After changing her clothes and being coached on proper etiquette by everyone, Usagi escaped the classroom to prepare for a dinner.
"A-at this rate by being over there... my maiden's heart won't be able to withstand it."
Disheartened, she walked unsteadily down the hall.
Because her comrades were doing their best, she made a promise with Ikaruga saying that she'll wear any costume, but it was a mistake. She didn't expect it to be that extreme.
Usagi smiled wryly and took out a photo from her breast pocket.
It was a photo taken during the dropout alliance's photo session. Although they had to take multiple shots to capture everyone, Usagi decided to take the very first; the failed photo.
Rather than the photos taken later in which everyone took a pose, the first one looked lovely to her. Everyone had such a lively expression.
"......it was fun."
She spoke out in secret and smiled. Although she did her best alone to be acknowledged by the Saionji household, being with her comrades was not only encouraging, but also fun.
Being needed by someone, and being in a place she was needed at. A place that made her feel at ease, a fun place.
If she's there, she can be herself. Usagi was very, very happy that she entered this school... and that she was placed in the 35th test platoon.
Even if Father and Mother don't recognize it, I... will stay in this school.
She decided to stop accepting whatever they said and decided to resist from now on. No matter how terrified she is, no matter how her body trembles in fear, she will no longer stand back and accept it.
Otherwise, she could never look her comrades in the eyes again.
And if Saionji house tries to lock her away, she will run away from home or whatever and defy them. Many ways of doing so (defying) have entered her head.
There's no need to be bound by anyone; Saionji Usagi doesn't belong to anyone.
"Now that I decided that, let's treat everyone to a delicious dinner! Fufufuu, I'm not just an exceptional sniper right? I'll have them taste my delicious cuisine made from common ingredients."
*oh ho ho*, Usagi laughed loudly and went outside heading to the cafeteria to purchase ingredients for dinner.
The day was already coming to an end, and the hallway was dim.
The hustle and bustle made by students immersed in preparations could be heard in the distance.
"...weird, isn't it."
Usagi noticed something unnatural.
It was too quiet. No, to be exact only the school building Usagi was in was shrouded in silence.
Both the day before, and today, students should have been moving all around the place preparing things and causing a lot of noise.
When she heard a familiar-sounding voice, Usagi's heart froze.
She quickly hid the photo in her breast pocket, and despite not wanting to turn around and look back, she couldn't help but to do it.
The fear that she was scarred with, resurfaced.
"You seem quite happy don't you. Did something good happen to you?"
Dyed by sunset, a smile that denied her hopes appeared in front of her.
It stirred a memory from the past. Back then, it was also sunset.
Her breathing clogged, she started to feel unpleasant and her body trembled.
"You didn't come back home yesterday? I've been waiting all this time. Mother was furious."
Reima's eyes narrowed as his fingers played with Usagi's hair.
"What a bad girl... maybe you need to be punished?"
Usagi's body shook as if she was hit with a whip.
If she loses here, it will turn back to how it was back then.
As if I'd lose, Usagi bit her lips and tried to disperse the fear with pain.
"Do you want me to break your heart again? Just like back then."
"...I-I will.. no longer..."
"No longer——do as I'm told by you!"
With her body trembling, and with a trembling voice.
For the first time in her life, Usagi stood against those who tried to chain her down.
"......is that so. I get it."
However, that disobedience of hers, plunged her into despair once again.
Reima squeezed the hair he was playing with and raised his arm with it.
"The rebellious age eh? Can't be helped. I didn't want to say such a thing either."
As Usagi's face distorted in pain, Reima glared at her.
"Hee, so you can make that kind of expression. Nice. I've never seen it before, that's quite fresh."
He ridiculed how she looked like as she desperately tried to resist him. No matter how much she tried to resist it, fear was dwelling in Usagi's eyes and Reima didn't miss that fact. There is no way he would miss it. For this man, his greatest joy was to look at Usagi's frightened expression.
"You said you won't do as I tell you to, but what do you intend to do? It can't be that you intend to run away from home like yesterday? You think you can escape from Saionji house and me?"
His pupils shined as he narrowed his eyes to look at Usagi's suffering.
"Did you maybe beg your comrades for help? Kusanagi, Ootori, Suginami and the witch called Nikaido. They're all working for the Chairman... that's no good, what is going to happen if these illegal activities are publicized?"
"?! Why... why do you know that!"
"That's because it's about you. I investigated it all. The Ethics Committee's political strength is already equivalent to that of Inquisition Board's. No matter how stupid you are, you surely can imagine what is going to happen."
Reima moved his mouth right next to her ear.
"You will never get away from me."
"A murderer like you, leaving everything behind and escaping, there is no way you can be forgiven. Did you forget your own sins?"
Usagi's breathing accelerated.
Murderer. Her own sins, Usagi tried to deny them. She thought 'there is no way I would do such a thing'.
"It's too late to feign ignorance. Because of you, your family died. Your brother, your sister and also your grandparents. You killed them all."
"I'm not wrong. Despite being a murderer, you have comrades now and enjoy your school life. Seeing you like that, I wonder what would your dead family say?"
"Anyway, even those comrades of yours will eventually die because of you, won't they? What kind of sniper are you to make mistakes and shoot your own comrades? You haven't changed from back then at all, you kill everyone that surrounds you under the guise of an 'accident'."
"Even you yourself don't want such a thing to happen right? I get it. That's why you should quit school and become my possession."
Usagi vision shook, her breathing was irregular and her shoulders rose and lowered repeatedly. It felt like the hope she has finally managed to grip in her hands was spilling through her fingers, the world seemed like it had lost all its colors.
"It's all right. If it's me, I'll accept you as you are. I'm different from the other guys. The only one who will love someone so disgraceful and hideous like you, is me."
"You won't get away. I'm doing all of this for your sake."
Her lungs could no longer process the oxygen, and her vision started to flicker.
She could no longer stand, and collapsed on the spot.
Reima embraced her body after she fell, and this time he spoke gently into her ear.
"It'll be all right, Usagi... be at ease. You, unlike the others aren't going to become my slave. I will make only you stay by my side unaffected by magic."
As she was about to lose her consciousness, and it felt like her heart was dying, Usagi heard Reima's words. I won't let you run away... that's what those words of his meant.
"I mean, you're my important toy aren't you? Right... Usagi."
With just these words, Usagi's heart easily shattered.
Because she had comrades, she did her best.
Destroying Usagi's last hope was easy for Reima. The wound in her heart, was very deep.
The poison seeped in during the years they were together, it was not something that could be detoxified so easily.
"Noow then... what should I do about your comrades."
There was something in his wide smile as he gently stroke Usagi's cheek.
Takeru returned to the classroom and after opening the door he approached Mari.
"Is Usagi here?"
"? If it's Usagi-chan, a while ago she left to buy ingredients for dinner."
Mari was preparing decorations in the classroom, she furrowed her eyebrows and looked at Takeru with a serious expression.
"What happened? You seem angry?"
"......no, nothing much."
In order to suppress his anger, Takeru took a deep breath.
"Did she go alone?"
"Yeah, she went out saying that if she'll stay any longer she'll get stained by Suginami."
"That insensitive woman was called over to the student council. I wonder what's more important to her, Usagi-chan or the student council."
As Mari puckered her lips, Takeru placed a hand on his chin and thought.
"Sorry, I'm going to look for Usagi. Was she headed to the cafeteria?"
"...I don't get what's going on, but I'll come with you. Explain the situation properly to me as we move."
Not knowing what happened, Mari hit Takeru's chest with her fist,and offered to go with him.
"If you're making such an expression, it means something nasty is going on. It shows on your face too much."
"But aren't you still working..."
"Although we're participating in the Witch-Hunting festival for Usagi-chan, that not going to help when she's in a crisis because that would be putting the cart before the horse."
She exhaled loudly and put a hand on her hip.
"...that's a big help. It's reassuring to have you with me."
"Somehow, it felt as if I was told that it makes no difference whether I'm here or not though?"
"You're digging into it too much."
Takeru said so with a wry smile and left for the dining room together with Mari.
She entered the kotatsu in the second student council room, Sendou drank tea and reported to Nagaru, the student council president listened to Sendou's words with her usual relaxed expression.
"...is that so〜, you were unable to catch him alone yet〜."
"Yes. However, he will probably start moving alone during the night, as he seems accustomed to it. The movement of other students should also be dulled, it's a perfect time to aim for him."
"I leave the arrest timing to you. About Ouka-chan too, even though she's a prodigy, tell her to be careful〜"
Sendou's attitude was indifferent, Nagaru looked down with a slightly apologetic feel.
"Since I would just get in the way as you carry it out, and I'm unable to do anything... sorry for always asking you to do such dangerous things, Shizuka-chan."
Towards the concerned Nagaru, Sendou briefly smiled.
"...it's all for President's sake. I don't mind throwing away my life for you."
As Sendou placed a hand on her chest and spoke her true feelings, her face was lightly stained red. Nagaru stared at her fondly and then lowered her eyes with regret.
"...I see. You will throw your life away for my sake."
"Yes. You believed in me and invited me in. It's because of that I'm here."
"Shizuka-chan, I'm sorry... I couldn't help you."
Because of the sudden apology, Sendou tilted her neck, puzzled. But Nagaru ignored it and continued.
"With this I have lost all my subordinates〜... it feels so lonely."
"Unfortunately, I'm unable to feel sad but... I know the feeling of having fun. I really enjoyed myself when I worked together with Shizuka-chan and the other members of the student council."
"It's a real shame I won't be able to taste this kind of fun any more. Especially with Shizuka-chan, with whom I knew the longest."
As she stared at the cup filled with liquid in daze, she muttered.
"That girl was never honest. Although I've noticed her feelings a long time ago, she did her best to hide how she truly felt... whenever I said "sorry for troubling you", she always responded like this."
She raised her face, and stared at her with a lonely expression.
At the same time, she pulled out a small handgun from the kotatsu, and pointed the derringer at Sendou.
"'I intend on become a banshee after all...', ...is what she said."
"I'm only being protected... a shameless student council president... I am really sorry."
The moment Nagaru put strength into the finger on the trigger, Sendou clicked her tongue and pulled out a handgun from her waist.
Two gunshots sounded in the second student council's room, and soon after that happened.
The sun had already set completely, Ouka arrived at the meeting place she agreed on with Sendou.
"Sorry to make you wait, Senpai."
As Ouka raised her voice, Sendou who was checking her gun looked up and made a thin smile.
"Sorry to contact you this late. The target didn't seem like he would be left alone."
"No... rather than that."
Ouka told Sendou about the large-scale magical circle drawn on the school and the magic name of the spell as well as scale of the damage it will invoke.
"...let's hurry. If we miss this opportunity, we don't know when the next chance to catch Tenmyouji alone will be."
"Understood. I will go ahead, Senpai will go after me."
"Ara, isn't it time to let the senior go first?"
"I have a Relic Eater. Worst comes to worse, it's power can be used to protect the owner's soul. If I was to be touched by enemy by any chance, use that opportunity to shoot."
"I understand. Then, I will follow after you rush in. Be careful."
While responding with a smile, Sendou started to move up the stairs while holding a gun. Ouka followed her.
At the very end of the hallway, at one of the empty classrooms. Sendou stuck to the wall on the right side of the door.
Ouka was sticking to the left side, and prepared to rush in.
Although it seemed like a simple empty classroom, it was clad in a strange atmosphere, it was heavy and suffocating. So gloomy it seemed as if a scream would sound from inside, it made Ouka feel sick.
It's here. Her intuition was confident of this place's abnormality, he was definitely there.
Ouka rushed in at the same time as Sendou opened the door.
She raised her gun and turned around the room while lowering her waist.
Front first, then she checked the left and right sides.
When she turned the muzzle to the left——she saw the person who was her target, he was standing in front of the blackboard.
"...Tenmyouji Reima. You're arrested for unauthorized use of anti-magical tools and the embezzlement of Magical heritages."
"Bastard, you're suspected to be a witch. Surrender quietly. There's no way you will escape this academy."
Ignoring Ouka's advice, Reima didn't answer and grinned instead.
Reima also had a gun in his hand. Ouka thought he was intending to fight, but the muzzle wasn't pointing at her, but towards his feet.
Seeing that mysterious behavior, she looked at what his muzzle pointed to.
From between the desks two white legs were seen... and familiar-looking blonde hair.
Under Reima's feet lied Usagi.
It didn't seem like she was dead, but she had trouble breathing and was unconscious.
"What did you do!"
"As expected. It's good that you're predictable, Ootori Ouka."
"That's dangerous, you shouldn't point such things at other people. I still haven't done anything. Well, but it seems like I'm going to from now on?"
He provoked her and shrugged.
She regretted not having live ammunition with her now. Even at this distance, she was confident that she could put a bullet in his brain before he squeezes the trigger.
But with anesthesia bullets, there would be a slight delay before he loses consciousness.
"I know your identity! Mephisto... I told you that I won't let you escape! Even if you kill Saionji, I'm going to arrest you! Before you sin any further, surrender yourself!"
Ouka no longer doubted that Reima was a witch.
Soon after, she realized she made a mistake.
"...I'm Mephisto? Who told you such a thing?"
"Don't think you can talk your way out of it, there's multiple evidences against you. You took over Tenmyouji Reima's body and devoured his soul, I already know about everything...!"
"Hahahaha, you're so stupid I'm at loss for words. My soul is my own. I was human all along. Why don't you use the filter and and check it? If you do that, you'll immediately understand that I'm not a witch."
She put strength into her body. If he says so with so much confidence, she had to consider another possibility.
If Reima wasn't Mephisto, then where was he?
No, maybe he didn't exist in the first place?
Mephisto was a fake, and this guy was simply a human who——
" I'm right here? "
*zssht*, a chill ran down her spine.
Warned by her inborn senses about a crisis, Ouka immediately lowered her body and turned her muzzle around.
At the same time, a bullet passed by where her head was just a moment earlier.
A surprise attack. It's not like she didn't expect one.
Ouka returned rapid fire towards her back.
It hit. Four anesthesia bullets struck the ambusher's chest.
But the person in question plunged on to Ouka without any care for them.
——A bulletproof vest!
She regretted not aiming for the head. Also, she couldn't leap in such confined space and in consequence, she fell on her back and slammed into the ground.
She raised her neck and attempted to aim her gun at the ambusher... however.
Ouka froze. She visually confirmed the enemy's identity.
The ambusher raised her face while binding Ouka's arms behind her back.
The ambusher's identity was the person who hunted Mephisto together with her, it was Sendou Shizuka.
"Nice to meet you... Ootori Ouka-chan. I'm Mephisto."
An eerie voice intermingled with that of Sendou's and Mephisto laughed.
She climbed over Ouka's body pinning all of her limbs, and made an inhuman smile.
"Your comrade... Kusanagi... was it. When that child got close to Reima, she tried to help Kusanagi-kun. That's when I've eaten her up with pleasure."
"The fact that you mistook Reima for Mephisto is what caused your defeat.... you sure are an outstanding child, but because of Kusanagi you lost your chance. This girl had a possibility of a surprise attack in mind, but despite the risk she tried to protect Kusanagi-kun... since that's what she promised you."
What a sad story isn't it, Mephisto added sorrowfully.
Ouka couldn't talk back to Mephisto who seemed to know it all nor hide her surprise.
"Mephisto inherits the memories and emotions of the possessed person, that's what this girl told you, isn't it? What were you two doing... and the fact that she desperately tried her best to keep her promise, I know all about it."
Mephisto rolled up her sleeves with her teeth and stuck out a long tongue.
Sendou's arm that appeared from the sleeves had countless scars on it.
The tongue seemed to be chewed and bit as well, blood was oozing out.
"Look at this. Ouch, it hurts. This girl's loyalty to the student council president was amazing. While writhing in pain as she was being killed and her soul devoured, she tried to commit suicide by biting off her tongue just to protect you guys and the student council president."
"But in the end, she wailed just like everyone else. President〜 President〜 and such. Heh, love comes in various forms. Love that's deemed to be unrequited... such a sad story, is it not."
With Sendou's face, Mephisto laughed at Sendou herself.
"Well, the President in question should be lying down in a pool of blood and dumping her own internal organs! I killed her! I killed this girl's beloved President with her own two hands! Ahihi!"
"——I'll slaughter you! I'll never forgive you!"
Her anger burst, Ouka tried to free her arms from the constraint and move the muzzle towards Mephisto.
However, that's when Mephisto pulled out a piece of paper that looked like a bill and placed it on her strangely long tongue.
A specialized piece of paper that had a operative procedure and a magical circle engraved as well as imbued with magic, an "Instant Charm". Although as the name implied, it was a disposable thing and a substitute, it could also be used by normal humans who don't have any magic in their bodies.
She was careless. Ouka was already been touched by Mephisto.
What was input in the charm was without a doubt 《Install》.
Ouka's screams erupted.
The cause of her screams was pain. That pain, was not one of flesh nor the brain's, her soul was in pain.
She saw a flashback. A memory of her past. A memory of her family.
『"——Help me... Onee-chan."』
Stop——stop it!——hee——so you killed your little sister——don't look at it!——how gruesome.
Their thoughts mixed, she was being eroded by Mephisto.
『"——I'm scared, Onee-chan."』
Don't draw out my memories!——Uwaa, being cut up like that must've hurt——don't defile my past!——ehh, but you really wanted to kill her right?
——You're wrong! It's not true!——You weren't your parents' biological daughter and was jealous of your little sister——STOPSTOPSTOPSTOP——gyaha——gyahahaha——top——gyahahahahahaha!
As Ouka desperately fought against it, thoughts of Mephisto laughing at the recollection of her past filled her head.
At this rate I'll be done for. Think——of what to do!
In severe pain, she made her last stand. She gave up on her own soul and fulfilled her responsibility as a member of Inquisition. As her senses faded away, she moved her body and rammed a hand into her uniform's pocket.
She dug out an object, and pressed a button.
Immediately after, the last of her resistance and her awareness faded away, she sunk into darkness completely.
Takeru and Mari had scoured the Academy in search of Usagi, now they were holding their knees and catching their breath.
"Where did you go... Usagi-chan."
There was sweat on Mari's cheeks. Usagi wasn't in cafeteria, and they didn't meet her on the way there.
Her device didn't respond, and she didn't seem to have her cellphone with her.
Something must've happened to Usagi.
"Let's split up...! Mari, you go towards the faculty building! I'll look around the gym!"
Takeru issued instructions and was about to run in a different direction.
However, Mari stopped walking as if stunned.
"...what is it, Mari?"
Mari stood in place and touched her neck.
To be precise, she touched the collar attached to her neck that restrained her magical power, the Gleipnir.
"......the restraint was released."
"It's up to level 2 but... right now, I can use magic. This is...!"
Her face stiffened, and she looked at Takeru.
Without a doubt. Ouka released the restraint on Mari's collar.
"...something must've happened...?"
As Mari thought with unease. Takeru also felt it was suspicious.
There was no way Ouka would play around with Mari's restraint, absolutely no way.
Only one conclusion came to their minds. Although they didn't know the details, it was some sort of emergency.
"Wait, let's try to get in touch with Ootori first. We'll talk it over after th——"
At about the same time as he took out his mobile, a ringtone sounded.
He unfolded the phone and stared at the screen in wonder.
It was a call from an unknown number. Cautiously, Takeru pushed the call button.
《"Is it... Kusanagi Takeru...-kun?"》
"...who are you?"
《"I'm the student council president, name's Hoshijiro... ouchch... you know about me right?"》
The student council president? Considering the fact that Ouka was associating with her, Takeru felt uneasy.
《"Being hit by live ammunition hurts a lot despite me wearing a bulletproof vest〜... uwaa even though it's all fake, there's a lot of blood—... afuunn〜"》
"...what are you doing?"
《"Nn〜, pretending to be dead? Well, enough about me. The problem is with Ouka-chan."》
"?! Did anything happen to Ootori?!"
《"Calm down... is what I'd like to say, but I can't really do that. But for the time being, it would be a lot of help if you calmly listened to me."》
Takeru's bad premonition swelled.
《"——Tenmyouji Reima and a witch accompanying him have captured Saionji Usagi-chan and Ootori Ouka-chan. That's why please, lend me a hand."》
His premonition that something not good was about to happen, was unfortunately spot on.
That place was completely silent. However, the room was in a horrible plight, the desks were scattered wildly and some of them were completely destroyed and turned into debris.
It was as if a fierce animal had rampaged in there.
There were four people in the dim room.
One of them was Tenmyouji Reima beside whom lied Usagi unchanged. There was also the second year, Sendou Shizuka who lied on the ground like a doll.
Finally, Ootori Ouka was lying on her knees on the ground while trembling.
"That was a hard opposition. For me to take this long, it's probably the first time?"
While kicking a turned-over chair, Reima approached Ouka.
Ouka moved her curled up body and stood up.
And she stroked her long sunset-colored hair——stuck out her long tongue and snorted.
"——This is no good. Seems like Relic Eater contractors really are troublesome."
She loudly scratched her head while clicking her tongue. It was a gesture Ouka would absolutely never make. Clearly, it was someone else, a different being.
Mephisto's soul has already intruded on her body.
"...do you get it now that you possessed her?"
"Of course I do. But I was nearly done in over here. That's because I can't use any magic without a Magical Heritage. Breaking through the Relic Eater's barrier and devouring her is impossible huh."
"You've taken her over didn't you. Seems like it's no problem to me."
"No good, it's nooo good. If it's like this it'll be something like a split personality. I have seized the initiative, but this girl's soul is still alive. Inquisition must've noticed it as well... if the Relic Eater reports to them, the people above will start believing in my existence."
Mephisto raised both of her hands above, said so and sighed.
Reima started to act impatient, sweat appeared on his face.
"Don't fuck around! What are we going to do?! We still haven't triggered the "Master-Slave"! There's no way the folks who were made into slaves with the charms will fight for us right?! You want just the two of us alone to fight against Inquisition?!"
"Can't be helped eh. We need to speed up the activation of the magic."
"It's different from what you promised! On top of me being suspected, you used me as bait without my knowledge?! I was the one who used attraction on the students during this month as well as brought and stored Magical Heritages! You said that after occupying the school... you will give Inquisition to me, that's why I helped you!"
As he drew closer to Mephisto in anger, a hand extended and grabbed Reima's neck. Mephisto's hand bit into his neck, stopping him from breathing before slamming him into the floor.
"Gaha... what are you..."
"Don't get ahead of yourself——trash."
Mephisto lowered her face to be in front of Reima's eyes as he fell down.
Her chaotic pupils displayed an ambition that was far beyond that of Reima's.
"I can kill you any time. When I was eating human souls, I didn't kill you just by chance, you were not disposable and could be used for this assault, and because you were easy to handle and a son of a noble family associated with Ethics Committee you know?"
"I found a value and an use for you, a beansprout who was the student council president in the fourth branch school. The one who made you into a naked king was me as well. Do you understand who is the master hereee?"
"Forgive——me...! Hur... 'm dyin... I'm dying...! I beg you, stop... stop——it."
When Reima began to cry miserably, Mephisto finally removed his hand.
"Hmph, you really are a pathetic man. Aloof and the only thing about you is your looks, this is the real you."
"Geho... gehh... uee..."
Reima put a hand on the floor and vomited because of the pain. While placing a foot on his back, Mephisto glanced at him with pity.
"Don't worry. The students are still in the school. Although I originally planned to seize the entire city, we can take this school and about a third of the city as we are now. I'm not interested in becoming a king, I'll give all of it to you after we're finished."
"Hii... fuu.. hii..."
"That's why, shut up and listen to me."
While still trampling over cowering Reima, Mephisto looked up at the ceiling.
"Wait for me, my body... I'll be back soon, I'm coming back."
Her eyes looked as if she yearned for the one she loved, and was heading to pick them up, they shone brilliantly.
The witch called Mephisto feasted on the souls of others ever since antiquity, and took over their bodies.
However, there was something important to her as well.
That was her own body. The unconfirmed ancient attribute "Devil" which allowed her to use 《Install》 charms, and froze her own body to prevent it from ageing.
However, now she was robbed of her own body encased in ice by Inquisition and only had a number of 《Install》 charms she previously hoarded.
Mephisto's soul had no contact with her body for more than ten years now.
"Noow, it's time for my revenge! I'm going to make Inquisition regret soiling my cute, cute body!"
She wanted to reclaim her own flesh.
That was the only reason of hers that made her defy and fight against Inquisition.
Takeru was in a school building as he was contacted by Hoshijiro, he faced down and listened after putting the mobile phone's speaker right next to his ear. He clenched his teeth strongly enough to make blood appear in his mouth.
Ouka's scream sounded right into his ear.
After that, there was the sound of rampage, laughter; gunshot and laughter again.
The sound stopped soon after.
《"This sound was recorded by Ouka chan ten minutes ago. She's probably already taken over by Mephisto's soul."》
《"The details are as I've told you before. The hostile forces are Mephisto and Tenmyouji Reima. Sorry for being sudden, but please lend me your help to save the students of this school."》
"Shut up for a moment."
As Takeru raised his face, his eyes that were red from anger could be seen.
"I'm not listening to your orders. I am simply going to save my comrades."
《"...however, Ouka-chan's already..."》
"You aren't the one to decide about the safety of my comrades!"
His roar echoed, the air trembled and quivered.
"...I'm going to save the two of them. That's all I have to do."
《"...I get it, that's fine."》
"Wait, there's one more thing I have to say to you."
"When everything is finished——I'm going to beat you up with my own two hands."
After hearing that violent declaration, Nagaru fell silent. Mari who was standing right next to Takeru was terrified by his dreadful appearance.
Soon after, they've heard a muffled laughter come from the mobile phone.
《"I don't mind, hit me as much as you like."》
Takeru squinted unfazed.
《"Just, don't forget to save this school and the students in it. If you properly finish it, I'm fine with being hit. About me asking Ouka-chan for help, there's no excuse and I think that it was bad of me to do so. But I don't think there's anything I have to apologize to you for."》
"...I don't want your apology for making Ootori work for you, why didn't you speak to us about it? If you did then this wouldn't——"
《"Sorry, but the only one who could be trusted was Ouka-chan, I couldn't include you guys. You are Twilight Type's contractor, Saionji Usagi has a connection with Tenmyouji and Suginami Ikaruga is the Alchemist's "Designs Child" right, I know all of it."》
Nagaru fluently listed out information that should've only been known to the upper echelons and Dullahan.
《"No matter how you look at it, you're all the Chairman's pawns right? Especially you, Kusanagi-kun you're acting like a puppet who moves as he wants you to. How can I believe such a guy?"》
《"Ouka-chan's different. Whether it was the inner works of Inquisition, things about Chairman or Alchemist, as well as investigating Mistilteinn, she investigated everything behind the scenes for you. She's someone who doesn't believe in suspicious things and has a decent amount of conviction. She's different from you who's only obeying."》
He couldn't respond or deny it. What Nagaru said was true. While Takeru had his doubts about Sougetsu, he didn't try to investigate about what he's plotting.
All he did was working hard to help his comrades, he didn't do anything besides that.
Ouka was thinking about her comrades, Nagaru anticipated that he will say that.
The thing about Mistilteinn was for his own sake. He had asked her about the compensation he has to pay for contracting a Relic Eater.
At that time, Ouka was also worried about Takeru.
Ouka was the only one who didn't just look at "now" but was looking forward to the "future".
Originally that should be something a Captain does, even though it the Captain's role...
He was almost crushed by his own shallowness.
《"I'll say it again. Protect the school and the students."》
"............I get it."
Rather than with her usual indecisive voice, Nagaru said with a heavy and clear voice.
《"...don't die. I said that I won't apologize, but all of this happened because of me. As the representative of students that were dragged into it, I will grant you a right to beat me up."》
《"Come back alive, so that you can hit me."》
After the call finished, Takeru bit his lips to admonish himself.
Mari who was listening beside him, and watched him anxiously.
"...w-what, she's saying whatever she wants despite being a shut in who's staying in a cellar."
He ignored Mari who was spewing curses, Takeru looked up and called Lapis.
"...Lapis, can you hear me?"
《"Yes. I am always beside you."》
"Did a permission for Relic Eater usage come?"
《"After the emergency warning from Vlad, the restriction was removed. It's available any time."》
He connected with Mari by magic resonance and continued.
"Do you know the whereabouts of Ootori and Usagi?"
《"I couldn't discern Ootori Ouka's coordinates, but I found Saionji Usagi's whereabouts. Urban warfare training grounds. She seems to be trapped inside a building with Tenmyouji Reima."》
As she said she didn't know Ouka's coordinates, Takeru bit his lips again.
《"...if it's about Ootori-sama, there's still time. Since Vlad is protecting her soul, it should be safe for now. But since she hasn't finalized the contract, it won't be long."》
"?! Is that true?!"
《"Yes. The enemy is using 《Install》 charms, so they have to carry one on them for an emergency escape at all times. If we force them to use it, it's possible she, Ouka-sama will survive. Let's prioritize Saionji Usagi's rescue and halting the large-scale magic."》
Advised by Lapis, Takeru established the course of action.
However, before Takeru even managed to ask her, Lapis already informed them about Ouka's safety. She must either be reading his thoughts, or maybe somewhere in her heart she also started to think about her comrades?
Although he was quite interested in that, it wasn't the time to think about that.
"What about the Magical Heritages the witch prepared?"
《"There is no magic power reaction in the entire school. However, I can identify the location, according to specifications the Magical Heritage has to be placed at the center of the magical circle. I assume it's installed on the roof of the 14th school building that's located in the school campus' center."》
"...is there a way to cancel it?"
《"I do not recommend destroying them. Unlike the instant charms that cannot generate magical power on their own, magical power inside Magical Heritage(s) can accidentally discharge and cause a physical disaster. Even if we absorb the magic power after activation, the scale would be too big."》
"Then, there's no way to remove it?"
《"No. If the operative procedure is destroyed, it can cause a misfire. Although if it's Nikaido Mari-sama, then."》
As Lapis said that, Takeru looked at Mari.
Mari shook her head and spat out a sigh.
"I just have to make it so the Magical Heritage's magic doesn't activate when it's smashed right?"
"...seems like it. Can you do it?"
She responded to the question with a "hmph",
and brushed off an end of the muffler that was lying on her shoulder and turned around.
"That——don't you know I'm called the "Witch of Aurora"?"
She slightly raised her hat with her fingers and smiled fearlessly.
It was a smile full of confidence, and it looked more encouraging than anything else in the world.
Saionji Usagi saw a dream.
A dream of her childhood, of the time when her heart died.
The reasons why the Saionji house has gotten its current position and prestige dates back 150 years in the past, to the first Witch-Hunt War.
During the war an ancestor of Saionji was stationed in Finland and was a remarkable sniper who had slain many witches on the battlefields. The countries still had their armies back then and Inquisition wasn't as powerful as it is currently, but Saionji's achievements were known by everyone whether it were organizations or countries, friends or foes.
No one knew about what kind of person the ancestor of Saionji was or what personality he or she had, the only one thing known are the achievements. He has been given a nickname by his comrades "Belaya Smert", he was said to have killed a thousand witches using a modified Mosin–Nagant.
After the war, he had been forced by a Akashic Hazard to leave the land he's been living on and after traveling with refugees he had settled in old Japan. He had become an Inquisitor and attained many achievements, after that he had been given a position according to his achievements.
He himself didn't meddle in politics too much, his son took over the position and acted as one of the upper-echelons.
After that, not as a sniper but through politics the Saionji house supported Inquisition and helped it grow in power.
『"Really you, no matter what you do it's no good."』
From a very early age, that's what Usagi has been told continuously.
She had older siblings, her Sister's body was weak, but her Brother was outstanding. On the other hand, Usagi repeatedly failed no matter what she did, greatly disappointing her parents.
The reason the family said so, was because she was a child born of her Father's mistress.
Nevertheless, Usagi did her best. She attempted to improve the current situation even if by a little, and she continued to work hard from an early age. She put in more effort than the others, she was more persistent than the others, and struggled more than the others.
However, no matter what she did, her results were never above average.
『"If you want us to forgive you for being born, repay us by obtaining achievements."』
Every time they looked at her with disappointment, Usagi withheld her tears and held the hem of her skirt.
I'm sorry. And what always followed it was.
I'm sorry. Give me another chance.
I'm sorry. I'll do my best, really, I will do my best.
She continued to scold herself, put up with it and put a lot of effort in.
Usagi was so desperate, because she wanted her parents to praise her.
She wanted them to pat her head, say she did well and gently hug her.
That was all, she sought such a modest reward, never giving up.
When they learned Usagi had a talent as a sniper, she was taken to her grandparents' home. She was considered to be in the way of her older siblings education and they got rid of her by entrusting her to her grandparents.
Her Grandmother acted kindly towards Usagi. Despite knowing her upbringing, she didn't use her as a tool. Usagi felt very happy during those times, but lived only a short while in there.
The one who taught her how to use the gun was her Grandfather.
Her Grandfather seemed to work in Inquisition as a marksman when he was young.
However, when he stood above and differed opinions with Inquisition and claimed that witches had their human rights, the Saionji house's position was compromised.
With both his and his comrades' feedback, an organization called Ethics Committee was launched in separation from Inquisition. After dealing a blow to Inquisition's pride, Usagi's Grandfather retired.
After he retired, because of him the position of Saionji house in Inquisition was compromised and he voluntarily moved to live in the mountains with his wife to live a quiet life.
Her Grandfather, was a strict man.
『"If you want to be an Inquisitor and handle guns well, don't act spoiled just because you're a child. Throw away appearances."』
『"You might be a child of a mistress, but wear the name of Saionji with pride and act nobly."』
『"Failing once is all right. But never make the same mistake twice."』
In fact, whenever she made the same mistake twice he mercilessly slapped her cheek.
After a few months of learning how to snipe, the first time she shot a living being came, Usagi couldn't forget it even now. Snow was pouring down, in the soundless world she was right next to her Grandfather, aiming the muzzle towards a deer. When she aimed for the deer in the silence, the finger that was placed on the trigger trembled. It was the weight of taking away a life that made her panic.
Nevertheless, when her Grandfather had gave her a signal, Usagi pulled the trigger.
The bullet hit the deer's waist, but it wasn't dead. It dragged its body through the snow.
Her Grandfather was furious. Although he tolerated her first failures up until then, this time he raised his voice in anger.
『"I told you to put it down with a single shot! That's your responsibility! It's suffering! You're tormenting it! What should you be doing now?!"』
Just as she's been told to, Usagi closed onto the deer and put the muzzle right to its head.
Her fingers trembled again. The deer exhaled painfully, and its pupils relayed 'it hurts' and it wailed.
Usagi reflected after seeing the deer's suffering and squeezed the trigger.
After the gunshot, silence returned and she was in daze. Her body trembled, Usagi realized she had extinguish a life.
What have I done. Regret enveloped her heart.
That's when her Grandfather approached her from behind and hugged her.
His large and rugged hands gently stroked her head.
『"Well done! You're a strong girl. Stronger than anyone."』
Usagi was stunned, but she surrendered to her Grandfather's warmth.
She was praised for the first time in her life. And for the first time in her life, someone acted gently towards her.
When she realized that fact, big tears started to flow from her eyes.
That day, Usagi cried loudly for the first time.
For her, the home of her grandparents was the only place she could stay in.
And the place she finally found was lost just a month later.
Her Brother had come to play in her Grandparents house. He knew that Usagi was learning how to handle a gun and said he also wants to learn how to use one. However, their Grandfather stubbornly denied the request saying it's still too early.
In the evening of that day, Usagi was shoveling the snow outside when she heard a sound of someone entering the warehouse.
When she went to check what's happening inside, she found her brother in there.
He took out the gun and bullets from warehouse without permission.
Usagi tried to stop her brother, but he didn't listen. Someone without any knowledge about it shouldn't touch guns. In order to uphold her Grandfather's teachings Usagi desperately tried to take the gun away from her brother.
The gun went off by an accident, the bullet entered through her brother's chin and penetrated his brain.
He died in an instant.
『"——You killed him!"』
Her mother blamed her. The entire family with the exception of her Grandparents blamed her.
And she didn't even question it. She was just being blamed as usual.
Usagi continued to apologize
——Please forgive me.
No matter what her Grandfather said, Usagi continued to blame herself.
Ever since then, no matter what Usagi did, she became abnormally nervous. Whenever she attempted to do something, she worried about whether she will hurt someone or not. In fact, in the beginning when she thought so, it led to her results improving.
Soon after, her only allies, her Grandparents passed away together.
『"It's because you made them worry about you. You killed them."』
She was being suspected, and the death of her Grandparents was blamed on her.
And Usagi also blamed herself.
Before long, her sickly sister also left the world.
『"You killed her. Because you killed our son, our daughter's condition has worsened."』
Without any reason, their Mother blamed Usagi.
Usagi felt like her heart was dying, and gradually sank into solitude.
She met Reima at her sister's funeral.
Reima approached Usagi who was curl up in the corner of the garden, away from her family.
『"Heya. I'm Tenmyouji Reima. You're Usagi... right? Nice to meet you."』
He called out to her with a gentle voice.
The frightened Usagi apologized reflexively to the person who she met for the first time.
And then Reima gently stroke her head as she looked below.
『"What is it? Did something scary happen?"』
『"...I-I'm sor... sorr...y...』
『"Why are you apologizing? You haven't done anything to me right?"』
Usagi looked up in surprise. In front of her, she saw a young and gentle smile.
『"Since you haven't done anything to me, I'm not going to blame you. Don't worry... I'm your ally."』
『"I know. I know that you always did your best, and put up with many things. I know all of it."』
That's when Usagi started to cry for the first time after her Grandfather died.
She was reminded of his kindness and wept.
This boy, he's different from the other family members. He's the same as her grandparents, someone who properly looked at her efforts. That's what she thought.
『"By the way——you killed your brother and sister didn't you?"』
With these words, Usagi was plunged into despair once again.
『"Is that true?! Amazing! How did it feel? Does killing people feel good?"』
She finally saw Reima's eyes that peeked from the gap between the eyelids, inside his pupils dwelled darkness no different from those of her family members.
Usagi started to cower.
『"What were you thinking when you killed them? You were jealous of your brother right? Was it exhilarating? Hey, answer me murderer. There's no one else here, so tell me〜 I want to know. Come on, speak."』
Reima lightly tapped her cheek and ordered her to talk. Usagi cowered and shrank even further to protect herself and cried.
『"Why are you cowering like that. I'm not going to scold you so you don't need to be so frightened, I'm just curious. Since I've gone through the trouble of speaking to you, at least entertain me with an interesting story."』
Usagi was kicked by Reima, she used one arm to protect her head.
『"Ahaha, how silly. You're crying despite being a murderer. You're interesting. I like you."』
『"I decided. From today onward, you're mine. If that's the case, you won't be alone and will be happy right? I'm going to keep you as my pet."』
『"I'm kind aren't I? Be grateful, you can call me Reima-sama from today onward."』
That was a distorted love. Reima continued to hurt Usagi in order to make her easier to take advantage of, make her break and force her into submission.
Usagi couldn't forget his smile on that day's sunset.
From that day onward, she started to hyperventilate.
She was lonely.
After she enrolled in school, until she entered high school... she's been lonely the entire time.
She opened her eyes wet from tears. Her field of vision was blurred, it was as if it was still an illusion or a dream.
Just how many times did she see that dream.
Ever since she entered the test platoon, the frequency at which she was reminded of the old days had reduced.
She must've been satisfied. Just by being there, Usagi's heart was at ease.
......that's right... I need to hurry... and go back to classroom... and cook for them...eh.
After remembering what she was supposed to do, she looked around and focused on her vision.
Someone was in front of her. The person was breathing roughly and as if covering her——
Usagi's consciousness returned and she opened eyes all at once.
Reima was covering her body.
"Good morning Usagi. You almost overslept."
"What are you doing! Let me go!"
"What you mean, it's our first night."
She was wearing pure white clothes... a wedding dress.
A chill ran down her spine.
"Your clothes were changed by one of my slaves so I didn't see it, but it's perfect. You're beautiful, Usagi."
While saying that, Reima let go of a flower bouquet and stroked her cheek.
She looked around while trembling and jerking and saw an extraordinary spectacle. The buildings were decorated with ceremonial wood. Countless candles were lined up and everything was decorated by congratulatory white flowers. An unusually large stained glass was lit up by the moonlight.
"It's a western wedding ceremony. I made it while preparing for the Witch-Hunting festival, see? I made it thinking about my wife, aren't I a good husband?"
He laughed embarrassed and stroked Usagi's lips.
"Now, let's have a wedding just the two of us. You must be happy?"
Her body shook, she tried to escape from Reima somehow. As she tried to escape from his hold by force, Usagi's fist hit Reima's cheek.
His lip cut, blood dripped from Reima's mouth.
Reima's expression changed suddenly and a chilly smile appeared on his face. He furrowed his eyebrows and his ugly nature surfaced.
Usagi was hit on the cheek.
"I thought of being gentle since it's your first time... and what... even though I did so much...! After that fucking witch, even a damn murderer is opposing me... every each one of you... looking down at me!"
He grasped Usagi's collar and pulled strongly, all at once.
With a loud noise, the cloth on her chest was torn. Both her chest and underwear were uncovered. Reima took Usagi's hair in her hand and raised her up. She didn't scream, only trembled.
"Hhahahahahahaha! This is fine! That's how Usagi should be! You scared me with that, but you are an existence that should obey me!"
"You're not acknowledged by anyone! You accomplish nothing! Everything backfires at you no matter how hard you try!"
Her breathing accelerated, her chest moved violently.
Reima watched it with pleasure, he placed a hand on the cheek he hit and stroked it gently.
"Know this, Usagi. I understand how you feel. Just like you, I've been treated horribly in school and by the Tenmyouji household. They didn't understand my excellence and always looked at me with scorn, isolated me..."
"I'm different from you! I'm outstanding! There's no way those incompetent people will understand... cause I, I reached somewhere they cannot ever be! You saw it right?! Just a month has passed, and everyone calls me Reima-sama already! I just had to use a little bit of magic!"
Selfishly, he acted conceited as he claimed that. This man was also bound by his family and compared with his brothers, branded as a bastard and looked down upon as he had no results in school.
While they were living under the same circumstances, they were two completely different people.
Usagi was despised, and even though she was trampled over and cried, she stood back up. No matter what happened, she put up with it while clenching her teeth.
On the contrary, Reima blamed others for everything. He boasted to everyone around him and denied it, he no longer put in any effort.
Although he wasn't pathetic, but because of that he distorted.
The two weren't compatible at all.
That was the reason Reima sought Usagi. He wanted someone more miserable than he was beside him.
"It's all right Usagi... even if you're a bastard child and a murderer, I won't leave you. I'll keep you in my house. You can depend on me, rely on me. I won't throw you away and will spoil you."
"I'll become king of this city. I'm going to make everyone else slaves, only you will stay by my side. So hurry up and be mine."
With a crooked smile, Reima reached out to Usagi's leg.
Usagi stared up into empty space, light was gone from her eyes.
Tenmyouji Reima's existence itself was a trauma for her. Every time she met him, he reminded her she's a murderer. Again and again, it assaulted her ears, again and again she was subjected to verbal violence.
Usagi did her best the entire time. To make everyone acknowledge her and to atone for causing her brother's death... and yet.
『"You killed your brother and sister didn't you?"』
Telling him that she wasn't at fault would've been easy. He might have not believed her if she said so, but it would be easy to say so.
However, she was cornered by Reima to an extent that made it impossible.
...I'm...tired of this...
Her heart was at its limit.
Reima's hand touched her thigh. But she didn't feel anything. She felt something touched her, but Usagi's body was already like that of a doll.
When she looked to the side feeling defeated, it entered her vision. In the middle of torn and scattered clothes, there was that photo. The one she took together with everyone, the photo from the Witch-Hunting festival.
Her comrades looked like they were having fun as they reached out to her.
...I want to go back to that place.
As if pleading, her hand crawled through the floor and extended desperately.
Don't leave... take me with you...
Her fingertips trembled, they wouldn't grow longer. They couldn't reach the photo.
Usagi's hand fell on the floor, powerless.
The world on the photo faded away, like smoke. As if moving away, it disappeared.
She gave up on everything, and was about to leave her body to Reima.
However, that's when.
『"Come on〜 Usagi-chan! Hurry up and comee!"』
『"Saionji, don't dawdle."』
『"Usagi, make haste and come "』
『"Captain's orders, hurry up and come here."』
She heard voices, in her eyes a spark of life appeared.
『"——We need you."』
Usagi realized, where is the place she can be herself in.
These voices made her feel like crying out of happiness, no matter when she heard them.
...not yet... I still haven't lost anything... and nothing has faded away yet.
In her chest, something warm appeared. Her body's senses came back.
I, I have decided to oppose those who try to shackle me... didn't I decide that just a while ago...
Her heart that was nearly lost has come back.
The place she belongs to has engraved itself in her. She was certain of where to go back. Just being saved was no good. Looking from a distance was no good. Being frightened all the time was no good.
If she had a place she won't be chased away from... a place she could go back to, then she had to fight back with all her strength.
Even if your parents haven't acknowledged you, your efforts have been acknowledged. Unlike how it was during those days, there are people who respond to you. There are comrades who reach out to you. That's why, you need to stretch your hands towards them!
If you don't, they won't be able to reach you!
Usagi opened her eyes wide and hit away Reima's hand that reached towards her underwear.
I have a place to return to!
She reached out to Reima's hand that was about to touch her breasts.
I have no time, I can't let a man like this stand in my way right now!
Now, let's start the resistance. To resist everything that he has blamed on her. Come on, let's show him just how strong girl am I.
Who cares about family. Who cares about Reima. Shake off all of that and rampage as you please.
This is——Saionji Usagi's rebellious stage!
Rabbits have fangs too!
To Reima's surprise, Usagi held his hand and opened her mouth.
And with everything she had, she bit into Reima's arm.
As Usagi bit him out of the blue, Reima let out a pathetic scream.
"L-let go! You murderer!"
I won't let go. I absolutely won't let go. And she continued to bite and chew.
Reima tried to shake her off an resist, but Usagi desperately clung to him.
He apparently didn't know about her absurd strength.
In order to make him realize just how strong she was, Usagi continued to bite his clothes, skin and meat——literally bitting him to shreds.
He rolled on the floor of the church while screaming.
Usagi rose from the ground half-naked and immediately picked up the photo, she held it to her chest as it was something important to her.
She spat out a piece of meat and glared sharply at Reima.
"A miserable and inferior piece of trash covered in excrement like you...! Don't think you can do as you please with me, Saionji Usagi!"
She yelled at him, Reima cried because of the pain his arm was in and opened his mouth.
It was the first time in her life that Usagi used such vulgar language.
Beyond expectations, a smile appeared on her face. She should've done it earlier.
"Y-you're just mere U-Usagi!"
His voice seemed like it was wrung out and upside down, his proper face has distorted. His hair was ruffled and wrinkles appeared on his cheeks. The appearance of a man with delicate features was no more, his original nature revealed itself.
That appearance of his was so ugly, it made Usagi laugh mockingly.
"Don't look down on me... don't look down on me...! You'll regret this! It's time for punishment, Usagiiiiiiiiiii!!"
He shouted these words in anger and put a hand on his hip.
And there was a sword decorated with gold.
Reima pulled out the sword all at once.
At that moment, a magical circle appeared under his feet.
"It's one that allows me to assume Hero form! With this I'm going to cut all your limbs for all the sins you've committed...!"
"Why do you have such a thing...!"
"It's a Magical Heritage I've got from a witch for self-defense! I'm going to make you regret with this!"
His body shone brilliantly and was covered in golden armor.
Hero form. It was something Haunted has achieved before while using the magical sword Dáinsleif, high level magic unique to Magical Heritages.
Usagi had completely no idea why would Reima have such a thing.
"Fear me fear me fear me! Cry, apologize and serve me! And rely on me!"
Reima held the sword and thrust it towards Usagi.
Not knowing what to do, she tried to defend herself reflexively with her arms.
However, that was pointless when facing a Magical Heritage.
And the next moment.
Something else was slashed and a sound similar to that of broken glass rang out.
Usagi peaked out from between her crossed arms to see what happened.
It plunged in right from above Reima. A human figure clad in azure broke in through the large windows made of stained glass and entered the church.
Reima stopped doing anything, he just looked above him.
"Kusanagi Double-Edged style——Mantis Slope!"
The figure rotated forward, spinning like a humanoid turbine and slashed at Reima.
Reima somehow managed to block the blow with his sword, but the next moment——
He couldn't negate the impact completely and the back of his own sword crushed his face, he was blown towards the church's exit.
The azure humanoid rotated and landed in the church on his legs.
As the broken stained glass rained down, it rose up slowly and turned towards Usagi.
"Are you okay...?"
That expression of Takeru's made her feel guilty.
It was the first time she saw him make such a worried expression.
Absent-mindedly, she unsteadily walked up to Takeru. She couldn't walk properly since her mind was worn out and she fell down towards Takeru as she reached him.
Takeru supported her body and hugged her.
After being hugged, Usagi finally understood the situation and blushed.
"?! I'm a-all right... I'm sorry, my legs tangled."
"Are you really okay? Did he do anything to you? Any injuries?"
"R-really, I'm all right I said... j-just.. umm..."
She lowered her head and after hesitating for a moment, she pressed her forehead on Takeru's chest armor.
"...I was just... really scared..."
Together with a weak voice, she sighed with relief.
Takeru stroked her head as she quietly cried on his chest.
It was different from Reima's, it was a casual act full of kindness which gradually comforted her heart.
"Usagi... sorry for leaving you like this... but it's not over yet."
Usagi was completely at ease, and looked up at him unfocused.
"I want you to go and help Mari... I'm sorry to say this in such a situation."
"...help Nikaido...? What are you talking about?"
"Ask Suginami for details. She should've come with a car loaded with weapons. There's no time, go."
When she saw Takeru's desperate face, she finally understood the seriousness of the situation.
"...Kusanagi, what are you going to do?"
"I'm going to clean up this guy. This much damage should be nothing."
Just as Takeru said, even though Reima was blown away he stood up with a groan. Usagi looked anxiously towards where Takeru's sword was pointing, anxiety appeared in her eyes.
"Ill be fine. Rather than that, help Mari. There's no one to save her right now other than you. You're the only one I can count on."
With a serious expression, he entrusted it to Usagi.
Honestly, there's no way she would agree to it after being asked to help someone all of a sudden and without any explanation. She didn't know or understand the situation. She had to protect her purity from a villain and had just shook off her trauma and before she noticed she's been dragged into a magical incident. She wondered 'what's going on?'. Reima suddenly assumed Hero form, Takeru rained down from the sky in Witch Hunter form, her brain couldn't keep up with it. On top of that, Mari was in a pinch. The fact that things progressed so fast while she wasn't in that place made her unhappy.
But, since she was told that only she could be counted on, there was no reason to pull out.
If it was Usagi from before, these words would be heavy enough to raise her tension and make her hyperventilate.
Although she couldn't get a grasp on situation at all, she felt like she could do anything right now.
"It cannot be helped, heh. Want me to save her? Then promise me."
"Leave Nikaido to me, but you have to beat the shit out of that guy instead! That person tried to shame me! Spare him no mercy!"
"...leave it to me. I'll end this quickly and join you over there."
And her eyes started to wander around restlessly.
"After I save Nikaido... that's..."
Fidgeting, Usagi looked up at Takeru from under him.
"...from before... let's continue... emm..."
Although she wanted to tell to pat her head, she couldn't properly word it.
Takeru smiled wryly and shoulder his sword.
"Sure. Leave it to me, I'll pat your head all day long."
It was an unusually good guess, he readily agreed to it.
"...it's a promise!"
After, Usagi left with a joyous expression but soon enough her expression changed to a serious one.
She tore out a hem of the wedding dress that was in the way as she ran, her legs were bared. Usagi kicked off the floor and started running.
At that time, Reima who was blown away rose up.
Usagi didn't even give him a glance as he called out in resentment.
Reima stood up and tried to aim at her with the sword that was beside him,
"——I'll be your opponent."
A heavy voice that seemed like it was released by a beast from hell came from the side, stopping him from moving.
Fearfully, Reima faced forward.
And there——was a demon. Clad in azure-colored fighting spirit, a demon similar to Enma.
"I told you right. If it's to protect Usagi, I'll do anything."
"I'm going to do as I said."
Takeru swung his sword horizontally and reversed the blade.
"Kusanagi Double-Edged style initiate, Kusanagi Takeru. Let me say this first——my fangs won't stop at biting!"
After seeing Takeru become a mass of killing intent, Reima took a step back.
However, the battle has already started. Takeru who was supposed to be in front was already gone. He was stunned for a moment, but he felt a thirst for blood below.
After he lowered his gaze, he found demonic eyes beneath him.
Red, red pupils. Eyes of a demon. The feeling concealed within were killing intent, murderous intent, just an intent to kill.
——I'll be killed!
Before a scream could leave his mouth, an impact and an explosion shook the church blowing Reima away.
It was late autumn, this time of year was celebrated as winter solstice, it was cold enough to be called winter.
Since it was late at night, moreover the place was the rooftop.
Mari had arrive on the rooftop of 14th school building, she didn't have time to take a deep breath, it was freezing cold.
"I-I'm g-glad that I w-wear a m-m-muffler..."
Her muffler was a memento given to her by the director who has raised her. While she had a policy to wear it even in summer, she really appreciated it now.
She looked around the rooftop and found her target.
She didn't even have to search for it, it's been unnaturally placed in the center of rooftop.
An ultramarine-colored sturdy box. It was a box made from anti-magic material in which recovered Magical Heritages were held.
As not to have any students or Inquisitors notice it, the Magical Heritage was held inside of it.
"It took a while... I need to hurry up."
Mari ran up and reached out to the box to ascertain its state.
The moment her finger touched the exterior, the box suddenly shattered.
She screamed in surprised as it broke into pieces. The magic inside was too strong, the anti-magic material couldn't withstand it and disintegrated.
In the center of the broken box was a dazzlingly brilliant crystal.
"...Demon Amethyst... it destroyed the anti-magic material."
Mari examined the material before touching the main body.
The Demon Amethyst is a material that has the opposite effect of the one anti-magic material have and is a magic-absorbent material. It's usually used to absorb magic that's causing magical disorders inside human bodies.
However, magic-absorbent material can also function as an instant charm. The most popular type of instant charms are made with the of magic-absorbent paper, Demon Amethyst is used to absorb a large amount of magic and cast a large-scale magic.
Originally the crystal has a purple color, but it color dulls as it absorbs magic and eventually becomes jet black.
The one in front of Mari was a jet black... it was proof of it holding an ultra-high density magic within.
Mari deployed a barrier around her body and slowly touched the crystal.
Carrying it away... is impossible. Magic has doubled its weight. The built in operative procedure has already started... the chant is automatic, stopping it is impossible since it's an ultra-high speed playback. For now, I have to prioritize the destruction of "Master-Slave's" operative procedure. The time left until it triggers... eh, only t-ten minutes left? ...damn, gotta do it!
She got rid of pointless thoughts and immediately started to dismantle the Magical Heritage.
Mari played "Master-Slave's" operative procedure in her head. This kind of spell couldn't be destroyed once assembled, unless a specialized magic is used, the entire place would be destroyed in the process.
Disrupting an operative procedure wasn't as simple as using an eraser to remove a character written on paper.
The method to stop it seems like retracing the written characters with the pen.
To do so, Mari traced the operative procedure, built and invoked it. She needed to trace it to the point it has progressed to, she had no choice but to do that.
As expected, the procedure was already in the middle of being assembled.
If it was an ordinary witch, they would've already blundered.
"——Sorry about that!"
Magical power flowed through the Demon Amethyst and traced the operative procedure.
"Master-Slave" was a spell Mari couldn't use, but she had its operative procedure in her head. Mephisto has incorporated an automated operation beforehand, it was a match between Mari and the operative procedure.
If she makes a mistake, she'll have to start over. But she didn't have time to start over.
Truly, a match during which she had only one try. She wasn't allowed to make a mistake.
"............ Nikaido, you're safe?"
She heard a voice from behind her, it happened right after she started to erase the operative procedure. At that moment, she nearly interrupted the process.
This voice... Ootori Ouka...!
There's no way she could've misheard the voice she hates so much.
However, currently Ouka was...
"Kusanagi told me to assist you here. What's the situation?"
Since it sounded like usual Ouka, Mari was puzzled for a moment.
"I'm relieved. I thought you'd be surrounded by enemies."
"...Nikaido? You okay? Look over here and answer me. Why are you quiet?"
Ouka's caring voice reached her from behind.
Thanks to that, her confusion disappeared in an instant. Not at all, Mari spat out and laughed.
"U-umm... I've heard you're good at mimicry you know? What's with that poor acting of yours, can you not make me laugh? But if you want to disrupt my concentration, then it was a great success."
"There's no way that woman would worry about me. In the first place, that woman rarely calls me by my surname. She's always using that rude 'you' of hers repeatedly."
Mari continued to break down the operative procedure and spoke to Ouka who was behind her. Ouka was silent for a while and sighed.
"I've been found out again... I don't really get it, but aren't students of this school a bit too straightforward? They should be more honest and act as their hearts dictate, it's hard to imitate how a tsundere girl acts."
Her tone changed from how Ouka sounded before, an eerie voice was mixed in as she spoke.
Mephisto who took the shape of Ouka aimed the muzzle at Mari's back.
Although Mari noticed it, she pretended not to and continued to work.
"What do you mean...? What do you want to say by that?"
"As I said, this girl's not being honest with herself, she's been worrying about you for a while now similarly to how I acted."
"........................could you not say something that creepy with this voice of yours?"
Even though she said that, Mari's eyes moistened a little bit.
Mephisto sighed and shook her head, then she approached with loud footsteps.
"Well, it can't be helped if I was found out. Nice to meet you〜 I'm Mephisto. You're the "Witch of Aurora", are you not? We've never met, but you betrayed us and joined Inquisition."
Just as Mephisto knew about Mari, she knew a few things about Mephisto as well.
Since both of them were members of Valhalla, she heard about her.
Haunted had said that she had forgotten about who she was, becoming a ghost obsessed about her own body. Since there was no fair way to kill her, she was a horrible and cowardly person.
"The "Aurora" attribute is very tempting, by all means I want to take your body... however, I'm running low on 《Install》 charms... sorry, but you're dying here."
*click*, she felt a gun's muzzle being pressed to the back of her head.
"If I kill you Haunted will surely get angry. It seems that he likes you a lot... he might come after me to take my life."
"Well, that might be fun in its own way."
Mephisto pulled the gun's slide and put a finger on the trigger.
"This is... not good, is it?
She realized that she was in a huge pinch, and thoughts rotated in her head at full speed.
Should she take a risk and send a magic bullet behind her? No, the collar will react if she uses offensive magic. A protective barrier? No, the amount of magic power she was allowed by the collar is too low, it couldn't stop a bullet made out of anti-magic material.
"Ciaoo〜 miss Witch of Aurora. I'll send this girl after you soon enough, make sure to get along."
Dangerdangerdanger. Her head was filled with the word "danger".
Shit! If it comes down to this, let's make a last desperate attempt!
Acting in desperation, Mari bet everything and swung her fist behind her. That's when.
She heard a sound of something clashing, Mari tried to look behind in surprise but it was unnecessary as something passed right beside her.
It was Mephisto, and Usagi who has tackled her from behind.
Usagi threw her arms around Mephisto's waist, went over the railing——and dived into the ground from the roof.
She involuntarily screamed and got worried that she might have failed to build operative procedure.
"She fell?! Usagi-chan fell down?! In a wedding dress?! Eeh?!"
Mari was shocked by the desperate attack and released her hand from the crystal, there was no way for her to ascertain Usagi's safety.
But immediately after she realized that Usagi wasn't at risk.
There was a long wire extending from the entrance of the roof towards the place she jumped from.
Cutting through the air, Usagi dived to the ground while embracing Mephisto.
"——You're the girl Reima's been wanting! Leaving it to that trash was a mistake!"
In the middle of the fall, Mephisto furrowed her brows with Ouka's face and yelled.
"You didn't follow through in the end, both you and Reima! You've underestimated me!"
Usagi firmly held Mephisto's waist and prepared for the shock.
They stopped falling as the wire extended to its limit, pain hit Usagi's body as if she's been hit by a whip. She needed to detach herself somehow while not removing her grasp on Ouka. She instantly took a deep breath.
There was no time to lose. She was touching Mephisto. The current situation was no good.
As she raised her face, she saw Mephisto pull out a charm.
"As if... I'd let you!"
Usagi instantly released Mephisto's body, cut the wire attached to her legs with a knife. They were at height of about three meters, Mephisto hit the ground falling on her back, unable to take a proper posture, Usagi crashed right next to her.
Both of them moaned in pain, but stood up immediately after.
The first one to attack was Mephisto. Using Ouka's body she kicked towards Usagi's chin. Usagi guarded her face with both of her arms, however.
Despite the guard she raised, her body was blown away. She was blown up and staggered.
Mephisto momentarily used that opportunity. She tread strongly on the ground with her left leg and performed a low roundhouse kick with the other leg, she changed the trajectory of the kick in the middle and performed a heel kick.
It hit Usagi's undefended right flank and pierced into her.
*krsh*, a sound of her rib cracking rang out.
Mephisto grabbed the staggering Usagi's neck and grinned.
"Possession's amazing isn't it. Even though the soul changes, the brain stays the same. Both combat experience and memory, as well as the senses remain the same."
The movements Mephisto made were exactly the same ones Ouka makes. In particular, the continuous powerful kicks, it was still fresh in her mind as she was hit by it several times during the training. Both the speed and its sharpness were going without saying, great but it was heavier than expected because she twisted her lower body right before hitting. Although when it comes to power Usagi wouldn't lose, the difference between their senses was like heaven and earth. She would never win in close quarters combat.
"There's not many left, but it would be irritating to have be interfered with again... let's change again."
From the bag at her waist Mephisto pulled out a piece of paper that looked like a parchment... taking out an instant charm.
Usagi acted though, she pulled out a gun from her waist and shot towards the instant charm.
The bullet shot through the magic circle, making it lose its function.
Mephisto was stunned by her resistance at this stage.
"Fu... fufufu, serves you right...!"
"Tchh——how dare you destroy my invaluable provisions!"
After being hit in the abdomen, Usagi was blown away backwards. In rapid succession, Mephisto pulled out a gun and shot towards where Usagi has fallen. Usagi rolled to the side in the nick of time and jumped to hide behind a tree.
She leaned her back on the tree's trunk, fixed her breathing and checked through her equipment in her head.
The number of weapons she received from Ikaruga was five. Handguns pre-loaded with both live and anesthesia ammo were hung at her waist.
A sub-machinegun loaded with anesthesia bullets was tied to her left leg. A knife was tied to her right leg.
And the Mosin-Nagan Usagi she continued to use during her training, her favorite weapon that was her Grandfather's keepsake, the same one "Belaya Smert" used. It was a good question whether an antique like this Mosin-Nagan which went through many battles was suitable, Ikaruga agreed on having her use it today as a special case, and followed through with it.
For Usagi, using a heavy rifle was hard. On the contrary, this gun was her favorite and she's been using it for many years. It could be said to be most suitable as it helped her to fight with stress.
Ikaruga passed her this gun, and two types of bullets that might kill Mephisto.
『"They are special anti-Mephisto shells. As for what they're made of, it's a trade secret."』
Ikaruga passed her a bullet made out of metal with discolored spots on it, and a silvery-bluish bullet.
『"When you're in a situation where you absolutely know that you will hit the target, implant this bullet into Ootori's bone. If that happens, Mephisto probably will leave her body. After that, hit the soul with this silver bullet when it comes out."』
She didn't understand under what principles it worked under, but she believed Ikaruga, it had to be done. To kill the enemy without killing Ouka, that was the only way.
"Ussaagii-chaaan〜 Come out〜. Play with Mephisto〜."
Together with the enemy's provocation came rapid gunfire. It grazed the tip of her clothes as well as shot off a piece of wood from the tree.
Usagi stood up impatiently. Although the inside might be different, her opponent was Ootori Ouka. The Mosin-Nagan had a long barrel and it was impossible to use it in close quarters. To exhibit a high enough accuracy to hit her bone, she needed to shoot from a stable position. She needed to make a little bit more distance.
"You're not coming out? Then, it can't be helped."
After Mephisto's suggestive voice, she heard a strange sound and it felt like the wind moved.
When she wondered what was happening, the ground below Usagi suddenly started to emit light.
As she looked over there, a small magical circle appeared under her feet.
She realized that Mephisto has set up some kind of magic there, although Usagi tried to move away from the place in a hurry, she was slightly late. The magic was invoked and a faint heat flowed through her body.
However, nothing happened. She didn't observe any abnormality in her body.
...a bluff? It can't be——
Just when she thought that, and peaked from behind the tree's shade,
Mephisto ran away with her back turned to Usagi, raising a cheerful voice and waving to her.
——She ran away. Her objective is to activate the large-scale magic. And Mari was trying to stop it.
To murder her. She also needed to kill Usagi, but there was no need to fight her.
"Oh〜〜〜come on〜〜〜! I'm such an idiot!"
She cried out after making such a simple blunder and pulled out a gun from behind her back.
Although the enemy was on the run, she was vulnerable as she was turned away with her back to her. She reconsidered it, and thought of it as of a chance instead. If it was this distance, she could hit her shoulder bone that didn't move much.
But it didn't go well. Several students ran towards Mephisto.
She looked away from the scope and witnessed an extraordinary spectacle. Although she thought at first that the students gathered because they've heard the commotion, oddly, it seemed different. Both from the front, from the school building's windows and from behind. Countless students have rushed in.
Their eyes were bloodshot, they breathing rough. Every each one of them was strangely excited.
From the looks of it, they were under the effect of attraction magic. Moreover, the one they were attracted to wasn't the caster, for some reason it was Usagi.
"Can it be that the magic from before was...?!"
The magic she thought was a bluff, probably had an effect of transferring the attraction magic onto someone else. Mephisto had students attracted to Reima to allow her to use Magical Heritage, so she had no shortage of troops. Since attraction magic could only be used for simple things, it was impossible for them to fight properly... but using it like this was unexpected.
For them, Usagi seemed like something they wanted the most in entire world.
Currently Usagi was attractive enough for them to lose their sanity.
"Ngh... every each... one of them...!"
Usagi was surrounded by students who were breathing roughly and a blood vessel popped out on her temple. She pulled out a machine gun from her leg and handgun from her hip and set them up.
"Are you taking a maiden's purity lightly!!?"
She ran towards the middle of them in desperation and slid, slipping below their feet. After that she started a shooting spree from behind their backs with a machine-gun. She finished the students who came from further back with the handgun she had in her left hand.
It wasn't enough to allow her get rid of them. The students continued to pour out from behind the school building. She was unclear how many of them were under the effect of attraction, but she had no time to deal with them one by one.
"I have no time to stop in a place like this! I've made a promise!"
She clenched her teeth, and while fending off the students who attacked her, Usagi chased after Mephisto who headed towards the roof again.
Belaya Smert (ベーラヤ・スメルチ) - Written as (白き死神) meaning "White Death", of course a reference to Simo Häyhä.
Demon Amethyst (デモンアメジスト) - Written as (鈍色水晶) which means "Dark Gray Crystal".