Hexennacht - Chapter 0

Jan 8th, 2015
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  1. Clash of Hexennacht – Chapter 0
  3. “10:07 AM: Lightning detected in the west coast of Tokyo Bay: The lightning was reported to have ‘risen’.”
  4. “Same time: Automatic doors, active elevators, and train doors malfunctioned and opened across eastern Tokyo. Fortunately, no one seems to have been injured.”
  5. “Same time: The opened doors across Tokyo malfunctioned and automatically closed. Some believe this explains the lack of accidents with the previous malfunction.”
  6. “10:12 AM: Lightning warning canceled for western coast of Tokyo Bay.”
  7. “10:17 AM: Central Tokyo Bay’s Shihouin Academy is annihilating an experimental servant.”
  8. “10:21 AM: Escape of experimental servant confirmed at Central Tokyo Bay’s Shihouin Academy.”
  9. “10:30 AM: Requesting pursuit and inspection of experimental servant at Central Tokyo Bay’s Shihouin Academy.”
  10. <The request was sent to…>
  12. “The lightning warning was canceled, but is that what allowed the servant to escape?”
  13. There was no wind underground, so it seemed terribly boring.
  14. Instead, she had to brush a hand through her hair, but it did not flutter much in the air conditioning. It was black hair which went well with her dark green uniform. It would have looked fine with red or blue as well, though.
  15. It was not the most individual color.
  16. …Which does a good job of showing my position and focus.
  17. After that thought, she spoke aloud.
  18. “This is Horinouchi Mitsuru, Private Shihouin Academy’s General Education Rank 1 and Overall Rank 4 and representative of the Horinouchi Shrine in charge of servant management. I will now pursue Servant Experiment Registration Number JDPH-a707.”
  19. She took a breath and started by looking up at the large white ceiling.
  20. She was in the underground spell experiment space. The ceiling was twenty meters up. The box-like room was thirty meters on each side and it felt a little cramped with all the work desks, targets, and anti-shock equipment for blunt strikes.
  21. However, she spread her arms upwards.
  22. “Sing, Suzaku.”
  23. The empty air split open and a small bird flew out and to her shoulder. It was vermilion. It had an abstract appearance because it was “taking it easy” as an information being, but this did more than enough to provide the basis for Divine Beast Suzaku.
  24. Something spread from the girl’s palms.
  25. It was a ring of light.
  26. It was a vermilion circular torii.
  27. It had a diameter of five meters and it rotated and lowered while displaying something along its path.
  28. “Expand my vision to confirm the extent of its escape. The information will converge from that state.”
  29. The whole would be made into a single unit. The scattered would be brought together. That process was necessary to trace something distant.
  30. And the image displayed on the surrounding barrier was the color blue.
  31. It was the external world seen from a great height.
  32. All 360 degrees were visible, but for the “convergence”, the vision was rapidly dropping.
  33. Her vision returned to the earth where she was, but looking up into the heavens showed the blue sky.
  34. Looking down showed a large bay with an island floating in the middle.
  35. She could not stop her vision from dropping to that point.
  36. The many tall structures surrounding the bay formed a great metropolis.
  37. However, most of that city was not functioning.
  38. It had been destroyed.
  39. The area by the eastern bay and the northern area looked like a giant fist had struck them in places and long canyons had been carved into them. Most of those already had trees and other plants covering them and some had even filled with water to create a water source.
  40. But there was color in the city near the bay, in the west, and in the south. There was plenty of smoke from factories and ships coming and going through the bay.
  41. Those areas contained life that seemed to turn its back on the destruction.
  42. The projected vision dropped toward the island in the center of the bay.
  43. At some point, that vision grew horizontal.
  44. The island scenery growing up from below began with the central forest.
  45. There were green trees and clearings. In the north was a flower garden. The forest had something like a mausoleum in the center.
  46. A few buildings were located around it.
  47. They formed a school.
  48. The image displayed on the barrier provided coordinates and labels. The labels on the buildings contained the blue checkmark of a safe place.
  49. The school buildings were labelled general education, special equipment, spell, or honors. Buildings labelled gym, library, and cafeteria could also be seen.
  50. “Nothing passing through the sky above Shihouin Academy’s artificial island. Nothing out of the ordinary in the surrounding areas. …Visually confirmed.”
  51. As she spoke, her eyes moved around.
  52. She saw something to the southeast between the school buildings located in the four cardinal directions.
  53. It was a large white building. The building was a development laboratory for servants and equipment.
  54. Her vision dropped inside that building.
  55. It arrived.
  56. “…”
  57. It converged and connected.
  58. She looked up and saw the cylindrical translucent barrier showing her the outside world in every direction.
  59. She was underground, but the aboveground projection was the same as standing on the development laboratory’s roof.
  60. The inside of the barrier had labels for cardinal direction and scale as well as the courses of the planets in the sky.
  61. …I can’t perform astrology with my spells, so it’s not much use for me.
  62. She produced a spell circle in her hand and it spread a ley line net out in every direction. The convergence of the high-altitude vision had bound a connection with all of the land she had seen.
  63. “I will begin the pursuit now.”
  64. She brought the magic circle closer.
  65. “Um, Horinouchi?”
  66. The underclassman on the floor with her spoke up. The girl was in charge of examining her work here.
  67. The girl was continuing to type on a document spell circle as she spoke.
  68. “Are you really going to dispose of that servant when you catch it?”
  69. “Yes, its power is too great, so no one can control it at the moment. In fact, the power leaking from the servant could destroy nearby people’s spells.”
  70. She lowered her vision.
  71. She saw a plain wood box fixed to a stretcher. Its automatic Hakone-style lock was opened and it contained tangible pale light.
  72. It was a small creature.
  73. It was a dragon.
  75. The girl named Horinouchi looked to the thirty centimeter square wooden box.
  76. The dragon inside was only about fifteen centimeters tall.
  77. Its blue and white was surprisingly matte. It was made not to show up much even under illumination spells.
  78. Its obedience despite understanding the situation showed how well-made it was.
  79. However, this was not the real thing.
  80. A small ring of light circled the outside of the box.
  81. This was a circular torii emblem. It pressurized ether readings. It was meant to forcibly amplify the afterimage left by ether components.
  82. “The temporary ley line convergence has successfully reproduced JDPH-a707’s afterimage from the pressurized ley line vibration afterimage. The only question is what to do about this thing.”
  83. The dragon child was scattering light form its entire body.
  84. …Even if it’s found, handling it barehanded would be dangerous.
  85. The light was ether light and ether was the foundational element of all things and the fuel of all spells.
  86. “If it can emit this much ether, even our top class students won’t be able to handle it. And if it has escaped…”
  87. “Was it that lightning? I hear UAH sent out a warning. There was a bit of a commotion when all of the school’s doors opened at once.”
  88. “What did the teachers say?”
  89. “That the lightning caused an error in UAH’s defense system that controls all of eastern Tokyo. That may have cast an ‘open’ spell on the entire area.”
  90. “This was more than just opening.”
  91. Horinouchi recalled a certain scene.
  92. “When I went to check on the faculty room, the instant coffee’s lid was open too.”
  93. “Well…”
  94. “This wasn’t the door system that handles the opening spells. It looked more like everything that can open was forcibly opened.”
  95. “Is that even possible? Well, um, I know that’s how spells are, but it covered all of eastern Tokyo and even interfered with our school and UAH that have anti-spell defenses.”
  96. “I was saying it with a fair bit of disbelief, you know?”
  97. “Ah,” said the underclassmen when she finally realized what Horinouchi meant.
  98. She smiled bitterly.
  99. “To do that would require phenomenon level interference over the entire region, wouldn’t it?”
  100. “Yes, it would. But UAH is probably investigating and our job is to confirm our pursuit information.”
  101. “But,” said the other girl. “Will you really dispose of it when you catch it?”
  102. “Yes. It would take a very powerful spell-user to fully control it.”
  103. The girl immediately replied.
  104. “Horinouchi, aren’t you powerful enough to-…”
  105. “I already have Suzaku. And the three above me have their own as well.”
  106. “But…”
  107. “It’s a shame after being involved from the beginning of production, isn’t it?”
  108. But, she thought to crush the other girl’s words. She almost seemed to be trying to convince herself.
  109. …What if my mother was here?
  110. That great existence had left the Suzaku with her, but she was gone now.
  111. So there was no other option here.
  112. But, she thought again. Is that really true?
  113. After a bit of thought, she opened her mouth.
  114. “Most likely…”
  115. She tried to change her train of thought.
  116. When faced with a harsh fact, it was easy to use regulations as a shield to convince herself. There were exceptions like this, but she had to get herself moving regardless of whether she liked it or not.
  117. This was just an odd whim.
  118. Would this underclassman say it was not like her?
  119. “Most likely, Koutarou will command the retrieval team. After the retrieval is complete, I will see if there is any other solution.”
  120. “For example…”
  121. “Instead of disposing of it by disintegration, it could be broken down to strip away its special characteristics, leaving only the basic form. It will no longer have any use as a servant, but…”
  122. “That’s a great idea, Horinouchi!”
  123. Horinouchi paused briefly at the shout and grabbed hand of agreement.
  124. …Honestly.
  125. It was wrong to rejoice when an exception was supported. They could not make decisions like that all of the time.
  126. “I have not finished yet, so it’s too soon to say whether it’s a great idea or not.”
  127. “Oh, s-sorry.”
  128. “It’s fine.”
  129. Horinouchi smiled bitterly and gave her defense for making this kind of decision.
  130. “This is an exception. There is no need to thank me.”
  131. She held a hand over the box and activated a spell.
  132. The ley line convergence was expanded from the traces of the dragon child.
  133. The tracking had begun.
  135. “I am very thankful. I truly know little of this land.”
  136. Below the clear morning sun, someone bowed toward a police station.
  137. It was a local station a ways into the city along the salty bay coast.
  138. Armored vehicles with rotating blue warning lights were travelling up and down the surrounding roads.
  139. “Well, miss, I’m just glad there hasn’t been any real trouble. Are you on your way to Shihouin?”
  140. A police officer pressed his back against the police station’s door.
  141. If he moved at all, the door tried to open, so he lowered his shoulders in annoyance and looked to the other person.
  142. She was a woman still young enough to be called a girl.
  143. She was tall, had long hair, and wore a men’s suit.
  144. “Your Japanese is pretty good,” said the officer. “But what country are you from?”
  145. “Do I not look Japanese to you?”
  146. “No Japanese is going to walk into the center of Tokyo and ask where they are. Oh, but you don’t have to answer.”
  147. Another armored vehicle moved past, but the officer pointed past it with his chin. He indicated the collection of buildings on the bay’s island.
  148. “There are a lot like you in Shihouin. They sometimes stop by here after crashing during flight training.”
  149. “I am actually from Japan, but I will be careful not to do that when I fly.”
  150. “Well, it’s usually only the first years who crash. …And where in Japan are you from?”
  151. “Yokohama.”
  152. “That’s pretty close by.”
  153. “I have been in a different country for a while.”
  154. The girl produced a case from inside her suit and pulled something out of it.
  155. “This is my license. Does it work here too?”
  156. “Ahh, is that the one from the country you were in? It’s a little different from the ones here.”
  157. “Really?”
  158. “Yeah, well, look at this part”
  159. The officer pulled out his own and showed it to her.
  160. “You were part of that country’s UAH? It says brigadier general here.”
  161. “You can read it because the writing is pure information, can you? And you are not bad yourself, marshal.”
  162. “What country are you from? Based on the writing, I’d guess the Middle East. I heard they had it pretty bad there with what happened ten years ago.”
  163. “No,” she said while pointing to her own name. “Kagami Kagami. People say it is a real stylish name.”
  164. “Is that really something to point out yourself?”
  165. “I really like it,” she said with a smile.
  166. Just then, a bell rang.
  167. It came from Shihouin Academy in the bay and the officer commented on it.
  168. “Oh, it’s third period. My wife will be making her delivery to the cafeteria before long.”
  169. “Then I should be going. I want to take a bit of a look around.”
  170. “Oh? You’re going? Can I ask what you’re doing?”
  171. “Looking for someone.”
  172. “Did something happen ten years ago?”
  173. “No, it goes back further than that. …But why do you bring up ten years ago?”
  174. “Just how peaceful a country were you living in?”
  175. He gave a bitter smile and Kagami shrugged.
  176. “I will admit it was originally a horribly peaceful country filled with nothing.”
  177. With that, she started to move. As she began to leave, she tapped on the door the officer held in place.
  178. “What a nuisance.”
  179. “Yeah, and take care. …Once you can fly, check in the back of the reconstructed land. There’s a croquette shop with a sign visible from above, so make sure you stop by.”
  180. And…
  181. “You should get to Shihouin before classes end. They’re reviewing a lot and doing some exciting stuff before determining who gets to take part in the next Hexennacht. This time, they say buddies are accepted. The higher ranks are bad enough alone, so it’s got to be quite the group they’ve got there. Maybe it’s for the best to restrict witches to the young.”
  182. “I see. I will keep that in mind.”
  183. Kagami raised a hand in parting.
  184. The bell rang again and the officer assumed she would head in that direction, but…
  185. “Hey, that’s the wrong way.”
  186. “Something is bothering me a little. I am on my way to school; this is just a shortcut of sorts.”
  187. The officer just about ran after her, but he stopped.
  188. “Huh?”
  189. At some point, the door had lost all power.
  190. He heard the siren of a nearby armored vehicle and the distant and fading sound of the bell.
  191. Third period was beginning in Shihouin Academy.
  193. Class had already begun by the time Horinouchi returned to the classroom.
  194. Pursuit of a servant was nothing more than determining its direction by confirming the trajectory of the ether produced as it moved. Shinto spells removed all that was unnecessary, so they made for highly accurate “pathfinding” spells.
  195. Once it was found and captured, it would be brought back and she would begin her negotiation. But for now…
  196. …I should put those thoughts on hold.
  197. She faced forward.
  198. She was inside a stepped classroom. Shihouin Academy’s general education division had around fifty students in each year.
  199. They were few, but they were the elite. Most of them had unique traits, so classes had a tendency to focus on general knowledge and ethics.
  200. This was the same. At the bottom of the stepped classroom, a teacher opened a spell circle in front of a large blackboard.
  201. “Hexennacht. You will be the stars of that night and you third years need to be especially aware of that.”
  202. She held up the spell circle which automatically typed out her words. It was a public spell of Shihouin Academy and many of the third years had activated their own because of its efficient ether consumption.
  203. Horinouchi was different.
  204. She opened a vermilion circular torii that caught the teacher’s words as she thought.
  205. …What can I do to secure my place in Hexennacht?
  206. Suddenly, the teacher pointed at the girl next to her.
  207. “Yes, ma’am,” said the girl as she stood up.
  208. She glanced over at Horinouchi and gave a gesture saying “leave it to me”. Most likely, the teacher had started to point at Horinouchi but hesitated.
  209. It was Horinouchi’s fault for getting lost in thought.
  210. She nodded back and the neighboring girl brought a hand to her chin in a dignified pose.
  211. “Magical girl isn’t the right answer, is it? I did want to be one, though.”
  212. “Unfortunately, so did I,” said the teacher. “I’m a magical woman now.”
  213. Horinouchi wanted to believe the class’s silent lack of laughter was out of consideration.
  214. “Anyway,” said the neighboring girl. “The technical classification is a spell attack soldier from the spell branch of the military.”
  215. “Correct. And what demographic is it composed of?”
  216. “One hundred percent female.”
  217. “Correct,” said the teacher again.
  218. She smiled and waved her hand up and down to tell the girl to sit.
  219. The girl complied and the teacher walked across the podium.
  220. She moved left and opened a spell circle in front of the blackboard. It displayed a graph with years running left to right and numbers of people running up and down. A red line drew a rectangle, but it radically declined partway through before gradually rising and finally gaining a sudden and rapid rise.
  221. “This is an estimate of how many ‘witches’ were present in the world over time. They were known as shamans, medicine women, and fortunetellers in ancient times. In times of uncertainty, they were hunted as scapegoats and their numbers decreased. However, they made a comeback after the Reformation when Europe developed into a large-scale battlefield. In modern times, they began in Prussia and rose to the forefront. They were even the major fighters during World Wars One and Two. Why was that? …You there.”
  222. A girl by the window immediately answered without standing.
  223. “Active spells,” she said. “Both men and women can use spells, but women excel at active ones and men excel at passive ones and neither can outdo the other. So from a combat perspective, women are the attackers and men are the defenders.”
  224. She continued quietly.
  225. “But in modern times, we can mass-produce as many weapons and equipment as we need and servants have been developed to act as our familiars. This has led to an age where that sword and shield relationship is tilted overwhelmingly in the sword direction. Meanwhile, the shield side can gather as a group to set up barriers to protect cities and the like, so the battlefield has divided between the defended positions and the attackers who struggle over the lines between those positions. In other words, the witches have become the stars of battle.”
  226. “Correct. This division was noticed long ago and the witch hunts were secretly fueled by fears that the existing patriarchal society would lose its power. In the end, the nations that sent their women to the front lines of the battlefield had a drastic reduction in population, so after the initial stages, most wars get bogged down in a struggle to find a way to send one’s defensive line of men into the enemy nation.”
  227. The teacher was not done.
  228. “But you all know why wars like that only ever exist for a short time, don’t you?”
  229. Because…
  230. “Hexennacht occurs once every ten years. And ever since the Middle Ages, mankind has worked to resist it.”
  232. A servant was an artificial spirit.
  233. Despite only just having gone outside for the first time, the dragon child knew the outside world.
  234. It was fifteen centimeters tall. It could fly, but flying had brought pursuit earlier. Even if it was artificial, it inherited the instincts of the creature it was based on. It was certain that being pursued would lead to its demise, so it immediately chose to hide.
  235. It was currently east of Heiwajima in Ota. It was behind a shopping district off the main road.
  236. It had knowledge of the land, the time, and the language. It was aware it was meant to support someone, but it also knew it could not do so in this situation.
  237. It was in danger.
  238. …A failure.
  239. It understood that too.
  240. It could analyze its own abilities on the level of instinct. It had been created for Hexennacht with an absolute focus on ether extraction ability.
  241. But that extraction was too powerful. In what seemed like a freak accident, the pathways had joined together and its output was far greater than estimated.
  242. The temporary acclaim had quickly changed to disappointment.
  243. It had been decided that no spell user could contain the amount of ether the dragon child extracted. There had apparently been negotiations with some skilled witches, but they all already had a similar existence.
  244. It had been created by accident, so parts of it were uncontrollable.
  245. They had taken data on it, so they could apparently reproduce something similar that they could control. In other words, it was not needed.
  246. It understood the idea of self-destruction.
  247. That was something all servants had an instinctive understanding of.
  248. It was meant to support someone, so it would be eliminated if that was not possible. It did not resist or question that fact.
  249. Thinking that was simply how things were, it sat still and the door opened.
  250. It was opened by someone.
  251. The dragon child did not know who, but someone had opened the door to this room inside of which it should have entered eternal sleep.
  252. It then recalled something. When it had been revealed to be a failure, someone had placed it on their hand and said the following:
  253. “Probably the only person who could become your master would be someone with an unbelievably large ether pool. Or…”
  254. It did not know the rest, but it had an idea as the door opened.
  255. Should it…
  256. …Search for someone like that?
  257. It had heard no one like that existed, but the person who had put it on their hand had seemed disappointed. The ability to read emotion like that was another ability supplied on the instinct level.
  258. So as it reached its front legs toward the door, it had another thought.
  259. If it found someone like that, no one would have to be disappointed.
  260. As a servant, gaining a master was the first and most meaningful thing it could do.
  261. “…”
  262. The door was opened. It led outside. It led to everything.
  263. The dragon child had knowledge of the outside world. That knowledge had already been there at its birth. Why was that there? It could not use the knowledge if it slept.
  264. So it moved outside. It could not let itself be caught. Being caught would lead to “disappointment”.
  265. “I see.”
  266. It heard a sudden voice from behind.
  267. There had been nothing there before, but…
  268. “So there is something like you here. How interesting.”
  269. After the voice, the dragon child was suddenly lifted up from below its front legs.
  271. The servant dragon child looked at the girl who had picked it up.
  272. She wore a men’s suit yet she was not a man. But…
  273. …Wrong.
  274. It could see the ether light surrounding her. In the darkness of this back alley, this may have been the first light that the servant saw.
  275. Some kind of powerful divine protection or spell had washed over or passed through her, but…
  276. “…?”
  277. Something was wrong.
  278. What was “wrong”? Her power was.
  279. Servants possessed a certain ability in their support role: to fully view someone’s power.
  280. But what this dragon child sensed in the girl was not like any of the others it had seen.
  281. …Not there.
  282. Her ether pool was thin. She was a normal person with no training as a witch. Her ability was much lower than the average for a child. It might as well have been zero.
  283. So this was the wrong person.
  284. This person could not use spells and supporting her would put her in danger.
  285. She would be unable to contain the overflowing ether which could even kill her.
  286. “…”
  287. So the dragon child shook its body to say it was too dangerous.
  288. “Sorry. Do you want me to put you down?”
  289. She readily lowered it to the ground.
  290. She was kind.
  291. It looked up in surprise for a number of reasons and saw her kneeling down.
  292. “Wonderful. Just how rich is this world to produce such an unexpected being?”
  293. And…
  294. “I am thankful for your existence.”
  295. It did not understand. It was a “failure”, so why was it being thanked?
  296. At any rate, what was it to do? It had struggled and been released, so how was it to react now that it had been thanked? It did not contain the proper knowledge to decide.
  297. However, it heard something. It was an armored vehicle. Specifically, a Type 23 Six-Wheel APC from the UAHJ Shihouin Branch. Its anti-spell defenses were effective up to Rank 3, but its greatest ability was its transportation ability.
  298. “You!”
  299. The front door opened and a young man in a suit hopped out. He opened an identification spell circle as he did.
  300. “I am Amagi Koutarou, Division 2 Sub-Manager of the UAHJ Shihouin Branch. I want you to step away from that servant and give it to us! Do you understand!?”
  302. While still crouched down, Kagami heard a group of footsteps lining up behind the man named Koutarou.
  303. …Quite the show of force.
  304. The “servant” was likely the dragon looking up at her. If it was a servant, what did it serve?
  305. “Is there something wrong with this thing? It does not look dangerous to me.”
  306. “Regulation of that unit failed. It cannot control its power and could even kill the user. It is in an extremely dangerous state and…”
  307. …Oh, that kind of servant.
  308. In other words, it was a familiar. Or perhaps it could be called a pressurizer.
  309. She asked one thing.
  310. “What happens after I hand it over to you?”
  311. The bespectacled young man breathed in before finally giving a clear answer.
  312. “It will of course be broken down in the regulatory facility as is the standard-…”
  313. “It will not.”
  314. “What?”
  315. Kagami ignored him and looked down.
  316. The dragon child was looking up at her there.
  317. “Go,” she told it. “Go and live. If you were born, then that is worth doing. And if you think you should release your power, then come to me. …I am the type that does not die easily.”
  318. The dragon child hesitated before lowering its head. It may have been a nod or a bow, but it was a clever creature either way. It was wonderful.
  319. But what was she to do now?
  320. “Are you going to let it escape!?”
  321. “What are you going to do?”
  322. The men lined up in front of her. They wore helmets, ballistic armor that hid their bodies, and backpacks.
  323. “It would be a lot of trouble if you got in our way.”
  324. The young man frowned as he viewed her through a spell window. The glowing magic circle was a type of console and seemed to be a local technique.
  325. “Where are you registered?”
  326. “Oh? Do I have to be registered somewhere?”
  327. “You can’t just throw out a custom dating back more than a century ago!”
  328. He suddenly looked up into the sky and inhaled.
  329. “It is unlikely, but it is possible you are also a troublesome existence. Are you aware of that?”
  330. “I am, but I would rather not make that decision just yet,” said Kagami. “But you are in no position to answer that with a clear ‘yes’. And neither am I.”
  331. “Then I apologize. …We will be acting at my discretion here.” He raised a hand. “I authorize the use of anti-witch equipment!”
  333. “Listen, everyone.”
  334. The teacher raised her right hand, raised her fingers one by one, and then lowered them.
  335. “Ten. Ten years.”
  336. That was…
  337. “We are approaching Hexennacht which occurs once every ten years. The spell attack soldiers are known as ‘witches’ and that name provides divine protection inherited from the past.”
  338. The teacher smiled a little.
  339. “I’m sorry to say it, but there is no equivalent term for males. But just as the military usually refers to theirs as a defensive occupation, their spells are mostly passive ones such as poison-fighting or anti-spell. They can also act on their own during Hexennacht just like we can. …But their objective will be defense, so they end up staying behind. And we have had some success developing defensive spells by researching reactive defense using attack spells, so there is no need to bring them to the front lines at all.”
  340. She reopened her closed hand and pointed at a girl by the hallway.
  341. “However, there is one thing we must be careful about concerning the difference between the men and us. Do you know what that is?”
  342. “Yes.” The girl stood up. “Should I show you?”
  343. “No, this is just confirming what we all already know.”
  344. “In that case…”
  345. The girl’s shoulders relaxed and the slight tension left the other girls as well.
  346. As that stiffness became relief, the girl spoke.
  347. “The men can create self-defense divine protection on their own, but in exchange, there is one thing they can’t use.”
  348. That was…
  349. “Servants. A witch’s familiar. The very first servant ever created was ‘made for witches’ and all modern servants are its descendants, so only witches can use them. But the successful creation of pseudo-spirits allows the men to summon weapons.”
  350. “Such as?”
  351. The teacher looked across the students.
  352. They all gathered strength in their hands and reached for their necklaces or other decorations.
  353. “Summon frames. Men can’t use servants or attack spells, so the most they can manage are Normal Devices. And when summoning them, they use a pseudo-servant known as a public servant.”
  355. Kagami saw it happen.
  356. On the top right side of the men’s backpacks, an upwards-facing launcher burst open and light shot out.
  357. It was white light.
  358. It was not a bullet, lightning, or even fire. It simply stopped in midair to protect each of them individually.
  359. “Spirits? They look artificial, though.”
  360. “This is one part of IAHJ’s male anti-witch equipment. It’s what you call defensive attack power.”
  361. As the man spoke, the light vanished and appeared again. Once the light spirit on his shoulders trembled and scattered, it changed to a different form.
  362. …Oh.
  363. It was a weapon.
  364. The light first formed an internal structure to secure its functionality. By the time Kagami recognized it as a “cannon”, it had already finished transforming and the bolts made of its own light fixed it all together.
  365. The final form was over three meters long. It was a giant jitte cannon made of light.
  366. “A weapon for subduing. Is that your defensive attack method?”
  367. “They may be for men, but we have sixteen subduing Normal Devices here. A non-ranker will be injured. I personally hope you will run.”
  368. “I must brazenly make my way to that school.”
  369. “Are you a witch, too?”
  370. “I do not know.”
  371. But Kagami could say something else.
  372. The technology she had just seen was very interesting. High-density ether was given individuality as a spirit and that was used to summon a weapon. Not only did that reduce the burden on the spell user, but it refined and settled the weapon’s functionality.
  373. “I see. So…”
  374. In her case…
  375. “You do it like this?”
  376. As she stood, she spread and swung her right arm.
  377. She produced her version there.
  379. Koutarou saw something unbelievable.
  380. He was fifteen meters away and what he saw was far too strange for a back alley. After all, this girl…
  381. “You summoned a Normal Device without a servant!?”
  382. “Hm. …Is that what it is called? But…”
  383. She was perfectly calm as she produced a spiral of ether around her hand. A weapon made of ether was produced there and she turned to face Koutarou.
  384. “This is how you do it, right?”
  385. He knew why the other men were gasping.
  386. She was rapidly constructing a large white sword. However, the central structure was made first and stored away. It was wrapped with a forceful blade that made it more of a blunt weapon than a sword, but inside…
  387. “Sub-manager! That’s a shell-producing acceleration cannon!”
  388. It was also on a huge scale. From pommel to tip, it was over five meters long. If she could create something like that almost instantly…
  389. …She’s on the level of a ranker. And a high one at that!
  390. He made a single decision. If a witch of this level was unregistered…
  391. “Get ready, everyone! Open your defense spells to maximum!”
  392. This was dangerous. After all…
  393. …Only one person in this world can produce a Normal Device without a servant!
  394. Faced with that dangerous opponent, Koutarou cried out.
  395. “Attack! Subdue her!”
  397. The class had become a sort of recreation.
  398. After going over the basics, the teacher’s shoulders relaxed and she spoke.
  399. “On the night of Hexennacht, a male defense unit will defend the surface while we intercept in the air. After last time and the time before that, we know they can ignore the Hexennacht territory and the buddy system has been allowed this time around. But not only can we not ignore the excess firepower that brings, it will actually cause even more damage to the surface.”
  400. So…
  401. “When you return home, the look in your eyes when you face your parents will change. If you spent enough time training here, you will truly understand the meaning of ten years ago or twenty years ago.”
  402. The teacher spoke with a smile, but someone raised their hand with an “um”.
  403. The student tensed her shoulders and spoke.
  404. “My father can endure fights with my mom without using a frame. Is that some kind of divine protection?”
  405. “That is your mother showing her love by holding back.”
  406. They laughed and the general atmosphere softened.
  407. But at that point, they all stopped moving.
  408. The color vermilion had appeared in the center of the classroom.
  409. It was a circular torii spell circle with the word “warning” in the center.
  410. “Horinouchi.”
  411. Horinouchi stood silently at the teacher’s call.
  412. She spoke to no one in particular.
  413. “I have official business to take care of.”
  414. “That’s the second time today. …Getting too emotionally involved will prevent you from making good decisions, you know?”
  415. “Don’t worry. This has nothing to do with emotion. …You may remember our visit to the faculty room after the lightning earlier, but the three rankers above me are not exactly prompt.”
  416. “I see. Then you have permission to head out,” said the teacher. “You are #4 in UAH’s world witch rankings, you are a single unit ‘shrine maiden’-style witch, and you are the daughter of Horinouchi Mitsuyo, one of the three sages and participator in the previous Hexennacht. Keep that in mind when deciding how to act, Horinouchi Mitsuru.”
  417. She smiled before continuing.
  418. “This may just get you worked up, but Hexennacht is near. It isn’t long until that night when we must defeat the Black Witch who will destroy the world.”
  420. To be continued next issue.
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