Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume10 Chapter 13

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Chapter 13: V.S. “The Blacksmith who Releases the Magic Sword” Round_05.[edit]

Part 1[edit]

After everything, they arrived at the next city on foot.

The city was named Støvring and they had decent success there. They still could not find reasonably priced coats, but they bought a small, cheap thermos. They did not particularly need anything to drink, but it and its mug would function as portable heaters when filled with hot coffee. They also found a truck willing to carry them south to their next destination of Billund. It was a 150 kilometer trip and it would take them from the northern end of the peninsula to the center.

Everything was going well.

Until the long-distance truck carrying them stalled out, that is.

“This isn’t good. Isn’t this what people call being stranded?” groaned Kamijou.

Looking forwards and backwards along the road only showed the white horizon.

Othinus’s senses must have still been dulled as she walked next to him because she looked disinterested and stuck her index finger through the empty mug’s handle and spun it around.

“The driver said there’s a gas station nearby. We just have to swap out the battery and the truck will be up and running again. As long as we have a clear goal, we’re far better off than someone who is truly stranded.”

The driver was fighting his beloved truck in search of any possibility, but there was likely nothing he could do without a new battery.

“That may be true, but you aren’t going to collapse on the way, are you?”

“Giving up on the truck and walking the rest of the way would be 100 times longer than a trip to and from the gas station, so are you sure you’d prefer that?”

The snow grabbing at their feet and the uniformly white ground threw off Kamijou’s sense of distance. He lost track of how far a mere ten meters was and he began to think he would find nothing no matter how far he walked, just like that pure black world.

Fortunately, they arrived at the flat-roofed gas station after walking for three hundred meters.

“Oh, no,” groaned Kamijou. “Is this place self-serve? There’s no one working here!”

“Why is that a problem?”

“I’ve never heard of car batteries sold in a vending machine.”

In addition to the coin-operated gas pumps and half-frozen car wash, there was a boxy office-like space. That space contained new tires, suspensions, and other car parts.

It was possible the station was not self-serve year round and had a worker on site on some days. The worker may have avoided showing up on especially snowy days.

“See, they have batteries,” pointed out Othinus. “Let’s break the glass and take one.”

“Shut up, you Viking. The door isn’t locked and it’s theft to take it just because no one’s around.”

As they spoke, the two of them entered the deserted office. It was an unfamiliar site for a Japanese boy, but it seemed to have simple food and other daily necessities in one corner. The lineup was greater than a train station store and less than a convenience store.

“We just have to leave a bunch of money on the counter, right? Denmark doesn’t have a tipping system, so the unexpected extra money should make the worker happy. About 500 krone should cover it.”

“Sensei, I don’t understand-…”

“That’s about 10,000 yen.”

“Why is everything so expensive!? Can that battery play Blu-rays or something!?”

However, not procuring a new battery would leave them stuck in the blizzard. Kamijou was very nearly in tears at essentially having to burn money to stay alive.

The boy pulled the battery from the cardboard box and attached metal clothespin-like terminals to it. The cables led to a tester.

“What are you doing?” asked Othinus with a frown.

“The box was covered in dust and the colors were faded, so I thought… Damn, I was right. It’s dead. I don’t know if it’s been sitting here for too long or if the cold did it, but it needs to be recharged.”

“Are you going to use the outlet over there? Stealing electricity is theft too.”

“We paid a lot for this, so we can turn a blind eye to a bit of loose change!”

The boke and tsukkomi had completely swapped places from thirty seconds prior. Money had a way of motivating people.

Othinus sat on a sofa in what seemed to be a smoking area.

“Oh, right. While we wait, go borrow some sweet breads from the miscellaneous section over there.”

“Viking.”

“You can always put more money by the register.”

“By the way, are you hungry already? We just got some soup.”

“Do you really think we’ll be able to have a nice well-mannered meal at a restaurant next time we want to eat? I’d rather get some food while I can than have trouble finding any once I’m hungry.”

“The people who say that always end up eating it while carrying it around.”

“What was that?”

After that, the troubles only continued: Kamijou was the one blamed for blueberry being the only flavor of jam bread in stock and he discovered the beef stew bread he was buying for himself was a week past its expiration date.

After the girl essentially wearing a swimsuit and cape grew tired of complaining about human knowledge, she lay down on the sofa.

“By the way, what time is it?”

“Do the clocks even mean anything anymore? When you used that…what was it? Bone Boat? Anyway, you spun the earth around, didn’t you?”

“After rotating everything except the two of us, I rotated the entire heavenly body while we stood on it to put the earth back in its proper position. The international standard time will still work.”

“The scariest thing about a magic god is how you can handle things like that as if it’s a minor annoyance.”

They could not leave the truck waiting for too long, so they stopped recharging the battery after twenty or thirty minutes and prepared to carry it back. The rectangular box was slightly warm and would act as a small oasis in the bleak snowscape.

“The worst thing I can imagine is getting back and finding the truck gone.”

“The driver couldn’t do anything without solving the battery problem, so there’s nothing to worry about unless he froze to death.”

As soon as they left the office/rest area, the snow-covered gas station was suddenly split in two like a fruit.

Both the office and the gas pumps were sliced apart by an invisible blade. Kamijou was unable to properly perceive the entirety of the destruction, so he simply tackled Othinus to the ground to cover her and protect her from the glass shattering before his eyes.

The diagonal slice caused the flat roof to collapse and the gas pumps to fall over. That was when a stinging odor caused Kamijou to grimace.

A large scar was left on the concrete floor and something was gradually staining it. A haze filled the air like sugar water.

“Not good. Get up, Othinus.”

Kamijou grew pale, frantically stood, grabbed Othinus’s slender hand, and pulled her up as well.

“The underground tank was damaged! If we don’t get out of here, the gasoline will ignite!!”

He held the battery in one hand, pulled on Othinus’s hand with the other, and ran.

He moved from the building to the white snow. He did not know if the harsh scent still surrounded them or simply lingered in his nose, but he refused to stop running until it was gone.

However, that refusal was cut short by something else.

Sparks from some broken electronic equipment contacted the vaporized gasoline and the gas station violently exploded from the inside.

The shockwave struck their backs and literally sent them over a meter through the air. After being thrown onto the snow, Kamijou had the breath knocked from him, but taking in a large breath only filled his chest with a scorching pain and made him cough. Even though the flames had not reached him, the heat wave had roasted the surrounding air.

“What…happened?”

His throat would not open up and his voice was hoarse, but Othinus was staring in a completely different direction while lying on the ground nearby.

“Do you remember me?”

The freezing wind carried a female voice.

Kamijou did not recognize the language, but he recognized the voice.

“Do you remember me, Othinus?”

“Marian Slingeneyer,” muttered Othinus. “And Mjölnir.”

The girl wore glasses and had her long silver hair gathered in two braids. Overalls covered her brown skin. Mjölnir was an object that resembled a cylindrical drum made of stone. Kamijou was unsure whether it was a weapon or a person, but with Marian’s skills, it could easily be both.

Marian frowned at Othinus’s words and began speaking in Japanese to match her.

“Bersi is dead and I don’t know where his dead self is either. But this isn’t just about him. Gremlin was fighting all over the world and we haven’t heard from a lot of them. Do you understand, Othinus? That’s how many people gave their lives to you in order to grant a wish they couldn’t grant any other way.”

NT Index v10 169.jpg

Marian had what looked like gold bracelets on her wrists.

“And that isn’t all. There were sacrifices before we joined Gremlin. I’m only standing here now because of all the other people who dreamed of reviving the Dvergr. And it isn’t just me. Everyone who desperately made their way to you had dreams they’ve only held on to after many sacrifices. But you’ve trampled on all that, Othinus, and I’m going to make you pay for it.”

Those bracelets expanded to a diameter of thirty centimeters and remained in place like the rings of Saturn.

“Are those…?”

“Yes. They’re components of the lance you abandoned. You could call them Draupnir. Because you ran off, I had some extra materials for the weapons of the gods. It isn’t as powerful as Gungnir, but it lets me freely bring together any magic sword or divine spear on the level that a human can use. You abandoned everyone’s dreams, but that gave me the power to a kill a god. This is the concentrated power wrung from Gremlin’s blood! This is all it’s good for now, Othinus!!!!!”

A bright light burst from her hands and the gold bracelets were gone. In their place was a sheathed sword. That gold glowing sword was legendary in a negative sense and Kamijou had seen it before.

He felt a pain like his heart was being bound by fishing line.

Merely seeing it made him think of death.

That blade was said to end the world when it was removed from its scabbard.

“Dáinsleif!?” asked Kamijou in fear. “You’re using that thing again!?”

“Yes. I said I was going to kill a god, so what’s wrong with using enough firepower to destroy a world or two along with her? Personally, I don’t think this is enough.”

The brown girl held the scabbard in her left hand and the hilt in her right.

“I used Hrímfaxi to get here. It made quite a show, so the others should catch on before long. But I won’t let them interfere. I will definitely finish you here, Othinus.”

In Baggage City, she had driven Kamijou to the verge of death using just the scabbard, but she would not stop there this time.

“And I won’t hesitate any longer, Othinus. I don’t know what you newly discovered about this world, but it’s obvious you did so by crushing us underfoot. I will destroy whatever it was along with you!!”

Marian Slingeneyer gathered strength in her brown hands and held the sword and scabbard horizontally.

She forcefully pulled them apart as if tearing them from each other.

This was a never-before-seen threat.

The blade that would end the world breathed in the icy air.

Part 2[edit]

Dáinsleif. Marian Slingeneyer walked across the white snow while wielding that golden sword of dreadful power. Her gait seemed to express her persistent spite. Her legs wobbled unreliably yet she never fell. It was as if the soles of her feet were stuck to the ground with pure black coal tar.

Othinus could not use any real magic, so Kamijou Touma stepped forward in her place.

From a distance of twenty meters, Marian willfully swung the sword as if brushing cobwebs off a tree branch.

“Cut away Olympus of the Greeks. Summon Titan, the cursed giant.”

An instant later, something burst up from directly below Kamijou and raised him up 120 meters.

“Gh…bah!?”

At first, he did not even realize he was holding his breath.

His vision was spinning and filled with white. The distance to the ground quickly grew overwhelmingly large and he finally realized he had been launched to a height rivalling a thirty-story building. Only then did he notice what had launched him so high.

It was a colossal humanoid figure.

A man as large as a high-rise building burst from the ground. That mass of muscle and bones with five meter fists rose up from directly below Kamijou. Rather than being struck, Kamijou had been lifted up on top of the giant. As the boy was swung around in every direction, he was not slammed to the ground far below. He instead fell on the giant’s upper arm which was right below his feet.

“Bgah!! Ghh! Pant pant…cough cough!!”

He began to crawl, coughed again and again, and could not take in a proper breath.

“Are you valuable to Othinus?”

The brown girl stood on the giant’s shoulder about fifteen meters ahead.

“Then I should start by destroying you.”

Marian casually swung the gold blade.

“Cut away the first sun of the Aztecs. Summon Ocelot, the man-eating beast.”

The skin of the giant’s arm swelled up ominously like bubbling from gas in a swamp. That “bubble” burst from within and an earth-colored four-legged beast appeared. It was quite large. At ten meters, it was more than enough to keep a human’s legs pinned to the ground in fear. Simply being a feline wild beast like a tiger or lion would have been bad enough, but this one had a crocodile like head attached.

It was obvious how this beast would attack.

Without time to wipe the cold sweat from his face, Kamijou clenched his trembling hand and the fantasy monster charged at him.

“Shit!!”

He doubted the beast’s physical strength was simply proportional to its size. And at its great size, it could easily crush him to death without even biting him. For an instant, he considered jumping off the bridge formed from the giant’s arm.

But then something else happened.

The giant must have felt as if a lizard were crawling along its skin because it let out a great cry as if it were a steam engine and it slapped at its upper arm.

The palm tore through the air as it approached and it reminded Kamijou of a ninja mansion’s suspended ceiling.

“Ohhhhh!?”

He ran and somehow managed to slip between the meter thick fingers.

The tremendous noise bordered on being an actual shockwave and the large man-eating beast was crushed in an instant. Kamijou himself was knocked up into the air and landed on the back of the hand that had been slammed down.

Marian clicked her tongue and swung Dáinsleif.

The act seemed to double as a punishment for going against her wishes because one of the giant’s arms was sliced through at the shoulder like butter.

The giant let out another cry. The high-rise building of a man went on a rampage like a child stung by a bee and swung its remaining limbs wildly. Kamijou was launched from its hand and into the white sky.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!???”

There was no ground below his feet.

His body filled with the fear of having that standard fact destroyed.

However, he did not have time to linger on that fear. Marian had already swung the sword and she now spoke the words necessary to complete the spell.

“Cut away Asgard of Norse mythology. Summon Surtr, king of the fiery hell.”

A different part of the snowy plain split open and a larger, pitch-black form rose up.

Like a baseball batter, the demon king wielded his giant flaming sword and waited for Kamijou to arrive.

Part 3[edit]

Left on the ground, Othinus loudly clicked her tongue as she looked up at what happened over 100 meters above.

She understood what Marian Slingeneyer was doing, but there was nothing she could do for the boy. The restriction of losing her powers irritated her to no end.

(First, she seals off a limited portion of the world and then she chooses particular phases of different religions or sects and cuts through them.)

The giant that appeared first was one of the Titans that appeared as Zeus’s enemy in Greek mythology.

The beast that appeared second was the man-eating beast and god of death that destroyed the first humanity in Aztec mythology.

The demon king that appeared third was the leader of the giants that were said to burn away the nine worlds in Norse mythology.

(Heaven, Asgard, Mt. Olympus, the Pure Land, Nirai Kanai… Cutting away the homes of the gods removes the protection and blessings of those gods and thus releases the calamities being restrained by the gods. In a way, Marian is able to freely choose and wield the different “endings” told of in the world’s scriptures.)

It sounded extreme, but the basic technique was not all that rare. The ceremonial grounds used in modern Western magic and the cathedrals and churches of Christianity were formed by dyeing a certain space in the colors of a single religion. No one would pray with an image of Buddha sitting next to a cross and a Buddhist priest would not add talismans or mandrake roots as accessories to his rosary. Convenient elements from other religions would sometimes be adopted, but the simplest way to create the purest and most valuable brand was to maintain a single form and color.

But Marian took that concept to extraordinary levels.

Just as ultra-pure water created by thoroughly removing all impurities behaved differently from normal water, the phenomena created by “cutting off a portion of space to obtain a unique color” had tremendous power.

It was as if she were using a single hand to create and control the refined despair of all the world’s religions.

Just as a summoned angel was manifested using condensed Telesma, these rulers of the end were likely masses of the type of power stored in their respective religion or phase. However, these were nothing more than power focused into the images of the calamites people had imagined and so they would not necessarily look exactly like those gods of death or demon kings, but the raw power that presented itself made that fact easy to forget.

“A sword that closes the path to the power of the gods…no, the path to heaven,” muttered Othinus.

Before the battle even began, Marian had likely used the sword to cut through the surrounding space and create a sort of barrier around the area. If she had not, the appearance of the different mythical figures would have created a mysterious phenomenon much like Angel Fall. Or the power could have exceeded the limits of the world itself and everything would have shattered like glass.

Having destroyed the world herself, Othinus knew that was no exaggeration.

“That truly is an appropriate weapon for opposing a magic god.”

If Othinus had been at full strength, she could have crushed Marian in a single blow.

There would not even be a need to kill her. She could simply throw her into a world of happiness.

But that was no longer the case.

Things had changed.

She could not even produce light from her fingertips, so she had no way of stopping Marian’s actions. Her life was so puny that the giant would crush her underfoot and Marian would not even have to turn the sword her way.

This was what Othinus had wanted.

Retrieving the eye she had gouged out was meant to neutralize and defang her so the chaos around the world could end.

Nevertheless, the loss of that power tore at her heart now.

The power refined to kill a magic god was being turned toward a mere boy, yet she could not stop it.

“…?”

Just as Othinus clenched her teeth, she spotted another figure on the battlefield.

“Wait a minute. What are you doing over there?”

The figure said nothing in response.

Part 4[edit]

The fire sword flew horizontally.

The seventy meter blade roared with flames and the sound of it slicing the air added a frighteningly deep noise.

This was the same threat as placing a building on its side and swinging it.

As Kamijou flew through the air, he clenched his fist with desperate conviction.

“Ohhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!”

They clashed.

The instant the right fist struck the fire sword, the huge blade broke in two. The outer half of the blade spun through the air and stabbed into the one-armed giant’s chest.

That giant screamed and collapsed.

The flames of the sword’s bottom half had been extinguished. Kamijou crashed into it and rolled across it, but he did not have time to take a breather. Imagine Breaker’s power continued to destroy the giant sword.

It felt like running across a collapsing stone bridge.

He desperately ran toward the base of the sword and the pitch-black giant’s arm, but Marian Slingeneyer interrupted.

“Cut away heaven of Christianity. Summon Abaddon, king of evil consumption”

A great number of black objects formed a cloud in front of him. It was a swarm of tens or even hundreds of thousands of locusts. The brown girl rode the swarm like it was cloud in a picture book and it carried her to the giant sword that continued to be destroyed.

“Marian!!”

“Let it end, you brat. Just like our hopes were taken from us for someone’s personal convenience!!”

Their gazes clashed between them.

Kamijou forgot all about the crumbling footing approaching from behind and he clenched his fist with all his might as he faced the enemy before him.

A voice answered him.

“Cut away Takama-ga-hara of Shinto. Summon Yomotsu-Shikome, the group of black impurities.”

Kamijou saw a great wave of black coal tar rapidly approaching.

It was entirely composed of long, black hair belonging to filthy women. Their slender, branch-like arms could be seen sticking through the gaps in the wave.

Kamijou did not know, but this came from the legend of the infinite impurities of the Yomi-no-Kuni and its master Izanami taking human form. This power was the source of all people’s death in Japanese mythology.

But not knowing may have been the better option.

One was happier not knowing certain things, just as Izanagi’s realization of the truth had opened the furnace of death. In his ignorance, Kamijou was able to slam his fist straight forward.

With the sound of a large amount of human hair being swallowed by a bath drain, the black wave parted down the middle.

However, Marian Slingeneyer may have expected that.

She waited beyond the wave with the gold sword in both hands. She swung it horizontally as if to lop off Kamijou’s head.

A high pitched sound rang out as Kamijou’s right fist made it in time. Marian’s Dáinsleif broke at the base and the blade spun and broke to pieces as it fell.

Everything came to a stop for a moment and Marian spoke quietly from close range.

“She was our hope.” Her sticky words oozed out. “We had hopeless dreams and perhaps we should have simply given up, but we were drawn in by the special abilities of Magic God Othinus!! It was because of her that we kept from going mad! It was because of her that we made it this far!!”

Those words reminded Kamijou of a certain mother and child.

The young magician known as Fertility Goddess Freyja had met an unreasonable fate before even being born and she had seen no good will or hope anywhere in the world. To her, Othinus may indeed have been something like a spider web. That child had been willing to do anything to save the mother who had unfairly lost her life.

“She stirred up our hopes and brought us to the ends of the world! And then she ran off on her own!! This is her responsibility. She must pay for what we have become! If it hadn’t been for her, we never would have gone down this path!!”

Kamijou felt his heart cool at those shouted words.

Rather than burn in anger, it cooled.

“Are you kidding me?”

In a way, Othinus may indeed have been a negative hope.

It may have been that every monstrous Gremlin member had a situation similar to Freyja’s that had made it all inevitable.

But…

“Othinus is an undisputed villain. Without her, none of the chaos after World War Three would have happened. But! It was your decision to go along with her!! You made up your own mind and you weighed your own situation against the peace of the world!! You chose to bear that sin, so you don’t get to act like a pure and innocent victim. Just because she did horrible things doesn’t mean you get to place all your crimes on her too. If we’re going to fairly judge her crimes, your crimes have to be judged too!!”

“It doesn’t matter.” Marian gave a desperate laugh while holding the broken sword’s hilt. “As long as I… As long as we can get back at her for taking our lives from us, nothing else matters.”

In that moment, Kamijou Touma had forgotten one thing.

His right fist’s destruction of Dáinsleif had helped him forget, but Marian had already swung the sword.

In that case, she only needed to speak the proper words to send in the fury of an “ending”.

“Cut away Amaravati of Indian mythology. Summon Vishnu Avatara, the ever-changing god!!”

Part 5[edit]

An “ending” or “the end of the world” may have held the image of the power of gods or faith waning and an evil one wielding great power. Some may have viewed it as the white and glowing things being blotted out with darkness.

But in some religions, the gods themselves descended to the world and took part in wars.

Shiva, the Indian god of destruction, may have been the most well-known, but there was another god that was just as popular.

Vishnu was the god of preservation.

Brahma, the god of creation, was born from him and he worked to preserve and develop the world that Shiva would destroy. To do this, he used Avatars.

The term “Avatar” may have been best known in its use on the internet, but Vishnu would switch between ten different physical bodies while ending the different wars and calamities on the earth.

Those who worshiped Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva were divided on who the central god was, but they all generally agreed that the three of them formed a trinity that demonstrated its power as the primary god.

In other words, this “ending” did not call in a core of chaos or evil.

It was incomplete and its form was greatly changed, but this beam of light was on the level of a top-ranking god.

Part 6[edit]

The final attack was fired.

Technically, Kamijou Touma was unable to see it. In all likelihood, only a highly-advanced Rishi would be able to see it and any inexperienced person who attempted to look would be blinded. Vishnu had always been closely associated with the sun and it went without saying what would happen to anyone presumptuous enough to look at the core of the sun with the naked eye.

However, a scene did appear in the back of Kamijou’s mind.

He saw the moment when he had certainly “died”.

To ensure she killed him with her crossbow of certain death, Magic God Othinus had sacrificed her own body. She had hidden the attack behind her so that it would pierce through her and her target.

Marian was supposedly attempting to take revenge on Othinus, but instead of focusing on Othinus herself, it seemed she had prioritized making the girl watch someone important to her die.

As long as she could kill Kamijou Touma, it did not matter what happened to her.

And so Kamijou immediately took action.

“Marian!!!!!!”

He pushed down her small brown body and threw himself on top of her just before the brilliant beam of light shot down from overhead. As he was lying on his stomach, the boy could not see what it was, but he felt an intense burning pain stab into his entire back. It felt like a red-hot metal plate was being pressed down on him.

He screamed at the top of his lungs.

The swarm of locusts flying defenseless through the air evaporated. Even the flame-controlling black giant was brought to its knees by the tremendous light.

Kamijou and Marian were tossed into the air.

Her fight had likely ended as soon as this final attack was launched, so she had passed out. Kamijou grabbed at her with both hands in midair.

He ran from the broken sword and over the giant’s shoulder, dropped down to its shoulder blade, and made his way down its curled-up back. He slid down like it was an insane water slide from a foreign resort.

Part 7[edit]

By Othinus’s reckoning, Vishnu Avatara had manifested for less than ten seconds.

Dáinsleif was said to end the world, but it was still a magic sword made to be wielded by human hands. Even if it could create an embodiment of symbols of evil or sin, it could not perfectly and purely summon one of the top-ranked gods of one of the world’s four largest religions. There were said to be ten different avatars, but summoning a chaotic and indistinguishable amalgam for a few seconds had been the limit of that sword.

Even so, the level of power had been incredible.

Demon King Surtr slowly collapsed to the side. That giant violently crushed a great amount of snow and conifer trees while disappearing as if dissolving into the air. Kamijou and Marian had been close by before, but she saw them slide off Surtr’s back in the distance. They had only survived because Vishnu Avatara had prioritized the greatest evil first. If the manifestation had lasted even a second longer, they too would have been roasted as an element of conflict.

“?”

Suddenly, Othinus realized that the previous figure was nowhere to be seen.

Mjölnir had disappeared.

Part 8[edit]

The girl had held no real complaints about her circumstances.

Even with her body as it was, she viewed it as nothing more than the result of optimizing herself.

She had lost her normal body and gained a drum-shaped one.

Those around her may have found it odd for her to remain by Marian Slingeneyer’s side when Marian was the one to alter her body like that, but the girl did not view it as anything out of the ordinary. She had given her body to Marian because she was a trusted friend. That was all there was to it.

But the girl had come to a certain realization. As she had listened to her friend and comrade-in-arms Marian Slingeneyer shouting, she had made a fairly meaningless realization.

Oh.

I really am a pitiable girl, aren’t I?

In her anger, Marian had shouted, “If it hadn’t been for her, we never would have gone down this path.” To this girl, her body was nothing more than an extension of her normal, everyday life, but to Marian, it was apparently something she could not allow without some sort of excuse.

Marian had modified living enemy soldiers and returned them to destroy the enemy’s morale. She had also showed off her strange taste in human furniture. Those things had likely been the result of planting the idea in her mind that such things were enjoyable. It had likely been a way of letting her look away from some unbearable fact.

And as she had done those things, the line between her true feelings and the façade had vanished and she had truly begun enjoying them.

To the girl, that trivial difference in perception felt like a rift between them.

“Hey.”

The black giant had vanished and the boy sat on the snowy plain. Marian Slingeneyer lay next to him and she appeared to be unconscious. Unlike Kamijou, she had been lying on her back in the final moment. Seeing the partial manifestation of Vishnu Avatara up close may have thrown her consciousness into disarray.

“Who were you again?” asked the boy. “You work with Marian, right? Are you going to fight, too?”

The girl shook her drum body. This was equivalent to shaking her head, but she doubted it got through to the boy.

She knocked over her cylindrical body, rolled across the snow, and supported Marian’s collapsed form from below. She sprang up by 90 degrees like a clockwork toy and carried Marian on the top of the righted cylinder.

“What are you going to do now?” asked the boy.

The girl did not respond.

He searched through his pockets and used a pen to write a ten digit number on the back of a receipt in his wallet.

It was a cell phone number.

He stuck the scrap of paper in the pocket of Marian’s overalls.

“I’m too busy with Othinus right now, but call me if you need something. I’ll stand by your side next time.”

Again, the girl did not respond.

Just once, her drum-like body tilted forward as if giving a bow and she moved off into the white-covered world while carrying Marian. Behind her, the boy began walking toward his own destination.

Just as Kamijou Touma was standing by Othinus’s side even after being killed a million times, the girl would stand by Marian Slingeneyer’s side no matter what.


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