The Inquisitors training institution.
It's nicknamed "AntiMagic Academy".
The age of discrimination towards witches and sorcerers, as well as Magical Heritages has began in the earnest.
In order to crack down on threats related to 【Magic】, the country has established the Inquisition.
The ones who rebelled against it were humans possessing magical power, in other words - witches.
That unrest was later called "Witch-Hunt War", an abominable conflict which consumed the majority of the human race and left a deep scar in minds of people.
After the Witch-Hunt War ended, the Inquisition further increased regulation concerning witches and established laws for punishing them, they also founded an Inquisitor training institution called AntiMagic Academy.
Inquisition's power had a firm foundation established.
"...fired, you say?"
In AntiMagic Academy's chairman's office, a girl with sunset-colored hair frowned dissatisfied.
"Indeed. To be precise, it's deprivation of qualifications, I guess? Since you can obtain them once again, it means you aren't fired. From today onward, you're not a member of Inquisition, which means you have become a student of AntiMagic Academy."
AntiMagic Academy's and Inquisition's chairman, Ootori Sougetsu, said so with a faint smile. His appearance and gestures made it hard to judge whether he was a man or a woman, he had an unique and daunting seductiveness.
"As for why you were punished... you know already, right?"
The girl could tell what was it about and remained silent. Sougetsu raised a cup with tea from an old, luxurious desk and leaned on the back of his chair.
"Don't tell me you forgot about your recent blunder. If it turned out badly it could have become a grave problem for Inquisition. Think of yourself lucky that you got a chance to start over."
"You've abandoned your mission despite being a "Dullahan", this is the punishment for that."
Sougetsu raised both his hands as he said that.
Each inquisitor has an appointed role.
Developing and maintaining various anti-magical weapons, were the "Reginn".
Serving as intelligence and infiltration agents, the "Banshee".
In charge of all medical treatment, responsible for treating injuries caused by magic are the "Seelie".
An assault forward possessing necessary equipment and tasked with Inquisition's self-defense are the "Spriggan".
And those who are allowed to perform investigations by themselves and arbitrarily enter combat were the "Dullahan".
There were diverse occupations since inquisitor's work was not limited to hunting witches. Their work was to resolve all issues in which magic is involved.
It's been 150 years since the Witch-Hunt War ended. Those who made use of magic, namely witches and sorcerers are few in number, which was the current status. Since the law forbid the witches remaining in this world to have offspring, other than mutations there were hardly any people born with magical power.
However, witches aside, there were other threats existing.
A substance harboring magic inside, "Magical Heritage" was one of them.
There are various types of Magical Heritage in existence, swords, books, guns, vases, various pottery, paint brushes, leaves, tobacco, even cigarette butts. Magic dwelling in inorganic objects is not uncommon in modern times, but from time to time a tremendous weapon appears.
Confirmed to exist for a long time already, the lost-type Magical Heritages are mentioned in legends and folklore, they are also referred to as irregular substances having traces of magical power in them. Their value lied not only in being a weapon, they also had a high historical value. Since there were collectors gathering them, they were traded in the black market for high prices.
Other than that, they arrested people that did not have magical power yet belonged to cults and worshiped evil gods, dealing with supernatural disaster called Akashic Hazard and researching and protection of fantastic organisms. Their work spread very widely.
"Well, you don't have endure it until your graduation, don't let it weight on you so much. When it looks like you show signs of remorse, I think it would be all right for you to return to your original position. Learn from this experience and don't make a mistake like that aga——"!
"Excuse me, but I believe I did not take any improper actions in respect to matter from the other day."
The girl who had remained silent spoke as if to interrupt Sougetsu.
Normally, it would be outrageous for an inquisitor to speak in such manner towards the chairman. Sougetsu didn't mind it at all, he put his elbows on the desk and rested his chin on his hands, smiling.
"Ouka, I'll ask you one question. What do you think is an inquisitor's mission?"
Hearing Sougetsu's question, the girl named Ouka narrowed her eyes sharply.
"Protecting people from magical threats as well as extermination of witches and sorcerers."
"Extermination, huh. That's why comrades gave you a disgraceful nickname like 《Calamity》."
"Inquisitor's are fulfilling missions given by the Inquisition. That is to arrest witches and seizing Magical Heritage. Killing and destroying isn't one of the goals."
"...I have that in mind."
"The age where we killed and destroyed indiscriminately is already over. That way of acting caused false accusations to go rampant. Not all witches are villains, there are people who don't want to be one, we have to protect witches who are like that."
Ouka clenched her fist, hearing Sougetsu's pretty words unbearable anger has welled up in her.
"There's an old Japanese saying, for rice cakes go to the rice cake maker, isn't there. The Inquisition does not have a role for killing witches."
"...I understand what you want to say. I am aware of my own shortcomings. However, there was no other way than to kill the witch. Or maybe, should the child taken hostage be forsaken and the witch's arrest be prioritized instead?"
"You put a bullet in the witch's forehead despite the fact that there was a hostage, is that prioritizing human lives? Did you not consider a possibility of the hostage being killed?"
"For me, there is no such possibility."
Ouka said sharply, her pupils displayed complete self-confidence.
"...anyway, from now on you're back to being a student. The procedures are already complete. From today onward do your best studying."
Sougetsu opened his desk's drawer that contained documents.
"Obediently accept your punishment and come back later. With your skills you'll be back in no time."
"...I was in the middle of investigating the case of corpse collectors... I have clues on their trading partner, a little bit longer and I'll catch them. Please, let me continue for a litt——"
"I've said it before; that matter is within jurisdiction of the police, that's the agreement between Inquisition and the police's HQ."
"But we don't know when the living will become victims... the police's investigation is very lax."
"Since no traces of magic have been found Inquisition cannot intervene, you know that."
"In the first place, you're no longer an inquisitor, you no longer have the right to interfere with the investigation."
Ouka's face clearly displayed her frustration.
"That always-discontent expression is wasting away your beauty, you know? Think of it as of great opportunity. I've thought for a long time that you should polish your social abilities. Even among 'Dullahan', your reputation is terrible. They say you're unfriendly and won't listen to anyone."
"...that can't be helped, that's how my personality is."
"See, that's exactly the problem. I think you joining the Inquisition at age of thirteen was premature... you joined before your humanity could develop in school."
Sougetsu sighed appalled, then threw the documents towards Ouka.
She gathered the documents scattered on the desk and still dissatisfied she looked through them.
"Platoon roster. Although you were in middle school before, high school requires students to be part of a test platoon, you know that right."
"You've been incorporated into the 35th Test Platoon, it's nicknamed Small Fry Platoon."
An easy to understand nickname, Ouka was stupefied.
Seeing her reaction Sougetsu laughed happily.
"A set of oddballs, it's my favorite platoon."
"Why do I have to be assigned to such unit?"
"Because, well, see?"
Sougetsu pointed his finger at Ouka and broadly grinned.
"Yes yes, don't get so angry. You've always had such an explosive personality. It would be good if you fixed that as well, during your school life that is."
"I would like to change the assignment. Ideally, I want to be in a platoon all alone. That way I won't bother others and it's convenient for me as well."
"That would make no sense, would it. Also, it's already been decided and can no longer be changed. Members changing platoons is something prohibited by school rules."
Nishishi, Sougetsu laughed mischievously. Ouka couldn't help but feel regret.
"Well, don't be so pessimistic. Cooperation aside, their individual abilities are outstanding. More than anything, there's a candidate for the Relic Eater in there."
Relic Eater. That term made Ouka open her eyes wide in shock.
"N-no way... Are you saying that one of those guys is a candidate?"
"Yes. Since the last of the series... the Twilight Type left over after the Witch-Hunt War hasn't decided on its owner yet."
"That can't be! Why are you choosing from the students?! Only Dullahans should have been allowed to use Relic Eaters!"
"Even though you say that, you were a special case as well. You became a Dullahan at the age of thirteen, then soon after you were chosen as 《Vlad》's contractor."
"That's true but...! Why of all things, a Twilight Type Relic Eater."
"It's a shame, but even with your skill you were rejected by it. Other Dullahans tried as well, but it has rejected everyone. In that case, there's no choice but to choose from the students. Or maybe you want us to choose an amateur from among the civilians?"
Hearing Sougetsu's comment, Ouka lowered her head.
Relic Eaters were weapons only 'Dullahans" are allowed to use. They are completely different from modern firearms that used mithril and adamantium to produce anti-magic effects, having someone else other than Dullahan touch them would be breaking the law.
Relic Eaters are unquestionably Magical Heritage.
A product born from magical power, to humanity they are an abominable existence.
Relic Eater series' main form is that of a gun. Although it's a secret in what circumstances they were born as it's kept a secret and hasn't been revealed, they are all treated like a powerful Magical Heritage.
Fighting poison with poison. It's the forbidden weapon of those who wish to destroy magic.
In order to fill itself with dread and self-discipline, Inquisition named those Magical Heritages after historical tyrants, the devils.
"Of course, it wasn't our intention. We aren't choosing the candidates. Relic Eater is choosing its own contractor. You went through that yourself... so you know it, right?"
Sougetsu said as to remind her, Ouka replied shortly.
Embracing emotions she still couldn't understand, she looked through the documents she held in hands, checking their photos for the candidate.
"Just to make sure, one of those three is the candidate right?"
"Which student is it?"
When Ouka asked, Sougetsu meekly put his hand on his chin, then stared sharply at her.
Without saying anything, Ouka turned around on her heel, with her shoulders trembling in anger she was going to leave the chairman's room.
"Fuhaha! It's confidential so I can't tell you!
"I was stupid to ask you seriously...!"
"Ah—wait, wait a second, one more thing to report to you. While you're a student, you're not to use your 《Vlad》, so that's that. Even if it's an emergency, I'll still get angry."
"I know without you telling me!"
*bang*! Ouka opened the door and left.
Sougetsu looked at her back seeing her off, smiling for a while longer afterwards.
"Good grief, teenagers sure are difficult..."
He leaned heavily on his chair, resting his chin in his hands.
Suddenly, when Sougetsu looked into a corner of the room, a mysterious shadow was sitting there.
"Lapis, since when were you there?"
"That's no good, you still don't have a contractor. Producing magic power meaninglessly is bad. Didn't I tell you that walking around alone is a big no?"
As if to respond to Sougetsu's call, the shadow wriggled in the darkness. The thing that looked like darkness itself took a human shape and quietly emerged from the shadows.
What appeared, was a girl that had everything from hair color to clothing dyed azure. Her skin was so pale it looked sickly and was supple beyond comparison to that of a human.
The girl didn't blink, breathe, nor even sound a heartbeat, she just stood there expressionless.
"Your maintenance is hard; aren't you going to contract yet?"
"Are you still hesitating... or..."
The girl didn't answer Sougetsu.
She just stood there breathlessly.
Still, with her eyes that looked as if they concealed a pitch black abyss, she watched Sougetsu.
He sensed something from the wordless girl and narrowed his eyes.
He had a smile on his face like the Cheshire Cat from a fairy tale.
"...I see. I'll consider it."
"Mistletoe you really act shamelessly just like your name states... what an eerie child you are."
Sougetsu closed his eyes as if he fell asleep and a ominous laughter sounded from his throat.
The girl's expression didn't budge.
However, faint azure lights floated in the darkness around the girl like fireflies.
Kusanagi Takeru is hopeless at everything other than swordsmanship.
He isn't clumsy or bad with them, he's just hopeless.
The Kusanagi family he was born into, was a famous military household 300 years ago. During an era when the sword was strongest, Kusanagi household's name resounded on many battlefields.
One and only swordsmanship, Peerless Kusanagi style. Kusanagi style was feared to the point where enemies raised a white flag the moment they were seen on the battlefield..
But that's a story of old.
In the modern times, swordsmanship is only useful as a martial art.
The fact is, that the pen is stronger than the sword and the gun is stronger than the pen.
This means of course, that the gun is stronger than the sword.
Swords are the worst, it's outdated scrap iron.
"Hey, it's the Small Fry's swordsmanship nut."
One of two students standing by the wall drank from his carton juice and pointed at Takeru walking down the corridor, smiling sarcastically.
"Oh, that idiot came to assault training with a plastic knife before."
"He must be joking, to come to assault without a gun. Also, look at that. Isn't that a real sword?"
Just as the student said, there was a sheathed sword hanging at Takeru's waist.
Almond eyes with visible white between iris and lower eyelid, tightly shut mouth long bangs that could be called jet black. His fierce appearance could be called like that of a samurai. On top of that there was a rattling sound when his sword hit the uniform's belt, making him extra noticeable.
"That's a Japanese sword, it was a main weapon long time before the war."
"Isn't that the sword that becomes useless after cutting down two, three people? Why would he hang such a thing there? Is he an idiot?"
"He IS an idiot, that's why he's been assigned to Small Fry Platoon."
Mockery echoed in the hallway.
Even as a raspy laughter reached him from behind, Takeru just stretched his back and advanced forward.
From behind he looked dignified
However, from the front, he wasn't far from looking like a demon.
His originally fierce eyes stood out as he made an expression of a furious murderer.
Surrounding students escaped from Takeru's path towards the walls because he was too scary.
Takeru noticed their reactions and changed his demonic expression.
"No good, no good. ...bear with it... bear it... Kusanagi Takeru...! You can't get angry just because they're mocking the sword...!"
He stretched his face grimacing, then sighed deeply.
"I'm no longer like my past self."
He put his hand on the sword hanging by the waist. It was the only weapon for Kusanagi Takeru. Out of necessity, it was the only method left for Kusanagi Takeru.
He studied just the basics of basics since his childhood. Other than his dexterity, he was more clumsy than anything. He had no literary talent, no talent for painting. His motor skills were excellent, but he has no sports sense, his field intuition is a minus as well.
Above all, when it came to handling firearms, he was hopeless.
His lack of knack for it is referred to as "curse". It's not only that he can't hit the target he aims for, it's on a completely different level. The bullets actually avoid their target. Even if he aims his muzzle straight at the target or fires from a very short distance, the bullet won't even graze the target. Even if he squeezes the trigger at point blank range, by some twist of fate a gun's failure and explosion of the gun's barrel awaits him.
Therefore, for Kusanagi Takeru his swordsmanship was his only talent remaining. His sword arm alone was good enough it could be said there was no one better than he is, but there was no use for such a thing in this day and age.
Takeru calmed himself down and took his hand off the sword.
"It can't be helped... I'll be abused and called incompetent, but this is the only thing for me."
If you were incompetent, you wouldn't enter a high level AntiMagic Academy and wouldn't aim to become a high-rank inquisitor. Takeru himself didn't think so.
However, he aimed for this profession for a very compelling reason.
Inquisitors are paid well.
To pay off the debt I inherited... on top of that my parents are no longer in this world... also for my beloved sister, no other job offers a salary big enough!
Takeru clenched his fist, even as tears flowed from his eyes as he stared at the sky outside, there was something like an earnest shine in them.
Forgive me, my ancestors... I need money to survive.
Now just to make money.
Unlike two years ago, that's all Takeru wanted at the moment.
To become an inquisitor it wasn't enough to enroll in AntiMagic Academy. The admission to school was essential, but just as there was a promotion test from middle school to high school, high school students had to earn points doing a harsh quota in order to finally become an inquisitor.
And that quota was the biggest problem.
Takeru stood outside of the room, holding his abdomen discouraged.
On the door's plate there was a "35th Test Platoon" label.
Feeling a stomach pain he knocked on the door.
"You can enter〜."
A blunt voice sounded from the other side of the door..
"Ah, wait a mo——"
Takeru heard a rushed, shrill voice, but he was already unable to stop himself from opening the door.
The instant the door opened, he understood nothing.
For some reason, there was a bunny girl in front of him.
Furthermore, she seemed to be in middle of changing clothes, two white bulges quite large for her stature were slightly visible. Her chest aside, he could see incredibly sensational thighs and rabbit ears that moved despite the fact they should have been inorganic.
Why is there a bunny girl in the school? Wasn't this school serious before? Am I dreaming?
Such questions never appeared in Takeru's head.
Takeru understood everything without even thinking of any questions, he made a tearful expression and stared towards the wall.
There, was a girl puffing up her cheeks with air "pffttt" and laughing.
Takeru understood the situation instantly.
Aah, this again... he thought.
The bunny girl's face was dyed red, it seemed like she was about to scream.
Based on her expression the next thing that'll come out will be "Kyaa", he was able to judge it would be so. In such a situation, Takeru was shedding tears for some reason.
"——Hey, why are you crying?!"
Seeing Takeru's unexpected reaction, the bunny girl instinctively performed a flying kick on him.
The kick hit him in the solar plexus and he was blown away together with the door into the corridor again.
While he was twitching and foaming at the mouth, the bunny girl closed on him and grasped his collar.
"What is the meaning of this? Why are you crying after seeing me as a bunny girl?! Thinking normally, I should have been the one to cry, shouldn't I?!"
"Has my appearance become so sad?! Or has it become so amusing?! Are you saying I don't have any charm!?"
"...no...! You've nice enough bod——"
"!!!!?? You Pervert! Pervert pervert!!"
As she strangled him strongly, Takeru's expression turned blue. The girl wailed with tears in her eyes.
The reason he couldn't explain himself properly was because of the spewing foam sprouting out of his mouth and because of the girl in lab coat who stood in the back laughing, taking pictures with a digital camera at high speed.
"I didn't expect you'd cry. Ahaha, I took some nice pictures."
"It's your doing again...! I told you to stop playing with Usagi——guah."
"Buuut, she's so weak at old maid, it's a punishment game. Her name's Usagi and her boobs are big too, isn't a bunny costume fitting her?"
"If I get involved in your cosplay hobby my body's going to end up like... this."
"Can it be that you let yourself get caught on purpose? Ah, you matched your timing to look at Usagi's immodest appearance? Ahaha, you pervert. Perverted brat."
After being ridiculed so much Takeru wasn't in the mood to get angry. The girl wearing a lab coat was checking the pictured on the digital camera with a grin.
"What to do I wonder. Maybe I'll spread these photos around. Ufu, ufufu, photos of a bunny girl and a guy who cries after seeing her. It's so hard to understand even for me which makes it exciting, ufufufu."
As the woman in lab coat contrived ominously, the half naked girl pounced at her with "Stop that!".
Outside of the noisy room, in the hallway Takeru shed teas.
They were the members of 35th Test Platoon also known as "Small Fry Platoon".
At the same time, they were the cause of Takeru's stomach ache.
Kusanagi Takeru was the captain of the "Small Fry Platoon".
After entering high school, there was only one, special way to be promoted within the school. Results in general education alone aren't enough to let you go up a grade.
The academy's test platoon system.
Unless you clear this course, you won't be able to go up to the second or third grade.
Test Platoon System makes the students more competitive and allows them to gain investigative experience. It's said to be the biggest challenge before becoming an inquisitor.
AntiMagic Academy's students are selected beforehand and organized into platoons, then made to resolve incidents in which magic was involved. The only things they receive from the Inquisition and the academy are weapon parts and information management. Weapon development and information collecting, investigation, strategy planning and combat has to be carried out by the students on their own.
It's the Inquisition itself that determines the structure of each platoon. Changing the members of platoon is not allowed unless there is a compelling reason to do so. It's not a system where the hopeless people could group up together.
"Shouldn't we think seriously about what do we do?!!”
A bunch like this.
One of the members, Saionji Usagi hit the work desk with abandon and yelled. Another member sitting in front of her, Suginami Ikaruga and Kusanagi Takeru raised their faces at the same time.
"It's been half a year since we enrolled in high school! Half a year! Captain, do you know how many points have we earned?"
Asked by Usagi, Takeru made an uncomfortable expression.
"...z-zero, I guess."
"That is right! Zero! Half a year and still zero! We need to cut it out and think of measures to overcome this situation!"
Takeru shrunk as Usagi's spirit overwhelmed him, he felt a stabbing stomach pain.
Ikaruga sitting beside him pouted tiredly.
"That being said, there's nothing we can do with only three of us, is there? With only three of us and missing members there isn't many cases that would go smoothly. And with members like this, too?"
Just as Ikaruga said, currently there was only three members in Small Fry Platoon. Originally test platoons are configurations of six members, Small Fry Platoon had three vacant spots. There were various reasons for the vacancies, but leaving a platoon meant expulsion.
There was one that caught a mental illness, another one was absorbed into a strange religion and one more abandoned the school early. And the remaining ones were——whether for better or worse, those three.
"At this rate we will really be forced to drop out! Are you all right with that?"
She aims to become the Inquisition's "Dullahan". Unlike her appearance suggest her sniping skills and bodily strength are exceptional, but she's guilty of making ridiculous blunders because of extreme stage fright. Her other abilities were all average, she made an effort but is not outstanding. She has a serious and prideful personality. She has a complex about her name and gets angry at those who refer to her with it.
"Kusanagi is the only vanguard, it can't be helped."
She aims to become a "Reginn". She had perfect maintenance skills from the moment she was admitted, an eccentric who had talent only for that and enrolled as such. She had received a recommendation to immediately become an Inquisitor, but refused it. "Don't take away youth from a student" she said, with a reason no one knew whether it was serious or not, she remained in the school. While her maintenance skills were the top in the entire grade, she's only interested in weapons development and modification, on top of that the weapons she developed had a very peaky performance and were hard to use. From the platoon members, she was the only one who knew Takeru since middle school age.
The last one, was the swordsmanship nut, Kusanagi Takeru.
He aims to join the "Spriggan". Zero shooting ability, zero maintenance skills, zero intelligence-gathering skills, zero academic ability. His only redeeming feature was close combat. He mastered everything related to swords but had almost no opportunity to use them. On top of that, when swords are mocked blood rushes to his head, putting him in a fatal disadvantage as he rushes headlong risking a honorable death due to recklessness.
Originally he wasn't the captain, after first one, then two more went missing, Takeru was forced to take over. Without a gun he was unable to influence fighting force too much so despite being a captain he didn't have much to say. He was a man who had nothing good about him.
"Do not immediately apologize like that! You're the captain! Please have more self-awareness!"
Usagi hit the desk repeatedly, her expression displayed frustration.
Takeru scratched his head with a finger.
"Even if you say that.. I'm not cut out for it in the first place."
"P-please do not say such things! We're not in a position to say such things! Also, I have never thought of you as unsuitable for the captain position!"
"——Do you have knotholes for eyes?!!"
"W-why do you have to accuse me of that?! Even though I intended to cheer him up."
As the two had a conversation that didn't seem to be working out, beside them, Ikaruga happily grinned.
"You see, about Usagi-chan."
"Please do not call me by my name!! Don't add '-chan'!!"
"Usagi sees herself in you, that's why she wants you to do your best."
"?! I don't really... but I really do think Kusanagi is suited for the captain position..."
"What part of him is?"
"Um... uhh, like he worries... a lot. He's working hard even though there are no results...? Also how he... feels about his comrades and has a good heart."
"See, isn't he just like you."
Usagi's face turned beet red soundly. Seeing her reaction, Ikaruga tried to deliver the final blow.
"A man who can only use a sword, a woman whose only talent is sniping. Moreover, both of you have shortcomings in your fields of expertise. You are so alike, you fit each other."
Good grief, Ikaruga shook her head. Usagi and Takeru looked towards her at the same time.
"What, why are both of you staring at me."
" "You're one to talk!!" "
"...oh my, really. I'm a comrade as well then. I see, yup, I think we can work together well."
" "Why so positive?" "
The two retorted to Ikaruga's serious attitude, the usual scene was back.
That's how thanks to meaningless chatter deviating from the topic, the Small Fry Platoon's activities usually end without them taking any action again.
"Anyway, without information we can't do anything! Got anything, Kusanagi?!"
"I do... but don't expect much."
Takeru took out a piece of creased, shabby paper and handed it to Usagi. It contained valuable information he somehow managed to collect in the past few days. The state of the paper shown just how much effort he put in. It was truly Takeru's blood, sweat and tears.
Usagi went "Mmm" as she checked the note, nodding
"Eh... Fifth district's Sakatake-san, is rumored to have a potted plant that moves like tentacles... Somewhere in the back alley of school district there's a wall marked with a t runic symbol... Every morning after waking up, there's a smell of an old man on their pillows..."
"The plant is a mimosa. The runic words in the back alley are just graffiti of sharing an umbrella, there's no t among runic symbols. The pillows are just smelly. All of these can be easily written off as nonsense."
Ikaruga retorted after half of it was read out.
"All of this is nonsense!"
"...I'm ashamed. Still, I did my best."
"At this rate it'll turn really bad! Half a year more... and we need 200 points! Securing F-Class and E-Class Magical Heritage is just a drop in a bucket! Even the dirt would pile up and become a mountain, but we no longer have the grace to pile it up that way!!"
Usagi held her head and lamented over their hopeless situation.
Although the degree was different, Takeru felt the same.
There was a ranking for Magical Heritage and magical incidents. The more powerful and more history they have, the more points you get. F is 5 points, E is 10, D is 20, and C is 30 points. Students are not allowed to undertake higher rank cases.
That's true... you could gain a high amount of points just by dealing with F and E class incidents. If we did it from the start we could've piled up enough points to reach quota, but it's too late now. They no longer had the grace time... if only we had something big...
Even if he was to ignore whether it would succeed or not, he still couldn't come up with anything.
For the time being, Takeru held his head in the same manner Usagi did.
"...can't be helped."
Ikaruga brought up a 3D display and after moving the mouse she clicked on one of the folders. There, was high quality information written in it, such things that Takeru could never obtain no matter how hard he worked.
"It's an irregular type that was supposed to be disposed of during Witch-Hunt War but... it's information on a D-ranked Magical Heritage. It's not really my field, but I can't stand by watching. Ikaruga-oneesan will do her best."
" "Oooh!!" "
Takeru and Usagi raised their heads and leaned over to see the text on the display
"The target is the first book of Andolf Jaeger's poetry written by the beginning of Witch-Hunt War, the "Trackless Psalms". Only the original was supposed to be capable of generating magical power, but presumably Andolf himself poured magical power into the first edition's print in the office. It seems like it's content is a collection of nonsensical poems without uniformity, but if you read the poems from the beginning till the end, an encrypted operative procedure is invoked in the readers brain and triggers mental pollution magic contained in the book. Readers go mad, gouging their own eyes out, commit suicides by biting off their tongues and such."
After hearing such a astringent description from Ikaruga, both Takeru and Usagi turned pale.
If it was a Magical Heritage made to kill people and an irregular type, it certainly was something of D rank or higher. Andolf Jaeger's had many fans even these days, as it had a story behind it, it held a lot of value to collectors.
"The original has already been sealed, four out of five remaining first edition books are already in Inquisition's possession. One of the books disappeared from the scene while they were being seized, there's evidence that it was taken by someone, but the culprit hasn't been caught yet. That happened a week ago."
Ikaruga continued, as the two on the spot leaked a voice of admiration.
"The important part starts here. Just the other day the culprit who got away with the remaining book was located. A Magical Heritage trading organization has been rounded up a week ago, one of the underlings is on the run with the book and seems like he's trying to sell it to another organization.. The transaction is planned to be carried out tonight, midnight."
After she finished speaking, she went "fufun, how was it?" and proudly puffed up her chest.
"Amazin'... how on earth did you get all of that information? Rather, how did you identify the perpetrator, Suginami, just when did you investigate this?"
"I didn't. There's no way I could do such an elaborate investigation. It comes from our grade's current top performing 18th platoon."
"I hacked 18th platoon's devices and extracted the info. It was a piece of cake."
"——wait, I just heard something I can't ignore. How could you do that."
"I even shifted the transaction date written in their file by one day. The one being hacked is at fault. Information management is part of a Banshee's duty as well, ha ha ha!"
"Don't "hahaha" me! Isn't that a crime?!"
"According to school rules, you can use any means of intelligence gathering, it's all in accordance with the rules."
"That doesn't mean you should snatch away something someone else worked hard for!"
"It's too late to pull back. I've already sent application to Inquisition."
"Wha... even so, we should withdraw the application, right?! We should withdraw it now and go apologize to 18th platoon!"
Normally Takeru didn't object to fooling around, but this time he didn't intend on letting it go.
Just like Ikaruga said, stealing information from other platoons is allowed by school rules, but Takeru had very solid sense of right and wrong. When he was small, when his personality was still forming, there was someone because of whom Takeru suffered a trauma, it was someone who wouldn't stop prattling about wrongdoings.
Don't do anything bad, if you do, it'll definitely return to you.
That's what Takeru was taught. Even now he firmly hid that lesson in his heart.
As he pressed on Ikaruga to stop her from stealing, Usagi placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Kusanagi... I like that part of you."
"Usagi...! So you get it...!"
"...I told you, please don't call me by my name! And I meant that I like your sensitive side that is against illegal acts, okay? Do not misunderstand, all right?"
"Indeed! You should be rewarded for something you accomplish fair and square, that's how it should be."
Takeru advocated his ideals.
However, his happiness was fleeting as Usagi moved her face closer to his and gripped him strongly as if to crush his shoulders, starting at him with bloodshot eyes.
"I certainly said I like it. However! Now it is no time to quarrel! It is no time to argue whether it is right or wrong! At this rate we'll become complete losers!"
Takeru thought they already are a group of losers, but he didn't say it.
Usagi excitedly admonished him.
"Are you okay with that!? Don't you want to make money?"
"Ugh... that's true, but..."
Takeru's heart shook greatly. Indeed, he had to make money. His household had huge financial problems. There's was his little sister too.
He had to clear his debt, there were living expanses. Honestly speaking, he wanted to do something about it, even if he had to sell his soul to the devil.
Takeru's stomach started to hurt again, as if it was being squeezed by something.
That's when. Suddenly, the platoon room's door was vigorously opened.
"Gooood afternoooooonnnn!! Children!!"
The platoon members' gazes shifted to door at high speed.
After confirming who was the person suddenly appearing, Takeru and Usagi turned pale.
In there, stood an owner of white, long and flowing hair, his face was beautiful enough to be called gaudy. The person to whom roses would serve as a good background has decided to make a wacky pose in front of the doors.
AntiMagic Academy's chairman, Ootori Sougetsu.
"Indeed it is I, the chairman! Surprised? Or did I fire a blank?"
After saying that coldly, Sougetsu laughed heartily with a "HAHAHA!".
Why was the person with the highest authority in the academy in a place like this.
Seeing the scene which looked like a lie, the two's spirit was astir.
"Hey, this is bad he must've heard what we said... this guy came in with a perfect timing.."
"L-let's not conclude it so early... we cannot be sure of it yet... let's calm down, we need to be calm."
The two whispered to each other while sweating profusely.
Unlike those two, Ikaruga turned around on the chair, pointing her legs towards Sougetsu and snorted.
"What do you want. Do you have so much time, you visit a bar-like platoon like ours?"
"...wonderfully expressed, Ikaruga-kun. Also, I'm this school's chairman. Should that be the first thing you say? Shouldn't you show me more respect?"
When Sougetsu protested brightly, Ikaruga looked at him with contempt as if she wanted to spit on him.
Takeru broke out in cold sweat.
"I respect only the ones I love. So, what did you come here for."
She spat out words of abuse in a quick succession, it was inexcusable now as Ikaruga's attitude was rudeness itself. Speaking of on whom the responsibility falls, that would be Takeru as the captain. He could only tremble in panic.
The chairman thought of Ikaruga's harsh rebuttal as funky and made an easygoing smile.
"Ha ha ha! Cheeky as ever. Nothing much, I just came for a little inspection. After all, you 35th Test Platoon quite a reputation."
"I see. So you came to worship the faces of the dropouts. Did you come to fire us?"
"No no. What reaches my ears is just bad rumors, but I think it's a sharp, wonderful platoon."
Sougetsu put a hand on his chin and walked through the room, he peeked in each member's face.
First Ikaruga with whom he was already acquainted, through Usagi, in the end he stood in front of Takeru.
Unconsciously, Takeru stood upright and unmoving like a house's pillar.
Sougetsu leaned so close their noses almost touched and stared intently at Takeru's face
"Ahh, it's s been a while hasn't it, Kusanagi-kun. The last time we met face to face was during the middle school entrance ceremony wasn't it?
Sougetsu spoke to him in friendly manner. Just like Ikaruga, Takeru already knew Sougetsu. During the entrance ceremony he was called to chairman's room once.
The conversation they had back then... his heart shrank as he remembered it. He had to admit that Takeru from back then was a naive kid who made a considerably rude declaration
If he remembered well it was "I'll knock you down from that seat"... or something like that.
It was unthinkable for him to do that now. It filled him with dread.
As disturbed Takeru couldn't respond, Sougetsu made a questioning look.
"Oh? Were you that kind of character? ...you calmed down considerably haven't you. The you from the past had a look in his eyes as if he wanted to kill me."
"Ha-hahaha... sorry 'bout that. Back then... I was in puberty."
Scared to death, he apologized earnestly.
Sougetsu laughed lightly hit Takeru's head.
"I don't know what changed your state of mind, but it's a good thing. I wish my tomboy daughter would follow suit."
Sougetsu laughed gently as if he was looking at his own child.
Looking at him again like this, he was still unable to tell whether Sougetsu was a man or a woman. In the first place he didn't state he was a man. Rather than having lots of mysteries about him, he was a mystery himself. That was the impression students had when they looked at Ootori Sougetsu.
After examining Takeru with a grin, he nodded.
"In any case, I cannot compliment you for your results. I won't pursue who is responsible for that, but with three dropouts the survival of your platoon is uncertain. I want to avoid that as well. After all, I really like you guys."
Takeru's stomach started screaming.
"Therefore, while it is unusual, I have prepared supplemental personnel for 35th platoon."
All the members raised their faces.
Just because there was a problem with point acquisition, there shouldn't have been any member changes allowed.
Usagi whispered to Takeru.
"What is going on...? It's unheard of to have replenishment personnel."
"Even if you ask me... for now, it seems like he didn't hear our conversation earlier."
As Takeru and others were wondering about it, Sougetsu turned towards the doors and called out "Come in".
After a few seconds, the steel-made cold doors were slowly opened without any sound
Momentarily, Takeru's heart almost stopped.
The person he could never forget has appeared. Someone who could be called the beginning and the end of all for Takeru.
The absolute strength he saw in the darkness, two years ago.
The detestable existence that shattered Takeru's confidence.
There was no way he could forget.
A beautiful girl that seemed like she came out of a myth.
"An ex-Dullahan, Ootori Ouka-kun. She was admitted into high school at this time. Well, get along well."
"By the way, she's my daughter! We look alike right? Like for example our cute noses and eyebrows! As you can see, she's my daughter through and through☆."
"I'm his adopted daughter. Don't make a misunderstanding that we're connected by blood."
When the girl named Ootori Ouka pointed out, Sougetsu put on a mysterious smile. They didn't know what made his tension rise so much, but no one is ever bothered by it even though he acts like that in front of the students.
Usagi who was beside Takeru seemed to have been familiar with Ouka and suddenly made a dissatisfied expression.
"Ootori Ouka... I know her. She's a super honor student who obtained qualifications to enter Inquisition in middle school age in just a year and a half."
"A genius with influential family, I can't stomach it... she got promoted without putting much effort... you think so too, right?"
Since she wasn't replied to as she sought his consent, Usagi looked up beside her at Takeru's face.
Takeru's mouth was shut tight, his line of sight was captured by Ootori Ouka appearance and he stared at her without blinking.
"Are you acquainted?"
"...yeah... an ex-classmate."
He softened his expression and shortly answered. Usagi felt that there was something amiss, and looked towards Ikaruga. If Ouka was in the same class as Takeru, then so was Ikaruga.
Ikaruga stared directly at Ouka and expressionlessly asked Sougetsu.
"Why did Ouka Ootori stop being a Dullahan and was enlisted in our platoon? You ignored the rules and enlisted her here... the must be a reason for that, right?"
"...hmm, about that."
When Sougetsu put a finger on his forehead, Ouka took a step forward moving closer to the platoon members.
"Sorry, I can't tell you the reason."
"We're going to work together as comrades now. Isn't it natural for us to compromise??"
It didn't seem like Ikaruga was making any compromise, she still said it.
It seemed like Ouka thought about it for a second, but,
"That has nothing to do with you all."
She closed her eyes and answered clearly.
"You haven't changed, have you."
Ikaruga shook her head and didn't say anything else.
It seemed like Ouka wasn't compatible with Ikaruga, clearly Ikaruga was a bit annoyed by her attitude.
That was when Ouka noticed Takeru's line of sight.
He tried to avert his gaze in a hurry, but being stared at by Ouka's clear eyes he faltered and spoke.
"I-It's been a while, Ootori."
Ouka squinted at Takeru as he asked the question.
Recalling from back then, Takeru broke out in unpleasant sweat. The impression he made two years ago was honestly the worst. After all, at the end of the deathmatch when they fought one against one he talked big, but was done in to the point he was unable to move his hands or feet.
They never had a normal conversation, but initial impression was poor enough.
Ouka looked at his face while bleeding vigilance and dislike.
So he was hated after all. Takeru's shoulders drooped.
Ouka opened her mouth facing towards him.
"............who are you?"
Not only Takeru's shoulders drooped, suffering a setback he fell on his knees on spot.
Prior to being hated, Kusanagi Takeru wasn't even remembered by Ootori Ouka.
Akashic Hazard (アカシックハザード) - It's written as "Invisible Disaster" (不可視災害) and read as "Akashic Hazard". It's a reference to theosophic Akashic Records.
Banshee (バンシー) - It's written as "Covert ops" or "Spy" (隠密) and read as "Banshee". A reference to a certain type of spirit from Irish mythology.
Calamity (カラミティ) - It's written as "Crimson Lotus Princess" or just "Crimson Princess" (紅蓮姫) and read as "Calamity".
Dullahan (デュラハン) - It's written as "Witch-Hunter" (魔女狩り) and read as "Dullahan". A reference to a legendary headless creature from Irish mythology.
Reginn (レギン) - It's written as "Smith" (鍛冶師) and read as "Reginn". A reference to a legendary smith from Norse mythology.
Seelie (シーリー) - It's written as "Doctor" (薬師) and read as "Seelie". A reference to a type of good spirits from Scottish folklore.
Spriggan (スプリガン) - It's written as "Knights" (騎士団) and read as "Spriggan". A reference to a legendary creature from English folklore.