
A sticky sound splattered against the ground, decorating the road with a Christmasy red.
“Yes, the side effect. And let’s not act like you can do that a set number of times or anything like that. Just like Russian roulette, one unlucky round and you die instantly.” The little girl gave a cruel smile at close range. “So I think it’s about time I did this by force.”
She swung her small hand around, but she was not going for an occult attack. Her fingers tore through the gas pipe running through a nearby wall.
St. Germain had to fight against this sort of physical danger.
If this kept up, Kamijou could not rejoin the battle. And if this remained a magician vs. magician battle, it could not have been more obvious who would win between St. Germain and Anna Sprengel.
Even so, an attack based on ordinary physics would obey the well-known rules found in ordinary textbooks. St. Germain created a double layer of diamond sheets thinner than an umbrella. That was not for attack or defense. Any obstacle would change the direction of the wind, just like buildings did. And if the wind direction changed, the invisible but highly flammable gas would be diverted elsewhere.
They had avoided an explosion, but Kamijou coughed up blood due to the internal injuries.
“I was hoping to buy some time for you to catch your breath, but perhaps I spent too long talking. This isn’t over yet, esper. Back to you!!”
Something whooshed through the air.
And a supernatural attack meant it was his turn.
A powerful light returned to the point-haired boy’s eyes. As a small hand swung down toward him, he leaped to the side with all his might despite not being able to stand up straight. He ended up falling to the ground. Normally, he would have failed to avoid the next horizontal swing of her arm and he would have been sliced through.
But that was not what happened.
After a dull sound, he had all of a sudden jumped several meters straight up into the air.
“St. Germain, take care of this!!”
“Fine, but switching back and forth like this will only shorten your life. Back to you!!”
Instead of jumping up with his legs, it was more like he had been hit by a car. A diamond hexagonal pillar had thrust up from below him, launching him about three meters into the air. Anna’s fingers missed the human torso and instead sliced through the thick mass of diamond.
The two minds took turns controlling the single body by switching between right and left.
They really could overcome it this way. Kamijou’s Imagine Breaker was weak against multiple simultaneous attacks, but St. Germain’s diamonds could defend against them all. St. Germain’s magic could not fully stop Anna’s brute force attacks, but Kamijou’s right hand could forcibly blow them away.
The right fist clenched tight, so this was clearly Kamijou Touma in control.
It was the ordinary boy’s turn to attack from midair.
He held the blood back in his mouth while clenching his fist again. Anna should have had no way of stopping this since she was already in the middle of casually swinging her palm to the side.
The little girl looked up with just her eyes and smiled.
Her fingers had been gently bent like claws, but now she extended them straight. That spread out the angle of her deadly fan without changing the force of the swing.
As a result, the snow and asphalt at her feet were torn through and the ground collapsed below her. She was taken down along with it.
Changing the height of the ground greatly threw off Kamijou’s aim from midair.
There appeared to be a subway platform directly below.
That counted as indoors, but the chill grew even worse.
He did not recall there being a subway entrance nearby, so this appeared to be a fairly complex underground structure. Or maybe it carried some kind of secret, like it was connected to the basement of that hospital.
Kamijou failed his landing and rolled along the rubble-covered floor, but he did not have time to writhe in pain. He spat blood from his mouth while diving behind a drink vending machine with its clear cover broken.
He and St. Germain could keep up with the fight, but that still had not allowed them to actually strike back.
Anna had already swung her right palm to the side.
But then she sounded somewhat impressed.
She had come across something slightly unexpected.
As soon as the little girl sliced through the boxy mass of metal she had been guided toward, the chemical coolant that preserved a temperature well below zero came in contact with the ordinary air. Only a brief moment later, white steam resembling a cumulonimbus cloud expanded in every direction like a smoke bomb had gone off.
It was an obvious smokescreen.
Attack, escape, hide, rest, or think.
With the flow of battle delayed, Kamijou and St. Germain now had endless possibilities.
Things had crossed a dangerous line.
The ICUs, the operating rooms, and even the treatment rooms for new arrivals were at max capacity.
The ambulances just kept bringing in too many patients.
“Get back!! Authorized personnel only!!”
“Get some extra sheets over here so we can block them from view! Don’t leave them exposed to the phone cameras!!”
Angry yelling and shouting were traded back and forth and the tension had spread even to the Christmas-decorated main lobby.
But it could have been worse.
This hospital had been receiving so many ambulances because the others had already stopped functioning altogether and this one still had its personnel and supplies in some semblance of order. What would happen to the patients if they were turned away here as well? Every second counted in EMT work, so they would know all too well that these people could not just be handed off to someone else.
But there was no saving them without solving the fundamental problem.
Closing up their wounds and stopping the bleeding would only buy some time unless the patients stopped doing what was causing them new wounds.
“Use localized anesthetic. Don’t knock them out. If they go under now, they might never come out of it!!”
“What is all that shaking outside?”
“I don’t know and I don’t care as long as it doesn’t knock this patient from their stretcher. But do make sure to be extra careful with the IV needle due to the shaking. Don’t harm their blood vessels!”
The elevator hall looked like a battlefield, but then a small set of footsteps cut across it.
For some reason, no one paid any heed to the white nun while everyone else was running around in a hurry.
“Wait, what was that?”
When they turned around again, she was already gone.
The young doctor looked to the patient on the stretcher and then stared at the medical monitors lined up alongside it.
“Why did their vitals just stabilize? What just happened!?”
Hearing that, the girl walked to another stretcher.
She was Index the Grimoire Library.
“Hm, hm, I see, hm.”
“They have this all backwards. But they don’t have the necessary information, so it’s not really their fault.” The fifteen centimeter god seated on the nun’s shoulder remained somewhat cautious of the calico cat on Index’s head. “As long as they remain conscious, their anxieties remain, as long as their anxieties remain, they can’t stop using magic, and as long they continue using magic, their wounds will remain. It’s all part of that pattern.”
It was like someone who obsessively washed their face over and over to calm themselves. If they rubbed their face bloody and saw that bloody face in the mirror, they might just decide they needed to wash their face some more because it was still dirty.
The simplest forms of magic did not require tools or a specific location.
They were terrified of dying, so they could not relax without continuing to use the good luck charms and fortunetelling methods they had been taught.
And that ended up destroying their esper bodies.
They only had to stop using the magic, but they had no idea what was causing it, so they would either use magic to figure out what it was or they would conclude it would only get worse if they stopped using magic.
Left like this, their lives would eventually run out.
“It doesn’t matter how much you try to bail out a sinking boat with a bucket if more and more holes are opening in the hull. It doesn’t matter how skilled the doctors are – if the patients don’t cooperate with the cure, their injury or illness will never heal. That lead doctor has done a hell of a job for someone who looks so silly. Without his instructions, these students would probably already be dead.”
“They’re all breathing with a unique rhythm. That means they’re refining their lifeforce into magic power.”
“We need to start by confiscating the spiritual items hidden in their pockets, but the simplest forms of magic don’t rely on tools. We really will need to put them to sleep to level out their conscious breathing method to accomplish anything here.”
“It would only weaken them to keep them asleep for too long.”
“We only have to break the rhythmic breathing they’re using to refine magic power. Let’s find an arbitrary reason to hook them up to a ventilator.”
Magic was the latest fad in scientific Academy City.
Even an Anglican nun who knew how to properly manage magic could tell how abnormal this was. She had never heard of it spreading like this before, yet Index and Othinus did not make their way to the center of the explosion.
They had a clear reason for remaining in the hospital.
“That human will not consider this a win if he simply defeats Anna in a fight. If all these people die in the process, he will place the burden of their deaths on his own shoulders. Even though they are not his responsibility.”
“That colossal idiot did not rush out there to protect his own life. He says he’s scared, but he still finds the destruction of this hospital or us to be worse. Refusing anything but zero deaths against a monster of that level is about as insolent as it gets, but just this once, that fool is correct. When things get truly hopeless, downgrading your goals will only mean being swallowed up by the situation. Compromise? Adapting to reality? The opinions of the wise? They can all go eat shit. There’s clearly something wrong if people are dying. If you can’t bring your self to shout that obvious fact, you’ll only drag everything into a long, drawn out war with many more deaths to come.”
This one hospital in District 7 could not take in all of the victims across Academy City. Index and Othinus had all the necessary knowledge, but neither one could use convenient healing magic on their own.
But not being able to do that one thing was not the same as being helpless.
“Anyone could solve this if they only had a manual telling them espers can’t use magic. We need to make one and distribute it through this hospital. If they see it work once, they’ll start using it even if they don’t know how it works. That will stop the city from spinning its wheels on this issue.”
“But the people of this city might not officially recognize that magic exists.”
And there were ceremonies that managed to spread despite being unofficial.
In this country’s case, the most obvious example would be the Kokkuri-san. Because the adult organizations had taken so long to accept its existence, they had been slow to react and it had caused real damage such as mass hysteria.
“We have a source we can use,” replied Othinus with a smile. That god of deception based her answer on Academy City’s bizarre situation at present. “We use R&C Occultics. The material they’ve spread around can be used to show magic is dangerous. Anything we say might be rejected outright, but official information from a well-known giant IT company will seem more reliable. We can use that to our advantage. That information is meant to get people to use magic, but we can use it to show people the risks and keep them away from it.”
“We just have to create something that bridges the gap. An extra text that explains the problems that occur when an esper uses magic.”
Index and Othinus would have preferred to be on the front line of this fight.
Magic was their area of expertise, so they were confident they would be of some help there.
They turned away from that temptation.
They had chosen to fight alongside him, so they had to do everything they could to face the problems they had found. So they could avoid the horrific conclusion where that boy dragged his battered body back to the hospital only to find after the fact that everything had fallen apart.
“Listen, we can’t let anyone die.”
They would protect Academy City, the people who lived there, and the home he would return to.
“This hospital is a sanctuary. We start here, establish a methodology, and then spread that sanctuary out until it covers Academy City as a whole. And that will also help that softhearted human.”
“I know that already!”
So this was their battle.
It was fought in a different place and in a different way, but those girls were giving their all just like Kamijou Touma was.
The biting cold swept across the platform of the District 7 subway station.
As soon as Anna’s vision was obscured by the white steam, Kamijou rolled across the platform and through the broken platform screen door to drop onto the tracks. The landing added another dull pain to the already lengthy list, but now was not the time to be counting up his injuries.
This had not bought them much time, but even thirty seconds would be more valuable than a jewel at the moment.
He clenched and unclenched his right fist.
It was Kamijou Touma’s turn right now.
“As I imagine you have noticed by now,” began St. Germain.
“Oh, don’t worry. I don’t understand a damn thing about this.”
“Anna Sprengel’s spells are not pure Rose spells.”
Like any wise saying, that one carried several different pieces of important information at once.
A sizzling like water on a hot griddle echoed through the area. The white steam curtain made from hydrofluorocarbon had unnaturally burst into flames and holes spread through it like a paper photo exposed to a flame from behind, correcting the distorted scene.
Anna Sprengel was smiling atop the platform while gently spreading her burning right hand.
She was the master of a different right hand.
Trying to run away along the tracks would accomplish nothing.
She placed two fingers horizontally against her soft lips and blew out like this was a sort of whistle. The air immediately expanded at an explosive rate. Just like a picture book dragon, sticky orange flames left her mouth to cover the tracks a step lower than the platform.
This did not seem like normal fire. The way it moved like a sticky liquid was reminiscent of a flamethrower or napalm. It filled every nook and cranny of the train track like a sudden downpour filling the ditches and waterways.
“Your right hand, esper.”
St. Germain pointed out the obvious solution.
The one without, the one looking up from below, and the one that yearned for it urged the Level 0 boy to action.
“Panicked or not, that is the only card in your deck, so master its use!! Just like I focused on mastering the manipulation of diamonds and carbon!!”
He could only swing his right hand around wildly in a struggle to survive. He negated the massive sea of flames that splashed up the concrete wall and ran along the groove of the track.
A power created by a right hand could be destroyed by a right hand.
But he had something else on his mind.
(That was different from before!?)
“Aiwass,” called Anna with a snap of her small fingers. “What shall I call this one? Item Breaker perhaps?”
Bluish-white sparks scattered like when an electric lighter failed to ignite, but that ephemeral flashing did not go away. Once it grew as bright as a blowtorch, the LCD signs, the lights, the air conditioning equipment, the train’s power line, and all other electrical equipment was transformed into a bomb.
It was like a cluster bomb had been dropped into this small space.
And Kamijou had a phone in his pants pocket.
It happened just as he ran from the platform area and into the tunnel.
Excruciating pain jabbed down all the way to his thigh bone and it rattled his consciousness.
“Not yet, esper. The bone is not broken. And even if it was, I would support you with a diamond exoskeleton, so you can keep going regardless!”
The biggest problem was their location: an underground facility. With all electronics dead, a veil of darkness had fallen, preventing him from seeing his hand in front of his face.
And he heard a singsong voice within that dense darkness.
“Hee hee hee. You are in my grasp now.”
She was holding out her small hand and accurately targeting him even in the darkness.
Would it be Escape Breaker next? Or Shield Breaker?
Whatever it was, she would have changed her right hand to something else now.
Kamijou always had to rely on fistfighting, so he had no way of fighting in this darkness.
She was coming.
She had jumped down onto the track and was slowly walking toward the tunnel.
She gave a casual swing of her palm and it sliced through something. A high-voltage power line danced madly about while scattering electricity.
This was a physical attack.
“St. Germain, take care of this!!”
Something flipped around at his left hand.
A light as bright as a camera flash filled the tunnel with a deafening “zap!!”, but the boy survived.
Carbon conducted electricity.
Mechanical pencil lead and diamonds could both be used as lightning rods that redirected electricity.
“Summon the spears here. The seven-walled secret room has protected its secrets for 120 years and allows no unauthorized intruders!!”
The pointy-haired boy’s body staggered over and pressed its back against the tunnel wall just before a high-pitched sound rang out. Anna held her small palm as if in pain. There was a sound like cracks running through a hard object, but that was all. Transparent spears – seven in all – had broken through the concrete wall behind him such that they passed over his shoulders and head.
“The depths of the earth are my territory,” said the man known as a count while gesturing like he held an invisible wand. His words carried both respect and hostility. “St. Germain controls diamonds. Even the master of the No. 1 Temple in Germany will run across a compatibility issue there. When performing a major ceremony, you must first focus on the stars and terrain. But worry not, this insolent result was not due to your own skill level.”
“Shut it, you imposter who only used our cabal’s name to increase your own prestige. You can control diamonds, can you? Did you think the true and legitimate Rose would care about some mere pebbles just because the common world attaches value to them?”
This exchange of emotions was inscrutable to the people of the present day.
It only made sense to those who had become legends simply by breathing, eating, working, reading, writing, and walking.
“Why do you deceive, Fräulein?”
“It is a form of defragging—an optimization.”
“I do not know how that works, but your right hand is very clearly not the same thing as Kamijou Touma’s.” St. Germain stated that with confidence. And, “Using your words to inspire others to action instead of doing it yourself is St. Germain’s way. It does not suit you. The Miss Sprengel who once ruled in the depths of the No. 1 Temple in Germany was the goal of all magicians. Everyone wished to be like Anna Sprengel who was closer to a god than anyone without actually being one and who had taken the authority to contact the superhuman Secret Chiefs while maintaining her human emotions! Perhaps you find it difficult to trust a magician who can freely swap out his own memories and ideals for fun, but I was not the only one who thought that way. The Golden cabal, the Theosophists, and the witches all set you as their goal, not god!!”
“But.” The words that spilled from the little girl’s lips sounded somehow dry. “Not one cabal actually understood my words. They all distorted the meaning for their purposes.”
St. Germain noticed something and briefly forgot all about their plan. He started to step closer like someone who had spotted a soaked child out in the rain, but then a horn sounded from the side.
It was a freight train.
The unmanned train was being used to meet the Christmas demand.
“So you will never understand me either!!” shouted Anna. “Never, ever!!!!!!”
“Tetractys, numerical triangle formed from ten points. Grant me ascension with your perfection!”
St. Germain sent carbon fiber threads from Kamijou’s fingers to jump up to the roof of the high-speed mass of metal, but Anna simply stuck her small right hand out toward the front of the freight train.
The entire space shook as the front car was crushed and lifted up and the eight cars after that stacked up against each other in a zigzag pattern.
The front car hopped up at an angle, breaking through the metropolis road and the layer of snow atop it before jutting up into the snowy winter sky.
They had emerged at a different point.
They were likely still in the vicinity of that hospital. A sign identified a nearby building as a large subway station that linked together a few different lines.
The place was already abandoned. A code red may have been issued, which indicated either a largescale terrorist attack or a devastating underground chemical fire linked to a chemical plant.
(This body really is tricky to use.)
The need to forcibly divert the lifeforce circulation around the right arm while refining magic power created a time lag before he could complete his spells. And even when he did complete them, he lost a considerable amount of the magic power. It felt as unstable as flying an airplane that had parts falling off of it and had a severe fuel leak.
But at the same time, St. Germain knew all too well what would have happened if he had hijacked a non-esper adult who would give him full use of his magic.
He would have died instantly.
Thoughtlessly pitting magic against magic with Anna would never work. That would be like an overexcited soldier loading up with a ton of ballistic missiles to challenge the sun to battle.
Light could not be used to battle light.
You needed something else entirely. Defeating the sun would require a blackhole that could swallow even light.
The pointy-haired boy focused on regulating his white breathing before jumping from the twisted roof to the main road below, but he looked at his own palm before anything else.
It was stained red and black.
(The wounds have widened too far. The esper’s body will not last much longer.)
Relinquishing control right now would be cruel, but St. Germain could not have the boy’s body tearing apart from within either.
“Back to you, esper. Are you prepared to hold the baton again?”
The focus shifted from the left hand to the right hand. The pointy-haired boy coughed up a dark red color even as he tightly clenched his fist once more.
“St. Germain, you are no more than a collection of microbes I could kill by scrubbing you out with disinfectant soap. But you talk big, I’ll give you that. You’re still listening over there, aren’t you?”
The footsteps they heard this time were a lot rougher than before. A small figure walked through the train sticking diagonally up from the ground to crawl out onto the surface.
“I had power from the beginning, but what would I accomplish?” she spoke slowly in a low voice that made it sound like she was uttering a curse. “To save people? I’m so sick of that. To master the fields of study? I can find all the answers so easily. To destroy this hateful world? It was already destroyed from the beginning. To fulfill my desires? I have done that more than you can imagine.”
That small body swayed side to side with that powerful right hand casually lowered at her side.
A bright light shined in her eyes and a smile tore across her lips as she approached.
“A life of fulfillment is such a bore.”
Her movements seemed so coldly robotic.
“I want someone to support me instead.”
She demonstrated the ultimate form of wastefulness where even achieving immortality became an eternal prison of boredom.
But there had to be some hints of truth within her insolent statements.
“What do you get from a power that distorts the rules and renders the game meaningless by its very existence? Creation? Destruction? Enhancement? Reduction? Friendship? Rejection? Gluttony? Restraint? What does it mean to live? What goal am I supposed to live for? How can I find fulfillment?”
The footsteps stopped.
Anna Sprengel had taken the final step and arrived aboveground once more.
She stood below the frigid falling snow and on the same level as the others.
“The exchange of words only distorts the truth, so no words are needed here. I want to know how much people can understand from instinct alone. Hence the optimization. Kamijou Touma, the One who Purifies God and Slays Demons. What will remain once everything has been stripped from you and you are laid bare? When exposed to the supernatural with no prior knowledge, what side of you becomes most active? Show me the answer.”
Kamijou remained silent for a while.
Was he even aware his shoulders were crooked?
“Y’know,” he finally said.
“I think I kinda get why you can’t find fulfillment.”
“I might understand you, but you can never understand me. Because I contain so much more than you.”
“Still putting up your defenses like that? After we’ve been baring our hearts in this deadly battle?” spat out Kamijou. “You want others to give you fulfillment instead of finding it yourself? Don’t make me laugh. You’d just find things to complain about and keep going. You’ll never escape that feeling of unfulfillment even if you try to let go of your own life and take it easy. But you wouldn’t be able to accept that even if you grew angry with that other person, hated them, and took revenge on them. You want someone else to support you? Those are the words of someone who doesn’t know the fear of having that other person suddenly let go. You don’t have to fear their betrayal because you already know you can support your own weight if you have to. You might claim to be supporting ‘each other’, but you already have everything you need for yourself.”
“And you know that that means?”
“I said wait.”
Anna had said she was hoping to observe herself.
And that was exactly what happened.
“You have your super-secret techniques that you refuse to actually teach anyone, but you still want to show them off. That’s nothing special. It’s what everyone dreams about every single day.”
A dull thud burst out.
“Really, why do idiots insist on using their heads when no one wants them to?”
She was showing signs of definite irritation, which was a stark contrast to the mysterious joy from before.
“Do not think you understand me, boy.”
Would this one be called Gravity Breaker?
Anna Sprengel raised a single finger and spun it around. That was all it took for something invisible to rotate around her, gather together the metal trashcans, cleaning robots, streetlights, and wind turbines into a single large mass, build up plenty of centrifugal force, and fling them at Kamijou Touma. It was like they were attached by an invisible chain she was swinging around.
He could not fully block this with Imagine Breaker.
Fighting her right hand with his would not work here.
But he did not switch to St. Germain.
If he only negated the supernatural power, he would be crushed by the force gathered by the mountain of scraps. But physics was physics. He could already see the general path they would take as they swung around his way.
And Anna herself had shown him the answer earlier. If he moved further in than the radius of the rotation, he could not be touched by that outward-swinging path.
He only had to step forward.
He clenched his right fist as hard as rock and moved toward the little girl. He could ignore that morning star now. He only had to forget about their difference in body types and throw his full weight behind a merciless punch right into that small face.
A dull impact followed.
But not from a clean hit. His punch had been stopped.
“My left hand.”
She only wrapped her small hand around his fist to defend, but that was enough to stop him.
However, she had broken her pattern.
That was critically important, so Kamijou Touma put on a belligerent smile.
“What kind of ‘Breaker’ was that? Honestly, who cares? You keep going so over the top that it all starts to look cheap, so I can’t help but wonder. You’re not even using that Aiwass you made a point of showing off earlier, are you? Since you broke your own rules to stop me with your left hand, let me guess: getting punched hurts like hell even for a legendary magician, doesn’t it? Am I wrong, Anna Sprengel?”
“Who gave you permission to speak?”
This time, she pressed her right palm against the boy’s stomach.
He had swung his fist and had it blocked, so he was defenseless at the moment.
The girl with the wounded pride widened her eyes as far as they would go.
“Do not get carried away. You should be dead already.”
A human-sized mass was blasted backwards as if by a point-blank shotgun blast.
“Shut up, Germain. I’m staying in control. I can keep going.”
“No, not that. You need to get up before the next attack arrives!!”
He was not even given time to lie sprawled out in the snow.
Kamijou rolled across the cold asphalt and two things entered his vision.
He could hear the straining of her skeleton even from here. Anna Sprengel had changed from a fragile-looking ten-year-old little girl to a voluptuous yet toxic woman.
She moved her right hand’s index and middle fingers together in a scissors gesture.
“Break… Breaker… you know what? I’m sick of coming up with these names. Maybe this is how women lose their charm.”
Anna gave up on naming her right hand.
But that did not mean its destructive power was in any way reduced.
“Since it’s Christmas, how about I treat you to a show?”
The other thing he had seen was an airship that had been slowly floating across the white sky above.
Its rugby-ball-shaped gasbag had ruptured, transforming it into an orange shooting star. It scraped along the walls of the skyscrapers as it fell straight toward him.
Ironically, the large LCD screen on the side of the shooting star displayed a large image of white-bearded Santa Claus aboard his sleigh.
“Merry Christmas☆,” whispered Anna while viewing that giant face falling toward the surface.
Kamijou slowly got up and made his way to a nearby building. He pushed open the glass door with his shoulder and collapsed inside. The world outside of the thick reinforced glass was consumed by flames and heat.
This was a department store, but not a fancy one.
They must have tried to make it look fancy to earn shoppers during the Christmas season, but that had only emphasized how unfancy it was. It was the kind of store even Kamijou would feel comfortable entering alone.
His ability to sense warmth must have broken because he did not feel at all comfortable even though the heat had to be on in here. Did that mean the trembling of his fingertips was not caused by the cold?
The first floor seemed to be for jewelry, glasses, and musical instruments. The rows of glass showcases with gentle music playing in the background was somehow reminiscent of a museum.
After a freight train bursting out from the ground and a burning airship crashing down, there were of course no people around. All the customers, employees, and even guards had left.
Only the gentle music remained.
Good, thought Kamijou.
They might not have survived if they had decided to stay here to protect the jewels or the money in the till.
He still did not know what Anna was doing.
But something about it seemed wrong to him.
She drew in external power, rearranged it how she liked inside her body, and then fired it back out. Her attacks were definitely deadly and destructive, but when he thought about it, they seemed more centered on the productive side of things.
Kamijou had fought a great number of magicians over his right hand. Maybe this was just another part of that. They had all provided their own view of things. During all those exchanged words, some had said his Imagine Breaker was a reference point for the world. Magic put everything in flux, so those who wielded magic could put their minds at ease by focusing on a single immovable point that would never change. In that sense, the idea of adding more to it was incredibly unusual.
It did not fit.
He felt certain that Anna Sprengel’s method was incorrect.
He shifted the focus of his mind.
St. Germain had said Anna’s spells were not pure Rose spells.
(She’s using some kind of method to manipulate the mystical and miraculous. I can’t let the focus on my hand lead me astray. She’s only using ordinary methods that even Stiyl or Kanzaki could use if they knew how!!)
However, he was not currently with Index, who had memorized at least 103,001 grimoires, or Othinus, a true god given a new form. So even if he could make some guesses, he could not find the answer.
There was also the time she had used her left hand. Her power must not have actually been limited to her right hand, but that did not tell him what she was doing. He felt like someone questioning what the doctor said, but not sure what the actual cure was.
He came to a stop.
He had seen something.
The jewelry section of the department store had a lot of showcases. The employees must have put in more effort than usual since it was Christmas because there were a few handmade signs inside the glass cases, perhaps hoping to catch the eye of customers who were on a date.
Kamijou had noticed one of those:
“Check out our December Gematria Special☆ An available employee will convert your name into numbers and find which gem is a must-have for you. The process is free of charge! Are you a couple that feels they don’t have enough in common? Dig deeper and you’re bound to find a stronger connection there!!”
He could not believe his eyes.
Had magic always been stuff like this?
“Engrave your favorite rune into a pure gold ring! Some civilizations used to carve these holy symbols into gold coins and cups to bring themselves wealth or avoid poison. And…”
“Would you like to add an extra something to your usual yoga lessons? By creating your own personal incense, you can more easily picture the breaths moving through your body, so…”
“Crystal healing isn’t just a Western thing! Even something you have lying around the house can work! Prayer beads are a hot choice at the moment!! You can even select stones other than crystals to…”
Kamijou had been vaguely aware that jewelry stores would use this kind of thing to sell birthstones and healing crystals.
But this was too much. This kind of jargon and equations was knowledge meant to be strictly stored in an ancient library or in that white nun’s head. That info should not have been advertised on handmade signs cut out of cardboard and written with a felt-tip pen.
How had this happened?
There was only one possible answer.
“R&C Occultics has gotten to places like this too!?”
He heard the reinforced glass shattering. The road out front should have been consumed by orange flames, but it had instead frozen white. The thick glass wall had failed to withstand the temperature difference, so the entire thing shattered and rained down like a waterfall.
The sexy woman took a single step into the department store.
She did not seem at all worried about the sea of glass she had created. You would be hard-pressed to find a woman better suited to be surrounded by jewelry and musical instruments.
Kamijou silently raised his right fist again.
“Are you…” He gulped but still faced that blatant threat. “Are you using something to switch between different kinds of ‘power’? What you’re doing isn’t like my right hand. That’s the magic of the outside world that lets you control a variety of supernatural powers by default!!”
“This is the rose and the cross.”
The sexy woman waved her right hand with a sadistic smile.
And she said one more thing as she approached.
“Not that I expect you to understand what that means.”
Losing his phone was a heavy blow.
The answer was somewhere out there. And it would be so easy to find that an amateur might accidentally stumble across it. But Kamijou Touma currently had no way of accessing that site.
With each casual swing of the sexy woman’s long hand, a powerful gust of wind would blow through, caustic acid would spread out like an amoeba, or a bright light would flash.
The movement of her hand was more like a pliant whip than a solid fist. She put on the smile of a sadist while mercilessly producing deadly slap after deadly slap.
Instead of trying to kill him with the occult, she was trying to kill with him with physical attacks. She would shatter a glass showcase to kill him with the shards flying toward him.
His fist alone was not enough to deal with that.
“St. Germain, switch!!”
“I will keep you alive.”
They reversed hands.
Of course, St. Germain could not overwhelm Anna on his own, so they would switch back and forth.
They called each other’s names like partners fighting back to back. The right hand deflected the blowing wind, a diamond pillar burst diagonally from the floor to hold back the flood of acid, Kamijou ran along the transparent pillar like a steep slope, and he leaped at Miss Sprengel from midair.
The one body played the roles of magic and science.
“You’ve reached your limit, haven’t you?”
She swung her right hand horizontally and the light that burst out slammed into Kamijou’s side. He was knocked away from his downward path toward her. He flew to the side and crashed into a showcase, sending ruby rings, emerald necklaces, and more scattering around with the shattered glass.
Sharp glass stabbed into his thigh.
But he did not have time to grimace in pain.
“It might look like you are holding your own with that bizarre fighting style, but surely you know better. In a clash between magic, the theory behind it matters far more than the quantity. And after all this, you still do not understand what I am doing.”
He did not need to admit to it out loud, but Anna was right. Kamijou only knew that she could change her right hand’s power at will, but he did not actually know what spell it was or what category of magic it belonged to.
He could negate all kinds of supernatural powers by brute force, but that was not enough to get by with someone like this.
Rushing blindly in at a magician was like running into a densely-packed minefield. You could even say a magician’s standard strategy was to set things up so a direct attack like that could never work.
“You aren’t going to get an answer back when you don’t even know what question to ask,” said Anna.
She casually swung her open palm from a distance and three explosions appeared in quick succession.
Kamijou swallowed the blood that had gathered in his mouth and let out a roar.
Once St. Germain was in control, he moved back while blocking the attack with a diamond shield and pillar. It was a solid defense, but that was all it was. Relying on magic was clearly only going to get them backed into a dead end. Kamijou alone could not defeat Anna and neither could St. Germain.
So they swapped out.
Never relying on only one of them was the only way to stay alive.
“Back to you. Alter your timing a bit next time. Don’t let her predict our actions!!”
“No. I said alter the timing, esper!!”
A broken square pillar was spinning Kamijou’s way, but he would have to deal with it himself. He frantically dodged the giant blunt weapon that knocked aside the entire register counter and eye test machine.
While they frequently switched back and forth, Kamijou’s fist threw off the destructive rhythm.
He had no choice but to confront her head on.
Any cover he tried to hide behind would only get destroyed along with him and moving over by the wall left him without enough room to swing his right arm.
While buying time like that, he had to ask about everything he had seen. Whether or not it would be helpful, he did know that this jewelry section had already been influenced by Rose magic.
He did not have to hit the jackpot right away. In fact, he doubted that was possible.
He swung his bloody fist while asking his inner partner some questions.
“What’s crystal healing!? I know I’ve heard the term a lot!”
“It is believed that jewels can gather up the power of the constellations and return it to their wearer. It is also said the harder the stone, the more power it absorbs, making diamonds the most extreme example. That is why it is thought they can be used for a great many specific goals such as detoxing and exorcisms, not just vaguely providing good fortune.”
“What’s this about engraving runes on treasures like gold coins and cups?”
“Engraving the rune for victory into a coin is a way of praying for wealth and engraving the rune for suffering into a cup is a way of detecting poisoned drinks. You could think of them as protective charms with specific effects.”
“Then what’s the connection between yoga and incense!?”
“Yoga is not technically a form of training done at the gym. It is actually a method of controlling your inner body through your breathing to have an effect on the outside world. Tools are generally not needed. In fact, you are supposed to rid yourself of all worldly possessions and thoughts, but beginners would probably find it easier to focus on their breathing if the air were given a color or aroma. Of course, using a guide means only following the rails laid out for you, so the act loses all meaning.”
“What about gold and silver!?”
“Seven metals were given a position of importance in ancient times, but since that included iron and lead, they were not all precious metals. On that note, the idea of silver weapons being effective against monsters is mostly the influence of folklore and entertainment, so I would not rely on it if I were you. There might be some effect, but a truly pious person would not melt down a silver cross to create a knife or bullet in the first place.”
“Argh, what else was there? Prayer beads!?”
“They are a type of spiritual item used in Buddhism. The term generally refers to seeds of the bodhi tree strung into a loop by a single thread, but beads of crystal are also used. The number of beads is usually 108, but there are other versions. The Christian rosary is the same basic idea.”
None of it was very specific and they were getting off topic.
Even now, the boy’s life was being shortened for every second of freedom. He bled more each time he and St. Germain switched out, but they kept it up. He had to pick up every single hint he could get from the handmade signs and the occult code(?) conversion chart pasted on the side of the register.
“Then what about birthstones!?”
“Each of the twelve months is given a different gem, but there are several different versions. The version most well-known now was created by the American National Association of Jewelers.”
That one was a complete bust. They might have used some older source when deciding on their list, but he doubted a centuries-old tradition would have been passed down with perfect accuracy. At best, it would have partially incorporated some of it. He felt an urge to lash out at the half-assed system here. This was like the stores telling you to give chocolate on Valentine’s Day just to sell their products. He could not entrust his life to that.
He heard a disconcerting zapping sound.
It was not aimed directly at him, so he was slow to react. The electricity instead crashed into the showcase in front of him, causing it to burst from within. The wall of sharp glass pummeled his entire body and he was knocked to the floor.
“I think I see how this works now. You’re nimble, but it dulls your intuition when your life is not directly targeted.”
There were countless types of magic.
And Anna Sprengel was in the deepest depths of that world. Was he just not going to find the answer by looking through some random bits and pieces of magical knowledge?
St. Germain spoke from within Kamijou while the boy clenched his fist.
“I see. You cannot find the answer right away, but you can arrive at the answer by eliminating each wrong answer in turn.”
“The runes are not necessary and we can eliminate the yoga and Buddhism as well. R&C Occultics has spread all forms of magic. That may have made the occult harder to detect, just like the city lights hiding the stars in the sky, but if you understand the Rose’s methods, the knowledge requiring our focus makes itself readily apparent.”
Kamijou Touma did not know enough to take issue with that conclusion.
He had to rely on St. Germain’s senses since he still knew the Rose, just like people never forgot how to hold chopsticks or ride a bike.
“The answer is three.”
Kamijou felt so woozy, but he was guided to that specific answer, not four or five.
St. Germain went on to explain.
“The Rose often used Kabbalah, which says the entire world can be explained using the twenty-two Hebrew characters. You merely need to subtract the seven metals and the twelve constellations from twenty-two. If you remove each of the petals on the outside, you are left with the number hidden in the center of the flower. You are left with three characters.”
Come to think of it, hadn’t Anna herself mentioned the rose and the cross?
“Shin is fire, Mem is water, and Aleph is wind. The rose symbol represents the world by surrounding those three elements with a ring divided into sevenths and with the twelve colors.”
Kamijou managed to keep breathing, but it felt like breaking through a sticky barrier.
Was that due to being torn up on the outside or eaten away on the inside?
It was hard to tell anymore.
“Then…is Anna using that to create different things out of the energy produced by that angel named Aiwass?”
“Yes, but that does not simply mean 22 different attack patterns in all. Kabbalah has a code system known as Gematria. The characters are assigned numbers and two words with the same number are considered to have the same meaning.”
If she only started with three characters, weren’t there only so many combinations she could use?
But St. Germain got ahead of that question.
“For example, Shin’s numerical value is 300, but Gematria adds the digits together to reach a single-digit number. That gives you an answer of 3. But that can be read simply as three, aka Gimel, or it could be read as 1+2, aka Aleph and Bet. So depending on how you break it down, the possibilities are endless. That is why a powerful grimoire can be such a hotbed of misreadings.”
“I was wondering about that, but it wasn’t my main question. Where is Anna hiding her rose accessory!?”
He doubted it was the decorations in her fried shrimp hair.
Nor would it be her thin dress.
She would need a detailed symbol that accurately placed the twenty-two Hebrew characters on as many rose petals, but Kamijou could not see anything like it.
The sexy woman grinned and raised her right hand from a short distance away.
“This will never end unless we destroy that. We’ll be killed if we can’t rob Anna of her power!!”
“Found it!” Index shouted excitedly in the District 7 hospital.
If basic magic could be constructed from magic words, gestures, and hand signals with no need for a spiritual item, it might seem like there was no way to save the espers from the side effects.
But that assumption was wrong.
“The stars, the three prophets, a link to the date, and it only activates on the 25th.”
“So it’s a curse that takes advantage of Christmas’s date!?”
That might sound ridiculous, but at some point, Christmas became more than just an enjoyable festival. Either a very twisted person had spread the idea or a lot of people had wanted to believe it because there were traditions of that sort out there. For example, there were mysterious figures who generally only appeared on Christmas and who you never wanted to so much as encounter, like the dark Santa Claus that abducted bad children or the Kallikantzaros that was only active during the end of the year.
And human psychology had a fascinating tendency to spread stories of misfortune more than ones of fortune. For example, everyone would immediately forget an urban legend that still remembering the keyword ‘silver mirror’ when you turned twenty would bring you happiness, but no one could bring themselves to forget the urban legend that still remembering the keyword ‘purple mirror’ when you turned twenty would mean your death.
So the happier a time Christmas was, the more the dark joy spread of wondering about the people for whom Christmas was an unhappy time. Yes, joy. When people at a large party started wondering about the people who had no date to share Christmas with, they were generally imagining someone worse off than them to make themselves feel better about their own situation. There may have been a magician that provided that with a concrete effect at some point. Either to ruin Christmas or to make sure the event would never be forgotten.
In fact, it was not uncommon in the world of magic for experts to give concrete form to something they encountered and thought was neat. Othinus who once destroyed the entire world was not one to talk, but magicians had a tendency to cross some lines generally considered taboo.
Take, for example, everything related to the Cthulhu Mythos.
Or the Rosy Cross that Andreae claimed to have invented himself.
“A good luck charm meant to confirm your own happiness, huh?” Othinus sounded disgusted. “And it ends up destroying their body as they keep using it. Self-doubt really is the greatest poison. Besides, if you need something to objectively tell you you’re happy, then you’re not really happy at all.”
“But now that we know this…”
“Yes, we can bring the party to an end. Let’s leave a present by the patient’s pillow while they sleep and before they can start using that magic while emptyhanded. Santa’s visit is considered the highlight of Christmas in this country, so once they have their present, Christmas is over, right?”
“A spell to end Christmas.”
“Once it’s ready, search out an adult among the visitors. If they aren’t an esper, we can get them to use the magic without any side effects.”
Normally, they might not find anyone willing to cooperate with that. Especially in Academy City. They might even get yelled at for asking for something so extremely inappropriate.
But things were different now.
It was R&C Occultics who had lowered the barrier toward magic.
And the god of war, deception, and magic would use everything available to her. If the enemy was going to give her a gift, she would use that gift to bring the enemy to their knees. That was Othinus’s style.
“Then let’s settle this,” said the god without hesitation.
Anna Sprengel considered what to do with her right hand next. But only with the tension of someone pondering what to make for dinner that night.
She had well over a million attack options.
(The optimization should be done soon and the boring result has already shown itself.)
She had made her choice.
40 + 300. Each digit was split out separately and summed together, so that came out to a 7. That meant the true character she had extracted was Z or Zayin. That corresponded to The Lovers in tarot and it was the channel that connected the spheres of understanding and beauty in the Sephiroth.
It meant a sword or armor.
That determined the nature of her right hand.
(The emotion of irritation is a rare one for me, but I do experience it from time to time. If this result is not to my liking, maybe I should dispose of him and move on to my next objective.)
Anna Sprengel gently stretched out her slender hand. Her right hand could use just two fingers to slice through anything. In other words, simply closing those two fingers would create a massive invisible maw with her target’s head between the jaws.
Just then, Kamijou Touma took an unusual action.
He did the opposite of his usual move of suicidally rushing in with fist clenched. In fact, he jumped backwards to move away from her.
That was still suicidal, but the boy did not have any projectile attacks.
It might look at first like Kamijou Touma had acquired a great variety of options here, but it was actually the opposite. When it came to the essence of Rosicrucianism, no magician knew more than the master of the No. 1 Temple in Germany. No one had any chance of defeating her if they challenged her on that field. They might put up a decent fight, but they could never win. They would only be postponing their inevitable death.
It could not have been more apparent that the only way to defeat this magic was to destroy the illusion.
(Attempting to keep your distance and wear me down with projectiles after all this is just pathetic.)
St. Germain specialized in creating diamonds.
That meant carbon manipulation.
(Then all I need to do is absorb all forms of carbon, both solid and gaseous, to remove it from this space.)
Something gathered in her small left palm. It was a filthy black ball a little larger than a pill.
(Now St. Germain is helpless. Or will he use his host’s own body to create a diamond? Based on the optional services offered by funeral homes, an entire human body’s worth of carbon should only get you a diamond no larger than the tip of your fingernail!!)
Anna laughed, but then she silently grimaced.
No matter what she said, she clung to success and victory more than anyone. To the point that she could not maintain herself without them.
The boy’s words were coming back to her and they were accompanied by pain.
A brief pause followed.
After falling back—and thus gathering Anna’s attention as she pursued—Kamijou Touma lightly tossed something into the air.
It was a symbol made from cheap gold plating and it was only a few centimeters long. Instead of a number or a letter of the alphabet, this symbol looked sort of like an ‘n’ with a loop at the end.
The symbol stood for Capricorn.
Its essence was femininity, activity, Saturn, longing, and prosperity.
As well as…
(The element of earth.)
The twenty-two characters were broken out into three, seven, and twelve. With only three in the center, the rose symbol managed by the twenty-two Hebrew characters had no place for earth in the center of the flower.
And while it was a magical symbol, it had no magic power within it. In fact, it felt like someone trying to use what little knowledge they had without any practical skills to back it up. This could not be St. Germain who did have those skills.
In other words…
“Was this Kamijou Touma?”
She knew that, but human thoughts were so easily altered by your assumptions.
Something extra had been thrown into the mix.
Capricorn was a symbol of the earth element.
How things looked in a red room was very different from how they looked in a blue room, so a train’s driver’s compartment had its coloration chosen carefully.
Because the wrong coloration could be distracting.
(This could be bad!!)
December’s birthstone is either turquoise or lapis lazuli.
All you Capricorns out there, don’t feel too bad about being the earth element. Christmas is your season. Today’s the day to ask for a special gift!
Kamijou clenched his teeth while kicking aside one of the handmade signs scattered across the floor.
Up ahead, Anna Sprengel grimaced and held her feminine right wrist with her other hand. He doubted that had actually accomplished anything and, even if it had, it would still give him the opening he needed.
He just needed a large enough opening to take one big step.
He cut powerfully forward as if defying the white light expanding explosively in front of him. He gathered up the very last of his strength to move right up to her.
Anna must have no longer cared about losing control because she tried intercepting him with her right palm even as it continued to produce a blinding blowtorch-like light.
“But how!?” roared the bewitching woman who seemed to corrupt everything around her with her very presence.
Yes. Kamijou Touma had fought plenty of magicians, but he could not construct a spell himself. He would be able to use magic if he let St. Germain take control, but St. Germain would not rely on the fist that would kill him.
But the answer was simple.
“You spread this knowledge yourself. If you hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have been able to fight back!!”
Anna gave up on trying to control her right hand.
She broke her own rules by raising her other hand.
Yes, Anna Sprengel’s right hand was not actually special in any way. That was only an unnecessary restriction she was placing on herself. She had cheated like this once before, so Kamijou did not hesitate.
He took action.
But if he used his right fist here, it would only be a repeat of last time. While his right hand clashed with her left, she could use her right hand to blow him away.
He bit at her alluring hand. At her long, slender fingers. It was such a primitive choice from the perspective of an intellectual well-versed in all forms of magic, but it was certainly effective.
Kamijou Touma clenched his teeth.
It made sense that a jewelry store would focus on something like this.
Because if wearing a ring on a finger other than your left hand’s ring finger gave it a special meaning, that might give them another way to advertise to people.
Anna did not need to carry around a full rose symbol.
A scrap of paper on the floor – probably some notes for speaking with customers – explained which elements each finger corresponded to.
(Starting with the thumb, they’re ether, water, fire, earth, and wind. So by bending her index, middle, and little fingers as a command, she can switch the basic elements of fire, water, and wind on and off, creating whatever Hebrew character she wants in her palm. That’s how Anna was controlling her angel. That’s her magic! Which means…!!)
However he did it, he only had to keep her from moving her fingers.
That would let him seal away Anna Sprengel’s Hebrew-based rose spell.
And with his right fist still free to use, of course.
Kamijou Touma and St. Germain had arrived at this point along very different paths. One of science, the other of magic. They were very different people with nothing in common.
But at this moment, the two of them stared in the exact same direction.
It did not matter if they were dropouts or if they were considered disappointments.
Any being living here and now still had the freedom to change what happened to them.
No matter what form that being took.
They only had to act upon their desire to protect the people and feelings they held dear.
Then they could fight on equal footing with anyone in the world!!
He had used his mouth.
With his teeth clenched tight, they could not speak aloud.
So they faced their single enemy and attempted to end this in silence.
They had both only ever wanted to do one thing about Anna Sprengel’s tyranny.
To clench that fist as hard as can be.
To gather everything that woman had done to them, place it in that fist, and send it…
(Back to you!!)
(Back to you!!)
This time, those two battered wills caught Miss Sprengel square on the cheekbone.