Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume18 Chapter 4
Chapter 4: A Worthwhile Battle at Heaven's Peak – "Light".
Kamijou Touma once more climbed to the top of the transparent spiral staircase.
He had reached the summit of the mountain.
A vast space awaited him. There was no concept of a floor or stairs here. Everything was transparent. After taking just one step into it, he was unsure where the stairs he had climbed were. No, perhaps the exit really had disappeared once he arrived.
And now that he had climbed the heavenly staircase, he was in outer space.
He had no idea how the dimensions were distorted inside and out, but the giant blue planet spread out endlessly below his feet.
“It is simple.”
For the first time, he heard a physical voice instead of a staticky fake.
Kamijou Touma was not about to let any absurdity or unreasonableness surprise him now. That “human” stood in the center of that space which had nowhere to hide. He had ankle-length silver hair and wore a green surgical gown. He looked like both a man and a woman, like both an adult and a child, and like both a saint and a sinner. And he spoke as if he had been standing here for an entire century.
“A field ruled by the ley lines running through the ground. The directionality and intensity of the various forces arriving from the cardinal directions and from other heavenly bodies… The magic born on earth is bound to earth. And unfortunately, humans will fill in seas and shave down mountains to achieve their goals. Yes, the very same people who are affected by the many sparks. So I thought I might be able to achieve a ceremony worthy of my goal if I escaped the limited possibilities of the earth. I will admit I panicked somewhat when that space elevator got there ahead of me.”
That was the purpose of the powerful walls, fully-enclosed environment, and rocket boosters.
And it did not matter if those conditions needed to escape the earth were destroyed. He had ignored Euclidean geometry to extend space, raise his tower in another dimension, and free himself from the bonds of the heavens.
“…Is your battle still not over?”
“It may never end. I used the life support system to prevent any traces of my life force from escaping into the outside world, but I also gave myself the difficult task of providing myself 1700 years of extra time. In other words, it is all part of the plan. No matter how many failures, defeats, losses, and setbacks I face, I can redo it all.”
“Can I say something kind of mean that tramples over all that?”
“…Lilith may have died before she could learn to speak, but I doubt it was this look on your face that she loved.”
There was nothing more than that.
Kamijou never thought this was someone who could be stopped with words. He knew Aleister had invited him deep into the Windowless Building for some reason. Besides, this was Academy City, where everything was set up to be resolved with a fist. So clenching his right fist here was not leaving the rails prepared by the Board Chairman even by a millimeter.
But he did not care.
In the end, this was all Kamijou Touma had.
No matter how much he might have wished for it, he could not become a shogi player or cook in this instant. So he had to master the path he did have. Instead of worrying about the details and slamming on the brakes, he had to floor it, throw out the plans of this schemer, and grasp the results for himself. That was the only way he could accomplish anything.
“Let’s do this.”
“No words are necessary. We know each other better than that.”
Oddly, that turn of phrase brought a smile to Kamijou’s lips.
This was truly his first time meeting this “human”.
And yet Aleister’s strange statement seemed so very appropriate.
They must have been linked before he was born and they must have been enemies from the moment he was born.
No matter what explanation they gave each other, their relationship was an inseparable one.
This time, words truly were not necessary.
The two of them kicked off the ground and ran forward.
Kamijou had seen that magic battle.
And that was why he did not have to worry about being taken by surprise and killed.
The “human” named Aleister held his right hand forward. He extended his thumb and forefinger in a handgun gesture. He aimed the imaginary muzzle toward Kamijou’s belly.
And a few numbers scattered from his hand like sparks.
32, 30, 10.
Several illusionary gunshots rang out in a row. It did not matter that the gun was flintlock. If these had been actual lead bullets, there would have been nothing Kamijou could do. But this was magic. That meant his surefire right hand would work against it. Having too perfect an image of something could be both a good thing and a bad thing.
He deflected the bullets and moved right up to Aleister.
Or he should have.
Kamijou’s confused voice did not actually leave his mouth as sound.
Before it could, an unpleasant cracking sound stabbed into him from the side. He doubled over as an impact tore into his ribs. He had been running forward, but he was knocked sideways. Blood burst from his mouth as he breathed. Unable to cry out or scream, he rolled again and again across the invisible floor.
“Who are you looking at? The person standing here is the magician who has decided to live forever because he loathes the collisions between phases more than anyone else.”
“Gah…bah!? Are you saying you’ve constructed a way to gather together the unpredictable sparks and spray so you can target and fire it!?”
“Do not act so surprised by what is no more than a lightning rod. And it is limited to the magic that I launch myself. But if I had completed this spell 100 years earlier, I might have been able to show some kindness to an innocent baby.”
Kamijou could not just crawl around on the floor.
Aleister had already changed his stance. He held out his right and gently grasped the empty air. The spark-like numbers scattered: 13, 5, 32. It was like inviting fire by scraping a lighter’s flint. Kamijou had rarely ever seen the real thing, but for some reason the sharp point of a fencing sword appeared in the back of his mind.
This magic forcibly drove the desired image into the viewer’s mind.
This spell gave the value of the real object to the pantomime.
(I’m going to be…stabbed!!)
Kamijou immediately tried to roll away.
But Aleister jabbed into empty air regardless.
“The Blasting Rod.”
With that short warning, a pleasant sound stabbed into Kamijou’s right shoulder. A dark red hole as thick as his littler finger was opened there. An invisible blade had stabbed him. Even without an explanation, his instincts and the intense pain told him the answer.
The range was clearly longer than the image in the back of his mind. Could it change this much just because it had no physical form? That was Kamijou’s guess, but something was not right.
He had seen that conflict.
Magic only appeared to have infinite possibilities to those who did not understand how it worked. He only had to recall the magicians from that Golden age. They had always followed some kind of rules to produce a limited power that they then used to decorate the world as they saw fit.
Say you wanted to extend the length because the attack could not reach.
To do so, there had to be rules or a theory that allowed it.
“The Blasting…Rod!! Is that what did it!?”
“It amplifies the magic’s power to 10 times what the target thinks it is. That is the surest and simplest symbol of power that my one absolute master, Allan Bennett, specialized in. Although to avoid jealousy from foolish Westcott or Mathers, he disguised it as a trick that sent the target’s refined magic power out of control to knock them unconscious without harming them.”
Kamijou did not have time to wonder if the initial attack that had hit him, Tsuchimikado, and the others had been amplified like that.
13, 5, 32. In other words, the sword again.
He dodged based on the assumption that the length of the rapier would be 10 times the image he saw in his head, but a dark red hole was opened in his side.
“When you assume the length will be extended 10 times, the Blasting Rod uses that as the basis for the 10 times amplification. Thus, the blade is extended 100 times.”
At that length, the blade could slice across this entire space. He could not pull it out. To avoid being held in place by the imaginary blade skewering him, Kamijou grabbed it with his right hand. It shattered and vanished into the ether and he regained his freedom in exchange for losing the plug keeping the wound closed.
If Aleister had intended to eliminate all magic, he must have planned to fight the Magic Gods on his own. Had he had any realistic chance of that without an exception like Kamisato Kakeru’s World Rejecter? Kamijou had his doubts, but this seemed to be the trick.
If he could not do it as a human, he would draw out the destructive power from the Magic Gods themselves.
Drawing out the power of a god and defeating a god while remaining human was the way a summoner thought.
Instead of becoming a god, he would control them and rule them.
Nothing could have been more arrogant, but that just showed how much hatred he had in his heart.
However, that methodology actually showed some promise of working against full-power Othinus. How to mentally cut down a Magic God who had absolute confidence in their power was still a major question, but this still had far better odds than using any kind of human power against them.
“Do not think this is all there is.”
Aleister Crowley pointed toward the empty heavens.
“Why did I drive you on with the chain assassins and mountain devilishness which reaches for human karma and pushed you onward? Why did I have you climb the alternate-dimensional mountain of the third tree? Why did I have you pursue my past? Why did I reveal the Spiritual Tripping and the Blasting Rod? All things have a reason. If you do not know what that reason is, then it means you have not studied enough.”
“It is all a single ceremony,” he announced.
Then the spell user spoke a powerful name.
“Come forth, Aiwass. Use the chains that bind thoughts as guidance and complete my objective.”
Immediately afterwards, that temporary universe was filled with an explosion brighter than the sun.
In that instant, an entire city pulsated.
Still back in District 11, Shokuhou Misaki groaned at the eerie throbbing below her feet. Biological disgust ran down her back like the ground was covered in slugs, but the ground remained hard asphalt. If anything had changed, it was the girl herself.
Her muscles relaxed, she could not gather any strength, and her feet grew unsteady.
An unpleasant feeling different from pain rubbed at the organs inside her stomach like an invisible hand, so she doubled over and rubbed her inner thighs together.
She held her head and worked to maintain her thoughts.
Some juvenile halls had systems installed that prevented espers from using their powers by obstructing their concentration with the stimuli of lights, sounds, and smells, but this was different. She could only describe it in an extremely abstract way.
(…It’s being…sucked out of me…???)
Shokuhou Misaki did have a guess about this.
Not counting the chairman, the Board of Directors had only 12 members. One of those was Yakumi Hisako. When she had enacted her Agitate Halation Project, she had been served by Rensa, an esper cyborg who could use any of the Level 5s’ powers. What kind of technology had she used?
Yes, she had not created the powers herself.
Hadn’t she made her physical features match those of the existing Level 5s so she could remotely draw out their powers?
(So did the Board Chairman use his authority to place artificial nerves and blood vessels across the entirety of Academy City? Does that let him forcibly link to every esper raised here and gather their powers in a single place???)
It was quite the trick, but it had to be an extreme gamble on Aleister’s part. After all, the heat wave that had recently attacked Academy City had been caused by a largescale microwave attack. He had won out in the end, but if things had gone just a little differently, the city’s network of nerves might have been torn apart and failed to work.
It was obvious where the “powers” of 80% of the city’s 2.3 million people were being gathered.
Shokuhou felt incredible disgust as if she were being forced into a giant biological abdominal cavity.
Did this being even know what it meant to alter himself for the benefit of others? So it was not that the sunlight had weakened. Kamijou’s eyeballs must have been forced to adapt. Aiwass.
The holy guardian angel that Aleister Crowley summoned using his beloved wife’s body.
He had long, golden hair and radiant skin. But that skin was endlessly cold, so perhaps it should be described as a pale platinum.
He seemed beautiful, but perhaps that was because he was such a distant being.
He seemed like a jewel, but perhaps that was because he seemed so inorganic.
“A play at Thelema? You should have known from experience that someone would interfere even if you left England and built a temple.”
“It can talk…?”
That alone was worthy of surprise.
Kamijou had seen angels before. For example, he had seen the one known as Gabriel a few times. But they had never made their presence known quite so smoothly. In fact, they had seemed more like machines the closer he got to them.
“I see, I see. So my voice can reach you without distortion this time. That may mean the world had recalled the truth to some extent.”
Aiwass’s shoulders shook in laughter, but no emotion was visible on his face.
“And is it that strange, boy?”
“Fuse Kazakiri was used as a model for me, but she managed to maintain her mind even in her final angelic form.”
He had been created from the ground up by human hands.
From the earliest stages, he was different from a normal angel.
So…what? Was that the correct answer?
“And this is no time to be concerned with such trivial matters.”
Something impossible happened.
The angel smiled.
This was the look of someone who had stumbled across a new hobby while bored out of their mind.
“At the moment, I am your natural enemy.”
What did? Before Kamijou’s mind could catch up, he swung his fist forward and his right arm was bent at an odd angle from the shoulder. Not even the intense pain could keep up. Then something invisible burst from his shoulder and Aiwass grabbed it in his hand while still smiling.
“Ha ha!! It seems to have grown some, but it still has a long way to go. And its purity leaves much to be desired. Aleister, you’ve been making detours, haven’t you!?”
“You talk too much.”
It happened in the span of a breath. It was just like with Magic God Othinus back in Baggage City. Aiwass squeezed his hand and easily crushed whatever-it-was to death.
The pain finally caught up.
Kamijou staggered back while holding his wobbling right shoulder.
“Ignorance truly is a frightening thing,” said Aiwass. “Are you really entrusting your life to three-dimensional distance in a miniature garden where Euclid never applied in the first place?”
Something was coming.
Kamijou clenched his teeth, grabbed his destroyed shoulder, and mustered all of his strength to force the dislocated joint back into place.
As soon as he swung his arm, his body somersaulted backwards. He had just forced his shoulder back into the socket in exchange for so much pain that his vision dimmed, but the joint was dislocated again just a few seconds later.
(Dammit!! I blocked it, but I still have no idea what happened!!)
If he could at least learn what this attack was in exchange for the damage, he could come up with a plan concerning which way to dodge. But with no results, he could only continue to block the attack.
This was the great treasure built up in order to overpower all of the Magic Gods, including full-power Othinus. That meant this battle would be just as…no, more hellish than that battle.
And Aiwass was not the only one here.
Aleister made an announcement as if whispering.
“The Blasting Rod.”
That support spell would amplify an attack’s power to 10 times what the target thought it would be.
It was now a solid wall.
Holy Guardian Angel Aiwass had been amplified 10 times.
Kamijou did not even have time to fix his dislocated shoulder. He grabbed his unreliably dangling right wrist with his left hand and forcibly pulled it forward just in time for the direct clash to hit.
His feet rose from the floor.
His body flew through the air and his back slammed into a colorless and invisible wall.
A dull sound he had never heard before burst from within his body.
To be clear, this was what happened after Imagine Breaker negated everything it could.
Even if the limits of what a human could imagine had been extended 10 times…this destructive power could only be described as unbelievably great. It gave credibility to Aleister’s arrogant intent to declare war on the Magic Gods while remaining human.
Was it a hand or a wing?
It was too large to imagine the overall form. And even after it moved away, Kamijou could not move for a while. He was pinned to the wall and could not even collapse to the floor. No, he even considered the possibility that he was squished to the wall like a crushed frog.
“That’s just like a transformation,” said Aiwass. “How childish.”
“If I was not, I would not have continued falling for more than a century.”
“True enough, I suppose. If you had any sense, you would have given up long ago and your soul would have withered away.”
What could he do?
How could he punch them?
Even when Kamijou turned his thoughts inward to escape the pain before his eyes, he could not find an answer.
So when he moved, it was mostly on reflex.
He grabbed his right shoulder with his left hand and forced the joint back in place.
Having returned to his normal scale, Aiwass scoffed at the intent to continue fighting.
And the angel almost seemed to be enjoying himself.
“You’re quite the hero, aren’t you? Are you that intent on refusing to let Aleister Crowley fall on his own? Yes, I can see why you were chosen.”
“Imagine Breaker chose you. Because no matter how much this man longed for it, he only ever met failure and setbacks.”
Kamijou did not have time to search for the true meaning of those words.
The sun attacked him once more.
In that moment, a horrible chill ran down the back of 15cm Fairy Othinus who had lost her usual spot.
“Touma, Touma! Where are you!?”
She looked in an odd direction as she listened to the white nun continue to shout the boy’s name after he vanished into thin air while partway up the large spiral staircase.
“Aiwass… That name is appearing here?”
“What?” asked Fran who picked Othinus up so she would not be trampled underfoot.
The sole surviving Magic God breathed from her nose.
The spiral staircase provided much greater footing. That eliminated the risk of falling, but it also allowed the gear and handcuff rings to become a threat once more as they appeared around Maika. Thanks to that, Tsuchimikado was forced to constantly fight back. The rainbow chain skeleton and transparent flesh and blood could not be defeated without Imagine Breaker, so he was continually beating them back barehanded. Fran seemed to move slowly, but she had joined the fight as the only one who could voluntarily use magic without any risk.
“Aleister had always used the term ‘scientific’ in a positive way. He would say anything, be it spiritual or physical, was scientific as long as it was beautifully ordered and could be explained causally.”
Othinus was a big deal herself for continuing to speak with no change of tone with all this going on.
“And the peak of that theory was Aiwass. That name doesn’t come from anywhere. It doesn’t belong to any religious category. …And this world is formed from the multiple magic side phases that have been placed on top of the physical laws.” She put her hands on her hips and looked to the mountain devilishness. “Aiwass is the angel of the bottommost layer…that is, of the world of pure physical laws. That is why he is Aleister’s greatest treasure. If he establishes a means of controlling Aiwass and uses that tremendous power to destroy all of the filters other than Aiwass, only a magicless world will remain.”
The hoodie bikini girl was part of the magic side, but not even she seemed to understand.
The one who came to a stop was Index.
“Aiwass? But if that appears here while living up to the theoretical values…”
“Yes, this would have been constructed in order to oppose Magic Gods such as myself. That human doesn’t stand a chance of winning in a straight fight.”
But surprisingly, the understander did not look all that frightened.
“Every man and every woman is a star.”
“Yes. It’s really only explaining that nothing in this world is meaningless and all things are intertwined. Although it adds that the individual people have not awoken to what is right so the current gears are rusted and jammed.”
“Hm? Hmm??? What does that mean?”
“You don’t understand?”
Othinus was a god of magic, war, and deception.
If there was even the smallest chance of victory, she would not give up.
“Then let’s change how we look at this. What happens if we think about it in reverse?”
Misaka Mikoto flew around the Windowless Building with the A.A.A. attached all across her body. She too was affected by the ominously throbbing city.
Her connection was poor.
Her control of her own powers was unstable and her flight had grown unsteady.
Even so, she gave a roar.
She seemed to be throwing her words toward the other girl who was not here.
“Bear with it! Shokuhou!!”
What they had to do had not changed.
They did not have any details about what the master of the Windowless Building was plotting. The noise was so bad that she could not read the thoughts of the person she was supposedly linked to through the A.A.A. But she only had to think about it. What was the most obvious choice that would cause his pre-established harmony to crumble away? He was holed up in the world’s strongest fortress. So if she was to do anything, shouldn’t she tear away that armor and strip him bare?
She did not have to know how it ended.
She only had to stand on that stage and play a role in influencing the situation.
Sound was blown away.
The extraordinary attack of the Liquid Proof Railgun was released and stabbed randomly into the side of the Windowless Building. It was all to tear down that stronghold and push things even a millimeter away from the ideal envisioned in the Board Chairman’s head.
This would not defeat him.
Even after using every last ounce of effort and shedding tears of blood, this would not deliver a finishing blow.
“I’m sick of waiting.”
“If I was going to lose heart and give up here…”
“…I wouldn’t have stood up in the first place!!”
No matter what.
There was simply no way that Kamijou Touma could dodge the attack launched by Holy Guardian Angel Aiwass. This was a wide open space with nothing to hide behind. The blue planet was visible below and it was the ultimate away game prepared by Aleister.
But the boy did not die.
He reflexively squeezed his eyes shut when a deafening roar exploded nearby, but the pain and impact never arrived.
Once he slowly pried his convulsing eyelids back open, Kamijou regained his sense of sight.
And he saw something in front of him.
It was Mina Mathers.
With her mourning clothes, cat ears, and tail, the Black Cat Witch looked horribly out of place as she stood in the way.
The first one to voice surprise was Aleister Crowley who had supposedly prepared all of this.
The witch held a silver palette knife. It looked useless as far as attack power was concerned, but it was the ultimate source which had drawn, colored, and constructed the many cards and ceremonial tools used by the Golden cabal.
Mina Mathers’ weapon was art. Perhaps that made her like Prometheus who had given fire to humanity. Her skill had given concrete form to the uncertain inspiration held by so many magicians.
The rainbow line drawn in space by the palette knife was her everything.
“Was this really so far beyond your expectations?”
The palette knife gradually distorted, bent, and lost its form, but it still continued to hold back Aiwass’s attack.
“Out of everyone from the Golden age, you chose me as your host. You could have chosen your wife Rose or your daughter Lilith, but you chose me, Mina Mathers. The wife of your bitter enemy is an extremely unstable position. So I can guess that you predicted this failure and some part of your heart hoped that I would take Kamijou Touma’s side.”
The confusion finally reached Kamijou.
He clenched his right fist again and his blank mind could not understand any of this.
“Why did you appear here? Weren’t you a part of those illusions!? Huh, but didn’t my left hand touch you…and your breast was really soft…huh!?”
“Instead of giving into confusion, please go over the information one piece at a time. First, a lifeless illusion cannot use magic. All magic must be powered by refined magic power and that requires a life force at its base.”
“I see,” spat out Aiwass in the tone of someone enjoying an accident. “Aleister, it would seem you have failed yet again.”
Then what was this?
She was not a created illusion. But it was unthinkable for the real human Mina Mathers to appear here. After all, she would have lost to Aleister in a magic battle long ago and she would have vanished into the shadows of history. Then who was this who had used magic and saved Kamijou?
“You most likely already know the answer. At least, you should now that you have seen so much of Aleister Crowley.”
“I am the Reading Thoth 78 built into the Windowless Building. I am no more than a parallel processing device made to prove whether or not Administrator Aleister Crowley’s adjustments to his plan are correct or not.”
Kamijou Touma was not the one to gasp.
It was Aleister and this likely meant he had finally arrived at the answer.
“The core of my thoughts is made up of the 78 tarot cards constructed by my administrator himself. But that can also be seen as sorting them all into a single book.”
In other words…
The being who borrowed the form of the Black Cat Witch gave the answer.
“I am also an original grimoire named the Thoth Tarot. Even if I cannot refine my own magic power as a living being can, the forbidden writings absorb power from my surroundings to automatically use magic for self-defense.”
A few rumbling noises burst out.
The rainbow art deflected the heavenly tyranny.
The distorted palette knife and holy guardian angel’s wings collided, but the Black Cat Witch was still not defeated.
They were both Aleister Crowley’s greatest masterpieces.
“The Thoth Tarot is an alternative sorting derived from the official GD model and it contains the essence of Holy Guardian Angel Aiwass within it. The 20th card of the Major Arcana is named the Aeon. That card originally symbolized the final judgment, but you changed the arcana because you decided that judgment had already occurred when you contacted Aiwass in 1904. Meaning…”
“Ha ha! This is just like Rensa. Does that grimoire contain text that can draw power from me!?”
That was why she was capable of striking back.
Even if hers was only borrowed, both sides were wielding Aiwass’s power.
And the validity of the fundamental theory had already been proven by Aleister himself by using an esper cyborg to draw power out of the 7 Level 5s.
“But borrowed power is no more than that,” warned Aiwass. “It will not last forever.”
“I do not mind. Even as he stands and watches here, Aleister Crowley is constantly falling. I only need to buy enough time for the conclusion to arrive.”
Was there more?
Kamijou wondered that, but that was the wrong question.
Why was the Black Cat Witch…no, the Thoth Tarot turning on Aleister, her master?
“Every man and every woman is a star.” The mourning clothes and cat-ears lady whispered through her veil. “My administrator’s ideology states that no one is unnecessary to the world so long as they behave as they should, but that also means that the entire music box will stop playing if even a single gear is missing. And, Aleister, you are already watching your house of cards crumble.”
A low rumbling reached them.
But the source was far away. This was the sound of destruction in some other place.
Aleister shouted the answer.
“An attack from outside… The A.A.A.’s usurper!?”
“With this, it will all collapse. I described it as a house of cards. Even slight damage will cause the whole to topple. Your failure will not stop at just one. Once it begins, it will trigger a chain reaction as more and more of your plan collapses. Just like you once lost the Temple of Thelema due to a single accident.”
“Why did this innocent boy come here?”
The question naturally had an answer.
“To find a way to safely remove the magic sword stabbed into Tsuchimikado Maika. If you used it all to ensure the stability of Aiwass’s summoning, then doesn’t that seem like an important risk concerning the collapse of your plan?”
The answer had been in front of their eyes the entire time.
Othinus spoke while still held in Fran’s hands.
“Expand your perception.”
This was a mysterious space where Euclidean geometry did not apply. But that condition had partially collapsed at the moment.
An attack from outside had cracked the wall, so the space was no longer enclosed like it was meant to be. In an amusement park’s house of mirrors, breaking just one of the many mirrors would destroy its perfection.
“Focus on the scenery outside of the broken wall and use that to build up your picture of the whole. Yes, yes. Damn, we should have done this in the first place instead of letting those rainbow chains distract us. We entered the building through the giant hole created by the damage to the rocket boosters!!”
Once Fran looked at the world from the proper focal point, the fantastical scene was entirely gone. The entire scene was swept away like clearing fog and she saw a space of steel and rare metals that was lined with computers the size of industrial refrigerators and had countless thick cables crawling along the floor.
“We revealed the temple, but Touma didn’t come back!!”
“He went in too deep. If we’re going to have a chance to rescue him, we need to start by destroying the perfection of Aleister Crowley’s structure.”
What did they need to do?
Why had they risked so much to enter the Windowless Building?
“Pull out everything in storage. If there’s a spell for safely removing the sword in this girl’s chest, that will be our greatest weapon. Every man and every woman is a star. If he used everything for this, then losing even one of the gears means to lose the entire world. So even if we’re here, we’re still fighting alongside Kamijou Touma.”
Pulling out the data was a task for Tsuchimikado and Fran who were good with machines.
Data like this would normally have been protected by strange encryption or even stored in a format different from any known programming language, but they were surprised to find plain text that anyone could read.
Almost as if someone had prepared it there for them.
“Fran-chan, wait! Don’t look at that!!”
The hoodie bikini girl groaned and Tsuchimikado wrinkled his brow behind his sunglasses.
This was the infection of an original grimoire’s toxin.
Only one of them could fight that.
“It’s not so much the foundational theories of Magick as it is a dictionary or correspondence chart of symbols and numbers. Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism, the Golden cabal…no, this goes beyond that. The manuscript before Liber 777 was released into the world. Is it just scribbled out notes? The 7 stars of Olympus, a conversion between the Eastern I Ching and the Western 4 great elements, unique tarot cards, Egyptian gods, how to create symbolic weapons… Oh, I see. A virginal magic sword!! Yes, this should work.”
But who was it that had drawn out all that knowledge? Grimoire Library Index. But he would have known that she lived in Academy City and had entered the Windowless Building. Which meant…
“It wasn’t Aleister,” said Othinus. “He does not care if he succeeds or fails. So he will cast the die for real. It isn’t like him to intentionally self-destruct by showing off how to defeat him.”
The information at hand was not enough to find the answer, but there was one thing they could say. This too must have been something Aleister Crowley had not expected.
And Othinus spoke calmly to Tsuchimikado as he dealt with the rainbow chain beasts that glowed like LED suits or mountain devilishness that drew out human karma.
“Hey, bloody Onmyouji. You’re up.”
“…Seriously? You don’t hold back. There’s a girl right there who can use magic without any side effects.”
“You’re trading roles. Fran can handle the chain beasts. Yes, don't whine even if the coloration change will cause your magic to go out of control. If we fail, that sword made from a combination of multiple meanings will shatter and a life will be lost.”
“Well, I should be able to fight just fine as long as I use spells that don’t involve a coloration.”
The hoodie bikini girl and Tsuchimikado Motoharu stood back to back and then spun around.
They changed which way they were facing as if they were passing each other in a revolving door.
“I have no reason to feel concern for any human besides my understander.” The 15cm god sighed. “It may not be logical. Or efficient. …But don’t give someone else the job of saving your family. Got that?”
The sunglasses boy’s shoulders relaxed.
And he spoke.
“Fine then. It’s time for Onii-chan to show off just how cool he is.”
Holy Guardian Angel Aiwass had looked so perfect, but an impurity had clearly entered him. Something ran through him like static and his outline wavered unpredictably. A small triangular prism could be seen in the center of his head.
But he seemed to be enjoying it.
Something in this world could still harm him. That should have been a bad thing for him, but he seemed to celebrate it.
“So it ends in failure this time too. Honestly, the world looks so simple, but it is a surprisingly large place. Isn’t that right, Aleister?”
That was as far as he got.
Like an unreliable candle being blown out, the supposedly strongest Aiwass entirely vanished.
At the same time, the Thoth Tarot, which was using the Black Cat Witch’s appearance, lost her greatest power since she had been borrowing it from him.
“Too great an attraction can distort even the flow of one’s life force. But that ends now. A bullet or even a fist can reach you now.”
And hadn’t Mina Mathers said she only had to buy enough time for the conclusion to arrive?
“Go get him, innocent boy.”
The one who stepped forward in the very, very end was the kind of normal high school boy one could find anywhere.
The “human” here had sworn he would strike back against god in the very, very beginning and he had even betrayed the magic he believed in and relied on, but now his lips clearly moved.
“I will wipe clean this false scenery covered by the countless colored glasses of the phases.”
Aleister Crowley had experienced failure countless times. Even if he faced a crisis, his stance would never change.
“I will destroy all of the phases and correct this world that manipulates people without their knowledge! This goes beyond Lilith’s death! I will remake this world which buries those tragedies by saying they can’t be helped!! And to do that…to do that, I will…!!!!!!”
“Did you never stop to think that all that formless stuff might sometimes protect people’s happiness?”
This may not have been something Kamijou Touma was meant to say.
He was a resident of the science side and this city tended to interpret legends and religions from a scientific perspective, so this argument may have been out of place coming from him.
But who was it that had placed the division between the magic side and science side? And what had he been trying to accomplish by dividing the world in two?
That was obvious.
Aleister Crowley had intentionally restricted people’s freedom of thought for his own ends. Without any of them noticing, he had set up the entire world to criticize the thing he hated. Academy City’s way of thinking was formed by the rules that Aleister had decided on, so Kamijou was not obligated to follow them. He needed to spread the wings of imagination further than that.
“The collisions between phases bring about both meetings and partings, right? It can also become a power that supports your back when you need it most, right? Can’t you think of it as the thing that lets you regain your strength and stand back up that one last time!?”
“Nonsense… Are you going to applaud the meaninglessly biased world for giving you bits of fortune that do not even amount to scraps? Even when you know there are some who are trampled underfoot by it!?”
Kamijou Touma had no idea what was right.
So he asked a question of the person who believed he was 100% right.
“What if I said innocent Lilith’s soul arrived safely in heaven and she’s smiling there now!! Are you going to trample on and unconditionally reject that belief!?”
There was a definite gasp.
He had lost his absolute correctness. So Kamijou Touma continued while stepping forward.
“Tell me, rejecter of the mystical. What happened to Lilith afterwards!? Do you just plug in all the scientific equations and say she rotted below the dirt as a mass of protein that’s life functions had stopped!? Declining times when you have nothing to rely on and an age of equal misfortune can’t be easy. But is it equal and fair to tell a dying child to crawl back up on her own? Even if fortune and misfortune are being manipulated by an outside force, can’t we fill that gap if everyone shares their good fortune with those in need!? Well!!!???”
This was what the avenger had lacked.
He could be cold-hearted. He did not need to have great courage. But if he had believed that the vanished life was smiling in heaven, he most likely would not have had to resort to revenge.
He would not have had to destroy the Golden cabal.
He would not have had to kill his former friends and teachers.
…He may have seen no reason for those dreadful acts and been forgiven at some point.
“That’s all make-believe.”
“Perhaps,” admitted Kamijou.
“My thoughts are not so narrow that they can be shaken by something so uncertain!!”
“But I have to believe it’s true!! I have to believe that your daughter went to heaven!! I have to believe that it’s wrong if people aren’t rewarded in the afterlife if they didn’t do anything bad!! I don’t know what a soul is. I can’t explain where exactly heaven is. But I have to believe that it exists and that it mustn’t be taken away by someone on the outside! And that those of us left here have to treat those lives with respect!! This alone I can’t let anyone deny. Aleister Crowley, even if you’re her father, I won’t let you deny this!!”
There was no more need for words.
32, 30, 10. Aleister formed a handgun with his right hand and Kamijou Touma’s right hand deflected the imaginary bullet. Then the magician’s lips uttered a spell: the Blasting Rod. But before its power could take effect, the Black Cat Witch lightly threw her palette knife.
It stabbed into something in the empty air and a twisted silver staff fell to the invisible floor.
“Here we have someone who cast aside his own beliefs to show concern for Lilith while he stays true to himself using only his fist. So why is the father fleeing to petty tricks out of fear of the answer?”
Kamijou Touma finally arrived right in front of Aleister.
But the Board Chairman was not out of ammunition yet. While it was limited to the magic he used, he could wield a power similar to the sparks or spray created from the colliding phases and he could direct it toward a target.
This was the same sort of power that had driven his beloved daughter to her death. It was a contradictory hidden technique covered in the same sin as those he so hated.
What did it feel like to have that as his only option for a final trump card?
Aleister Crowley was constantly failing.
That was already well established, but Kamijou could not help but sense the irony of fate here.
And Kamijou Touma never did think about dodging.
This was nothing as clean as a cross counter.
Both of their attacks stabbed mercilessly into the other’s body.
Kamijou Touma’s ribs cried out in protest. The invisible attack that dug into his side worked at destroying his flesh.
Meanwhile, his fist definitely buried itself in the Board Chairman’s face. He could feel something small breaking in that face.
Did it last an instant or an eternity?
After a short silence, movement returned.
First, a voice was heard.
This magician supposedly knew everything there was to know about the world, yet he asked a simple question. It was so simple that it was hard to know what he meant by it.
But Kamijou Touma gave his answer.
“There’s only one reason you lost: At some point, you stopped standing on the side that protected the sanctity of Lilith’s soul.”
That was all.
Aleister Crowley’s body crumbled straight down.