Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume2 Chapter3
Chapter 3: Accepted One, but There is Unrest. Lecture_Three.
“Christianity, the largest religious organization in the world, is divided between the old and new forms of Catholicism and Protestantism. And Catholicism is made up of three giant organizations,” said Leivinia Birdway. “Namely, the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, and the Russian Orthodox Church.”
Even if they did not know much about the occult, the names of those churches were in their textbooks. Those organizations were known worldwide at that level.
“There has been friction between them in various forms for some time, but the trigger was directly pulled by a conflict concerning a Roman Catholic nun named Orsola Aquinas.”
The cat was cat-punching Fremea who was sitting on Hamazura’s lap, but the blonde girl was too deep in sleep to respond.
“This Orsola had supposedly deciphered the unparalleled magician Crowley’s grimoire, so the Roman Catholic Church acted to assassinate her in order to preserve their ruling position. The Anglican Church interfered and dealt with the problem by getting help from Academy City in secret. …Doing so clearly put them in an opposing position.”
Not even Birdway who was explaining it knew the meaning behind being able to read that grimoire, but at the same time, she had no real desire to find out.
She knew all too well just how much a human mind would be contaminated by a grimoire related to Crowley and just how tragic an end a magician that read one would meet.
“Afterwards, the Roman Catholic Church attacked Academy City a few times, but they were stopped each time by an idiot with a special right hand. Well, each of those events still fanned the flames that led to war though.”
Hearing it all explained in sequence like that made Kamijou realize again just how precarious the path he had walked was.
If he had failed during any one of those events, a great number of lives would have been lost. However, he could not help but feel resentment toward himself over the fact that those incidents had eventually led to that war.
“At that time, the Roman Catholic Church felt that they were at a disadvantage, so they started negotiations with the Russian Orthodox Church. They managed to bring the negotiations to their favor by using the fear that Academy City and the science side would hold the balance of the world. And it became necessary for the Roman Catholic Church to bring the secret treasure hidden amongst them out to the center stage.”
Birdway then spoke the name of the ones who controlled an entire age behind the scenes.
“…God’s Right Seat. The true dark side of the Roman Catholic Church that has 2 billion believers.”
The term “true dark side” brought silence to that small room.
The science side and the magic side were structured differently, but were Accelerator and Hamazura Shiage able to imagine what the nature of that darkness was?
It may have been because the topic was the large war that involved both science and magic, because her 103,000 grimoires had no knowledge of God’s Right Seat, or because her consciousness had been taken over during the course of that conflict, but Index did not open her mouth to speak. Instead, Birdway continued.
“You most likely understand a portion of the situations they caused. There was the strange incident where most of Academy City’s residents fainted on September 30th. There was the crisis caused by rioting all over the world that was resolved in the end by turning the French city of Avignon into a sea of flames. And there was the incident where devastating damage was done to Academy City’s largest underground district, District 22. …All of those were a portion of the clash between God’s Right Seat and that Imagine Breaker. A few of them may have had some kind of ripple effect into your scientific darkness, causing some kind of incident.”
September 30th and District 22…?
Hamazura frowned as he compared that to the information he had seen on the news.
0930 and Avignon…?
A slight tension ran through Accelerator based on his experience in the darkness.
They had been affected by those great events that had shaken the world and in some cases had helped bring them to a resolution.
But all of those events that could be referred to as the ripples created by a large explosion had advanced without them knowing.
They learned anew just how deep and dark the area they were about to step into was.
“God’s Right Seat…” Hamazura muttered. “Who the hell are they?”
“I called them the true dark side of the Roman Catholic Church, but they are not the same kind of darkness as soldiers like you. In fact, they are the kind of darkness that controls soldiers like that in secret.”
“So they’re like the board of directors?”
“They also enjoy using themselves as test subjects, so I get the feeling that they’re a bit different from the higher ups of this city.”
As Fremea was asleep and was not reacting, the cat got up on the kotatsu and headed over towards Birdway. But she grabbed the cat by the scruff of its neck, and tossed it towards Kamijou, its owner.
“Simply put, God’s Right Seat is a group that tried to gain power on the same level as or an even higher level than the one and only God. Basically, in the Christian Church, you are stuck with your original sin until you die and undergo the final judgement, but there are precedents of exceptions, such as the Virgin Mary, where people had their original sin washed away while they were still alive. Achieving that by artificial means is the easy-to-understand goal of modern Western magic.”
Did Academy City of the science side that stood opposite the magic side have a goal like that?
While hearing about that other world, Accelerator’s thoughts also remained on the world closer to him.
“For God’s Right Seat, the Roman Catholic Church with its two billion believers was a convenient place for their research and remodeling. However, the Anglican Church, Academy City… and the idiot with the right hand binding the two organizations together were getting in their way by shaking the Roman Catholic Church which was their foundation. God’s Right Seat caused a few incidents on a level that had an effect on the world before the war, but those were all either aimed at Academy City and the science side or were specifically targeting Imagine Breaker.”
Those words made them shudder.
The reason that God’s Right Seat sent out their soldiers was different from some clash between nations.
Whether it was a nation or an individual, they would send out the same overwhelming force against it as long as it opposed their objective.
“So are you saying that the truth behind World War III was this God’s Right Seat bringing the fight to Academy City and England in order to maintain their rule?”
“No,” Birdway immediately replied to Hamazura’s question. “That war was removed from the wishes of God’s Right Seat as a whole.”
“While the plans of God’s Right Seat as a whole were arrogant, they were still just using secret tricks within the rules of Christianity. Simply put, they took various actions within the framework of Christianity. It’s possible that the members of God’s Right Seat considered themselves pious Christians.”
Birdway sounded as if she were somehow enjoying herself.
Perhaps it was because investigating the special mentality of those at the top of organizations like that was her specialty.
“But there was one member of God’s Right Seat who was too extremist,” Birdway said as she watched the cat curl up on Kamijou’s lap.
“His ideas went beyond the rules of Christianity. The Roman Catholic Church did not originally want to start such a large-scale war. With 2 billion believers spread out across the world, a global war could easily lead to them destroying their own land. …Yet this person gave his own objective priority and caused that major war for reasons separate from the objectives of the Roman Catholic Church or God’s Right Seat.”
That was the source of it all.
God’s Right Seat was twisted enough as it was, but they had been unable to stop that one person who was too much of an extremist even for them.
“Fiamma of the Right,” Birdway said, speaking his name. “He was a man who possessed another right arm, one different from that idiot’s.”
Itsuwa of the Amakusa Church was a maiden in love.
As such, even though Radiosonde Castle was floating at a great altitude and could cause damage on the scale of wiping out humanity at any moment, the knowledge of that boy’s survival had a large effect on her mental state.
Itsuwa was analyzing various pieces of data in the main hall of St. George’s Cathedral, but her efficiency had dropped below half of normal.
She was in a very good mood.
She could not focus on anything.
The information being created within her body vastly overshadowed the information that was entering from outside her body. So many opinions, thoughts, and ideas were bewilderingly flying back and forth in her head that she could not organize it all.
To put it simply, she was really losing her cool.
A tall man named Tatemiya Saiji who was the former substitute pontiff of the Amakusa Church could not ignore how she was acting, so he took action.
He lightly tossed a bamboo sword towards Itsuwa.
She timidly caught the bamboo sword with both hands.
“I’ll help you optimize your thoughts using a fairly old method. I doubt you’ve had many opportunities to use one of these since we came to London. How about you try to come at me?” said Tatemiya with another bamboo sword resting on his shoulder.
“O-oh, but my proper weapon is a spear…” Itsuwa said in a quiet and hesitant voice as she held the bamboo sword forward with both hands.
Her stance alone was enough to stiffen the atmosphere of the area, so she had to be fairly skilled.
And then two blonde nuns who knew nothing of the Japanese spirit started pointing and whispering excitedly.
“L-look, Sister Lucia! I think a Japanese samurai battle is starting!!”
“A nun should not be cheering on a fight, Sister Angelene.”
“I bet they’re going to do a Shinken Shirahadori! That’s where they go like this and catch it between their hands!!” said Angelene as she clapped her hands together above her head.
Hearing the girl getting excited, an odd sweat started coming from Tatemiya’s face.
The Amakusa Church had evolved independently while matching the culture of Japan, so they of course knew all sorts of Eastern spells… but their techniques were specialized for real battles. He knew nothing of techniques like the Shinken Shirahadori that would definitely prove one to be a true master if they could pull them off, but they did not seem like techniques where proper situations would come up much.
However, he could not betray those pure and sparkling eyes.
Itsuwa whispered, “U-umm, what are we, uhh, going to do?”
“…We have no choice.”
Tatemiya tossed his bamboo sword aside, making him truly unarmed.
He then stared straight at Itsuwa and shouted out,
“Come, Itsuwa!! Let’s show them an authentic bushido Shirahadori!”
“Ehh!? You’re seriously going to do it!? This may be a bamboo sword, but you’re not wearing any protection!!”
Likely due to Itsuwa’s loud voice, more nuns that had not shown interest up to that point started to gather around, wondering what was going on. Before long, the large room was filled with a few hundred people. Kouyagi and Ushibuka who were also from the Amakusa Church joined in the crowd, grinning.
Itsuwa could no longer back down, and her shoulders lowered.
“I-I’ll be going. How about on the count of three?”
“I don’t need any signal like that! Just come at me!!”
“Th-three, two, one…”
The sound of Itsuwa’s bamboo sword sinking into Tatemiya’s head resounded throughout the cathedral.
Everyone’s movements stopped.
Itsuwa, the one who had gotten that clean hit in, stood speechless, her mouth opening and closing. Tatemiya had his hands awkwardly stopped above his head, making it clear to everyone there that he had not been able to react to the bamboo sword in time.
(I-I have to follow through for him…)
Due to the Japanese concept of living in disgrace, the refined Yamato Nadeshiko that was Itsuwa immediately had her thoughts turn to the gentlemen standing before her.
(If I don’t, the former substitute pontiff will turn to pure-white ash!!)
“Th-that was just a practice run, right!? It doesn’t count!!”
But Tatemiya merely wordlessly moved his lips to say, “Y-you idiot. That means we have to try it at least once more now, doesn’t it!?”
However, what had been said could not be unsaid.
The second attempt began.
The result Tatemiya Saiji was met with did not even need to be explained.
The former substitute pontiff seemed to be floating in the air due to his bowed legs and his weak knees, so it truly looked like he was going to turn to ash and be blown away by the wind that time.
(I-I-I have to do something!!)
Itsuwa had now lost her cool in multiple ways.
“I-it’s because this is a bamboo sword, isn’t it!? This weighs nothing like a real sword used in battle. It’s just so light that you can’t get your timing right!!”
“…I-idiot. Itsuwa, you idiot!!”
Just as Tatemiya was about to give some kind of rebuttal, his fellow Amakusa member, Kouyagi, spoke up.
“Then how about you use this imitation sword? It’s made of forged steel, so its weight should be the same as a real Japanese sword. …And it makes up for its lack of a blade by being tougher than a real one.”
“K-K-K-K-K-K-K-K-Kouyagi!! I know you’re doing this on purpose!!”
The sound of something very serious happening to a skull resounded.
Tatemiya Saiji gave up all pretense of shame or reputation and writhed about while clutching his head. Itsuwa’s inability to properly follow through had brought her confusion to its maximum.
“Ah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah!!” she exclaimed while frantically spinning her head around at high speed. “An imitation sword isn’t good enough!! No one uses one of these in a real battle! It has to be a real sword! With a true Japanese sword, he could catch it every time, but there’s nothing like that here in the cathedral, so nothing can be done about it!”
“Oh, but there is one. Here, use this Bateren-Dedicated Kanemitsu Toushou.”
Tsushima, an Amakusa woman with fluffy blonde hair, handed something to Itsuwa with the best possible timing. Itsuwa trembled and looked over at Tatemiya Saiji.
In the girl’s hands was a first-rate sword that had never shown up on the center stage of history.
It was a Japanese sword created to be used for Western magic.
It was also known as the Book Slicer, a name based on a legend of slicing a bound book of around 1000 pieces of Japanese paper in a single swing. And it could do that purely with the sharpness of its edge. Simply put, 1000 pieces of paper was at a level where not even a magnum bullet could pierce it. Also, adding magic power into it would activate its functions as a spiritual item while increasing its destructive power even further. What would happen if that was done?
“Ohh! It looks like it’ll be the real thing this time! This time he’ll catch it!!” said one of the nuns, her eyes sparkling.
Upon hearing that, Tatemiya quietly said, “…I-I think we’ve taken this far enough. We’ve gone more than far enough to get an award for our efforts, so relax your arms there, Itsuwa…”
“No.” Itsuwa slid the sword from its scabbard, and seemed to be preparing herself. “I can’t let any more shame be brought to you, Tatemiya-san. After spreading so much shame on you, it is my duty to at least decorate you with the perfect beauty. It is all fine as long as it ends on a high note.”
“Th-this has gone well past the level of shame!! If I take that head-on, I could easily become a teaching aid for an anatomy class! If you insist on doing it, at least swing it a little softer and slower, so I ca—Ah!? Wait, is this one of those times where someone who feels cornered has an awakening to an ability beyond what they normally have!? O-okay, I need to grasp the talent hidden within me and do my best to become the new protagonist!!”
The fearsome sound of that excellent sword slicing through the air resounded.
What fate would that blade bring as it swung down?
Find out next time!!
Accelerator stepped out onto the dorm’s balcony.
Just as Leivinia Birdway had mentioned the name Fiamma of the Right, her cell phone had started to ring. Apparently, it was from her little sister Patricia, so explanation time had been temporarily suspended.
He looked beyond the railing.
The sun had completely set, bringing the city to total darkness. The scenery was well-suited to his original nature.
He turned around and leaned his back up against the railing while drinking a mass-produced can of coffee.
He was getting sick of just how wide the world was.
Academy City was not all there was to the world. That city did not control all of the mysterious happenings in the world. He had vaguely sensed that during the war, but he had never thought it was to that extent.
It was just one piece.
The fact that all those fights and all those deaths had been far from the true center of it all had stolen much more strength from Accelerator’s core than he had expected.
He then heard a familiar voice.
It was not coming from within the room.
It was coming from the other side of the fireproof panel that divided that balcony from the neighboring room's.
“Hey. Are you feeling depressed because you’ve run across something even more stagnant just when you thought Academy City’s darkness had been dismantled?”
“Tsuchimikado…” Accelerator said, sounding annoyed.
Just like Accelerator, Tsuchimikado Motoharu had once belonged to Group, a unit for the select few.
“What the hell are you doing here?”
“You should’ve done your research before entering that room. I live next door.”
“Well, I’ve got a lot of free time now that Group is gone. You’re the one that caused it, so at least make up for it by keeping me company for now.”
Accelerator fell silent.
Finally, he opened his mouth to speak.
“How much do you know about the Freshmen?”
“Enough. I expected someone like them to show up.”
Tsuchimikado leaned on the railing while smiling. How did he see the situation?
Did he feel that he had escaped from the darkness? Or did he feel that he had been robbed of it?
“…Unabara and Musujime are probably thankful, although they won’t say it. They’re probably rather bewildered right now, but that’s how they’ll end up once they figure out how they actually feel about the situation. Although I’m not sure if they’ll just be able to leave alone the problems left dangling such as Aiwass and Dragon.”
“Talking about those who aren’t here won’t help anything,” Accelerator spat out. “…What about you?”
“Well,” Tsuchimikado’s smile receded just a bit. “To be honest, it’s not really an issue of good or bad for me.”
“Even with Academy City’s darkness dismantled, I still have things left to do. After all, I’m not just a spy for the science side. I’m deeply related to the darkness of the territory you have just stepped one foot into, so I’ll continue on the same as before. But I’ll make sure to not sink as low as the Freshmen,” said Tsuchimikado. “Whether it had any real effect or not, I’m thankful that you tried to help out me and the others around us.”
Accelerator clicked his tongue.
Tsuchimikado smiled at that.
“I won’t stop you from washing your feet of that darkness, but you need to establish your own stance. Transcending good and evil is not an excuse for becoming some indecisive bastard who doesn’t choose either. It’s a much more difficult path than simply relying on something easy to understand like good or evil.”
Suddenly, Accelerator heard clamoring footsteps on the pathway towards the front of the dorm. Someone ignored the shouts to stop coming from the men wearing all black, and the front door was blown open.
“Is this the scene of the crime, you thieving cat!? says Misaka as Misaka charges in!!”
“Honey!! This Misaka came to swing a glass ashtray down on you during the infidelity investigation!!”
Just as those noisy shouts came flying their way, Tsuchimikado silently straightened up from the railing beyond the fireproof panel and retreated into his room.
“What the hell are those damn brats doing here…?” Accelerator muttered in annoyance as Misaka Worst approached him with a small brand-name paper bag hanging down from her left hand which was not in a cast.
“Heeeyyyy!! Misaka attacked a few Freshmen strongholds and found some fun optional parts! Let’s have some fun remodeling that cool narcissistic girl with these cat ears and cat paw gloves!!”
Misaka Worst looked pleased at hearing a scream coming from the unit bathroom, but then she saw the room’s owner, Kamijou Touma. With a puzzled look on her face, she hid behind Accelerator’s back.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“Misaka has a feeling that guy is dangerous…” she whispered. “He seems like he would freely act for the sake of all Misakas, but that kind of action is like denying the value of this Misaka unit’s existence, as she is a collection of the malice within the network…”
Meanwhile, Fremea and Birdway inside the room were looking at Last Order with suspicion. When she noticed the two of them getting excessively close to her…
“'So one of you is the enemy!!' says Misaka as Misaka gets desperate in order to secure her position!!”
“God damn, they’re annoying…” Accelerator muttered.
Tsuchimikado Motoharu’s younger sister, Tsuchimikado Maika, sat formally atop a drum-shaped cleaning robot. It was nighttime and well past the time to be home from school as she headed smoothly down a walkway in Academy City.
A girl called out to Maika.
“Oh, what is it, Kumokawa?”
While still seated formally atop it, Maika banged on the cleaning robot with her palm in order to cause a slight error, bringing it to a stop.
While she held complete control over that cleaning robot, a girl wearing a maid uniform stood next to her. She was Kumokawa Maria, a classmate with a moderate chest size and long black hair in ringlet curls.
“…Your maid uniform is as shady-looking as ever. That kind should be left to the cafes in an electronics district.”
“I have a different goal,” said the girl as she played with the black ringlet curls in her hair.
She was wearing a miniskirt, a fluorescently colored corset, and a nameplate in the shape of a rabbit attached to her skirt, but she actually had some of the best grades at Ryouran Maid School.
“Unlike you, my goal is not to provide support for others.”
“You’ve told me that countless times already.”
“Luckily, I have what they call talent. And that holds true for Academy City’s psychic powers development as well as for school and sports. …But then I hardly ever get into any real predicaments. Continuing on without taking any real damage is fine, but I’ll be in trouble if I have no immunity to that kind of thing once I finally do end up in a truly bad predicament. That’s why I need my pride to be damaged to a level where it will not break. Like serving those who are clearly inferior to me.”
“Yes, yes, I’ve heard that already. Burp.”
“…What’s with you? And I was just getting to the good part.” Kumokawa had a displeased look on her face. “But that was some excellent seasoning. I just had my pride damaged. That means my strength will rise again! How wonderful!!”
“Ugh, classmates who get all worked up on their own are such a pain.”
“More importantly, Tsuchimikado…”
“You seemed overly excited before I called out to you. Did something happen?”
“I was utterly astonished because I saw a guy who I thought was dead suddenly appear before me.”
“A suspenseful development!? Hmm, but if I interfere too splendidly, I will end up swelling up my pride right after managing to get it damaged… My talent can be such a problem.”
“Sorry, but this person is my friend, you damn misunderstanding girl.”
“I see… I see!! Today is a day of strengthening concentrated on my pride!! Will I be able to handle all this good luck…!?”
“She’s not a sore loser, but she manages to be even more annoying,” muttered Maika in annoyance.
Her transcendent genius of a classmate, Kumokawa Maria, was once again taking applications for an incompetent and stupid master.
The world could be divided into a few different groups.
Depending on the basis one used to divide things up, the coloration of the world map would change, but the following was one of the possible divisions.
There was the magic side which was an aggregation of the occult, mysterious, and miraculous things that had affected the world in various ways since ancient times.
There was the science side which had existed since ancient times but had only started to have its presence known in recent times when it began rapidly repainting the common knowledge of the world.
And there was a third side that was greatly affected by the other two but was not strongly aware of their existences. That was the normal side.
Until very recently, it could have been described as peaceful or quiet, but that had become more difficult due to World War III.
But while that war had left many scars behind, normal people had a strength that let them return to normal lives.
“My husband is away from home for his job, and my daughter is living in a dorm. I don’t like how empty the house seems, but it is nice not having to worry about when they’ll be getting back,” said a woman named Misaka Misuzu.
She was a wife and a mother of one child, but she was also a college student. After acquiring the abilities and rhythm required to function as a housewife, Misuzu had breached the exam barrier and headed back to the life of a student.
It was a November night, but the indoor pool of the fitness club was kept at a nice temperature.
Another woman was immersed in the water next to her.
“My husband has so many trips that it seems like he never actually settles down in the house, and that's kind of scary.”
She was Kamijou Shiina. By coincidence, she was also the mother of a single child and the wife of a husband who was away for his job.
Incidentally, their children were in Academy City giving off sparks. Their husbands were not from the shounen manga-like science side or magic side. Instead, they were from a different kind of “other side”, like something from a business magazine where they took part in a money game where they did not know who the other was. However, the wives who looked younger than their actual ages had nothing to do with that. What was important for them was to float in the water and carry out their anti-aging aerobic exercises.
Misuzu glanced down at the wristband-shaped equipment she had borrowed from the fitness club to see if she had reached her target level of exercise.
“But why did you all of a sudden come here today? You hadn’t been coming for a while now…”
“Yes, yes. Well, I was worried about something or rather… Really, Touma-san suddenly went missing, and then I saw him at the edge of a report from Russia. And then when I asked Academy City about it, they wouldn’t give me a straight answer. …and so I didn’t really have the energy to spare for any hobbies.”
Part of what she had said had been spoken quietly and quickly, so Misuzu had been unable to catch it, but she just put on a very Japanese vague smile in response.
Meanwhile, some kind of switch seemed to have gotten flipped within Shiina, and she continued to speak to herself.
“And then today, Academy City suddenly contacts me to tell me he’s returned. And when I called them again to check on the situation, they wouldn’t tell me anything at all. Really, what is going on? This is because of Touya-san’s blood in his veins, isn’t it? Heh heh heh. Oh, dear. I think I might end up throwing a Blu-ray player at Touma-san as well. Heh heh heh heh heh.”
Misuzu saw a frightening shadow start to appear behind that smiling figure, and she backed away.
There were fathers and children who had been thrust into the center of a fight that would decide the fate of the world without anyone knowing, but the completely normal people who held those people's reins may have been a hidden element that could easily influence the history of mankind.
“Fiamma of the Right.”
After a short break, Birdway started speaking again.
After everyone was focused on her again, she continued.
“He was the leader of God’s Right Seat, the true dark side of the Roman Catholic Church, but he was a heretic. Unlike the other members, he alone did not take actions within the category of Christianity.”
Kamijou’s expression stiffened slightly.
But there was something other than pure hostility in that expression.
“However, his strength was real. In the beginning, he had various restrictions in place, but he managed to rid himself of them during the confusion of the coup d’etat in England. After that, almost no one could stand up to him. Many different forces played a part in World War III such as Academy City, the Anglican Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Russian Orthodox Church, but Fiamma of the Right held such power that he could easily be added to that list.”
It was not an issue of nation vs. nation.
Those groups were alliances of multiple nations. And Fiamma of the Right’s name could be added alongside them.
Kamijou Touma recalled just how terrifying he had been.
Accelerator, the #1, imagined just how terrifying he must have been.
Hamazura Shiage, a mere thug, was not even able to imagine how terrifying he must have been.
“Basically, if Fiamma of the Right had been able to release 100% of the special power stored within his body, the world would have ended. That was why he controlled the Roman Catholic Church that feared him, joined forces with the Russian Orthodox Church, and fought Academy City and the Anglican Church… It was all for the sake of preparing the conditions needed to release the power that resided in his right arm. That is the truth behind World War III.”
A war that was brought about for the sake of a single right arm.
Accelerator and Hamazura Shiage fell silent while staring into the world of magic and seeing a massive supernatural power that was hidden behind a global war.
“What was this Fiamma bastard trying to do?” Hamazura finally asked.
“That is quite simple,” Birdway responded bluntly.
That war had been nothing more than one of the pieces he was using.
Birdway readily explained what was in the mind of the despot who had seen it that way.
“He wanted to correct the inequalities in the world. He wanted to stop a tragedy that had occurred due to multiple coincidences that each had such low odds of happening that they could easily be called miracles. He wanted to bring peace to the world. He wanted to make everyone happy. …His ideas themselves were not too unusual.”
“What do those things have to do with that war at all? He’s the one that started it, right?”
“For Fiamma, all that mattered was the completion of his right arm. He truly believed that it had enough power to save the entire world because, in a certain way, it truly was possible. …He may have become twisted in the fact that he had a power that could clearly save the world. Even though there may have been other methods of saving the world, Fiamma could no longer see any but his own.”
Professional bakers might think that an oven was necessary to make bread.
But it could actually be made in a rice cooker or a microwave oven. You had to go through some special procedures and it took some effort to make the specialized tools, but an oven was not absolutely necessary. But the professionals who had a thorough knowledge of the normal method would become unable to free themselves of their preconceptions and preconceived notions.
Fiamma of the Right had held the power to save the world as if it were normal ever since he had been born, so to him, that knowledge was on the same level as the knowledge that humans walked on two feet.
“It’s a shame he’s gone, really,” Birdway commented. “For one, because of Fiamma himself, but more importantly because studying him may have been useful in analyzing that which is sleeping in an even deeper place, but… well, complaining about someone who’s gone won’t help anything.”
“The war is over. The world did not change. We’re still in this world of inequalities, and we have the freedom to win or lose to equality. …I take it Fiamma of the Right’s plan was not realized in the end,” Hamazura asked as if he were checking on things one by one.
Birdway smiled thinly.
“Yet peace did not come to the world like in some cheap RPG.”
“That war was for the purpose of bringing power back to Fiamma of the Right’s right arm, but he dragged his surroundings into it a little too much. His side alone was the Roman Catholic Church, the Russian Orthodox Church… and I guess the Russian army as a more normal military force. The enemy side was the Anglican Church and the troops of the science side with Academy City at the center. Those were the forces that came into direct conflict. If you added in the people who were caught up in it indirectly, you would probably find that the people who were completely unaffected by the war are in the minority. That holds true for the magic side, the science side, and even the normal people who are not a part of either.”
“Just having Fiamma alone come to an understanding was not enough for everyone around him to sheathe their swords…” Kamijou said. “Very few people understood his objective. Even fewer agreed with him. And it did not really matter what Fiamma was after. Those helping Fiamma, those opposing him, those with no relation to him… everyone who took part in that war was doing so in order to carry out their own goals. So, as long as their goals have not been accomplished, some of them found that the war ending would be a problem.”
Those who denied the end of the war.
Those who denied the new world.
Those who did not care if they caused a global tragedy as long as they could accomplish their own goals.
“You’re saying that’s…?”
“Yes, that is who ‘they’ are,” Birdway said with a smile. “We’ve finally gotten to the true topic at hand. World War III brought about ‘them’. In the dark places of the world, ‘they’ wield a power that most people do not understand.”
The hot water bottle girl Fremea stirred.
She had been sleeping while sitting in Hamazura’s lap with her lower body underneath the kotatsu, but she seemed to have woken up when Hamazura tried to move in order to head out to a nearby convenience store.
Fremea must have sensed that Hamazura was going to go out, because she grabbed his clothes with her small hand.
“I don’t know if you’re just half-asleep or what, but I can’t understand you unless you use your abilities in the field of language to their fullest.”
“Nothing to do… Bored… Stay here, Hamazura…”
“When you stay here for too long, my legs go to sleep.”
Fremea seemed to have no intention of moving.
Suddenly, Hamazura heard some kind of commotion coming from the front door of the dorm.
“Mh? I think I just heard Hamazura’s voice from in here,” said a girl’s voice.
And then someone turned the doorknob without even bothering to ring the doorbell despite it being a stranger’s dorm.
“Hamazura, are you he—”
Takitsubo Rikou, a girl in a pink track suit, trailed off and froze in place.
She had seen it.
Her boyfriend, Hamazura Shiage, had some strange little blonde girl sitting on his lap. That special position would make one the envy of the world’s gentlemen, but if you actually carried it out with someone you were meeting for the first time, you would definitely be violating various laws and regulations. Seeing that situation, Takitsubo’s sleepy eyes opened wide.
She then started crushing the front door’s doorknob in her grip with an expressionless face.
“…Hamazura, what are you doing…?”
“There’s something wrong with those creaking and cracking sound effects!! I didn’t think you were this kind of character!! This isn’t Mugino in that special makeup again, is it!?”
He said that, but Takitsubo Rikou was a valorous girl who had wandered through Academy City’s darkness while the Body Crystal had been eating away at her. She may have just not normally brought her full strength to the surface or she may have never had a chance to use it given the various side effects, so her strength may not have actually been lower than average.
“You suddenly disappeared during the day, and then I couldn’t contact you, and I spent so much time searching for you, and then I find you relaxing in some random room, and you’re even in a kotatsu flirting with a girl that has a familiar-looking face…”
“Eh? This doesn’t count as cheating, right!? This age difference is just out of the question!! And just so you know, I’m all about the big ones, so don’t worry, Takitsubo!!”
“…Kinuhata always says you’re super Hamazura-y, but I’m a little disappointed that it’s at the level of a wild beast…”
Fremea had just been about to fall into the world of dreams, so she started speaking in order to quiet Takitsubo despite not knowing what they were talking about.
“Fgyaah. Don’t say bad things about Hamazura. In the first place he may look hopeless, but he’s the person who risked his life and saved me when it came down to it. …Mumble mumble…”
Hearing that, Takitsubo expressionlessly bent the side of the door she was holding.
“No one knows that better than me!!”
“Wait, Takitsubo!! She’s just a kid!!” Hamazura frantically called out to his girlfriend who seemed like she was about to rip the metal door out and repeatedly beat them with it.
Then new assassins arrived.
Kinuhata Saiai and Mugino Shizuri stepped into the room as if they were pushing Takitsubo out of the way.
“Tch!! Takitsubo-san super contacted him first!! But if I’m not last, I can still avoid being a humiliating bunny!!”
“You fool!! That kind of idiosyncrasy is your department, right, Kinuhata!?”
As the two of them yelled back and forth, they charged toward Hamazura. It seemed that whoever touched him first would be the winner.
From their current positions, it looked like Kinuhata would be faster by just a bit, but…
“My legs are longer!!”
Mugino’s spear-like kick mercilessly struck Hamazura’s face.
Mugino ignored her target’s ridiculous shout and made a triumphant pose.
“Okay!! Punishment avoided!!”
“You have to be kidding me… This humiliation that’s on a level where it’ll remain in the history books has super fallen to me!?”
Mugino and Kinuhata started shouting at each other again, seemingly not noticing Fremea who was still sitting on Hamazura’s lap. Most likely, their spirits would drop by quite a bit in a few dozen seconds.
Before that could happen, Takitsubo asked a question with a puzzled expression.
“Huh…? You had to touch him?”
Mugino and Kinuhata both spun around.
It was clear who was going to have to undergo the punishment.
And the problematic time came.
Probably because Hamazura had moved quite a bit when he received that kick to the face, Fremea Seivelun awoke from sleeping on his lap.
When her gaze met Mugino’s, Mugino instinctively took a step backwards.
After all, a little girl who looked exactly like Frenda was looking at her!!
“A ghost!? Has Academy City’s analysis of the human body entered that realm!?”
“She sure is making herself look super young for a dead girl!! …Hm? By any super chance, is this the girl that #1 mentioned…?”
Fremea must have still been half-asleep, because she rubbed at her eyes.
Hamazura pressed up against his nose and said, “…Ow ow ow ow. Th-that’s right. Her name is Fremea Seivelun. It seems she’s Frenda’s little sister.”
Fremea seemed to notice that her name had been spoken, so she looked around with vacant eyes.
Hamazura felt that he had to introduce the others to Fremea now that he had introduced her to them.
“Oh, Fremea. This person is named Mugino Shizuri, and she…”
After getting that far, a question came to his mind.
How was he supposed to explain it?
An unpleasant sweat started pouring from his back.
He couldn’t exactly say that she was the lady who got pissed and chopped her sister in half. But he also felt that it was too much to just gloss it over altogether and say Mugino was a wonderful partner for Fremea since they had both escaped from the darkness of Academy City.
While Hamazura remained frozen in place, Mugino casually spoke.
“I’m the girl who killed your sister. Nice to meet you.”
“Heeeeeeyyyyy!!” Hamazura yelled out, and moved Fremea from his lap and to the side.
He then tried to grab Mugino’s arm and move her to the edge of the room, but she instead got him into a joint lock. As he yelled in pain, he somehow managed to get a bit away from Fremea.
It seemed that Fremea had still been half-asleep and hadn’t understood what Mugino had said.
“…What the hell are you saying, Mugino-san!? That’s too fast!! You can’t just come out to her that fast!! Why did you become so frank and open all of a sudden!?”
“I came clean.”
“That isn’t exactly something to be proud of here!! Oh, no. Fremea’s looking this way. I’ll go say something to fool her, so just don’t make this situation any more complicated than it already is!!”
With vacant eyes, Fremea started chewing on a three-dimensional puzzle, and Hamazura had to tell her that it wasn’t an apple. Mugino started watching them, but then she realized that a new form had entered the room.
It was Accelerator who had returned from the convenience store with a can of coffee.
“I have no interest in those good-mannered rankings. Actually, why the hell are you even here?”
If it was between normal people, the conversation may have simply disappeared amongst the mundane noises of the city, but with those two, it was different. Just a few words from them sliced through the atmosphere of that room.
Mugino continued without really changing her expression.
“I happened to run into a relative of a girl I killed a while back. I told her about it, but it doesn’t look like it got across to her.”
“Since I’ve been deeply involved with the darkness, the odds of Anti-Skill arresting me or being put on trial are more or less zero. …As such, I felt that this was the only way for me to make up for my crime.”
“If you want to just whitewash over it like that, fine. But if doing so drags another person into the darkness, you have your priorities backwards.”
“Then I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen. And I’ll use whatever means it takes. I have no intention to rely solely on what is good.”
That was the extent of the conversation.
#1 and #4. That single-room dorm was not exactly big, but they clearly took different paths.
In order to allow things to move ahead smoothly, Hamazura decided to have the members of Item kill some time outside.
As such, he pushed their backs while begging them to leave.
“Get out! Just get out! The bunny? I’ll make sure to see that. You can count on it!! I won’t let that slide. In fact, I’ll have all of you be bunnies!!”
As a result, they all scattered off with truly displeased looks on their faces (including his supposed girlfriend Takitsubo).
When Hamazura returned to the kotatsu, Birdway got to the core of the topic at hand.
It began with a question from Accelerator.
“So, what exactly are ‘they’?”
Everything they had discussed up until then was collected there.
In order to explain it, a lot of preliminary explanations had been necessary.
“Academy City, the Anglican Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Russian Orthodox Church, and all the other forces that got wrapped up in that conflict were merely groups that had a part in that war. As an organization that was created due to World War III, ‘they’ are a different type altogether.”
Kamijou and Hamazura listened to Accelerator’s words.
“Where did ‘they’ come from?”
And then the #1 asked another simple question:
“Actually, what is ‘their’ name?”
“Well,” Birdway said, and paused for a second before continuing. “Let me warn you first. Most likely, the answer as to what ‘they’ had to do with World War III will probably betray your expectations.”
“Are you still planning on evading my question?”
“No, I won’t do that. It’s just that a lot of preparations are needed before we get to the backbone of the matter. However, that would be rather painful for you, so let’s leave the backbone aside for now and just start with ‘their’ name.”
“‘Their’ name is exceedingly simple as it denotes what ‘they’ are in this world. If it was too difficult to understand and didn’t convey anything to anyone, it would be meaningless,” said Birdway smoothly. “Yes. ‘Their’ name is…”
Between the Lines 3
Kanzaki Kaori’s feet touched down on the upper surface of the giant structure.
It was Radiosonde Castle.
Its altitude was so great that there was nothing even remotely like clouds near it. Both above it and below it was a color halfway in between indigo and black. Much farther down, the familiar blue could be glimpsed.
The surface below her feet felt similar to stone. Radiosonde Castle was in the form of a giant cross and appeared to be made up of a jumbled assembly of multiple churches and temples. The styles of construction were all different, but the level of damage to the stones was all even. Everything was new.
Simply put, it seemed that a single type of material had been built up into that giant shape in order to look like it had been created from a collection of churches and temples from around the world.
“I have landed!! I am about to head down to the lowest level of Radiosonde Castle and begin interfering with the balloons as needed. Help me with the values and calculations!!”
Agnese’s voice immediately reached Kanzaki’s ear.
“Understood. Depending on its rate of descent, we will choose one of two target areas for it to fall either into the Indian Ocean or in the Pacific Ocean. First destroy just one of the balloons so we can determine just how much of its lift it'll lose. With some definite values from that, we can calculate a method from there.”
On the bottom of Radiosonde Castle were over 200 giant metal balloons. It was unlikely that destroying just one would cause the entire structure to suddenly fall.
Whether it was from the magic side or the science side, she had not yet noticed anyone onboard.
(…When I landed, I was not obstructed by any magic or anti-aircraft weaponry.)
However, she could not be sure, as Radiosonde Castle was simply too large. It was possible that some personnel were hidden elsewhere and they may have simply not used any magic or guns to intercept her.
She simply could not tell what they were thinking even after actually setting foot on that giant facility.
That made Kanzaki feel uneasy.
The staircase was similar to scaffolding at a construction site, but the actual materials making it up were the same as the rest of the temple's. It looked as if the walls had been twisted and forcibly made into stairs like a sugar sculpture.
“…We only have the records from long-distance observation to compare to, but it really does seem to be imitating the Star of Bethlehem.”
“That served the function of modifying the flow of power on a global scale, so it was essentially a giant switching device. So is this one the same…?”
“But I can’t discern any goals which would make sense for that. Really, it feels like a transformer with no electricity flowing through it. I can’t imagine what important reason this thing could have.”
“If its purpose isn't to float up there, maybe it's to be dropped on something?”
“Unless they just want the end of the world or something, I don’t think anyone would want that kind of indiscriminate destruction.”
Whether it was meant to float up there or drop down, she could not find any logical aim.
Of course, making a structure that large fly would require massive costs to prepare, carry out, and maintain.
That fact gave Kanzaki a bad feeling.
The small fact that she could not see what they were after invited in a great unease. It made her think that she was making a major misunderstanding.
“…I’ve arrived at the lowest level.”
Kanzaki forcibly cut off her negative thoughts and focused on the situation in front of her.
The ceiling above was made of thick stone, and the blue sky could be seen far below her feet. Scenery she could never have seen on the surface spread out below her. The place she was standing in truly did seem to be based on construction scaffolding. She was on a passageway made of a narrow mesh that was hanging down from the stone ceiling.
It was similar to construction scaffolding in its form, but it was made of stone. Also, it did not seem like the people that had built it were thinking of safety standards at all. Kanzaki looked around while constantly paying attention to her footing.
She saw giant spherical tanks that were a few dozen meters across.
They were hanging down like fruit from the giant stone structure that was a few dozen kilometers across. As there was nothing else to compare their size to, the scene messed with her sense of scale.
“The method it uses to float is still unknown. If it does use some kind of gas, you need to keep in mind the possibility that it is flammable.”
“The balloons themselves are large, but Radiosonde Castle is simply so huge that there is little risk of other balloons exploding if a flammable gas in one explodes.” Kanzaki calmly analyzed the situation. “In fact, what would get caught up in the blast would be the scaffolding around the balloons. I would like to avoid leaving before all the work is done.”
The metal balloons and the scaffolding were both hanging down from the giant stone structure above her head. She had no idea how far its effects would spread if an explosion did occur. It was even possible that the stone structure that seemed to cover the sky would separate, sending her crashing down.
Kanzaki made sure that she had a straight path to the nearest staircase up to a higher level, and reached for the sword hanging from her waist.
Technically, she was reaching for the seven thin wires stored on the sword’s scabbard.
“I’m beginning. What is below me?”
“You are around the center of Eurasia. The area is complete wilderness. There are no civilian, military, or magical facilities there. We have received permission from the Russian Orthodox Church.”
“Then here goes.”
Immediately after Kanzaki said that…
A flash of light was emitted from the space between the scabbard and the sword’s hilt. Immediately afterwards, the scaffolding between Kanzaki and the metal balloon was sliced to pieces. The destruction stretched all the way to the metal balloon.
There were no sparks.
That quick slicing attack that used many wires sliced through everything before her like it was clay.
However, the massive amount of wreckage fell in a distinctive way.
It was different from being blown by a strong wind in a single direction.
The countless pieces of wreckage were blown in all directions, with the spot the metal balloon had been in at the center.
“It seems that it truly was filled with something like a gas. However, I do not know if that alone is providing the lift it—”
She trailed off because the scaffolding below her feet wobbled slightly.
It sank down about 10 cm.
But Kanzaki sensed it as an instability like a suspension bridge having the wires supporting it snapped one by one.
“The destruction of the balloon has caused a change in Radiosonde Castle’s altitude. We have been able to determine the specs of each individual balloon due to that. It seems that the gas in the tanks is indeed what is providing the lift. I will be sending you the procedure with which to remove the gas. The work itself is simple, but given the scale of the fortress, you cannot waste any time.”
A few diagrams and values floated up in Kanzaki’s mind. There were no major differences from what she had been guessing. The only real difference was that the time limit was rather harsh.
“So instead of just destroying them, I will be opening a hole in the balloons to remove the gas gradually?”
“If you destroy them too much in a flashy way and the rate of descent increases more than expected, we will have no way to fix the problem.”
Kanzaki circled around, avoiding the scaffolding she had destroyed, as she ran along the lowest level. Radiosonde Castle was a few dozen kilometers long, but Kanzaki used her abilities as a Saint to run faster than the speed of sound.
“…Time for the first one,” Kanzaki muttered when she arrived next to one of the giant metal balloons a few dozen meters across.
That one would be the test case to see if the theorized method would actually work. The situation could change greatly depending on whether she succeeded there.
“First, you need to greatly reinforce the side of the balloon. If you just opened up a hole now, the gas flowing out would force the hole wider.”
“So it’s like putting tape on a normal balloon and then stabbing a pin through it. It will also be perfect for installing a spiritual item that will act as a valve.”
“The balloon’s estimated strength is on the level of 30 mm of steel. We think that they were made intentionally fragile so that a ballistic missile would have immediately and catastrophically brought it down. You need to open a hole about 13 mm across, but don’t go through it all at once. Be careful and take at least 100 seconds.”
“Yes, the Japanese love our stories about water dripping down from a stalactite and wearing down the bedrock. We have plenty of spells to go along with that.”
If one ignored the special examples like Saints such as Kanzaki, magic had nothing to do with talent and was in fact usually developed to be used by those with no talent. It seemed a lot of her predecessors had felt that magic was more suited to deliver slow and steady results piling up on each other rather than to bring out some great phenomenon all at once.
Kanzaki pressed a piece of paper against the side of the balloon, and it stuck there like a wet cloth. She then added many more. Before long, armor 3 meters square and 5 cm thick was covering the side of the balloon.
“…The Japanese really like those paper walls, don’t they? They can stop blades and bullets.”
“The idea is not all too rare. In places like China, armor was made of bundles of paper. Well, it was something like covering your entire body in phone books, so it was not very lightweight.”
On top of that wall of paper, Kanzaki attached a device made of a few wooden sticks that were bound by cotton strings. It looked a bit like the compasses used by ancient scholars and a bit like tools used to dig wells.
“As this one is a test, I will watch it all the way through to the end, but there is nothing for me to do while it digs through it. There would normally be no reason for me to stick around and watch. Once I confirm that this one succeeds, I will leave the rest at this point and head for the next balloon. That will save a lot of time.”
Just in case the balloon burst, she kept her distance and made sure she had a path to an ascending staircase planned. Kanzaki then sent magic power through the digging spiritual item and gave the signal.
An unpleasant sound like a pencil being sharpened reached Kanzaki’s ears.
“For now, there does not seem to be any danger of the balloon wall bursting.”
“The hole has been confirmed… The expected amount of gas is being released. Radiosonde Castle’s rate of descent has increased, if only by a little.”
“Contact me if you detect any problems. By expanding the stake used to dig, I can seal the open hole.”
As she spoke, Kanzaki jumped from scaffolding to scaffolding.
As she had announced, she did not stay to watch each and every metal balloon as the hole was being made. She set up the spiritual items and then headed towards the next balloon.
“The effects from the interference to the 70th balloon have been detected! Radiosonde Castle’s altitude has fallen to 11,000 meters!! The atmospheric pressure countermeasure spell is under quite a bit of stress!”
“Where is it currently!? Should we drop it into the Indian Ocean or the Pacific Ocean!?”
“Radiosonde Castle is currently passing over Korea. The Pacific is the only option now!!”
She had destroyed the first balloon when it had been near the center of Eurasia.
Radiosonde Castle’s speed was much greater than Kanzaki had thought.
She hurried for the 71st balloon.
“Do you know where in the Pacific Ocean we are dropping it?”
“There is an area of ocean with a depth of 6000 meters 1700 kilometers north-northwest of America’s Midway Atoll.”
Kanzaki charted out the general route it would take from its current location to the next location.
(…It’s going to pass over Japan.)
Her face gradually paled.
(The route cuts straight over Academy City!?)
“Agnese, it’s an emergency!! Please calculate a method of interfering with Radiosonde Castle’s balloons that will take a more circuitous route!!”
“Passing over Japan may be fine, but passing over that city is bad!! If Radiosonde Castle was constructed in order to be dropped on something, the target is likely-!!”
Suddenly, a tremendous amount of static assaulted Kanzaki’s ears. Immediately afterwards, the magical communications line created by the spiritual item was severed.
Someone had clearly magically jammed the magical signal.
(So they don’t want me saying anything unnecessary, hm?)
Radiosonde Castle simply slamming its entire giant form into the ground was not the only threat. If it disassembled into smaller parts and had those parts rain down on the surface, it could create damage on a large scale. It could carry out a large-scale bombing of Academy City while the main body was allowed to safely land due to the efforts of Kanzaki and the others.
That was the logical thing to do.
However, if the people behind the fortress were the type to give their own ideas precedence over what was to come, it was still possible they would just drop Radiosonde Castle directly on Academy City without thinking about what that would mean.
Magicians were beings that would do that kind of thing.
Kanzaki and the rest of Necessarius existed to stop that from happening.
(But that jamming came with such pinpoint timing. I doubt that they would have been able to do that if they were simply collecting information remotely. That means… some portion of the enemy is onboard this fortress which is going to be sent crashing down…)
Kanzaki heard an odd sound, and she took a defensive stance.
It was a high-pitched noise like a crystal glass being hit. It did not repeat just five or ten times. Instead, it continued irregularly for quite some time.
The source of the noise was…
The moment Kanzaki realized that and jumped back, something fell on the spot she had been standing in an instant before.
It was not a human.
It was a cylinder made of heavy stone with a diameter of 55 cm and a height of about a meter.
The drum-like object moved around like it had a will of its own, and it turned to face Kanzaki.
- An old term for the early Portuguese Christian missionaries to Japan.