Speaking about hopeless.
The 23rd platoon which had entered the 35th's test platoon's room had similar circumstances to the Small Fry Platoon, and their platoon consisted of three members. The three others were either missing or gave up on school because of injuries or circumstances in their homes. They couldn't hold any satisfactory activities and were the third worst in the rankings.
It wasn't just the 23rd platoon, the 8th platoon was there as well as the 42nd who had low performance for similar reasons. It seemed like they teamed up and prepared an alliance making effective use of the rules of Witch-Hunting festival.
And they proposed that the Small Fry Platoon also joins them.
"Thank you for coming. Welcome, our dark horse."
A honor student boy with glasses rest a hand on his chin and said so to the Small Fry Platoon members.
It seemed like he was the one who organized the alliance.
In front of him, was a plate on which it was written "Dropout Alliance Interim Leader".
The fact they wrote that about themselves made Takeru feel some familiarity with them.
The interim leader placed his hands on the desk and stood up slowly, his eyes shone as he faced all the dropouts who gathered.
"Now then, as you might already know, we are at the very bottom of this school."
"...acting self-deprecating from the get go."
A female student from the 23rd test platoon said so loudly.
"It's not acting self-deprecating. It's a fact. We need to accept reality."
The leader emphasized it by raising his fist, the other members couldn't really deny it.
Takeru also lost the fighting spirit from a while ago and completely regained composure. As if he was dust in the corner of the room, he sat down on the chair that was prepared for him.
"Therefore, don't you think this Witch-Hunting festival is a chance? We have the manpower... we have wisdom... and... we have those beauties! There's no way we will lose!"
*swish*, the interim leader pointed towards the Small Fry Platoon (girls).
Beauties. Certainly, the Small Fry Platoon's female members looks were on a high level. Although the girls themselves gave bad impressions in school, they looked so good they were eye-catching just by walking in the city.
However, what did that have to do with Witch-Hunting festival.
Ikaruga who was sitting cross-legged on her chair shook her head.
"So you want us to join alliance with that as your motive? Wanting us to attract guests as salesgirls."
As she said that, interim leader was startled and his shoulders trembled.
They tried to recruit the Small Fry Platoon so that they could use its female members. The Small Fry Platoon wasn't invited out of charity, there was a reason for that.
The member's faces immediately displayed annoyed expressions.
Only Ikaruga responded to the interim leader looking relaxed.
"There are those people who use popular voice actors and cosplayers as salesgirls. That attitude of people wanting to do anything to sell... I don't hate it."
...Takeru and the others had no idea what was she talking about.
However both interim leader and Ikaruga nodded strongly as if confirming something with each other.
After sympathizing with him for a moment, Ikaruga loudly placed her leg on the desk, acting full of herself.
"If you want to use our girls, I take it you are prepared accordingly? Even our rotten test platoon... will not help you out if there's nothing in it for us, we're not suckers who will trust you out of desperation you know?"
While putting a mint candy between her fingers as if it was a tobacco Ikaruga said that, her eyes looked like that of a salesman.
As a tense atmosphere drifted in the air, the other Small Fry Platoon members whispered to each other in the back.
"...is it just my imagination or did Suginami's weird switch get turned on?"
"She seems like a manager in charge of idols... she seems to be in charge now."
"This is not good... Suginami plays really dirty when she's like that."
"I don't know a Suginami who doesn't play dirty..."
As Takeru naturally mixed into their conversation, Ouka made an unhappy face.
"Kusanagi, you are the captain. You should be the one negotiating with other platoons, what are you doing by sitting leisurely."
"Sitting like this all this time is uncomfortable. That's right Takeru, you should be the one to take charge here as the captain."
"That is right. If you leave it to Suginami, who knows what we will be forced to do."
*girori*, everyone's stares were directed towards Takeru.
And he averted his face immediately.
"No... I... I'm no good with this kind of atmosphere."
"Don't act like a coward. While I don't agree with this Witch-Hunting festival's system, but this is a good opportunity to prove ourselves. A chance to improve communication between us."
"Although it's not something the one who lacks communication skills the most should say... I also think we shouldn't leave all cooperation matters to Suginami and this awkward atmosphere. We need look forward to future and work together to build a harmonious relationship don't we? Usagi-chan thinks so too, right?"
Asked for support, Usagi was confused.
"I-in the future?"
"? The one who tried the most is Usagi-chan. There's only a few months left so we need to earn points, don't we?"
Usagi went silent and looked down below.
"I...I don't care about... anyone other than platoon members... above all... I want memories——"
When Usagi was about to say it, the alliance meeting status has suddenly changed.
The interim leader raised his voice.
"Impossible! The Witch-Hunting festival is an important battle! We need to develop a game plan that uses everyone's strength to the fullest! Why do you think we made this alliance for?!"
Ikaruga plunged him into despair, the Small Fry Platoon members who didn't hear tall of it started to pay attention. Ikaruga crossed her arms and smiled mockingly.
"No matter how many small fries gather——your ideas are still that of a small fry!"
(((Even though your ideas are always the worst...)))
They knew just how ridiculous were Ikaruga's ideas, so they wanted to retort. But Ikaruga forced it through anyway.
"In that aspect, I have both ability and confidence that will allow us to succeed. Leave this entire project to me. In fact I am a death dealer, an ex-Alc... a... a business woman."
She almost uttered a top secret fact but managed to cover it up
"That won't do. We have too much pride to do that. We cannot let you take initiative alone. Suginami-kun... even if you are the captain of the Small Fry Platoon the same as me."
The interim leader raised an objection to Ikaruga's proposal with a serious face.
Takeru agreed with his opinion as well.
Yeah yeah, that's right... eh?
He caught on something, and stopped thinking for a moment before looking into Ikaruga's eyes.
The name plate that was placed in front of the participants.
The plate that was placed in front of Ikaruga had written on it 'Small Fry Platoon Captain'.
Takeru sneakily crouched and moved towards Ikaruga like those people who go to the toilet during a movie.
"...U-umm... Suginami-san... when did you become our captain?"
"I don't know. Since they placed it in front of me, I acted like so."
"If you noticed, then don't act like one..."
"Can Kusanagi finalize this alliance?"
"If you say that I cannot refute, but why are you so motivated...?"
"Motivated? Does it look like that? That's your imagination right?"
That's what Ikaruga said, but her eyes were sparkling like that of a young girl.
"Ufu, ufufufu, I'll take over this alliance... I'll be able to do things I couldn't, I'll do all of it... there will be no mercy... ufufuhi...uhihehehe."
Correction. Her eyes were shining like those of a beast.
After that, neither Takeru nor the other platoons could do anything, and it's needless to say that the alliance was hijacked by Ikaruga.
Planning in progress, by Suginami Ikaruga.
With just that, it was clear that something will happen.
"...I apologize, it shouldn't have turned out like that."
Takeru received a note from the 23rd platoon's captain and apologized in the broad hallway.
It was a memo on which Ikaruga wrote as she planned, written on it were the necessary materials. It was Takeru's role to go out and buy the things listed on the memo. Other members also went out separately.
Mentioned on the memo were things like cloth, sewing set——things like cat ears, swimsuits, maid outfits.
............isn't it all her hobbies. She's definitely intending to run a cosplay café.
He could roughly tell what she was planning now.
"There's no need for Kusanagi-kun to apologize. I have to apologize instead. I thought that girl in the white coat was the captain ... and told that to the interim leader, it's because of me... sorry..."
As she said there's no need to mind it, Takeru lamented his own lack of presence.
He calmed his heart and returned to the conversation about the Witch-Hunting festival.
"But all of the guys in the alliance want points... although it is like that, it's not a good idea to leave it to Suginami."
"Yup, well we don't know much about such mundane hobbies and festivals.Since we attended normal elementary and middle schools, we don't have any confidence at this type of event. That's why having a person like that who will pull people in, is a good result for us."
"A-ahaha... you... might be right."
He felt as if he was told he wasn't a type that could pull people in, and his wounds deepened.
*pon pon* Ouka who stood behind him rubbed his back comforting him.
"Speaking of which, it's the first time for me to speak with Ootori-san. I've heard a lot of rumors about you. I'm the captain of the 23rd platoon, my name's Ishida. Just like Kusanagi-kun, I wasn't the captain at first."
Nice to meet you, and with that she held out her hand to Ouka.
Following her, were the two in the back "I'm Minami—" "I'm Minagawa—" who extended their hands.
Ouka was embarrassed and glanced at Takeru looking for help, but he pretended not to notice it.
After wiping her sweaty hand with hem of her skirt, she finally held Ishida's hand.
"N-nice to meet hyu."
She bit her tongue. She had a stiff facial expression and her movements were like that of a robot.
"A-ahaha. Ootori-san is really cute. You have a bit cool image."
"Right—. She had an aura that made it difficult to approach before, but after talking it's surprisingly different. If possible, could you tell us stories about the time when you worked as a Dullahan? I really want to hear it."
"Umm, eh! I've been curious about it for a while, you have a really beautiful hair, is that your natural color? What treatment do you use?"
After being approached by the three students, Ouka was flustered. Seeing that Takeru laughed in secret.
Not yet, it seems like she still didn't know how to communicate with people other than the Small Fry Platoon members.
He thought it was charming. Ouka who was living a bloody life, talking like this with students other than her own platoon's members. It was a valuable sight.
The school festival might be a good opportunity...
Test platoons were originally rivals who competed for points. Cooperation was only a temporary thing. They worked together to make something and their combat skills were unimportant unlike during the platoon activities. It felt like there was no wall between them.
Even as he walked down the hallway, he felt an unusual atmosphere.
Everyone was desperate for points like usual, they ran around and decorated the classrooms. But an innocence that suited their age could be felt.
Although they lived their school life while facing death daily, they were still teenagers.
Rather a desperate joint struggle, it was more like a harmonious collaboration that came out nicely,
"Shit! It's a sabotage from a different platoon! All of the equipment is broken!"
"...the 53rd platoon's stall suffered! Hurry up and order fresh cream! Buy it all out! Don't let others do it before you!"
Intelligence members were in charge of gathering information about other students in the festival! The vanguard left to distribute leaflets in the city! Maintenance members were in charge of decorating the classrooms! They didn't turn off the switches of their intercoms and reported all the time!
"No way...! Even though we managed to occupy the gymnasium after all this trouble, the popular idol said its a NG...?! When it comes to singing, we...!"
Is what he thought, but after taking a closer look, it seems like a he was surrounded by enemies.
"They're so desperate it's surreal..."
"It's a natural result of AntiMagic Academy's merit system. I also agree that awarding points for this is wrong."
Ouka ran away from the barrage of questions, she crossed hands in front of her and said something that sounded like it came from a class-committee member.
"Well, since we're already doing it, let's enjoy it. We've been only doing dangerous things recently, so we need to take a breather as well."
Takeru said so soothingly, but Ouka had an unpleasant expression on her face.
"I'm not going to change my mind. I have no intention of being convinced, but I'll do my best."
"...you really hate admitting defeat."
"We have no time to bother about appearances right? At this rate you won't be able to advance to second year, are you fine with the 35th platoon dismantling? I'm not."
Ouka realized what she said and looked away.
Takeru looked forward happily with a big smile on his face.
"You're right. Yeah. At this rate I won't be able to stay together with you guys. That'd be troubling. I don't want that either."
"What! Why do you have such a happy expression on your face! I'm doing this so that I can return to Dullahan again——"
"I know. I didn't say anything about that right?"
As Takeru turned his smiling face towards him, Ouka tried to hide her own face with bangs.
He wondered if he teased her too much, and reflected on it. But Takeru was very happy that Ouka thought of the platoon as something important.
"A-anyway, let's do it seriously. I need to go out to town quickly. I need to make it before other guys buy out the things."
He covered it up lightly and took out the note from his pocket.
That's when the ringtone of Ouka's phone rang out.
Ouka took out her cellphone and opened what seemed to be an e-mail.
"...sorry, Kusanagi. I've been called out. Can I ask you to take care of my share of shopping?"
"? I don't really mind. Who's calling you? The Chairman is now on a long-term business trip taking care of the Alchemist case. And you don't have any leftover contact with people from Dullahan..."
"No, it's a call from the student council."
She herself had a questioning look as she closed her phone.
Student council? Why were they calling Ouka?
"...well, it's not that strange. I've been invited to the student council before."
"To the student council? You?"
"I'm an ex-Dullahan and the Chairman's daughter, they think I have potential."
"Isn't that awesome, it's a quick road to promotion."
Takeru raised a voice of admiration.
AntiMagic Academy's student council.
There are student council elections every year, only excellent people can be listed as candidates, but the student council was a bit different from the ones at normal schools.
AntiMagic Academy's student council is a special test platoon. Originally platoons are separated by years, but student council was a special case that underwent curriculum of all grades at once.
First year's needed 200 points, second years needed 300 points and third years needed 400 points. The student council couldn't promote until they gathered 1000 points. In exchange, only the student council could undertake missions of B-class risk.
They organize school events, order the equipment test platoons need, and they are the ones to judge whether a platoon can undertake chosen mission. Since the Chairman is responsible for the entire Inquisition, it's the student council who organizes a majority of the school events. Entering the student council is the quickest way to become one of the upper echelons of Inquisition, it's said that it produced many excellent Inquisitors up to this date.
"I'm not interested in promotion. That's because higher-ups cannot take part in investigation. You guys know what my goal is, I still haven't given up on it."
Ouka narrowed her eyes, there was darkness dwelling inside of her pupils.
Her goal was to hunt down the witch who killed her family. She won't be satisfied unless she kills that witch with her own hands. If she becomes one of higher-ups, she won't be able to perform investigations. That's why she had no interest in promotion.
Revenge. Takeru too, was once at the mercy of negative feelings. However, he no longer was being controlled by his feelings. That's because he was aware that there was something else he had to do.
That's why, he had no intention of denying Ouka her revenge.
'Nothing good comes from revenge'. Takeru genuinely hated that saying.
But he agreed that there's no salvation for someone bound only by revenge.
That's why he decided to be by her side, and shoulder half of it.
So that when everything is over, she doesn't become an empty shell.
Takeru stood still, and Ouka pushed forward.
Even though that was the difference between the two of them, they still clumsily moved together.
"Also... if I entered the student council, I would quit our platoon."
"Nn? Did you say something?"
"I-its nothing! A-anyway, I'm going. I leave my share of shopping to you! Do your best in my stead!"
Ouka hit Takeru's shoulder and ran away from the spot.
Takeru looked at her back with a wry smile, and glanced at the memo he was given.
It was 2 pm, the middle of Witch-Hunting festival preparation.
Although it was voluntary, the majority of the students rushed the preparations for this Witch-Hunting Festival.
It was evening, the students were running restlessly under the orange dyed sky. Usagi who was in charge of collecting information and was touring the campus, checking on the stores prepared by other platoons.
"I didn't intend on becoming a Banshee..."
With a disgruntled expression she walked through the courtyard with a notepad in one hand.
As she looked around, there were some people on the courtyard planning with just their own platoon, and the places where several platoons were aiming for something bigger jointly.
There were some classic festival stalls like crepes and fried noodles stalls.
But there was also an exhibition of a self-made Dragoon, a stall with air-guns built with authentic anti-magic materials, books about anti-magic measures, accessories made with processed anti-magic material and training grounds where you could experience real combat exercises. That was the savage part of the festival.
Rather than ignorance of the outside world, it gave an impression of being from another world.
"The only one who would be happy with such a thing would only be a military geek like Suginami."
Usagi shook her head and sighed.
She put the investigation on hold and sat down on a bench in the courtyard.
While looking at the students dyed by colors of the sunset, she blanked out for a moment.
Everyone was desperate, but this time for a change they looked like they were having fun.
It felt like an infinitely distant scene. She's been desiring to see this scene of people having fun ever since she was in middle school. When she was in middle school, she was always alone. Although the cause of that was quite complex, but mainly it was because of her position in Saionji house that was like shackles to her.
As not to stain the name of Saionji, she put a lot of effort but with no results and yet boasted of the Saionji name. It was natural that others laughed at her and distanced themselves if she was like that.
Saying it wasn't hard, would be a lie.
For her ordinary self, the name of Saionji was too heavy.
After she entered the high school and joined the 35th platoon, the lonely feeling of it being a distant scenery was lost.
"...I can't... return to those days... again."
She looked up at the sky, and recalled it.
The feeling as if she was being crushed by those days. The pain that felt like she was dying.
When she thought of that pain that slowly eroded her heart which awaited her again, she sank in despair.
In order to shake off the feeling she was sinking into, Usagi hit her cheeks with both of her hands.
She cannot do that. It was the Witch-Hunting festival after all. Before she quits school, she could make some fun memories.
Usagi got fired up and stand up from the bench.
But when she tried to raise her body, there was someone standing in front of her and she ended up pressing her face against that person.
"Ah... I-I apologize. I spaced out."
Wanting to apologize, she raised her head in a hurry.
The moment she raised her face, Usagi froze.
Although the other person's face couldn't be visible because it was in the shadow of the setting sun, fear still sprung up in Usagi.
"Ohh, it's been a while. Usagi."
The boy smiled gently.
Very delicate for a man, long blonde bangs. He had refined features and jade-colored clear pupils.
And a smile full of kindness Usagi would never forget.
Tenmyouji Reima. Witch-Hunting festival executive committee chairman and son of the current ethics committee chairman.
Usagi's childhood friend, the man who was her fiancée.
"Hey hey, spare me the '-sama'. I don't mind if you call me without honorific like in the old days. Sorry for not visiting you recently. I had to leave the town, it's the first time we meet after a few years. Think I grew taller a bit?"
He placed a hand on her head and stroked it.
That gesture was full of affection. It was overflowing with tenderness.
However, that moment a chill ran down Usagi's spine.
She recalled memories of the past. The moment when she was shackled, the evening of that day.
The memory of how her heart was scarred, revived.
Usagi's body turned stiff, and she was unable to move. Her mouth trembled and her teeth chattered. Reima saw Usagi solidify, and looked into her face curiously.
"H...hey, are you scared?"
"N-o... that's not..."
"Can it be, that you are still bothered about what happened when we were children?"
As Reima asked, Usagi looked down.
"...at that time I was just a brat, and there was a lot happening in my house... I said something really horribly to you back then."
"But, I have matured. I'm different from how I was back then. I won't say anything that could hurt what's important to me ever again."
"How's your school life? This school's pretty difficult. When I heard you enrolled in AntiMagic Academy I was really worried. I was anxiously thinking you might become damaged goods."
Reima lifted her chin and forcibly made her face him.
Usagi's face was distorted by fear.
"Don't worry. There's no need for you to stay in such a dangerous place any longer. You no longer need to do your best, Usagi."
Usagi's trembling reached its peak, and her knees gave out.
Unable to stand any longer, she was about to collapse.
Reima supported her body and approached her face from the front.
"I've transferred schools to come here last month. Were you surprised?"
"In fact, it seems like the Saionji household is in a troublesome position. Your parents said that I should transfer over. Mother was really thrilled. That's great, isn't it. That your mother is happy."
"From now onward we'll be together forever."
Reima's fingertips touched Usagi's cheek, and gently stroked her lips.
On the other hand, Usagi's face displayed despair, and she could only tremble.
The trauma that has been engraved on her, the cause of her complex, her heart creaked.
Takeru who was carrying large luggage called out to her.
Seeing the state Usagi was in, Takeru looked at Reima puzzled. Reima released his hand from Usagi immediately and faced Takeru.
"Umm... Usagi's acquaintance?"
Takeru confirmed Reima's emblem which signified he was a second year, and asked Usagi.
Usagi didn't answer, without giving an answer she looked below.
Noticing the strange atmosphere, Takeru walked in front of Usagi and faced Reima.
"...? You are... the Witch-Hunting festival executive committee's..."
Takeru glared lightly at Reima, on the other hand Reima,
"Oh! Can it be that you're captain of the platoon Usagi is in?"
He hit his hand and looked at Takeru with a cheerful face.
Takeru on the other hand flinched.
"...y-yes. That's... right."
"I've heard about you. It seems like Usagi has been under your care this entire time. I'm Tenmyouji Reima. You probably know me because of this morning speech right."
Without any caution, Reima held out his hand towards him.
Takeru was puzzled and caught off guard, so he shook Reima's hand reflexively.
"I'm Usagi's relative... or rather, more like a childhood friend. Think of us as siblings."
"Is that so. Now that you say it, you're a bit..."
Looking at his hair color, Takeru thought they were a bit similar.
"This hair? The ancestors of both Tenmyouji and Saionji were Nordic. Not many Nordic people moved to this place, but blonde hair really stands out."
As Reima said, there weren't many people with blonde hair in this land. The blood of people who ran away from the places scarred by war and from the Akashic Hazard mixed, and even though boundary between races almost disappeared, the black hair which was the most frequent in old Japan was still most frequently seen.
"No, I think it looks really good. It fits you."
"...you say such things to other men? I'm happy but it's complex feeling..."
"No! I don't mean it in that sense!"
After that was said, Takeru was confused again.
And Reima hit Takeru's shoulder while laughing cheerfully.
"It's a joke, don't take it seriously. You're really an honest guy."
"Sorry about that, I'm really relieved. If you're a person like that, then I can leave Usagi to you."
"Although it won't be long, I leave Usagi to you. It's my precious thing after all."
Reima smiled gently.
That's when the hem of Takeru's uniform was squeezed and pulled from behind.
He tried to turn around but stopped when he saw Usagi's hand grab his uniform.
It was shaking.
"What is it, Usagi?"
She uttered the words under her breath and her hand grabbing his clothes wouldn't let go.
Takeru felt it was not normal, and Reima bowed his head thanking him.
"Sorry, it looks like she doesn't feel too good. I'll take her to infirmary, is that fine?"
"I-is that so Usagi?! Then let me help you out."
The moment Reima offered to help, Takeru's clothes were pulled with more strength.
"Aah... no, you must be busy with the executive committee, I'll do it."
"Is that so? Well, festival organizers are busy. Then, I leave Usagi to you. Okay?"
"Yes, let's go to infirmary right away."
"Let's have a nice talk later, let me treat you in the cafeteria next time."
After saying that in a friendly manner and starting at Usagi worriedly, Reima smiled.
"Then... see you later Usagi."
After a brief farewell, Reima left.
Takeru looked at his back for a while and then took Usagi's hands which grabbed onto his clothes on to his own..
"...it's okay now."
What happened, and what was Usagi's relationship with Reima. Takeru didn't know. But Usagi in front of him was certainly scared.
After her hand was held, Usagi finally looked up.
Her eyes were wet with tears, and there was dread within them.
Usagi's breathing was rough, and she inhaled air painfully.
Even before, they were symptoms Usagi rarely showed. It was hyperventilation that came from tension. It was considerably less frequent lately, since he calmed her down during combat he didn't have to worry about it, but her state today was weird.
"It's all right. Calm down, I'm the only one here. There's no one else."
Usagi looked around suspiciously, she looked behind her several times terrified.
"Usagi, look in my eyes. Just look at me."
Takeru calmly placed his hand on her shoulder, and tried to calm her somehow.
He was taught by Ikaruga that the best remedy for her hyperventilation is to 'talk to her', but he had to make sure she doesn't look around before he calms her down that way.
Usagi's eyes wandered and she said apologies to someone who wasn't there.
...this is bad, people gathered around here.
Perhaps because of the sound Usagi's heavy breathing made, students who were working in the courtyard walked up to them worried. Having other folks approach them now wasn't good. Even something as trivial as that could awaken some memory and cause her to hyperventilate again.
Slowly as not to surprise her, Takeru placed his hand on Usagi's head and gently stroked it.
"Don't worry. I'm right here."
"Yeah, I'll help you. You're not alone. I'm by your side."
When he spoke to her gently, Usagi's breathing gradually settled down.
And when her eyes focused, despite looking tired, when she saw Takeru's face she was relieved and fainted immediately after.
Takeru stopped Usagi from falling forward by embracing her.
When he thought of the cause, the first thing that appeared in his mind was Reima's face.
He said they were childhood friends... but was that really true?
He didn't look like a bad guy at all... but he was quite forceful.
Takeru held Usagi in both of his hands and headed towards the infirmary.
After Reima separated from Usagi, he was watching her and Takeru's figure from the back of the school building.
"I see... it seems like she has a tough guard."
Unlike Reima from a moment ago, all gentleness disappeared from his face.
Expressionless, or rather, he looked like a nervous observer.
Reima exhaled deeply and started to walk.
"Well, it's fine. I can hold out until the Witch-Hunting festival is over."
After changing expression to his original one, Reima started to walk back to school leisurely.
Just be patient. What has to happen will happen.
He told that to himself, and laughed. That smile was far from evil, it was as if,
"I look forward to it... how shall I turn her into my pet. When the guy she's clinging to is gone, I wonder how is she going to please me."
As if he was an innocent kid playing with a gift.
Summoned by the student council, Ouka entered the third data preparation room in multi-purpose school building
Weird. When being called by the student council, they usually specify a student council room. The reason they chose such a location far from the public eyes was obvious. The possibility of a trap couldn't be ruled out.
Remembering the odor, Ouka checked her gun before going to the meeting place.
"——Ootori Ouka-san, right?"
She heard a voice from behind and immediately pointed her gun's muzzle there.
Ouka was an ex-Dullahan. She was skilled in sensing others' presence.
To catch her from behind required a considerable amount of skill.
Although Ouka pointed her gun while releasing killing intent, the person behind her raised both hands claiming they are harmless and moved towards Ouka as she pointed her muzzle at them as if already expecting it.
It was a schoolgirl with beautiful long black hair and a serious look.
"Sorry for this kind of welcome. I'm from the student council."
"You should have seen me during the assembly right? I'm the student council's secretary, Sendou Shizuka."
"...show something that proves your identity."
Seeing Ouka's attitude, the woman calling herself Sendou smiled somehow relieved.
"You're just like President said you'll be. If it's not at least this much, then there would be no point in doing this."
"...? What do you mean?"
Instead of answering the question, Sendou removed her ID card and showed it to Ouka.
"............confirmed. I apologize for my rudeness."
"It's fine. Please come with me. It's possible we might be seen by the enemy here."
...enemy? Ouka made a face which said she didn't understand.
Sendou started walking and set foot into the data room. The room was filled with a smell of dust and there was no light. The room was very dim.
After continuing to walk in the data room without hesitation, Sendou finally stopped walking by the innermost bookshelf.
As Ouka gave her a questioning look, Sendou tilted a book on the shelf lightly.
*gagon*, with a dull sound the bookshelf started to slide to the side.
She understood after seeing that, it was a hidden door.
"A book on a bookshelf being a switch... very classic. That's the President's hobby."
"It was made by the student council?"
"It's called the 'second student council room'. It's been made by another student council a long time ago, but it was subjected to remodeling for no reason by the current President. You probably know already, but our President is an idiot."
Being told that, Ouka recalled the current President.
If it's her, then she would do this kind of pointless thing. Is what she thought.
Prompted by Sendou, Ouka passed through the hidden door. The entrance had two doors, when the first one was closed Sendou entered a card-key into the second door.
With a heavy sound, the door opened. A dim fluorescent light entered her pupils and she grasped the state of the inside. The first thing she noticed were the firearms hanging on the wall, and then the material the wall itself was made of... it was probably made out of adamantium. It was a room that looked like a fortress.
And next, in the center of the room——for some reason there was a kotatsu.
In that kotatsu, there was a single female student who squinted because she felt warm and relaxed.
She had fiery red hair and amber-colored eyes that seemed like they would suck you in. She was so short it was difficult to call her a high schooler, she had a childish body.
Hoshijiro Nagaru. The person who became the student council president in her second year, said to be the most influential student in the entire school. She narrowed her eyes like a cat and yawned after resting her jaw on the kotatsu.
"Yahoo〜 Ouka〜chan. It's been a while〜"
Her first words already stripped Ouka of all motivation.
Seeing her stuff her mouth with mandarins Ouka made a disgruntled expression.
"...you're same as usual, Student Council President Hoshijiro."
Since Ouka was invited to the student council, she was acquainted with her.
She always had perfect results, wasn't as serious as Ouka and didn't have her violent tendencies. And above all, her way of calling her Ouka-chan was annoying her the most.
Seeing her attitude that didn't have a shred of dignity and goes with the flow, anger stirred in Ouka.
"You're scaryー. If you get too angry your blood pressure will raise and you'll go bald you know〜?"
"Telling a girl she'll go bald is rude, President."
"Shizuka-chan, thanks for the good work〜. There, a mandarin."
Sendou entered the kotatsu and going along with Nagaru, she started peeling a mandarin.
What's up with this laid-back atmosphere... Ouka's face looked even more annoyed.
"Ouka-chan come too. It's warm〜? And mandarins are delicious〜?"
"I'll pass. Rather than that, lets get to the main issue immediately."
Hearing Ouka say that with hostility, Nagaru made a dissatisfied face and held her chin in her hands.
"...I don't know why are you holing up yourself in a place like this and leaving the management of the Witch-Hunting festival to the executive committee."
"Don't talk as if I'm a NEET〜."
"Is there any difference?"
Ouka continued to preach her. She realized that Nagaru was just like Sougetsu.
This woman was a villain who used others. She usually posed as a lazy and avoided sticking her nose in other's matters. But when she finally took action, she was incredible.
She was definitely one of the rotten people whom Ouka would never forgive.
"Rather being told I'm holing up, I'd rather you say I'm defending from a siege... even so, we do intend on protecting the school you know?"
"Protect the school? From what?"
Ouka laughed through her nose.
Nagaru spit out a sigh realizing she couldn't drag Ouka into her pace, and looked straight at her with her amber eyes.
"Of course, from a witch."
"That much is obvious. Protecting the world from the threat of witches is our responsibility. I think that applies to everyone gathered in this school."
"I don't believe that's true... I have no confidence that Ouka-chan will believe me, but the situation is more serious than you think."
"...what's going on."
When Nagaru finally started to talk seriously, Ouka focused her mind.
Then Nagaru said with a serious expression.
"This Academy will fall into the hands of a single witch. It's only a matter of time until the witch will take complete control of it."
Hearing such a crazy story, Ouka was both dumbfounded and startled at the same time.
"I don't.... understand."
"That's why you should relax, let's talk this over step by step okay〜? It's your fault for being in a hurry〜"
you impatient girl, Nagaru scolded Ouka and *tap tap* she hit the kotatsu.
Sit down, is what she meant. Albeit reluctantly, Ouka put her feet under kotatsu and faced Nagaru. Nagaru still had her chin in her hands and stared straight at Ouka before quietly speaking about what was happening in school.
"Does Ouka-chan———know about a witch called Mephistopheles?"