Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume9 Chapter 8
Chapter 8: Girl Phase, Hundreds of Billions. Create_V.S._Break.
Everyone knew from the beginning that he ultimately did not stand a chance against her.
It only took an instant.
Othinus did not even take a single step.
By the time Kamijou Touma tried to dash forward with his right fist clenched, the situation had already decisively changed.
Something exploded right in front of him.
“ …… !!!???”
The explosive noise arrived late and Kamijou felt it through his bones more than his ears. By the time his comprehension caught up, he was flying high through the air like a soccer ball.
This result had to have already appeared in Othinus’s head.
All Kamijou had managed was to slightly alter the trajectory of his flight and the spot he landed in.
He remained in the air for several seconds.
His time there was clearly too long for a human-sized mass. What did that mean?
Before fear could devour reality, his back struck the dirt of the schoolyard.
Without exaggeration, a massive amount of dark red liquid rose from his organs and spewed from his mouth.
He had trouble breathing.
Even as he tried to draw in air, it felt like something was clogging the path.
“Cough!! Cough cough!! Cough!!”
While lying on his back, he rolled to a crawling pose and stuck a finger deep into his throat. He had lost a lot of blood, but securing his windpipe came first. He coughed up the sticky fresh blood clogging his throat and somehow managed to breathe in.
The blonde girl’s voice slipped into Kamijou’s ears.
It sounded much, much more distant than before.
“I thought you liked simple battles. So why are you moving back rather than enjoying yourself?”
Othinus never moved from that one spot.
She merely held up her lance.
That was all.
A giant hole opened in the night sky.
It looked like a pitch black moon.
Something had split open. Kamijou caught a glimpse of that evenly black world he had seen before.
No warning was given.
That moon merely fell toward the schoolyard to crush a single boy.
Kamijou leaped to the side with all his strength. He could not worry about appearances. He merely rolled along the dirt to move even a centimeter or millimeter further from that whirl of destruction.
All sound vanished.
A hemispherical crater ten meters across appeared in the ground. This was not the scar left by an explosion. That space had been carved away in the exact shape and size of the black moon.
(I need to get close.)
A fierce light resided in his eyes.
He moved from defense to offense.
After switching over his train of thought, he sharply altered his direction as if switching the position of his feet around.
(I need to find a way to get close to her!! If I can get right up to her, she’ll have to let up on the massive attacks for fear of hitting herself! I only have my fist. Whether I’m attacking or defending, I can’t do anything without forcing down my fear and moving in to-…)
Othinus’s lovely voice was accompanied by the sound of Kamijou’s knee bending in an odd direction.
Kamijou Touma used both his legs to charge forward at top speed.
He was right in front of Othinus. Fortunately for him, he was still in one piece. Just one more step. As he clenched his fist and came into range, he let out a short breath. He judged the timing, cut down his extreme tension as much as possible, and did not hesitate to put his entire weight behind the blow aimed at the eyepatch-wearing girl’s face.
And then Othinus vanished.
The next thing he knew, the blonde girl had moved up so close to him that they were almost touching.
The action she took was quite simple.
The lance was in her right hand, so she used her slender left hand.
With a horrible creaking noise, she grabbed Kamijou Touma’s neck and unhesitatingly lifted him up.
“Just realize it already.”
“I already have.”
Kamijou Touma and Othinus’s gazes crossed for a moment.
When it came down to it, no matter what Kamijou Touma did, he could not stand up to a Magic God like Othinus. This was not an issue of training his body further or coming up with the right idea to turn things around.
On a more fundamental level, a human could not defeat a god.
The one slight possibility of defeating Othinus through strength alone would be for Kamijou himself to ascend to Magic Godhood, but that was not much of a hope. It was not something so easily done and she would not call herself a god if it was.
“This wasn’t an even fight,” groaned Kamijou while held up by the neck. “This isn’t the first time we’ve had this fight. I don’t know if this is the tenth time or the hundredth time, but we’ve repeated it again and again. And each time, I was probably blown to pieces by the first attack. The only problem left was the integrity of my memories. I subconsciously refused to accept the pain and fear I felt, so I rearranged the memories in my head to look like a fight following a single path. That’s what made it look like I was somehow holding my own.”
“That answer is worth 50 points.”
“Perhaps. Is this schoolyard not the starting point? Do I have to start from the empty black world I first woke up in?”
One hundred times, one thousand times, or even ten thousand times.
Othinus merely had to repeat this. Each time, Kamijou Touma took slightly different actions and made different choices than the time before. Once he ran into a dead end doing that, he would break. It might happen in the direct battle or in one of the countless worlds. If just once, the boy wandered into a dead end and collapsed, Othinus’s objective would be achieved.
But at the same time…
“But I gradually realized something.”
“What does a human have to say to a god?”
“No matter what happens, you won’t kill me,” declared Kamijou while a vice-like grip squeezed his throat. “It’s not that you can’t. If you wanted to, you could at any time. Yet you haven’t. Even when you have announced you would. …There has to be something there. You could just kill me and end this, but you have some reason not to. If I had to guess…”
“I’d say it’s something like bonus points.”
He said nothing more.
With an odd snapping noise from his neck, Kamijou Touma’s consciousness was overwhelmed with static once more.
Now for a hypothetical story.
Say there was someone with the wonderful power to save and load as much as he wanted like in a video game. Say that person became a detective and tried to stop an unavoidable plan to exterminate humanity that would begin in exactly one week.
Who has the advantage there? The detective or the criminal?
Normally, one would think the detective has an overwhelming advantage due to his strange power. No matter how many times he fails, he can always try again, so it will never end until he wins.
But that is not necessarily how it would end.
After all, after making countless attempts, the detective’s mental exhaustion would be on an entirely different level. Even if each attempt is only a week long, four tries is about a month and twelve sets of four is a year.
What if he continued for years or even centuries and was never able to stop the destruction?
The direct competition between the detective and criminal would not matter.
After choosing to rush into the cage of time, wouldn’t the detective’s heart break and be crushed?
The detective with the power to save and load would have another option.
When faced by too great a challenge, he could switch off the game and give up.
In the end, Kamijou Touma’s battle was the exact same thing.
Magic God Othinus could control everything. Without exaggeration, she controlled the world itself. If she wanted to, she could have galaxies collide to kill Kamijou Touma. Or she could break the bonds between the particles making up his body and cause his very existence to disperse. If she was the slightest bit dissatisfied with something, she could turn back time, re-lay the rails of fate that led to the future, and create the exact result she wanted.
He could not win by fighting normally.
Just as the eyepatch-wearing girl had said, there was too great a difference between the basic specs of a human and a god.
Any external stimuli from Kamijou Touma or a third party could never defeat that monster.
But what if Othinus herself created a situation that would crush her from within.
And she had made a certain comment before the battle began. She may not have realized it, but she had certainly said it.
“I am sick of trying to crush an idiot with the world.”
She was sick of it.
It might sound like an arrogant or prideful comment. But after Othinus had risen to the territory of a true god, nothing ordinary should have been able to do any mental or physical damage to her. There had been something already there which made her feel that way.
How many repetitions had Kamijou accumulated before he realized this?
It was as if a cup had already been filled to the brim and he merely had to wait for the instant in which the surface tension reached its limit.
The level of internal damage that threatened to crush Kamijou Touma was nothing but a slight scratch to that monster, but what if she had already reached a point where that scratch was enough to begin the collapse?
It was a matter of persistence.
Kamijou Touma could not rip a single victory from her grasp.
But there was a possibility he could earn one by losing enough times.
Othinus heard a noise come from her head that sounded like her very skeleton creaking.
It almost looked like small snakes were squirming on the inside of her face’s skin.
This was the pulse of her blood vessels.
(His rate of exhaustion should be greater.)
They had repeated this tens of thousands of times, hundreds of thousands of times, and even millions of times.
All so that puny boy would fail just once somewhere along the line.
(I of course have the more accurate continuity of memories, but he still retains fragments of memories. And ignoring the amount of pure information, the static of pain and fear ensures he will break first. He is nothing more than someone who does not know his place. The more he clings to the hope of a victory that will never come, the greater the shock when it vanishes before his eyes. That is when he will break. He has merely walked down the path of destruction of his own free will.)
It was a simple truth that required no real thought.
And even if it required no real thought, thinking about it would not change its truth.
“Why won’t you break!? Have you lost sight of what you are doing after reaching the verge of death so many times? Surely you aren’t the type of person who will proudly state he is an idiot!!”
Othinus shouted in irritation.
It was rare for a human to enrage a god to this extent. At the very least, it had never happened in Gremlin. The confrontation with Ollerus in Sargasso had been close.
It seemed the Magic God now saw this boy as equal or even greater than that other opponent.
“Why would I break now?” In that nighttime schoolyard, Kamijou Touma insolently answered the magic god he faced. “I just have to overcome this. You just have to break once. That gives me hope of continuing on. I might be able to regain the place I had lost. As long as I still have even a 1% chance, I’m not going to break!!”
This situation was beyond help and it surpassed the mercy of a god.
Just as she lightly bit the edge of her lip in irritation, half of Kamijou Touma’s body was blown away like sherbet.
“And while going along with this, I’ve started to understand the heart of the issue. I’m not being unilaterally defeated. As long as I can accumulate the information in my head, I can slowly analyze the situation.”
In the next battle, that was all he could say before his torso was sliced apart.
Just to say those few sentences, he had wandered the pitch black world, traversed seemingly infinite worlds, and experienced countless forms of pain, fear, and despair.
How could he withstand it?
These were true hells with a density great enough to drive any normal person insane before they could overcome even one. And reaching this point did not release him from it. After saying nothing more than that, he was smashed by Othinus and forced to repeat all of the infinite apocalypses he had finally overcome.
There was no hope in that.
Connecting his fragments of words to form a conversation would not change anything.
On a fundamental level, he was not winning.
Not at all.
He had no assurance Othinus would break if he repeated this tens of thousands or even hundreds of millions of times. He had no foundation to support his theory. Not to mention that a human and a god had fundamentally different specs. It was no different from writing data to an old cassette tape and a cutting edge hard disk at the same time and seeing which would fill up first.
“This is like two mirrors facing each other.”
“This world which you can freely alter is like creating an infinite landscape by setting up two mirrors to face each other. Saying you have the ability to freely walk through that landscape sounds like something from a dream, but if you took a stroll using that ability and turned back, your face would pale. After all, the exact same world would continue infinitely. There would be nothing to act as a landmark. Where had you come from and where should you return to? You’d naturally start to get worried!!”
She used an invisible power to split that impudent boy’s top half from the bottom half.
But in the next battle, Kamijou Touma continued talking as if nothing had happened.
However, that did not mean he did not remember. He knew what had happened, but forced the memory down and continued speaking.
“Othinus, I have a fundamental question for you.”
She stabbed him with the lance. She smashed open his skull with the butt of the lance. In what looked like a joke, she hit a home run using the handle of the lance.
But that insolent human boy would not stop speaking.
He felt the fear, but he continued to challenge this god.
“A long time ago, before you gained Gungnir, before you took your spot at the top of Gremlin, before you ran across the non-standard monster named Ollerus, and before you took the name Othinus…”
She smashed him!!
And crushed him!!
And destroyed him!!
“Did you make this mistake? Did you gain a wonderful power and charge forward without thinking to look back? And as a result, did you not know where to return to?”
Kamijou Touma was not very knowledgeable in the occult, so he had no way of knowing, but this is what history said:
It was said belief was initially centered on a hammer-wielding lightning god, but it shifted to a lance-wielding god of war at some point.
It was said the god of magic had fulfilled a contract by sacrificing his own body by hanging himself from an ash tree.
It was said the Norse god that became the origin of the name Othinus was a muscular one-eyed old man with a huge beard.
Each of those was “unmistakably true”.
The occasional discrepancies between accounts were nothing more than differences in interpretation between the many different compilers.
But what if the past compilers had made no lies, misunderstandings, or speculations and had only sincerely and accurately written down what they had actually seen?
What if there was something that drew a straight line, connecting all of the fragmentary information?
Didn’t a certain girl’s labyrinth possess both the power and nature needed to accomplish that?
“That would explain most of it,” said Kamijou Touma slowly.
His slaughter at Othinus’s hand had stopped at some point.
“I was crushed in world after world, but you never rejected or took away the Imagine Breaker in my right hand. That means what I think it does, doesn’t it?”
She was a Magic God, so the human lifespan did not necessarily apply. Ollerus had spoken as if he knew what he was talking about, but he was nothing more than a human. Even if he knew a thing or two about gods, he may not have understood the true scale of it all.
Simply put, it was possible Othinus had been a Magic God long, long before what Ollerus had spoken of.
Had that power resided within her all that time?
Had she cast aside her own power at some point?
“I don’t know the details of this whole ‘phase’ thing, but you have the ability to freely change the shape of the world like clay. Due to that, you completely forgot what world you originally lived in. You desperately tried to create a world based on the scenery you remembered. You added in and removed phase after phase. …And this was the work of a god. It was probably so close to perfect that no human could tell the difference. But as a god, ‘close to perfect’ wasn’t good enough for you.”
After seeing the world she had created with her own power, she had turned back without meaning to.
Given that, she must have feared her own power. If she had truly accepted it with nothing but joy, she would not have tried to turn back.
“In a later era, you wanted the lance and you wanted to alter the world. That must have been because your unease came back. You were concerned that your supposedly perfectly-made world was not so perfect after all. You wanted to work some more on the artwork you had already presented to the public. I don’t know what you did to regain the power you had cast aside, but something must have happened for that know-it-all Ollerus to hate you so much. …You longed for the next world because you wanted to add another layer of paint to the canvas. That would explain your internal conflict.”
“Yes, internal conflict. You weighed A and B on the scales and could not decide which one to go with. You had another option whose value rivalled that of the new world. Isn’t that right?”
Kamijou Touma lightly thrust his right fist forward.
He held out Imagine Breaker.
He thought of its original meaning.
“According to Ollerus, Imagine Breaker is an accumulation of the hopes of all magicians. He said it’s a reference point to return the world to normal after it is twisted by their desires. I don’t know if that’s its true origin, but it can be used like that. You could say this is the other card you could play. It represents the original world. Instead of adding on another layer of paint, you can use this like a palette knife to slowly peel away the previous layers.”
The original world and the next world.
If the god’s actions were perfect, there might not be any difference between the two.
From a human’s perspective, it was possible nothing out of place could be found.
But this Magic God was too perfect.
In which case…
“Even if it is the same result, you couldn’t throw away your first and ideal hope of returning to your original world by removing all of the phases you had put in place! Of course you couldn’t. The six billion people on Earth truly believe this is the same place as always, but you alone know it has changed. Your second hope of creating a diorama world would be different from the place in your head, so you couldn’t throw away the other option!! You could have easily added in a new phase and fled to a new world, but you couldn’t give up on your first hope of returning to your original world!! That’s why you continued resetting everything and going along with my selfishness even when you could have killed me ten thousand or maybe a hundred million times by now!!”
In that case, this really was a one-on-one battle.
It was a battle allowed for Kamijou Touma and no one else.
Imagine Breaker vs. Gungnir.
The original world vs. the next world.
The battle between those two cards would literally decide the fate of the world.
But there was one thing worth keeping in mind.
Kamijou Touma was undoubtedly standing on this great stage, but he was nothing more than a human. On the stage of the gods, his role was as minor as a tree or the grass during a school arts festival.
“You should be able to do it.”
In other words, this was a fight to see which card Magic God Othinus would choose. Or perhaps it was the ultimate presentation to convince this blonde-haired, green-eyed girl which card she should choose.
“I don’t know how to use this thing. Maybe not even the professional magicians who have completely immersed themselves in this field of magic know. But you should be able to do it. You stand at the peak of magic! You’ve risen to a position with the title of god! You have to have some idea how to repair the world using this reference point!!”
If one thought about it, this was the proper form for a relationship between man and god.
Man did not battle gods. Man had negotiated with the gods to overcome crises such as disasters and plagues.
A human could not defeat a god.
But he might be able to slightly alter that god’s path to align more closely with what was convenient for mankind.
“Let’s try to take even the slightest possible path leading back,” spat out Kamijou as he tightly clenched his right fist. “I won’t say it’s for everyone’s sake. I’ve already rejected all the smiles I saw here and decided to return to my original place even if it means completely separating myself from everyone I know. Even if it takes decades to completely reconcile with them, I’ve given up on running from the pain. I’m not going to let myself chicken out just because I’m up against a god! I’ll do whatever it takes to have you choose my card!!”
“Do you really think I would have done all this if that would work?”
The lance creaked slightly in Othinus’s grasp.
Her face showed she had treaded deeply into that territory.
“It didn’t work. I tried it and it didn’t work!! Even with a palette knife to peel away the paint and even when I peeled it away in extremely thin layers, I wasn’t satisfied with the result. There is no longer a convenient path leading back to the way things were. The age can only advance. If what I want is not before my eyes, then my only option is to create the next world!!”
“You must understand, Othinus.”
“Understand what? Is a human child going to impudently act as if he knows what a god is thinking? Your tiny head cannot even understand a fraction of the trial and error spent reaching this point, so do not think you can conveniently beat me to the conclusion!!”
“That isn’t what I meant.” Kamijou slowly shook his head. “It isn’t an issue of ability or theory. I’m sure you know what it is I long for. We have both wandered through this exact same black labyrinth! So you must understand!! Returning means losing everything and being hated by everyone, but it also means eventually being able to smile at each other again! You must know just how much you can cast aside for nothing more than that!!”
It seemed those words were sufficient to silence Othinus.
Even if only for a moment.
Even if only for an instant.
“All that’s left is a test of endurance. Let’s repeat this billions or even trillions of times. I’m returning to the original world. I won’t move on to the next world. The original world I’m talking about might be different from the original world you’re thinking of, but I’m going to force this through regardless. Do you understand, Othinus? I’m saying I’ll make my dream come true even if it crushes yours!!”
“So let’s get serious, Othinus. Stop laughing and draw out everything you have as a god. I won’t save anyone. I’m fighting for myself. We’re the only two here, so no one can save me but myself!!”
“Ultimately, this is not a fight between you and me. This is a fight for me to make my decision. In which case, I must stop hesitating. I will truly exterminate the fool who is treating my failure as his own accomplishment!!”
He stopped counting.
Even the fact that he stopped counting had left his mind.
Kamijou Touma did not win even once.
He was crushed, sliced, smashed, ripped apart, blown up, and torn to pieces.
That normal high school boy’s flesh was always accurately destroyed. Whenever the light of life in his eyes flickered weakly like a candle’s flame and began to go out, a slight wave would rise in Othinus’s heart.
Give up and move forward.
It is not too late to go back.
She could only make one choice and two options presented themselves to her.
After the slightest hesitation, Othinus would wave her lance and return everything to the beginning before that light completely vanished from the pieces of flesh flying through the air. She returned everything to that black labyrinth she found so detestable.
She did not think about making up her mind just once and bringing it all to an end. Nor did she think about shaking off her hesitation when faced with her sporadic choices.
Othinus gradually gave up. Her feelings were tilting in one direction. She was leading them that way. It did not matter if she was deceiving herself. Self-suggestion was fine. Once she made a sharp turn in the very, very end, she would be stuck on that path no matter how much she regretted it later.
After overcoming the 10,031st slaughter, she received her answer.
She did not even smile.
She would end it here. She would end her dream.
Once the dream was over, only reality would remain. Having cast aside her first hope, she would quickly create the next world and return to a normal everyday life. No one but her understood the value of this battle and it would finally be over. She would have nothing left to do but persuade herself this had been the best option. Otherwise, this unease might return once more.
Most likely, her senses would die.
A blue sky overhead and a green forest around her would no longer move her heart, but in exchange, she could bring an end to the fighting and live a peaceful life.
She had no interest in value or gaining anything.
She fought in search of meaning.
(It ends here.)
After her many victories, the heat within her had cooled.
The soft portions had been scraped away, so her heart had hardened.
She gradually transformed into something resembling a system.
(My hesitation is vanishing. I can tell that. I can see the path I must travel to simplify my thoughts. Now I can part with this foolish dream and obtain reality in exchange.)
The wavering in her eye vanished. Her pupil grew fixed. It became something that merely reflected light.
And in exchange, she obtained true victory.
No change had come over Kamijou Touma. Despite all his talk, he had no plan to turn this around. He was only hoping for weakness in Othinus herself.
Once she understood that, Othinus truly cooled.
She realized the dream she believed in had been nothing more than that.
An intense headache suddenly surged out from the depths of her head.
Without meaning to, she stopped moving.
After slaughtering him only a few more times, she would have completely given up on her first hope.
An invisible cutting attack shot right by Kamijou Touma and blasted the reinforced concrete school building behind him to pieces.
He did not even turn around to look at it.
He only stared directly at Othinus.
He stared at his enemy.
He stared at that Magic God.
He stared at Othinus’s face as it twisted in pain.
The word slipped from the corner of the boy’s mouth.
The first attack had missed. Kamijou was not bleeding. Even so, he was not looking very good. That was the cost of being unilaterally slaughtered more times than he could bother counting. If people’s hearts were visible, Kamijou’s would have been torn to pieces.
“It finally…looks like I might win.”
But he still said that while directly facing the blonde-haired, eyepatch-wearing girl.
“Do not…be ridiculous. Are you saying I was stopped because the repeated battles have worn down my mind?”
“I’m not that kind of esper, so I can’t see inside people’s hearts. That means you have to decide for yourself. I’m not the only one on the verge of giving up. I may not look good, but you’re looking even worse.”
Othinus grimaced slightly.
But not due to Kamijou’s words. It was because her head felt like it was about to make a creaking noise.
“Even if I was being worn down, too, our specs are fundamentally different! If we were being exposed to the same pain, your head would be fried first!! So…what is this!?”
“You don’t know the answer? I thought you were a god.”
“Or are you saying you are experiencing the exact same pain yet pretending to be fine. No, that would be impossible. A human could never keep up the deception when faced with enough pain to make a god suffer. If you were feeling this same pain, your head would have changed shape long ago!!”
Hearing that, Kamijou Touma smiled thinly.
He desperately suppressed the core of his body that threatened to make him stagger if he lost focus.
“You’re wrong, Othinus.”
“You and I have spent the exact same time in the exact same place. It might seem natural to think we have suffered the exact same damage, but we actually haven’t.”
She did not understand what he was saying.
But she doubted it was complete nonsense. A definite difference in mental damage had shown itself.
“This might be too common a metaphor for a true god, but it’s the same as in a video game, Othinus.”
“What are you talking about?”
“When a weak player challenges an overwhelmingly powerful boss and is defeated, he doesn’t get bored. He can’t win and he’ll complain, but it’s fun to try all sorts of things against a normally unbeatable opponent to analyze their attack pattern. It may leave no data behind, but he feels like he’s accomplishing something. Not only that, but fighting an enemy that’s out of his league feels like it has meaning in and of itself. Saying he ran across a rare boss that no one’s ever seen can make for a decent conversation.”
“But what about the opposite? If an overwhelmingly powerful player fought extremely weak enemies on and on, he would obviously get bored. His focus wouldn’t last for even half an hour. It would be nothing but work. There’s no room for trial and error and he doesn’t even gain any significant amount of experience points or money. And there’s no meaning in fighting enemies well below his league. Saying he ran across a weak enemy everyone’s seen makes for a terrible conversation.”
They may have stood on the same stage, but their roles were completely different.
The weak one saw meaning in his reckless challenge. The strong one was sick of going along with it.
Ultimately, there was no clear standard for how much one’s mind was worn down.
It was all reliant on the state of one’s heart.
“We repeated this countless times. We shared the exact same events. We walked through this hellish labyrinth together. …But it was still different. We weren’t the same. We were worn down at completely different speeds!! And that difference overcame the difference in specs and caught up to you first! We can’t repeat this again, Othinus. If I can’t stop you here, you’ll crumble from the inside!!”
It was an invisible knife.
Kamijou Touma had been unable to swing his fist at Othinus even once, but he had succeeded in finding a weapon that could easily provide a fatal wound. He had found the material he needed for his negotiations with the Magic God.
“Fine, then.” Her voice was low, like a growling beast. “I will give up here.”
“I will cast aside my first hope of the original world and resign myself to my second hope of the next world. If I cannot put it off any longer, I will give up on your life here. This is indeed a good opportunity. You know what this means, don’t you?”
Her tone of voice showed there was one thing she could not accept above all.
But it was not the headache throbbing deep in her head.
And it was not the vague state of her heart.
It was that the human before her thought he stood above her.
“I will not return. I will not repeat. I will not be trapped by my hesitation. I will give up on everything and proceed forward. …Once I kill you this time, there is no next time, human. You cannot win. You have not won even once. The next attack will take your life!!”
Othinus did not even need to move from that spot.
She only had to lightly raise the lance.
An invisible explosion would immediately smash Kamijou Touma’s body to pieces.
She had made this same attack countless times before. She had done it so many times that she could not distinguish her memories of doing it in the past from her vision of it happening in the future. The result was already known. The ideal destruction in her mind was nothing more than following the past, so there was no chance of failure. The actual results from the thousands or tens of thousands of previous times ensured the current result.
In the next instant, Kamijou accurately evaded the invisible explosion by leaping to the side.
The intense pain striking Kamijou Touma’s entire body caused him to grimace.
He had somehow escaped the lethal area, but the explosion still hit him in midair.
He struck the dirt ground after being thrown further than his expected landing point. His excess momentum sent him rolling even further.
Even so, he endured.
Othinus turned her one eye toward her target and held up the lance once more.
A gapless wall of explosions was sent toward Kamijou Touma. There were so many explosions that they seemed to blend into each other.
He did not hold up his right hand.
Instead, he turned his body to the side as if weaving his way through a crowded train and stepped slightly forward.
That was all.
The puny boy’s body slipped skillfully through the wall of thousands or tens of thousands of explosions.
The result and Othinus’s theory did not match, so she spoke aloud with a puzzled expression.
“What happened!? You should not be able to keep up with me with your specs!!”
“No, I can’t. And these repeated battles haven’t increased my physical strength. Nor have I unlocked a hidden power in Imagine Breaker or anything like that. I’m still me. I haven’t become anything else.”
The twinkling of the stars in the sky was an ominous ill omen.
Each and every one of them transformed into a sharp spear of light and poured down like rain.
“Then how can you survive!?”
“Have you forgotten, Othinus? Or was it such a lame metaphor that you ignored it? It’s fun to try all sorts of things against a normally unbeatable opponent to analyze their attack pattern. It may leave no data behind, but it feels like you’re accomplishing something!!”
“You can’t mean…”
“Even if I can’t level up like in an RPG and even if there’s no change to my physical strength or supernatural ability, I’ve been analyzing you all this time. While you killed me again and again, I gradually memorized your combat patterns!! I don’t even have to think about it anymore. I can move on instinct!! I had plenty of chances to do this. After all, you stuck with me until I stopped counting altogether!!”
This was similar to retro shooting games. The path to the next level was more dependent on the real-life player improving his skills than on the in-game ship’s parameters increasing.
On a difficulty setting that looked monstrous at first glance, it may seem impossible to beat. But after playing enough times, one began to notice specific traits to the movements and barrage of enemy bullets. After building up footholds bit by bit, the player could defeat the boss with almost automated movements and advance to the next stage.
“You mean you used all those deaths?”
“Unfortunately, I truly could not defeat you. I wasn’t holding back. I gave it everything I had and was still killed in the end. But I wasn’t being killed for no reason. I purposefully chose how I was killed to test out all sorts of things. In death, I learned. It may be different for pure gods, but this is how lowly human entertainment works.”
There may not have been meaning to it.
He may not have gained anything other than a sense of satisfaction.
“I’m the kind of normal high school boy you can find anywhere. My right hand may contain a bit of a special power, but that isn’t enough to call me an expert. Even if I managed to evade a god’s attack here, I’m still me. If I fought a normal magician, I’d normally lose. My specs aren’t any higher than that.”
Even as Kamijou spoke, a whirl of explosions pursued him.
But the destruction could not catch up.
He would slip through even the slightest gap or he would betray Othinus’s expectations of where he would move next. In one way or another, he would just barely prevent his body from exploding.
“But I’ve put together your pattern. Even if I would normally lose to another magician, I can slip through the cracks against you!! You claim to have the power of a god, but you’re a Magic God who rose up from the position of a human. This may be rude to you as a god, but you’re somehow easy to get along with. You have desires which lead to hostility. As long as I can systematically find the clues to understanding those desires, you aren’t that difficult to deal with!!”
Kamijou Touma was not an expert on the type of magic common on the other side of the planet.
But without knowing it, he had pointed out a common characteristic of polytheistic gods such as the Greek and Norse gods.
Polytheistic gods had emotions. And those emotions were not limited to positive ones like love or justice. They also displayed the negative side, such as fear and jealousy.
When the opinions of all the many gods were gathered, it created a single flexible system. As long as that system ultimately led them down the right path, everything was fine.
Those existences were known as gods, but they still had doubts and failures like anyone else.
“Most likely, you aren’t absolute.”
The gods reached the perfect answer when combined in a single group.
By complementing each other’s weaknesses, they created a sturdy defense system that could not be overcome by any foe.
That was one characteristic of polytheistic mythologies.
If only the central pillar of those gods manifested herself without the world of heaven or the other gods, nothing said she could wield perfect power.
“Even if you have perfected yourself as ‘Othinus’, that doesn’t mean you’re absolute!!”
He was making guess after guess.
No one had taught him any of this. He had never read any books on the topic. This rough answer had simply soaked into his mind after everything he had experienced. But that method gave Othinus a greater quiet sense of danger than if he had diligently educated himself on the subject.
Her reaction was not surprising.
This was not contained to superficial knowledge. This had soaked in to the point that he expressed it with his actions. It had reached the level of usable skill.
And Norse mythology was a giant system built around battle.
Othinus stood at the top of that system, so it was only natural for her to focus more on filthy experience grasped through combat than on clean theories drawn up at a desk.
It made no difference if that experience was on the enemy’s side.
The lance audibly sliced through the air as she lightly swung it.
That was not a sign of an attack.
She slowly moved the lance to hold it in both hands.
“I had grown sick of my unfortunate connection to Ollerus, but I had thought that was the limit of opposition this world would present.”
“However, I suppose the time I have spent with you has surpassed that connection. To think this place would create someone who understands me even more than him. The world seems to enjoy throwing difficulties my way!!”
Her shout acted as a trigger.
Kamijou Touma and Othinus both moved at once.
It ended after one step.
A whirl of destruction burst out.
Space was compressed.
The standard concepts of time and space no longer had any meaning.
The lance of the head Norse god was named Gungnir. Its handle was made from the wood of an ash tree, the same as the world tree, its sharp tip was made from gold, and it had tremendous power due to the runes personally carved into the Dvergr-made base by the head god.
It had a few different characteristics.
1. The lance was made to be thrown.
2. The lance would always hit its target once thrown.
3. The lance could not be shot down or destroyed mid-flight.
4. The lance would always return to its owner’s hands after piercing the target.
Returning to its owner seemed to be a relatively important ability for projectiles. For example, Cú Chulainn from Celtic mythology’s spear did not possess that ability and he was ultimately killed when his own spear was thrown back at him. Lightning God Thor’s Mjölnir in Norse mythology and Light God Lugh’s Fragarach in Celtic mythology were both said to have this ability.
It was possible those weapons’ characteristics were meant to make them “wonderful weapons only the special gods were allowed to use and that no human could ever make”.
And even with all of those characteristics, the lance of the head Norse god had yet another characteristic that put it a clear step above the weapons’ of the other gods.
5. That lance would destroy the symbols of human power.
That came from when Gungnir had broken the legendary sword wielded by the father of Sigurd the hero. When necessary, the head Norse god would take power from humans, implying it was their time to die, and add their soul to the army of the gods.
A human could not defeat a god.
The convenience of the god had priority over everything in the human’s world and the workings of the world would act accordingly.
No other characteristic felt more strongly like the power of a god.
Rather than showing simple destructive power by blowing away a mountain or vaporizing the sea, it bluntly indicated the precedence of the god.
In other words, the instant that lance left Othinus’s hands, the world would be blown to pieces.
Time returned to normal.
Kamijou once more felt space spread out around him.
As the lance was fired with tremendous force, the “happy world” was smashed to pieces as if space itself was being torn apart. As a fragment of the world approached with the force of a raging wave, it took on the shape of a giant lance. The walls of all the phases were crushed, transformed into a swirl of deadly weapons resembling sharp shards of glass, and approached their pitiful target as if to swallow him whole.
Everything was ripped up.
The black labyrinth, which had used up all of its possibilities, showed itself.
Magic God Othinus had the ability to create, so she was technically not destroying anything. This may have been a change brought about by adding a new phase into the world. Nevertheless, it was blatantly obvious what the scene before Kamijou’s eyes would produce. It was the same as referring to the utter destruction of a luxurious palace as “creating a pile of rubble”. This was undeniably a torrent of destruction.
The convenience of the world of man meant nothing.
The destruction carried out by the god took precedence.
Its greatest effect was causing any resisting human who saw it to give up.
It provided such an overwhelming feeling of resignation that even an experienced hero would fall to his knees and end his challenge.
Most likely, no one could have escaped that lance when attacked head on. No matter what form of defense or evasion they attempted, they would have had no hope of surviving. That attack had been given the parameter of “no human can oppose it”. Unless one left the territory of man, one would be smashed to pieces. Not even Fiamma of the Right or Ollerus could have done anything when faced with it.
There was no way a normal high school boy could overcome it.
Even with a special power in his right hand, he would be smashed to pieces before he could use it.
(Weren’t you listening, Othinus?)
Kamijou Touma thought to himself as he silently stared at the tip of the giant lance created by sacrificing an entire world.
(I’m not a special person, I might normally lose to a professional magician, and I’m nothing more than a high school student.)
In the instant of firing the lance, Othinus’s face twisted slightly.
She must have seen the look on the boy’s face.
Kamijou Touma was smiling ever so slightly.
“But right now, I can overcome you!!!!”
The action he took was simple.
He tightly clenched his right fist and used his entire body weight to thrust it forward.
No one would have been able to keep up with its overwhelming speed. Their bodies would have been smashed to pieces before they could even hope to follow the tip of the lance with their eyes.
But the experience he had built up accurately guided his movements.
He had achieved a surefire attack that would work on Magic God Othinus and no one else.
Kamijou Touma’s right fist was sucked in toward the one point that no one else would have been able to reach.
His fist reached the sharp tip of Gungnir.
In that instant, all sound vanished from the world.
The kind world vanished and everything was dyed in black.
When Kamijou Touma’s right fist struck it, the lance veered sharply upward.
When Othinus held up her hand, the lance rotated complexly and began to fly back to her hand through the black sky.
But it never completed the action.
The lance broke apart in midair and completely disintegrated before returning to Othinus like a boomerang.
Kamijou’s fist did not escape unscathed.
The middle and ring finger of his supposedly tightly clenched fist had been twisted at a distinctly odd angle.
Even so, the boy smiled.
As battered as he was, he smiled.
“It’s…over…” He could feel that this was the case. “I…ended it… You can’t…escape my dream…”
Othinus could not return the situation to the beginning.
The damage to her mind was approaching its limit. If she repeated the battle any more, she would be destroyed from the inside. And the more she repeated the battle, the more experience Kamijou would accumulate. If she let him challenge her again, she would only be defeated by a gradually more skilled Kamijou. Just like the player of a shooting game, his level of experience determined how great an obstacle was.
That was why she could not escape.
She could only view the simple reality that she had lost.
Othinus muttered in a daze.
The sound of small cracks entering something could be heard.
“Do you really think that is all it takes to end this?”
The sound was likely coming from behind the eyepatch she wore.
Even while looking on from the outside, Kamijou could tell something was pulsating inside.
“Gungnir did nothing more than point my powers in the direction of 100% success. But the fairy spell Ollerus used on me at the very end gave me another possibility as a Magic God: 100% failure. That possibility means all of my actions will backfire. But if I know I will always fail, I can achieve victory by always choosing the exact opposite of my initial impression. …Even without the lance, a Magic God is still a Magic God!! This is not even remotely over!!!!!!”
Kamijou felt something like a chill run along his back.
He could feel something gathering in his broken right fist.
The destruction or severing of that fist seemed to act as some sort of trigger. He could feel in his skin that something was about to burst out.
“But I will most likely defeat you.”
This was different from his earlier baseless confidence.
In his interception and destruction of the lance, Kamijou Touma had overturned a myth.
“Even if I’d lose to someone else, I will defeat you. Our specs no longer matter, Othinus. My experience has surpassed a certain point. Even if I was blindfolded and I held the controller behind my back, I could try for a no miss clear.”
“……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………Fine then,” muttered Othinus quietly.
An instant later, the sound of shattering glass filled the area.
A spear of light seemed to stab through her back and into the center of her chest.
Kamijou did not know the details. He did not know this was the secret fairy spell that Ollerus and Fiamma of the Right had worked together to attack her with.
He did not know how the Magic God had used it to give her the negative possibilities of her power.
“You have only risen so high due to my failure as a god. In that case, I will correct that failure here. It is time you learned your place and prostrated yourself in the depths of the earth, human!!”
Cracks of light spread from the center of her chest and out to her entire body.
And it did not remain contained within her body.
After the lance’s attack had blown everything away, only the black world remained. The cracks spreading from Othinus’s back ate into that entire world. A strange symbol spread out seemingly endlessly. It resembled neither wings nor a flower.
Did her power extend to the farthest reaches of the world?
Was the world ultimately a part of her?
Gungnir had brought about a positive territory. The opposite position was a negative territory. Even as Kamijou Touma viewed that other possibility for a Magic God, he smiled and clenched his right fist.
And he spoke once more.
“Yeah, this is fine by me.”
“What you bear isn’t so light that I can convince you with words. I can understand that now. So let’s not hold back. I don’t care if it’s hopeless or hellish. It wouldn’t be any fun if we don’t squeeze out every last drop.”
That acted as the trigger.
In fact, the boy had likely understood his words would enrage the Magic God.
And Othinus responded.
She was so angry that he heard the sound of her canine tooth biting into the edge of her lip.
As she tasted blood, the Magic God took action.
Othinus, or the head Norse god which became the origin of the name, had left behind many different legends as the center of the system making up a mythology. That god did not necessarily use only one weapon and there were records of that god defeating various different enemies with various different blades.
And there was one weapon specifically associated with Othinus rather than Odin.
It was simply known as a crossbow.
No one knew its official name, much less how it was produced. That phantom weapon had left only a description of its frightening destructive power in the texts. That symbol of the head god was too obscure to be called a legend and had mostly been covered by the mists of time.
It was said that crossbow could simultaneously hold ten arrows in a fan shape.
It was said firing that crossbow could exterminate any army.
The entire world could be heard creaking.
Kamijou looked up slightly.
He saw the disturbing symbol bursting from Othinus’s back and providing the color of light to the entire black world it covered. He heard the creaking sound of it gathering tremendous power.
In the end, the world was her crossbow.
As soon as Kamijou Touma realized that, ten pieces of destruction rained down from the heavenly dome above.
What exactly could this be compared to?
Perhaps a super-long railgun that targeted someone on the planet’s surface after eternal acceleration using straight guiderails stretching from one end of the universe to the other.
Perhaps a singularity weapon that created destruction unexplainable with Newtonian physics by directly messing with the smallest particles dealing with mass and motion such as the bosons and the Higgs particle.
In all likelihood, expressing it with words was meaningless.
Even if one gathered everything that could be expressed with words, it was unlikely one could shoot down that crossbow.
It merely hit.
Kamijou Touma leaped to the side with all his strength.
…The first shot fell vertically from the heavens.
It held the destructive power needed to easily wipe out a planet or two, but it was beyond the point of creating anything like a crater. This was no different from a rifle bullet fired with the initial velocity of a sniper rifle piercing glass without breaking it. The arrow had been fired with such great speed that it pierced the pitch black ground without waiting for the impact to propagate.
Even so, Kamijou ran.
His distance to Othinus was close yet far. It felt like an infinite wall.
…The second shot seemed to skim the ground as it was fired behind him and diagonally to the left.
Kamijou crouched down and the arrow passed over his head and swept across the world. Its trajectory was angled downward slightly and it created a giant valley in that black-dyed world.
Othinus did not move from her spot.
She and Kamijou had to be the same. They were both pouring all their strength into defeating their opponent.
…The third and fourth shots burst up through the ground.
They stabbed up a few meters away on either side of Kamijou. It was a trap. If he rashly moved even a step to evade, he would be smashed to pieces.
The more unnecessary actions he took, the farther he would be from victory.
He sharpened his senses like a needle and pictured himself stretching forward and piercing Othinus with that needle.
…The fifth shot came from directly in front of him.
His movements to the left and right were already sealed off and now Othinus had thrown a straight pitch. For the first time, Kamijou swung his right hand. But not in a straight impact meant to destroy. He scooped his hand up from below, traced his hand along the surface of the arrow, and diverted its trajectory upwards.
He ran straight forward.
His fear and self-interest threatened to shake that simple action.
…The sixth and seventh shots scraped across Othinus’s shoulders.
The two arrows were fired from behind her and they collided in midair before reaching him. With a tremendous explosive noise, the two arrows’ trajectories changed complexly. The boy evaded one by ducking his upper body down and then jumped over the other with a great leap.
Devoting himself to evasion was meaningless.
His path threatened to waver, but he used the power of his will to desperately keep himself on course.
…The eighth shot overcame the restrictions of the third dimension.
Kamijou felt a static electricity-like spark on his spine and immediately swung his head to the side as hard as he could. An instant later, space suddenly split open and an arrow assaulted the world.
He focused on his trajectory.
The several meter path to Othinus appeared clearly in his head.
…The ninth shot ignored the concept of numbers.
The arrows that fell from above colored the night sky like fireworks and glittered like stars covering the heavens. Every single one of them was fatal, but Kamijou did not freeze up. No matter how torrentially they rained down, there was always a safe space left to step in.
He was going to reach her.
He glared at Othinus’s face and clenched his right fist tighter than before.
…And the tenth shot…
(I can reach her.)
Kamijou gritted his teeth.
He sharply moved right up to her.
(I’ll reach her no matter what!! It doesn’t matter where the final arrow comes from! I can punch her after evading it or punch her before she can fire the arrow. Either way, I’ll end this here!!)
In the instant he shouted out, he was certain of his victory.
He stopped thinking about the tenth shot altogether. That was why he had reached the idea of ending this before she could fire it.
But his mistake was understandable.
The final shot approached from directly behind Magic God Othinus.
And she did not move a single step.
In other words, the arrow unhesitatingly pierced through Othinus.
The final arrow broke through the girl’s entire body and assaulted Kamijou from the blind spot directly in front of him.
He was too slow to react.
By the time he heard a dull sound, the final arrow had already been absorbed into his chest and accurately targeted his heart.
This was nothing as kind as piercing or breaking him.
In the instant of impact, Kamijou Touma’s body was smashed to pieces from the chest down. As his heart continued to writhe in midair, the tip of the arrow caught it and blasted it to the farthest reaches of that world.
All that remained in that place were the boy’s arms, shoulders, and head.
At that level, this could only be called his remains.
Kamijou’s “body” spun at least twice through the air and Othinus caught it in one hand.
She had supposedly taken the exact same damage, but not so much as a single scratch remained on her smooth skin. The destruction had indeed occurred, but the wounds had immediately repaired themselves like watching the destruction of gelatin in reverse.
Othinus spoke with a cold light in her one eye.
“It is over.”
“…Dammit. Maybe so.”
Kamijou had lost again and again and used those losses to analyze Othinus’s combat patterns. That was why he could battle this Magic God. However, that had only been Othinus when wielding her lance. That had been Othinus with her positive possibilities. He had not been able to accurately pursue her actions once she opened up the negative possibilities using the fairy spell. That was why he had made a mistake at the very, very end.
He no longer felt any pain. His organs had been destroyed and even his heart had been taken. It was strange that he was even conscious. He had heard cruel rumors of criminals’ heads blinking after being decapitated by a guillotine or people complaining to witnesses after being torn to pieces when hit by a train. However, he had never imagined he would one day test it out himself.
This was simply a mistake until the blood left his head.
It was a slight illusion until death caught up to him.
“Either way, I may never have had any chance of winning.”
“It is a bit late to realize that.”
“Without your help, the victory I had decided on would always have been out of reach.”
Kamijou Touma’s goal was not to take revenge on her for taking his world from him. Nor was it beat up Othinus and prove he was stronger than a Magic God.
If he had killed her, he would have gained nothing.
That would have left him with a bleak future of loneliness in that pitch-black world.
Imagine Breaker was a reference point for the world, so it could restore everything.
But he could not open the door to the world in his dreams.
Othinus narrowed her eye slightly.
“If you knew that, why did you challenge me?”
“I thought I could reach you.” The boy sluggishly moved his lips while held in her arm. “I had no clue whatsoever, so a deadly fight was the only option left. But…just running around wouldn’t have solved anything. I wanted my words to reach you and to set something in motion, and I thought my only option was to stand before you despite the danger.”
“But nothing is left for you now. You have simply lost. The world you wish for will never arrive again.”
Kamijou was not even blinking anymore.
He seemed to be gradually losing the strength he needed to form expressions.
“That was my personal selfish desire. Its failure won’t make anyone but me sad. …So that’s fine. The world hasn’t failed. No one knows about this loss. This place has no crime, debt, or broken hearts. The people I wanted to protect won’t shed any tears.”
In the end, what had this boy truly wanted?
Most likely, not even Kamijou Touma knew that.
He had been cornered by ridiculous situations, the entire world had acted as if he had betrayed them, and he had even had his existence fade into the background. He had pushed down the option that held only peace and smiles and he had longed for his original world despite knowing it was wrong.
Had he truly wanted to destroy it?
Had he truly wanted to protect it?
It would have been strange if he had been able to think calmly about it. Only a coldhearted person who viewed the world with cold eyes could have done that. It was because he cared so much for it all that he had wanted to protect it, been unable to allow it, wanted to take it back, wanted to watch it go, wanted to give up on it, and wanted to make it his once more.
It had all been contradictory and the puny head of a human could no longer find an answer.
His thoughts had been such a mess that he had only been able to escape into the action of fighting.
He may have wanted someone to give him the answer.
That answer could have been to save the entire world.
That answer could have been to bring about his own death.
“…Can I ask for one thing?”
“I have no reason to grant your wish.”
“You’re pretty intolerant for a god,” said Kamijou with his sluggish lips.
Othinus expected him to ask for the happiness of the residents of the world he loved.
But she was wrong.
This is what he said:
“Make good use of this.”
“My right hand. I was only able to use it for fights, but you must know a better way to use it. You can use it as the reference point for the world that Ollerus mentioned.”
“I already told you I have no reason to grant your wish. The battle is over and you will soon die. No one will praise you if I create a selfish miniature world for you, so there is no meaning.”
“That isn’t what I meant.” Kamijou slowly shook his head while Othinus still held him. “The battle is over, so it’s fine. Use this and take back your world. Take back your first hope.”
“Do you think that isn’t necessary because you can create an identical world from the ground up? You think it’s the same as returning to your original world because no one can tell the difference? …That’s wrong, Othinus. Even if no one else knows and the world is filled with smiles, it will be nothing but a tragedy as long as you know the difference.”
He spoke as if he knew what he was talking about.
That great criminal had continued with his own selfishness even after weighing the happiness of all mankind against his own life. That was why he was able to say this.
Othinus had presented her first and second hopes. Would she return to her original world or create the next world? Even if the result was the same, the process was different. It was a natural diamond versus an artificial diamond. That tiny difference would constantly give her the same sense of alienation that Kamijou Touma had felt when left out of that world filled with peace and smiles.
Othinus was the victor of the era.
And unlike Kamijou, her selfishness would bring happiness to a later era. Even if that era was created from her own arbitrary judgment and actions, the actual result lay before the boy’s eyes: a god. He could see her acting in a perfect enough way to be named as such.
Once he accepted death, swept away all his regrets, and carefully observed her once more, he could tell.
If he left everything to her, the world would continue on just fine.
Before long, he would die. His selfishness would vanish from the world.
“I have a challenge for you, Othinus.”
The loser spoke quietly.
Strangely, their positions were reminiscent of Mímir granting wisdom to the head Norse god. Even after he was beheaded due to the schemes of the gods and giants, Mímir continued giving advice to the head god like a friend.
Over eighty percent of this body had been blown away and he had even lost his heart, but the boy’s right arm slowly moved like a broken clockwork toy. He stretched that arm toward Othinus who still held what remained of his body.
It looked like he was trying to stroke her cheek.
Or perhaps, despite being the loser, he was using his thumb to wipe away a child’s tears.
And yet the cold-hearted victor should not have had any tears to wipe away.
There should have been nothing but filthy blood stains.
“Be selfish if you wish. Forget about good and evil. It doesn’t matter what your reasons are. Maybe something irritates you or maybe something is an eyesore. Just act the way you want. You’ve already shown me that doing that will lead to everyone smiling. So do as you wish. …What is it you wanted to do in the very beginning? Unless you make that come true, you will become what I was: a pathetic lost child crushed by the happy world.”
That was all.
Kamijou Touma’s arm hung down and his eyelids stopped moving.
Magic God Othinus stood alone in the pitch black world.
The boy she held in her slender arm did not speak any longer. He may have had some blood left in his head, but he did not have enough strength left to think. He had lost most of his organs, including his heart, so it was right to classify him as dead. A few cells might have still been functioning, but the boy had been lost. That was the truth.
Before long, Imagine Breaker’s power would transfer into something else.
It could be a person or an object. If she removed all matter from the world, that power might pour into Othinus herself. It was no different from playing old maid against an opponent who only had one card. Even if you knew that card was the joker, you had to take it.
She had won.
She had buried her final enemy.
No one remained to get in her way.
“Oh,” muttered Othinus in that lonely world.
If she wanted a lively world, she could snap her fingers and create a world of peace and smiles, yet she stood all alone.
This was the deepest part of the hell Kamijou Touma had feared most.
In exchange for his own defeat, he had reminded Othinus where she stood.
She had no interest in what she could create.
She had to return to her original world no matter what.
But what had made her think that way?
Where had she hidden what it was she had originally wanted to do?
For example, there was the time she had wished for something that did not change as she stood before the collection of scratches that had vanished in a night.
For example, there was the time she had thought about justice and peace in a world of nothing but unpleasant smiles.
For example, there was the time she had achieved that clear confrontation between the only two people in a twisted world.
Returning to her original world had been a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. Why had she wanted to return? What had she thought she would achieve with this victory? As she thought, the answer revealed itself.
This was a path someone had once walked down.
That was why that boy had been able to speak as if he knew what he was talking about.
When she thought about it, it seemed obvious.
It had been Othinus herself who had created that hell.
“Did I want him to understand?” She spoke slowly as if exhaling. “Did I want someone who understands me?”
This was unlike her relationship with Ollerus. He had held the same type of power but had only been an enemy.
This was unlike her relationship with Gremlin. They had merely had similar goals and had been bound by fear.
She had no interest in a smiling group that joined together in fear of her great power like the international coalition.
In this world that was ever-so-slightly off, she had wanted someone who would understand these wounds of alienation and help soothe them.
She had found no such person in the changed world, so she had hoped for such a person in her original world.
She had wanted to return there no matter what. It was the same as a lost traveler in the distant land of a foreign tongue wanting to return to her homeland. She had believed that she would find warmth there once she arrived.
“Was there anything like that there?”
Othinus tried to recall that distant era.
It may have been due to the thick wall of time that she was having difficulty. Or perhaps it was because she would have to remember pain to reach the answer.
Wherever she had gone, she had been a feared tyrant who constantly spread death and violence.
Even in the endlessly glorified history books written by the winners, she had been so horrible that she was known as a god of war and other similar titles.
“Was there really someone who would conveniently understand me in my original world?”
She had no answer to that question.
The boy she held had already ceased to function.
And yet that may have been what she had wanted to obtain even if it meant destroying the current world.
She had travelled an eternal journey for the possibility of obtaining it, but she had destroyed it with her own hands.
That was why she was alone.
It had been unavoidable.
That boy had not had any detailed plan or chance of winning.
But it had definitely been that boy who had provided her with this sense of loss.
To put it in other words…
“That was…a truly cruel attack.”
She held the reference point of a right hand needed to repair the world. She possessed the power and knowledge of a Magic God needed to use it effectively.
She only had to wave her hand.
The odds of success had lowered to 50/50, but she still had the right to take the challenge.
However, while they both used the term “original world”, the one in Kamijou Touma’s mind and the one in Othinus’s mind were slightly different.
Even if the difference was so slight that no one in the world would notice, it tormented her horribly.
She had to make up her mind.
Which world would she use this single chance on?
Her own world?
Or Kamijou Touma’s world?
She could only choose one.
The boy’s words replayed in the back of her mind.
He had said the following:
What is it you wanted to do in the very beginning?
That settled it for her.
Returning to her original world had only been a means to an end.
What if she could not find it even if she searched through every nook and cranny of the original world she had been born and raised in?
What if it did exist in the original world a certain boy had been born and raised in?
Her options had narrowed down to one.