Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume2 Chapter1
Chapter 1: A New Territory, Magic Afterwards. Lecture_One.
Kamijou Touma, Accelerator, and Hamazura Shiage had defeated the Freshmen and saved Fremea Seivelun. They were now comparing cell phones.
“Okay, let’s exchange addresses.”
“What a pain…”
“There, there, and done.”
As Hamazura operated his cell phone, he was wearing normal clothes, having changed out of the slim powered suit. It seemed he had contacted someone using the powered suit’s communicator, and they would be coming to recover the suit from where he had it hidden after removing it.
“…Hey, why does your cell phone have a torn string on it?”
“Geh… The strap came off. Ugh, such misfortune…”
“You fell into the Arctic Ocean. It’s a miracle you still have all your limbs,” said Birdway in an exasperated tone. “I know you want to come along into the territory ahead, but you won’t be able to catch up if you only look at one side of the world. In order to learn about ‘them’, you first need to look at the other side of the world.”
“They” seemed to be a major problem at some deep portion of the world.
The goal behind Kuroyoru Umidori and Silver Cross Alpha’s attempt to kill Accelerator and Hamazura Shiage via Fremea had been to prepare the system needed to fight “them”.
And then there was the other side of the world Birdway had mentioned.
If one looked at things from the viewpoint of Academy City and the science side, it was the opposite side.
It was magic.
“…I don’t mind gathering up the necessary information,” Accelerator practically spat out. “But I have no intention of having a long leisurely talk here. We defeated the people who more or less led the Freshmen, but that doesn’t mean the threat is 100% gone.”
“True.” Birdway nodded. “You two… what were your names? Anyway, as you were being directly targeted by the Freshmen, it is best to think of that as a risk. And I would like somewhere where we can sit down and talk, so we should find somewhere else to go.”
“Is there really going to be some convenient place like that?” Hamazura asked.
Birdway pointed with her thumb.
She pointed at Kamijou’s face.
“His place. …It’s the perfect place for an idiot to bow down to a girl.”
And so, Kamijou, Accelerator, Hamazura, Fremea, Birdway, and her subordinates who wore all black headed toward a certain high school dorm.
As he walked along a twilit path, Kamijou’s shoulders seemed to droop.
Hamazura looked over with a puzzled expression.
“Well…” Kamijou’s words did not have much energy behind them. “In all the confusion of World War III, it seems I’ve ended up considered dead. So… I was just thinking that a lot of people must be worried about me. And I’m not sure what the best way to meet them and apologize is. This time, I’m not going to get off with just my head bit.”
Hamazura was not sure what he meant by that last part.
Birdway smiled in a burlesque way and spoke.
“But if you’re alive, you have no real reason not to go back. Whatever path you take, you’re eventually going to walk down that one, so you should get it over with quickly.”
“Maybe I should think of it like going to the dentist…”
Upon seeing how down Kamijou looked, Hamazura made a suggestion.
“If you have to do it, you might as well give yourself a little help in the right direction, don’t you think?”
“What do you mean?”
“Drink some alcohol to bring up your spirits.”
A gradual change had come over Misaka Mikoto’s mental state over the last few days.
A feeling of impatience had welled up from the depths of depression.
At the end of World War III, Kamijou Touma had disappeared into the Arctic Ocean along with a giant fortress.
Since that boy had been in the place that was the very core of that war, Mikoto thought he must have been pressured into it by some kind of power from a force that moved the world. Even if that was not the actual reason, Mikoto still felt that she needed to collect accurate information, and a lot of it.
The darkness there.
She did not want to approach it, but their network gathered information from around the world that should not be seen by anyone.
Mikoto had no clear point of contact with the darkness.
But she still had a way in without one.
Of course, it was risky. They may notice her attempt to get in, and if they did, they would definitely put together some kind of interception plan. It was possible that the darkness would take action the very second they suspected that she was even thinking of doing it.
She had to know whether Kamijou Touma was alive or dead.
She did not want mere hopes.
She wanted actual information. If she did not have that, Misaka Mikoto could not know which direction she should head towards from then on.
After worrying through all that, Mikoto started thinking of actual methods of hacking in, but…
“Heyyy… Is that Miko-chan I see over there?”
Why was she seeing an illusion of a drunk boy talking to her?
That spiky-haired illusion had a necktie of unknown origin wrapped around its head, had a box of sushi hanging from a string grasped by the thumb and forefinger of its right hand, and was drunkenly staggering toward her bowleggedly.
That was not an illusion created by someone like the #5 Level 5…
“Ehh!? Why!? Why are you here!? World War III… The Arctic Ocean… Y-you were dead… Wh-what is going on…!?”
“Mhh… Oh, yeah. I forgot somethin’ important.”
“Yes, yes, like that, like that!! Okay, tell it all to Mikoto-san. What happened after that? In fact, why did you leave Academy City and charge into the center of that war in the first place…!?”
“Here, Miko-chan, this is your souvenir...”
“That is not a souvenir!! This sushi is like something from a nostalgic Showa skit!!”
“I can’t follow your chain of thoughts, and now you aren’t even speaking in a human language!! …What is with this? Even when Mama is at her worst, I can get through to her, but none of my experience with her is working here…!!”
Mikoto put her head in her hands while still holding the sushi box that had been handed to her, but the boy in question seemed to truly think that he had finished what he came there to do. He started to stagger off somewhere, leaving Mikoto.
If she let him get away, things would get very bad.
To put it in concrete terms, it was possible that she would end up with no scenes for three whole volumes.
Misaka Mikoto intuitively determined that fact, and frantically chased after that boy.
“Wait, stop!! Do you really think I can just accept this!? Hell no! You just left and disappeared! Today, I’m finally going to have you explain everything to me!”
“Does November even have thirty-five days…?”
“Give... It. A. Damn. Rest. Alreaaaaaaaaaadyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!”
Without meaning to, Mikoto sent bluish-white sparks flying from her bangs.
She was Academy City’s #3 Level 5 and had the highest ranking electricity-type power. By making her alias of Railgun a reality at the base, she could manipulate high-voltage currents with a maximum of one billion volts.
As such, the lightning spear that she accidentally fired was quite the destructive attack.
Mikoto’s face paled as he evaded it with the unnatural movements characteristic of a drunk.
That spiky-haired boy had the power to easily negate the esper power Mikoto used (but she did not know exactly how it worked). He had stopped her attacks a few times with that power in the past, but…
He no longer needed his power.
So that was it.
She had worked so hard chasing after him, yet he was saying that all her efforts had been for nothing - a statement that could not be easily dealt with.
“Now this is getting interesting…”
While Mikoto hung her head down, heated feelings welled up within her.
She had not felt such belligerent emotions in a long time.
It may have been because of her rank as the #3, but she did not get many chances to go all-out. That was the feeling she got when one of those chances came along.
The drunken Kamijou looked at Mikoto’s face.
“What’re you smilin’ for, Miko-chan. Did somethin’ good happen?”
“I-I’m not smiling!! And don’t call me Miko-chan!!”
“But tha’sh berbrarbrerb, i’n’t it?”
“Ahh!! I have no idea what you just said, but I’m betting I should deny it, given how you said it!!” Mikoto started swinging her arms around. “My power is valuable because it has both a large output and an exceedingly vast range of applications!! I’ll show you firsthand just how many types of attacks I can make wi… huh!?”
Just when Mikoto tried to point at him with her sparking finger, the spiky-haired boy was gone.
She hurriedly looked around, and found him staggering along a bit away.
But the situation was changing moment by moment.
Her thoughts simply could not keep up with the changes.
“Huh? What are you doing here?” said a black-haired girl who was approaching the spiky-haired boy and seemed like a shrine maiden outfit would suit her.
“Huhh!? Kamijou-chan, you have guts to skip school and then just go for a walk!!” shouted a girl(?) 135 centimeters tall who started to grab at him.
“Kamijou, how can you do this while we’re so busy preparing for the Ichihanaransai… wait, you reek of alcohol!? I can’t believe this! Why would you do something like this that shortens your own lifespan!?” said a high school girl with maddeningly huge breasts who also approached him.
“Ohh, Kamijou Touma. It’s Kamijou Touma. I don’t really care about you, but make kitty purr!”
In no time at all, they were in all directions.
“Oh, you’re the guy who called the ambulance during the Remnant incident, aren’t you?” said Musujime Awaki who she once had a confrontation with and had fair-sized breasts.
“U-um, if you were coming back, I wish you had told me,” said a high school girl with glasses and huge breasts who was wearing a Kirigaoka Academy winter uniform.
“Oh, Kamijou. I didn’t think you’d be coming back right now,” said a high school girl with even larger breasts who was wearing a navy-blue sailor uniform.
“Wait! Wait just a second!! This is my scene! If you’re going to do this, do it later!! Dammit, the guy-to-girl ratio here is completely out of balance. And is that group of huge breasts specifically targeted at me!? A-at this rate, I’ll be lost in the background…!! Did they create a forest to hide a leaf!?”
As the Biri Biri girl shouted, Kamijou did not seem to even realize that he had all these people gathered around him.
There was a girl named Index.
She had waist-long silver hair and green eyes. Her white skin seemed to reflect light. She was a little shorter than average for her age, and she may have given an impression younger than her age. She was wearing a nun’s habit made of white cloth, with gold decorations giving it the coloration of a teacup. However, the major stitches were undone, and it was temporarily fastened together with large safety pins.
She stood within a student dorm in District 7 of Academy City.
It was not Index’s room.
In fact, she was not even a student.
That room belonged to a certain boy. Index had been freeloading there, but the boy who was supposed to be her landlord was not there. There was no proof that he would come back. Given the organization Index belonged to, it was not exactly a good thing for her to be in that city and continue living in that room. Index wondered if she should obey the organization and head back to England…
Although she did not want to do that no matter what.
She felt that if she stayed here, he would pop up eventually. Index felt that if she gave up or left, she would be cutting off the possibility of that happening no matter how miniscule it may be. …Index had gotten to the point of thinking about things in terms of jinxes like that.
She was acting selfishly.
The organization she belonged to was allowing her that selfishness.
Perhaps they were doing so out of concern for Index herself. Or perhaps they were doing so out of concern for that boy who had disappeared in the middle of World War III in order to stop it.
She quietly called his name.
The dorm room’s other freeloading resident– well, this one was actually a pet– was a calico cat named Sphinx. The cat had its head inside a package that had been a souvenir from England and was eating the contents. It seemed to be saying, “I’d heard so much about British food, but the pet food is really just the same.”
Only one who had leeway in her heart would have been able to smile at that unchanging scene.
She had gone beyond that point and instead felt a twinge of unease at seeing something continuing on unchanged despite having lost something.
Would he return?
How long should she continue staying here?
Was there any meaning to it?
Did there have to be a meaning to it?
She was unable to control her own emotions. The thoughts that should have been collected in a single place were scattered across her face. Those fragmentary thoughts brought forth various opinions like a short-circuit in some wiring, creating sparks; but there was no unity to the random images. If she collected them all up, there would surely be some contradictions.
If there was an opportunity, things would greatly tilt.
It was like a large board balanced atop a sharp stake. Wherever you placed your finger on the board, it would collapse in one direction or another.
She may have been remaining completely stationary because she was thoughtlessly trying to maintain that perilous balance.
Index was temporarily frozen like that while holding her memories that were much too fresh, but then the final slight force was added on.
It was the cell phone Kamijou Touma had given her. It was one of those electronic devices that she still had not mastered the use of and still needed Kamijou’s help with despite her perfect memory. And it was a communications device that might be able to connect her to that boy if she only knew how to use it.
Upon seeing it, Index’s heart tilted greatly.
Not even she knew which direction it had tilted in.
Index grabbed the cat that still had its head inside the pet food package, and headed for the entrance of the dorm room. Nothing would happen if she only waited. It did not matter whether she had any clues or not. Index was just about to charge out into the outside world in order to search for that boy when…
“U-uhhh… S-s-sorry for keepin’ you waitin’…”
Kamijou Touma opened the door and came in dragging over ten girls with him, making him look like a magnet covered in iron sand after being dropped in a sand pit.
At first, Index only blinked a few times.
Immediately afterwards, she grasped the situation.
“T-Touma!! You were gone this whole time, so I was worried! Just what are you doing!?”
“Hic… Eh? Whaddya mean?”
“I was just about to say that you were being way too much like your normal self, Touma, but there’s someone I clearly don’t know mixed in!!”
“Hello, I’m the new beast girl heroine. I just met him over there.”
The situation had become chaotic to the extreme and Kamijou, the person who would normally explain what was going on, was utterly knocked out, so Index had no way of dealing with it.
Accelerator and Hamazura Shiage were watching that uproar from a distance.
Just when that boy had gotten drunk, he had walked off somewhere on his own. The next thing they knew, he had a hold on a great number of girls.
“Thanks for leading the way… wait, why the hell is Musujime there, too?”
He no longer had anything to do with the dark side organization of Group, but he still had not expected to run into one of the former members here.
The #1 muttered in an exasperated way (but he also admired the fact that Kamijou Touma had a side to him other than just fighting and that he managed to let both sides coexist).
“I’ll call him ‘teacher’.”
Hamazura didn't put much thought into it, and said that to no one in particular.
Takitsubo Rikou, a girl in a track suit, was eating a corn dog she had bought at a convenience store when her sleepy eyes suddenly opened wide.
“…Hamazura is heading down a path of evil!!”
The girls that were the iron sand clinging to the magnet named Kamijou Touma were politely persuaded to leave the dorm by Birdway’s subordinate Mark Space and the others dressed all in black (but some of them were given afros from high-voltage currents and there was a forced promise to explain everything in detail later).
While biting the back of Kamijou’s head, Index caught sight of Accelerator and stared blankly at him.
“It’s the lost child guy.”
“…What kind of way to remember someone is that?” muttered Accelerator.
But he did not continue that conversation. That was due both to his personality and the fact that he did not want to remember the 0930 Incident.
Birdway cheerfully stuck her legs under the kotatsu in the center of the room.
“Hurry up and take a seat. This isn’t some pottery class for housewives. I have no intention of looking over your shoulder and making sure you’re doing everything right.”
And so, Kamijou Touma, Accelerator, and Hamazura Shiage sat down on the remaining three sides of the square kotatsu.
“Nyaahh,” muttered Fremea.
For some reason, she sat down on Hamazura’s lap after he got under the kotatsu.
“My spot,” was all she said, but she must have been worn out from being chased by the Freshmen because she fell asleep after fifteen seconds.
“Are you ready to listen now?”
“…I guess, even though I don’t know what it is I’m getting ready for,” Hamazura responded while lightly supporting Fremea who looked like she was about to slip off him.
Birdway paid him no heed.
“Then let’s get this long-awaited explanation started.”
As she spoke, she glanced over at Index.
Index Librorum Prohibitorum.
She knew her role, but it was Birdway that spoke.
“I will be explaining to you about ‘them’ who are no longer something you don’t have to worry about… and about magic, another set of laws that is at the base of the matter.”
Unabara Mitsuki was inside an Academy City hospital.
He himself was not a patient; he was visiting people he knew.
“…It’s gotten rather dark. I guess I should bring this visit to an end,” he said.
The room looked like a normal hospital room, but someone who had experience with hospitalizations may have noticed that something was not quite right. It was not a large room with four to six patients in it, nor was it an individual room used by a single patient.
It was a large room with only two beds inside.
Only an eccentric person could have arranged that irregular layout.
The girl lying in one of the two beds spoke.
“…I don’t remember asking you to come. You just visit every day no matter what I say.”
The girl’s name was Xochitl.
As her name made clear, she was not Japanese. She had swarthy skin and wavy black hair. She belonged to a magical organization that had its origins in the Central American Aztecs. As one would expect of someone like that, she had been armed with eerie occult weapons, but they had been confiscated by the Unabara boy.
And in the other bed was another girl from the same culture as Xochitl. Her name was Tochtli. The names Xochitl and Tochtli were famous names in their language.
Tochtli said, “Yeah, but if you didn’t stop by one day, I’m pretty sure she would at least tear her pillow to pieces. For the sake of my peaceful hospitalization, make sure you keep up your visits, onii-chan.”
“You’ve got it all wrong. I’m a Corpse Worker, so being in a place like this makes me feel like I’m being left behind. That’s what has me so irritated.”
“In other words, she’s saying that you have the effect of alleviating that irritation.”
Unabara smiled as he watched Tochtli turn aside Xochitl’s glare.
And at the same time, he thought.
Originally, Unabara Mitsuki had been one who worked in the darkness of Academy City. In order to wipe away that city’s darkness, he had charged into that darkness and had continually fought alongside the collection of suspicious people such as Accelerator, Tsuchimikado Motoharu, and Musujime Awaki that was Group.
Of course, that darkness had continually interfered so as to rob Unabara of his freedom, but he had felt himself suddenly come free of those bonds a few days before.
For instance, there was that hospital room.
Normally, there would have been at least two garbage men stationed to watch those girls who were used as hostages against him, but those people had disappeared at some point.
He had not been in contact with the other members of Group.
He had not contacted them, and they had not contacted him.
From what Unabara had investigated on his own, it seemed that it was not just Group. The darkness had drawn back from various fields within Academy City.
Something had changed during World War III.
He was betting that Accelerator, Tsuchimikado Motoharu, and Musujime Awaki had been affected by it as well.
He wondered how they were reacting to that change in the world.
Now that the members of the darkness were no longer bound by the darkness, what had happened to the environment surrounding that girl who bound Unabara Mitsuki more than anything else?
Should he just give in to that peace?
Or should he charge back into the darkness?
While Unabara thought carefully about what direction he should head towards, he heard one of the girls in the hospital room speak.
“By the way, I have a question for you.”
“…Etzali. I understand that Unabara Mitsuki’s face was convenient when you were infiltrating Academy City, but why are you still using that false face while in this hospital room with only your comrades?”
“Well…” Unabara started to say, but Tochtli spoke up, sounding annoyed.
“Just realize it already, Xochitl. Being beautiful gives you an advantage in this world. That’s how he gets the information he needs from the women in the places he infiltrates.”
Unabara heard a slight snapping sound.
Xochitl had bent the three-dimensional puzzle she had been messing with out of boredom into an odd shape.
“N-no, that is not it, Xochitl! This face was the most suitable one to approach the target with. I did not choose it based on whether it was beautiful or not. And our disguise spell needs human skin, so I have just been using the face I already had so that I do not have to cause any unnecessary harm.”
“And what is with that creepy polite way of speaking!! Etzali, that is not how you used to speak!!”
“…Hey, don’t stand up so suddenly, Xochitl. It’s an important job, so don’t get so mad just because your old friend has become a lady-killer. Just refer to him how you used to, as Etzali-oniichan.”
Tochtli’s grin made it clear that she had realized something and was gleefully pouring more oil on the fire.
“Etzali…” said Xochitl in a low voice. “If you don’t want to have it ripped off without the release spell, do something about that face right this instant.”
Unabara put on a vague smile as she clawed at his face like a cat.
“If I just suddenly started explaining about ‘them’, I don’t think you would understand, so I first need to explain magic and magicians which are the soil from which ‘they’ have grown,” said Birdway.
That must have been nothing more than a world Kamijou Touma was already knowledgeable of because he showed no sign of surprise at hearing what Birdway said.
The main audience for that explanation was Accelerator and Hamazura Shiage.
“As I’m sure you have already guessed, magic is unrelated to your scientific laws. It is what is known as the occult. Those who use it are able to shoot fire from their hands, shoot water out, heal wounds, or make wounds rot.”
Hamazura felt that it would have spread even more than scientific esper powers if it was truly something that convenient.
As if in response to Hamazura’s doubts, Birdway glanced over at Index.
Index spoke from a position a bit away from the kotatsu.
“But magic is not that convenient. If you exclude certain exceptions, magic essentially exists to allow those without talent to catch up to those with talent.”
“Simply put, the incompetent use it to supplement what they cannot do properly on their own,” Birdway finished.
Humans could of course not fly without using tools.
It may have been possible for the espers that Academy City had brought forth, but that was still a method supported by a scientific approach.
And that remained true whether it was an esper artificially created using drugs and electric stimuli or one of the people known as Gemstones who were espers that had been created by chance due to a combination of things in the natural environment.
“Someone envied them.”
That smile did not have a single bit of warmth in it and would freeze anyone who saw it.
“In a time before there was a distinction between science and the occult, someone was jealous of some kind of religious miracle or the powers they saw in a natural esper which the environment had created by pure chance. This person did not understand what they saw, but he yearned for it. He wanted to be special himself, and he began to feel that it was unacceptable for him be normal. That was how it began.”
That was why magic and religion were so strictly partitioned off.
Most often, the idea of humans trying to catch up with true miracles was seen as arrogant.
The pure-white nun said, “…Magic prospered as a whole because even if the world is overflowing in mystery, it does not necessarily function in humans' favor.”
“But this magic that was created out of the incompetence complex of the incompetent is quite convenient. For example, the scientific powers you use are just one per person, right?”
“Well, yeah,” said Hamazura.
However, he did not rely on his power as he was a Level 0, so he did not have a real sense of whether it was convenient or not.
Accelerator cut in with an additional explanation.
“…If you want to change your attack pattern, the main issues are how to apply your base power and whether you can actually do it or not. For example, a fire-producing esper could use that fire to create smoke and rob their opponent of oxygen. What of it?”
Instead of Birdway, it was Kamijou who responded.
“Magic does not have that restriction.”
“Exactly. That is why we can freely produce fire.”
Birdway snapped her fingers, and a lighter-sized flame appeared on the end of her index finger.
She snapped her fingers again, and a golf ball-sized sphere of water put out the flame.
“Of course, there is a set of laws at the base of it all. It could be Celtic or Norse, for example. But even then, there is no strict division. Things from one base can be drawn in by another base, like how Norse mythology was influenced by Celtic culture.”
“…That does sound more convenient when compared to us espers who can’t do anything about it once our power type and Level are known via the System Scan,” Hamazura muttered.
Birdway meaninglessly puffed out her chest in pride.
“Yes, it is convenient. It doesn’t matter if it’s wanting to fly or wanting to be popular with the ladies. Once you have a clear goal, you just have to create a supernatural setting so that things will end up the way you want. Compared to you, where it is dependent on your inherent talent, that works as a major advantage. Of course, the delicate adjustments are an indispensable hardship.”
(If that’s true…) Hamazura thought, (maybe even one branded as untalented like me can gain the power needed to protect Takitsubo, Mugino, Kinuhata, and Fremea from any coming threats.)
But then Index started speaking.
“But you all mustn’t use magic.”
“Eh? What do you mean?”
Hamazura let out a puzzled cry, but Accelerator gave no real reaction, as if he knew something.
Birdway said, “Weren’t you listening? Magic is a technique created to allow those without talent to catch up to those with talent. It’s an issue of the format. It was not created for people who have talent in the first place. If you force yourself to use it, it would put a massive burden on your blood vessels and nerves.”
Kamijou Touma cut in there.
“By the way, even if you’re a Level 0, you still had the inside of your head messed with by Academy City’s tech. Due to that, I can’t use magic either. …The same most likely goes for those in Skill-Out.”
“Magic is just as much of a collection of specialized skills and knowledge as science is. The supernatural setting takes time and effort. It would be more efficient for you to refine the skills you have than to spend over ten years preparing something that would send you to a bloody grave the first time you used it.”
“Then why are you giving us this long-ass lecture?”
“Because ‘they’ are baring their fangs using that setting,” said Birdway in response to Accelerator’s question. “Even if you can’t use it, it’s still good to know the rules behind it if you are going to be creating a countermeasure. Or do you just plan on continuing to fumble around against a mysterious enemy that uses some unknown set of laws?”
“What’s the actual process used?” asked Accelerator in a low voice.
In the final stages of the war in Russia, he had brought about a similar-seeming phenomenon by using the information from some mysterious parchments as the base and switching out some of the secondary operations.
But that voice and that glare that could make even the darkness of that city tremble had no effect on that girl.
“That of course changes based on the denomination and the school of thought.” Birdway shooed away the troublesome-seeming calico cat that had jumped up on the table. “Basically, it all starts by refining one’s life force into magic power. Even in the magic side, there are a flood of different theories as to the definition of the soul, so this part is rather difficult to explain… If you think of the energy flowing through the human body as crude oil, then it is necessary to refine it into gasoline before using magic.”
Index picked up the explanation from there.
“One simple method is to use certain breathing techniques. But that is just one example of controlling one’s body. It can also be meditation, warming-up exercises, or fasting. Basically, you just have to manipulate bodily functions such as the flow of blood and the rhythm of the organs to bring them to the values you want.”
“…As people with some scientific knowledge, you probably know this, but most of the internal organs cannot be consciously controlled. Forcing a change in them is what allows one to refine that normally unreachable energy. But the internal organs function automatically because the alternative is dangerous. It’s the same reason that a computer’s system files are hidden by default. If someone without the proper knowledge were to mess with them, there is a danger of it coming back to bite them in the ass. In the past, that kind of thing seems to have been mistaken for divine punishment or a curse,” Birdway said. “Once you have the magic power needed to use magic, you just have to manipulate that power into the form that matches your wishes. There are many different types of vehicles, such as cars, motorcycles, boats, and airplanes, but they all still spin turbines using explosive power. …If you want to cross the ocean, you first need to think about what kind of vehicle you need, and you need to create the most suitable fuel by refining crude oil.”
Birdway adjusted her legs within the kotatsu.
“This magic power is manufactured from the power that humans naturally possess, so it can be controlled relatively easily by the human will. But commands are needed for that purpose. It is possible to construct them from nothing, but that is just too inefficient. It’s much easier to reference an already existing legend or story. After all, the legends that are still widely known today and have not been weeded out are the ones that have a suitable answer in them.”
“'That have not been weeded out'? 'A suitable answer'?” asked Kamijou despite having already witnessed magic to a certain extent.
Index mimed holding a pen in her right hand.
“It is easier to write with your hand than with your foot. And it is usually easier to write with your right hand than with your left. …That is common knowledge that has spread throughout most of the world. Do you follow me so far?”
“But it is easier to write with your right hand because people have been writing with their right hands for ages and ages. The parent teaches the child, and the child teaches the grandchild. It keeps getting passed down like that. As many people have continued writing with their right hands, a method of neatly writing has naturally formed around that. …If people had started writing with their left feet from the beginning, then a culture of writing with the left foot would have been created.”
“So, creating a command from nothing is like beginning to practice writing with one’s left foot now?” muttered Kamijou.
“But even so, the new application of magic power is not impossible. If you worked hard and mastered that path, you may even catch up to the right hand. But would that have any meaning? Maybe if you could not use your right hand, but when you can use your right hand, it’s much more efficient to just use it. And the optimization of this age’s culture is moving ahead in that way. And the situation changes even more depending on whether you are using a religious system in order to create the phenomenon you want or are trying to create a phenomenon within your faith in a religious system,” Birdway said. “One can use magic just by sending magic power through one’s own blood vessels and nerves and by creating symbols with one’s gestures. However, when performing more precise ceremonies, specialized tools are often used. For example, when referencing a story involving a legendary spear, it is more efficient to actually swing around a spear. Think of it as the difference between drawing a straight line with just a pen and drawing it with a straightedge.”
She said that, but old-fashioned legendary items were not necessarily needed.
The shape and function were all that was needed, so a plastic umbrella or a clothesline pole could be used in place of the spear. But adding details decreased the odds of failure, so various additional things could be done, such as attaching a knife to the end of the plastic umbrella.
Things like that may end up looking like mysterious objects with no real meaning behind them to a normal person.
“Those tools are known as spiritual items. With some exceptions, spiritual items are nothing more than tools. They are not something that is equipped to the oil refinery that is a magician. When a magician holds a spiritual item, the item becomes a part of the magician’s body, and a portion of the magic power flowing through his blood vessels and veins is circulated through it. A staff that shoots fire will only function once that much is done. But power can also be provided remotely, and with certain spiritual items, the magic power will circulate within it for a bit after the magician lets go of it,” Birdway explained. “These days, safety devices are incorporated into them, but in the past, the destruction of a spiritual item would sever that circulation and damage the magician. Symbolic weapons are the representative example of spiritual items. They are produced and consecrated by the user and no one else is allowed to touch them, but that is just out of fear that someone else interfering with it could cause the circulation to be incomplete.”
With Birdway’s knowledge of magic, she likely knew examples of such failures.
But she merely kept a thin smile on her face and moved on without mentioning any.
“If we think of spiritual items in terms of the theatre, they include everything from the small props carried in the actors’ hands to the large props arranged on the stage. Means of support any larger than that would be a temple that I guess could be said to correspond to the theatre itself. Of course, dividing things up raises their effectiveness.”
“By the way, so far I have only been explaining magic that is based on magic power refined by an individual. However, there are other types of energy. There are the leylines that cause things in the earth and Telesma which is a power accumulated in a different phase of this same world. That kind of power holds great energy, but unlike magic power, it often is aligned with an element from the beginning.”
To use that, it was necessary to choose magic that matched the nature of the energy rather than creating energy to use magic.
“There’s probably no real reason to explain this far,” Birdway prefaced her next explanation. “But that kind of power is activated by invoking it through the use of the magic power humans have. I suppose it’s similar to the relationship between a bomb and the fuse. The fuse creates a small explosion that causes a reaction that has tremendous explosive force. …This of course allows one to use spells of a level that would have been impossible with an individual’s magic power, but the great change in the scale of the ‘explosion’ increases the risks. …At any rate, just remember that someone who cannot use their individual magic power cannot use something on a large scale like Telesma either.”
Index then started to speak.
“There are some people who can directly control Telesma by using the similarity in their own magic power and the Telesma energy, but it is a rather rare case, so it is not too important that you know about it. …And because of the great amount of power those people use, they are greatly restricted by the angels that correspond to their type. Due to this, they are unable to use normal magic and their overall level of freedom drops.”
Birdway completely ignored the cat lying face-up right in front of her as she started speaking again.
“Now then, all this has been an explanation of the structure at the base of a magician, but that is not the most important thing you need to know in order to understand magicians.”
“…What do you mean?”
“It is an issue of identity. For what purpose do magicians wield magic? If you do not know that, you cannot speak of magicians.”
“So this is about the structure of their organizations? They stand opposite Academy City, right? They must control truly good-for-nothing organizations.”
“I will explain that in a bit, but first I’m going to teach you something more basic about magicians.” Birdway grinned. “State religions, magic cabals, tribes… Magicians do of course form those kinds of organizations, but very few magicians will sacrifice themselves for those organizations. They only wield their power for themselves. Well, there are some groups built up of magic users who claim that sacrificing themselves for their organization is their personal goal, but the personal aspect still remains.”
Accelerator looked confused because he could not imagine that.
That may have been because he had been put inside a large organization and had continually been bound by it.
“As has been said, magicians are people with no talent.”
“What do you mean?”
“There are setbacks in life. You may fail in saving a loved one from an incurable disease, or you may end up fighting and killing comrades during a famine. …No one would even think of trying to overcome the laws of physics if they did not have an experience like that. People who are satisfied will just stay where they are. The people who rely on the supernatural power of magic have reasons leading them to do so.”
After saying that, Birdway jabbed her thumb into the center of her small chest.
“Magicians carve that goal into themselves in Latin. These are known as magic names. Mine is Regnum771, and Mark over there’s is Armare091. The numbers on the end are to prevent duplicates. …We clearly decide on our goal and put together spells in order to accomplish that goal, so to us, an organization is nothing more than a booster used to realize our magic names. If we can use them, we will honor them and swear loyalty to them, but if they will not carry out that role, we will grow disillusioned and mercilessly cut ourselves from them. Academy City alone produces and manages all espers as the project of a giant organization. Compared to you, our way of thinking is different at the very core.”
“…Does that even work?” Accelerator asked doubtfully. “If everyone is just using their power however they want, the controlling organizations wouldn't be able to have their wishes carried out by those at their outer edges. Wouldn’t that just fall apart on its own?”
“Of course, the magic side organizations have their own rewards and punishments prepared,” replied Index. “There are large ceremonies that cannot be carried out by an individual, and there are often pursuit units to take care of traitors. But none of that matters in the face of a magic name.”
Everyone fell silent, and Birdway continued.
“That is why the magician named Sherry Cromwell entered this city on her own in order to cause a war between the magic side and the science side. It is also why Lidvia Lorenzetti took the Croce di Pietro without permission in order to rule Academy City. …No matter how large the organization they are a part of is, those who will do something will do it. Even if one’s magic name would smash the system of the world to pieces, a true magician would not hesitate to carry it out. And that remains true even if it extends beyond the magic side they live in and involves the other world as well.”
“…So ‘they’ are like that, too?” Accelerator muttered.
Even the #1 who knew the darkness quite well had too much he did not know. He envisioned a set of scales hidden beneath the surface that would decide whether Academy City would remain or be destroyed.
“Whoever ‘they’ are that you are fighting without my knowledge, they have magic names, too?”
Birdway grinned at that question.
“That is why it was necessary for me to explain the basics of magic before explaining ‘them’.”
Silence fell over the dorm room.
Those three boys who had been stained with the rules of Academy City thought for a bit.
Kamijou Touma had to have already known of the situation to a certain extent, so he was likely thinking through it all again after hearing Birdway’s explanation.
“(…The problem is which set of rules will succeed if science and magic clash- no, technically that isn’t it. If things tilt in either direction, the situation will no longer be one where both sides can accept the other in the end. If we want to truly resolve this, we need to create a third side that does not belong to the other two.)”
Accelerator sorted through the information of that world he had touched on in the past and had now taken a large step into.
“(…I have no interest in magic or an unknown world, but if the aftereffects of some people doing things without my knowledge will reach the areas I do know about, that changes. I’m still not sure exactly who ‘they’ are, but it looks like I need to get some more detailed information.)”
And Hamazura Shiage stared blankly as if he were deep in thought.
“(…Y’know, when I think about it, 'omanma' is just barely a Japanese word.)”
At the other end of Hamazura’s gaze was the cat devouring the contents of a plate that Index had put down.
Hamazura Shiage was the type who was very bad at paying attention to what a school principal was saying. Leivinia Birdway put on an expressionless face, and forcefully struck his cheek with the palm of her small hand.
“…You fell asleep while I was explaining all that, didn’t you?”
“I didn’t, I didn’t! I was listening!!”
“Then tell me what I was talking about!!”
“Eh… Umm… 'if you drink milk, your tits will get bigger'…?”
“…I assume I can take that as you challenging me to a fight.”
“Then was it 'if someone drinks tits, their milk will-'?”
“That doesn’t even make sense!! Ahh, go wash your face!!”
Between the Lines 1
Southwest of England, near Land’s End, Kanzaki Kaori lightly breathed in the smell of the sea wind through her nostrils. She purposefully looked around her surroundings to renew her focus.
The ocean surrounded her in all 360 degrees.
Her footing moved slightly up and down, matching the rhythm of the waves.
However, she was not aboard a boat.
She was on top of a pitch-black submarine poking above the ocean’s surface.
“…I never thought that a magician such as myself would be receiving the assistance of one of these,” she muttered.
A familiar voice reached her from the card-shaped spiritual item next to her ear. On the other side of the spiritual communication item was Sherry Cromwell from the Anglican Church.
“It’s because England does not currently have any ground-based facilities from which to fire a ballistic missile. Of course, the same goes for rocket facilities that use missile technology for peaceful purposes.”
In that country, ballistic missiles were primarily SLBMs- that is, submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
Launching a manned rocket from a submarine was unprecedented, but it was not impossible given the technology. The reason that more facilities did not do it was that they had no reason to. Unlike ballistic missiles, there was no reason to hide the launching point of a manned rocket being used for a (supposedly) peaceful purpose. In fact, if it was not announced beforehand, it could be mistaken for a missile and shot down and a ballistic missile could even be fired back in retaliation.
The reason that Kanzaki was using such a roundabout method was simple.
As Sherry had said, England had no ground-based launching facilities.
“Let me double-check. We are using this rocket as a means to interfere with Radiosonde Castle which is at an altitude of 52,000 meters, right?”
“Yes,” responded Sherry. “Neither an aircraft nor a rocket is suitable for use at that altitude. They’re likely staying there for that very reason. That is why we are sending a rocket up into space first and then having it reenter the atmosphere to land on top of Radiosonde Castle.”
“…That certainly is a broad plan.”
“That is why we called you. A Saint can probably force that broad plan to work. You’ll go up and then fall back down. …It sounds simple in words, but there are a lot of challenges. There had to be countermeasures against cosmic rays and the heat of the atmosphere, there’s the issues of the pressure and the oxygen, and then there’s the flight dynamics technology that goes into landing accurately on top of Radiosonde Castle.”
“So you’re saying that just dropping the rocket down from above the fortress is not enough.”
“Magical flight may be blocked, but a rocket made of scientific technology is truly defenseless against magic. Just in case, it would be best to maintain an environment with magical protection while reentering the atmosphere.”
“…Do we still not know whether Radiosonde Castle is from the magic side or the science side?”
“Orsola and others are investigating that now, but I doubt they’ll have an answer by the time you launch,” Sherry responded bitterly. “We don’t know which techniques it uses. Of course, we also do not know why it is floating there. Is there a meaning in it being there? Is there a meaning in bringing it down? We don’t even know that. We have not heard anyone saying what they intend to do with it. It has been complete silence. We can’t even be sure that we will ever find out who is behind it as the situation develops.”
“I understand that I should use some magical protection, but what about magic interfering with the flight?”
“Oh, that is only an issue when you are trying to keep a stable flight. For this, everything up until you reach orbit will be carried out by the scientific rocket. After that, you will only be falling. Peter’s spell brings down things that are actually flying. It will not be very effective on something that is simply falling.”
Finding loopholes was the basis of magic.
Those loopholes would be closed up each time, but then you just had to find a new loophole opened up by that change. That repeated cycle in construction caused the entire magic side to writhe like a living being.
At that time, the submarine’s hatch opened, and a member of the crew peered out. He gestured to get Kanzaki’s attention. Making sure she was looking at him, the crew member spoke.
“It’s almost time!! Please come inside and head to the missile tube. Head through the maintenance passageway, and climb inside the rocket.”
“And…” said the crew member, sounding troubled.
The submarine was being borrowed on the orders of Queen Elizard, but the crew did not properly understand magic. Many occult phenomena had occurred during British Halloween and World War III, but that was not enough to grasp how it all worked.
“We do not have any spacesuits aboard. Did you bring that kind of thing with you?”
“No,” Kanzaki simply responded.
She did not realize that the smooth way she had spoken had sent the crew member down into confusion.
“Y-you don’t mean that you intend to go up in your jeans like that, do you!?”
“I do. This just does not seem like an incident where a normal spacesuit would be of any use.”
- A slang term for rice