Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume22R Prologue
Prologue: The Path to Battle’s End – Road_to_the_Peace.
The most conspicuous structure in England’s capital of London was the Tower of London.
That antique prison sat on the bank of the Thames which was dyed orange by the setting sun. Many citizens had seen its thick stone walls collapse from within during the disaster caused by the Crowley’s Hazards.
…In truth, it had not been attacked by those bizarre monsters. Nor had it been crushed by the ancient Egyptian ruins that rained down from the empty sky. In truth, a spiky-haired boy imprisoned there had unintentionally destroyed the facility with his right hand’s Imagine Breaker, but that did not really matter.
The restless atmosphere had snuck in there as well.
Repairs were underway while everything was hidden behind gray construction sheets, but the onlookers who hesitantly poked their heads out were aiming their digital cameras and phones toward it. It was an important structure throughout much of English history and uploading photos like this to gather attention would only result in a storm of flaming and criticism, but these onlookers must not have thought it through that far.
And among all that…
“Yes. The battle is over.”
A girl’s voice slipped in with the loveliness of a small bell.
It belonged to Anna Sprengel of the Rosicrucians who had an even longer history than the Golden cabal.
She was the master of their No. 1 temple in Germany.
But no one noticed her arrival.
Even though everyone was holding digital devices and essentially viewing the scene through a single giant compound eye. In fact, not even the Anglican jailers noticed her and they had been careful enough to set up a people-clearing field and several other deception and stealth spells to keep anyone from seeing what lay within the gray sheets.
The Rosicrucian order had the following rule:
A true magician must blend in with the ordinary people and only contact those with an honest heart that had undergone sufficient training.
“Let’s review, Aiwass. I would like to hear what happened while my body was stolen.”
“Very well. Providing information is one of my angelic duties.”
A girl who looked to be around ten walked forward.
Was it Mathers who had said the Secret Chiefs had the physical appearance of those who had drunk the Elixir of Life?
They were a similar yet different sort of being from the Magic Gods.
They were experts with superhuman skill.
Some might call them the people who guided humanity from the shadows while giving approval for the establishment and management of all magic cabals…but that might be trusting Westcott’s claims a little too much.
Technically, he had never said the Secret Chiefs were Rosicrucian experts, but the Golden cabal had undeniably been focused on the Rosen. After all (according to Westcott), it was the Rosicrucians who had given permission for their magic cabal to be established, so the Golden only existed to promote the Rosen. If the Rosen turned out to be frauds, then their own reputation would take a hit as well.
However, Anna Sprengel was not actually a Secret Chief.
She was something like a priestess capable of contacting them at will.
Comparing Aiwass with Othinus might help clarify the difference between Secret Chiefs and Magic Gods.
“There’s no point in going to the trouble of becoming a Secret Chief when you can set up a position for yourself that lets you draw on their power. Those transcendent beings are like credit cards.”
“Did you say something?”
She climbed through the large hole in the wall.
Her ringlet curls were squished flat at the ends, making them look like fried shrimps. That reddish-blonde hair reached her ankles, so it dragged behind her. The dress that had contained her previously alluring body now had to be held to her flat chest like bedsheets. Her footsteps were those of bare feet because the shoe size had been hopelessly wrong. Too big or too small would only harm her right now.
“I will omit some things since we would be here all day if I explained everything that happened,” began Aiwass. “But the direct trigger was Lola Stuart – that is, Great Demon Coronzon – making a surprise attack on Academy City Board Chairman Aleister.”
“This is already making no sense. Given Coronzon’s bad habit of disguising herself as someone her target fears or loves, the result of an attack like that is obvious when you compare their specs. If that Great Demon was taking it seriously, how could Crowley have escaped?”
“Oh, Aleister did die. As a multitude, anyway. But that triggered the release of the more than a billion Crowleys he contained, scattering them across the surface world. Those became known as the Crowley’s Hazards.”
Was there any reason for them to visit this place?
Some might question that.
But what destination would seem more appropriate? Imagining the White House, Buckingham Palace, or the long-since-abandoned ruins of Machu Picchu or Olympia would get you nowhere.
There was nowhere in the world to suit Anna Sprengel.
Which meant she could appear anywhere she felt like that day.
“If that would have worked, Crowley would have just done so in the first place, right? He found his way to the Far East and kept his hands busy there because the flashy invasion route wasn’t going to work.”
“Stop moving your right hand up and down like that.”
“Why, fool? Would you prefer I elegantly wrapped both hands around it?”
“You are giving me a headache… Anyway, everything was already falling apart with the appearance of the Divine Mixtures, an Isis technique to bridge the gap between Egyptian and Greek mythologies. That was when Coronzon delivered the finishing blow using the original Golden magicians. Except they were actually defense devices set up by adding individual traits to the human blueprints that are tarot cards.”
“The originals, huh?”
“Perhaps you can say that because you did not see it for yourself, but Aleister and Mathers were quite emotional. That Christianity-hater even grabbed a bible and drew out the power of its miracles.”
“The Aeon of Osiris? Is that really worth showing off? You can find bibles all over the world. I mean, the Son of God wasn’t even trying to hide it. It’s just that all those people out there who think they understand it are too stupid to get what he was really saying.”
“You might as well be saying there are atoms in front of us, so we should be able to rearrange them as we see fit, Fräulein. …Oh, but I suppose that comparison would only confuse a genius who can do that like it is normal. My bad.”
If they were captured by the Beefeaters, the jailers and guards of the Tower of London, they would be subjected to a full course of tortures too horrific to be shown off in the wax museum, but there was no hesitation in their step. They walked down the deep and dark stone dungeon and stopped in front of a certain door.
Anna Sprengel stood tall there.
She had roughly pulled the red dress up to her chest, but she was apparently not thoughtful and refined enough to make sure it covered up her rear as well.
“This is the place. I always wanted to have some fun here☆”
“You have the worst taste in fun.”
“Nuremberg was so boring and did not live up to its reputation at all. But London is the home of anti-magician combat and torture tools! Now, I hope I find a truly perverse collection that makes you lose all hope for the advancement of humankind.”
Anna Sprengel sounded on the verge of humming, but the Holy Guardian Angel held his tongue for a bit.
It was an oppressive stone space.
All four walls were covered in blades, hammers, spikes, clubs, belts, and chains that had grown weathered and rusty from heavy use and all the human fat they had absorbed over the years.
Just like the other European countries, England had a folkloric tradition to never refer to fairies by name. They would instead euphemistically refer to fairies as “good neighbors” or “wee folk” so as not to anger them.
Similarly, it would be best not to directly name the items arranged here.
“But what happened then?”
“When not even Mathers managed to stop Aleister, Coronzon lost her cool. In the end, it was most effective for her to deliver the finishing blow.”
“Why wouldn’t she just do that in the first place?”
“That is only a meaningful question for someone who could see the end result from the beginning. Oh, my apologies. I suppose that does not mean much to someone who can see the end result like it is normal. Anyway, not even Coronzon could stop herself once she revealed her true nature. The Ceremony of Mo Athair. She intended to smash the physical world at the very base of all mythologies so that all phases would be washed down that giant drain.”
“And that brings us the to realm of Horus? All that big talk is just sad once none of it works out.”
The girl of about ten stopped her eyes on what may have been the most sinister of all the items there.
It looked like a metal chair with a back and armrests, but it was actually a torture device with thick spikes covering it.
“Hm, hm, Meh heh heh.”
“Oh? What is your problem, fool? This is better than the pear of anguish or the neck violin.”
It had no official name.
It was sometimes known simply as a torture chair, but that was not correct.
…For one thing, this tool was never actually used. Generally, spikes and needles would pierce deep within their target when the weight was focused on the single sharp point. There was even a theory that you could gently sit on hundreds of spikes and remain unharmed because your weight was distributed across them.
It was only meant to set the mood.
By creating a sinister mood that enveloped the victim and brought them to the edge of panic, only the slightest wound would trigger an “explosion”. This was a stage prop meant to prevent any lengthy resistance.
“The world still exists to this day,” said Aiwass.
“What, do you prefer cheap destruction? Then you should have supported Othinus instead.”
“Was this the result you preferred?”
“Yes, I am sick of being a queen. I want to turn my damp eyes heavenward and hold out my hands to catch the rays shining down from between the clouds. I want someone out there to grant me miracles and blessings I can devour while I enjoy my life. In that sense, I do appreciate a world that keeps on going even when it’s attacked and broken.”
“Wouldn’t that feel like an oppressive prison?”
“It is not about the location, fool. If other people force you there, it is a hard and cold solitary confinement cell, but if you decide to stay there yourself, you are living the comfortable shut-in life.”
Aiwass could not stop her in time.
Shockingly, Anna Sprengel hopped onto the spike-covered chair like it was her favorite bed. She was only holding her extremely baggy dress to her chest, so the line from her back to her butt was entirely defenseless. When she sent her body onto the spikes so forcefully, even the advocates of the aforementioned theory would call for a doctor in shock.
Even that was overturned.
“Hmm, this isn’t much different. Nuremberg’s maiden felt pretty much the same.”
“Honestly, with the statistics growing less clear, the world population has apparently grown beyond 7.5 billion at some point, but you are the only one who would happily climb into an iron maiden. Even suicidal people will choose a less painful way to go.”
“Fool, sexuality and pleasure cannot be ranked by quality or morality. Even the rose represented by ten petals in Rosicrucianism is a symbol of female reproduction. In other words, it’s a pus-…”
“Don’t you dare speak another word. Do I need to mention there is nothing sexual about a chair covered in spikes?”
“I wasn’t interested in it for that reason anyway. I do want pleasure, though. But when I have not been properly managing myself, my emotions grow unstable. At times like that, I feel like punishing myself with just the right amount of pain. Think of it like habitual and nonlethal wrist cutting.”
Despite her words, there was not a scratch on her soft skin.
Plus, if some red drops did fall, who could say what miracles would spring forth.
“You prefer continuation to destruction and you would prefer to go farther than that if possible,” said Aiwass. “Does that mean your favorite is Kamijou Touma with that right hand of his?”
“No, fool. You seem to be mistaken about something, so it is time I corrected you.”
In the end, it was just a game.
Anna Sprengel was not really interested in being taught information she did not have. She may have actually been inspecting the entire world to see why the right answer in her head had turned out wrong.
While she crossed her slender legs, stretched her arms up, and leaned back in the chair, she opened her mouth again. The strange part was how her motions themselves looked like someone relaxing in the tub.
And that did not change as she rubbed her slender neck like she was longing for a collar she had never before worn. She also gave a bewitching smile with her unnaturally pure and soft skin exposed.
She even licked her lips.
“It is not Kamijou Touma I long for. …It is the One who Purifies God and Slays Demons.”