Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume22 Chapter 3
Chapter 3: (Untitled) – World_Decomposer.
It was Great Demon Coronzon versus Magic God Niang-Niang.
The very first attack of their clash next to the railroad tracks destroyed the foundation of the gravel-covered area, tore the steel rails to pieces, and severed the power line, sending bluish-white sparks flying.
Of course, a power line scattering a twenty-thousand-volt current was not even worth a glance from those monsters.
A great many weapons fanned-out from the hands hidden in the mini-China dress’s long sleeves. The Magic God ran along a weaving path like a child pretending to be an airplane, but a dreadful power was contained within her.
She was enjoying this. She was enjoying the chance to fight with all her might. That was her entire purpose here.
She even licked her lips in a sensual way that felt horribly out of place.
This opponent must have matched her expectations.
“Nee hee hee. Ah ha ha ha ha!! Okay, Miss Demon, how many of my super-duper convenient sage items can you take and keep going!?”
When she ran forward, the fanned-out weapons restlessly clanked together, sending disconcerting sparks everywhere. It was like the electrodes of a stun gun but different.
Anyone who had pursued the system of magic to this point would realize what was happening when they heard the word “sparks”.
Each of the sage weapons that this Magic God had created by transforming her fingers were used to manage the vast power of a Shijie-Xian by dividing it up into genres: attack, defense, recovery, close-quarters, ranged, etc. These miracles would cancel each other out and refuse to mix if they were combined, so she was essentially constructing walls between them, placing them in separate frames, and preserving their purity. Just as magic power and ley lines were similar yet different things, the macrocosm of the planet and the microcosm of the body were linked. The scale was different, but it was the same phenomenon as the world’s phase system that divided up the different legends and managed them in their own realms that existed on different levels.
Beyond the visible threat, the recreated sparks flying from there would attack the target from an unseen blind spot. Just like a scorpion holding its poor prey in its pincers and then swinging its venomous stinger upon their head.
In response, the demon’s long blonde hair tore through the air like a cruel whip. Specifically, it was spelling out words on an invisible letter board by connecting the letters in a single continuous stroke.
By doing that, she spelled out the ancient Enochian language.
The sinister face in her hair formed the characters and the lips on her beautiful face produced the physical voice.
“The Sixth Call: thy name is RZIONR, fire of fire. Obey the words that rule the tablet of the same color and reveal thy pure power before me!!”
With a roar, flames burst from the empty air, swirled in a vortex, and gathered in the right hand of the beautiful woman in a beige habit.
Now, it was best to pay a little attention here.
Even Mathers had wielded the four great elements. But in the real world in which humans lived, he had been unable to draw out the pure elements, so he had included an impurity to control them. Cement is only a dry powder on its own, but it hardens once mixed with water and gravel. He had included a similar practical compromise in his methodology.
But Coronzon was different.
Fire of fire.
She mercilessly reached for a pure element which could not be achieved in the human world. Just as water molecules void of all impurities displayed special behavior like insulating against electricity, this would produce a result different from the magic used by humans.
Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers.
Not even the leader of the Golden cabal had achieved this ultimate magic.
The clash transformed into an explosion.
And it did not end with just one.
The face on the long blonde hair grew more vivid.
The hair spelled out words in the empty air with the intensity of a sewing machine.
“Fire Tablet of the Elemental Tablets, thou hast been released, so work within my power. I will now indicate the source of the apocalyptic threat. All creation shall naturally break down and Enochian Magic shall amplify the fire of destruction!!”
Just as the embers were blown away and vanishing, the edge of the unraveling hellfire curtain gathered together once more.
The flames doubled in size from before and became a blazing tornado.
Magic God Niang-Niang’s invisible scorpion tail – the collection of recreated sparks – was swept away and erased by the explosive flames. Just like the stars in the night sky were swept away by the dawn.
“I see. Coronzon lurks behind the Sephiroth, not the Qliphoth. You’re a demon, but you’re also a gatekeeper who never falls from the tree. I see, I see. You form your power from the laws of the Olam Beriah, not the Olam Asiyah! Yeah, this is interesting!! You can probably earn a participation trophy and an ‘A for Effort’ for this!!”
The pure elements did not exist in this world and they would never mix with anything else. Just like pure water and monopoles behaved differently just by being a single pure thing. Even if it did not have the perfect negation ability of Imagine Breaker, it could push the enemy away like a moving wall. Gabriel controlled the same water anyone could use, so why was that archangel such a threat? This was the same. The element was identical, but the level of purity was far greater.
“A human who rose to the level of a god? You mastered magic and then called it quits?”
Coronzon herself was the angel who resided in ZAX, the tenth Aethyr.
And she explained what that meant here.
“Don’t screw with me, you fool who refuses to break down. You are no more than someone who decided to stop partway up the mountain. Whether you ascend the Sephiroth or descend the Qliphoth, a human is still a human. Every last one of you is a puny little thing. The true heights exist beyond your understanding, so allow me to show you what true magic looks like!! My breakdown of all creation will swallow you up and you will be no more, you impurity born of human deeds!!”
“I’m sorry to say it, but you really shouldn’t underestimate a Magic God, you freak.”
“Yikes,” muttered Hamazura Shiage from atop a nearby hill.
He had been told not to look back, but that idiot had already broken his promise.
He carried the Sword of State wrapped in a thick sheet he had found on the side of the road and he was also lugging along the suitcase containing the Scottish treasures. It supposedly contained the 230-kilogram Stone of Scone, but he felt like he could lift the entire suitcase with just a slight tug. Coronzon had done something. …Apparently anyway, but he had no desire to check inside. He was not afraid it would pop open like an overstuffed travel bag. If he broke whatever she had done, he knew he would have to actually deal with that 230-kilogram weight.
During all the confusion, Great Demon Coronzon had managed to calmly whisper something to him.
She had said this Magic God was an irregularity and she had no intention of focusing on Niang-Niang.
(So she wanted me to get the crucial treasures out of there while they fought.)
He had no presence.
Hamazura Shiage was a perfectly ordinary person. He was a Level 0 with no hidden power whatsoever, so this was the perfect job for him. If a single bug stood in the center of the ring, it would only get crushed underfoot, but if it hid in the forest or field, no one would ever find it.
He was just one of the crowd. He could never rise above those around him.
But if he used that to his advantage, he could become an unseen person.
Each of Coronzon’s attacks was ridiculously powerful, but she was not trying to kill Niang-Niang here. She was using the obvious explosive blasts to make a mess of things and to scatter a great storm of what she had called “magic power” in order to cancel out any ability Magic God Niang-Niang had to search him out. Instead of using chaff or a flare to divert the enemy’s aim, it was more like using a stun grenade that filled the entire area with a blinding light and deafening noise.
It looked flashy, but you could not let it confuse you. It may have been hard to tell what they were fighting for, but that confusion was the correct first impression here.
That said, Hamazura had nothing left he could do here.
If he got too close, he could easily be blown away on accident. And those two would not even notice if they crushed the bug named Hamazura underfoot.
Leaving was the right answer.
But with that in mind…
(Did Coronzon not consider the possibility of me running off with the suitcase and joining the British side?)
Of course, he was bound by his goal of resurrecting Dion Fortune. An amateur could never accomplish that by messing with the three treasures and Stone of Scone. But that Great Demon would not know for sure how much weight he placed on that goal. Also, he was not currently acting based on logic or his own best interests. This was all about emotion. There was an idealistic idea that the human heart was immovable and unchangeable, but reality was a different matter. Could she really entrust everything to someone else’s psyche that could grow confused or suddenly wake up?
The violent clash continued.
…Or perhaps demons from another realm had the ability to control the human psyche. Perhaps Coronzon could see the actual equation behind it all, so she saw the human mind as a stable path and not a risky gamble.
She may have arrived there in a different way, but wasn’t Great Demon Coronzon essentially relying on Hamazura here?
Even more so than Nephthys and Niang-Niang who were alternately trying to save and kill the human they had spent a short time with just because it sounded “fun”?
“I don’t know what to think anymore, dammit…”
Hamazura softly touched the gum in his pocket. He still had his promise with Dion Fortune. He had wielded violence against his own girlfriend all so he could live a life with her that was free of compromise and humiliation.
He started rolling the strangely lightweight suitcase across the unpaved field.
But as he wandered through the wasteland, had he noticed that the direction he chose was the same one the demon had pointed him in earlier?
“If Glasgow won’t work, then, um, we’re supposed to meet up in Dumfries, right?”
This was the twisted and bent path of the ascetic, just like the one Mathers and Crowley had taken.
This was the journey of the Major Arcana but with a hopelessly mistaken beginning.
But what if?
A demon was a whisperer, a tempter, and an obstructer.
What if it was possible the inspiration of those emotions could also create an opening for him to use?
The sky above Edinburgh Castle was disturbed by the sound of rotors beating at the air.
A large transport helicopter had arrived.
Index and Karasuma Fran had arrived from London as reinforcements. The arrival of personnel via helicopter was a task the group at the castle had already gone through a few times already.
“Condor 01, do you have to do this now!? We’re having some trouble down here and…what? Where did that Asian girl in a track suit go!?”
“Condor 01 to HQ. We see two people trying to leave the grounds and enter the city. We can track them. Do you need our support?”
“Don’t be stupid! They’re trying to lure you in!! Condor 01, ascend, ascend!! The hell!? What is even happening!? It’s headed your way!”
Some kind of beam flashed from the ground and the powerful impact instantly tilted the giant egg-shaped transport helicopter by more than thirty degrees.
Black smoke billowed out.
The ear-splitting alarms from the cockpit’s various instruments could be heard in the passenger area.
Opening the side cargo door to check on the surface proved to be a mistake.
The girl in a white habit fell right out into the open air.
“Geez, really!? Fine, then. We’ll be going on ahead, everyone! Tohhh!”
The hoodie bikini and rabbit-ear antennae girl did not hesitate to reach out from the cargo door and jump down. After building up speed by reducing her air resistance as much as possible, she grabbed the grimoire library in her arms and then inflated a UFO balloon with the power of helium gas.
It happened even faster than a car’s airbag.
The expansion was more like an explosion and Fran and Index clung to the same wire dangling down from it.
“We’re too low for a stable flight. Think of this as a gentle fall.”
The silver-haired girl did not have time to question it. The wobbling balloon never regained its balance and they set down on a grassy field lined with crumbling stone walls. The winter wind dragged them along the grass for a while after that.
And they did not have time to be dizzy.
The large transport helicopter had also lost its balance and black smoke was trailing after it. The two main rotors could not regain control and it gradually lost altitude while rotating through the area around Edinburgh Castle. The pilots must have been fighting with the controls to make sure it did not fall in the city or on the old castle.
That left only one option.
“It’s coming this way! Get down on the ground next to a wall!!”
The belly of the round body fell quite nearby and tore up the grass and dark soil. But it did not stop there. The transport helicopter tilted, aiming the two main rotors toward the girls like two giant fans.
Now, a helicopter was an aircraft that beat at the air with a large rotor to obtain lift, used the rotational speed to adjust its altitude, and angled the entire rotor to move in different directions. So what would happen if the helicopter itself hit the ground, bounced, and tilted in a direction the pilots had not intended?
It might sound strange, but the flying machines known as helicopters did not have any brakes that used the power of friction.
They stopped by stabilizing themselves while the rotor was spinning.
If it lost control like this, there was nothing the pilots could do.
You can think of it like a pinwheel firework.
“Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah!! It’s coming this way! It’s coming this way!!”
“I know that, so quit squirming!!”
Index yelled as the helicopter slid toward them while tearing up the ground, but Fran could not wait for the girl to calm down. This was an emergency, so the rabbit-ear antennae girl grabbed the nun by the back collar and ran behind an old stone wall. They heard the violent sounds of a metal-destroying crash behind just one wall and a broken rotor flew by overhead. If any piece of that had hit them, their flesh-and-blood bodies would have been reduced to mincemeat. Even without a direct hit, it was enough to squeeze at the hoodie bikini girl’s heart.
They waited a while, but nothing more happened.
They were spared a chain reaction such as the aircraft fuel leaking out and exploding.
They met up with the pilots who had forced their way out by kicking the bent door off of the half-crushed body.
“The tank and wiring survived. According to the meter, the fuel is not leaking out for the time being.”
“An electrical short could still start a fire. And even if you remove the battery, the power in the capacitors is still enough, so you should stick a pump in the fuel port and remove it all. Once that’s done, set up an electrical discharger.”
“Of course. We can take care of our partner, so you go give the report you came here for. …We were ordered to transport you here, but we honestly can’t keep up with what’s going on. This isn’t just about where we were attacked from on the surface or getting the area locked down, right?”
“Understood. Leave it all to us.”
The hoodie bikini and rabbit-ear antennae girl agreed and then left the crash site with the silver-haired girl in a white habit. The layout of the Edinburgh Castle area was vast and complex if you included all the underground tunnels. The most sensible route would be to make their way to the makeshift heliport, contact Edinburgh Castle’s guards, and receive permission for an audience with the royal family or whoever was in charge.
Index’s own thoughts hurried her forward.
She was in such a rush she nearly tripped over her own feet.
(I couldn’t get the whole story over the communication spiritual item, but something bad must have happened to cause all this confusion. I need to find him and see what happened. There has to be something I can do for him!!)
When she actually arrived there…
“H-here. You’re not feeling good, so I have no choice. I’ll feed it to you, so say ‘ah’. C’mon, say ‘ah’.”
“Okay, Kamijou-san, excuse me a moment. I’ll wipe you down with this wet towel. I’ll be your replacement right hand.”
She found him in a medical tent right next to the heliport. She had no idea what was going on, but the nun (who had a perfect memory) followed the familiar voice she heard and pushed aside the entrance to the thick synthetic tent.
The spiky-haired boy had no right hand.
He was sitting in bed with a girl on either side of him!
Those girls were only wearing swimsuits and raincoats even though it was December!!
One had a bunch of machines on her back and the other held a TV remote!? What!!!???
“After that interception magic and everything else, I really wanted to share some information with the royal family.”
It had been a while.
Nothing in this world lacked a purpose, so it turned out she was needed after all. The world had been a little too kind to that Japanese high school boy, so she clacked her front teeth together to put a stop to it.
It was time for The Usual.
“But now I want an explanation from that boy who seems to thinks he’s royalty.”
Everything was a complete mess.
Kamijou Touma had no choice but to run in order to save his head from Index’s onslaught. Luckily, he was inside a tent. As long as he knew where the pegs held it to the ground, he could avoid those areas, lift up the thick waterproof material, and escape outside!!
“Human, you seem to have an excess of energy given your condition.”
Othinus sounded exasperated after managing to remain seated on his shoulder without falling off.
But his small understander’s exasperation may have come been about something else.
“So has it sunk in yet that you have lost Imagine Breaker?”
For a while, the spiky-haired boy could find nothing to say.
Othinus did not force the words from his mouth at times like this. His understander did not need that boring confirmation when she understood the inner workings of his heart.
“Are you afraid, human?”
“Now you truly are no more than a high school boy. Yet the enemy is Great Demon Coronzon who manipulated even Aleister Crowley. This goes beyond the UK. The fate of the entire world hangs in the balance and a single mistake could mean the extinction of the human race. It would be much more unusual if you felt nothing given the situation.”
“Then what am I supposed to do?”
Finally, Kamijou Touma opened his mouth without anyone insisting he do so.
“She isn’t going to wait for me to gather my resolve.”
Othinus did not provide empty comfort.
If he was powerless, he could always back out of the fight, but the idea apparently never even occurred to the boy.
So his combat-loving understander had this to say:
“Then that is fine.”
This was her face as a god of war, not a god of magic or god of deception.
“Did you think you were saving people because your right hand had a special power? It was the opposite. Imagine Breaker was just one of the cards in your deck. So don’t lose sight of the truth. Losing your trump card changes the options available to you, but the path you ultimately take will be the same. Do not forget what you hope to accomplish and what you have set as your goal. Do that and you can still be Kamijou Touma.”
“Do not worry. You have another trump card right here. As a god with three roles, I can tell you this from my role of war god: I will provide everything you lack, so just do whatever it is you want to do.”
Takitsubo Rikou, the girl in a pink track suit and fluffy sweater, trembled with a hand held up toward the heavens.
A large transport helicopter had fallen from the blue morning sky with black smoke trailing after it. She was escaping the castle with Anna Sprengel, the woman in a gaudy dress that looked like a red leotard with a long skirt attached, so pursuit from the sky would have been very bad indeed. She had needed to lose that pursuit if she was going to save Hamazura while he worked with Coronzon. But…
“Good, good. That should do it.”
She heard a cheerful voice from right behind her.
Someone had been guiding her motions from behind like a ballet teacher in front of the large mirror. It was a woman whose reddish-blonde hair hung down in several modified fried shrimp shapes made by rolling the hair and squishing it flat.
A legendary individual who hid in the shadows of history.
However, Anna had not just caused some kind of supernatural phenomenon.
“Target: Takitsubo Rikou – Assist.”
Anyone in the know would have realized how similar yet different this was to what Annie Horniman had said.
Takitsubo shrank down from the sweet breath in her ear, but she still managed to squeeze out her voice as a form of resistance.
Although she still lacked the strength to turn around.
“What was that!? What did you make me do!?”
“Scryyyying. At its core, that is a form of reading. It is not the parchment that makes a grimoire. What matters is to give the knowledge a stable format to be read from. Just as tarot cards can be a grimoire and a certain girl’s memory can be a library, any tool used to acquire knowledge can function as a grimoire if its precision reaches a high enough level.”
The woman had only whispered for Takitsubo to hold out her hand.
And when she had done so, this was the result.
…But she knew that was nowhere near enough to explain what had happened. She did not want to understand that, but she did anyway.
It had fallen.
That flying machine had crashed before her eyes!!
(Don’t tell me they died!)
“Don’t worry. That wasn’t enough to kill those people.”
A floral scent came from the rose in the woman’s hair. Anna Sprengel spoke like she was singing a nursery rhyme. Takitsubo Rikou saw how ugly she could be in how much those words relieved her despite the complete lack of evidence. She was too eager to escape her crimes.
Something floated at eye level. It was silent but it was blatantly violating gravity.
This was different from the black box Dion Fortune had carried.
It was…a transparent crystal ball about the size of a volley ball.
She heard a sound like sugar paste scorching after being spread across the surface of a bug zapper.
(Crystal…no, quartz. I’ve heard of a laser weapon that uses the equalized frequency of quartz, but no, that isn’t what this is. This is something different. It’s running on laws I’ve never seen before.)
“I have created a combat module out of a grimoire. There is no need to give it autonomous thought like Mathers and Westcott would do. As a pure weapon, it will never betray you and you can use the spell by having the tool absorb power from the ley lines instead of refining magic power from your own life form.”
“And that means it allows espers like you to use magic without any side effects. Quite a nice toy, isn’t it?”
Confusing words continued to flow out with the sweetness of nectar.
Takitsubo sensed a wickedness in this that suggested she was being exposed to the same fangs as Hamazura Shiage was with Coronzon.
“Well, I’m glad that theory was just proven correct. Although I have a feeling compatibility will still be an issue. This could turn out much like the Aztec grimoires that consume the flesh and bones of their user when used carelessly. And much like an ungrounded washing machine, the power could always follow an unintended path and reach the user’s body anyway. This is best used by an esper who can read the current of power. In that sense, you were the best person for the job. Your power can do nothing but read, so in a way, reaching Level 4 with it is more impressive than the #3 or #5.”
Takitsubo belatedly realized she had wound up on a horrific set of rails.
But at the same time, she had already reached for this. She had shot down a British transport helicopter, so making a U-turn and returning to Edinburgh Castle would only get her thrown in prison as a criminal. In fact, she could hardly complain if they shot her on sight.
“I have…a question.”
“What is it?”
“I’m not entirely sure how you managed to get me and my AIM Stalker power to do this, but why did you have me do it through this tool? Or to put it another way, what would have happened otherwise?”
“When an esper uses magic, it damages all their blood vessels and nerves, killing them. Their body is torn to shreds.”
“Let’s just hope Hamazura Shiage is not asked to perform any magic without being told that first. Not that we can expect a demon to tell the truth or the whole truth.”
Gambling was most frightening when it was not just money on the line. That monster opened its jaws wide when you imagined a specific goal you hoped to reach with the money you won or when you were driven into a corner and needed to earn a certain amount to survive. You could no longer back out and you would find yourself betting every last bit of money you owned.
(I don’t know what’s happening here.)
She could no longer turn back, so she had to face forward.
(But I’m safe as long as I use this tool. But will Hamazura be safe if I don’t tell him about this? There’s nothing wrong with his desire to save Dion Fortune, but he’s walking straight toward his own doom. Someone who knows the truth needs to tell him.)
“Okay. I’ll follow you.”
“I already learned of your resolve back in the confessional.”
“Then what about you? Why are you helping me save Hamazura?”
“Hmm, I’m not actually that interested in him.”
“Then is it about Coronzon?”
“I believe I said this before.” The woman laughed in her red dress made from a leotard and long skirt. “I am not a simple recreation made by passing power through handmade tarot cards like Mathers and Westcott were. Think of this in terms of Aleister Crowley who actually survived through all of the intervening years. …It pisses me off to see how worthless they are. I worked through the Secret Chiefs to give them permission to start the Golden cabal, but a demon ended up manipulating them, playing with their empty husks like puppets, and sending them out to kill each other. This failure was caused by the original Mathers succumbing to his own greed and anxiety, but it is time to put a stop to it. I was willing to turn a blind eye to what those children were up to for a while, but it is high time I intervened.”
Just like Hamazura, Takitsubo Rikou was an outsider to all this.
But that did not matter.
This woman had given an explanation, but she did not actually expect the girl to understand. In fact, she preferred it if the girl overlooked the risks right in front of her. It was just like all the fine print filling the bottom of the screen during a consumer finance ad.
“The Divine Mixtures that brought together ancient Egyptian and Greek mythology were from the Aeon of Isis. The power of the past two thousand years found in that bible so loathed by the very human who finally reached for it was from the Aeon of Osiris. …So what about now? Coronzon is throwing her power around, the Enochian language is being used as a foothold, and even Nuit and Hadit have made an appearance. One look at the chaotic state of the world is enough to conclude the Aeon of Horus has arrived. The previous methods no longer apply. If you do not update your rulebook, you can never keep up with the new way of the world.”
The girl could no longer turn back, but she had already decided on a plan of action.
Takitsubo Rikou would do what she could for her boyfriend.
Even if that meant doing things he was ignorant of.
“Where do we go now?”
The royal family had of course noticed that oddity while they worked to gather information in their temporary base of Edinburgh Castle.
After ignoring her wounds to rejoin the fight, a female knight stood tall and raised her voice.
“I have a report! The grimoire library and other reinforcements have arrived from London. They were caught in an unforeseen incident while landing, but fortunately, no one was injured and she can begin working at any time.”
“Bring her here immediately. …The details are a mystery, but I really thought we were in luck to find the Imagine Breaker. But if we cannot use his right hand, we will have to do this the old-fashioned way. And in that case, we need to view that Asian Saint and the grimoire library as our trump cards.”
Queen Regnant Elizard looked down at the map spread out on the table. No, there was more than that. The sunshine entering through the window illuminated paper documents pasted to all of the walls with red, blue, and other colors of string connecting anything that was linked. This was an information organization technique similar to mind mapping.
She was not a leader who left all of the official duties to the prime minister and strategists. Since the lives of soldiers and knights relied on her orders, she wanted to calculate it all out herself. The room contained a vortex of data seemingly dragged out of her psychological world and it was frightening in a different way from a scene where the female knight had to swing her sword based on an order to kill someone. Seeing this honestly made that female knight feel blessed to have a queen who would work this hard to look after each individual soldier’s life.
And on top of that…
“What we have here is not enough. There are too many strings that split off two or three times without connecting to anything. We need to quickly deal with those using the grimoire library’s help. I can only estimate, but I believe we are two or three steps behind Lola Stuart…no, Great Demon Coronzon.”
“Yes, right away!!”
When the female knight obediently turned around and left, black-haired and monocled First Princess Riméa breathed a quiet sigh. She may have been reminded of her militaristic younger sister Carissa when she was younger.
That woman had mentioned an unforeseen incident.
She had reported on the fate of the transport helicopter carrying the Index Librorum Prohibitorum and paper documents concerning it would have been made in real time.
Queen Elizard was initially focused on something else.
There was something she had to consider before thinking about that blatant attack.
In other words…
“…I would like to double check something.”
“What is it, mother?”
“The three treasures and the Stone of Scone were taken from Edinburgh Castle. Using their power to its fullest requires performing a ceremony at a point equidistant from the center points of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.”
“Yes, and that means it couldn’t possibly happen on land. It would probably be at the center of the sea between Great Britain and Ireland.”
“So one more thing.”
Elizard stared at the map and pointed at a point on the wall.
But she was not pointing at some crucial document pasted there.
Quite the opposite. So many paper documents covered the walls, but she was emphasizing the one mysterious blank remaining.
And she spoke.
“What happened to the Queen Britannia kept here in Edinburgh’s harbor? The royal family’s decommissioned ship was supposed to be one of the city’s foremost tourist attractions!”
Riméa only shrugged in response.
Basically, a luxury cruise ship measuring more than two hundred meters long had been built as a floating fortress for the British royal family. Now that all necessary diplomatic trips were made via airplane, it meant more as a show of force and technological power than it did an actual vehicle.
Even if it had been decommissioned, it contained a lot of childhood memories for Riméa. For example, she had wrestled with Carissa and Villian in the large beds, she had snuck into the kitchen to swipe food, and Carissa had been more of a crybaby than Villian. …Thinking back, she probably should have stopped her tearful and sulking sister from secretly holding that elegant violin upside down and pretending it was a sword.
But now was not the time to immerse herself in sentimental memories.
For one thing, it was a ship built for the representatives of a kingdom. It had been designed to be as sturdy as Air Force One. Plus, this was a magic kingdom. Various magical symbols had been woven into the fundamental design to make sure it could not be easily sunk by any kind of damage or attack. That was what made it a fortress rather than a palace. But if it had fallen to enemy hands, that sturdy design would bare its fangs against them.
(This is different again from our mobile fortress.)
Riméa gently touched her monocle.
(That ship was designed for the royal family to travel across the sea and perform large-scale rituals at a total of 53 predetermined points under control of the British Commonwealth. Coronzon had infiltrated the Anglican Church as their archbishop, so it makes sense she would know about the giant temple hidden below the surface.)
Simply put, it was very bad that the ship had disappeared without anyone noticing.
…They had not been preserving it after its retirement because they could not bear to let it go. If they had tried to dismantle it by force, the rebound could have blown away half the country. They had instead chosen to invite in plenty of ignorant tourists so the mental noise of their various thoughts would gradually neutralize the magical symbols over a long period of time, but it was estimated that would take more than 1,200 years.
“Edinburgh is on the east side of Scotland, so it borders the open ocean that leads to the European mainland. If an order arrived to move that valuable cultural asset to the relatively safe Irish Sea to escape the threat of the Crowley’s Hazards, I doubt the security crew would have questioned it.”
“But who would have ordered that? It wasn’t us in the royal family.”
“Silly mother. When the occult is involved, it is always the Anglicans who show up first on matters of security. And can you remind who their archbishop was?”
“She is quite clever. If she arranged for this back when the Crowley’s Hazards and Divine Mixtures were causing trouble across the entire kingdom – or if she did it before that visible clash had even begun – then is she really only two or three steps ahead of us?”
An RV rattled while swerving through the African desert to escape something. A calico cat rolled across the floor.
The windshield had shattered and the body was dented all over. If it were anywhere near human civilization, a police officer would have pulled it over by now. The outside heat was too much for the air conditioning to handle and fine sand kept getting in. Neither was good for baby Lilith or for the various pieces of laboratory equipment.
Mina Mathers, the black cat witch in mourning clothes, groaned quietly as she turned the steering wheel. The shards of glass she had taken to the face had sliced up her veil and left some red dripping from her mouth.
But it could have been worse.
After all, an anti-tank mine had detonated nearby after being lifted from the ground. If she were human, the shockwave alone might have crushed her skull and neck.
And it did not end with that one attack.
Even now, golden torrents were intermittently erupting vertically from the ground. A direct hit from one of those could slice a beached warship in two.
(Intermittently. Does that mean even Coronzon is too preoccupied to focus on these attacks?)
The Crowley’s Hazards had been defeated, but the world was still in a state of chaos. The UK had it especially bad. The flow of information had been shut down at a level normally only seen during a war, so they had no way of knowing what was happening over there.
And even this was not much reason to relax.
The frog-faced doctor spoke with worry on his face.
“Can’t you drive a little more smoothly?”
“Please don’t ask for the impossible. We’ll be attacked the instant I stop.”
“Out of curiosity, do you know how delicate an operation this is?”
“That’s exactly it. Destroying Lilith’s vessel is probably her goal here.”
That was their situation.
Coronzon could attack at any time on a whim, but they had to be on their guard and keep moving at all times. Whether it was on a whim or not, a single attack could spell the end of them. Plus, they had yet to find any way of sensing an incoming attack. One major problem was the RV’s limited fuel supply. They had loaded it with a fair amount of extra fuel since they were hiding at an oasis far away from human civilization, but that did not mean all that much with nothing but desert as far as the eye could see. Their lives ended when the gasoline did. They knew that, but they could not try to preserve the gas either.
Turning on the GPS system was meaningless out in the open desert.
The stereo’s LCD screen could view internet videos and a lot of unconfirmed information was scrolling by on there. Most of it was fake news accompanied by cheaply modified images, such as a shark escaping an aquarium or a dire shortage of cup yakisoba, but someone with the appropriate knowledge could recognize some shockingly crucial information mixed in.
“This temple is a valuable tourist destination here in the Greek capital of Athens, but it has just been damaged. The local residents could only watch in horror as some kind of golden mass burst from the ground and…”
“Could it have been a gas line exploding? But it was gold…ah ha ha. No, they must have been seeing things. Prague might be known as a city of fortunetelling and alchemy, but that’s just to bring in tourists. I mean, all the accessories sold at those stands are made of brass. This isn’t some mystical place where pure gold would erupt from the ground.”
And some of it came from surprisingly close by.
“Something gold just burst from the top of the pyramid! Wow, I guess the theories about their high-level astronomy were true. Even after millennia, they’re still trying to contact outer space!!”
The rules about keeping magic hidden were crumbling away.
For better or for worse, the Aeon was being updated in a different direction.
Just like search engines, online shopping, social media, and video sites had changed every part of the world, the Great Demon was revealing just how far her influence had spread.
While Mina Mathers held the wheel and clenched her teeth, more and more new videos were posted and the valuable information was driven off of the rankings. No one seemed to be controlling it, but the turnover was too fast. It was possible the absence of the Crowley’s Hazards had released the tension in the people’s hearts and allowed a temporary mania to set in.
They were the thrall of an uncontrollable self-consciousness.
That was a taboo state for anyone who knew even a little about magic.
It was spreading on a global scale. After all, this was little different from what had led to the infighting during the Battle of Blythe Road, which was created by the magicians’ frustration that they were not more powerful and more highly praised than they were. Even if that had begun with Aleister’s desire for revenge, they could have avoided it if they had controlled their emotions and quietly focused on their research. Sherry, Oriana, and the other magicians who had attacked Academy City based on their magic names could not deny that a similar negative passion had played a role in their background.
The public side of the world knew nothing.
They thought luck was on their side and thought they needed to make the attempt now.
They thought they could be even cleverer than the rest.
These were known as Qliphothic forces. Of course, anger, jealousy, and other mental forces with a negative side did not necessarily lead to evil deeds. For example, quite a lot of art was born of anger. A lot of people used the pain of a broken heart to find their next love. Also, the human race as a whole had acquired fire, invented stable lighting using oil and gas, and eventually gained complete mastery of electricity all to conquer their fear of the dark.
But that was only what happened when those things were put to good use.
What happened when someone unexpectedly contacted the Qliphothic forces without training or preparing for it? This power was different from a visible lighting strike or beam cannon. It gave you a slight push forward and had you make choices you never would have made under normal circumstances. That could mean gambling, investing, managing a company, or even things like murder for the insurance money or robbing a bank. When people saw it on the evening news, they would scoff and wonder how anyone could be so stupid, but the person involved had reached a point where they honestly believed they could overcome that challenge.
Luck is on my side. I can do it if I act now. I can’t let this opportunity pass me by.
That sort of thing.
They succumbed to the whispers coming from within.
At times, those things would even influence expert magicians. They had even led to magicians making a single mistake that nearly destroyed the world. So what would happen if those forces gave that final push on the backs of all seven billion people on the planet?
Chaos would reign.
This was different from a war in which people were killed in an efficient manner. Nor was it a witch hunt born from good intentions run wild. If you reached for the fire alarm, stopped just before pressing it, and stayed like that for thirty seconds, anyone would feel it in their heart. Whether or not you actually did it, you would ask yourself what happened if you did. These forces answered every such decision with a “yes”. You would actually do it. Since there was no leader or ruler, it was easy to imagine just how hard it would be to predict the scope of the damage. Just like the chaotic movement and collisions of water molecules meant the water in the pot would boil and gain the ability to harm or even kill.
Sometimes people tried to excuse their actions by claiming “the devil made me do it”.
Since a Great Demon was at the root cause here, that excuse might just be accurate.
Mina Mathers glanced down at the fuel meter and clicked her tongue.
(The plan was to send the Crowley’s Hazards across the British Commonwealth so they could be defeated and optimize Aleister’s current body. But this new stimulation of the half-healed scab is going to make the people boil over before their quiet mania has a chance to cool back down. This must be Coronzon’s doing. Is she overturning the board Aleister had prepared so she can hijack the situation across the globe!?)
A somewhat tall hill looked down on the southern harbor district on the outskirts of Dumfries.
The view of the ocean from there was honestly disappointing.
(Now I’m scared. Coronzon hasn’t shown up at the rendezvous point, so what will I even do if I lose Aneri too? I don’t know the language here!)
“Stop it, Aneri! I’m worried about your battery. This isn’t the time to be showing me your recommendation for an online strip mahjong app that looks like a cross between a classic game and a hookup app. Stop flashing the light like that! …Actually, wait. Did you jailbreak this thing to access an app outside the app store? No, no, no!! I’m not downloading it! I’m scared!!”
He hated how easily the program had analyzed his preferences. If this drained the battery, it was all over for him.
He heard a sound much like bedsheets beating at the air.
He looked back in surprise and saw the woman in a beige habit alighting on the ground. Her bat-like wings scattered as glowing particles.
“Sorry about the wait.”
“Whoa, um…what happened? You’re covered in blood!”
“Do not touch me. I can deal with this myself. My flight would not have gone unnoticed, so we need to settle things before the pursuit catches up.”
Surviving a direct clash with a Magic God without having her body torn apart was impressive, but Coronzon had decided it was not worth explaining to Hamazura. Also, she had decided to call it quits without actually defeating Niang-Niang. You could not exactly brag about quitting while you were ahead.
But more importantly.
While sensing the seaside scents and the cries of the seagulls, she sat down on the green suitcase Hamazura was dragging around. He had no idea how it worked, but the suitcase did not grow any heavier with her on it. And he knew she could not be as light as a feather.
“Good, good. It’s right on schedule. The Queen Britannia has arrived in the Irish Sea.”
“You mean that…?”
Hamazura looked out to sea.
Dumfries was a small town even for Scotland and it had a harbor to the south. But instead of a major harbor with a lot of international arrivals, it was a regional fishing harbor. A giant gray ship that looked like the fusion of a luxury cruise ship and a warship had arrived there. The ship was actually more conspicuous than the entire harbor.
Coronzon spat some blood from her mouth before speaking while seated on the suitcase.
“It is only a temporary base, but let’s hijack that thing and get some rest.”
“That thing!? It has to have hundreds of human guards alone. I can’t imagine how we could possib—”
With a deep sound, the Great Demon’s long hair gathered together and stabbed into the ground with the sinister movement of a scorpion’s tail.
That was all.
That seemed to be all it was.
But a moment later, the Queen Britannia rose up several meters from the ocean.
“Aethyr Avatar – 26: DES.”
It was not that a golden mass burst from the ocean floor and pierced the bottom of the ship. That would sink the ship before they could hijack it.
A giant golden pillar burst up right next to the gray ship. The wave that produced was enough to lift up the 150,000-ton ship, flood the coastal area, and cause a slight panic. Meanwhile, the golden hair complexly intertwined so the tip formed the silhouette of a winged human. From there, it was like something out of a comedy. The hair shot toward the ship’s doors and struck them all like the needle of a sewing machine. It accurately grabbed the people inside, pulled them outside, and tossed them aside like weeds. The people inside the ship were thrown out into the cold sea. It did not matter what kind of experts they were. There was nothing at all they could do. They were probably defeated before figuring out who was attacking them.
It was more an extermination than a battle.
Like grabbing the bugs crawling on the underside of a stone and throwing them aside.
The entire process only took thirty seconds.
Just when the monster returned to the sea, Coronzon pulled her hair out of the ground. There was not a drop of water on it.
Her wounds remained as she casually stood back up from the green suitcase. Gravity pulled down her long beige skirt to hide her bright bare legs.
“Okay, let’s get going. No one remains to stop us. That is all you can expect from people who do not know how to activate the ship’s defenses.”
There was exasperation in Coronzon’s eyes as she descended the hill toward the rundown harbor district.
She raised one finger.
“That ship is both a solid fortress and a giant temple used for ceremonies. We will begin as soon as we are inside. I will begin the natural breakdown of this world with the Ceremony of Mo Athair and you will reconstruct Dion Fortune.”
Hamazura focused on his pocket.
He carried 78 cards there.
They were the flimsy-feeling proof that a certain girl had existed in this world.
The seaside scent grew as they approached. All the roads near the harbor were as soaked as after a downpour. Once they had arrived, Hamazura could not believe the Queen Britannia had not run aground when that giant wave hit it.
“Well, I did say we would be staying here for the time being. Anything smaller would not be up to the task.”
Leave it to a demon to have unrealistic financial expectations.
It was longer than the average school. It had to be at least two hundred meters. The deck was about nine meters up. When looking up at it from the wharf, that gray wall obstructed his view of anything else. When he had checked the rows of windows and doors from a distance, he had counted three or four floors of cabins. That meant it was large enough to hold more than a thousand people, but since it was meant for the royal family, how were the rooms really laid out? There might be a smaller number of rooms that seemed too large to exist on a ship. If it was used for diplomatic and social parties, then would it also have a ballroom like the one in Cinderella?
Of course, the locals had seen the bizarre goings-on in the ocean. However, they ironically had their backs turned toward to the person who had done it as they stared toward the ocean with mouths agape. Make no mistake: witnessing something did not necessarily provide any knowledge. Different people gained different information from seeing the exact same thing.
As for Coronzon herself…
“That should do it.”
“Wah, wah, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!?”
Hamazura screamed because, when Coronzon snapped her fingers, the fishermen and youths in tartan clothing collapsed on the spot. It scared them how easy it had been. Not even poison gas would have knocked them out so quickly. It seemed like some of them had noticed them and turned around, but the result was the same. She had not used a stun gun or tranquilizer gun, so there was nothing they could do. The people were knocked out one after another without any way to resist.
Coronzon put her hands on her hips.
“You can’t let a little thing like this shock you. This is not much different from the people-clearing fields everyone uses. The only difference is in whether you shut them down or control them. If you ask me, immediately knocking them out isn’t anywhere near as nasty as a people-clearing fields that mess with people’s minds without them even knowing it happened.”
“If this is the better option, then what kind of world do you live in?”
“The same world you are about to be submerged in. C’mon, let’s go.”
“Go? How do we get on the ship? It’s huge! This is like a vertical wall. It’s like a three-story building up to the deck. Unless we bring in a firefighter’s ladder truck—”
“Hold on, why do you look so exasperated? Wait, stop, keep your fingers away from me, hey!!”
While they were flirting, the golden hair wrapped all around Hamazura Shiage and picked him up. Beams of light burst from Coronzon’s back, they formed golden wings, and she flapped them to fly up to the deck. Given how powerful she was, she had to be using some extremely fine-tuned control to not rocket outside of earth’s gravity altogether.
Her feet touched gently down on the large deck.
When Hamazura rolled out of her hair’s grasp, he collapsed on the deck with his lower body crushed below the green suitcase. It was kept light by magic or something, but it was still heavier than Takitsubo’s butt.
“I’m gonna die! It’s gonna squish everything out of me!!”
“Hey, quit squirming like a worm down there. Stop getting it on with that royal equipment and stand up, you creep.”
That was quite a misunderstanding there. Being called a creep by a girl was like a knife in his teenage heart, but he knew arguing his case would not improve things for him. Hamazura managed to scramble out from under the suitcase that was as heavy as a minor cave-in.
When he looked around again, he found the place deserted. But this was not like an abandoned school or hospital. Yes, he could still sense the traces of human life and warmth. It reminded him of stories about ghost ships where people still found signs of life such as half-washed laundry and coffee that had yet to go cold.
Coronzon gathered her blonde hair together and let it gently sway around her.
“Let’s go, boy. The first set is finally complete. I will tell you how to perform the ritual once we are inside.”
“The first set?”
She smiled in obvious enjoyment.
She had the look of a mischievous child who had been waiting oh-so-long to spring their trap.
“And this first set will end it. From here on, everything will be like a giant avalanche. Hoping for any future crossroads is a waste of time now that I have arrived on this ship.”
“I found it.”
On the outskirts of Dumfries, but further inland than the small harbor district, was a church bell tower.
Qliphah Puzzle 545 flew down from the blue sky to return there.
If he wanted, Accelerator could escape the bonds of gravity by creating tornadoes, but that was more like launching himself like a rocket than anything. He would have a hard time remaining at a fixed height and carefully observing the surface like that translucent demon could.
“The Queen Britannia is there. That’s almost certainly what Coronzon is using as her base. Nee hee hee.”
“I already knew that.”
Coronzon and her follower had escaped while he was dealing with that Magic God, but catching up with them had not been hard when he started making some educated guesses. Why had they been on that train? What did that track lead to? And what irregularities had occurred in the Irish Sea? The truth had been a collection of surprisingly boring information. The all-seeing eye of big data was really just a beanbag of data points.
“So how many people does it take to run that thing? Or to put it another way, how many people is she threatening into running it for her?”
“Um, can I ask you why you want to know that?”
“If I can just destroy the thing, then sinking the whole damn ship sounds like a good answer to me. So can I do that or not? Answer me that, demon.”
“Ohhhh!! I had a feeling my strong master would say that! You aren’t even asking how to destroy it!! You skip straight to asking how many innocent people would be involved if you just split it in two!!”
That was when the morning sky was violently torn apart.
The cause truly was less than a meter away. Giant hunks of metal passed by on either side of Accelerator. They were moving at about Mach 0.9. Those cruise missiles intentionally maintained a slower speed to fly just above the surface for a longer period of time while zigzagging sharply along the way.
The #1 avoided an accidental collision while pulling in the demon who did nothing more than calmly hold down her newspaper skirt.
The shockwave caused the tower’s heavy bell to ring noisily.
The missiles accurately read the terrain data while flying just off the surface so they could reach the giant boat without appearing on radar.
They were loaded with enough explosives to do much more than blow a large in the side. They would break the entire ship in two.
The result could not have been more obvious.
There was a blast.
A beam of light burst out and the multiple cruise missiles vanished before even getting close.
The destruction did not end there.
The gray Queen Britannia launched another beam of light high into the sky. Dirty gray dust floated at a point in the blue sky. The unnaturally high altitude suggested it had been a drone that did not need to worry about a pilot. It was like a midday star. They had not noticed it was there until it exploded.
But this was not enough to surprise Accelerator.
He pushed away Qliphah Puzzle 545 who was still frozen in place.
(No sign of the military satellite used against Edward Berridge. But from the look of things, even the nastiest method would just be canceled out. Is she saving that trump card, or did she get captured and have her toys confiscated?)
“So what’s really going on?”
His question made it clear there had to be more to this.
“W-well, I couldn’t actually see inside the ship. Coronzon is my creator and a higher level demon. If it came to a direct clash of strength, she would overpower me no matter what I tried.”
So if they avoided a direct clash of strength, Qliphah Puzzle 545 could still be useful. She would not call herself a demon if this was enough for her to give up.
And that aside, Accelerator said something else while hitting the heavy bell with the back of his hand to silence its incessant ringing.
“Surely that isn’t all you have to report.”
“The crewmembers have minds of their own, so they wouldn’t necessarily continue obeying Lola Stuart forever. That ship has a displacement of 150,000 tons, which is 1.5 times a nuclear aircraft carrier, but it’s also top heavy. Plus, it runs on inefficient diesel instead of a nuclear reactor. Anyway, cruise ships are the world’s hardest to steer, so even turning hard to starboard is a harrowing experience. If a spirit of justice awakens inside just one of the hundreds on the crew, they can disobey orders and cause the entire ship to capsize.”
“Coronzon will be running the ship on her own. I bet that loooong hair of hers will be strung through everything from the wheelhouse to the engine room to take complete control.”
“Oh, now that your fears have been allayed, you look ready to go. You look like a dad heading off to work. But wait just a second, daddy!! Nee…nee hee hee. The Queen Britannia uses a special design that takes a royal fortress and folds it up into the shape of a ship. If Coronzon has started up its defenses, then you’ll be blown to pieces if you approach it carelessly! You saw what just happened, didn’t you!?”
“I’m not your daddy, dummy.”
“You’re not? Then are you my mommy???”
“Oh… I said the wrong thing and now you’re really going to lecture me, aren’t you?”
“…You have a terrible sense of humor.”
“Please just kill me!! Eek! If my jokes can disappoint a humorless living weapon, then my life might as well be over!!”
When the translucent demon wept and tried to cling to him, her cruel master lightly dodged out of the way and pointed toward the sea with his chin.
“Can we really just sit by and watch?”
“If she’s planning to hijack the UK using the three Honours of Scotland and the Stone of Scone, the magic order will almost certainly collapse. That means an entire half of the world. But I really doubt that Great Demon will be satisfied being the master of one measly kingdom.”
“As big as this is, we should still view it as the ignition switch.”
At times like this, Qliphah Puzzle 545 smiled but remained deadly serious.
She was like a military simulator calculating out the end of the world.
“Coronzon will probably perform the ceremony at a point with equal influence from the center points of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Nee hee. If the Queen Britannia’s engine room is run at the max speed that won’t damage the engines, it can cross the ocean at about thirty knots.”
“She will arrive in position in two hours, so precisely noon. At that point, no one can stop her.”
With that said, Qliphah Puzzle started pressing her index fingers together in front of her chest which was too large for the rest of her small build.
“U-umm. Since we were defeated by that Magic God last time, I decided to throw out any optimism and take a stricter view of this…”
“If you’re afraid of losing again, then can it. Don’t let every little failure hold you back.”
“No, it isn’t that. I’m actually saying I’ve made myself look at something I’d been trying to ignore before.” The translucent demon continued even under the #1’s intimidating glare. “It might be possible to get on board the Queen Britannia which is essentially a royal fortress. Sinking it is out of the question, but getting on is a different matter. Then it would be possible to meet Coronzon face to face.”
“What about it? I’m sick of taking the long way around. I want to crush that Great Demon and end this already.”
“That’s the thing…”
Qliphah Puzzle 545 made a confession.
She almost made it sound too matter of fact.
“Most likely, there is nothing in this world capable of truly killing Coronzon.”
Shortly before all that, the demon and the boy were inside the Queen Britannia.
There was no reason to keep it hidden in a plastic sheet, so Hamazura Shiage held the sheathed Sword of State in both hands as he looked around.
While dragging the heavy green suitcase behind her, Lola opened her mouth in slight exasperation without looking back at him.
“Is that the only word you know? How many times have you said that now?”
“But every room I look in is a surprise.”
There was a gallery full of famous paintings framed in gold and a legitimate opera house with more than three stories’ worth of audience seating. The dance hall and dining hall were much too large to believe they were on a ship. He doubted a school made of reinforced concrete could contain spaces this large. This had been described as a royal castle folded up into the shape of a ship and that seemed to be an accurate description.
He felt the gum in his pocket.
He wanted to make sure he maintained a proper sense of perspective. He had to keep in mind what he could and could not do. Coronzon had stolen this, so it did not belong to him.
He asked a question while walking past a marble goddess statue that he was afraid to touch.
“Where are we going?”
“The secret base hidden in this ship.”
Coronzon readily answered him, but instead of the stairs or an elevator, she walked into the room adjacent to the giant dining hall. It had a tiled floor and industrial fridges and counters made from a polished silver material. Even the stovetops and ovens were nothing like the ones found in a normal restaurant. The only alcoholic beverages appeared to be wines and brandies used for flavoring, but it would not surprise him to learn this ship had a separate wine cellar.
The kitchen was fully stocked even after the ship’s retirement because the tourists were willing to pay high prices to experience truly royal cooking.
“If I go with Undine, then fish would work. Where can I find a corresponding replacement?”
Coronzon muttered something under her breath while continuing into the kitchen, swinging her hair around like a scorpion’s tail, opening a fridge door, and grabbing some thin slices of chilled salmon.
“We can get in through there.”
“Hey, wait. That’s just the door to the food storage roo- ahm.”
“Take this chance to fill your stomach. Four-legged animals are fire, fish are water, birds are wind, and snakes or bugs are earth. You should refuel on Salamander, the essence of fire.”
Great Demon Coronzon had taken something like a hamburger steak wrapped in a thin white film and shoved it into his mouth. …Using her long blonde hair. And not just one or two hairs; a large bundle of it. Anyone without a powerful fixation on beautiful women’s hair would be calling for the manager after that.
But besides that…
“Oh, do you not like that traditional dish?”
“Ugh, cough, what is this? What kind of meat is it!?”
“You ignorant fool. Surely you have heard of haggis. I said four-legged animals, didn’t I? You take a sheep’s stomach, fill it with the animal’s organs and some vegetables, and then cook it.”
That would explain the smell that hit him more so than the flavor. And didn’t the stomach count as an organ? Based on her description, he had trouble figuring out what the selling point was. Just like with Japan’s natto and Scandinavia’s smelly canned goods, there were some mystery dishes where you could not imagine how anyone decided to make it in the first place.
“You never know when our next chance to eat will be, so you need to absorb that four-legged animal meat while you can.”
“Hold on. I don’t trust your tastes, so I’m choosing what I want to eat!! Nghhh!!”
This time, it was a kind of Western cake.
Hamazura Shiage tearfully struggled as it was forced into his mouth.
This did not seem to have been properly flavored with sugar or brandy. An unbearable sweetness spread through his mouth like she had shoved a hardened hunk of honey in there. His tongue was helpless and the thick sweetness felt like a blow to the back of the head.
“A trinity of fat, protein, and carbs. …It seems to lack the crucial blood, but were these made as containers for researching the Cake of Light?”
“Hake of…bleh…Cake of Light?”
“It is a replacement for a sacrifice spoken of in Crowley’s grimoire. Well, this alone will not provide any of the animal matter we want. Its nature will change depending on what kind of blood it is filled with. If the haggis is not to your liking, you can fill that with the blood or meat of another four-legged animal and eat it.”
The hair hell resumed.
None of the flavors matched the tastes of a Japanese person from the culture of fish stock.
But the blonde beauty did not care while she snacked on a few thin slices of bread and red wine.
“What kind of British person gets their wine delivered from a French chateau? …Well, the royal family is a stickler for tradition. And just like the cliché in gangster movies, you can always find the dirty secrets hidden in the back of the kitchen. Munch, munch.”
“Wahh!! Ahh, ahh, ahh, wahhhh!!”
“What, did you think this was enough to get me drunk? I am only refueling my internal energy with a bit of bread and wine.”
“Bread and wine? I feel like I’ve heard that combination somewhere before…”
“I am a demon from the Sephiroth instead of the Qliphoth. I am not bound by the usual dualism, so I will not reject the holy.”
She emptied the entire bottle in no time.
A corner of the label said “15%”. Hamazura could guess that was the alcohol content and he doubted there were any unit differences here like there were between miles and meters. Since beer was 4%, he knew this had to be pretty strong stuff. As for why he knew that number off the top of his head…well, there was no real reason behind it. Honest. Just don’t think about it too much.
After licking the bread crumbs off her fingers, Coronzon took a bold action while walking further into the kitchen.
She reached around to her back, unzipped the zipper there, and stripped off her beige habit.
“Whoa, wait!? You are drunk, aren’t you!?”
“Just hold this, servant. Do not let it touch the floor.”
A feminine scent filled his world when the habit was tossed over his head. Meanwhile, Coronzon stretched in nothing but pure white underwear and then fished through a storage box on the countertop.
“What is it? I can feel your gaze on my back.”
The strange face in her hair glared at him.
Hamazura stared at the alluring movement of her shoulder blades and spine as he answered.
“Well, um, I was just surprised to find a demon doesn’t have wings or a tail.”
“I can add those symbols when I need them, but now is not the time. What good is spreading my wings when I do not need to fly?”
“Then when does a demon use their horns? When headbutting someone???”
“You fool. There is no point in a female demon having horns on her head. Those are a symbol of reproductive power with their origin in ancient male gods like Pan or Cernunnos. …But since men cannot get pregnant, I assume you can imagine which part of the reproductive process those symbolize. Well, the kind of demon that slips into people’s beds would be able retain their horns after changing sex to suit their partner, but that is not something I need for my body. I can create artificial beings like Qliphah Puzzle 545 using nothing more than letters and numbers, so I do not need to mix different bodily fluids together.”
The delinquent boy had no idea what she meant, but he really wished she would stop talking about bodily fluids and slipping into someone’s bed when she was showing off her butt contained only in white underwear.
“A-anyway, is that a first aid kit?”
“Did you think professional cooks never injured themselves? There are no absolutes in any industry. And the kitchen is a dangerous workplace thanks to all the fire and knives. Tools like this are a necessity.”
Coronzon sprinkled some disinfectant on her arms and legs, but then she took a very strange action.
Had she called them Cakes of Light?
She crushed one of those weird cakes between her fingertips and rubbed it into her painful-looking wounds.
“The Cake of Light is a powerful enough filler for animal essence that it can take the place of a sacrifice. These are generic containers until you insert the blood, but that is why they can be used as a barrier to prevent your power from leaking out. Blocking up the collapsed portion of my bodily microcosm takes top priority. Stopping the bleeding can wait.”
This was apparently the right thing to do. Or Coronzon believed so at least. It was like rubbing putty on a model or adding a new coat of paint over the old, cracked paint. She began wrapping new bandages over the crushed cake.
And that meant it was necessary.
There were fresh wounds all over Coronzon’s mostly-naked body and they were seeping blood.
Magic God Niang-Niang had done this.
But clashing head-on with that monster and only receiving these injuries was a testament to Coronzon’s great power. Hamazura had no way of knowing, but Crowley had ended up with half his body burned when he challenged the Magic Gods.
“It is necessary part of descending to the surface world, but managing a flesh avatar is nothing but a pain.”
“A-are you okay? Now that I look at you, those are some pretty bad injuries.”
“This is far easier to deal with than the blood from within. At least these external wounds do not give me headaches or mess with my thinking.”
“Blood from within?”
“I mean the blood that is meant to be placed inside the Cake of Light.”
He was not sure what she meant, but if it was internal bleeding, that was a serious issue.
Unlike a broken bone, he could not imagine how to treat that.
He grew pale, but Coronzon gave him a cold look and pouted her lips like a child.
“Don’t lie. Or are you playing dumb to force me to say it myself? At your age, you should be stupidly interested in how babies are made, so surely you aren’t going to claim you innocent enough to have never heard of menstruation.”
“Bff!!” spat Hamazura.
“I only fed you the generic container before anything was sealed inside. Even if you are a normal person without such a strange fetish, you have nothing to worry about here.”
Coronzon did not seem bothered by the subject at all. She reached for the beige habit Hamazura held and put it back on.
“We are preparing for a ceremony. Calculate the appropriate amount and then fill your stomach.”
“The appropriate amount? How am I supposed to figure that out!?”
“Little enough that your full belly will not prevent you from taking deep breaths. But the container is just a container. What you need is Salamander essence. Make sure to fill it with the blood or meat of a four-legged animal before consuming it.”
Hamazura really did not want to eat that excessively sweet Cake of Light. Especially when the secret ingredient was animal blood. Each ingredient and preparation method probably had some kind of meaning behind it, but it was far from good when it came to flavor.
“Are all British desserts like this?”
“You aren’t thinking something extremely rude, are you?”
Coronzon walked to another door. It was made of thick steel, but it was not a double door. It reminded him of a bank vault, but that may have been due to the round wheel seen on all the ship’s watertight doors.
“But that’s just the food storage room, right? What are we supposed to find in there?”
“Must you continue peppering me with questions when you can just wait and see? I suppose you really are a child of Crowley, who made sure to question everything he saw while entering new territories. Such a difference from Mathers, who indiscriminately translated and absorbed everything he dug up.”
During this casual conversation, it hit Hamazura.
He was speaking with Coronzon.
He might have spoken with her more than he had with Dion Fortune, Nephthys, or Niang-Niang.
After stepping through the door, they found a large space.
The ship was arranged like a labyrinth and it was easy to lose track of where you were, but he was pretty sure this was near the center of the ship. This space was larger than a basketball court, it had no windows, and the walls, floor, and ceiling were covered in thick steel. This cruise ship had been built for the British royal family. The ingredients and supplies for its many services may have taken priority over the number of cabins.
Metal containers and wooden boxes were stacked up all over the room.
An indoor forklift the size of a golf cart was parked by one wall.
“This is a food storage room, isn’t it?”
“Who said that was all it was? Ships are just like any other vehicle: it all comes down to how the limited space is utilized. It would be inefficient to have smaller storage rooms scattered across the ship, so all of the cargo is gathered here and it has doors leading to every part of the ship. It is the same idea as an ant colony. The cargo storeroom is placed in the center and pathways from there connect to everything else.”
“So is it like a central distribution center for an online store?”
“You worldly fool. Watch what you say. Your words reveal the life you have lived.”
Coronzon’s blonde hair swayed side to side as she walked to a large elevator on the wall. It was apparently built to carry those containers, so it was more like a turntable-style parking garage then an elevator. The thick metal door rose up instead of opening to either side.
When they walked onboard, the beauty in a beige habit pressed the “up” button.
Hamazura’s eyes widened.
“What about it?”
Coronzon had called it a secret base, so he had assumed they were headed to the bottom-level hold or to the ballast tank.
(What’s above here? Two floors, three floors…no, wait. This is taking too long. How far are we riding this thing?)
He was surrounded by a noise much like steam or gas being sprayed out.
“Do not panic. It is simply decontaminating and purifying us. Cleansing impurities is not an exclusively Eastern concept. Of course, we are on the sacrilegious side of things, so we can ignore this.”
His questions were finally answered.
The elevator reached its destination and the thick metal door rose.
The biting winter sea breeze hit him in the cheek.
He saw the blue sky and ocean facing each other like opposing mirrors.
There were no walls or ceilings here. No windows or doors were needed.
“But isn’t that the heliport right there!? Everyone can see us here!!”
Great Demon Coronzon reached to her back and casually stripped off her beige habit.
She revealed her pure white underwear again.
Hamazura Shiage felt his teenage blood pressure spiking.
“Wha-, eh, huh?”
“Make a search on that mobile device. Oh, but not the search engine that only periodically updates the satellite images. Use a real-time satellite service that lets you track a tagged online shopping product. The world is full of latent peeping toms, so anyone can access satellite images. Now, can you find my alluring body on there?”
His blood pressure had spiked, but now he thought the blood was going to freeze in his veins.
He was afraid to check.
That emotion captured his fingers and kept him from moving them.
“You mean…no one can see us here?”
“When fully submerging yourself in an abnormal environment, the changes can actually be difficult to notice.”
This area was not covered by a special kind of glass.
He could not see any kind of shimmering from a temperature difference like with a mirage.
With her extreme demonstration complete, the demon put back on her beige habit.
“Phew. The temples used as magical ceremonial grounds should be kept secret, but the acts of the royals are not to be hidden. …Those conflicting requirements created a bit of a dilemma for them. After all, royal magic is used for national ceremonies. Curtana would be the most obvious example of that.”
The Egyptian pyramids and the Greek Parthenon were other examples.
Ceremonial grounds that were accepted by the masses were built to be displayed prominently and gave a view down upon the land over which they ruled.
When Hamazura looked around as best he could as an amateur, he found it to be something like a large decagonal plate. The elevator they had used was located along a boxy structure on one of the sides. The gray heliport itself was bigger than a large tennis court. And when he looked more carefully, he noticed some things that were not quite right.
The red warning lights and big “H” were missing from the heliport.
“This is the core of the Queen Britannia.” Great Demon Coronzon sat on the suitcase in that large terrace that was wide open yet hidden from view. “You have to remember that this was designed by the people that draw out Michael’s power through Curtana. The number ten symbolizes the Sephirah. The number of spheres becomes eleven if you include the hidden Da’at, but that number can easily be confused with the number representing the other tree. Well, I suppose it is a fairly common and simple symbol. Although Aleister Crowley probably would not agree since he viewed eleven as a holy number and created the term Probationer to bring the number of levels up to eleven.”
While she spoke, she used her slender hands to bend something. It had originally been a metal pipe, but it might as well have been cardboard in her hands. She had quickly bent it into the shape of a boomerang. That looked simple enough, but it required enough grip strength to crush a metal bat in your hands.
“Look to its essence. You are letting the wrong thing surprise you, fool.”
She breathed an exasperated sigh and readily threw it.
With the heavy sound of it slicing through the air, the handmade boomerang flew far while rotating. Having that thing come back would be no laughing matter. Despite the common view of boomerangs, the ones really used for hunting had the “return” function removed to make sure you did not hit yourself in the head with your own weapon. Hamazura quickly used his hands to protect his head, but the result was not at all what he expected.
The boomerang was deflected with a sound like a neon tube breaking.
It did so on the outside of the decagonal heliport.
It had left without issue, but it was not allowed back in.
Something invisible had been set up there.
“Do you see now what it means to be a temple? I tried to make it as visually obvious as I could.”
“Wait, wait, wait. Why were you acting like I should have understood this already? I’m pretty sure I’m not the only idiot about this stuff.”
“It is high time you removed your dunce cap and made an attempt to learn. Use your head. The royal family remade their fortress into a ship so they could travel the world’s seas with all this on hand. That should tell you how important it all is. The temple was not built for the ship’s purposes. The ship was built for the temple’s purposes. So it does not matter if it is out in the open. This is far more secure than a nuclear shelter made by digging deep underground and pouring in special cement.”
It was a giant decagon.
The floor(?) below his feet was not just flat. It had something like grooves dug into it. And they did not form the H of a heliport. They reminded him of the indentations for the rails at a railroad crossing, but these were much more complex. There were straight lines, curves, and a lot of intersections. The messy collection of lines was like the stamp used to cover up personal information in a letter or the invisible masks displaying a face to hide the wearer’s identity. By combining so many different symbols, their individual meaning was lost. Each individual one could be something as simple as a pentagram or constellation.
Coronzon stood up from the green suitcase and dragged it behind her as she walked slowly around the large space. The wheeled suitcase made it look like she was drawing out the white lines to prepare the schoolyard for the athletic festival.
“Forty-four varieties of pentacle, the sigils of angel names, and a pair of equilateral triangles. None of the stuff here matters. Good, good, good. Everything I need is here. I only need this full set of Enochian tablets. It is fortunate they did not destroy the lines after learning that this could be used to draw out apocalyptic power. I can omit a few steps in restarting it now.”
A light sound rang out.
She had unlatched the green suitcase and casually thrown out its contents: the crown, the sceptre, and the stone as large as a dresser drawer. Hamazura did not know how antiques should be cared for, so he could not decide whether or not the sea breeze was bad for them. But when the Great Demon’s long blonde hair wriggled, it lifted up those items like they weighed nothing at all.
“Hand over the sword. It is a necessary part of the Ceremony of Mo Athair.”
“You are free to refuse, but a key is no more than a key. You cannot acquire the treasure without opening the chest. And you will not have another chance at this. Do not forget that your decision here could forever close off the path to saving Dion Fortune, boy.”
Of course, Coronzon was not someone Hamazura could overpower. Once she let go of him, there was nothing he could do.
That meant the Sword of State was a crucial bargaining chip.
On the other hand, he could not work up the courage to do anything about it. Plus, it was true he had no real choice in the matter. He could try to threaten her or persuade her, but what happened if she got fed up with him and called off the deal?
This was not about who would win and who would lose.
Even with the tarot cards and even if he was given this entire ship, he would have no idea where to begin. It would be like having a suffering patient and an operating room but no doctor. He could not fail to save the girl after coming this far. If he did, he could hardly complain if people blamed his decision for letting her die.
He had to recall why he had knocked out his girlfriend and come all this way.
What had he risked all this for?
(If it comes down to it, Coronzon should panic if this…temple(?) is attacked. It’s hidden, so there must be a reason why it needs to be hidden. I know one of her secrets, so that’s better than nothing.)
The temple was positioned between the blue sea and sky.
Coronzon grabbed the sheathed sword with her long hair and placed each of the items on the floor. It looked like she was positioning them based on some kind of rules. The sword, crown, and sceptre were at the corners of an equilateral triangle. The heavy Stone of Scone was a short distance away.
As soon as she did, the floor glowed white.
“Stepping on it will not actually do anything, but it will distract me.”
A sticky light came from some of the straight, curved, and intersecting lines running along the floor. Something switched between the appropriate rails to travel along the correct path, but Hamazura could not tell what exactly that something was or what exactly it would cause.
“Now, then. I suppose we should start with the basics.”
Coronzon put a hand on her hip and spoke casually.
She made it sound as unimportant as something she was humming while cooking.
“First, I will set up the magic circle. Then I draw a Tau inside and divide that into ten sectors.”
This was separate from the important-looking triangle and extra point.
Lines of pure white light ran through only the necessary straight and curved lines crawling along the floor. A white circle surrounded Coronzon in no time.
That sinister face appeared using her long hair as a screen.
“A sword in hand and a camphor flame on the floor symbol.”
What did that mean?
Coronzon raised a hand as if hailing a taxi and there was a sound like something slicing through the air. Something like a meter-wide plate smoothly moved over from the edge of the decagon. Instead of having wheels on the bottom, it appeared to be floating. There were two things on the hovering plate. One was a ceremonial sword without a blade. It looked a lot flimsier than the Sword of State. The other was a metal plate of powder that looked like little more than incense.
Coronzon did not even glance down at the courier at her feet. She held her hands out and the antique items rose into her grasp like a magnet was pulling them.
She lit the incense in the center.
The smoldering was no larger than a cigarette, but the sea breeze did not seem to affect it.
She stood on the edge of the white circle and slowly walked counterclockwise.
“Fire, water, wind, earth, and invisible ether – the five great elements. Begone from this place.”
She whispered and continued on.
“The sun, Mercury, Venus, the moon, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn – the seven planetary forces. Begone from this place.”
She made three full circles for each group.
“Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces – the twelve zodiac influences. Begone from this place.”
Her counterclockwise circles stopped there.
She quietly closed her eyes.
“Eliminate the kingdom used for priming. Then erase its foundation, glory, victory, beauty, severity, and mercy. Drive out its understanding and wisdom and finally negate all influence of the crown. Begone from this place.”
Something audibly sliced through the air.
Coronzon had walked to the center of the circle and stabbed the sword into the floor. That extinguished the camphor flame. As if she had stepped on a dropped cigarette butt.
“With that, I have eliminated the twenty-four forces and ten spheres. This temple is now prepared for a single purpose and can make progress without influence from anything else.”
There was no actual light or noise.
In fact, the glowing white circle vanished and the temple made from a large heliport was wrapped in a desolate silence. That was the change. Enjoying stillness mean understanding the concept of zero and nothingness. Just like a shrine or temple forgotten by the flow of time, the very space here had acquired a strange presence. And it was at a level where even ignorant Hamazura could sense it.
As it was, the temple was no more than an empty box.
Only by following the appropriate process would it gain the functions it needed for a powerful ceremony.
That meant the three Honours of Scotland.
And the Stone of Scone.
Hamazura realized the sinister face had vanished from Coronzon’s hair.
The demon whispered using just her beautiful face.
“Well, now is not the time to draw out its true purpose. Using it for defense would be the better option for now.”
With some kind of preparations complete, she turned back toward Hamazura who could not keep up if she did not explain.
“Why are you just standing there? Your fate will be decided here.”
“But what exactly am I supposed to do?”
“Let me see Dion Fortune.”
She said it so simply that he initially blinked in confusion. It took him a moment to realize she meant the 78 cards in his pocket. The back-alley doctor had asked to see the patient and he had already paid her price by giving her the Sword of State. He quickly pulled the cards from his pocket and Coronzon snatched a certain girl’s lifeline from his hand.
She breathed a sigh of exasperation when she saw the thick rubber band holding them together.
“It is too late for you to back out now, so I suppose I should explain. The avatar I created to descend from the four worlds does not restrict me from using human magic like with God’s Right Seat, but it will still reduce the burden on me if I let you handle the ignition.”
Just as she said that, she spun a finger around and a different large plate from before crawled over along the floor. Those devices must have assisted the performer by keeping their hands free. This time it was not a sword or incense. The meter-wide plate carried a few crystal balls and a light source that used fire. The setup was fancy, but it appeared to be a projector.
Coronzon crouched down, placed the 78 cards on the projector’s glass panel, and spun her hand around. Like a stage magician, she spread the cards out in a perfect ring.
“Do not mistake this for the Wheel of Fortune. That is just one card in the Major Arcana.”
She made sure to warn him, but Hamazura did not know what the cards were called.
He only felt a throbbing in his chest at the word “fortune”.
When she slid the cards along the projector’s glass panel, the light reflected somehow or another to display an enlarged version of the Arcana ring on the floor. The light source looked horribly unreliable and the sky was so bright, yet the image appeared clearly.
“Now, this is the design diagram for the grimoire.”
With that, Coronzon snapped her fingers again.
The fire providing the light changed color like a firework. It became a vivid green. It was like when the stains were highlighted in a detergent ad. A sticky light much like glow-in-the-dark paint appeared all over the neatly-arranged cards.
“And these are the intentionally applied scratches and creases. They are impurities unnecessary for the basic grimoire. In other words, these parts define Dion Fortune as an individual.”
Hamazura gulped quietly.
He still did not understand what she was doing, but the mention of that girl’s name had a greater impact in his heart. The blonde woman shrugged.
“I said it was like a record’s grooves before, didn’t I? I have visualized the marks too small to be seen by human eyes. If these are returned to their original state, Dion Fortune should appear once more.”
He had finally found it.
It was like grabbing at a cloud, but Hamazura Shiage’s goal was in sight.
“And with that said, can you see what is happening with these marks?”
The green light displayed the tiny marks that stored the data like the grooves on a disk. He could not allow those to be altered, but they appeared to be slowly moving like slugs.
“Should those be moving!?”
“Of course not.”
It was not that the marks were growing in number.
It was the opposite.
It was slow, but the marks were vanishing from the surface of the tarot cards. The cards were being repaired to their original state. The process simply gave the illusion of slow slug-like crawling.
“An original grimoire cannot be destroyed by humans. Even if you can temporarily damage it, it will automatically absorb power from the ley lines to repair itself.”
Coronzon tapped her foot on the floor where one of Dion Fortune’s marks was projected.
“But that only repairs the original grimoire aspect of it. It does not care about Dion Fortune’s personality. I was not interested in having these cards provide knowledge as a grimoire. I had redirected that ability in a harmless direction in order to construct and preserve the artificial personality, but…because some idiot worked a little too hard and took a direct hit, that stopper was broken in Mathers and the others. As things are, the auto-repair function will erase all of the small marks on the cards and they will return to being blank slates. They will be pure and meaningless original grimoires.”
“…What do I do?”
She would become a blank slate.
Everything creating that girl would be erased.
As if she had never existed in the first place.
“There has to be something I can do, right!? How do I stop this!?”
“That is obvious.”
Coronzon lightly waved a hand and another large plate smoothly approached along the floor. They seemed to be responding to her gestures. The meter-wide plate carried something like a rolled-up carpet.
She grabbed it and spread it out in the sea breeze.
“C’mon, sit on this.”
“What is it? A yoga mat???”
“It was used by a royal princess. That thought gets your perverted blood flowing, doesn’t it?”
He was unsure what to say to that.
“The tarot is repairing itself by constantly absorbing power from the ley lines as an original grimoire. And tarot is still tarot. While it can function as a grimoire, it was designed as a fortunetelling spiritual item.”
“You only need to redirect the flow of power. You can stop it from absorbing power from the earth by sending it magic power refined in the human body. Then it will function as a spiritual item rather than a grimoire. That will stop the auto-repair function.”
“Wait a second. Power? Redirect the flow?”
“This is only a stopgap measure until Dion Fortune has been restarted as herself. It is the same as pulling the cord on a chainsaw. Once the cycle has begun, it can switch back to the ley lines. In fact, constantly refining magic power is no easy task. That is why magicians only do it for a temporary combat mode.”
“But wait! What’s this about doing something in the human body? You make it sound simple enough, but you need to tell me what to actually do! I can’t just climb onto a broom and fly!!”
“I believe it was Dion Fortune who tried to explain Kabbalah using yoga as an example.”
That was enough for Hamazura’s shoulders to shake.
A cruel smile spread across Coronzon’s lips.
“Relax your shoulders and take deep breaths. All you are doing is refining your life force into magic power. That is the foundation of all magic. I am not talking about the combat format designed for situations were a moment’s delay could cost you your life. You have all the time in the world in this large temple, so it is not hard at all. What matters is maintaining the proper pose and breathing. I will guide you through a proper meditation using the correct symbols and signs.”
“Do you still not understand? Think of it as getting personal exercise lessons from the instructor girl at the gym. If you still have trouble, then you only have your own lack of focus, lung capacity, and flexibility to blame.”
It sounded simple enough.
And it would be for an expert magician with plenty of training.
But you must not forget that the issue here was not even one of expert vs. amateur.
Hamazura Shiage was an esper and espers were fundamentally incompatible with magic.
Coronzon did not mention any of that.
She only told him how to do it. She did not provide redundant safety measures or any kind of warranty.
The Great Demon was not concerned with what he wanted.
She only needed human magic power as a convenient ignition.
“Then do it, boy. You want to save Dion Fortune, don’t you? You have a way of doing that right here. No tools or talent are necessary. Only your body and a bit of effort. So why should you hesitate?”
“Yeah, I get it.”
In the end, Hamazura Shiage was quick to answer.
Coronzon smirked, but…
“I know this probably isn’t going to end well for me, but that’s fine. So tell me, Coronzon. What can I do to follow your plan?”
This was a slight deviation.
He was not naively rushing in with clouded eyes and grabbing at this thread of hope without understanding the risks.
He did understand.
He understood everything, but he was still accepting the risk. This was different from Crowley or Mathers. This was a reaction she had not seen in those who had known the risks, summoned a Great Demon, and then angrily refused to obey.
Had Coronzon noticed?
Had she noticed the brief moments when Hamazura reached into his pocket and felt the perfectly ordinary stick of gum there?
Had she noticed when he had gained courage from that simple action?
The blonde woman quietly clicked her tongue.
“Fine. I will explain it step by step. But once you start, you cannot stop before it is complete.”
“Yeah. But are you okay with that? You didn’t hijack this ship for me. You have your own thing to do, right?”
He was still like this even now.
Coronzon did not think he had a disturbing level of good will. This strange sense of solidarity was something born in the dark back alleys.
They were accomplices.
That word did not imply a master and a servant, so it stung a little for Coronzon. That sting came from not knowing what kind of interpersonal distance to keep from someone. He would not let her hold his head down.
She may not have needed to explain this to him.
So when she opened her mouth, was it to return him to the usual format and regain the initiative? A silent demon would gain nothing because the humans would not blindly believe them.
“This works toward my goal as well, so do not worry. The three Honours of Scotland and the Stone of Scone are necessary components of the Ceremony of Mo Athair, but I would also like to use pure human magic power for the ignition. You only need to provide the initial tug of the chainsaw’s cord. I will handle the rest. So our work is linked.”
“I see. That’s fine then.”
“To be clear, the world will be destroyed when my work is complete. Are you sure you want to say that is ‘fine’?”
“If you do not understand, allow me to enlighten you. My name is Coronzon, my number is 333, and my nature is dispersion. Just as the angel of water is revealed using no more than water, I exist only to obstruct the bonds of the world and naturally break down all of creation. I will be intentionally harming every part of the world to create scabs and then I will tear them all away while here in the United Kingdom. That will cause the world to boil over and create a frenzied state in which everyone will work to destroy each other. From neighborhood brats to nuclear warheads, all seven billion people will face their greatest enemy and drive each other to mutual self-destruction. Just like the game of old maid, I will send enemy against enemy until they destroy the entire world. That would still leave the isolated jokers who do not naturally break down, but I will crush all of them myself. Not a single person will escape.”
She really was a Great Demon.
A dangerous but seductive and alluring smile appeared on her face.
That sweet and ruinous flower did not at all suit the beige habit.
“While all those fools are focused on the visible chaos, I will take my time preparing for the end. I am the Great Demon lurking in the Abyss of the Sephiroth. But ascending the tree is not the only way to use it.” She pointed her thumb at the center of her chest. “I obtained this physical body and descended the tree. The humans drowning at the bottom level only ever think of ascending it, but the connections go both ways. I started higher up and I can freely come and go, so this temporary level does not matter to me. Having a physical body is not a bad thing since it provides practical benefits in this world. And it allows me to reach the physical and scientific layer at the very bottom where all other phases are folded up.”
“Yes. Imagine the universe at the point when the geocentric model said the other planets revolved around the earth. That is different from current mainstream astrology, but this is about some simple mental exercise. …But make sure this hypothetical does not confuse you. Now, with that model, the forces storing up mystical and supernatural power pour down on the earth from outside of the planet, but the earth in the center is a perfectly ordinary hunk of dirt. That is the earth’s surface where we are standing now. If you removed that, the world would lose its center and it would fall apart, correct?”
Coronzon raised her slender index finger and slowly spun it around.
When she did, a few of the large plates around them began to rotate. They appeared to be representing the view of the world before it was proven that the planets revolved around the sun.
“By passing all that power through this foundational layer, that ‘bottom’ layer can be broken and removed. From there, all other phases will be destroyed along with this one. Without the core, the other forces cannot maintain their revolutions.”
She clenched her fist and took a step from the center.
With their directions from the “core” gone, the large plates scattered blindly and bumped into each other.
A single action caused it all to fall apart.
“Aleister apparently wanted to save humanity by destroying every other phase and leaving just this one behind, but I am the opposite. By removing the ‘bottom’ layer at the center, the phases for all mythologies and religions will be destroyed. That is the Ceremony of Mo Athair. Nothing at all will remain afterwards.”
Hamazura had no response to that.
He did not understand it, but he was not enough of a fool to miss the scent of danger hanging in the air.
He could not keep up when discussing things on the level of saving or destroying the world. He was more focused on the people right in front of him. That might be getting his priorities backwards, but it was a common thought process for humans. For example, if this ship were to sink, he would be more worried about finding a scrap of wood floating in the icy ocean than about how the sinking ship would affect the overall conflict. Humans were small creatures with narrow viewpoints.
These two were accomplices who were both using the other. Once one accomplished their goal, they would abandon the other.
…Or it should have worked that way.
No one should have agreed to help Coronzon once they understood her plan.
“What do I have to do? What’s the first step to save Fortune?”
“I will tell you the proper pose first. Start by sitting on that mat.”
A major change was underway at Edinburgh Castle as well.
It could all be seen in a conversation between the young female knight and Knight Leader.
“The Anaconda cruise missiles failed to hit their target. They were shot down. We have a detailed report from the drone for the first two, but the drone was shot down and we only have a simple radar report for third onward.”
“That is fine. We only wanted to know how much control Coronzon has over the Queen Britannia. …As we expected, she had breathed life back into its defenses.”
“Knight Leader, I never rode the Queen Britannia when it was in service, but it is not equipped with specific magical defenses, correct?”
“The temple itself is generic. That means it will amplify and weaponize any spiritual item that is connected to the central altar. For example, even a four-leaf clover or a rabbit’s foot will be converted into a barrier that distorts luck such that all approaching ships and aircraft will sink into the ocean. …This is dangerous. This initial attack used the default settings, but that will change. With the Honours of Scotland and the Stone of Scone, that demon can do all sorts of things.”
“The heliport has already disappeared, hasn’t it? Once that happens, the temple cannot be destroyed from the outside. She has complete control of the ship.”
“Is she abusing all of the knowledge and techniques the Anglicans had accumulated?”
“Try to eliminate those unnecessary biases. The problem is Coronzon at the top, so this does not say anything about those working under her. All of us were caught in the confusion during the defense of London and we need as much help as we can get. We cannot overcome this national crisis if we begin fighting our own allies.”
The female knight did not openly protest, but she seemed to be appraising everything here, including the statements of her direct superior.
Everyone seemed to know that Knight Leader occasionally attempted to speak with that Asian Saint, but defending him here would not improve matters.
The ponytail swordswoman must have noticed everyone’s focus gathering on her because she glanced over at them before heading out on patrol. She likely wanted to avoid spreading discord, but she had a tendency to keep more distance from people than others did. The Amakusa were a branch of Christianity with a unique history of persecution that lasted until just two or three hundred years before. They had worshiped in secret for long enough to have developed superior techniques for remaining hidden, but that did not mean she was used to this.
Even the strongest of wills could be influenced by loneliness.
Knight Leader honestly thought she was a strong person.
“Anyway, I doubt the Anglican forces will be effective against Coronzon,” said the female knight.
“Yes, I am not going to defend them to the point of lying. It definitely hurts that she will know all of their tricks. Even the Index Librorum Prohibitorum and her perfect memory were used in Coronzon’s plans. This makes it all the more painful that we do not have the Imagine Breaker. My Thororm's Spell can turn any attack power to zero, but it only activates once I comprehend what the enemy’s attack is. I cannot keep up with her speed. To be certain, I would need to directly see and comprehend the spiritual item that has vanished beyond the veil.”
Index opened her mouth when she heard that.
This was more important than the ship right now.
Her voice rang clearly in that stone room with paper documents covering every surface.
Once she got started, her voice ruled that space.
“If Great Demon Coronzon is acting based on her nature, her goal will be the natural breakdown of the entire world.”
Kamijou Touma frowned as he asked for clarification.
…He felt like Othinus had said something similar before, but she had not managed a full explanation and he had not had time to understand it. And this would be the first time hearing it for some others like Mikoto. It was a good idea for them all to have the same information.
He was glad to have so many multilingual people around. Even with Queen Regnant Elizard and Knight Leader here, they all spoke in Japanese for the sake of the ignorant spiky-haired boy. Index pointed at the unnatural blank spot on the wall.
“Coronzon is not plotting to earn some kind of benefit in this world, like world domination or becoming a billionaire. In fact, she rejects the very existence of those fixed, immovable, and eternal winners. She thinks that all things should break eventually so they can be broken down and prepare for the next thing to be born. Her definition of evil is anything that breaks the cycle, such as immortality or an eternal kingdom.”
“Breaks the cycle?”
Index nodded at Kamijou’s question.
“Just as the angel of water is fundamentally linked to water, Coronzon is fundamentally linked to 333, dispersion. Her nature and thought processes are specialized for natural breakdown. She will feel no guilt at all over this act of destruction. In fact, she probably doesn’t even think of it as destruction. When you get rid of a card in old maid, you aren’t destroying or killing it, right? You are ‘forming a pair’. It’s like that.”
Misaka Mikoto and Shokuhou Misaki looked even more confused than Kamijou because they only had experience with the science side of things. They had fought the Golden magicians on the highway in the middle of the night, but they had never understood the essence of magic even for a moment.
Swimsuit Mikoto frowned while the machine arms on her back swayed.
“So she’s the kind of person who doesn’t want the world to be overflowing with bags of non-burnable trash?”
“Why are you talking about trash?”
This was made more complicated by the fact that Index grew confused when the other girl tried to give a simpler comparison.
The palm-sized god on Kamijou’s shoulder crossed her legs and breathed an exasperated sigh.
“Leave the skit for later and just get all the information out there. Individual questions and comprehension can come later.”
Index and Mikoto both tilted their head as they continued the discussion.
“What matters here is how irregular it is for Coronzon herself to be in harm’s way. That Great Demon really should not be on the center stage of history. If she wants to destroy Group A, she manipulates Group B until they begin a clash of equal power in which they neatly destroy each other. She matches up the perfect enemies who will trigger mutual annihilation when they come into contact. Since she advocates natural breakdown, she cannot have any single point continue to win and remain forever.”
“That is a concerning idea if that is what she was doing with the authority of the Anglican archbishop,” groaned Queen Elizard.
Even in the modern age, the Anglican Church had secretly punished wicked magicians, but now they had cause to question whether all of those had really been criminals. While using the identity of Lola Stuart, Coronzon had crushed any inconvenient individuals in the name of justice. She had made sure to attack enough of the truly dangerous magic cabals to camouflage the unrelated people she wanted to attack herself. Since the first on the list was a villain, the world had accepted that the ninth on the list was as well, so she was capable of sending out destruction as she saw fit.
Was that why she insisted on using spiritual items made by humans?
Namely, the three Honours of Scotland and the Stone of Scone.
Even hijacking the United Kingdom may have been a way to pit great powers against each other so she could efficiently destroy the entire human race that dug in its heels and refused to be destroyed. And she always created the worst possible combinations like Mathers and Aleister.
“She sets things up so she can pit A against B and have them destroy each other. That is what Great Demon Coronzon does. She intends to use that process to break down all phenomena and objects in this world.”
Index pressed her index fingers together.
And then she moved them apart.
“Then what about Coronzon herself as she enjoys this game of Mutual Destruction Old Maid? Do you think there is a symbol of destruction that forms a pair with her?”
The atmosphere in the room was even heavier than the stone surrounding them.
This was a sudden conclusion that seemed to overturn everything in an instant.
That said, this was not the time to relax and let the conversation continue.
This had to do with Coronzon, so they did not have a moment to relax.
Wasn’t that what it meant?
Coronzon could take everything in this world and set up a cross-counter of their weak points to ensure mutual destruction. But what about Coronzon herself as she peered into the toy box of the world and stuck her hands inside to set things up as she liked? Even if they overturned the toy box, could they really find something with equal power to her that would form a pair with her?
Kamijou Touma looked down at his right arm.
That arm was now incomplete and it lacked the hand that symbolized Imagine Breaker.
“No.” Index shook her head. “That isn’t what I mean, Touma. Even if you still had your right hand’s power, that is still something inside the toy box of the world. That does not match Coronzon who is viewing it all from a step removed.”
“This is sounding rather grim.” First Princess Riméa sighed. “Then what about that insolent word that we keep hearing lately: god? There were the Divine Mixtures, two Magic Gods have been frequently spotted in Scotland, and I believe that one on the boy’s shoulder counts as well.”
“That won’t work.” Index looked at the spiky-haired boy who reflexively tried to protect his small understander with his nonexistent right hand and got his ear pulled on instead. “The word demon contains a few different meanings: The dark side of the human mind, a fallen angel, and a pagan god. I do not think the Magic Gods we have seen would form a clean pair with Great Demon Coronzon. The Divine Mixtures rely on Egyptian and Greek mythology, so they are out for the same reason. They would have some power, but not enough for a direct conflict.”
“Then what are we supposed to do?” carefully asked Third Princess Villian while glancing over at her mother’s equipment. “We can use Curtana to draw out the power of an angel and guide everyone using that while inside British territory. But as disrespectful as it might sound, that doesn’t get any more powerful than an archangel. It isn’t an absolute good capable of matching an absolute evil.”
That was when they heard a clattering noise.
They looked back to see someone leaning against the entrance and peering into the room.
The silver girl was covered in wounds.
Did that magician know something? Had she put together a plan to defeat Coronzon? That was what Kamijou thought, but he was apparently wrong.
“It is no use, human. Even if she had some way of reducing her original sin, Aleister is still a human living in this world. That does not escape the toy box that Index mentioned. It does not give us what we need.”
“I see. So that’s it,” said Aleister. “It has to be someone from outside the world. And not just that, but someone who can wield miracles because they are void of original sin. In that case, I only know of one candidate. Is that what this is about, Aiwass!?”
“Aiwass? That being I saw in the Windowless Building? Are they the key to victory here?”
“No.” The silver girl shook her head. “Given the situation, a direct clash between Holy Guardian Angel Aiwass and Great Demon Coronzon would likely end in Coronzon’s victory. Although the avatar issue would play a role there. So that is not the point here. Aiwass merely prepared the answer.”
“Then who else is there?”
Aleister did not answer Kamijou’s question.
She had already found the answer, but something seemed to be holding her back.
Her face was twisted by anguish.
At that very moment, the RV fleeing through the Egyptian desert began to float.
It was flying.
Ignoring gravity was a stereotypical example of a miracle.
The black cat witch wondered why pressing on the gas pedal was not accomplishing anything and then she looked back into the vehicle.
“Hey, hey, hey.”
She heard a voice.
It came from the trumpet toy held by a shockingly small hand.
Mina Mathers bit her lip behind the veil when she realized what this was.
She now understood one piece of a gambit that was much, much larger than it appeared on the surface.
And once she understood, she could not ignore it. At times, a great idea could bind your thoughts. It would prevent any other possibilities from occurring to you.
She could not think of any other way.
The only issue remaining was how to process this on the emotional front.
For one thing, why had Coronzon continued to target this RV so persistently?
What if it was more than just cruelty?
What if there was some other reason there?
“Give it up, Dad. It is about time I stepped into the spotlight.”
The RV rocketed off into the blue sky.
There was only one possible destination: the United Kingdom.
It was far too unrefined to call a descent from the heavens.
They heard the dull clunk of metal falling outside of Edinburgh Castle.
There were tears in Aleister Crowley’s eyes. She had just arrived at the worst possible conclusion and now it had been proven.
Something was approaching.
They walked slowly. Only slowly.
The knights guarding the castle shouted warnings several times, but they were answered by violent noises. Whoever-this-was was omitting any kind of complicated explanations and clearing a path by force. And they were powerful enough to break into the temporary headquarters of the entire United Kingdom.
What was Kanzaki Kaori doing?
It seemed unlikely that Saint would be defeated so easily. She may have been avoiding contact because a thoughtless attack could cause an explosion inside the castle she was meant to protect. Or had she realized what this visitor intended and let them through?
Once no one in the castle remained to block their way, the person arrived where Kamijou and the others were.
It was Black Cat Witch Mina Mathers.
And Baby Lilith was held by arms wearing mourning clothes that smelled of death.
The silver girl…
No, the father tried to laugh at what fate had brought.
But he could not manage it.
This was the final key.
This was the expendable that could annihilate Coronzon.
“That truly is an immaculate white light.”
Queen Elizard frowned and looked down at Curtana Second in her own hands. She was the queen protected by the United Kingdom’s entire system, but she may have felt inferior to that baby.
“Is that an innocent soul uncorrupted by original sin?”
“There is precedent. For example, it is said the Virgin Mary had her original sin removed before the Last Judgment.”
Mina Mathers remained mechanical even now. After all, she had been used alongside the Tree Diagram orbital supercomputer for the planning and verification of the Sisters production plan which had created more than twenty thousand military clones. Once she deemed something to be useful, she would stick with it as far as it took her.
The black cat was a symbol of death and she likely understood that.
Unlike Aleister, she had already accepted the situation.
In the face of this information, a great gulf opened between those who knew how it would end and those who did not.
“It is only a possibility, but this soul was protected by Holy Guardian Angel Aiwass and wandered within a different phase for more than a century. This is not a case of the sin being removed. You could say that this soul belongs to somewhere other than this surface world. Great Demon Coronzon escaped from the card table, so there is no being who can form a pair with her. Except for this opposing factor here.”
It only took an instant.
When the guard knights heard that, the atmosphere around them relaxed slightly.
The goal was in sight.
But you must not forget.
That mutual annihilation required offering up a certain soul.
That may have been why Kamijou Touma and Index hesitated to speak up. They had no idea what would cause a great change in the atmosphere here.
She sounded childish.
Aleister Crowley may have been even more childish than Baby Lilith.
“Then why did Aiwass even save Lilith!? Did he know this would happen? Did he know but still show her off to me!? Did he already know back then that she would be used to save the world!?”
The black cat witch’s response was clear.
That search engine of death simply answered the question.
“Aiwass is the one who hid the truth from you and did not stop you from walking a thorny path all because ‘it was necessary’. Even though explaining everything up front could have prevented a lot of unnecessary bloodshed.”
“When you get down to it, things only reached this point because of your actions after Lilith returned and you became something other than an avenger. That change would not have occurred had you known from the beginning Lilith would be lost again. I do not know the details of what happened here in the United Kingdom, but without this, you would have lost your life somewhere along the way and the path to defeating Coronzon would have been closed off. Lilith died, was brought back, and will die again. From Holy Guardian Angel Aiwass’s perspective, that was likely the best way to control your emotions like flipping a switch on and off.”
“You can’t be serious… You can’t be serious!!”
The silver girl looked like a researcher who was faced with the horrifying results spat out by the simulator she had built herself.
“Yes, this situation is not part of my plan. I never imagined I would get Lilith back. I never expected to live a peaceful life after diverging so far from my plan. But…not this. This can’t be it. This has to be some kind of mistake! It wasn’t in my calculations and I didn’t predict it, but I met her again. I got my daughter back!! It was different with Lola. Coronzon was only Coronzon, so there was no one to save there!! But Lilith was different. She’s right here with me. If I lose her too…if I lose Nuit Ma Ahathoor Hecate Sappho Jezebel Lilith, then what did I do any of this for!?”
Some might call this Aleister’s just deserts.
That human had spread countless plots across the underside of the world, caused needless conflicts, and hurt so many people, so it was laughable to think she deserved actual happiness. Especially when her own curse had doomed her to failure and defeat. Her mistake may have been thinking that this temporary happiness would last forever.
Whether you called it heavenly punishment or divine punishment, it had never fallen on Aleister Crowley’s head. It always seemed to dodge right past that powerful magician to instead destroy the people that human cared for. Aleister’s wife Rose had become an alcoholic after feeling responsible for their baby’s death, but what had she done wrong? What about Baby Lilith who had lost her life before learning to speak? Not to mention the actual Lola. In the end, only Aleister remained with no one to share all of the possessions, power, and knowledge accumulated over the years.
“Give it up, Dad.” The baby spoke through the trumpet toy in her mouth. “Great Demon Coronzon has gained a physical vessel, so she cannot be defeated by the current generation of Imagine Breaker which only works on the occult. There is no other way. This is what I was preserved for. This is not a simple coincidence. Someone intentionally saved me for this purpose. Isn’t it a little selfish to assume you would get what you want without giving anything in return?”
“I was wrong to let my guard down once I was saved. And it is true I should have been lost one hundred years ago. It is thanks to Aiwass’s use of me that I had this opportunity to see the world and learn what it means to create human bonds. I was fortunate to get what I did.”
“Are you kidding meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!???”
She shouted and snatched her baby from the death witch.
That simple action was enough for her to nearly lose her balance. She had been injured a lot on the way here: by the Divine Mixture, by Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, and by Coronzon pretending to be Lola. She had used recovery magic to save Kamijou Touma, which had hit her with the side effects known as sparks and spray. She was in no state to be fighting. She should have been providing all of her knowledge concerning Coronzon and sticking to a support role.
Once again, things had diverged from that human’s predictions.
She had already been relying on every trick in the book.
It was hard to believe she was not dead already. And if everyone reached for this chance at salvation, it was obvious the baby would be taken from Aleister in no time. Worse, Lilith herself did not agree to needlessly extend her life.
It had always been like this.
Aleister Crowley had always acted like she stood at the top, but in reality, she was always the one being outdone.
The people who had irresponsibly thrown stones at her had never once apologized afterwards.
“No! I refuse!! You are my daughter! I don’t care what anyone says! Your life is an irreplaceable part of this world! So I won’t hand you over! No matter what happens to the world!!”
“This is not the time to be so unreasonable. If you continue throwing a tantrum, I will knock you out with one of my miracles.”
No one took Aleister’s side.
She was faced with a hellish situation where even Baby Lilith insisted on being used as a tool.
It was not a loud thing.
But the spiky-haired high school boy’s voice stabbed deeper into Aleister’s heart than anything else.
“We only have the one option here. So let’s go defeat Coronzon and settle this, Aleister.”
Aleister Crowley was not Magic God Othinus.
She could not become his understander.
“Surely you understand.”
“We’ve made it this far. You brought together all sorts of awful technology and even used children gathered from around Japan…no, around the world. The Sisters, Kazakiri Hyouka, and so many more… I’m sure you know about even worse things I can’t even imagine. We can’t ignore Coronzon, so you need to use everything at your disposal to protect what needs protecting. You must know better than I do how frightening and unreasonable she is! Am I wrong, Aleister!?”
“I won’t do it!! I won’t let you have her no matter what. I won’t become an avenger again and I don’t give a shit about Aiwass or Coronzon. I am a human. No matter how many sins I have committed, that will never change. So I will never let anyone do that to her again! I won’t let her be manipulated by someone’s invisible hands!!”
“You just don’t get it, do you!?”
She was cut off by a shout.
Kamijou Touma did not hesitate.
He continued to shout at her.
“Then prove that we can defeat Coronzon without using Lilith!! What other way is there to protect your precious baby!!!???”
Aleister Crowley just about collapsed backwards from that alone.
But she was not allowed that escape.
Kamijou Touma walked right up to her and grabbed her collar with his remaining left hand while she tearfully held the baby in her arms. They might have an understanding, but they were still enemies. There was no need to be kind. The boy shouted piercing words at close range.
“I don’t have Imagine Breaker anymore and I never did have a mind capable of understanding how all this magic stuff works!! So you do it!! You’ve got access to the royal family, who knows everything about the UK’s internal situation, and Index, who carries 103,001 grimoires in her head!! Bow your head, ask them for their help, and use it all. If you can break free of this situation, we won’t have to use Lilith. You can save her!! Let’s break the game board set up by Aiwass and Coronzon. You can be the one to get the last laugh after protecting your family. So are you still not willing to lend a hand!?”
Aleister was extremely hesitant.
But when she looked around, the world had changed.
The silver girl had simply overlooked it all because she was bound by fear and despair. Just like when she had lost sight of everything except for her goal of revenge.
The world changed to match the heart of the one viewing it.
Queen Elizard breathed a sigh of exasperation.
“Well, I do have three daughters of my own. Aleister Crowley will have to reckon with her crimes in time, but I am not petty enough to force those crimes onto a baby and offer her up in sacrifice.”
“Oh, what an awful thing to say, Mother. You make it sound like a woman cannot understand human emotion if she has never given birth. Villian, you are supposed to be the virtuous one, so you say something too.”
Next was Misaka Mikoto with the A.A.A. on her back.
“I’m not sure you can really call them my children, but I do have those girls. And they only exist because you so politely stole my cells, so I know you know what I’m talking about. And do you think I politely followed all the rules when I was protecting them?”
“Yeah. If there’s another way, then there’s no reason to go with a sacrifice. I have 103,001 grimoires memorized, but you might know more than me when it comes to actual usable techniques. I don’t mind if there is some method I can’t see. If you say you will make the impossible possible, then I have no reason to stand in your way.”
“Find your own understander. This human is mine and there is no room for you here. But the exact type of relationship doesn’t really matter. If you insist that the bond between a parent and a child is more powerful than anything else, then perhaps that is worth fighting the entire world over.”
Even Black Cat Witch Mina Mathers joined in.
“I am Reading Thoth 78 and I view my role as providing you with every piece of information I deem to be necessary without taking good or evil into account. …But, well, if you had simply accepted that option, the Mina Mathers part of me would have punched you.”
The queen regnant was here. A Level 5 was here. The grimoire library was here. A Magic God was here. A giant simulator was here.
In fact, it was Baby Lilith who was confused, even though she was supposed to understand more than anyone else.
“Wait. This is not how it was meant to go, simulator! There is no way of negating and sealing away the calamity of Coronzon other than using my life.”
“Silence, baby. Do not underestimate the adults.” The AI simulator, wife, and widow snapped back at her. “Your life belongs to you, but do not forget that there were people who named that life and gave you hope and blessings. If you insist on showing us something as unpleasant as a baby’s suicide, then I will not even wait for Coronzon. I will destroy the world myself.”
Aleister Crowley considered what she had just heard.
She considered it all and then raised her head.
Everyone was waiting for her in the open world.
“Give me everything. Give me every last piece of information and every last technique you have!!”
Someone whispered while all that happened.
It was the frog-faced doctor who had arrived along with Mina Mathers and the baby.
“What do you think?”
“I am on the side that will eradicate all magic. I am a Kihara from the science side, after all.”
A golden retriever responded with an artificial voice.
He must have been considerate enough to not smoke in front of a baby because his small smoking arm moved restlessly by his mouth.
“But I just can’t seem to cut my ties with that human since they’re the type to weigh the world against family and immediately choose one over the other. I am not corrupted enough to kick sand on romance.”
“I do not care what that baby might be as long as I can eventually explain it using science alone. Just like we can now say that will-o’-the-wisps are methane gas and ghosts are plasma. That terminology conversion requires the new flesh growing back in the RV, so what we must do remains the same. Did you call it a new vessel? Completing that would be the quickest shortcut.”
At that point, Kihara Noukan spun the skinny arm around.
“Yes, I just can’t pull myself together without this.”
“Make sure you leave before smoking.”
“Not what I meant,” softly replied the golden retriever. “Aleister, we are under attack. Her only true enemy is here, so of course she’s going to try to crush her!!”
Something burst up from below.
The silver girl jumped to the side while holding her baby. A golden torrent had vertically pierced the thick stone floor. Absurdly-long hair had gathered together to form something like a winged angel.
Aleister grabbed one paper document that was floating in the air after being torn from the wall.
“An Aethyr Avatar. Is this 13: ZIM!?”
“It seems we are both working toward checkmate,” said the hair angel. “But I am the only one free to disturb the board from a distance.”
“Do not worry. I will not let anyone in the world use Lilith.”
“No one cares what you think. If there is even the slightest possibility of my defeat, I will nip it in the bud. I have already made my decision.”
Then the thick stone wall to the side came crashing down.
But this was not Coronzon’s doing.
A giant metal container stabbed into the floor right next to the golden retriever. It opened up like a geometry net and the brutal and over-the-top weapons within attached to the large dog.
Misaka Mikoto gasped in surprise as the more experienced A.A.A. user spoke in a deep voice.
“Use me, Aleister.”
According to Solomon’s grimoire, anyone performing a large ceremony should have three companions, or if that was not an option, a faithful and attached dog.
An explosive roar shook the crumbling stone hall.
Had he built it himself on the way here, or had there still been a spare somewhere? The collection of weapons surrounding the mysterious golden retriever was a different model from Mikoto’s. Hers spread out like a demon’s wings and kept the several tons of weight off of her back using support legs, but the golden retriever’s appeared to float off the ground using the power of air.
“I would really prefer to avoid these detours.”
That large dog definitely spoke using human language.
“But denying the world’s superstitions requires first investigating the detailed phenomena behind them. Fine, then. Have your say, Aleister. I will absorb it all as knowledge so I can reject every word of it.”
That dreadful mountain of weapons could be seen as armor or a fortress.
But Misaka Mikoto could not just watch the movements of this more experienced user.
At first, she thought she had lost her balance when the weapons spread out.
But that was not it. She needed to remember how exactly a certain boy’s right arm had been severed after he was driven to the verge of death…and damaged beyond recognition.
“Hey, wait, it’s moving on its own!?”
A red beam of light shot out from both the large dog and Misaka Mikoto.
The two lights were more sinister than fresh blood and they intersected on their way to the same target.
“A blood sacrifice?” said the hair angel. “But magic of the Aeon of Osiris cannot harm me, human. The laws of the ruler are already shifting elsewhere!!”
“Who ever said I had stopped at the blood of the male deity, Coronzon?”
“Then is it Babalon? What can you accomplish after briefly flirting with femininity? You are simply letting go of the male miracle you were guided to by the biblical power of the cross you went to such lengths to acquire. Bottlenecks are awful things, aren’t they? Building up from a clean slate is not difficult, but if you become stuck just before completion, you find yourself unable to do much of anything!!”
“You are a fool, Coronzon. The new builds atop of the old. The Aeons are not a rejection of different methods. It is the bond with Isis that gave us Osiris and it is the death of Osiris that allows Horus to shine. A child’s temper tantrum is not enough to change history. If I had not hated Christianity, I never would have studied magic. The crucified Son of God was always there at the foundation. No matter how much I might loathe him, that fact remains.”
“So I will connect the ring of magic. I will connect the path of Isis to Osiris and Osiris to Horus!! Cause and effect will now be linked along with my body and the Great Demon. Thus, the scarlet of Babalon shall swiftly shoot down the enemy and the entirety of its spray shall return to me!!”
The silver girl stood in the center of it all.
The two different A.A.A.s waited on either side like two dogs, but those machines were no more than speakers used to amplify the magician’s killer intent and send it out to shake the world.
“So what?” scoffed the golden hair that looked both like a giant dragon and an angel.
But that laughter did not mean she was taking this lightly.
For one thing, a demon’s true nature was the blind belief that led one astray. They tricked people into believing in a nonexistent future or treasure and used that to throw them into the depths of the earth.
“Have you forgotten? My name is Coronzon. I am the Great Demon in the Abyss of Da’at and I manage all who wish to travel up or down the tree. You were rejected, Aleister. You could not reach the top three Sephirah on the Tree of Life, but I can move freely up and down the entire tree! Did you really think you could stand up to me!?”
Just then, someone other than Aleister Crowley spoke from a short distance away.
The taboo girl in a pure white habit opened her mouth.
“The Book of the Law is knowledge brought from beyond the planet. Its essence is hidden beyond the planet’s rotation. The proper knowledge can be found by removing all obstacles and bathing in the light as it falls upon you.”
What did the 103,001 grimoires matter?
No matter how much text that girl had stored away, she could not read the essence of the Book of the Law without knowing how to decode it. That meant she could not utilize its knowledge. That grimoire had hundreds of false decoding methods built in. Any attempts made now were nothing to fear. That grimoire library’s efforts were not enough to boost Aleister’s power now.
“The discovery of a planet beyond Uranus threw astrology into chaos. But Pluto does not obstruct the movements of the universe. The exceptional Tzaddi lies elsewhere. View the stars. The new Aeon still waits for a point in the future.”
“It’s still…wrong? This isn’t for Aleister!? Are you manipulating my spell by dragging into the pattern of this misreading!?”
Aleister was the one who had sent the Book of the Law out into the world.
No matter what anyone whispered into her ear, she would not misread the book she had written down.
So this would only influence Coronzon.
“Feeling shaken, Coronzon? Come to think of it, it was the same during the summoning experiment in 1909. You succeeded in overwhelming me, the summoner, but you failed to account for Neuburg who supported me!!”
The silver girl gently extended a finger.
The A.A.A.s on either side of her sent out two final beams.
Once the original joined them, their power grew dramatically.
It was like a resonance.
The bizarre monster made of blonde hair burst from within.
It was like a balloon popping.
The thin and powerless threads fell from the air like the aftermath of a giant spider web breaking apart.
Misaka Mikoto still did not understand what she had done.
She felt no elation over this victory.
“What in the world happened???”
That dreadful weapon had moved against her will.
Those demon wings had.
That fact alone sent an icy feeling into the core of her body.
She was afraid.
She wanted to find someone – anyone – to discuss this with. She wanted to find an answer to this problem she could not solve on her own. And there were only so many people she could do that with. The silver girl probably knew the most about this, but Mikoto did not feel like she could talk to that girl so easily. The golden retriever was too much of a mystery.
There were only one or two options.
Mikoto beat at the air with her spread wings and looked back.
(And that idiot too…)
Her thoughts froze there.
Come to think of it.
She had been overwhelmed by what had happened, but where had those two gone during all this?
Someone had snuck out during the repeated roars of destruction inside the castle.
She had honey-blonde hair and a curvy figure.
The girl, Shokuhou Misaki, only wore a raincoat over a swimsuit.
(I’m not cut out for directly facing an enemy like that. And then there’s Misaka-san and that …dog? If either of them hit me with a stray shot, I’d be blown to pieces.)
Also, her #5 power controlled human minds, so she was a poor match for purely mechanical things. That ruled out bullets and shells, but Mental Out might also be useless against those masses of human hair. She had trouble imagining it working when she could not see an actual face or body.
And most of all…
After walking below a hemispherical arch and starting down some stone steps, she reached into the bag hanging from her shoulder.
Just then, the staircase collapsed as another enemy appeared.
The torrent of destruction made from sinister blonde hair burst out vertically.
“I believe I said I would nip even the slightest possibility in the bud, human.”
“Yeah, I had a feeling my deception ability wasn’t enough for this one.”
Shokuhou Misaki smiled bitterly.
A rusty smell reached her nose.
It sounded simple enough to say the hair had burst out, but there was no way Shokuhou could have responded to the surprise attack. She had failed to detect it in advance, so it had hit her and sent her spinning through the air until she fell back first onto the broken stone stairs. She was not used to being in fights like this, so she did not know how much damage that had done to her. But when she tried to get up, she only felt a terrible pain in her back.
She clenched her teeth, managed to drag her bag to her using the chain, and pulled a TV remote from within.
Then she pressed it against her own temple.
“Category 433: Pain Shutoff. I can reduce my body’s pain enough to keep moving.”
She could move now, but she had not actually healed the damage. In the worst case, this movement could make the wound even worse.
(I can’t believe this…)
She was a human specialist, so she had no place on a battlefield full of unmanned weapons, monsters, or beings without a human mind.
There were apparently a lot of old-fashioned soldiers(?) protecting Edinburgh Castle, but she could not count on them to come rescue her given the many explosions coming from all over the castle. More golden hair may have been causing damage elsewhere to divert their attention. Also, this human specialist had been using her prized ability to avoid detection while she moved. It was a little too selfish to hope that ponytail woman with a long sword would show up the second being hidden became inconvenient.
No one could come running because no one could see her here.
Shokuhou Misaki herself had removed the safeties put in place for her.
The gold rose up like a great serpent and viewed the girl from different angles.
And it spoke.
“Humans are such strange creatures. It is legitimately frightening that this is not the result of the Qliphothic forces.”
“Qli...what? Well, I am aware this must look rather psychedelic.”
Something had spilled out of her opened bag.
It was not a TV remote.
It was a cooling container made from two cylinders. A motor rotated the outer cylinder to cool the contents much more rapidly than an ordinary cooling sheet. They were normally used as largish drink bottles and Misaka had apparently mistaken this one for iced tea, but that was not what it contained.
For one thing, the rusty smell had not come from Shokuhou’s body.
(The lid must have broken.)
Shokuhou Misaki got up, grabbed the cooling container and sighed.
A dark red liquid dripped from the edge of the lid like drool from the corner of an impolite child’s mouth.
“I am not about to pretend I know exactly how it works,” said the hair. “After all, that thing will create a replacement on its own if it is simply cut off.”
“Understanding it from the single viewpoint of science is not possible, but the reverse is also true. There may be a piece of the puzzle I cannot see. At any rate, this may have been the result of some misguided regrets, but it was fortunate you kept it cooled.”
Back then, Aleister had taken control of Mikoto’s A.A.A. and chopped off the boy’s right arm with a chainsaw because the silver girl assumed it would get in the way of her treatment. Everyone had been focused on whether or not the boy would survive, but what had happened to the severed arm afterwards?
Hadn’t it landed in the center of Shokuhou Misaki’s ample chest where she held it in her arms?
“I had thought it was odd that Imagine Breaker was not returning to its original owner. But even this is only a temporary deception. It will eventually return to him. No matter how much you try to keep it hidden.”
“I know that…”
Shokuhou Misaki had not hidden away that right arm for such a practical reason.
That right hand was to blame.
This was far from the first time that boy had been driven to the verge of death. And Kamijou Touma had always relied on his right hand to break through whatever fate threw at him.
So what if?
If he did not have Imagine Breaker, he might just avoid doing anything so dangerous.
Of course, someone might notice the right hand had disappeared from the ground once things calmed down and a detailed examination of the battlefield was completed. The boy might begin searching for his missing arm.
But Kamijou Touma had a certain flaw.
Due to a certain incident, he could not properly perceive Shokuhou Misaki’s face and he could not remember it for long.
If anyone else were hiding it, Kamijou Touma might be able to find the culprit and reclaim his arm. Some nasty Academy City tech might still be able to reattach it.
Shokuhou Misaki would be missing from his list of suspects. Even if everyone else would have found her suspicious, she would be missing from his mind. So Misaka Mikoto could not have done this. In this, Shokuhou had to keep it to herself and vanish on her own.
She had been scared.
She had been scared out of her mind to see the person she cared for most transformed into an unrecognizable mass of red and black.
Shokuhou Misaki was not Index and she was not Misaka Mikoto.
She had ended up on the center stage this time, but she was meant to work behind the scenes like Aleister. She was the Queen of Tokiwadai who manipulated people from the shadows to benefit herself and eliminate harm.
The fate of the world and the future of humanity did not matter to her.
Just like Aleister had strayed from that to protect Lilith, this honey-blonde girl had not hesitated to step off of that path for someone she cared for. She did not care if he found what she had done creepy or responded with a sigh of disappointment.
And as a result…
“Give me that right arm you have preserved. I sense no threat in you, so I have no real reason to kill you.”
“Liar. No, I suppose you technically are not lying. You kill even without a reason. That is the truth here.”
“If you understand that, then how about you try begging for your life?”
Since her TV remote could not control this hair, she had no chance of escaping this. But her bold smile came from more than just her queenly temperament. Shokuhou’s goal was to get Imagine Breaker away from that boy. If she could anger this mystery attacker and goad it into a powerful attack, that was fine with her. There was no saving her at this point, so she was only thinking about destroying and utterly annihilating the right arm that contained Imagine Breaker.
The golden monster rose up.
It was an Aethyr Avatar, the false image of an angel.
That monster made of hair viewed its target.
It had mercilessly destroyed dozens and maybe hundreds of tons of stone when appearing inside the castle. An attack from that would be more powerful than a head-on collision with a large dump truck. The swimsuit girl would be immediately torn to pieces.
She knew that all too well after seeing what had happened to that boy.
But she still chose to resist.
All she could do was block her pain, so the most she could accomplish was to smile.
“I’ve been doing a lot of things lately that are far outside my wheelhouse, but I guess this is the only fate a side character like me can hope for…”
The world shook.
Time stopped within Shokuhou Misaki.
Great Demon Coronzon’s Aethyr Avatar had swung down a merciless attack capable of breaking up through the heavy castle.
This roar had not come from the golden angel.
That voice did not belong to Academy City’s #5. Nor did it belong to Coronzon.
Yes, there did not need to be any clues leading here.
The girl had forgotten.
Did he fight because of the special power in his right hand? Did he fight because he recognized someone’s face? Did he fight because he had following a logical chain of clues to reach that point?
No, no, and no.
There was a simple explanation for it all: Kamijou Touma fought because he was Kamijou Touma.
Whether or not he had a right hand or not was irrelevant.
There was a sound like human flesh being shaved away by a file.
His arm no longer had Imagine Breaker. In fact, it had no fist and the gruesome wound past the elbow had only been cauterized to stop the bleeding.
The pain had to be far greater than what Shokuhou Misaki felt after using her power to block it.
He was receiving another fierce attack on top of a wound that had to be hard enough to accept already. He used his own arm as a cushion to slightly divert the Aethyr Avatar’s path. This did not qualify as dodging or defending. It was not a proper give-and-take arrangement. But that was obvious when he was faced with the meaningless choice of deciding which was the best body part to let the dump truck hit.
He could easily have died from shock due to the pain signals alone.
Those were the first words out of the boy’s mouth.
“Everything’s okay now… I’ll push back…this damn thing!!”
He could not recognize her by looking at her and he could not find the memories even if he searched for them. It was a mystery how he had even managed to find her here, but he had put his own pain second and worried about the girl first and foremost.
The fist-sized girl on the boy’s right shoulder stuck out her tiny tongue.
There was a boring trick hidden behind that miracle. That girl had likely sensed the oddity, predicted where the next monster would appear, and guided Kamijou Touma here.
But this was still different.
That missed the core of the issue.
Even if he had known where the blonde hair monster would appear, why had that boy rushed here? He could not perceive Shokuhou Misaki’s presence. So even with the palm-sized girl’s guidance, he would only have seen it as a monster appearing in an empty area. He could just ignore that. That was not worth rushing frantically here.
It stopped at 99%. It looked like all the gears fit together, but the most crucial one of all was missing. Nevertheless, here he was. It did not matter that the force should not have been able to travel through the gears.
What could you call this but a miracle?
Shokuhou Misaki came to a realization while sitting on the floor and looking up at that wounded boy’s back.
Kamijou Touma would fight simply because he was Kamijou Touma.
The right hand was irrelevant.
Just like he had saved Shokuhou Misaki in the past, he would save her again now. She could not stop him no matter what she did or what schemes she concocted.
He had even broken straight through Academy City Board Chairman Aleister’s plan.
Of course this girl’s last-minute attempt at cleverness was going to fail.
She no longer had the face of a queen.
She bit her lip, hung her head, and spoke as no more than a girl.
Was this in reference to keeping a secret from him this whole time? Or was it reference to giving up on stopping him?
“I’m sorry, Kamijou-san!!”
She threw the object that had been released from the cooling container.
It spun through the air.
No stitches or cast were necessary. The impossible happened before her eyes. The wound seemed to open up like a ribbon and then that object perfectly attached to Kamijou’s elbow that was releasing a red liquid.
It all connected together.
Another attack arrived.
The boy’s right hand broke through every last threat.
This was not their first time hearing that sound of destruction.
Golden hair scattered through the air and glittered as it reflected the morning sun.
Even the boy himself sounded surprised by the result.
He had always been like this.
He never noticed his own value and he never thought about whether he really had a chance of winning. He would simply rush straight into the gates of hell if he saw someone being hurt or driven into a corner.
That was who he was.
How could she have ever yearned for him so badly if he was not?
“This isn’t like before. Does my hand work on the hair?”
His right hand. Imagine Breaker.
Shokuhou Misaki felt like those things had returned to their rightful place.
Because she too had once been saved like this.
Between the Lines 3
This sea was located between Great Britain and Ireland.
Specifically, it was the area south of the Isle of Man.
“Given the geographical requirements, I knew we would find it around here.”
The woman standing on the coast and looking out to sea with binoculars had her reddish-blonde hair worn in several fried shrimps and she wore a dress that looked like a leotard with a long skirt added on. Her name was Anna Sprengel. But did she really need those binoculars? Takitsubo Rikou would not have doubted her if she claimed she could see the Face on Mars with the naked eye.
Also, Takitsubo frowned.
“What is that ship?”
“The Queen Britannia.”
“I’ve never sensed a signal that travels like this before. It’s not just going from one place to another. It’s like it goes beyond three dimensions.”
“Well, we are talking about Great Demon Coronzon of the Abyss making an appearance here on the surface. You could say this is like the world’s internal organs being dragged out. Really, we’re lucky the foundational laws haven’t entirely collapsed yet.”
She must not have been interested any longer.
The lady grabbed one roll of her hair, brought the rose decoration to her mouth, and enjoyed the sweet aroma.
“Can you not see the heliport?”
“I do not mean the one on the surface. I mean the one inside. You can’t see any people or tools there, can you? The empty heliport you see there is inaccurate.”
This red dress lady had to be quite something if Takitsubo Rikou of all people found her words incomprehensible. She was not at all interested in accommodating the world around her. She was even more self-centered than Mugino (who was surprisingly self-conscious about her figure).
Lady Sprengel removed the binoculars from her eyes and glanced over at frightened Takitsubo Rikou.
“I will now explain what will soon happen here.” The lady in a red leotard and long skirt made it sound so simple. “First of all, Coronzon will place the Queen Britannia’s mobile temple at a specific point and attempt to hijack the United Kingdom using the Scottish system she can access with the three Honours of Scotland and the Stone of Scone. Her goal is to destroy the world. In the first stage, she will have all seven billion humans kill each other and she will use that as an opening to descend to the very bottom of the Sephiroth. Once at the very foundation of the world, she will pour in a massive amount of power to forcibly destroy it. All of the phases overlap, but the gods of legend are not supported by that alone. Heaven and hell cannot exist entirely independently, so if the piece at the base is destroyed, the bottom will fall out.”
“Well, you might not actually understand all of that, so here is another way to look at it. Your boyfriend has taken Coronzon’s side. Whatever kind of compromise they have arrived at, the world will be destroyed if he sticks with her to the end.”
With that, Anna Sprengel turned her attention toward the other side of the conflict.
“If Aleister’s side has any brains at all, they should be figuring some things out around now. For example, the Queen Britannia’s temple can amplify and weaponize any magic, but Coronzon is not the only one who can take advantage of that. Once Aleister’s groups arrives at the temple, whatever spells they have to harm Coronzon will be amplified as well.”
Once again, Takitsubo Rikou could only stay quiet.
“And because demons are constructed from an energy similar to Telesma, pieces of that energy can be cut away using the proper methods. They can be divided up to weaken them. I mean, Coronzon has done it herself: Qliphah Puzzle 545. For ease of use and to prevent rebellion, that artificial demon had all unnecessary functions cut away so she was specialized for the madness of war. So if the exact same process was used, couldn’t you cut things away from Coronzon herself to weaken her? Take it far enough and you would be left with a core that is perfectly killable by human means, don’t you think?”
Takitsubo Rikou could not choose to defeat or protect Coronzon.
If she turned against either side of this conflict, she would be quickly destroyed. The Magic Gods would not always come to save her and Anna Sprengel’s true intentions and skill were unknown factors. At the very least, the fact that the woman was lurking in the background suggested she did not want to stand in the spotlight. Takitsubo Rikou may have been more isolated then anyone in the UK, including Coronzon.
And that was exactly why she had to know exactly what both sides were doing.
She could not focus on just one side or the other. She had to keep tabs on everything that might harm Hamazura Shiage.
“Coronzon lured Hamazura Shiage in with the prospect of saving Dion Fortune. She is probably giving him some kind of lecture right now. That means they are beginning the taboo act of an esper using magic. This is not an issue of sooner or later and it is not an issue of more or less. It is possible a major artery will rupture with the very first attempt and he will die instantly. …Unless you teach him the secret technique of modified scrying that I have granted you.”
“Then what do I do?”
The tricky thing about Anna Sprengel was how she did not simply say they would save Hamazura Shiage. That meant she was not asking them to give up on Fortune.
If Takitsubo taught Hamazura the proper method, she could save him and Fortune.
But if she did not get that method to him, he would die a meaningless death and they could not save Fortune. All because he exposed himself to a needless risk.
If this was actually possible, she could not see a downside.
Anna Sprengel was not a storybook demon demanding her soul in payment.
In fact, it was such a good deal that she would feel guilty if she said nothing and let the opportunity pass her by. Now that she had heard about this, she could not stand idly by.
“The UK’s counterattack will begin shortly and that should bring great chaos to this peaceful ocean. This will be more than just a clash between the UK and Coronzon. Those combat-obsessed Magic Gods should intervene just for the fun of it. I guarantee it.” The woman with the reddish-brown fried shrimp hair raised a single finger. “Using that to get aboard the ship would be best. That is why I spared the Magic Gods and the group at Edinburgh Castle instead of just wiping them out. So let us use them to their fullest.”