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  1. A cruel smile spread across Coronzon’s lips.
  3. “Relax your shoulders and take deep breaths. All you are doing is refining your life force into magic power. That is the foundation of all magic. I am not talking about the combat format designed for situations were a moment’s delay could cost you your life. You have all the time in the world in this large temple, so it is not hard at all. What matters is maintaining the proper pose and breathing. I will guide you through a proper meditation using the correct symbols and signs.”
  5. “…”
  7. “Do you still not understand? Think of it as getting personal exercise lessons from the instructor girl at the gym. If you still have trouble, then you only have your own lack of focus, lung capacity, and flexibility to blame.”
  9. Yes.
  11. It sounded simple enough.
  13. And it would be for an expert magician with plenty of training.
  15. But you must not forget that the issue here was not even one of expert vs. amateur.
  17. Hamazura Shiage was an esper and espers were fundamentally incompatible with magic.
  19. “I’ll try…”
  21. Coronzon did not mention any of that.
  23. She only told him how to do it. She did not provide redundant safety measures or any kind of warranty.
  25. The Great Demon was not concerned with what he wanted.
  27. She only needed human magic power as a convenient ignition.
  29. “Then do it, boy. You want to save Dion Fortune, don’t you? You have a way of doing that right here. No tools or talent are necessary. Only your body and a bit of effort. So why should you hesitate?”
  31. “Yeah, I get it.”
  33. In the end, Hamazura Shiage was quick to answer.
  35. Coronzon smirked, but…
  37. “I know this probably isn’t going to end well for me, but that’s fine. So tell me, Coronzon. What can I do to follow your plan?”
  39. “…?”
  41. This was a slight deviation.
  43. He was not naively rushing in with clouded eyes and grabbing at this thread of hope without understanding the risks.
  45. He did understand.
  47. He understood everything, but he was still accepting the risk. This was different from Crowley or Mathers. This was a reaction she had not seen in those who had known the risks, summoned a Great Demon, and then angrily refused to obey.
  49. Had Coronzon noticed?
  51. Had she noticed the brief moments when Hamazura reached into his pocket and felt the perfectly ordinary stick of gum there?
  53. Had she noticed when he had gained courage from that simple action?
  55. “Tch.”
  57. The blonde woman quietly clicked her tongue.
  59. “Fine. I will explain it step by step. But once you start, you cannot stop before it is complete.”
  61. “Yeah. But are you okay with that? You didn’t hijack this ship for me. You have your own thing to do, right?”
  63. He was still like this even now.
  65. Coronzon did not think he had a disturbing level of good will. This strange sense of solidarity was something born in the dark back alleys.
  67. They were accomplices.
  69. That word did not imply a master and a servant, so it stung a little for Coronzon. That sting came from not knowing what kind of interpersonal distance to keep from someone. He would not let her hold his head down.
  71. She may not have needed to explain this to him.
  73. So when she opened her mouth, was it to return him to the usual format and regain the initiative? A silent demon would gain nothing because the humans would not blindly believe them.
  75. “This works toward my goal as well, so do not worry. The three Honours of Scotland and the Stone of Scone are necessary components of the Ceremony of Mo Athair, but I would also like to use pure human magic power for the ignition. You only need to provide the initial tug of the chainsaw’s cord. I will handle the rest. So our work is linked.”
  77. “I see. That’s fine then.”
  79. “To be clear, the world will be destroyed when my work is complete. Are you sure you want to say that is ‘fine’?”
  81. “…”
  83. “If you do not understand, allow me to enlighten you. My name is Coronzon, my number is 333, and my nature is dispersion. Just as the angel of water is revealed using no more than water, I exist only to obstruct the bonds of the world and naturally break down all of creation. I will be intentionally harming every part of the world to create scabs and then I will tear them all away while here in the United Kingdom. That will cause the world to boil over and create a frenzied state in which everyone will work to destroy each other. From neighborhood brats to nuclear warheads, all seven billion people will face their greatest enemy and drive each other to mutual self-destruction. Just like the game of old maid, I will send enemy against enemy until they destroy the entire world. That would still leave the isolated jokers who do not naturally break down, but I will crush all of them myself. Not a single person will escape.”
  85. She really was a Great Demon.
  87. A dangerous but seductive and alluring smile appeared on her face.
  89. That sweet and ruinous flower did not at all suit the beige habit.
  91. “While all those fools are focused on the visible chaos, I will take my time preparing for the end. I am the Great Demon lurking in the Abyss of the Sephiroth. But ascending the tree is not the only way to use it.” She pointed her thumb at the center of her chest. “I obtained this physical body and descended the tree. The humans drowning at the bottom level only ever think of ascending it, but the connections go both ways. I started higher up and I can freely come and go, so this temporary level does not matter to me. Having a physical body is not a bad thing since it provides practical benefits in this world. And it allows me to reach the physical and scientific layer at the very bottom where all other phases are folded up.”
  93. “The bottom?”
  95. “Yes. Imagine the universe at the point when the geocentric model said the other planets revolved around the earth. That is different from current mainstream astrology, but this is about some simple mental exercise. …But make sure this hypothetical does not confuse you. Now, with that model, the forces storing up mystical and supernatural power pour down on the earth from outside of the planet, but the earth in the center is a perfectly ordinary hunk of dirt. That is the earth’s surface where we are standing now. If you removed that, the world would lose its center and it would fall apart, correct?”
  97. Coronzon raised her slender index finger and slowly spun it around.
  99. When she did, a few of the large plates around them began to rotate. They appeared to be representing the view of the world before it was proven that the planets revolved around the sun.
  101. “By passing all that power through this foundational layer, that ‘bottom’ layer can be broken and removed. From there, all other phases will be destroyed along with this one. Without the core, the other forces cannot maintain their revolutions.”
  103. She clenched her fist and took a step from the center.
  105. With their directions from the “core” gone, the large plates scattered blindly and bumped into each other.
  107. A single action caused it all to fall apart.
  109. “Aleister apparently wanted to save humanity by destroying every other phase and leaving just this one behind, but I am the opposite. By removing the ‘bottom’ layer at the center, the phases for all mythologies and religions will be destroyed. That is the Ceremony of Mo Athair. Nothing at all will remain afterwards.”
  111. Hamazura had no response to that.
  113. He did not understand it, but he was not enough of a fool to miss the scent of danger hanging in the air.
  115. He could not keep up when discussing things on the level of saving or destroying the world. He was more focused on the people right in front of him. That might be getting his priorities backwards, but it was a common thought process for humans. For example, if this ship were to sink, he would be more worried about finding a scrap of wood floating in the icy ocean than about how the sinking ship would affect the overall conflict. Humans were small creatures with narrow viewpoints.
  117. These two were accomplices who were both using the other. Once one accomplished their goal, they would abandon the other.
  119. …Or it should have worked that way.
  121. No one should have agreed to help Coronzon once they understood her plan.
  123. “What do I have to do? What’s the first step to save Fortune?”
  125. “I will tell you the proper pose first. Start by sitting on that mat.”
  127. Part 11
  128. A major change was underway at Edinburgh Castle as well.
  130. It could all be seen in a conversation between the young female knight and Knight Leader.
  132. “The Anaconda cruise missiles failed to hit their target. They were shot down. We have a detailed report from the drone for the first two, but the drone was shot down and we only have a simple radar report for third onward.”
  134. “That is fine. We only wanted to know how much control Coronzon has over the Queen Britannia. …As we expected, she had breathed life back into its defenses.”
  136. “Knight Leader, I never rode the Queen Britannia when it was in service, but it is not equipped with specific magical defenses, correct?”
  138. “The temple itself is generic. That means it will amplify and weaponize any spiritual item that is connected to the central altar. For example, even a four-leaf clover or a rabbit’s foot will be converted into a barrier that distorts luck such that all approaching ships and aircraft will sink into the ocean. …This is dangerous. This initial attack used the default settings, but that will change. With the Honours of Scotland and the Stone of Scone, that demon can do all sorts of things.”
  140. “…”
  142. “The heliport has already disappeared, hasn’t it? Once that happens, the temple cannot be destroyed from the outside. She has complete control of the ship.”
  144. “Is she abusing all of the knowledge and techniques the Anglicans had accumulated?”
  146. “Try to eliminate those unnecessary biases. The problem is Coronzon at the top, so this does not say anything about those working under her. All of us were caught in the confusion during the defense of London and we need as much help as we can get. We cannot overcome this national crisis if we begin fighting our own allies.”
  148. The female knight did not openly protest, but she seemed to be appraising everything here, including the statements of her direct superior.
  150. Everyone seemed to know that Knight Leader occasionally attempted to speak with that Asian Saint, but defending him here would not improve matters.
  152. The ponytail swordswoman must have noticed everyone’s focus gathering on her because she glanced over at them before heading out on patrol. She likely wanted to avoid spreading discord, but she had a tendency to keep more distance from people than others did. The Amakusa were a branch of Christianity with a unique history of persecution that lasted until just two or three hundred years before. They had worshiped in secret for long enough to have developed superior techniques for remaining hidden, but that did not mean she was used to this.
  154. Even the strongest of wills could be influenced by loneliness.
  156. Knight Leader honestly thought she was a strong person.
  158. “Anyway, I doubt the Anglican forces will be effective against Coronzon,” said the female knight.
  160. “Yes, I am not going to defend them to the point of lying. It definitely hurts that she will know all of their tricks. Even the Index Librorum Prohibitorum and her perfect memory were used in Coronzon’s plans. This makes it all the more painful that we do not have the Imagine Breaker. My Thororm's Spell can turn any attack power to zero, but it only activates once I comprehend what the enemy’s attack is. I cannot keep up with her speed. To be certain, I would need to directly see and comprehend the spiritual item that has vanished beyond the veil.”
  162. Index opened her mouth when she heard that.
  164. This was more important than the ship right now.
  166. “333, dispersion.”
  168. Her voice rang clearly in that stone room with paper documents covering every surface.
  170. Once she got started, her voice ruled that space.
  172. “If Great Demon Coronzon is acting based on her nature, her goal will be the natural breakdown of the entire world.”
  174. “Natural breakdown?”
  176. Kamijou Touma frowned as he asked for clarification.
  178. …He felt like Othinus had said something similar before, but she had not managed a full explanation and he had not had time to understand it. And this would be the first time hearing it for some others like Mikoto. It was a good idea for them all to have the same information.
  180. He was glad to have so many multilingual people around. Even with Queen Regnant Elizard and Knight Leader here, they all spoke in Japanese for the sake of the ignorant spiky-haired boy. Index pointed at the unnatural blank spot on the wall.
  182. “Coronzon is not plotting to earn some kind of benefit in this world, like world domination or becoming a billionaire. In fact, she rejects the very existence of those fixed, immovable, and eternal winners. She thinks that all things should break eventually so they can be broken down and prepare for the next thing to be born. Her definition of evil is anything that breaks the cycle, such as immortality or an eternal kingdom.”
  184. “Breaks the cycle?”
  186. Index nodded at Kamijou’s question.
  188. “Just as the angel of water is fundamentally linked to water, Coronzon is fundamentally linked to 333, dispersion. Her nature and thought processes are specialized for natural breakdown. She will feel no guilt at all over this act of destruction. In fact, she probably doesn’t even think of it as destruction. When you get rid of a card in old maid, you aren’t destroying or killing it, right? You are ‘forming a pair’. It’s like that.”
  190. Misaka Mikoto and Shokuhou Misaki looked even more confused than Kamijou because they only had experience with the science side of things. They had fought the Golden magicians on the highway in the middle of the night, but they had never understood the essence of magic even for a moment.
  192. Swimsuit Mikoto frowned while the machine arms on her back swayed.
  194. “So she’s the kind of person who doesn’t want the world to be overflowing with bags of non-burnable trash?”
  196. “Why are you talking about trash?”
  198. This was made more complicated by the fact that Index grew confused when the other girl tried to give a simpler comparison.
  200. The palm-sized god on Kamijou’s shoulder crossed her legs and breathed an exasperated sigh.
  202. “Leave the skit for later and just get all the information out there. Individual questions and comprehension can come later.”
  204. Index and Mikoto both tilted their head as they continued the discussion.
  206. “What matters here is how irregular it is for Coronzon herself to be in harm’s way. That Great Demon really should not be on the center stage of history. If she wants to destroy Group A, she manipulates Group B until they begin a clash of equal power in which they neatly destroy each other. She matches up the perfect enemies who will trigger mutual annihilation when they come into contact. Since she advocates natural breakdown, she cannot have any single point continue to win and remain forever.”
  208. “That is a concerning idea if that is what she was doing with the authority of the Anglican archbishop,” groaned Queen Elizard.
  210. Even in the modern age, the Anglican Church had secretly punished wicked magicians, but now they had cause to question whether all of those had really been criminals. While using the identity of Lola Stuart, Coronzon had crushed any inconvenient individuals in the name of justice. She had made sure to attack enough of the truly dangerous magic cabals to camouflage the unrelated people she wanted to attack herself. Since the first on the list was a villain, the world had accepted that the ninth on the list was as well, so she was capable of sending out destruction as she saw fit.
  212. Was that why she insisted on using spiritual items made by humans?
  214. Namely, the three Honours of Scotland and the Stone of Scone.
  216. Even hijacking the United Kingdom may have been a way to pit great powers against each other so she could efficiently destroy the entire human race that dug in its heels and refused to be destroyed. And she always created the worst possible combinations like Mathers and Aleister.
  218. “She sets things up so she can pit A against B and have them destroy each other. That is what Great Demon Coronzon does. She intends to use that process to break down all phenomena and objects in this world.”
  220. Index pressed her index fingers together.
  222. And then she moved them apart.
  224. “Then what about Coronzon herself as she enjoys this game of Mutual Destruction Old Maid? Do you think there is a symbol of destruction that forms a pair with her?”
  226. The atmosphere in the room was even heavier than the stone surrounding them.
  228. This was a sudden conclusion that seemed to overturn everything in an instant.
  230. That said, this was not the time to relax and let the conversation continue.
  232. This had to do with Coronzon, so they did not have a moment to relax.
  234. Wasn’t that what it meant?
  236. Coronzon could take everything in this world and set up a cross-counter of their weak points to ensure mutual destruction. But what about Coronzon herself as she peered into the toy box of the world and stuck her hands inside to set things up as she liked? Even if they overturned the toy box, could they really find something with equal power to her that would form a pair with her?
  238. “…”
  240. Kamijou Touma looked down at his right arm.
  242. That arm was now incomplete and it lacked the hand that symbolized Imagine Breaker.
  244. “No.” Index shook her head. “That isn’t what I mean, Touma. Even if you still had your right hand’s power, that is still something inside the toy box of the world. That does not match Coronzon who is viewing it all from a step removed.”
  246. “This is sounding rather grim.” First Princess Riméa sighed. “Then what about that insolent word that we keep hearing lately: god? There were the Divine Mixtures, two Magic Gods have been frequently spotted in Scotland, and I believe that one on the boy’s shoulder counts as well.”
  248. “That won’t work.” Index looked at the spiky-haired boy who reflexively tried to protect his small understander with his nonexistent right hand and got his ear pulled on instead. “The word demon contains a few different meanings: The dark side of the human mind, a fallen angel, and a pagan god. I do not think the Magic Gods we have seen would form a clean pair with Great Demon Coronzon. The Divine Mixtures rely on Egyptian and Greek mythology, so they are out for the same reason. They would have some power, but not enough for a direct conflict.”
  250. “Then what are we supposed to do?” carefully asked Third Princess Villian while glancing over at her mother’s equipment. “We can use Curtana to draw out the power of an angel and guide everyone using that while inside British territory. But as disrespectful as it might sound, that doesn’t get any more powerful than an archangel. It isn’t an absolute good capable of matching an absolute evil.”
  252. That was when they heard a clattering noise.
  254. They looked back to see someone leaning against the entrance and peering into the room.
  256. “Aleister?”
  258. The silver girl was covered in wounds.
  260. Did that magician know something? Had she put together a plan to defeat Coronzon? That was what Kamijou thought, but he was apparently wrong.
  262. “It is no use, human. Even if she had some way of reducing her original sin, Aleister is still a human living in this world. That does not escape the toy box that Index mentioned. It does not give us what we need.”
  264. Then.
  266. Then what?
  268. “I see. So that’s it,” said Aleister. “It has to be someone from outside the world. And not just that, but someone who can wield miracles because they are void of original sin. In that case, I only know of one candidate. Is that what this is about, Aiwass!?”
  270. “Aiwass? That being I saw in the Windowless Building? Are they the key to victory here?”
  272. “No.” The silver girl shook her head. “Given the situation, a direct clash between Holy Guardian Angel Aiwass and Great Demon Coronzon would likely end in Coronzon’s victory. Although the avatar issue would play a role there. So that is not the point here. Aiwass merely prepared the answer.”
  274. “Then who else is there?”
  276. Aleister did not answer Kamijou’s question.
  278. She had already found the answer, but something seemed to be holding her back.
  280. Her face was twisted by anguish.
  282. Part 12
  283. At that very moment, the RV fleeing through the Egyptian desert began to float.
  285. It was flying.
  287. Ignoring gravity was a stereotypical example of a miracle.
  289. The black cat witch wondered why pressing on the gas pedal was not accomplishing anything and then she looked back into the vehicle.
  291. “Hey, hey, hey.”
  293. She heard a voice.
  295. It came from the trumpet toy held by a shockingly small hand.
  297. Mina Mathers bit her lip behind the veil when she realized what this was.
  299. She understood.
  301. She now understood one piece of a gambit that was much, much larger than it appeared on the surface.
  303. And once she understood, she could not ignore it. At times, a great idea could bind your thoughts. It would prevent any other possibilities from occurring to you.
  305. She could not think of any other way.
  307. The only issue remaining was how to process this on the emotional front.
  309. For one thing, why had Coronzon continued to target this RV so persistently?
  311. What if it was more than just cruelty?
  313. What if there was some other reason there?
  315. “Give it up, Dad. It is about time I stepped into the spotlight.”
  317. The RV rocketed off into the blue sky.
  319. There was only one possible destination: the United Kingdom.
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