In the deepest part of the AntiMagic Academy, forbidden area's innermost prison. The dark side of the school.
Unlike the areas where the innocent witches were living in temporary houses, it was a prison where the worst of criminals were held in.
The facility employed means for negating magic. The ones taken there were those who are guilty of crimes against humanity.
"This place smells as bad as ever, don't you think so too Kurogane-kun…?"
While walking through the dim corridor of innermost prison, AntiMagic Academy's chairman Ootori Sougetsu asked the man walking beside him.
The man was clad in a pitch black uniform adorned with the embroidery of the Inquisition symbolizing the AntiMagic Academy, a magical circle torn up on a cross; a unique emblem. Next to it was drawn a knight with no head, symbolizing the black troops.
Black, AntiMagic Academy's investigator's section 1, city's Zeroth Extermination Riot Police alias——"EXE". EXE were special forces carrying anti-magical weapons, Relic Eaters.
"I'm used to it."
The man replied indifferently.
His name was Kurogane Hayato and he was the captain of the EXE, meaning he was the most influential person in Dullahan.
Sougetsu cast a skeptical gaze toward Hayato who had an unfriendly attitude, and looked around.
On the corridor’s wall there were multiple clockwork devices imitating coffins, and from the glass windows pale light was leaking in.
"Just like a graveyard. If you have gotten used to this place, I cannot honestly praise you for having such nerves."
"Excuse me. But you were the one who made this facility, Chairman."
"I instructed them to make it, but I didn't tell them to make it so white and creepy."
Sougetsu complained in dissatisfaction as he looked at the coffin.
If you looked inside the coffin from the window, you could see people inside.
The coffin-like devices lined in the innermost prison were called Iron Maidens, cells made in order to seal witches and sorcerers.
In case of high ranking witches, the typical anti-magic materials were insufficient. Because they were difficult to restrain when awake, these devices were made.
The witches sealed inside were in a state of suspended animation unable to even dream.
The suppression collar-type equipment sealing the magical power of the witches had a terrible cost to performance ratio.
That's why there was no other way than to keep the witches asleep with such a powerful force.
"So? How's the girl's state?"
“After the capture she fainted, and it seems like she lost most of her memories."
"Memory loss... how troublesome."
"I'm guessing it was a magical charm that caused a memory loss to prevent information leakage. According to a Seelie's diagnosis her memory should start returning after some time."
"Do you know anything about her identity?"
When asked, Hayato looked towards Sougetsu.
"Her name is Nikaido Mari, an Ancient Wizard, and if I'm not wrong she’s the "Witch of the Aurora", she’s been a wanted witch for the past three years."
"The witch from no-killed cases? Although her standing is subtle, she indeed has the skill. I pulled some information from the brain of a low rank member of Valhalla about it before."
"Yeah. It's about the orphanage from the boundary line, the motive as to why she has been cooperating with Valhalla has already been investigated."
"It's disturbing that it was a charm for memory loss and not for suicide bombing, they are trying to conceal something after all... I wonder if they'll attack all at once in order to either kill her or retake her."
"The possibility is roughly 50% for both."
"In that case, before the effects expire we can utilize her."
"Lately Valhalla has started quite a few large-scale operations. Like the Hero terrorism last month. People who are a good source of information are quite rare. Whether it's the big-shots or small fries that come to us, either of them are fine."
"...I don't understand. Chairman, what do you mean."
"You don't get it? I'm talking about fishing."
Saying that, Sougetsu imitated the movement of casting a fishing rod.
Hayato narrowed his eyes, understanding the Chairman.
The two were walking for a while until they reached their destination.
At their goal there was an Iron Maiden, it had a different form from the others, rather than pale light coming from the window, there was a red light.
Around the Iron Maiden were Regins with instruments that were used to adjust it.
Raising his hand, Sougetsu told them to move.
"Unlock it, also, remove the chain."
The people in lab coats looked at each other and asked. "Is that okay?"
Sougetsu signaled for them to hurry with his hand, the woman in lab coat put her hand on one of the four levers installed on both sides of the coffin.
A sound fitting of an Iron Maiden was released, and heavy steam was discharged covering the field of view.
The door of the Iron Maiden was opened and the overflowing steam crawled across the ground.
Inside was a young girl.
The girl was released from all the constraints and slammed into the floor groaning.
That's when the girl opened her eyes. What was reflected in her pupils was impatience and fear.
Not understanding her situation, she was confused.
"Wha, what's this? What happened? Why, why am I naked...? Who are you?!"
Not remembering anything, the girl trembled. She looked at Sougetsu standing in front of her.
Sougetsu was smiling brightly. He covered her with the white lab coat hiding her skin.
And, Sougetsu spoke to the witch who lost her memory, Nikado Mari.
"Heya, welcome to AntiMagic Academy! Nikado Mari-san you have been admitted to our school!"
Mari, not understanding the meaning of those words at all, tilted her neck earnestly.
"Well, umm, there is a relation between the failure of the magic chant and the formula performance, although I told you before there is a deep relation... umm, first, the most important is the operative procedure that effectively converts magical power into a spell, it's a program so to speak..."
The Teacher's voice caused drowsiness. The class for operative procedures science, was always quiet, even the most diligent students were feeling sleepy during this class. However, the situation was different for the last few days.
The classroom was strangely noisy. Besides the Teacher's voice there were whispers resounding all over.
"That rumor, I wonder if it's true?"
"That it was the Small Fry Platoon that defeated the Hero? I don't believe it."
"But that's what the guy who witnessed it said. Still, he has quit the school already. What a coward."
“Look who’s talking, you didn’t even participate in that battle. Spriggans were defeated, I wonder who defeated the Hero."
"Somehow, there's a story of a knight in a purple or a blue armor defeating him."
"Gahaha, isn't that a hallucination caused by fear?"
"That armored knight was somehow very similar to the captain of the Small Fry Platoon."
"Oh, I heard about that as well. Maybe it's some kind of Relic Eater?"
"Then that guy is a Dullahan, right? A Relic Eater possessor?"
"What's that, laughable. I mean that guy, he can't use guns right? Defeating a Hero with a sword sounds ridiculous."
Students gazed at Takeru all at once.
Takeru, whose seat was located in the middle of classroom, shrunk. This was the first time he'd had so much attention focused on him, he honestly didn't feel too good about it. And the majority of the rumors were correct.
At least he wasn't given these kinds of doubtful looks before.
Actually, none at all.
The Chairman pressed him not to leak the fact that he was a Relic Eater contractor outside. Because Takeru was a student as well as a provisional Dullahan. He had to protect the discipline around him.
"In fact, there was a huge change around Kusanagi."
"Indeed, Ootori Ouka following him and... her, right?"
"Right? They definitely are not siblings. Don't look alike at all."
"Even if she were his stepsister, it's a strange story... what a mystery... before you realize, she's already beside Kusanagi."
The students' line of sight moved from Takeru to the seat on his right.
The seat right beside him, even though there should have been a meter's interval between them normally, just that seat was joined together with Takeru's.
It was clearly a weird arrangement. Doubts concerning Takeru weren't the only reason of the stares, his strange neighbor was also the cause of it. Frowning she suddenly pulled his clothes lightly.
It was a quite modest attraction.
Onii-chan... she called out to him like that.
Takeru was forced to look at her.
Azure-colored eyes, azure-colored hair. A girl wearing an azure-colored dress was sitting right beside him.
"I have a question, Onii-chan.”
Her name was Lapis Lazuli, this month, she'd entered the same class as Takeru as a transfer student.
Her real identity was not that of a human. She had made a contract with Takeru during the Hero attack last month and was one of the Relic Eater series. Her exact name was "The Malleus Maleficarum Type-Twilight "Mistilteinn" ". A powerful Magical Heritage possessing its own will. Although there were Magical Heritages that took human form mentioned in historical records, there were none in modern times so it was treated as something invaluable.
No other details aside from that were known. Even the contractor, Takeru, wasn't told any details from the Chairman, Ootori Sougetsu.
Such a mysterious existence was preying on Takeru.
The problem was, the way Lapis called him "Onii-chan.".
『"Even among the Relic Eaters, Mistilteinn is special and wants to be beside it's contractor at all times."』
『"That's why, it will become part of your daily life, I like that girl's human form. So as to avoid confusion among the students, I will put her in your class as a transfer student. Also, I think there's quite a few students who saw your appearance as a "Witch Hunter", so even though I've asked you to keep it confidential, it's just on paper."』
『"Well, I got it."』
『"I also prepared a fake family register for Lapis, it's this. Take a look at it."』
Saying that, Sougetsu passed a piece of paper to Takeru.
Tilting his head in wonder Takeru bent down towards the piece of paper, and looked at the face in the photograph and the name.
『"Hahaha! Sounds bad doesn't it, pardon me."』
『"Wait a moment! No matter how you look at it, something like this won't pass!?"』
『"It would be troubling if you were sticking to each other like superglue right? If you're siblings then it'll be fine. Or maybe you are dissatisfied? You wanted an older sister?"』
『"That's not the problem! Besides, I already have a younger sister!"』
『"Having a little sister is a good thing, I’m jealous."』
『"What the heck are you talking about."』
『"It's already been decided, from now on Lapis will be your little sister in public. Do your best! She's your stepsister so some extreme skinship is acceptable. Grats〜 Onii-chan〜. HAHAHA you little pervert."』
Grats〜 Onii-chan〜 my ass!! That rotten Chairman...!
Honestly, this situation where he'd suddenly gained a little sister was horrible. And that rotten Chairman had shrewdly made Lapis call him "Onii-chan".
In the first place, he already had a real little sister. He couldn't meet her easily because of complicated circumstances.
Even Ikaruga called him "siscon", because he doted on his sister that much.
Therefore, this expansion caused Takeru a stomach pain.
There was a critical point, if Takeru cancelled the contract, death awaited him.
Meaning, Takeru's lower and upper body which were joined by Lapis' magic power, would revert back to their original condition.
He was in a position where he couldn't go against Lapis and Sougetsu. That was why he answered Lapis, he had to answer. Even if it was the 104th question today.
"...qu-question? What is it?"
"Operative procedures science. Why is it a compulsory subject?"
Don't ask me, is what he wanted to say, but Takeru responded like this.
"Ugh... in order to examine traces of magic during the investigation... that's what they say... what was it... something like a filter? If you look at a crime scene through a machine like that, an investigation team's magic tracing can confirm residual magic? If you use more powerful filters you can understand what magic was used in operative procedure... or something like that."
"I see. Indeed, if you know what kind of operative procedure was used for the magic, it can help you select appropriate anti-magic substances to counter it."
Lapis said that assenting monotonously.
When he was done with the question, he would normally be relieved, but he was not.
Even after hearing an answer to her question, Lapis did not stop looking at Takeru. Even during class, during meals, she was always staring at him when they were together.
Takeru was really weak when it came to dealing with her.
For example she was gone all of a sudden, but in fact she was still around him, honestly, it was a bit eerie. He was especially bad with her eyes, they were like a deep-sea you could get drawn into.
"Why are you making a pained face when you're looking at me?"
"Nope, there's no such a thing?"
"I see. When I called out to you earlier, I could see an increase in your body's temperature and heart rate. If your physical condition is bad, please say so without reserve."
She moved her face closer to his.
The distance between her and Takeru was 10 centimeters. It could only look like a kiss from the side.
"I see. If that's the case... then it's fine."
While saying that she approached even closer.
The distance was 3 centimeters. Takeru's gaze was trapped in Lapis' pupils.
The surrounding students were excitedly looking forward to something.
Suddenly the girl in front of him declared such a thing while standing up.
Semi-long blonde hair and small stature. Her trademark was a headband that made it look like she had rabbit ears.
Saionji Usagi, a member of the Small Fry Platoon, same as Takeru. Usagi and Takeru had been in different classes, however because of the amount of victims and people who had left, a single large class was formed. All members of the 35th platoon belonged to this class.
With Usagi's declaration, the classroom stirred. Usagi who had a terrible stage fright had suddenly requested a meaningless seat change. Normally she would have never, ever done it.
Usagi's face blushed brightly, and begun trembling intensely, her shoulders rose up while she breathed heavily.
The teacher of operative procedures faintly directed his gaze at Usagi's face.
"Hm? Saionji, why a seat change? We are in the middle of the operative procedures lesson right now..."
"Emm, umm, that... Kusanagi Lapis...-san... and Kusanagi are siblings, it's weird for siblings to sit right next to each other."
"? Is it weird?
"R-r-rather than weird——it's unhealthy!"
The motivation behind the seat change was still unknown, and the classroom was dead silent.
However, despite Takeru asking himself that question, everyone's line of sight was sneakily directed towards him.
"It is unhealthy."
"So it's like that."
"I thought so."
"I thought that atmosphere was weird."
And so on. For some reason Takeru was showered with contempt.
In reaction to everyone's unjust treatment towards him, he almost started crying. The contempt from the girls' group was also painful, and the looks of jealousy from the boys group were dreadful.
After enlisting a perfect superhuman like Ootori Ouka, the presence of Lapis was like salt in their wounds, and fuel for the fire.
However, the seat change was actually a good idea.
Fortunately, the situation became difficult for the teacher and he started considering a seat change.
At this rate, he would be able to escape from this super awkward situ——
"——I don't want to."
Remaining expressionless, Lapis clung to Takeru's arm.
"Unless I'm connected with Onii-chan he won't be able to exist. That means if I'm separated from Onii-chan, Onii-chan will die."
Weird, despite being correct, the nuances were weird.
"Onii-chan belongs to me, and I belong to Onii-chan."
What she said was not wrong.
It was not wrong, however those who were unrelated didn't know that.
"C-connected... it can't be... no..."
"In love so much that they'll die if separated..."
"Commit suicide you piece of shit."
"That eroge bastard..."
With those words flying around, Takeru no longer had a choice but to shed tears. Lapis just titled her head curiously, Usagi's face was deep red and her mouth opened and closed wordlessly.
In this airspace, there were no allies for Takeru, just when he had begun to think like that,
Behind, there was a sound of someone pulling a chair.
After turning around, there was a girl with sunset-colored hair.
Ootori Ouka stood up.
"I also recommend a seating change."
Her line of sight was directed at Takeru.
She also looked at him with contempt.
"Besides the fact that siblings are sitting next to each other. I think it's strange that their desks are joined together during class. And more than anything, having them in front like this is distracting. At least instruct them to return the interval between the desks to normal."
Unlike Usagi's, this was a decent reason.
However, her eyes were scary. It was close to being murderous intent. This aura was not that of the Small Fry Platoon's Ouka, it was the Dullahan's "Calamity"-san.
Why are you angry at me? Even though you know all the circumstances.
He tried to gesture, but Ouka continued to emit waves of murderous intent while looking towards him and pointing beside him. While her hands were wandering in the air, Takeru's shoulders were dropping.
Looking at his arm, Lapis was still clinging to it.
Tightly clasping both of her arms around his, she stared at him expressionlessly.
Her feelings could not be discerned, it felt as if he was gripped by a doll.
But for some reason her body was awfully warm.
He had been separated from the public before, alone, however such ostracism was a first. Beyond expectation, his heart was cold.
40 deaths, 5 people missing, 75 injured, 5 school buildings collapsed, and 27 people voluntarily dropouts.
Above all was the damage the school suffered in the Hero's attack last month. If you considered the scale of the entire city, the casualties were much larger than this.
The incident was massively broadcast on TV, it was the first time in a decade that this much damage had been done. Needless to say that it shocked the public that had been living peacefully.
Because of this, the status of the Inquisition was wavering. The Spriggan security forces had been thinned, there was a lack of crisis control from the upper echelons of the Inquisition, immediately after the incident a lot of problems appeared in various places.
However, the rapid covert operation on media allowed them to hide the number of victims. On the contrary, the fact that it was a Hero summoning previously used in the Witch Hunt War, and that there was only a small amount of damage despite that, was broadcast. A broadcast that admired the Inquisition.
All these things were dealt with unexpectedly quickly.
The classes resumed a week after the attack, platoons were operating normally.
It was now a day after they had returned to school.
After the operative procedures science class had ended, the Small Fry Platoon members hung out at the end of the classroom.
Takeru timidly called out to the other members, a threatening feeling filled the air around them.
Ouka was standing with her back to air conditioner, Usagi turned away with an elbow on the desk.
Ikaruga was grinning while looking at those individuals.
After repelling the hero with their cooperation, he thought they had bonded a bit, but it was already falling apart.
"...I have certainly reluctantly welcomed Ootori Ouka when she enlisted, very reluctantly, as a special case despite being reluctant... But I did not hear about such a bonus coming."
Usagi said that very politely.
"I didn't know that it had a human form as well. I should have asked in advance, I'm going to protest to that idiotic father. Exposing a Relic Eater to the public... Impossible, a violation of the rules."
Ouka also growled while wrinkling her eyebrows.
Ikaruga while sloppily sitting on her chair turned her head towards Takeru.
"...it came huh, you harem bastard."
With Ikaruga like that, after coming over with his chair he didn't know where to hide, so he sat between the three.
"A harem... it's quite a bit different from such an exemplary state of affairs, this situation."
"Is that so? I think it's quite the enviable situation from the viewpoint of a regular guy?"
"Also there's only one of them staring at me like that..."
And as she arrived she put a chair right beside gently and hugged him.
"...get used to it."
His shoulders soundly slumped, and so did Takeru.
"Aren't you actually happy...? Kusanagi, you're actually a closet pervert right? Onii〜〜chan."
"Don't say Onii-chan! Being happy or not is not the problem. In the first place, why am I the one to blame? Did I do something?"
“A Relic Eater without asking us for permission! Let's say the contract was justified... because your life was involved. But what is that child? Please tell her to stay quietly in the form of a sword. Make her disappear, I don't like her. You're her owner, aren't you?"
And again, in the end Usagi had no convincing reason.
"I completely agree with that. A walking product of magic, sorry I'll pass. Also Kusanagi, you're getting used to it too much. How deplorable..."
Ouka was unleashing her magic allergy at full power, she laid bare her aversion to Lapis.
Takeru didn't hate Lapis. He might not have been good with handling her, but as a weapon she was first class. He didn't have an aversion towards Magical Heritages. He thought she was strangely cute as she was attached to him.
However, the eyes looking at him were bitter. With that many misunderstandings, it worried Takeru.
For Takeru, this coziness became a problem. Telling him to push her away, he felt intimidated...
Takeru looked at Lapis clinging to his arm.
Lapis noticed Takeru looking at her and tilted her head.
When she stared at him like that not in public...
...I don't dislike it.
He wanted to pat her head slowly, it was such a feeling.
Previously absent minded, now he made a relieved face.
Noticing that, Ouka and Usagi glared sharply at him.
"W-wait, it's not like that. I wasn't happy because she hugged me. I just thought you were too cruel and felt sorry for her!"
"Besides, this girl doesn't listen to me!"
He tried to excuse himself while being caught red handed, the glares of the two sharpened more and more at his advocacy.
Too intimidating, Takeru stood up and hid behind his chair.
"Oh my, you two, can't you be more honest? Isn't it really simple... like this——"
Ikaruga who was watching it while grinning beside them stood up and approached Takeru.
And, she hugged Takeru, making him fall into her large breasts, moreover, she intertwined her legs with Takeru's lower body.
Agitated, Takeru couldn't call her by her first name. Ikaruga moved her captivating chest, trying to push his face deeper in.
Takeru was being squeezed between Ikaruga's cleavage. Lapis was also beside him expressionless. Ouka and Usagi were stunned and their faces dyed crimson.
'Awa, awawawa' that was the feeling.
"Oh you, don't move so much... wa-wait a moment, id-idiot! You... that place is——aahnn."
Even though Takeru struggled to get away, apparently his hand slipped through the gap in her shirt, and grabbed Ikaruga's chest with all its might.
A supreme bliss was transferred to his hand. Attempting to pull out his hand, Takeru noticed.
This size——no bra?!
That thought proved Ikaruga's statement that he was a hidden pervert.
Needless to say. Ouka and Usagi, who were watching the scene, stood up looking like demons.
""〜〜! Separate right now! You ero devil——""
...both of them yelled.
Suddenly, the speakers on the ceiling of the classroom, rang out with a little feedback.
Everyone stopped moving, and listened.
《"First grade, students from the 35th platoon, please come to the Chairman's office as soon as possible. Repeat. First grade——"》
The faces of the members of the called out 35th platoon.
From between Ikaruga's breasts, Takeru gave a questioning look.
The faculty tower built close to the forbidden area.
Takeru and the others made it to the top floor, in front of the Chairman's office.
I could understand if I was called but... the whole platoon?"
Embracing anxiety and doubt, Takeru moved towards the Chairman's office on foot.
That's when people came out of the office.
While Takeru wondered who it was, Ouka's legs stopped suddenly.
"? What is it?"
With a somewhat bad expression, Ouka scratched her cheek.
"Someone you know?"
He looked at Ouka who was extremely stiff, the person who came out of Chairman's room walked over towards them.
Suddenly hearing a voice, Takeru's shoulders shook.
But even more so, Ouka jumped up in surprise.
It was a quite tall, insightful and strong man. Judging by his appearance, he was about twenty, but his atmosphere felt like he was much older.
His hair was jet black like ink and so was his uniform. It was an unpleasant man whom black color suited.
Takeru whispered to Ouka secretly confirming the situation.
When asked in low tone, Ouka answered with trembling lips.
"From when I was in Inquisition... my direct superior."
"Ah, that means one of the Dullahans."
Immediately after, Takeru hit one hand into another, the two men remained expressionless.
"What are you talking about so sneakily."
"O-oh, I apologize!"
Ouka quickly saluted with the Inquisition's unique gesture.
"There's no need to salute. You're a student now."
While making a regretful face, Ouka stopped saluting.
Ouka's direct superior. Which meant the man in front of him was a very influential person among the "Dullahans".
Ouka was unreasonably tense. The man checked the faces of the Small fry Platoon, and said quietly with his eyes closed.
"Section 1 of anti-magic investigators, the Zeroth Extermination Riot Police, Kurogane Hayato, captain of EXE. I've heard about you from the Chairman, it seems you're taking care of Ootori."
He stared at the three other people besides Ouka.
Hayato's eyes looked even more evil than Takeru's, the three others aside from Ikaruga shook in fear. Ikaruga was just calmly chewing a mint candy.
Not referring to the silent attitude of platoon members, he turned to Ouka.
"So, are you doing fine?"
"Uh... that, that is..."
"...just as usual... oh well."
It seemed like he wanted to spout out a sigh at that moment. He seemed to avoid displaying emotions.
"Kusanagi Takeru, is that you?"
"Y...yes! I-it's me!"
Called out, he awkwardly took a single step forward. Hayato observed Takeru carefully.
After looking at him for a moment, he closed his eyes and placed his hand on Takeru's head.
"About Ootori, I leave her to you."
Saying that much, Hayato turned away and walked from the spot.
Quite a big gap from his first impression. Although he didn't understand his intentions completely, he had an impression that he was only a bad conversationalist.
His hand was unexpectedly warm.
"A hard man to grasp. But I don't think he's a bad person... Ootori, details?"
When asked, Ouka spouted a sigh of relief and placed her hand on the wall.
"I-I, when captain Kurogane became captain. I was a problem child, and he always advocated for me."
"Hee——, that's good, he's a good person then."
"I wonder about that. I don't know about him in private. Because I have been fired by him... even though it was my own fault, the frightening image still stands."
"Gender equality, that's just like captain Kurogane."
Ouka was trembling with a blue face.
Seeing Ouka this scared was a first. Takeru decided not to touch the topic any more, while switching his feelings prematurely, he knocked on the Chairman's door.
"Come in, come in."
A strangely friendly voice was heard from beyond the door! The voice pissed him off a bit, but Takeru pulled the door knob.
And was greeted,
"Hey hey heeey, thank you for coming my children!"
The stinking Chairman at full power. The whiteness of his hair and clothes was too dazzling as usual.
Everyone already had expressions showing that they were fed up with it.
"Somehow all of you have such damp expressions! You should walk forward cheerfully, a slump can cause hair loss!!"
Not knowing the reason for their damp expressions, Sougetsu clapped strangely, increasing Takeru's tension.
"Umm...what is it this time?"
"Oh, aren't you in a hurry. Are you so motivated? Then I'll jump straight to the topic."
Sougetsu clapped with both hands.
"This time for you all, I have a special mission. That's the reason I called you all while allowing you to skip two periods."
"——Please wait a moment."
Hearing "a special mission", Takeru interrupted out Sougetsu's words.
"I understand why I was called out, because of the Relic Eater I promised to cooperate with Chairman. However please don't get them involved."
Saying that clearly, Takeru stood in front of Sougetsu with a resolute attitude.
If this was a special mission, Takeru guessed there would be nasty things like a Hero attack.
He couldn't trust this man called Ootori Sougetsu, he had learned that a month ago. Although he intended to agree with this man's demands, he could not afford to involve his comrades.
"I understand your feelings, but well, I'm sorry for involving them in that fight."
"...that means you won't back off."
"I think you're misunderstanding. I'm not going to order them. It's only up to those three whether they want to do it or not."
With that said, after a brief moment he turned around in surprise.
The three behind him averted their eyes.
"I-I think it's a good opportunity to get promoted! I have no intention of remaining a goldfish's poop, It's a chance to gain recognition among the upper echelons!"
"I was originally a Relic Eater contractor, us working together is obvious... also, you... promised... didn't you."
He was unsure about Ouka's and Usagi's reasons. But why was Ikaruga?
Takeru directed his gaze at her, Ikaruga put a mint candy in her mouth.
"Because we can skip?"
He felt like he wouldn't understand what was up with her thinking circuits for the rest of his life.
"Okay, enough with the love comedy. All platoon members are going to have a special mission together this time."
Somehow dissatisfied, he couldn't consider pros and cons of his comrades participating before listening to the mission content, Takeru judged reluctantly.
Thinking it was about time to explain the contents of the mission, Sougetsu looked towards the room in the back, towards a room that looked like a servant's room.
"Mari-kun, come in."
Sougetsu called an unfamiliar name. After a while, they heard the serving room's door open. A girl appeared.
A girl wearing a brand new uniform of AntiMagic Academy, she came next to the chairman with a sullen attitude. Despite wearing a uniform, she wore a casket hat, and had a scarf wrapped around her neck even though it wasn't cold.
"This girl is Nikaido Mari-kun. I want you guys to protect her."
"Guard her... is it?"
"Oh by the way guys, do you know about the ethical committee?"
"...well about that, a little."
Why did that name come out at a time like this, thought Takeru.
The ethics committee, and Ethics of Witch Trial committee (EoWT).
It referred to a human rights organization protecting witches, standing against unfair discrimination and arrests by Inquisition, and complaining about excessive use of self-defense.
Handling the witch's treatment was it's main role.
The power of Inquisition had been unshakable before, however in recent years, there was an influence of the ethics committee that could not be ignored.
"In fact this time on a request from the Ethics Committee, we will implement a trial witches admission system. You know this system, right?"
Takeru had heard about this system as well.
"To be more exact, it's a system that allows witches to get used to Inquisition."
Sougetsu explained loudly, Ouka who was standing behind came a step forward.
Her expression was grim.
"Chairman... you can't mean...!"
Ouka looked at Nikaido Mari who stood next to the carefree Sougetsu.
Sougetsu confirmed and even laughed cheerfully.
"Yeah. Nikaido Mari-kun is unquestionably a witch."
Takeru was a bit surprised, but Ouka's gaze sharpened even more.
"I'm surprised. You who refused all requests from Committee suddenly accepted, I wonder why."
"It's not like I always refused. We have been cooperating in investigations and weapon development, I thought it's not a bad idea for a while. Also, there's no harm since there's the Gleipnir, I judged there is no problem."
Gleipnir was a collar that allowed control over a witch's magic.
This collar was made for witches that were not criminals, made by cooperation of Inquisition and Alchemist's weapon development company. A witch without a criminal record who wore a Gleipnir was allowed to leave the forbidden area and live a normal life.
Takeru had seen people called witches, who were wearing Gleipnir.
They were still discriminated, but it was not as bad as in the past.
A view of normal people and witches chatting was nothing out of the ordinary nowadays.
That was why, even if he was told Mari is a witch, it didn't surprise him much.
"——I'm against this!"
Ouka protested against Sougetsu rudely.
"Inquisition was made to judge witches, accepting a witch in Inquisition is illogical!"
"We do not judge witches, we're an organization made in order to judge evil witches. Innocents are not recognized as our enemies. And I told you before, protecting the witches is our job as well."
"I know! But why do we have to protect her?! This is the place of Inquisition, it is too dangerous for her!"
There was some truth to Ouka's words.
Inquisition was built around the philosophy of fighting against magic. It was necessary to show off a proper attitude and go through with it. Otherwise, the significance of Inquisition would be shaken.
If the police broke the law, they'd lose trust. If the police borrowed the power of a criminal, they'd be called incompetent.
Although it would be equally true with the presence of Relic Eaters, if it became a situation in which you couldn't compete against magic without magic, public opinion would grow skeptical of the Inquisition.
"I know how you feel, but I want you to stop mixing your personal feelings in this."
"I-it's not because of my personal feelings!"
"Your hatred against witches is a well known fact."
"...this and that are two different things...!"
"No matter what you say, there will be no change in policy. In order to eliminate discrimination against witches, we'll continue accepting them in the future."
Unable to agree with Sougetsu's decision, Ouka clenched her fist and looked down.
"She will be the commemorative first person. Mari-san, please greet them."
Grinning and laughing, he encouraged Mari who was standing behind to self-introduce herself.
After taking one step forward, Mari looked up slightly.
She lowered her head abruptly and took a step backwards.
There was nothing in particular about Takeru, however there was a negative aura from the other members of the platoon, their faces were crooked.
"I think I'll let you guys take care of her escort. Mari-kun doesn't know anything about the school, I want you to help her in various ways."
"Why did you pick us...? Wouldn't it be better to ask a professional Inquisitor?"
Ouka spoke, in her voice were thorns and barbs, Sougetsu lifted his index finger.
"What would everyone think if she had an Inquisitor as a guard? Since such convenient students like you are here... oops that was rude. Since there's talent meeting the demands in this place."
His real intent had accidentally slipped out.
"Also, about Mari-kun being a witch, keep if confidential for a while. If we say a witch has suddenly been admitted, she might be bullied? When Mari-kun is familiar with the school, then we'll formally announce it, listen guys, you have to protect her."
Protect a witch. A mission honestly unheard of.
Sougetsu laughed cheerfully, while hitting Takeru's back.
"And that's that! I leave it to you! I don't care about second period, guide her around the school."
He was careful when they were called by the president, because he thought they would be charged with a dangerous mission, he was relieved at the same time as he thought it was anticlimactic.
A mission of this degree should not be dangerous for his platoon members.
It was just guarding in name, it was more like taking care of a transfer student who didn't know anything, that was what he thought.
Anyone could do it, an easy task.
Takeru's relief was only momentary, he withdrew it immediately.
He thought again, a simple mission that anyone could do.
...it can't be... it's about our platoon?
Timidly, Takeru looked behind.
There, the three stood there emanating an earthquake-like feeling of not wanting to get along.
And again he looked forward, looking at Mari.
Mari removed her gaze from Takeru at whom she had been staring at, and made a sipping sound with her nose.
Not a single person intended to cooperate.
Perhaps, was this a super difficult mission? He felt a cold feeling going down his spine confirming it.
And this, was the Small Fry Platoon's special mission.
It started with immediate entanglement of human relations.