Chapter 5 - Necromancer's Laughter

The next day. AntiMagic Academy's mock battle tournament; second round.

It was sunny weather, the climate was good as well. It was a great day for the tournament, that's when acoustic feedback from announcer's microphone resounded.

All of Small Fry Platoon's members had already gathered and sat on the bench in front.

Three girls were sitting on the bench, Ikaruga on the right side, Mari in the center, Usagi on the left, even Lapis was sitting in the corner of it.

Takeru was preparing equipment behind the bench, he glanced at the field.

Currently, there was a ceremony being performed on it.

While on the first day, there was a concert of a famous pop idol, on the second day it was the unveiling of the newest model of heavily armored infantry exoskeleton by the alchemists. These were unlike the one Takeru and the others encountered during the "Trackless Psalms" incident, they were the newest state-of-art models.

Seeing Dragoons maneuvering while gliding at high-speed, Ikaruga who was sitting on the right responded with a "Haa haa" panting.

"Ohho! T-thin layer of orichalcum throughout the body... high frequency vibration blade?! That should cost as much as an aircraft right?! And those human-like movements thanks to the soft actuator, that's not something you can mass-produce! Nonsense!! I-i-i can't hold it in, this state-of-art design is so arousing..."

With drool hanging from her mouth, she looked excitedly at the body that was displayed on the field.

"What's so interesting in it...? Isn't that just a doll."

Mari complained as she watched the Dragoons, finding it boring.

"Not knowing the wonderfulness of Dragoons, Mari loses 12% life."

"Isn't it fine not to know about it..."

"That form, that sound, that form and its luster! Robots have their own eros that cannot be imitated by humans!"

"...what a pervert."

"A pervert?!"

She responded at full power, looking at Ikaruga, Mari put some distance between them.

Mari shifted to the side, her shoulder hit Usagi who was there.

And Usagi was...

*RATTLE* *RATTLE**RATTLE**RATTLE**RATTLE**RATTLE*......

"Uwaa..."

She was embracing her rifle while shaking. Her face was blue, her lips purple.

"I heard about your fright before, but you really did well to survive up until now."

"S-ss-sss-shut up. R-r-rright now, I-I'm searching for s-spiritual unity. D-ddon't talk to me."

"If you mean that's mental concentration, I'm going to get angry."

"I wonder if it's really alright... this platoon... well, as long as I am here, aiming for victory isn't impossible——hey Takeru, you think so too, right?-"

She poised weirdly with her machine gun, and turned the muzzle to Takeru who was behind.

However, Takeru who was asked the question was looking around fidgety. He didn't look at Mari at all. Being ignored after making a cool stance with a lot of effort, Mari pouted with displeasure.

"......why are you looking around like that."

"No, it's just that I heard from Ouka that she might be a little late, I thought it's getting late already. That fellow didn't come to school this morning, I'm a bit worried."

"...what's with that 'Ootori, Ootori'. Are you dissatisfied with me?"

Takeru stood up after finishing his preparations, and he swung his arm around a few times.

"I'm not dissatisfied but, Ootori is our ace. Our fighting strength decreases by 80% if we don't have her."

Including him, and the three others it's just 20% of their fighting strength.

Mari moved closer and leaned towards Takeru who was still rotating his arm.

"What's with that! Are you really a captain? Trust your members more!"

"Y-you're too close. I do trust you, but I think being realistic is also necessary."

"Why are you talking about realism despite being a swordsmanship idiot."

Mari pointed muzzle of her gun at Takeru's chest.

Closing one eye, she laughed happily.

"Since I'm doing this, I want to win this. I'll be relying on you, mr. Captain."

Hearing Mari's words, Takeru made faint smile.

Because of various things happening, Mari's tension has been pretty high ever since she woke up. It didn't really matter for her whether they lost or won, definitely.

But since she was already participating, she wanted to win. Seeing her having fun like this, Takeru was the same. At first he reluctantly participated, but seeing Mari laughing like this, he thought it was good to participate.

"But she really is slow, that woman. Maybe she's scared?"

"There's no way that'll happen, no matter what."

Takeru smiled wryly at Mari's distrust.

At the same time, as if it was timed on purpose, the door behind them was opened.

"...sorry, I'm late."

The one who appeared, was Ouka, just as expected.

Ouka was dragging very large gun cases with her, and she moved in front of Takeru. Mari looked at Ouka's figure, and provocatively glared at her like usual.

"Oh my, the honor student sure is different from the normal executives. And here I thought you were scared and bailed."

Mari provoked her, Ouka glared at her sharply.

"Wha... what is it... I was joking. Don't take it seriously."

"............"

Ouka removed her gaze from Mari, this time she looked at Takeru.

"Sorry, Kusanagi... we need to talk a bit."

Being suddenly told there's something to talk about, Takeru wondered what was it about.

Ouka stood there with a serious expression. Looking closely, her hair lacked luster, and dark circles could be seen under her eyes.

Fatigue could be clearly seen almost bleeding out of Ouka.

"What is it, Ootori... what happened?"

"There's no time. We'll be back as soon as possible."

Takeru was confused, and Mari made a question mark with both of her hands.

Ouka whispered directly as he was wondering what is it about.

"——It's about Nikaido Mari."

Being told that in a low voice, Takeru looked at Mari.

"? What is it?"

Being stared at by two people, Mari had a questioning look.

Takeru felt an unexplainable anxiety, told the other platoon members to wait a while and followed Ouka.

After opening the door, they moved to hallway.

Ouka after leaving the room rested her back on the wall and folded her arms.

"...saying you want to talk about Mari, what the hell is that about?"

Takeru asked her fearfully, Ouka closed her eyes in response.

Ouka quietly told him about Mari.

........................

....................................

"——————No... way..."

After Takeru listened to everything she'd said. all expression disappeared from his face.

 

***

 

AntiMagic Academy's colosseum tournament's audience seats.

In the middle of the crowd, Kurogane Hayato was sitting quietly in seats for the audience.

Instead of the Inquisition's uniform, he wore a black suit. He didn't want to be noticed by enemy's surveillance.

But he didn't look like a respectable human being.

"...all Spriggans, report on the situation."

《"There're no problems at the main entrance for visitors. No problems with bringing hazardous materials either up until now."》

《"At the closed back gate, the outer wall, sealed tower with magical heritages or contraindicated area, there are no abnormalities. We also have patrols in the school building, but there were no reports so far."》

Hearing reports from his subordinates from the earphone microphone, Hayato squinted.

"Continue cautiously. This is the day. Today is the day the forgetting magic will expire. The enemy will definitely come. Don't lose focus."

Hayato finished confirming the situation, and his attention moved to the colosseum as he linked his arms.

His right hand was touching the Relic Eater at his chest at all times, he was ready to shoot at any time.

"——Well, Kurogane-kun. How are you feeling?"

A voice sounded from the side, Hayato cast a gaze at the source of it.

Standing there was a person in a white suit and popcorn in one of his hands... it was Ootori Sougetsu.

"This place is dangerous. Please return to the chairman's room. I'll report remotely."

Sougetsu without regard to Hayato's advice sat down next to him.

"You're as rigid as ever. Isn't it fine to be a bit more rough?"

"If you think so then please increase the number of personnel. If that's the case I'll be more comfortable as well."

"There's no one else other than you from Inquisition that can be used. So that'd be difficult."

Munching on popcorn, Sougetsu laughed quietly.

"By the way, do you have anything to report?"

"Chairman, your daughter seems to be aware of truth on Nikaido Mari, she was sniffing around the crime scene last night."

"Oh, is that so? Hmm... well, it should be fine. Even if Ouka told Kusanagi-san the truth now, he won't be shaken."

TMG_v02_197Talking as if all of it was planned, Sougetsu stuffed himself with popcorn while having a cool expression.

Without batting an eye, Hayato stared at Sougetsu from the side.

"Even if you told him the truth from the beginning, there would be no problem right?"

"A plan using a witch with memory loss would be opposed by both Kusanagi-kun and Ouka. Convincing them would be troublesome. Being told that it's an escort mission, Kusanagi-kun will protect Mari-kun no matter what is going to attack them, there was no reason to tell them the truth."

"Because of the events in the past, he's unable to abandon a tragedy in front of him."

Sougetsu was, rather than that, in addition, was thrilled with excitement.

"...I wonder if they'll come, Valhalla."

"I don't know."

"Is that so. Well, it'll be a shame if they don't come, if they won't come, in that case we'll just have to mess around with Mari-kun's head a bit."

"............"

"The enemy won't come... you don't really think that do you?"

"......it's intuition. I don't have any evidence."

Hearing that Sougetsu laughed eerily, extremely pleased.

"Your intuition is always spot on."

He continued to stuff himself with popcorn even more happily.

The second round battle of tournament began, and at the same time Sougetsu applauded 'bravo—!'.

Once again, Hayato faced forward cautiously.

 

***

 

The buzzer indicating the start of battle rang.

Small Fry Platoon members spread out, they moved to their planned positions.

Although Mari rushed out bravely just as planned, suddenly Takeru grabbed her shoulder.

"——ummm, what is it? Isn't the match starting?"

"...Mari, don't move away from me."

"Eh? Isn't that different from the plan? I should now——"

"It's all right, come on!"

He said that with a strong voice, Mari tilted her neck.

Takeru looked unusually serious, he spoke to the intercom shortly afterwards.

"Usagi, move as planned. Get to a remote location far away from us."

《"I get it! That's how a sniper acts, it's obvious."》

Next, Takeru glanced at Ouka who was close by.

She responded with a light nod.

"Wha-what is it? What's the plan?"

"You just stick close to me. It'll be alright."

It'll be alright... what will? Mari's stare at Takeru seemed to say that.

While sweat appeared on Takeru's forehead, he looked at the surroundings nervously.

"Kusanagi, the entire audience can see you here, hide yourself behind an object."

"Roger that..!"

"Wa-wait a sec?!"

Ouka pushed Mari's back, and ran with full force.

Mari followed behind Takeru who became incredibly wary, not knowing why, she only followed after him.

 

Five minutes after the game started. They ran through the field, and hid themselves from the audience by entering a blind spot behind an object. Takeru entered the familiar fountain square area.

"...they're here. Confirmed appearance of 15th test platoon."

Ouka reported status of the site from the cover point.

"The building imitating a church across the street... one person at the bell tower, probably a sniper. One person near the entrance... probably another sniper I bet. One person by the fountain, two people in the rubble on sides."

"We have no time to spare for investigation. There's no plan worth mentioning. If possible, I want us to be shot on purpose by the opponent to leave early..."

While looking to the side at Ouka, Takeru grabbed the sword's handle while sweating profusely.

"At this time if Valhalla strikes... this is bad, we have no weapons."

"Bringing lethal weapons to the field is prohibited. Because of the systematic body check it's impossible. If attackers come, we have no choice but to summon Relic Eaters. Although we have spare weapons on the bench just in case, it's quite far away so getting them is unrealistic."

Takeru and Ouka with horrible expressions on their faces pulled Mari in.

And Mari was sandwiched between the two of them, and uncomfortable.

"...umm. Why do I have to be squashed by you? The talk about lethal weapons, it's quite disturbing, what is going on?"

Mari asked them not knowing the reason.

Takeru without answering her questions, just stared at her.

"...you don't need to think about anything. We will definitely protect you."

Mari didn't know anything, and asked anxiously. But Takeru deliberately ignored her question.

This is no time to tell her the truth... she'll just get upset.

The truth he has been told by Ouka today would be too heavy for Mari to bear.

If the circumstances were different, and they could explain it calmly......

Thinking like that, Takeru was not moving. Insults came from the audience.

"What are you doing! Fight!"

"It's uninteresting if you just sit still!"

"Do you have any motivation?!"

Hearing that many taunts, Takeru and the others grew impatient.

At this rate it'll be bad. They need to change sites at once to ensure Mari's safety.

Just when Takeru thought that,

"Kusanagii!! Are you looking down on me?! Haa?!"

In the center of the field from behind the fountain, 15th test platoon captain, Kirigaya Kyouya appeared.

Kyouya holding an assault rifle glared at Takeru, blood vessels could be seen on his temple.

"Do you even want to fight?! I'm challenging you here to crush you fair and square! Or do you wait until we trample over you bastards like bugs?!"

He exposed himself on purpose to stir them up.

Kirigaya Kyouya is surprisingly serious and has a tendency to be rude. That attitude is his habit.

Being fair and square, playing games without cheating, that was his personality.

......the feeling of nervousness softened a little bit.

"It would be good if we got shot and left early... but that's probably impossible."

"It can't be helped... we have to at least pretend we're fighting."

Takeru smiled wryly——at that moment,

A faint foreign sound entered his ears...

"——Wait!"

Takeru stopped Ouka and squinted.

Though it wasn't clear because of the noise from the audience, Takeru definitely heard something.

*splsh splsh*...a sound that felt as if it was tinged with moisture.

He looked around the field, he checked the locations Ouka mentioned earlier, but he no longer saw enemy's silhouettes,

...they weren't there.

The opponents from the 15th platoon could no longer be seen except for Kyouya.

"How annoying! Hey, 15th platoon! Don't shoot yet! I'll beat this guy up!"

Kyouya yelled towards the intercom.

But seeing as there was no response from his members, he frowned.

"Hey, you guys, can you hear me?! Answer me bastards!"

Kyouya yelled again while spilling saliva at it, at that moment.

*splrtt*...

———Black thorns have protruded from Kyouya's belly.

"...eh?"

Kyouya looked at his abdomen and witnessed what happened.

The moment he saw distorted thorns protruding from his belly, he vomited blood.

The thorns that grew out of Kyouya's belly, started to twist and grow at high speed aiming for Mari.

——— "Soumatou"!

Takeru immediately triggered Soumatou, and unsheathed the mock sword at once.

The blade captured the trajectory of thorns beautifully, and struck them with great force.

The thorns danced in the air, and raised a cry like some kind of insects.

"...wh...at... is this..."

Seeing something unbelievable, Takeru was confused. He confirmed Kyouya's fall in the distance.

And coming from the back, another figure.

Behind Kyouya, showing up in the opened door of the church——

"I... it was... it wasn't me..."

In charge of healthcare of 15th platoon, Yoshimizu Akira.

Takeru couldn't understand what kind of situation was that, what was going on.

Yoshimizu was crying. Her cries could be heard from the church reaching this place.

From her body——a flood of thorns was extending.

"...Yoshimizu...you...!"

"I-I don't know! It's not me! I'm not doing anything!"

"Then, what's that?!"

"I don't know!! Help me, Kusanagi-kun...!"

Hearing Yoshimizu's heartbreaking cries, it didn't seem like she was lying.

But those thorns... definitely grew out of her body.

"What should I do...!"

"Kusanagi, have Nikaido crouch!"

"But what about Yoshimizu?! And Kyouya?!"

"Protecting Nikaido is top priority now!"

He was yelled at by Ouka, but Takeru still kept an eye on Yoshimizu. Seeing her seek salvation, he couldn't just abandon her.

"He...lp... Kusa...nagi....kun..."

Weakly, Yoshimizu stretched her hand out to him.

But, her body slowly started to give off a radiance and a weird sound.

The radiance spread in no time, breaking down Yoshimizu's body.

"Kusa......nagi......ku..."

"——Yoshimizu!"

Takeru not knowing what to do, tried to stretch his hand towards her.

Instantaneously, Yoshimizu's body, cracked. It was literally, broken apart, and crushed.

The moment it shattered, black thorns overflowed from the inside.

It was a sight that could only be called odd. Thorns and liquid spilled from Yoshimizu's body.

All of the limp mass entangled and continued to form a giant bud.

As if there was nothing else in the world, Takeru and the others, even the audience fell completely silent.

After a few seconds, the bud stopped its activity.

And the bud, like a flower petals in the morning sun, flourished.

From the opening bud.

TMG_v02_209From among the flowers, a person in black——

 

"HAAAAAALLLLLEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLUUUUJAAAAAAAAAAA!"

 

The figure of a sorcerer who looked like the ringleader suddenly appeared.

A man wearing priestly garb made an exaggerated pose, like an actor on stage.

He looked at the field with a face drowned in ecstasy.

Decorated by thorns, he bowed to the audience, and finally bowed to Takeru and the others.

"We meet for the first time. I'm Valhalla's scout troop captain, Haunted. Nice to meet you. I want to participate in the mock battle tournament sponsored by AntiMagic Academy at this time! If you were to give me a round of applause I would be truly grateful."

Takeru, unable to accept what's happening, stopped thinking.

The audience was the same. Immediately after the form of the person calling himself Haunted appeared, they understood he was a sorcerer.

Chaos broke out in the venue, along with horrible screams.

Witnessing the emergence of a sorcerer the audience started running; trying to escape.

Haunted laughed like crazy seeing them.

"Thank you—! Thank you! Thank you, everyone—!!"

And, slowly, he turned towards Takeru.

"Well, I came to help you——My little Mari-san!"

He smiled gently.

Even though he was smiling, incredible chills ran down Takeru's spine.

"...w-who... why... do you know... my name..."

Mari stepped backwards, trying to make distance from Haunted.

"Why... what is... this... what's going on ?"

With a frightened voice, looking as if she was about to run any moment, Mari said that worried.

Takeru regained his sanity hearing Mari's voice, he glared at Haunted sharply.

Haunted moved towards them, getting closer to Mari.

"What's wrong? Mari-san. You don't have to be that scared. I came here to help you."

"No... don't come...!"

"That frightened expression of yours is wonderful. It's unbearable. I want to hug you. I've never hugged you, but I want to. I want you to be even more scared as I embrace you."

Before his chilly smile, Mari retreated with tears in her eyes.

Ghastly as if grim reaper appeared in front of them, the sorcerer stepped forward. Takeru couldn't forgive it. He stood in front of Mari.

In order to protect her.

"Ufu...ufufufufufufu! How fun. I'm happy. It's the first time I've seen Mari-san so scared of me. It's so arousing I can't stop myself."

But Haunted did not stop walking.

As if he didn't acknowledge Takeru's existence at all.

"Come on, be more scared please. Starting from now onward, in this stage of mine——."

Haunted stretched his hand, reaching out to her.

At that moment.

———*dan!*

A gunfire sounded, and penetrated from the side of Haunted's head.

Haunted staggered while smiling eerily.

Starting with that one gunfire, a tremendous amount of bullets hit Haunted's body.

"Gah...! Ughh...! Geh...!"

The bullet storm didn't stop. It hit Haunted's body, messing it up.

Takeru looked towards the audience to see what's going on.

There, was the Inquisition who assembled and took up their guns.

 

***

 

"Keep firing. Don't stop even for a moment. Keep shooting even if that guy is a lump of meat."

From the audience, Hayato issued a command to all of the Inquisitors.

Haunted's body on the field was convulsing vigorously, it continued to be pierced by bullets.

《"Why?! There should be no problems with Yoshimizu Akira!"》

From the earphone came out a voice of dismay from his co-workers.

Hayato, while watching as Haunted continued to be shot, answered to his colleagues.

"The enemy is a necromancer. Yoshimizu Akira was probably already killed by the enemy. What you saw up until now, was a copy produced by that guy."

《"A copy—...?"》

"A clone, homunculus. Used by necromancers to infiltrate, it's a common practice of theirs. That's a clone of Yoshimizu Akira's body, it was sent back to school while it was infested by seeds of a magical organism, the seeds emerged at the same time tournament started."

《"Magical organisms... producing things on such a scale...?! Also, transferring a human by using a magical organism... it's the first time I've heard of such a thing!"》

"It's called 《Belladonna Garden》. It's a pinnacle of heretical magic. It should be common sense to know it."

Hayato squinted.

"I told you. I told you to expect they will come to kill the target in a way we can't imagine."

《"............"》

"That's how magic was in the first place."

Hayato switched the communication, and gave orders to other members.

"Security is to focus on evacuating civilians. Don't let anyone die."

《"Affirmative."》

Hearing Hayato ordering his subordinates, Sougetsu watched leisurely while gnawing on popcorn on the side.

"It's fine not to evacuate them isn't it. The priority is to capture that guy."

"With all due respect, I don't want to sacrifice a single civilian. As long as I'm here I won't let a doomsday like the Hero attack happen."

"Well, you were at a business trip at the time... oh well. As long as you capture him properly."

"Capture is impossible. Unless we go for the kill, we won't win against this guy."

"Didn't we talk about it before? Is that impossible even for you?"

"It is impossible."

"Mm... we can draw information even from a dead body, you can kill him but you have to preserve his original form properly."

"Thank you for your consideration."

Sougetsu said that while clearly having fun.

Looking at Haunted who was kneeling as he was showered by storm of bullets and finally fell down on spot.

Confirming he has fallen, Inquisitors stopped shooting.

"Who told you can stop shooting!!"

Hayato roared with his eyes wide open.

《"B-but he fell down——"》

"——Everyone prepare for interception! Incoming!"

Hayato howled, and took up his gun.

Hayato's gun was a very large revolver, giving off a black ulster, its caliber was 0.50. The total number of bullets was five. Its form was black and beautiful, and it looked clunky.

Engraved on its barrel was "The Malleus Maleficarum I "Caligula" ",

Hayato pointed the muzzle towards Haunted while raising his body half-way up.

At the same time,

"——Kuuuuuuuurooooooooogaaaaaaaaneeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!"

Shouting with a queer voice, Haunted lifted his body from where he fell down.

In an instant. Inquisitors witnessed a phenomenon neglecting gravity, and could not move.

Haunted with a face and body full of holes, laughed at Kurogane Hayato.

That's when below Haunted's feet, thick thorny tentacles flew out from the "Belladonna Garden".

There were five of them. All of them, grew at tremendous speed and flew towards the Inquisitors and the escaping public rather than Hayato himself.

Hayato in a fluid motion, shot all of the tentacles.

All five bullets were fired in an instant. The five bullets with 0.50 caliber that were shot landed on tentacles. It wasn't power of an ordinary gun. The sound discharged was like an anti-ship cannon, there was a huge impact.

Bullets crashed into tentacles but the power wasn't enough to kill them, they were blown away in other direction rather than thrusting into the audience.

"———!"

However, one of the tentacles was blown away towards the control tower that was adjacent to the colosseum.

The tentacle hit a spot on the base of control tower, it started falling straight into the centre of colosseum.

"Retreat!"

He shouted towards all of the Inquisitors.

The control tower fell straight into the field.

 

*RUUMMBLE*——!!

 

As the control tower fell down, a tremendous amount of dust rose up and a roar could be heard inside of colosseum.

After enduring and trying not to be blown away by the impact and cloud of dust, Hayato yelled into the microphone immediately.

"Damage report...!"

《"Left wing here, *cough* *cough*... we have injured but the audience escaped a direct hit."》

《"Right wing here, large number of wounded. As for deaths... we don't know."》

"Everyone injured is to leave together with general public, close the gates right after withdrawal. What's the situation of 35th test platoon?"

《"...unknown. Communication is cut completely. Intercom failure... or maybe..."》

Listening to report, Hayato's eyes convulsed.

He looked at the cloud of dust at the same time. Haunted definitely won't die from something of this degree.

With ominous certainty, Hayato aimed his gun at the field.

"...where is he..."

Visibility was terrible, there was not a single human figure visible.

No. There was a silhouette crouching on the ground. Just one.

Hayato tried to aim the muzzle at the figure.

"——《Number of the Beast》"

Just as he heard a voice from the cloud of dust, a huge magic circle appeared beneath the silhouette.

At the same time, he saw Haunted's figure gesturing with a middle finger towards him.

"...Haunted...!"

"See you, Kurogane Hayato."

That moment, from the magical circle around Haunted, a wave of magic overflowed.

Immediately after, he could hear ringing in his ears——*bashiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin*.

Covering just the colosseum's field, a huge black wall appeared.

Although Hayato squeezed the trigger immediately, the activation of magic was slightly faster.

The bullet hit the black wall, it fell down to the ground far from reaching Haunted.

Hayato grit his teeth and lowered the muzzle reluctantly.

"...a new model of magical barrier."

Sougetsu by his side put a hand on his chin looking interested, and went to see the barrier that appeared.

The barrier that was stretched out by Haunted looked like a black shadow, white magical circles hovered on its surface and flowed.

"The magic is very dense. It contiguously modifies itself and the magical procedure is flowing. We can't break it normally. To beat down this damn thing... Vlad is probably necessary."

"...Ootori is inside the barrier. Probably, summoning her from the inside would be impossible. It seems to have a property shutting out magic interference."

"Is that Caligula's analysis?"

"Yes. But to maintain a barrier with magic this dense, it should be impossible for a long period, even if it's Haunted. About ten minutes I would say."

While frowning, Sougetsu threw away the popcorn that was covered with sand. At the same time as the popcorn hit the ground, screams sounded from the audience.

"?!"

Hayato looked towards the source of screams, he saw one of Spriggans floating close by.

But looking closer, he was not floating.

His abdomen was pierced, and he was raised up.

What pierced the abdomen of Spriggans,

Was the new model of Dragoon unveiled at opening ceremony of the tournament.

"——Who's piloting that."

《"I-I don't know! After the ceremony ended, no one has touched it yet!"》

"......it can't be."

Hayato was horrified. He had a faint premonition. The worst-case scenario.

No way, Dragoon, a weapon from Inquisition's side——

《"——Confirmed analysis of the Dragoon! It's unmanned! The system has been taken over!"》

Just as he was told through the intercom, the pierced Inquisitor was thrown away, the Dragoon flexed its body.

——*VUOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!*

A roar that didn't look like it originated from a machine. The artificial eye of the machine glowed red, something like blood vessels ran all over. In fact, even the cracking armor looked like it had pulsating blood vessels.

Its appearance was no longer that of a machine, it was organic-like and meaty; grotesque. It clearly looked like it was interfered with by magic.

The number of Dragoon's was one in the left wing, and one in the right wing.

"This is weird... the new model is covered in lightweight orichalcum, which is an anti-magic material. Magical interference from the outside should be impossible unless you break the armor."

"............"

"Out of all possibilities, the devices inside of it were interfered with at the stage of assembly... or, the armor isn't original orichalcum, that's it. Without thinking too long, it's probably the latter."

"...Chairman, please give me permission to use Relic Eater."

"I don't mind. Destroy it. Because of the barrier I don't know what's going on inside now, we have to leave the sorcerer to Kusanagi-kun."

Good grief, Sougetsu shook his head and sighed.

After obtaining permission, Hayato walked towards the Dragoon.

His face was hidden behind his long bangs; his face couldn't be seen.

Hayato said to earphone mic.

"All forces withdraw at once."

《"B-but then——"》

"Withdraw. I'll take them on alone."

Hayato cut off the communication instantly after, he lifted his revolver in his hand. He removed the cylinder latch and put bullets in one after another.

After he finished loading the bullets, he rolled the palm of his hand rotating the cylinder vigorously. The revolver's cylinder rotated loudly.

Hayato raised the arm holding the gun, and looked up. From behind his bangs, his eyes displayed the murderous intent of a tyrant. He glared at the Dragoon with these eyes, and announced.

A sign of conflict.

Hayato's hand shook in response to recoil of the cylinder.

"It's time for Caligula the Tyrant. Release the hammer."

......*click*......

Following Hayato's instruction, Relic Eater "Caligula's" hammer made a noise. A  sound that came from the black barrel of the gun. It was the sound of something dropping.

 

***

 

Immediately after the collapse of the control tower.

Takeru raised his body in a cloud of dust, and confirmed Mari's safety as he coughed.

"Are you alright, Mari?!"

"*cough* *cough*, I'm fine."

Takeru helped Mari stand up and checked if there are any injuries on her.

He was relieved because she looked safe for the time being, he reconfirmed what the situation status was.

The sorcerer's surprise attack, suspension of the contest, collapse of the tower, separation from Ouka.

The worry about his comrades, the death of Kyouya and Yoshimizu.

He pressed his intercom's switch and tried communicating with his comrades.

"...no good. It's broken."

Takeru said after checking the intercom.

Mari checked her own intercom as well, and shook her head.

Takeru clenched his fist in frustration.

...shit. I'm worried about the others, but I need to focus on protecting Mari.

Trying to evacuate Mari to a safe place, Takeru grabbed her hand.

"...it looks like running away is impossible. A barrier was erected."

Being told that, he looked up to the sky, a dense black wall blocked out most of the sunlight and covered the entire colosseum.

No wonder if it was so dim in here.

He thought that, when,

"There's nowhere you can run to——Mari-san."

A voice sounded from the cloud of dust. Takeru clenched his teeth, and looked towards the source of the voice. There——was Kusanagi Takeru's enemy.

"Please look, lookie here. I'm full of holes. Don't you think it's horrible since I took so much effort in dressing up?"

"...you bastard...!"

"Getting priest's clothing is quite hard you know. I'll have to spend another day sewing it. Or maybe Mari-san will sew it for me? Because Mari-san is surprisingly homely, I suppose she's quite good at it? Oh, while you're at it, can you sew the gaps in my heart, can you make my heart beat faster?"

Haunted looked at Mari ignoring Takeru, he advanced towards Mari and stretched his arm to her.

Takeru had Mari crouch, and faced Haunted.

"Keep down like that. I'll deal with this guy."

While not knowing what to do, Mari dropped down a few steps away.

Seeing that, Haunted stopped walking.

"...I've been wondering for a while... Mari-san, who is this young man?"

While tilting his head and smiling, Haunted asked her.

"Can it be... that he's your boyfriend? Aha, no, there's no way that's true because Mari-san always thinks about me. So there's no way that's it. That's how it is it's impossible isn't it say that's not true because I love you If I no longer love you I'll cry and have to kill you even though I don't want to kill you."

"Shut up, you stalker asshole."

Takeru interrupted the tsunami of words, and glared daggers at Haunted.

Haunted's smile was unchanged, but for the first time, he looked at Takeru.

"...I'm caught."

Haunted loudly scratched his head and faced Takeru.

He changed the direction he was walking in, and he tiptoed towards Takeru.

"Interfering with mine and Mari's reunion, who do you think you are?"

With a striking smile, he tilted his neck.

And,

"Don't get too cocky, I'll kill you——you shitty brat."

He smiled with half-closed eyes, and said that to Takeru as if he was dealing with garbage.

Takeru was unfazed. But he returned those words back.

"That's my line——you rotten sorcerer."

Spitting that out with hatred, Takeru took a stance with a hand held out in front of him.

——Remembering it. No, it was engraved in him.

From the time of Hero attack, the language of soul that flowed in his head.

Embodying the anti-magic, words that were a warning.

A sign summoning one's partner.

"Summis desiderantes affectibus——"

His right hand held out in the front, swung to the side to cut through.

"——Malleus Maleficarum!"

At that moment, an azure-colored magical circle appeared under Takeru's feet.

The magic shined and emitted azure particles. The particles covered Takeru's body and hardened like ore, shaping the armor.

And finally, after a remarkably bright light flashed, Takeru held a sword in his hand. A Relic Eater, Mistilteinn.

The one Takeru has contracted——a sword that cuts through all magic.

《"System all green. 100% matching rate. "Witch Hunter" complete. Good morning, host."》

In his head Lapis' voice echoed.

Takeru turned into an azure-colored knight, and made a combat-ready pose.

"...Lapis. Do you have any information on the enemy?"

《"A member of enemy forces, Ancient Wizard, classified as an S-Class danger. Please take note of these."》

S-Class danger... in other words, the priest in front of him was equal to witches and sorcerers from before the war.

"...can we do it?"

Of course, Takeru would do it even if it was impossible.

《"The chances of winning normally would be 50%, but the target is currently maintaining high density barrier. Fighting a battle while maintaining the barrier means that target does not have much magic available——the chance to win is equal to 100%"》

Hearing that, Takeru glared at Haunted.

Haunted blinked repeatedly and sweat could be seen on his cheek.

"You... are you by any chance the person who took down the Hero?"

"...so what if I am."

"No, umm, I didn't think you would be a Relic Eater contractor... umm, you know, it's not like I wanted to do anything bad and slaughter you, you know? Well, I did but, that was because I didn't know you were a Relic Eater holder."

"............"

"L-look, Mari-san was my colleague before, I came to either help her or kill her because I was told to by the people above me... umm, that's..."

"What are you talking about."

"...umm... c-could you please overlook it this time?"

Said Haunted while making a strangely subservient smile.

Takeru's face convulsed with anger.

Overlook? Did he say overlook?

Telling him to overlook... all of that?

Everything in front of him turned red, his murderous intent skyrocketed.

"...sorry...but I'm not that——nice of a person to do so."

With a hoarse voice, like a beast, Takeru told Haunted.

——The next moment, Takeru burst.

Without a sliver of mercy. Without a sliver of compassion. Without a sliver of reason.

He released all he had, and tried to cut Haunted.

He triggered the Soumatou, and the entire world slowed down.

He had only one goal. To have that puny sorcerer puke his guts out.

The face of the guy he saw. Looked like someone terribly frightened, screaming.

With all his body and soul had, Takeru tried to cut Haunted with his sword from the above.

"——?!"

Suddenly, Takeru felt chills on his spine.

Haunted's expression from a moment ago. Expression deeply frightened. The unchanged expression.

That face, even though he had activated Soumatou.

——It suddenly laughed.

"——Pierce him, Dáinsleif."

In that split second, a voice sounded.

At a speed Takeru couldn't capture, something pierced through his chest.

"—keru————Takeru! Wake up! Takeru!"

《"Ho——st——Host. Please wake up."》

He opened his eyes. And noticed his consciousness was lucid, not knowing what happened, he just opened his eyes.

Instead, a tremendous amount of blood spilled from his mouth.

"...I...what...happened..."

《"We have received a strike from the enemy. My apologies, my analysis was wrong. I should have considered this possibility."》

"...wh-at... was I...hit...with..."

《"To express it briefly, it was just a 'thrust', however..."》

Hearing Lapis' words, Takeru looked up a little. In the front. In his line of sight.

And there was... a man wearing an armor looking like night itself.

That shape was as if...

"It's the first time I've seen a sword-type Relic Eater. Even though I've had expectations. Isn't this a let down."

——Just like Takeru in "Witch Hunter" form, but the face was definitely Haunted's.

"Sorcerers being bad in close combat is just something that happens in games... Nacht, it's been a while since you were in "Hero" form, how do you feel?"

《"There's no problem with armor particles, there's no imbalance in magic power, confirmation is a pain in the ass so let's say all's okay. Condition is good, extremely so."》

He heard a voice in his head, an innocent, laconic and alien voice.

It was somehow similar to Lapis. Takeru hypothesized as he was stunned.

"...it can't be, that guy as well..a Relic Eater..."

《"No, that's a lost-type Magical Heritage. The name's "Dáinsleif"... the shape is different, but it's the possession of northern Europe's hero, it was called the Sword of Ruin."》

Hearing that information from Lapis, Takeru was horrified.

A sword? To a sword? He lost against another sword?

"......!!"

Feeling a tremendous sense of loss, Takeru tried to stand up.

《"You shouldn't stand yet. Your right lung is damaged."》

"Can't you... fix it."

《"One of the intrinsic characteristics of Dáinsleif is inflicting wounds that cannot be healed. Although healing is impossible, reproduction is. Assuming there is a problem, that would be..."》

"...it would take time."

《"...yes. Once again, I apologize, it was caused by my poor performance."》

"Haa... what are you talking about, I was the one who got hit by... it......!"

Admonishing himself, Takeru tried to stand up again.

"You can't, Takeru! You'll die!"

Mari came and clung to him with a bitter cry, she tried to stop him from standing up. She was crying.

"Don't...make such a... face..."

"But... your body is..."

"I promised... that... I'll protect you."

Mari looked at the injured Takeru, she made expression as if it was her fault, crying and trembling.

Seeing himself become so miserable, Takeru bit his lower lip.

As soon as he clenched his fist, he vomited blood.

His consciousness faded away, with just one hit, it ended without him being able to do anything.

Even as his heart and mind tried to carry on, his body was honest.

While Takeru admonished himself constantly, Haunted who equipped a Magical Heritage smiled to Mari again.

"Mari-san. Let's go back. You're witch, you can't stay in a place like this."

"......"

"This is the human side isn't it? You should be together with us, who are witches as well."

Haunted reached out to Mari tenderly.

Mari while her body was trembling desperately covering Takeru to protect him.

"With someone like you... don't lump me together with you...! I'm nothing like you!"

She shook off his hand, refusing Haunted.

Haunted blinked three times after hearing Mari's words.

"You don't know me? Haa? Aah, that's right. I completely forgot about it! Mari-san forgot everything because of memory loss magic!"

《"How careless."》

"Careless indeed, truly careless. Please wait, I'll release you from it right away."

With a wry smile, Haunted raised his right hand.

And, as if he was calling a waiter, he clicked with his fingers. *clank*... In Mari's head, like something like a switch was turned on.

Right away, all the negative emotions over her face just now, also the fear causing her to tremble, everything, vanished from Mari.

And, a violent wave of memories flowed, swallowing Mari's consciousness.

 

***

 

——Magic is not for hurting people, it's something that makes people happy. That was, the pride Mari had once.

Nikaido Mari, was from the orphanage on the border.

The boundary line was the modern slum. Because of the Witch Hunt War Akashic Hazard's influence, the world has become inhabitable because a field called Sanctuary appeared.

Ruins were spread near the Sanctuary and no normal human would willingly live in them.

However, because of the increased confusion and war refugees, the gap between the rich and poor was pretty wide. There was no place for poor to live in, and they were forced to live in the ruins near the Sanctuary.

Even now, after 150 years, it was the place where the darkness gathered.

The facility Mari was raised in, although it was located by the border, it was a location for humans.

The facility's chairman accepted Mari, even though she was a considerably powerful witch. He knew Mari was a witch, and yet accepted her. All children were younger than Mari, even though they were cheeky, they loved Mari dearly.

However, the facilities were poor.

In order to help everyone, Mari used magic to do bad things. earning money, she tolerated the evil guys, and obtained money through dangerous means, she felt no resistance to doing these things.

When the director learned of that,

She didn't approve of this, and whispered into Mari's ear with a sad face.

『"Doing bad things will come back to you in the end. What's important is not to hurt yourself. If you use magic, don't use it for evil, use it for good things."』

『"............"』

『"You see, Magic is not there to hurt people. It's there to make people happy."』

From that moment onward, Mari was proud of these words.

She earned a decent amount of money, though still poor. The happy days continued for a while. However, happy times never last long.

In a certain incident, Mari lost everything.

Because she carried out crimes without exposing her identity, one of the clients she once helped, set fire to the facility.

It was already too late by the time Mari reached the facility, it was in a sea of flames.

——It's my fault.

Mari blamed herself.

——It's my fault.

Mari continued to blame herself.

As the burning facilities was reflected in her pupils, when her desire to live, when she was about to lose everything.

The one who appeared was... Valhalla's Haunted.

『"The children from this facility, are under Valhalla's protection. If you want us to release them, help us."』

It was a kind of blackmail. Haunted said the children were safe, he proved it to her by letting her hear their voices, and if she wanted to meet them, she had to join Valhalla.

There was no choice, Mari couldn't refuse.

For the children's sake, Mari did everything other than killing. She hurt so many people. How many people she deceived, Mari could no longer remember.

Because she always averted her eyes as she did that.

However, the reality that she couldn't avert her eyes from, eventually came.

That was a few days after she was instructed to obtain remains of Excalibur by Valhalla,

The day Hero attacked... the city was wrapped in screams and despair.

『"It... shouldn't be like this...!"』

No matter what excuse she used, the look in eyes of people that were dying was unforgiving.

『"I need to help them... because of me, so many people...!"』

Adults, old people, children, even babies. They all got indiscriminately killed.

She picked up a baby from its mother's corpse, it was still breathing, she was still able to save it. That's what she hoped for, but it was soon turned into despair.

The eyes of the baby that was hugged to its mother's breast, turned towards her. Its skin had no longer a color of a living being's, blood vessels ran all over its body.

『"———Ma...ma..."』

The baby became a corpse eating demon. And yet it called its mother, that shattered Mari's heart.

 

***

 

"It's... my fault."

Muttering after recovering her memory, Mari stood up.

"How is it? Did you remember?"

Haunted asked anxiously.

Mari didn't answer. Her memories returned, and she stared into empty space.

And, with her eyes unfocused, she knelt in place.

And she raised both of her hands to her face, she could feel the weight of what she has done crushing her.

"I'm happy then. You remember everything don't you! Come on, me and Mari are the same, right?"

"......uuu......aaa......"

"You helped to summon the Hero. And when I was collecting corpses, you stood on the sidelines. You are responsible for the massacre together with me."

"......aAAaa......"

"It's all right, I'm not gonna blame you, you know? Because you wanted to save the children from the facility, and that's why you cooperated with me."

"I... what have I done..."

"Mari-san, you were desperate weren't you. To save your important family, you've been working hard. At the expense of other people, you wanted to help those important to you. I think it's a very wonderful thing to do."

Haunted gently praised Mari.

He had a benevolent expression, like a real priest.

"But, that's why Mari-san is the same as me. You weighed the people unrelated to you and those important to you, and you choose the ones that were important. You deserted the unrelated people, but as I collected corpses. Mari-san was preparing to run away from me."

The man with a charitable expression, hollowed out Mari's heart.

"Isn't that right? See? We're the same."

Mari had a smile that embodied despair. Despairing, Mari continued to repeat "I'm sorry."; apologizing to everyone.

As she grew up, the facility's chairman told her the right way to use magic.

Believe in me and wait, children.

And she did that at the expense of innocent people.

When she cooperated with them, she was realistic about it.

She decided on her own. Even if it's evil, she convinced herself.

But... after losing her memory, and meeting Takeru and the others, something changed.

Because she went blank once, the truth was too heavy; unbearable. She was a villain, there was no other possibility. Her circumstances were not that of a victim.

There were hostages so she had no choice. She never thought so. Victims were deprived of everything without knowing anything.

"Mari-san really is gentle... to me, watching your heart break down is a lot of fun, and equally painful. So in order to get rid of these painful emotions... will you go back to Valhalla together with me?"

Mari's face that was distorted by despair turned to Haunted.

Haunted spread his arms, inviting Mari in.

"Although it would be against orders from above, let's meet the children from facility as soon as we return. If we stay here any longer, there will be a battle. Also, that boy, if you were to come with me, I won't have to kill him. Everyone will be saved."

"............"

"If you come back to me once again."

With a smile like a saint, he reached out to her again.

"You don't want——for anyone else to die because of you, right?"

Mari was stunned with a despairing expression. Against this man, Takeru couldn't win. If this went on a witch like herself will kill all members of Small Fry Platoon.

This man, will do it by all means even if Mari refuses. That's what he was ordered to do by Valhalla.

This man preferred having fun as he watched people struggle, he considered cries of humanity a reason to celebrate, and would kill you with delirious joy.

Mari stood up staggering, and walked giving up on everything.

She began to walk towards her original despair.

In the end, with her back to Takeru, she said.

With tears flowing, and a sad smile.

"I wasn't one after all... a person you thought I am."

She didn't ask for help, and continued.

"I'm sorry, Takeru... I have betrayed your expectations... I'm really sorry."

These were the best parting words Mari could think of.

 

***

 

Takeru who lost consciousness was remembering things from the past.

That was, before he was taught Double-Edged style by his master.

It was when Takeru still only knew swordsmanship made to kill humans.

A time where he still had his family.

——Takeru, you choose.

That's what his father told him.

Without knowing anything, without being taught anything, with just a body carved and sharpened for the sword.

He lived. Adjusting the anger inside him. Changing the anger within him.

To put it all into his sword, and break the enemy's head with it.

Enraged, and yet calm.

It was his father's teaching. It was the thing he learned from his father.

To kill, or to protect, it's your choice.

That's only up to you. They were the last words his father left him.

Takeru didn't know. What his father's words meant. He didn't know, there were enemies in front of him. So he just had to kill them.

He just had to swing his sword, and drop it down on their necks.

Ever since he was born, that's what he was taught.

——Onii-chan...

And yet,

Takeru couldn't choose either. He just stood at the sidelines.

The world in front of him was in flames, Takeru wailed.

His important person was taken away in front of him, and Takeru was in daze.

What should he choose, what's right and what is wrong.

If you make a choice, don't regret it.

While questioning himself Takeru was breaking down.

Whatever he chose he would definitely regret it.

Even so.

Not choosing at all, was the greatest sin. That's what Takeru thought as he lied bathed in morning sun's light.

Continuing to apologize to people who died.

A human called Kusanagi Takeru, headed towards an end.

 

***

 

As he dreamed, Takeru heard everything.

Mari walked towards her despair.

So that she doesn't have to sacrifice anyone; she walked the path she chose.

However, that was a mistake, that's not a choice. He yelled in his mind, his own past and Mari's overlapped. What happened to Mari, and what happened to himself. All of it overlapped, and blended.

......wrong.

Takeru while faintly conscious, moved his finger to sides.

Mari and I... are different.

He put force in the finger he moved, and grasped the sword.

...she's different from someone like me, who couldn't choose.

Through the hole in his lung, air wheezed as it leaked, tremendous pain ran through him.

In order to stand up, Takeru breathed even though it hurt him. He made his decision and started breathing, and he hit his leg.

With anger overflowing his chest, Takeru stood up while he continued bleeding.

"As if I'd let you go...!!"

He stabbed his sword into ground, he had to stand at any cost.

His body was battered. He had wounds all over his body, but his eyes weren't dead.

Bright red eyes which displayed righteous anger, he didn't lose his will to fight.

"...Mari, there is something I need to tell you..."

As he spat those words, Mari stopped walking.

"...this fact...might be painful for you..."

"............"

"...however, unless you know the truth..."

He stabbed his sword further, and he moved by dragging his body.

"...the children from the facility you wanted to save..."

He clenched his teeth, and told her truth. The truth Mari didn't know even after her memory came back.

"The children you wanted to see are...!"

He raised his face painfully.

Rather than bodily pain, it was the pain in his heart.

And told her.

 

"They're no longer in this world...!"

 

"........................?"

Mari was stunned, and looked back at Takeru.

"What do you... mean?"

"Ootori has checked things on you. The facility on the border, it's in the investigation records of Inquisition... Indeed, there was an incident. It has been recorded in it."

"............"

"But... what was discovered at the crime scene, is different from what you remember."

Mari's face was growing more and more animated as she started to understand.

Looking at her face was hard, but he absolutely had to say it.

"What was discovered there was... a body of a woman who seemed like a witch and..................five children... the bodies were burned."

Mari was speechless.

In a loss of words, she shook her head.

"I-it's a lie... because, I've heard their voices. Heard them, on the phone... I've heard their voices speaking to me... I've really heard them!"

"It's the truth... Ootori wouldn't lie about something like this."

"I don't believe it! Because I spoke with the children about the things only they knew, they even called me 'Neeyan' of all things!"

"...Mari."

"No, no, no, no! I don't believe it! Such a thing... I can't believe in something like that!"

Mari tried to deny the truth she was told by Takeru.

Even so, Takeru's words stout-heartedly pierced through her. For the sake of saving Mari... he overlooked her pain.

"If you don't believe it... why don't you ask this person."

Takeru reached Mari using the sword like a cane, and passed by her side.

"Come on——spill it out! Sorcerer!"

Haunted shook his head and sighed.

"When I wondered what are you talking about... it was that huh. I have to refuse, I can't say it was a lie that's why... Nacht, tell Mari the truth."

Haunted instructed the sword in his hand.

Mari didn't understand what he was trying to do. But she realized immediately, that it was all true, the fact that it was all a lie.

 

《"——Nee—yan you really are naive!"》

 

《"You shouldn't believe people that easily!"》 《"Neeyan, you always were a softy weren't you. Even before I died, I lied that I caught a cold and had you bring me ice cream."》 《"Neeyan, I luv you."》 《"Always thoughtlessly acting gently and in vain. I'm worried about Neeyan's future."》《"Neeyan, I want to go to amusement park again."》

Overflowing from the sword were voices of the children she loved. Precious voices she had in her memories. Tears of nostalgia flowed out of her eyes. Dear enough that made her want to embrace them.

To Mari, it was wrecking her. This unexplainable phenomenon, wrecked her.

"Of course, it's only vocal impersonation. It's not real. The memories were extracted from their bodies, and were merely recreated by Nacht."

Haunted shook his head with a smile.

"But it wasn't a lie. I promised that I will definitely let you meet the children."

"............"

"The children are just dead aren't they?"

"............"

"I'm a necromancer, right? I can revive the children. It's a simple matter. By the way——the one who killed them, was actually me as well."

As if granting her a blessing, Haunted told her the truth.

Even if she were to sin, she wanted to save them, but she could no longer do that. The memories she had, were a lie. It was all lost already. It was all an illusion. The truth is, that it was all in vain. It was a fact, that meant nothing.

And all the people who died because of Mari,

Died in vain.

"......NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO."

A shriek echoed in the field.

The sorrow of losing someone. The weight of the sin; Mari wanted all of it to end.

Her screams greatly pleased Haunted.

"Aahh, Mari-san you're the best! I wanted to hear that voice from you...! It'll be alright! Please hug the children once again! They might be a little bit cold, but if you warm them up with your body they'll be happy! If necessary I'll prepare even warm bodies for you okay!? Don't worry I've taken their DNA properly! I can clone them or make homunculus, I can completely reproduce their appearance from when they were alive! Recovering their ego would require some soul evocation but It'll be alright! As long as there's love, there's no problem! It doesn't matter if the family is dumb, as long as they're happy! Everyone will bi happi, hih, ihihihiihihihihihiihihihiiihihihiihii."

A scream and a mad laughter resounded.

An exchange between rapture and sorrow, a chaotic banquet continued forever.

The end to despair, didn't come. Mari's was going insane——and there was only one person in that place who could stop it.

A dignified clicking noise sounded, and an azure sword was swung down in front of Mari.

That sword, as if cutting though Mari's despair, was beautiful, graceful, and strong.

"...you didn't do anything wrong."

The owner of the sword said the words that granted salvation.

But it didn't move. Mari's heart didn't move. It couldn't move with just this much.

"Your choice... might have been a mistake but, even if you choose differently, it would also surely be a mistake. Choices made under pressure, are never correct."

"............"

"You made your choice. There's nothing bad about it."

Takeru who was in front of Mari, retracted the blade.

"So who's the bad guy? Who's the worst? That's been decided from the very beginning."

He moved his sword in front or Mari, and pointed with its tip——at Haunted.

"That one laughing over there——It's obviously that shitty Sorcerer!"

Harboring a demon in his mind, Takeru cried out.

His voice reached Mari. She faced down, and wept.

"But... saying I didn't do anything wrong... that's definitely not true."

"If you really think so, I won't say anything."

"I... in the end... couldn't save my family, and caused many innocent people to die..."

"If you want to blame yourself, I won't stop you... however!"

Mari looked at Takeru's back.

His back in the azure-colored armor was very wide.

"If you desire redemption... rather than continuing to blame yourself, use your magic to save the people who are dying in front of you. Wasn't that want you wanted?"

"............"

"You might not forgive yourself; people who died might not forgive you either. But you can definitely atone for that, that's what I think."

He said those words, as if he was reminding himself of the same.

"If that's too much for you. If you're about to collapse under that burden."

"...Take...ru..."

"If it seems like you're about to give up, at that time."

"...Takeru..."

"I will——carry half of it!"

Holding a sword, Takeru fought.

He did so to repay the deaths of the past.

In order to shoulder half of Mari's sins.

"Kusanagi Double-Edged style initiate, Kusanagi Takeru. From now on I shall become an Asura——

 

———Prepare yourself, Sorcerer!!"

 

Let's start this battle.

To end the atonement and for the sake salvation, in order to protect.

"Kehi...hihihi...! How shallow,, shallow shallow shallow too shallow! Your words don't resonate within me! Your definition of salvation is just too shallow!"

Haunted had drawn his sword, and took a thrusting stance.

His extended left hand, wriggled as if he was grasping something, his eyeballs were pulsating eerily.

Haunted laughed.

In order to fulfill his desires.

For the sake of hearing agonizing cries of people.

"Very well! Why don't I teach you what is despair!!

 

———Let's play Witch Hunter!!"

 

Let's start the despair.

Both of them shouted, expressing their own desires.

Their swords clashed.


The Glossary

Belladonna Garden (ベラドンナガーデン) - It's written as (絶望の庭) meaning "Garden of Despair" .

Number of The Beast (ナンバー・オブ・ザ・ビースト) - Written as (666の領域) which means "Area 666".


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2 thoughts on “Chapter 5 - Necromancer's Laughter

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  1. Sonoda Yuki

    >>You can kill, or you can protect, it’s your choice.
    Well fuck. after reading all that dark imouto chaos, this line is starting to hit home...

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