Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume22 Ending
There was a splashing sound.
The face had gone quite pale, but anyone with the proper knowledge would have immediately recognized the absurdly long blonde hair and the beige habit that had grown heavy after soaking up the midwinter seawater.
Everyone may have been satisfied with Great Demon Coronzon’s defeat.
But after separating the soul from the body, they had focused their attacks on just one of those two parts. That meant the other part remained.
In other words, the body of flesh and blood that Coronzon had used as a temporary vessel.
That demon clung to her fading consciousness and moved her lungs.
No, she tried to move them.
But she could not manage a single breath. Was it the Gnostics who called the body no more than a cage for the soul? But for Coronzon now, her body was no more than an execution device. She could not move a finger and she could only watch as she sank into the depths of the cold ocean.
Her hand moved. …What was supposedly her hand moved against her own will. It reached up onto a broken piece of white land similar to drift ice and then she climbed on top of it. That allowed her to breathe again, but she could not relax yet. The rhythm of breathing, of blinking, and of everything else was all wrong. Even the beating of her heart felt off.
Instead of someone else moving her body from the outside, this uncomfortable feeling was more like she was intruding on someone else’s body.
“I really did intend to die when I died, yet here I am. For better or for worse, I fail at everything I attempt. But his could be a problem. Can I really just waltz on back there after all that?”
The vocal cords were those of the flesh and blood that Coronzon had prepared, so the voice was hers. But the subtle intonation was entirely different. And she recognized this voice. The disgust she felt was like a swarm of small bugs crawling along the fingertips she could no longer move.
“Oh? You can still resist? But this is my flesh and blood now. …Although I was starting to grow sick of having a female body. Well, I can live with this since I know you are not actually Lola. I will be using this as a temporary body that only has to last me until I can acquire a better one, so bear that in mind.”
Aleister stood up on the large piece of drift ice and touched this new body through the wet habit to check on its height and center of gravity. Her hands showed no restraint and no mercy. A burglar rummaging through someone’s private room would have shown more tact.
“Coronzon, you brought this on yourself. I really, truly did intend to die satisfied this time. But I could not fully die thanks to you. …And now I have stepped outside the category of humanity, which I worked so hard to avoid. Honestly, this really is entirely your fault.”
While she spoke, the woman reached a hand behind her back and grabbed the soaked blonde hair. She held it like she was preparing a head of wheat to be harvested. The other hand also reached behind her, but the fingers were held differently. The index and middle finger were held together.
“Have you forgotten my joint experiment with Neuburg, Coronzon? It had to be halted because you refused to obey, but that was never actually annulled. Wasn’t this the original form of the contract we were meant to make? Magician Aleister invites in Coronzon and gains the knowledge found by crossing the Sephiroth’s Abyss. …This ended up a little different, but it is what it is. I had thought it meant you entering my body, but we seem to have ended up with the reverse. Magical sparks and spray always return to you in the way you least expect it. I never imagined I would receive that fundamental lesson again now of all times.”
With a brutal slicing sound, the index and middle finger passed through the hair.
No, it cut away the hair at shoulder length. 333, dispersion. That was the symbol of the power that the Great Demon had spent so long building up from the moonlight.
It was said the devil resides in women’s hair.
That seemed to be the message as Aleister casually tossed aside the blonde hair like a bundle of dead snakes and laughed at how much lighter she felt now.
She laughed with mockery in her voice.
“Ha ha ha. It is high time you suffered, Great Demon. Did you really think you could skip out on your punishment by dying?”
This was no laughing matter.
Being stuck like this was an even more horrifying thought than sharing a body bag with a rotting corpse. If this was her punishment, then the world really was broken, insane, and twisted. She should have destroyed it much sooner.
The stolen flesh stood up on the drift ice, raised her hands overhead, and shook her head like a wet dog. She clearly was not used to having such short hair. This would be Aleister’s movement because Coronzon was powerless to do anything.
“Now, I highly doubt this has escaped Aiwass’s notice, but the real question is why he kept it from Anna. Does he have some kind of reason for it…or did he simply develop an emotional attachment in the century he was looking after Lilith?”
Meanwhile, Coronzon was not at all pleased about having her long hair cut. She now only had the back of that short hair as a screen on which to display her face. The Great Demon now looked like a Futakuchi-Onna as she protested like a tropical fish in an aquarium with insufficient oxygen.
“What…are you…going to do now?”
“If moving the vocal cords is too much effort, you can always speak to me in the medium of thought. The UK should be picking up my corpse about now, Academy City has been left in the hands of the children, and I am sure Mina will accept being Lilith’s wet nurse. She always did enjoy helping out. For the time being, it might be nice to remain hidden in the backstage beyond both magic and science.”
Whilst still standing, Aleister bent over and wrung out the beige habit’s skirt to remove the cold seawater.
“Still, I never expected this to happen. Is this a sign of the world malfunctioning because that which refuses to break down is clogging up the circulation?”
“You mean Aiwass?”
“And Anna Sprengel.”
After saying that, Aleister turned over her hand.
“Is that what you thought I would say?”
“You caused this yourself. There were a few past opportunities for the stopper to fail: against Fiamma of the Right, against Magic God Othinus, and against Aiwass too I suppose. …But you went too far this time. The lock has broken. What do you intend to do about that which refuses to break down and lurks within?”
In other words.
In other words.
In other words.
The short-haired Crosser of the Abyss gave the answer.
Using knowledge normal people could never reach.
“The biggest problem is Kamijou Touma and the power of his right hand. There is no holding that in anymore.”
Why had the boy not been there?
Even if there had been nothing he could do, why had he not desperately tried to stop the bleeding to prevent that silver girl from breathing her last?
Where had he gone after defeating Great Demon Coronzon?
He had been unable to stay there.
Even now, his right arm was throbbing irregularly while he held it with his left hand. He had no idea how the arm had reattached and its return was not enough to put his mind at ease. He could not predict when that thing would come out again.
He heard a familiar voice from directly above.
Was she dangling from a giant balloon again?
But that was exactly why he had to keep running.
That thing would kill.
No matter what Kamijou Touma wanted, it would indiscriminately devour and kill everyone there.
He had left the gray Queen Britannia to run across the seemingly endless expanse of ice.
He had to get as far away as possible.
He had to do whatever it took to stay away from anyone this might harm.
There was a deep and wet sound of something bursting open.
And somewhere else, Anna Sprengel looked up.
She had sensed it, so she smiled thinly.
Once her power returned, she could destroy even Aiwass in a single attack.
She was that kind of legendary being.
“At long last.”
She was not speaking to anyone in particular.
Aiwass stood by her side, but he was of secondary concern.
She did not care how narcissistic it seemed. There was but one emotion in her voice.
“She kept Takitsubo Rikou on hand because she thought she could use the girl’s power to cause Kamijou Touma to rupture from within. Even the most useful pawn can accomplish nothing when the one controlling it is a fool. Madame Horos, couldn’t you have used your head for once? If you had set things up right, you just might have been able to acquire an entire small world there.”
It was a twinge of displeasure.
But the result before her eyes was apparently enough to wipe that away.
“Anyway, I ended up on a century-long detour, but I am glad I made it in time for this moment.”
It was like she had returned home after a long trip.
It was like she had seen the faces of her loved ones waiting for her.
She narrowed her eyes.
That woman of the rose had sown the golden seeds on a whim. And Anna Sprengel spoke in a way that was much like stroking her own slender neck in search of the bondage she lacked.
“Good morning, Imagine Breaker…and the One who Purifies God and Slays Demons. What does the world look like to the two of you?”
This was all assuming that lady had the kind of emotions an ordinary person could understand.