Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume20 Epilogue
Epilogue: The Golden Approaches from Beyond the Horizon – Dawn_to_the…
At any rate, it was December.
England was said to be relatively warm compared to some other European nations and they were inside a tunnel, but midwinter was still midwinter.
“It’s so cold.”
Those words naturally left someone’s mouth.
But it was not Orsola who had been left with a tarp wrapped around her nudity after losing Isis-Demeter. It was Kamijou Touma who had been unable to sit idly by and had lent her his jacket.
A lot could get through a single hoodie.
“Ababa, abababababa!? Wha-? Am I…am I going to be okay!? I’m shivering from the very core of my body and I can’t stop!!”
“Don’t be silly, human. This is nothing compared to the blizzards of Denmark, right?”
“How in the world did you survive that snowy region in what amounts to a swimsuit? Is it cause you’re a god, or cause you’re the type to not catch cold!?”
“Did you think I wouldn’t pick up on that because it’s a Japanese proverb? I am well aware that you say idiots do not catch cold.”
“I don’t think proverb is the right word for that!!”
Kamijou protested, but no one was listening and the palm-sized fairy pulled rather strongly on his ear.
Meanwhile, the perfect sexy young woman named Orsola Aquinas looked apologetic as she wore a boy’s school uniform jacket over her bare skin and used her hands to hold the chest and bottom in place. The giant butterwort petals blocking the way were gone, as were the luciferase-containing algae that had illuminated the darkness. She was only visible thanks to the cellphone backlight.
“U-umm, should I give this back?”
“Oh, shut up. And how are you fine, anyway!? Does that cross protect you or something!? Or have we reached the point where no one on the magic side can wear adequate clothing!?”
“But wouldn’t it be better if I did return this jacket?”
“You’re just repeating yourself!! I think your habit of jumping between topics is headed in a new direction. And why aren’t you worried about your own nudity!? Don’t look at me with that benevolent ‘my, my, hee hee hee’ expression!!”
The only reason Kamijou had yet to freeze to death was the presence of a sexy blonde young woman who was a legit dorm manager and wore only his school uniform’s jacket, but he decided it was best to keep that burning passion hidden. What’s this? These chips taste even better than before, but they didn’t even raise the price. But due to his frequent misfortune, he actually began to worry about something going majorly wrong when he saw this kind of blessing.
“Ow, ow, ow, ow!! My ear’s half-frozen, so you’re just gonna tear it off, Othinus! And see!? The deck really has been stacked against my life!”
“You’re not hiding it at all. Your worldly thoughts are near impossible to miss. (…And it’s not like I don’t have anything at all in the chest department. Hmph.)”
At any rate…
“Orsola, London is something of a mess right now, so do you know someplace you can rely on? If not, I’ll leave you with Birdway who at least has the power of an organization.”
“W-well, there is always the British Museum.”
“Then you head there. Oh, and make sure you apologize to Agnese and the others from the women’s dorm. They must have been worried sick. Also, never again touch something like that Divine Mixture. Tell the Royal Family or Knights to get lost if they try to make you. Holegres Mirates? I’ll punch him, so don’t worry about it. In fact, I’m a little concerned I’ll accidentally kill that bastard the instant I meet him.”
A slight shadow came over Orsola’s face as she held the borrowed jacket around herself.
The next thing Kamijou knew, she was gently holding her cross in her hand.
She had used the wrong method, but if she would just agree to this, she never would have reached for Isis-Demeter in the first place.
She had wanted to protect something even if it meant straying from the proper path.
But everything he had done would be for naught if she started following him around in order to repay her debt or whatever. He had to draw a clear line in the sand here. As cruel as it might be.
So what words would be most effective in holding that kind nun back?
“Fine, fine. I get it, I get it! I’ll protect it!!”
He winked and pointed at her with his right index finger.
He was being very rude, but Kamijou Touma definitely made the promise.
“I swear I’ll protect your women’s dorm. And while I’m at it, I’ll protect London, England, and the whole damn world. So don’t worry, Orsola.”
It was night at an unnamed Egyptian oasis.
Inside an RV parked alongside it, a calico cat named Sphinx finally stood on its hind legs and spoke in an extremely cool voice.
“Hello, everyone. It would seem the time has finally come for me to take action.”
A displeased groan came from the crib.
Mina Mathers, the cat ears widow(!?) in mourning clothes, remained expressionless as she held the calico cat from behind and gave it a voice via ventriloquism.
“Yes, yes, that wasn’t very interesting, was it? But this RV only came equipped with the necessities, so it is short on entertainment.”
After using a brush to get the cat fur out of her mourning clothes, Mina Mathers gently lifted the baby from the crib. How many times had she done this now? Baby Lilith did not seem to like the RV’s TV or radio, so Mina had to pick her up whenever she awoke from her shallow sleep.
Since she was more of a cat person than a dog person, the capricious widow(!!) was easily distracted, but she did have extremely high-level calculation abilities. Even now, she was enjoying a pixel-art fighting game she had programmed in her mind. She was not just imagining she was playing a game. She truly had programmed it based on the actual hardware specs.
But when her yoga warrior with extending limbs was pummeled by slaps from the sumo wrestler she had programmed herself, she could only form a small triangle with her mouth.
“Call it unfair all you want, but I do not have the equipment to output the video. I can reproduce the household game system in my head, but I cannot display it on the TV. Sucking on me will not change anything. It is not my fault you are bored. Blame the product specifications.”
And while she held the baby, the cat ears on her head twitched. With dogs, it would be the nose, but with cats, it was the ears. The two ears could move independently and they could accurately pick up sounds like a directional shotgun microphone. They were sensitive enough to tell if the footsteps outside the door belonged to their owner or not.
Mina Mathers was focused on something outside the RV.
(This oasis is a good distance from the Nile and it shouldn’t be on any maps.)
The mourning clothes and cat ears magician gently returned displeased Lilith to the crib and pulled out a palette knife.
The fact that Aleister Crowley had left Mina Mathers here hinted that she had been considering the possibility of failure. And just like in computer security, there may have been no such thing as absolute safety in this world.
Whoever this visitor was, the risk was much greater if they were aware of her presence here.
The question was whether or not they were at a level that Mina Mathers could repel.
Should she use the palette knife in her hand, or the RV’s steering wheel?
While the lady thought, the visitor arrived in front of the stainless steel door.
And in a perfect show of politeness, a knock came at the door.
Silver sand floated in the air and stone materials were everywhere in London’s twisted new form, but a strange sound was mixed in. It was so simplistic that it took a moment to realize it was malicious laughter.
She had a short and slender frame imbalanced by ample sensual curves.
She had rainbow-colored hair that spread out like an umbrella and had inward-curling ends.
She wore a dress of falsehoods made from English newspapers discolored yellow and brown, silver duct tape tightly wrapped around the chest and hips, and decorations of thumbtacks and pieces of beer bottles. She could not even get up off the ground, so she lay face down with her fingers grabbing the road surface.
“Nee hee, ee hee hee, cough, hee hee hee hee hee hee hee.”
She was something similar to a life that was created based on the tree of evil. By possessing her target and spreading destruction, she could spill poison into unified groups and inspire discord and collapse. She was an artificial demon procured by Coronzon and made to match that great demon’s nature: 333, dispersion.
Qliphah Puzzle 545.
The translucent demon had a disconcerting hole in her forehead and her limbs remained weak as she crawled along the dirty road like a bug. Even so, she had not been thrown out. She had not disappeared. Aleister had failed to fully kill her. Aleister must have been satisfied with destroying all 10 spheres, but the 22 paths were just as important for the tree of evil. If those remained, she only had to fill in the holes. She could recover.
However, that work would take a very long time to complete.
And no matter how ugly and extraneous her survival was, that demon would still take the optimal action toward fulfilling her given objective: driving everyone of this country mad. Even if everyone had forgotten about her and even if she had been deemed not a threat. Just like Great Demon Coronzon had remained fixated on Aleister Crowley after making a contract in the past.
A merciless voice reached the crawling demon from above.
That was all it took for the demon girl to stop moving like a stake had been driven through her heart.
The Greeks had created a legend upon seeing the Sphinx. What has four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening? Humans. A baby crawls on all fours and an adult walks on two legs, but what did it mean for the elderly to walk on three legs?
This visitor’s footsteps contained the clack of a modern design cane.
“Y’know, everything felt so disjointed since the triple-quadruple barrier was broken. An artificial demon and Divine Mixtures, was it? Those additional defenses didn’t seem to fit together much.”
“But if you force them to fit together, you can see what the original idea was. I mean, those Divine Mixtures expanded the misunderstandings between people and used the intolerance that follows, so it would’ve been a whole lot worse if you had possessed the user. No matter what anyone said, you would’ve maliciously ensured that no mutual understanding could ever be found. There’d be nothing anyone could do if a demon could draw out power rivalling a god.”
“Hee, nee hee, ee hee hee hee. Hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee, heeeee!?”
The last part was definitely not a laugh.
While the translucent demon girl lay face down on the ground, a cane slammed down next to her head with the user’s full body weight behind it. Her strange body was not what mattered. It was like her mind and heart had been thoroughly broken and controlled. And the peak spat some words out at that symbol of immorality who lay pathetically on the ground.
“Don’t worry. I’m not a good person.”
“Because Aleister divided the planet between science and magic, I only understand one half of the world. And I doubt I can study up on the other side overnight. …Come to think of it, I think Tsuchimikado was having some trouble with this stuff, but I don’t want to try it out before I understand it. I’m sure I would regret it if I did.”
Accelerator readily spat out the words.
A tear-jerking happy ending. The two enemies had exposed their hearts to each other, opened up and spoke with each other, and created a mutual connection.
It was all very simple.
But when Accelerator saw that beauty of the world, he could not simply rejoice and he felt an uncomfortable feeling like it was all so phony. Was that a sign that his very essence belonged to the evil side?
“Aleister is acting so modest that I find her hard to believe. I’m betting she would pretend to reveal everything to me while keeping the most important parts hidden. If I have to decide between fully trusting that Board Chairman or fully mistrusting her, I’ll go with the latter. And multiple sources is always a good thing when trying to increase your literacy on a subject.”
“Hee, hee hee. So what are you telling me to do? Hee hee hee.”
“I want to keep a hands-off, wait-and-see approach with magic, so when magic is necessary, you use it in my place. And when I run into an incomprehensible problem, lend me whatever bizarre knowledge I need. Make yourself useful and I will ensure your survival.”
The unnaturally sensual demon blinked like a small child as she thought for a while. Accelerator must have been annoyed by the irregular waving of the tentacle-like tail extending from her somewhat raised butt because he grabbed the end as it moved to and fro in front of his face.
“I’m only asking the one time. There’s no real reason it has to be you, so if you say no, I’ll deliver the finishing blow and try elsewhere.”
Finally, the demon answered with her tail in his hand.
“D-do you – hee hee hee – do you mean…?”
“Make a contract with me, demon. That’s your specialty, right?”
It was a major commotion.
Orsola Aquinas wearing nothing but the coat to a boy’s school uniform was too great a bombshell. Othinus should have been on Kamijou’s side, but she was overcome by intolerance and a refusal to understand. And after waking up, Aleister did nothing but grin at the boy’s misfortune. Once they reached the surface, they found Index and Leivinia waiting. A horrific tragedy was unavoidable.
It was a tragedy of war.
There was only one way Kamijou Touma could sum it up:
“Constructing an environment where you can laugh off hardships is a good thing.”
Aleister was even more beaten up than Kamijou, so the boy lent her his shoulders.
With her spot on his shoulder taken, Othinus dangled from the string of his hood while looking somewhat uncomfortable.
“I could not have hoped to win there. …When Lilith died, I took my anger out on my wife. And that ultimately led to Lola disliking me too. Not even constructing Academy City gave my heart any solace. I was stuck in a stalemate, I couldn’t stop attracting hate, and I couldn’t make any progress. Until you punched me, that is.”
They had taken quite a detour, but they finally crossed the winding Thames and reached the political center of the city. London’s Westminster Abbey was one of the largest cathedrals in England’s capital and even the Royal Family used it for official ceremonies.
“But, hm. So it was a magical transformer using the differently-shaped coils created from the discrepancies between people. Coronzon put some thought into that one…but does she have no fear at all? It was certainly an excellent Crowley killer, but to think she tried to connect to your inner side.”
“Have you forgotten what happened to Rensa, the esper cyborg who readily hijacked the #3 or the #5’s powers when ordered to by Yakumi Hisako as part of the Agitate Halation Project? She was destroyed the instant she tried to read you. A similar self-destruction could have happened here.”
“…If you’re not actually going to explain, I’m just going to put this off until later, you damn intellectual.”
“Ha ha. I see. You are very different from those newspaper reporters who could never rest easy unless they asked for every last detail. I kind of like being trusted enough to have my hints entirely ignored. I can see why that Magic God desired an understander.”
Kamijou felt a kick to his chest. The god must have been very displeased at having her spot taken and then having the usurper pretend to know how she felt.
Westminster Abbey was known for its two towers, but just like old stone castles and cathedrals, it was a complex mixture of different construction styles because construction had taken so long to complete. Perhaps because it had been built and remodeled over decades and even centuries, the building itself swelled out like bubbles, making it look like it was actually growing.
“What of Coronzon’s is hidden here? I mean, I can tell it’s an incredible building, but still.”
“We need not enter the building itself. We are interested in the graveyard.”
“I am not making zombies, so do not give me that look.”
Kamijou had heard this was registered as a world heritage site, but there were no guards to speak of. Had the VIPs left London after the triple-quadruple final barrier and the Divine Mixtures had been destroyed, or had all personnel been gathered to protect the capital?
Whatever the reason, there was no one left here.
Since they could have run into extraordinarily cruel warriors like Stiyl or Acqua, they were most fortunate it was abandoned. Kamijou wanted to hurry up and do what they needed to do in order to strike back at Great Demon Coronzon.
“…What I need is Mathers.”
“I do not mean that figuratively. I have business with Samuel MacGregor Mathers himself.”
The silver girl said this while staring straight ahead and borrowing his shoulder.
“But…didn’t you kill him yourself? Y’know, during that Battle of Blythe Road where you destroyed the Golden cabal.”
“That is why I am looking for his remains.”
The sinister answer was finally given.
“Did you forget? That greedy genius Mathers summoned Great Demon Coronzon before I did. And he ordered the demon to trip me up and kill me. In order to fulfill that command, Coronzon eventually possessed my second daughter, Lola. …Mathers had long since died, so the demon’s work ethic is almost admirable.”
“What does that matter? …No, wait.”
“Exactly.” Aleister smiled in an undeniably wicked way. “333, dispersion. At the foundation, Great Demon Coronzon is supported by her connection to Mathers. Coronzon claimed killing me had severed that connection to Mathers, but is that really true? I may have been killed, but here I am moving around like normal and greatly influencing the entire world. Can you really look at this and say Crowley is dead? At the very least, I doubt this is the kind of death Mathers had in mind. If that connection really was worthless, do you think Lola would have secretly retrieved Mathers’s remains and carefully stored them at Westminster Abbey where historical kings are buried?”
“Mathers has a contract with Coronzon. And rather than being bound by that contract, it feels more like Coronzon is using the bonds to strengthen herself. …So what if I pass power through his remains as a relay device? If I send commands through Mathers’s silent remains, I may be able to indirectly control Coronzon.”
That gave them a way of defeating that demon.
They could strip Coronzon from Lola’s flesh and bring an end to this history of constant failure.
And they arrived.
Given the overall size of Westminster Abbey, it felt quite cramped. With the walls surrounding it, it probably did not get much sun. For a foreigner like Kamijou, it was a little hard to imagine just how much of an honor it would be to be buried in that land.
“This is it.”
Aleister Crowley gently removed her arm from Kamijou’s shoulders.
The silver girl was facing a gravestone with a completely different name on it. It was entirely different from what a Japanese person would imagine. The marble nameplate was embedded in the ground above the grass. Another broad stone panel stood up next to it, but Kamijou could not tell if it was describing the deceased’s personal history or beliefs.
The scoffing magician showed no restraint here.
She stabbed a fallen tree branch into the grass and dug up the soil until the branch broke. Then she got down on all fours and dug with her hands. Digging up a grave was such a profane act that not even Kamijou could lend a hand. It was a ghastly thing. Was this a sign of how Aleister Crowley viewed those other members of the Golden cabal, or had her wounds not healed as much as she had thought?
It took a truly long time, but Aleister eventually completed it.
It had likely been oak coated with several layers of varnish. The long and narrow coffin was a little bigger than Kamijou’s dorm bathtub and it was already falling apart. When he saw its size, Kamijou finally recalled that Westerners were not always cremated, so he covered his mouth with a hand. His mind was shaken by the fact that odors were sensed by tiny particles entering your body through the nose’s mucous membranes. The remains would not appear “as they were” unless the entire body had turned to grave wax, but the word “corpse” still rattled his mind. The feeling of aversion was powerful.
“…I’m back, Mathers.”
With her clothes, hands, and face a mess, the moonlit silver girl gave a gruesome smile.
“Your old friend and nemesis Crowley has returned.”
It did not take long after that.
Like a child excitedly tearing the wrapping from a present, she tore away the coffin lid which had grown soft from moisture. While the moonlight shined on her silver girl form, the magician revealed the hidden remains.
When Kamijou saw it, it did not seem like much and that thought surprised him.
It was even lighter than the Magic God known as the High Priest. When the coffin had rotted away, small bugs, bacteria, and decomposing germs must have gotten inside. No flesh, blood, or even skin remained. It was not as white as the model skeletons found in schools, but it was a full set of bones from head to toe. The overall impression really was of it being “light”. No matter how great someone’s historical accomplishments, would they always end up like this after death? The visual accentuated the impermanence of worldly things.
However, Aleister Crowley came to a sudden stop.
At first, Kamijou thought the memories were rushing back to the magician despite how much she claimed to hate this person.
But that was completely wrong.
“Who is this?”
Those words were entirely unexpected.
It even took her a while to come to terms with what she had said. Finally, Aleister leaned over the skeleton and began examining it.
“This isn’t Mathers…? That can’t be. But wait…”
“What’s going on? Can you really tell just by looking at the bones!?”
“Do you have any idea how much I loathed him? First of all, the skull is completely wrong. You would never get Mathers’s features by fleshing this out with clay… His fingers should be skinnier and there should be some scraping on the hip joint and thighbone because he had a habit of leaning his weight to the right. Yes, that’s right. You saw the Battle of Blythe Road, didn’t you? The wound I gave him then is not here either!”
“There’s still a lot I don’t get about how Spiritual Tripping works, but does it leave actual scars behind? Both for the normal injuries I took and the illusionary ones that ended as duds!?”
“No, not that.” Aleister must have been panicking because she was speaking rapidly. “Mathers stopped the previous Imagine Breaker – that arrow – with his own arm, remember? Look at the arm bones. There aren’t any cracks or signs of repair that would correspond to that!!”
The person buried in this grave was not Mathers who was linked to Coronzon. What did that mean?
Kamijou looked around.
“Could you have gotten it wrong? Um, is he buried in another grave?”
Aleister said nothing.
But not because she had stopped thinking. Her face was soaked with sweat. She had already considered the worst possibility, but she could not bring herself to accept it. Her panic and tension was obvious.
There was a quiet sound.
The silver girl’s shoulders jumped like she had heard a ghost’s footstep.
The Aleister Crowley was acting like a scolded child.
Kamijou himself turned around as stiffly as an unoiled doll. He had seen the demise of the Golden cabal inside the Windowless Building. And thanks to that knowledge, he immediately rejected the idea. It was not possible. It simply could not be. Even if this was a graveyard where the living thought of the dead, this level of interaction was too much. An incredible taboo pushed in from the depths of the darkness. Bright colors encroached on his vision.
The military uniform was dyed bright red and blue in a way never seen in modern camouflage. It may have been a Scottish cavalry uniform. A witch-like hat and cloak were worn over it.
In a way, the standing figure had an even greater presence than Crowley and they looked like self-confidence made flesh.
There was an extremely simple argument to be made.
The person who should have been dead had not been in the expected grave.
Then where was he?
After crawling out of the grave, the dirt-covered girl stared blankly at the imposing figure and provided the answer.