It has yet to be discovered just what actually is the "Despair" ancient property. In the long, long history, only three witches have been confirmed to be born with this property.
One of them was a child who had died in its mother's womb. The other two decided to polish their usage of the property.
But in the end, the two have finished their lives unable to master it. One of them had embarked on a quest to rediscover ancient magic and died of illness. The other had sought possibilities in another world, and touching a different world the Despair property allowed the witch to get in contract with, the witch went mad and died.
According to the history, there was no one who had mastered the usage of this property, but for some reasons there were continuous sightings of Despair magic left in the literature.
It had said that there was a person who caused the flowers of despair to bloom and ruled over aberrant magical creatures.
They said the person's identity, was the first one that was mentioned. The baby who suddenly disappeared from its mother's womb.
The rumor whispered among people sounded plausible.
It said that the fetus was summoned to another world, had a glimpse of what "Despair" was, and had returned to this world...
No one knew what the truth was. The only thing that could be said for certain, was that the man standing in front of Kurogane Hayato, was driven by despair and has become a menace.
Using Relic Eaters, Caligula and Maximillien, Hayato had attacked Haunted. Haunted who thanks to a contract with magical organisms from another world, had stocked up lives of the people he killed, should have had the live stock reduced to zero by summoning the mask.
But that didn't mean Hayato's situation had improved. Rather, previously he could see his own victory if he had only continued to kill Haunted, making it more advantageous. Seeing as Maximilien's blow couldn't bring Haunted down, it seemed it'll be harsh difficult battle——
——A roar rang out.
Hayato used Caligula to parry Haunted's slash. The power granted to Haunted by the Sacred Treasure was unbelievable. He was faster than Hayato and surpassed his power by far.
Even Hayato who was an unique existence called a "Hero Vessel" was unable to stand up to Haunted, who thanks to the Sacred Treasure had become a god's avatar.
Of course, strengthening wasn't all the Sacred Treasure had granted Haunted.
There was something else, more troublesome.
An anomaly had appeared at the sharp edge of the sword he held. Something appeared from the edge. A sharp-headed creature walking on four legs had appeared from within. There were three of them. With their bodies looking like they were made out of bone or some kind of mineral, they charged straight at Hayato.
Hayato was unable to avoid the hounds' attack, it turned like a guided missile and headed straight for him. Although Hayato should have been faster, he was unable to avoid. It was as if they were reading his every move.
Which left him no choice but to destroy them.
He fired Caligula to kill the three hounds.
——But he missed. The hounds thrust their spear-sharp heads at Hayato's body. Thanks to the fact he was completely covered with armor their attacks were parried, but the cracks appeared in the hybrid Witch-Hunter armor.
Haunted immediately reappeared and let out a powerful thrust.
While staggering in response to hounds' attack, Hayato responded to Haunted's attack.
The sword and barrel clashed causing a shockwave.
It was the gun barrel that was parried away.
Hayato clenched his teeth and squeezed his fist, not to allow the gun to be blown away.
His opponent was above him when it came to power and speed. He had to account for the fact enemy the was faster, and seal the enemy's attacks. Until now, the only people he fought that were faster than him, were Kusanagi Orochi and Kusanagi Takeru.
There was only one way to cope with Haunted's speed. It was to read his movement and act first. Squeeze the trigger without hesitation. Hayato had one rule when it came to predicting enemy's movements, it was to be absolutely certain of his predictions.
While raised up by the impact, Hayato twisted the muscles in his body to reverse it and turned Caligula's muzzle towards Haunted, who tried to take pose for thrusting.
Seeing Hayato's judgment, Haunted whistled as if to say "as expected of you".
Caligula's bullet approached Haunted's mask.
He didn't try to avoid.
Instead——Haunted too, predicted Hayato's movement.
The Wind Eater.
It was instant, there was no chant or magic circle. What made it possible, was the Sacred Treasure mask.
An unknown black wind has risen and had literally swept the bullet up. As expected, not even Hayato could predict the magic he hasn't seen before. There was one bullet remaining in Caligula and he had no time to reload them.
To cancel the magic he fired Maximilien's bullet directly at——
The wind Haunted was clad in had wailed.
It wasn't defensive magic. The thing covering Haunted's body rose up to the sky like a tornado.
When Hayato looked up, he saw the wind forming a shape of a huge humanoid. An extremely large wind giant. Its' two eyes shined as if burning.
The giant swung down the huge arm made out a tornado, straight at Hayato. As expected of wind, it was very fast. Its size exceeded the diffusion range Maximilien had.
There was no choice but to avoid it.
Exhausting magic power he——
That's when Haunted swung his sword at the ground.
The earth has crumbled, pebbles and small fragments of rocks scattered all over.
Hayato immediately understood the meaning behind that move. The fragments of rocks had sharp and pointed parts on them, and from those sharp edges——the irregular hounds appeared once again.
They appeared from all the fragments. Their numbers were countless.
They appear from corners. Strange magical creatures.
Even under such circumstances Hayato calmly analyzed haunted. The hounds' tracking was probably by the sense of smell. Due to the nature of how his own movements were read, it was impossible to avoid them.
So, what do I do?
Hayato hesitated just slightly.
Just knowing how did the hounds work did not give him a way to resolve this. The giant's arm from above, hound charging from all around him. He was completely deprived of an escape route. He knew how the hounds worked, but knew nothing about the giant.
Therefore, Hayato decided to take on the attacks.
He won't know anything unless he does. It was a simple decision.
Endure it, that's all.
The wind giant's both arms hit Hayato. The strange situation where he was struck by tornadoes from above had brought results beyond his expectations.
The tornado had sucked Hayato into the sky within a blink of an eye.
As if shot up from a cannon, Hayato's body was thrown into the clouds. The damage due to the sudden change in atmospheric pressure and temperature eroded his body.
Before he noticed, Hayato had nearly reached the stratosphere and was still spinning in the air.
From that point his sudden fall had started. For some reason, the air resistance had completely disappeared as he started falling. It was because of the black wind that stuck to his body when he was launched.
The gravity ruthlessly continued to accelerate Hayato's fall.
It was unexpectedly nasty. Much worse than just being thrown onto the ground.
If he continues to accelerate from this extreme altitude and finally crash onto the ground, he would surely die. Furthermore, if he smashed onto the ground as he is now, the entire school would be blown away. The only salvation was the fact that there was nothing left of it.
Hayato's Relic Eaters had no flight function like Vlad or Daji, and even if he could fly, he doubted he could deal with this black wind.
It would be fine if he could use Maximilien to release this black wind, but since the enemy was limiting the attack power, he couldn't deal with enchantment-type magic like this. Even if he ejected magic power at full throttle before crash, it probably wouldn't work. And this was too much for him to decelerate by ejecting magic power in small amounts.
He had to stop his fall. Hayato removed Caligula's cylinder latch and reloaded the bullet.
I'm not decelerating. There's not enough magic power to decelerate.
Hayato fired Caligula directly underneath.
I'll make a cushion.
Using the recoil from firing he slowed down slightly. It was a really insignificant amount.
Of course, his goal wasn't slowing down by using the recoil. Rather, Hayato's falling speed was already beyond that of the huge magic bullet he fired.
Therefore, Hayato moved on the bullet beneath received it on his body.
Hayato's armor broke from the impact, but thanks to that he was able to greatly slow down.
As he predicted, the magic bullet wasn't influenced by the wind the giant had stuck onto him. Magic bullet's fall sleep remained the same.
Hayato planned to slow down by receiving the magic bullet he himself fired.
And he repeated that action.
He couldn't let his guard down. There was still about a minute remaining before he reached the ground. If he doesn't repeat it, he will restore his speed. The moment his own falling speed exceeded that of a bullet, Hayato fired Caligula. Since he received Caligula's bullet, the damage was substantial.
Even though he devoted magic power to defense and regeneration, Hayato's body kept getting ragged out.
He vomited blood, which rose up to the sky because of air resistance.
However, if he only withstood a little longer, he would soon reach the ground——
"——Not so easy, huh."
He looked at the objects rising up from the ground far away. It was the group of hounds spread by Haunted right before Hayato was launched into the sky. They followed his smell and flew up to the sky.
It was impossible for him to avoid the pack as he fell. With the damage he received from bullets he used as cushion, there would be nothing left of him if he received their hounds' attacks.
There was literally nothing that could be done about it. Hayato had nothing he could do.
He clicked his tongue and stared at the approaching pack of hounds.
Of course, he didn't give up.
He had no means of action. That was a fact. But that was about Hayato by himself.
There was a way, but for that sake he needed help.
"...Hey, you're awake aren't you. It's about time you do some work."
He muttered as if to himself. Of course, Hayato was alone in the sky. It wasn't like he spoke through magic connection to anyone.
The one who he talked to was——the thing he held in his left hand.
"Situation's unfavorable——lend me your power, Maximilien."
Accepting the disadvantageous position, Hayato spoke to the silver gun.
"The Malleus Maleficarum “Maximilien”"
Its property was an ancient property "Revolution" and its shape was the Single Action Army.
Hayato gave an order to the personality that was part of the gun.
Answering it was——
《"To think you speak to me for the first time, and you immediately give me orders in a rude manner."》
——A very low, feminine voice that sounded like an embodiment of intimidation.
Just as she said, it was the first time Hayato spoke to her.
《"By the way, when did you notice I am equipped with a personality?"》
"There is no time. It's my first and last time speaking to you."
Upon contracting with her, Maximilien had no personality. It acquired its personality after contracting with Hayato.
In other words, the model for Maximilien's personality was Kurogane Hayato. He didn't think he would witness a Relic Eater's soul manifestation in his generation, but considering he was the first person to contract with Maximilien, it was natural. But why was it a woman? Hayato wondered about that, but since it was unimportant, he put that aside.
"Didn't you hear me? I told you to lend me your power."
《"Unlike Caligula, I have no intention of obeying you. If you want intrinsic magic, pay the price. My law doesn't allow anything but equivalent exchange."》
He felt like clicking his tongue again. Hearing her talk about law, he felt like he was talking to himself. While he thought in a hurry, Hayato's falling speed accelerated and the hounds have approached close to him.
"So this much of an unfavorable situation isn't enough, huh."
《"It's not. Although certainly you are at disadvantage, your body and mind are still intact. As expected of the strongest human, you have my praise. You're still perfectly fine."》
《"I won't lend my power to someone who has yet to taste inferior position."》
Finally, he clicked his tongue for the second time. Hayato knew what was the price Maximilien had sought of him. That price was something Hayato had never felt in the past battles.
The price Maximilien sought was——a disadvantage.
In other words, being in a pinch. Only when he is physically and mentally cornered he can use Maximilien's intrinsic magic. To Hayato, who was never cornered in the past, this was a price he honestly couldn't understand.
The hounds approached him. Hayato didn't defend, spreading his arms instead.
"Such annoying price...!"
He put strength into his entrails. A spear-like sharp head thrust into his body.
If she required him to be even more disadvantageous, there was no choice but to give it to her. However, there would be no point if he died. He had to take on the hounds attacks and survive.
Resolve? Who cares about that. There was no need for a strong heart when tasting inferiority.
He had to accept everything as it was. There was no choice but to burn himself with the incoming fire.
Hayato received the incoming death head-on.
The hounds hit him directly. The first two bit into Hayato's legs. He couldn't feel the impact as the hounds pierced his legs and blew them off. After losing both legs, his right hand was blown off.
The pack of hounds was countless. They grabbed his neck, bit his sides. Even though he was hit by so many, there were still four remaining.
It was as if he collided with debris drifting in the outer space.
Next, were his lungs, Then half of his face.
Then finally——hounds approached his head and heart.
Since half of Hayato's chin and an eyeball were broken, he couldn't speak.
But he was alive. He was still alive.
He looked at the approaching hound by using his other eye.
At this moment, for the first time in his live——from the bottom of his heart, Hayato wished to live.
He had a responsibility of undertaking this in place of Kusanagi Takeru. His own law forced him to accomplish the mission for the sake of the comrades he lost.
Whenever he thinks about it coldly, it always flickered inside his mind. What he was entrusted with by that annoying boss of his.
And what he was entrusted with by the foolish junior of his, who tried to save everything.
I can't die in here!
Lend me your power, Maximilien!
《"Don't hurry so much——very well, my master. It's time for a revolution."》
A silver magic circle appeared and magic was activated.
That power was literally a "revolution".
"Haa... you are the one who's a monster, Kurogane."
On the ground, Haunted looked up at the object shining in the sky while scratching the cheek of his mask.
Shining like a meteor, Kurogane Hayato headed straight for Haunted.
The damage Hayato took in the sky and all of 《Ithaqua》's black wind have disappeared as if they didn't exist in the first place. Instead, the silver muzzle was filled with incredibly destructive energy.
"That thing, he's probably changed the damage he received and the magical effects' into energy to shoot it, right?"
《"No, it probably doesn't just convert it to energy, but also multiplies it by dozens of times. The amount of damage he received and the energy in that gun don't add up, above all, it's an ancient property called "Revolution", after all."》
"This isn't a Daifugō, is it..."
Hmm, what do I do, wondered Haunted.
He couldn't maintain the mask for much longer. Although it was a Sacred Treasure, its summoning and deification was restricted to the followers.
As expected, he couldn't summon the Great Old Ones or the Outer Gods themselves, and since it was a restricted summoning he didn't become a god himself. Unlike Mistilteinn or Gungnir, he only becomes an incarnation through a contract. In the first place, the mythological world Haunted was contacting with had specialized in attaining spiritual damage, and granted few benefits in physical battle.
Spiritual damage probably won't work on him, and it'll take too much time... heck, there isn't much magical organisms I have acquainted myself with... how about I call 《Ithaqua》 once again and blow him away to the stratosphere again? No, if I do, the mask will disappear... what a bummer, I seriously went with intention to kill him, so why did he make such a turnaround?
This is bad. Summoning the Sacred Treasure by using the stock might have been a bad idea.
Kurogane Hayato had far exceeded Haunted's expectations, putting him under pressure.
As Haunted let out a dry laughter, his beloved sword, Dáinsleif, sighed.
《"Despite being my contractor you've summoned a Sacred Treasure, you cheater. Now fight him head-on."》
Agitated by Nacht, Haunted raised the mask from his face to his head and looked down on his sword.
Making a thin smile, he caressed the sword dearly.
"I guess... this might be the last time. Are you with me, Nacht?"
《"Don't stroke me, disgusting. As if you're really thinking it's the last time, no way in hell."》
"Oh, you can tell?"
《"How long do you think we're together now."》
"Together, oh, you make me blush."
《"Do you really have time to joke around?"》
As Nacht said, Kurogane Hayato had aimed Maximilien at Haunted and intended to release the energy he gathered from a distance.
Haunted rotated his arm to stretch his shoulders. Then, he lowered his hips and grasped Nacht deeply. He intended to thrust upwards.
"Very well——let's put everything into this one blow. Nacht, overlap the 《Berserk Enchant》."
《"No need to tell me."》
Nacht was clad in black aura. Haunted made the mask shine as if responding to Nacht. The black aura mixed and something like an irregular purple snake had wrapped around Haunted's body. The irregular shape had swelled like flame that was poured oil over and had formed a huge human shape.
Dread had covered Haunted's heart. Fear and desperation impossible to describe. There was an unpleasant feeling as if a maggot had rolled around his heart, and a pain as if a creature from the depths of the ocean had kept pecking on him.
It was a "negativeness" a person could not tolerate. A sane person would go crazy, pluck their own eyeballs and devote their own heart just to be saved.
However, Haunted did not go insane. For him, insanity was a perfectly normal human emotion. Madness didn't change the fact he was living a happy life. Madness felt the same as tears he spills when seeing a beautiful scene.
If madness was an emotion, then he should just hold that fear and pain-causing emotion dear, love it. Haunted adored this comfortable insanity. At the same time, the giant enveloping him had deliciously sipped on the madness caused by 《Berserk Enchant》.
The deep, deep black and purple auras mixed together, blooming. The fattened giant had mimicked Haunted's thrusting stance and strongly clenched its fists.
Hayato approached. Haunted raised his face.
Eyes glaring from beneath the mask were smothering delight.
"Bless Me, Deep King——《Dagon Enchant》!"
The sword clad in madness was thrust into the sky. The giant too, had thrust its fists upwards.
Rather than jumping, it was flying. Giant-clad Haunted flew towards Hayato.
Hayato too, had aimed the muzzle at Haunted's forehead and squeezed the trigger.
"Heaven's Decree, Reformation——《Resistance》!"
The silver destruction let out a small amount of light. However, that brilliance was a destructive enregy that overturned any kind of phenomenon.
The final brilliance of the hero who had nearly fell into the abyss of death, and the despair that was granted power and protection by the abyss have clashed three hundred meters above the ground.
The spectacle made it seem as if another sun had suddenly appeared in the sky made even the Hyakki Yakou flowing on the school grounds to stop erosion.
To endure this much energy, one had to be a god or an existence close to that.
Only ashes and debris have remained after the battle.
A space distortion had continued to occur in the air as aftermath of the collision, it was accompanied by lightning which surrounded it.
After the collision, Kurogane Hayato immediately fell on his knees. It's been many years has it been since last time he struggled for his breath. Sweat dripping from his forehead had evaporated because of the heat coming from his body.
Maximilien's intrinsic magic 《Resistance》 had reset all events that hurt him and converted them into energy. Although it truly brought him back from a helpless situation, after using it he was completely drained of power.
There was no preservation. Only victory or defeat remained after the revolution.
"...Not even in the legends is there a hero who can stand up to a god's power."
The sound of footsteps have come from in front beaten-up Hayato.
As he looked upwards while staggering, he saw Haunted walking towards him.
The mask Haunted had on his face was crumbling.
What Hayato destroyed was just the Sacred Treasure. Its user, Haunted, was beat-up but his body was still in one piece.
"You really are something, you and your Relic Eater."
Haunted praised Hayato.
He wasn't dead. Even that destruction didn't give him a single death.
In other words——
"But unfortunately, it's my win...!"
——Defeat. The revolution was not accomplished.
Swinging his sword, Haunted walked towards Hayato. Hayato did not move. However, he glared at Haunted as if he hasn't given up yet——
Seeing that proud attitude, Haunted displayed his respect for it.
"——Hahaha! Nice, what a great expression. That's how it has to be. Indeed——that's what makes you worth slaughtering...!"
But he mocked Hayato at the same time. Breaking that will, intention not to give up and staining that prideful determination was the despair he wanted to grant Kurogane Hayato.
With pleasure he would grant Hayato despair.
"I'll be having everything you tried to protect."
When Haunted declared this, Hayato opened his mouth while glaring.
"...I don't mind. All yours."
"Oh? Ohh? Ohhh? What, you haven't given up yet, how stubborn. How about becoming honest?"
Stepping forward lightly, Haunted agitated Hayato. All the respect from earlier was gone, and he turned back to his usual self.
Despite everything, Hayato too has tasted various hardships and joys of life, so he had been stiffling things inside.
But he was not upset. He glared at Haunted as if to open up a hole in him.
"Do it. That's what you've come here for, isn't it."
"...What do you even know about me? Sorry, I have no such noble purpose. And above all else, I didn't come here to kill yo——"
"——Shut up. I'm not talking to you."
"Shut up and die, scum."
——That's when Haunted first noticed that Hayato's gaze wasn't directed towards himself.
What Hayato was looking at wasn't him, but behind him.
He was careless. Off guard. Literally.
Haunted reluctantly erased his grin and turned around in panic.
"I'm grateful. I lived——all for this moment."
——Before Haunted realized, a new voice came from behind him.
A voice he did not remember hearing.
However, to the owner of the voice, Haunted was an enemy. The hateful root of all evil. And now at the end of numerous sacrifices and sins, he finally received an opportunity.
A chance for revenge.
The avenger put the huge muzzle towards the back of his enemy.
Along with his anger, the huge barrel split into thousand muzzles. Along with a rattling noise, the thousand barrels momentarily spread sideways like wings. Reminiscent of a missile pod for anti-aircraft combat, it completely deprived Haunted of escape route.
While turning around Haunted swung his sword towards the avenger. That action was a folly caused by his impatience. He didn't expect to receive a surprise attack in this situation. He enjoyed combat too much to consider the possibility of someone ruining everything.
The thrust had only grazed the avenger's face.
Just by moving his head slightly, the avenger avoided Haunted's counterattack.
It was skill coming from tenacity.
Seeing avenger's eyes burning red, Haunted took a step back. Before he noticed, Hayato had evacuated from the place.
Haunted did not counterattack, he decided to escape just like Hayato did.
But the avenger didn't let him to, he wouldn't miss.
The avenger——would never forgive Haunted.
"Who the hell——wait, I don't even know yo——"
As Haunted panicked, the avenger clenched his teeth and exposed his fangs.
"Can't recall me? No wonder! Then so that you don't forget, remember well...!"
"I'm AntiMagic Academy's 15th Test Platoon's captain, Kirigaya Kyouya——"
"——The man who killed you!"
And the revenge was executed.
Putting his anger into thousand muzzles, Kirigaya Kyouya released everything. There was no escaping from the dark green shotgun pellets. Majority of Haunted's body was pierced by them.
It wasn't a single salvo, but rapid fire from a thousand guns. It seemed like a celebration of revenge.
Haunted expanded protective magic, but it was pointless. It was easily broken. This attack was incredibly crude, barbarous and thoughtless.
However, the third-rate with an obsession could surpass a first-class. He put in the chagrin of his dead comrades, dead childhood friend, and the wish for his return of his living childhood friend. What burned inside him, was heart full of revenge.
Eating this delicious food, the Relic Eater "Nero" granted Kyouya his wish.
《"Now do it... Master! Let's show him what vengeance is!"》
Vengeance. Righteous judgment. Sweeping away the emptiness and granting death.
Exhaust all of the vengeance, all of the bullets. Until its completely empty.
And once everything was emptied the thousand barrels crumbled down, and what remained...
Was just Haunted's head.
It fell on the ground and rolled around as he spat blood.
Haunted looked up at Kyouya from behind the gaps in blond hair. Despite not having lungs, he struggled for breath, desperately wanting to live.
"...Stop...screwing...with me... I won't... die in a place...like..."
"Not to a guy... like thisss..."
Raising voice full of regret, Haunted spilled tears.
Kyouya moved the shotgun he had leaned on his shoulder, Nero, and aimed it Haunted's head in silence.
He fired the last bullet into the enemy's head.
Haunted's head exploded like a fruit.
The last roar extended in to the sky in celebration.
Kyouya lowered his shoulders and quietly turned his face towards the sky.
The sound of the last gunshot echoed before disappearing.
He felt the flames of revenge be purified and disappear from his body.
Inside of his chest turned empty.
Raising a trembling hand, Kyouya put it on his shoulder. There, were the star emblems of his comrades who were killed by Haunted during the mock battle tournament. The 15th test platoon's emblem.
The heavy burden he felt on his shoulders faded away. Disappeared. By fulfilling his revenge he was convinced his comrades' souls were saved, and holding the stars on his shoulder he fell on his knees.
After finishing everything, finally... finally shed tears for his comrades.
"...I'm sorry... everyone... I couldn't protect you..."
Rather than tell them that he fulfilled revenge, Kyouya apologized to everyone.
"...Forgive me with this... I won't say we're square... but please, forgive me."
There was as many regrets and sorrows of his, as the number of tears falling on the ground. Even if he wasn't understood by anyone, even if he was mediocre and normal, he had a reason to fight.
And a reason to continue living from now on as well.
"I'd like to go over there... but I still... have something I want to protect."
Kyouya kept apologizing to his comrades. While recalling the happy days when he discussed with his comrades in the platoon room on how to improve their results, he thought of the childhood friend awaiting his return.
"That's why... it's fine... to live just a little longer, right?"
Holding five stars in his hand, Kyouya stood up.
In order to live.
In order to return to Akira's side.
In order to walk a path other than that of vengeance.