Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume22 Chapter 1
Chapter 1: (Untitled) – Break_a_Right_and_Hope.
Morning also arrived for Hamazura Shiage and Takitsubo Rikou. It arrived equally and cruelly. To those who could not see what the future held, that cold blue morning felt like it would tear apart their hearts.
The seemingly malicious early morning chill snuck into a steel box.
Oppressive air filled the stolen four-wheel-drive vehicle.
And there was an unnatural gap in the back seat.
“You want to…”
“…save Dion Fortune?”
Magic Gods Nephthys and Niang-Niang exchanged a look as the only remaining back seat passengers.
“Um, do you even understand the situation here?” asked the one with long silver hair, brown skin, and bandages wrapping her alluring body. “Dion Fortune is gone. That change is irreversible. I’m sure someone your age is very interested in how babies are made, but that method doesn’t let you resurrect the dead, you know?”
“It is possible to convert the living into the dead. And that includes special types of dead. For example, Nephthys is a collection of the many slaves buried with the pharaohs in their pyramids and I’m a Shijie-Xian who rose to the level of a sage through death. We cast off our old selves to achieve our goals. But not even we can convert the dead into the living. Unless we entirely remake the world. See, it’s a lot like returning a compressed diamond into the original carbon.”
“Just to clarify, you can’t just burn the diamond into ashes. That would be creating new carbon, not returning it to the original carbon. That’s how difficult it is to reclaim something that was lost.”
Hamazura held the entire set of 78 cards that had once formed a girl. He had every last card. It was a lot like an electronic device created by a Martian. How did it work, what had broken, and how could you make it work again? The boy had to start his investigation at that level.
And on top of that, the two knowledgeable Magic Gods were telling him it was hopeless.
Just because both used eggs, knowing how to make omurice did not tell you how to hatch a chick from omurice. Anything he tried would be wasted effort, so he should just give up.
The ignorant boy and girl’s answer was obvious.
Sometimes, people gained the power to keep going because they were ignorant.
Hamazura Shiage and Takitsubo Rikou did not speak a word as they opened the two front doors.
If the Magic Gods were not going to help, there was no point in staying with them. Those useless gods could stay in the parked vehicle forever if they wanted.
Niang-Niang, the girl in a modified China dress, sighed in exasperation from the back seat.
“You should probably take your phone. Aneri-chan’s sure to be a powerful ally.”
Hamazura Shiage could be sloppy about things like this.
He made sure to remove the phone from the navigation system holder and Aneri repeatedly used the camera flash to protest nearly being left behind, but he had something else to focus on right now.
To make sure he did not forget, he grabbed a stick of gum from the dashboard.
It was completely ordinary gum that could be bought pretty much anywhere, but he had promised to teach a girl how to blow bubbles with it before she disappeared due to no fault of her own.
Bandaged Nephthys sounded disappointed.
“You’re really going, aren’t you?”
“There is almost no chance you will get what you want. In fact, the odds are good you won’t survive this. And here’s a quick divine oracle for you: once you take a single step outside the position of observer, you have a 100% chance of losing. That alone I can guarantee you.”
“Curtana Second’s blade remains chipped after its clash with the Original. The UK’s occult system is currently unstable. That said, the system of this magic kingdom is still supported by the queen’s Second, so it is nothing to sneeze at.”
“I’m not some powerful badass who can accomplish anything without batting an eye. I don’t expect this to go exactly the way I want.”
“That’s fine then.” Nephthys giggled. “Just make sure you don’t get too focused on whether you win or lose. If you don’t lose sight of your true goal, you just might find one of the few opportunities in your grasp.”
That was the end of it.
Hamazura and Takitsubo stepped out of the parked four-wheel-drive vehicle’s opened doors and entered the outside world.
It was morning.
For better or for worse, another day was beginning in that frigid blue world.
“What should we do, Hamazura?” asked his girlfriend in a pink track suit and sweater.
She seemed to have recovered her strength by leaving the vehicle and getting a breath of fresh air. At the very least, she was not as weak as she had been while receiving that strange interference from Annie and Westcott.
Meanwhile, there was one thing Hamazura had to admit first and foremost. They could not take the first step without this.
“I don’t know…”
He knew he did not know.
That might seem obvious, but it could be surprisingly difficult. Especially for sensitive teenagers who dealt in the invisible currency of pride.
But once he was aware of that, it did not take long to identify what hurdles he needed to clear and start thinking about how to clear them.
Do not hesitate.
Everyone starts out as a beginner, so do not let a sense of inferiority consume you.
They had no way of knowing it, but that process was the same as the initial trial given to neophytes in the Golden cabal.
“But there are apparently people here in the UK who do know. So let’s get in contact with them. I’m sure they hide in the shadows of history and rarely show themselves, but I bet they’ll show up if we do something they can’t possibly ignore. Although I doubt they’ll be friendly.”
“If only we could have asked those Magic Gods.”
Despite saying that, Takitsubo did not look back.
It was true Nephthys and Niang-Niang could be viewed as treasure troves of knowledge, but they were not someone who could be forcibly restrained. After his time being bossed around by powerful espers in Academy City, Hamazura knew all too well just how frightening an individual with an irregular power could be. He could not imagine what a Magic God really was, but they had caused Dion Fortune to tremble. And Fortune had easily driven back Annie and Westcott who had applied so much pressure to Level 4 Takitsubo Rikou without so much as laying a finger on her. Those Magic Gods definitely had something. And if trying to force those two into it only got him and Takitsubo subdued in return, who would save Fortune?
If he could not ask them about it, he had to forget about them entirely.
There was more than one path here, so the Magic Gods were not a hurdle he had to clear no matter what.
He would go with a more likely option.
No matter how much the UK tried to pretend otherwise, some deep part of the nation had failed to respond to this unexpected situation and it was barely functioning anymore. He had seen plenty of that this night. So unlike the Magic Gods who were always giving such bewitching smiles, there was an opening in the UK. He had no idea what he could accomplish on the national level, but he was glad to see a possibility there, even if it would be like threading a needle.
And with that in mind…
“Is this a farm?” he said. “No, I think it’s an outdoor shooting range.”
“What are the UK’s gun laws like?”
“We’re talking about a country that still goes on fox hunts in the mountains in an age of AI-controlled pet robots. Their laws have to be laxer than Japan’s.”
“I heard they don’t do those hunts anymore. The rules changed.”
“Wait, then what are the gun laws like???”
There was a simple wooden fence, a meadow, and a small shack.
Dawn had already arrived, but this was not a 24-hour convenience store or gyudon shop. The British people would only now be waking up and preparing breakfast. He doubted anyone would be here for a few more hours.
He was not calm enough to try picking the dimple lock. It was said that Academy City’s technology was about thirty years ahead of the outside world, so all he had to do was cut the wiring to the electronic home security system and then bash in the lock with a large rock.
(Okay, this should get us a weapon. But…)
Hamazura glanced over at the items leaning up against the wall.
(A shotgun? No, I can’t tell what these people are going to do just by looking at them, so I want to keep my distance as much as possible. Do they have any rifles here?)
He was bothered by the analysis going through his own head and he proceeded to borrow a bolt-action hunting rifle and some ammo. But why did they have guns just sitting around at the shooting range? Was it storage for the regulars, or were they for beginners like rental skis and surfboards? …The most frightening part was all the bottles of scotch sitting out on the work bench. He did not know what local law said, but he could guess how the guns here were actually used.
His girlfriend in the pink track suit and fluffy sweater tossed him something. He caught it and found it was a thick rubber band. That was perfect. He used it to hold together the set of 78 tarot cards.
Then he held the rifle between his shoulder and neck. It had an amber-polished wooden stock, so he guessed it was a hobbyist weapon, not a practical one.
However, the gun was not the most important part.
He found a gas-powered lawnmower.
Academy City’s cleaning robots could not get out the most stubborn stains. In those cases, a special hand-pushed cleaner would be used to get the building floors squeaky clean. This machine had a similar silhouette to those.
If he was trying to mimic the Nazca Lines, he could draw straight lines by creating guidelines with stakes and plastic rope.
He looked up in the blue sky.
It was mostly clear, with just a few clouds. The satellites would have a good view.
“Okay, let’s draw up some big crop circles. Big enough to see from space using the satellites.”
“What pattern would ‘they’ most likely respond to?”
Hamazura answered Takitsubo’s question by fanning something out like a stage magician. It was Magician Dion Fortune. Or more accurately, the special tarot cards that had formed her body. He did not understand any of the details about the 22 cards of the Major Arcana, 56 cards of the Minor Arcana, the 4 worlds, or the 22 paths connecting the 10 spheres. A high school boy like Hamazura Shiage only thought of tarot as “more complicated playing cards used by fortunetellers”. It was no more than a symbol associated with fortunetelling, just like he associated ghost houses with paper lanterns, Halloween with pumpkins, Christmas with miniskirts, and casinos with bunny girls. He had no clue what meaning any of the cards contained.
“I’m sure any of these cards is important to the people who know this stuff.”
He made it sound so simple.
Leivinia Birdway and Lessar, who also knew about this thing they called magic (What that thing was did not matter at the moment. He just had to know there was something there!), had freaked out when they saw Fortune, so this had to be something incredible in their world. At the very least, it was not something you would normally find in an ordinary home, like cleaning robots and AI speakers.
So even though he did not understand what it meant, he chose one that would stand out.
He chose it at random. He relied on luck.
The Minor Arcana reminded him of playing cards, so he went for the Major Arcana since the big illustrations drew the eye of amateurs. He was pretty sure it went from The Fool at 0 to The World at 22. The text at the bottom was not in English, so the only knowledge he had to go on was what he had vaguely picked up from a famous rock band that wore gothic lolita outfits. If he was being honest, he did not know anything past it starting with The Fool and ending with The World. He drew one at random and checked the number and text.
Major Arcana #10.
Wheel of Fortune.
Hamazura had no way of knowing, but the text was in Latin. And he also had no way of knowing that the English name included that familiar word: Fortune.
The outdoor shooting range looked like a large meadow if you did not know what it was. He got to work driving stakes into the ground and attaching plastic ropes as guidelines for what he wanted to draw.
That said, the drawing was a bit of a mystery and it was too complicated for this method.
He had no idea what it said, but he decided it would be easier to only do the text portion. Aneri might have been able to translate for him, but he did not need to know what it meant if he just wanted to make a crop circle out of it.
He pulled the cord to start up the lawnmower’s engine. The light sound reminded him more of a chainsaw than a car or motorcycle.
He had never known about magic before.
At least not as some vast field of knowledge and techniques.
And he doubted that was by coincidence. Whatever their reasons might be, there had to be a group that wanted to keep it hidden.
In this age, anyone with access to a search engine could check satellite photos. There were countless urban legends of people casually checking one and seeing something dangerous going on in an abandoned factor or a harbor at night. Whoever wanted to keep this a secret would never allow it to be drawn in a meadow.
It was now time to make contact.
He moved the lawnmower while feeling the weight of the bolt-action hunting rifle on the sling belt over his shoulder.
He shaved away the grass with that dangerous razor.
He carved out a row of letters large enough to be seen from space.
“Okay, Takitsubo. We need to hide before anyone shows up. Even if they’re hiding in the shadows of history, these are still humans we’re talking about. If we play our cards right—”
He looked back and lost sight of reality.
This went beyond a lack of response. Takitsubo Rikou had been right there, but now she was not. There were a few small hills, but this was generally just a wide-open meadow. It was a shooting range, so it would not have any kind of cover someone could hide behind.
An extremely light blow hit him on the side of the head.
It came from an Asian woman with a long black ponytail.
The boy’s knees gave out, he collapsed, and he stopped moving altogether. He did not even convulse on a subconscious level.
Kanzaki Kaori sighed, relaxed her karate-chopping hand, and held it to her ear instead.
“I have eliminated an irregularity. Connection to Coronzon is unknown. It might be some kind of counterculture that cropped up in response to the great pressure of magic. We must continue on to Edinburgh Castle, so another team needs to retrieve them.”
Then she frowned.
“Yes, yes. We cannot just leave them here, but I do not have time to stay here either. In that case, we will restrain the two of them and take them with us to Edinburgh Castle. We are not babysitters, so we will be handing them over to you once we arrive.”
The early morning stillness was broken by the deep sound of rotors beating at the air. A stout transport helicopter had a rotor on the front and back. No one would have imagined that the Saint had felt its 300km/h was too slow and hopped out to run instead.
Kanzaki Kaori waved toward it.
And at her feet, Hamazura Shiage rolled onto his stomach and opened his eyes.
Was it Nephthys who had guaranteed he would lose this fight?
He was well aware that he was a powerless Level 0. He did not care what happened as long as he did not lose his girlfriend Takitsubo Rikou or the tarot cards he could hopefully use to bring back Dion Fortune.
He did not need to show off. He was not fighting for himself, so his focus had to be elsewhere.
The shack on the shooting range contained hunting weapons and ammunition for them. Perhaps to suit the clientele’s noble tastes, most of the ammo used old-fashioned black powder, but the detonators, which reacted first when the trigger was pulled, had used a reactive substance containing ammonia.
With some quick modifications, that could be made into something to revive you while unconscious.
He had been a back alley outlaw, so he knew a lot of tricks like that.
He had known he would be up against someone far more powerful than him, but he had guessed they would not just kill him right away. They would at least ask what he was doing first.
So if he knew he was going to be knocked out, he could prepare a way to quickly recover from that.
He had successfully contacted someone familiar with magic.
He shut his eyes and silently got to thinking while they grabbed his arm and picked him up.
This was his starting point.
The rough sound of escaping air filled the old graveyard of Scotland’s Edinburgh Castle. Misaka Mikoto, who wore only a raincoat over a one-piece swimsuit, did not immediately realize that was the sound of her own breathing.
It was an early blue morning in December. It was a time of purification when even the air looked bright. But the girls were surrounded by a pressure unrelated to the biting cold or brisk chill.
Their bodies were wet and slippery.
A rusty stench filled their lungs.
It was blood.
But it did not belong to her.
“Ah, Ahh, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!”
She desperately held and dragged something in her arms.
It was heavier than she was, so it seemed too heavy for her slender arms to carry. Only now did she realize she was subconsciously receiving the A.A.A.’s assistance.
But that assistance felt so flimsy.
No matter how much she fought and killed with those many cannons, missiles, and chainsaws, she could never rescue the life that was slipping away.
That object was barely recognizable.
What was it?
Why was Shokuhou Misaki repeating that name right next to her?
Why did that arrogant Queen of Tokiwadai look so horrified???
That red and black “thing” had just barely managed to stay in one piece. She simply could not manage to equate it to the person who had rushed forward on his own two feet to protect everyone just ten seconds ago. Even now, something soft was coming out of the deep gashes and the mass of flesh was shaking disconcertingly while barely connected together by something flabby. She just barely managed to recognize the object in her arms as a body, but which side was the top? She could not even tell where the face was. And even if she could, she did not have the courage to look straight at it. If she saw that part had been torn apart like a game of fukuwarai, something decisive inside her might break.
“You fool,” someone groaned.
Something like a palm-sized doll was running across the ground, but tearful Mikoto was in no state to even question that obviously unscientific phenomenon.
“If you had time to throw me to the side, you should have tried something else! Are you kidding me, human? If this kills you, I will bind your soul to mine as my property!!”
The noise in her mind was unbearable.
Everyone’s voices sounded so distant.
She was no longer even thinking about a long-term victory. She was not entirely sure where she was or what her position was.
Still surrounded by all those machines, she dragged that sticky object with her as she circled behind a stone wall that had survived. She tried to hide. Shokuhou Misaki and the palm-sized doll(?) followed her, but…
She heard a voice.
The inhuman laughter sounded like rough pieces of metal scraping together.
That was the cause of the fresh blood staining the early morning blue.
“Ee hee hee. Kee kee hee hee! There is no good or evil here. I don’t need to compensate with something else to balance the scales. Yes, yes!! This is what it means to have a free, unbound soul!! Finally. Finally, finally, finally. No longer am I bound by that silly dualism! I am free to work on the breakdown of all things however I desire!!!!!”
What good was hiding?
What good was preventing any further attack?
What she had was no longer Kamijou Touma. Just as a living tree was not the same thing as burned-down charcoal or ash, what she held in her arms could no longer be called Kamijou Touma. She had chosen the wrong time to gather her courage and jump out. She had been far too late. She knew that, but she could not bring herself to leave “it” behind and run away on her own.
Just then, she heard the sound of scraping dirt.
The words came from a girl in a blue blazer and a witch-like hat and cape, whose long silver hair fluttered in the wind. She must have been unable to stand up. That would be due to all the blood audibly dripping to the ground past the small hand holding the wound in her side. She just barely managed to use a hand to prop herself up against the old stone wall and she spoke with one eye shut to keep the flowing blood out of it.
“As long as he is still alive, we can redo this. There is still a chance… Kamijou Touma, you are not allowed to die here. My plan has already failed, so from now on, use that power for your own purposes!!”
“What are you saying? The power in that human’s right hand will negate any recovery magic you—”
The palm-sized girl started to protest, but then she gasped.
“Don’t tell me!!”
The silver girl held her right index and middle finger together and held them up in front of her lips.
Then a brutal chainsaw began to move within the weapons of the A.A.A., that metal-winged demon Mikoto wore.
Mikoto frantically tried to retake control, but that partner refused to listen even after she had trusted it with her life all this time. It was like a borrowed weapon returning to its original owner’s control.
“Wait, wait… What are you doing with that!?”
“Every second counts! There is no time to explain, so keep out of the way!!”
Academy City’s #3 entirely forgot something as fundamental as her control over electricity and magnetism.
She could not send any commands to the A.A.A. Yet if she had tried, she might have been able to stop that thick rotating blade some other way.
The silver girl did not hesitate to swing down her right hand.
That movement linked with something.
And then a dull sound burst out.
Another fierce attack struck that already hopelessly torn-up hunk of flesh.
It was an assault chainsaw meant to bring down the main gate of a fortress.
One body part, which was just barely still attached by white and pink flabbiness, was now fully severed.
With an almost silly splat, the detached right forearm hit Shokuhou Misaki in the forehead and then her arms held it to her large chest. That was no more than the standard reflex to protect your face when a ball flew toward you. There was no conscious thought in her widened eyes. She had the strongest psychological power and she was an expert at controlling people’s minds, but not even she could accept this shocking visual.
Something sparked in Mikoto’s mind. Her vision filled with gray static. With a soft wet glop, a dark red liquid splattered across the ground.
It was not over yet.
“When working to save his life, I suppose Imagine Breaker would be the biggest obstacle.” The palm-sized girl groaned in a different way than Mikoto. “But that was still a little much!! Don’t just throw out everyone else’s opinions because you alone know everything about Kamijou Touma’s inner structure, Aleister! Surely you know it’s exactly this kind of arrogance that led to all your defeats and failures!”
A dark-red light glowed from the joints of the A.A.A. that Mikoto wore.
It released a function that not even the #3 girl knew about.
“I have no interest in high magic at the moment. I will remove the artistry and break through the closest gate in as vulgar a way as necessary. My physical body bears stigmata – the mark of the worthy – on the hands, feet, and side. It is a human body, but its flesh and blood can return to the starting point of the Sacrament of Holy Communion.”
The silver girl kneeled.
She clasped her hands in front of her chest as if squeezing the fresh juice from a fruit.
She extracted the scarlet liquid from her own wounds.
“Longinus was a blind soldier. He was the saint who pierced the Son of God’s side to confirm his death. The holy one’s blood dripped down the lance and entered Longinus’s body where it healed the foolish soldier’s eyes and revealed a visible world to him. This drop can produce miracles, so reopen the realm of possibility to this trapped one!!”
Normally, any kind of miracle may have failed to manifest as long as Imagine Breaker remained in Kamijou Touma’s right hand.
But that was no longer the case.
That was why the silver girl had chopped off the boy’s right hand with that giant chainsaw.
A single drop fell from the silver girl’s hand and into the center of Kamijou Touma’s chest.
That was all.
But the effect was dramatic.
This was not the story of a restless night. This miracle happened in clear view below the morning sun.
Something invisible passed through all of the boy’s blood vessels to reach every part of his body. The burst blood vessels and disturbed blood flow was used to automatically determine what needed healing and a gentle light enveloped all of the torn, crushed, and hopelessly destroyed parts. Bone, flesh, muscle, and skin returned to that of the original boy, like it was being polished with an invisible silk cloth. It was like popping a collapsed plastic doll back into shape.
Shokuhou Misaki spoke his name while half in a daze.
Misaka Mikoto’s searching eyes moved with real hesitation.
And there she found the boy’s eyes shut as if he were gently sleeping. She saw the normal, ordinary, and entirely irreplaceable face of that older high school boy.
But there was no time for relief.
There was a sound like a balloon popping.
It came from where Kamijou Touma’s right hand should have been. Everything past his elbow was missing. No, everything past there was refusing to heal. Something was obstructing the healing process.
Mikoto’s eyes widened.
This was far better than the hunk of flesh that had looked more like a disturbing mosaic than anything. But a single wound to the wrist could be deadly. They could not just leave him like this. Unless they stopped that blood gushing out, the recovered boy would lose his life before reopening his eyes.
“Eh, eh!? Wait, what do we do!? Can’t you fix his right hand!?”
There was no response.
Had her words even reached that silver girl?
“I suppose the Son of God’s power is indeed only of the Aeon of Osiris. It is not enough to overturn the scars left by Coronzon, who exists beyond Horus…”
The silver girl wobbled to the side. Her core had broken. She had already been badly injured and then taken a stab wound to the side. It was unclear what she had done, but what would happen if she used up any more of her blood like this?
At this rate, she would collapse to the side and cease moving.
“Misaka-san, do something about the bleeding!! Burn or crush the wound if you have to!!”
Shokuhou’s shout was like a slap to the face.
When Mikoto moved, it was not because she was thinking rationally again. She was panicking and her mind had gone blank, so she simply obeyed without questioning it. Her fingers moved without even considering what the result might be.
A disconcerting zapping sound followed.
She produced a billion volts.
An arc of electricity that powerful was enough to burn through rebar.
The sizzling sound was a lot like water being thrown on a hot griddle, but the smell was nothing like cooking ginger pork in a frying pan. The twisted odor made her want to vomit. She could not calm her breathing for a while. The most frightening part was not what she had done. It was the fact that the spiky-haired boy did not so much as stir even as she cauterized the end of his severed arm without anesthetic.
Still, this had saved him.
His right arm was no longer bleeding.
She pressed her ear to the center of his chest and heard his pulse, even if it was weak.
“What now, Misaka-san? We can’t just leave him like this.”
It was gradual, but once Shokuhou said that, Misaka Mikoto finally calmed down enough to pay attention to their surroundings.
She had tried to hide behind a surviving stone wall in the forgotten graveyard, but this did not even count as hiding. They had left a clear trail of blood on the bumpy ground. Nothing could be easier than following that to find them.
“Ee hee hee hee hee hee hee. Hee kee kee kee kee kee kee kee kee kee kee. Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!”
The laughter was entirely monotone at this point.
That was Great Demon Coronzon.
Was she actually enjoying herself, or did she have some other reason to laugh? In fact, was that sound even coming from the vocal cords in that throat and the mouth on that face? Whatever this was, it was definitely approaching.
There was panic on Shokuhou Misaki’s face.
“Misaka-san? Can we fly away with that machine of yours?”
“You know as well as I do that the rocket engine’s attitude control system is on the fritz. That’s why we started using it as a motorcycle.”
And another thing.
Mikoto gulped before continuing.
“Do you really think we can escape that whether we fly through the air or race along the surface?”
Her very existence was an occult curse that had no place in science.
This was not over yet. Whatever-this-was wore a beige habit and swung her absurdly long blonde hair around. They could hardly think of her as human as she slowly approached. Mikoto pulled out an arcade coin and Shokuhou pulled a TV remote from the bag she wore over her shoulder, but would that really work? The girls were shaken on an instinctual level, not a rational one.
Even that boy had been defeated.
He had tightly clenched his right fist, yet he had been mercilessly torn to pieces.
(What do we do?)
Mikoto was no longer looking at this from a scientific perspective where titles like Academy City’s #3 or #5 mattered. Could they really fight? Could they resist at all? She was not even sure of that. The very foundation she had believed in for so long was crumbling below her.
When that monster casually and selfishly poked her head around the stone wall, a devastating clash would begin. Both sides had to know that. And that monster was enjoying it. She seemed to have mistaken that devastating combat as a form of entertainment.
Mikoto regretted getting involved in this.
The world was wrong to have created something like that in the first place.
The fear squeezing at her heart may have been the same as when she was being tormented by that white monster who had slaughtered the mass-produced military clones one after another. No, this fear may have been even greater.
But it was too late to realize the truth now. That humanoid disaster was definitely approaching.
The impact started in the United Kingdom and shook the entire planet.
It happened at Edinburgh Castle, the occult center of Scotland.
Did that make it appropriate? Or did it make it disrespectful?
Whatever the case, a humanoid white shadow alighted there.
This was Academy City’s #1.
And by his side was a demon girl who looked like the fusion of a lovely maiden, a venomous jellyfish, and soft wings.
Those monsters looked entirely out of place on a clear winter morning.
A single flying kick had taken control of the entire situation.
He spoke to the woman in a beige habit who had crashed through more than one stone wall after flying back from his meteor-like attack.
And in response, her sinister true face appeared using the absurdly long blonde hair as a screen.
“My right hand contains Nuit of Resurrection and my left hand contains Hadit of Vengeance. Combined, they form the Circle of Ra-Hoor-Khuit, which…”
The special attack released by Great Demon Coronzon clashed head-on with the Level 5 who could manipulate any and all vectors.
A mass of invisible power scattered in every direction.
It was torn apart by a human will.
The woman with absurdly long blonde hair very clearly and undeniably clicked her tongue.
“Aethyr Avatar – 1: LIL, 9: ZIP, 20: KHR!!”
“Yo!! Yo!! Yoooo!!!!!”
The massive amount of blonde hair split into three groups and they complexly wove themselves together to form three winged angels.
Accelerator had no idea what power was contained in there.
He raised his fingers like claws and swung them wildly around to tear the false angels to shreds. If he had viewed magic as a different form of esper powers, he never could have accomplished this. If he had made that mistaken detour in his understanding, he would have failed to comprehend its true essence, failed to grasp the vectors, and been injured.
But he no longer viewed it that way.
That white shadow was enough of a monster already, but he now had a translucent demon – a blatant product of the occult – by his side.
“You partially installed the power’s directionality into the calculations for your power? Tch. That is the number 11 which exists in the Qliphoth yet is not an imaginary number. Is that the guide to the upside-down tree I built? This awkward product of science has insolently reached the level of Probationer!?”
“Yeah, that’s right. I’m new around here, so be nice. And I thought newcomers were called Neophytes, but whatever. Now, don’t forget this one thing: I’m not like you people who’ve stopped working after mastering these things. I’m going to absorb as much as I can to keep growing as much as possible!!”
In other words, the more power he was given, the stronger he would grow. Just like launching a largescale cyber-attack on the enemy, only to have them analyze it and learn how to do it themselves.
Great Demon Coronzon paused for a just a moment.
He had been waiting for that.
Accelerator closed the fingers he had opened like claws and pulled back his clenched fist.
He could use a large swing of the arm. He had created enough of an opening for it.
Just like a certain boy, he poured all his strength into his fist and released it!!
It was like an explosion.
An invisible shockwave scattered around the center of the hit and the old walls of Edinburgh Castle shook.
And yet the #1 monster clicked his tongue a bit.
“You redirected the vector.”
“Kee hee hee.”
Coronzon had indeed slid backwards.
But she had avoided a direct hit to the face. Her absurdly long hair had formed several bundles that layered themselves in front of her. Each of those bundles and even each individual hair bent and negated the vector that should have passed through it. A strange sensation ran through Accelerator’s fist and back through his bones, like he had punched a powerful spring.
“Ee hee. Nee hee hee. Kee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee.”
Something like a balloon inflated and burst in the center of the #1’s chest.
This was not blood, flesh, or bone.
It was something more invisible, harder to understand, and yet of great importance.
“I am a demon, but not from the Qliphoth. I am the Great Demon that dwells in the Abyss of the Sephiroth. The Sephiroth’s 10 Sephirah and 22 pathways are also a conversion table for producing the supernatural by connecting the great universe of the world with the small universe of the body. Do you feel it? An arm is formed from Chesed and Gevurah and its five fingers control the five elements. The middle finger controls fire and the red of blood, which symbolizes the activity of the heart. You made a mistake when you accepted the rebounding force to measure how much damage you had done, one who remains in the human realm.”
Simply put, the damage passed from his fist, up his arm, and to his heart.
Carelessly touching her would harm him.
When you thought about it, that was a lot like Accelerator’s own reflection.
He would not have used that method had he known about this.
And he of all people would know it was too late to complain after the fact.
Accelerator staggered, but Great Demon Coronzon casually stepped back. All of this was outside of her plan. Dealing with the #1 was not one of her objectives.
This was something else.
She was trying to shift to some other action.
“…Bh… Where are you…going?”
“You’ll feel better if you cough up that blood, you know? And, monster, do you know who once lived in this place? James IV. He was a man of great importance you will find in the history books, but in the magical world, he was rumored to be an immortal king.”
“Heh heh. Out of respect for the Count of Glenstrae, perhaps I should call it the Ceremony of Mo Athair. At any rate, I am only interested in making progress on my own objective.”
That was the end of it.
A golden whirlwind whipped up.
It was hair.
This was only a smokescreen. It had no crucial meaning. But by the time Accelerator clicked his tongue and looked up, Coronzon was already gone.
It did not even seem like she had merely pretended to leave so she could snipe him from afar.
He lightly flicked the switch of his choker and then leaned against a nearby stone wall.
Something seemed to have burst within him, but it did not seem an organ had ruptured or he was going to die immediately.
He slowly exhaled and then noticed something.
It was rare for the #1 to be slow to grasp his situation.
There was nothing at all past the obvious blood trail that looked like someone had dragged around a mop soaked with a dark red liquid. The group that had dragged that Level 0 behind cover had vanished at some point. Blindly chasing after them would have been silly, so the #1 searched for something he could do on his own.
Still leaning against the stone wall, he asked the translucent demon a question.
He did so as casually as using a search engine or AI speaker.
“That was one piece of ‘evidence’ Mathers used to claim he was of noble Scottish descent. He claimed the name Mathers was derived from an old Gaelic term meaning ‘posthumous one’, so he insisted it proved he was the Count of Glenstrae, a proper descendent of the highlanders.”
Accelerator could not make heads or tails of that, but it may have made sense to those knowledgeable about the occult. You could not expect him to understand one hundred years after it had all happened, though.
There was no point in getting caught up in all this.
That was reminiscent of the former king, James IV, who was rumored to have crossed the boundary of death, but that was only from Accelerator’s point of view.
There was one other part that caught his attention.
“It has previously been written off as nothing more than his delusions, but there may have been a reason why that Golden leader was obsessed with Scotland and not England or Wales. For example, something that approaches the core of the United Kingdom’s three forces and four regions.”
“What’s even in this old castle? That monster woman must be after whatever’s most important, right?”
“What is it?”
“Oh, um, I just needed a moment to wonder why not even I recognized the possibility until now. I see. So it’s the treasures of Edinburgh Castle. In that case, we might be in trouble.”
“Again, what is it?”
Everyone could tell things were not looking good. There was no point in making a fuss over whether you would accept that or not. The closer things were to a worst case scenario, the more important it was to quickly determine the cause and work to fix things.
The demon girl wearing shabby English newspapers poked her index fingers together in front of her chest which was unnaturally large when compared to the overall balance of her small body. She hesitantly confessed the truth.
“I’m guessing she’s going to use the Sword of State, the Coronation Crown, the Ruling Sceptre, and the Stone of Scone as a single set.”
“Simply put, they’re the Scottish version of the royal items. There was a concern they would interfere with England’s Curtana, so when Edward I attacked Scotland, he took the Stone of Scone and had its functionality sealed. Oh, right. The Stone of Scone was returned to Scotland in recent years, wasn’t it? In that case…”
“Just give me a straight answer.”
“Eheh☆ Since the Curtana-controlled system is currently unstable, you just might be able to fully hijack the UK by using those four items. …It’s not so much a backdoor as it is another system running in parallel that you can use to enter the mainframe.”
The deep sound of rotors beating the air seemed to smash apart the early morning quiet.
A large transport helicopter slowly circled around Edinburgh Castle searching for a place to land and then slowly descended. But Kanzaki Kaori opened the cargo door before it reached the ground.
“I will be heading down now. You wait until it lands, Orsola.”
The gentle nun did not have time to stop her.
It did not matter that they were more than ten meters up. Kanzaki used the athletic ability of one of the world’s fewer than twenty Saints to safely land in the field below.
Her surroundings were a mess.
A carriage had rolled on its side, the guard knights were collapsed on the ground, and the frightened horses were running wildly around after their reins snapped.
Kanzaki ran over to a female knight who was seated leaning up against a stone wall.
“I am with the Anglicans. What happened here? Where is the royal family!?”
The female knight shook her short blonde hair a bit and pointed a trembling finger in a different direction. That was the most she could manage. She could not get a single word out and her finger soon fell.
Kanzaki heard the neighing of a horse.
A muscular warhorse walked up as if to protect the female knight. It held the handle of a water-filled bucket in its mouth. Where it had found the bucket was unclear.
(Is that Second Princess Carissa’s?)
“Alex, take care of her.”
When Kanzaki soaked a handkerchief in the cold well water and placed it on the female knight’s forehead, Alex neighed happily.
The female knight had used her last ounce of strength to point at something before passing out. It looked like nothing more than a crumbling structure, but a staircase leading underground was cleverly hidden there. The true value of Edinburgh Castle in the occult world was the vast underground structure full of countless entrances, tunnels, and staircases that extended from St. Margaret’s Chapel.
And what was the greatest treasure hidden in this castle at the center of Scotland?
(Scotland’s three royal treasures and a stone.)
Three and four.
This was an alternate foundation for the system of control that symbolized the three powers and four regions.
This other system never could have revealed its power if the Curtana control system were not unstable.
(Was the Royal Family acting independently to ensure those did not fall into anyone else’s hands? If so, that was correct but foolish! If any harm comes to the queen or the princesses, the entire United Kingdom will boil over!!)
Something could be heard slicing through the air.
It was Great Demon Coronzon. She was a supernatural being with a vessel of flesh. The sound came from her swinging her absurdly-long blonde hair to grab a torch off the wall.
She could no longer control the magic kingdom of Great Britain in secret by acting as archbishop, but there was no real reason why she had to do it that way.
The Sword of State, the Coronation Crown, the Ruling Sceptre, and the Stone of Scone.
No matter what method she used, she just had to be in charge of punishing those who used the wicked power of magic. She would thoroughly eliminate any who would oppose her with magic. Yes, she was the Great Demon who lived in the tree of life and not the tree of evil. She would even use the good processes that god had prepared for mankind’s use.
“Kee hee hee. Ee hee hee hee hee hee hee.”
The ones on display in the castle for tourists were replicas.
The spiritual items with true power were hidden deep in the great labyrinth extending from St. Margaret’s Chapel. A normal person would be risking their life if they attempted to get in or out, but Great Demon Coronzon did not care about that. Traps set up by humans were of no concern to her and it had been the Anglicans who managed the defenses here. The archbishop leading that church would of course know how it worked.
She did not even think of it as stealing.
These were her toys. When you left your job, what was wrong with removing your possessions from your locker and taking them with you?
Blonde Coronzon sighed in a great hall that seemed too big to be underground.
The room had only grown this large to contain everything that was needed to store the four items.
“Hm, hm, hm, hm.”
The Coronation Crown looked like something out of a fairy tale. Puffed out red fabric was contained in a gold frame. She spun it on a finger before placing it on her head and then her slender hand reached for the golden sceptre. It gave off the shine of pure gold, but it was actually a silver staff gilded with gold leaf. She spun it around like a baton while turning to the Stone of Scone. It was called a stone, but it was actually about the size of a dresser drawer. A normal person would be unable to lift it, but she used her long blonde hair for that. Just like with the torch, the hair wrapped around it and easily lifted it.
“Hm, hm, hm, hmm. There’s so much I want to try out. Yes, yes. This all leads to the breakdown I desire. …Hm?”
To perform the Ceremony of Mo Athair, she needed to use the Scottish items as an initial ignition. That meant she needed the full set.
Yet something was missing.
There were three treasures and a stone.
So where had the Sword of State gone!?
The place felt like a lazily designed video game dungeon. The Asian boy named Hamazura Shiage gasped for breath inside that gloomy stone underground labyrinth.
He held a doubled-edged sword in a wooden scabbard.
After secretly coming to, he had escaped the transport helicopter with Takitsubo the instant it landed. They did not know much about magic, so they needed the help of someone who did if they were to save Dion Fortune. However, they were outsiders, so none of the experts were going to listen to their pleas during an emergency. What did they need to ensure they were not ignored? That was the question on their minds.
And even if they did not know exactly how it all worked, they could cause trouble for those experts to bring them to the negotiating table.
The surface had been a disaster scene with people collapsed left and right, but that had worked in their favor. The two of them had managed to escape so easily because the nuns had rushed from the transport helicopter’s cargo door to assist their injured comrades.
People overlooked a surprising amount while panicked.
Yes, even an oddity they normally would have seen. Otherwise, someone was sure to have noticed the boy and girl crouching down and walking around.
From there, they only had to listen to what people were saying and figure out what everyone was focused on here. Hamazura was not familiar with magical terminology and even his normal English was extremely iffy, so he had needed to rely on his girlfriend and Aneri.
As a result, Hamazura Shiage had risen to stardom without any clue to the true value of what he held in his hands.
He drew the weapon from the wooden scabbard and found a glittering golden blade that looked like a hero’s sword from a video game.
“Hey, will this work!? I grabbed the most obvious thing!!”
He was not speaking to Takitsubo or Aneri.
There was someone else there wearing a fancy dress and seated with her back against the stone wall. He had happened across this injured person while underground here. She must have gotten in through a different entrance and she had been soaked with blood when he first saw her. That was proof that something bad was wandering this darkness.
She was Queen Regnant Elizard.
Under normal circumstances, he never could have spoken to her so informally.
She could not even stand up, but she smiled a bit and answered in Japanese for his sake.
“Yes, well done. The Scottish system won’t work if even one piece is missing. Take that with you to the surface. I do not know what Lola Stuart…no, what that demon is thinking, but keep that out of her grasp. If you can return it to us at a later date, I will award you a noble rank.”
“A foreigner can’t receive that kind of reward, can they? Sorry, but I’m not gonna settle down in a country where I don’t like the food.”
Elizard laughed quietly while leaning against the wall.
Hamazura was relieved.
She then pulled a bottle from somewhere, opened it, and sprinkled its contents on her painful-looking wounds.
“This is all I have, but it’s still a shame. I was saving this scotch…”
“It lists the distillery on the label, right? You can reward them by letting them call it Queen Rescue or something and advertise it as the legendary drink that healed the queen’s wounds. You’ve already got Drambuie in the UK, right? Royal legends can boost sales for this kind of thing.”
“I suppose it would be crass of me to ask why you know that kind of trivia at your age.”
A dull sound reached their ears.
It came from the darkness.
“Someone’s coming, Hamazura,” said Takitsubo.
“Yeah, we’ve gotta get out of here, but what about this old woman?”
Not all of the paths in this underground labyrinth were treated the same, so they carried Elizard into a smaller tunnel and placed her behind a column.
“We’ll gather their attention, so don’t move until you don’t hear anymore footsteps. Got that!?”
“Wait, I am the one that should be—”
“I can’t use a dying old woman as bait! I’d have nightmares for the rest of my life!!”
The situation was not going to wait around.
Hamazura picked up the sheathed sword and made plenty of noise as he ran down a big tunnel separate from the small one in which Elizard was hidden. The presence in the darkness grew. Emotion colored the atmosphere. It was the red color of killer intent and it was clearly locked onto Hamazura and Takitsubo.
He was used to this thanks to Mugino Shizuri.
Traumatic experiences could have an upside. He could not have kept going without that in his past.
The world was focused on a puny little thug.
He had not made a mistake.
The path he was on was endlessly dangerous, but he was still on a route toward saving Dion Fortune.
Hamazura Shiage was running for his life, but he started laughing.
Takitsubo was dumbfounded at first, but then she started laughing too.
This was a bit more toxic than a simple boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.
The sense of unity may have been more like accomplices than anything.
“Ha ha ha ha ha!! Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!”
This underground structure extended like an ant colony from St. Margaret’s Chapel, but there was apparently more than one exit.
They ran up some stairs toward the surface and entered the winter sunlight. But…
“Stop right there, outsiders. Unless you would like to be obliterated on the spot.”
The icy hatred was enough for goose bumps to spread from his spine to every last part of his body.
Hamazura and Takitsubo’s subjective world was dragged away from the morning and from the sun.
This person had gone out of the way to speak in Japanese. …When had he last spoken? If this person had been listening in since then, then the delinquent boy and his girlfriend might not be the only ones in danger.
Hiding Queen Elizard had been meaningless. They had more or less allowed her to be taken hostage.
Hamazura immediately denied his own arrogance.
He needed to view this properly. This person could have crushed them without warning. Since that had not happened, either he or Takitsubo must have carried some kind of value. This person did not want to destroy the object the boy carried. That was all.
This was not a case where a single wrong move spelled disaster.
It was all over if the monster happened to do anything rash.
He was scared.
He really was, but this proved something.
The sword he held had enough power to stop this irregular being.
He could use it as a shield.
He slowly turned around with the sheathed sword still in his hands.
First, he saw absurdly-long blonde hair. It moved all on its own, so it looked something like strange venomous snakes or tentacles. And beyond that, their true form appeared from the subterranean darkness. He was shocked to see how beautiful she was. He had been expecting something more grotesque with gills or scales.
And that monster slowly opened her mouth.
“Give me the Sword of State. If you have no connection to the United Kingdom or magic, then I will spare you.”
“I was waiting for this…”
He had been prepared to rely on Aneri if necessary. He spoke back as if accepting a challenge.
“To be clear, I don’t care what happens to this sword. As long as I achieve my goal, I’m fine with giving it to you.”
“I want to save Dion Fortune. Do you have what I need to do that? If the answer is yes, I will give you this sword. So how about it!?”
It was not Coronzon who looked shocked. It was Takitsubo Rikou.
She agreed with the plan to save that girl no matter what, but had he forgotten what Queen Regnant Elizard had asked them to do? She may have only now realized how seriously he had meant the “no matter what” part.
They were accomplices. Their relationship was a bit toxic.
But would he really go this far?”
However, the boy standing next to her did not respond.
If he did not keep his eyes directly on Coronzon and if he looked Takitsubo in the eye for even a moment, he would break. He would remember what the right thing to do was. He knew that.
Of course, if he refused to hand it over, this monster would kill them. She would kill him, his girlfriend Takitsubo, and Elizard hidden deep in the underground tunnels. So directly refusing was not an option.
He had to go about this the right way.
Simply doing what was right would be selfish. Trying that without the power to back it up would only anger this monster.
He knew there was nothing he could do.
He had escaped that sword-wielding samurai woman by being clever. He had been no match for her whatsoever when it came to actual strength. Trying anything head-on would get him killed instantly. That was how things worked here.
So that was not what he had to do.
He reached into his pocket and squeezed what he found there. Of course, he did not have a secret weapon hidden there. And he doubted even a secret weapon could have harmed this monster in front of him.
It was a perfectly ordinary stick of gum.
But at times, something as insignificant as that could lend you strength.
There were some people you could not save simply by doing what was right.
Those pure heroes could eat shit.
He wanted to smile with his girlfriend with a clean conscious. He could not abandon Dion Fortune if he was going to do that. He wanted to share the happiest possible time with her, so he could not let compromise and disgrace influence him. No matter what.
Meanwhile, a devilish smile appeared on the lips of the woman whose long blonde hair moved like it had a life of its own.
“Dion Fortune? Oh, I see. So this is about that defense device I set up!”
“In that case, my answer to your question is yes. After all, I am the one who created those specialized grimoires as defense devices. …So. What is your point? What do I gain by helping you instead of just killing you and taking the sword?”
He had an answer prepared for that.
Hamazura Shiage had no choice but to accompany someone who understood magic.
“I’ll help you. It couldn’t hurt to have a disposable pawn, right?”
This seemed to catch her by surprise.
The monster burst out laughing and had to hold her sides.
“Ee hee hee hee hee!! Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! We both know you don’t mean that, so how can you say it with such a straight face!? Yes, yes. I get it now. You plan to board the train and then jump off at some point before it goes over the cliff! Is that it, Child of Adam!? Am I right, ignorant and unenlightened human!?”
“But I like that. Mathers and Crowley were the same. There is no real difference between them and you. I mean, all humans are the lowest of the low anyway. In that sense, you pass the test. You have the same look in your eyes as the Golden. You plan to insolently make a Great Demon yours, trample on the principle of equivalent exchange, and get everything out of me you can. Yes, you have the look of a Probationer in your eyes.”
Hamazura had met two beings known as Magic Gods: Nephthys and Niang-Niang. They were at least more powerful than him and Takitsubo, but even they had given up on saving Fortune.
If he was willing to give up there, he never would have parted ways with them.
After all, they kept him safe. If he had focused only on having the Magic Gods protect him, he could have survived while giving up on some things and forcing an ugly smile.
And who could he find that was just as powerful as, or even more powerful than, that mysterious pair? He did not know many candidates. He had been left out of most everything that had happened so far, but that may have been why he was capable of viewing the center of the conflict without being led astray by extraneous factors.
Great Demon Coronzon.
He had only heard people mentioning her name before this, but she was now wagging her index finger in front of him.
“You can hold onto the Sword of State for now. If I took it from you, you would be too afraid of me leaving you behind to do anything for me. I will use you to your fullest as a pawn. Even if that means disposing of you.”
“Hamazura?” said Takitsubo. “Wait a second. Are you sure about this!?”
“Also.” Coronzon giggled. “You need to show me you are prepared to act as a proper pawn. If you really want to take me for yourself, then show me how far you are willing to go.”
Hamazura breathed out.
And a moment later, he used the tip of the sheathed sword to strike the track suit girl in the solar plexus.
Her face was colored more by confusion than pain or suffering.
Hamazura silently looked down at his collapsed girlfriend.
Only the Great Demon was laughing.
She had of course seen through it all.
“Ah ha ha ha ha!! No mercy for your beloved girlfriend to accomplish your goal!? Excellent. I’m liking you more and more. If anything, this reminds me of Mathers’s cold thought process.”
Still smiling, Coronzon’s face moved right in front of Hamazura’s nose.
“But deep down, you are still a child of Crowley. By knocking your girlfriend out here, you can leave her behind. You can remove her from the path of ruin we will be following. Is that how you see it?”
“Excellent. As a ruler, it is convenient to know what you wish to protect. That is your Achilles’ heel.”
Great Demon Coronzon’s tone changed slightly.
Their psychological distance shrank as she approached him as a tempter.
Her voice now may have been the one she used as the archbishop who guided the UK.
Coronzon had learned Japanese from humans, but she had fine-tuned it to her own ends.
“When someone has a goal they truly wish to accomplish no matter what, then they become much more difficult to predict when that conviction wavers. I am a demon. I am the one who whispers in your ear. And the easiest to manipulate are not the pure evil; it is those who waver in the gap between good and evil. I have just about used up everything I had prepared in the Anglican Church as Crowley killers, so this may actually be useful for me. I will leave that girl there.”
“You owe me one. Do not forget that, pawn.”
After taking a step back, Coronzon placed her hands behind her back, bent forward, and asked a truly casual question.
“Now, I am simply curious about this one. Why are you willing to go so far to help Dion Fortune? That was no more than one of card in my Crowley killer deck. And one I left behind as insurance after deciding to crush the Windowless Building myself thanks to the chaos caused by Kamisato Kakeru and the recon done by Karasuma Fran. I doubt you had enough time to establish any kind of deep relationship.”
That was true.
How many words had Hamazura Shiage really exchanged with Dion Fortune? Was that a bond worth protecting to the point of betraying his girlfriend Takitsubo Rikou and violently knocking her unconscious?
He thought about it and then that perfectly ordinary boy spat out a response.
“The thing about help is…it’s like gravity.”
“It gathers around some places and it doesn’t around others. Just none at all. And what do you mean ‘so far’? How far is appropriate? In your idea of just world, is help supposed to first go to the people who stand out, are smooth talkers, get plenty of attention no matter what they do, and get tons of likes on anything they post? …To hell with that. Those people don’t need help in the first place.”
What did it matter if she had not asked for help?
Why should he care if they did not have that strong a bond?
That was only how Dion Fortune saw it after giving up on everything because she had no one to rely on. That was no reason to not reach out a helping hand.
There were people who would not be saved if you did not reach out and forcibly grab their hand.
Hamazura had wandered the back alleys and thought that was the extent of the world. He had truly believed he would be happy if he reached the top of that tiny box. And that was why he could see this. He had not had any of the gravity known as help. He had only managed to leave those rails due to the powerful influence of Mugino and Takitsubo.
People could not seek happiness they never even imagined existed. They would starve to death in their closed room without ever noticing the door hidden so close by.
What was wrong with showing them all of the options they could choose from?
What was wrong with opening the hidden door and showing them that they could leave?
Her laughter seemed to mock the entire world while also containing the innocent light of a child.
Perhaps a demon’s true skill was to trick people into thinking they still had a chance.
“Mathers and Crowley once tried to save something, but they ended up the way they are after coming into contact with me. You too are trapped in my cage. As long as I can control you, nothing else matters. So how about we get going? I am Great Demon Coronzon. I bring discord between people and obstruct the world’s bonds. So it should be fun to have a pawn to use against people while preparing for the Ceremony of Mo Athair.”
Before they left, Hamazura Shiage looked back one last time.
This may have been his final chance to turn back and do what was right.
…Of course, doing that now would not erase what he had done. He could not eliminate the damage done to his girlfriend lying collapsed on the ground and he would gain nothing by showing weakness in front of as dangerous a negotiating partner as Coronzon.
A dull sound echoed through the air.
Hamazura Shiage had punched himself in the face as hard as he could.
And he set off on his journey to hell with a demon as his guide and rescuing a dead soul as his goal.
After meeting up with First Princess Riméa, Kanzaki Kaori and the other Anglicans began recovering from the chaotic situation and searching the area around Edinburgh Castle, but nothing was left by that point.
They only found a girl in a track suit unnaturally collapsed on the ground.
There was no sign of the crucial Great Demon Coronzon or the Scottish treasures.
The situation was thrown into turmoil.
Three different paths were finally intersecting over the Ceremony of Mo Athair, the posthumous one.
Between the Lines 1
The Golden cabal was the world’s greatest magic cabal, but there was one person who had haunted the giant organization like a ghost.
That lady’s name was Anna Sprengel.
She was a magician with the special access rights to freely contact the Secret Chiefs, superhuman beings of a different category from the Magic Gods.
Her name first appeared in the Sprengel Letters in which William Wynn Westcott, one of the three founders, secretly contacted a historical German Rosicrucian magic cabal and received permission to found a new cabal in the United Kingdom. At that point, she was no more than a name in a letter and no one had seen what she looked like. In fact, Magical Researcher Ellic Howe used handwriting analysis to determine the Sprengel Letters were fake.
Another theory said she was a fictional person modeled after a female magician named Anna Kingsford who was Mathers’s acquaintance and teacher.
The next time she appeared was related to Mathers. In his case, he actually met a woman claiming to be Anna Sprengel. But it seems likely that was a con artist named Madame Horos and not Anna Sprengel herself.
Also, when Robert William Felkin was traveling across Europe in search of the Secret Chiefs, he met a professor whose adoptive daughter claimed to be Anna Sprengel’s niece. Of course, that did not mean that this adoptive daughter was who she claimed to be. There was nothing but her word to go on there.
Like this, Anna Sprengel was nothing more than a name. Very few people had ever seen her for themselves and most such stories could not be trusted. Nevertheless, that lady had continually been a powerful influence on the Golden cabal. And that meant she had a powerful influence on the entire magic side that had taken root in the world.
In a way, her influence was even greater than Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers’s.
In a way, her influence was even greater than Aleister Crowley’s.