Chapter 4 - Kusanagi Takeru

 

***

 

——The sky; about 20,000 meters above the ground.

There was a single stealth transport aircraft flying across quietly.

Inside of a dim cargo compartment; there, seating without seat-belts was a girl in a full body suit along with a face-covering helmet, and a man dressed in kimono.

"A surprise attack from the sky huh... Mother has thought of such a reckless strategy."

The man, Valhalla's Orochi cleared the ash from his pipe dropping it on the floor and grumbled. The girl who was sitting next to him who was performing a check of her micro-machine gun's long magazine responded to him absent-mindedly.

"The cult is also desperate, we can't complain."

"Ha, ya turned real cheeky haven't ya, Diluted-chan... hop."

Orochi stowed the pipe in the pocket and kicked the lump of iron that was standing in front of him.

The girl too, glared in vexation at the lump of iron which was the reason the transport flight was gotten cramped.

"...the two of us are enough. There's no need for a doll like that."

"That's cause these guys are only good for the times of war, but it's true that they ain't cut out for operations like this one."

"... 《Eienherjars》, disgusting."

"Well, a Hero's better than some John Doe. We're the ones who summoned 'dis shitty Hero, well, as long as it achieves the purpose."

Orochi made a huge yawn and put a hand on the sword by his waist.

After finishing installation of magazines and confirming the amount of bullets remaining, the girl bumped both of her fists against each other.

《"Three minutes have passed since the enemy convoy has departed. I'm opening the hatch."》

From the speakers fitted in the cargo hold, a voice that seemed like the male pilot's resounded. At the same time, the red lamp turned green and the hatch dropped down with a heavy sound.

Moonlight entered the cabin and a powerful wind flowed inside.

Thanks to the light, the iron lump's identity was exposed.

They were already-activated jet-black Dragoons, they numbered twenty.

All of the machines were unmanned. They were originally created under the assumption they wouldn't be piloted by anyone.

Pseudo-Heroes summoned with a special catalyst, Magical Dragoons. Developed by Alchemist, they were adopted by Valhalla. Inorganic golems into which a Heroes were summoned. All of the machines had a Hero's soul inside.

The eyes of the machines were glowing red, it seemed ferocious despite being inorganic which made them seem eerie.

《"Catapult ejection——dropping the Magical Dragoons."》

After the pilot reported, the Dragoons started their boosters and were ejected one after another.

The girl and Orochi rose up, they put their hands on the wall near the hatch and were exposed to the wind.

"'Aight, let's do this. Let's confirm the strategy."

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

"The only one who'll be actually flying is you. Confirm the target with your own eyes, in case you can't do that, drop down all the transport aircrafts there are. Me and those Heroes will clean up all the vehicles on the ground."

"Roger."

"Hey, Diluted."

Orochi put a hand on the girl's shoulder and lightly patted her face.

With a serious expression, his attitude was unlike the light-hearted one from before.

"Listen, don't take any other actions than flying and don't pull your sword out. The damage that thing does is too large. If you do it poorly you'll involve the civilians as well."

After being told that, the girl held the handle of a huge two-handed sword she had in the sheath on her back.

It had an disproportionate black sheath made of inorganic minerals and the sword had a characteristic flame-like pattern.

The girl stared at the weapon that emitted strange, hot air.

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

"Reply properly. If you pull it out I'll cut your head off."

"............understood."

After hearing a reluctant reply, Orochi has taken out a black crystal from his breast pocket.

"I'll activate the instant charm's operative procedure. The transfer magic will be activated in thirty minutes. Also, it's something valuable so make sure to give it back. Finish your mission in time and join up with me, if you can't do that, I will leave you behind."

"Yeah."

"It's not 'yeah', but 'roger'."

"Roger."

After saying OK, Orochi leaned forward in order to start his descent.

"Wait. Orochi, where's your parachute?"

"No need for one. I'm in charge of the ground after all."

"...monster."

"I don't want to be told that by you——I'll be going ahead!"

After declaring that, Orochi ran outside with a crouching start.

The girl followed him, springing out into the sky.

With hatred towards the light of the city spread below, the girl cut through the air to enter the combat.

 

At the same time, over ten thousands meters above the ground.

It's been five minutes since the Kusanagi Kiseki's convoy operation started.

The transport convoy consisted of three aircrafts and seven ground vehicles which started moving out from the Inquisition's Headquarters at the same time. They spread out all around going in different directions and headed for different destinations to act as decoys.

All the aircrafts were dummies. One of the vehicles enclosed by seven cars on the ground was the convoy vehicle that held Kusanagi Kiseki inside. With all the dummy vehicles there was at least one member of the EXE.

This machine's guard was Oonogi Kanata. Previously she acted alongside Kurogane Hayato, it was the Banshee woman who trailed Ikaruga who was heading to Alchemist.

"A report from the inner citadel?"

Kanata opened the cargo compartment's door and asked the Spriggan pilot in the cockpit.

"There were no problems so far. The dummy vehicles and the transport aircrafts didn't report any abnormalities."

"...please be cautious. If the enemy is coming, then the possibility of an attack from the sky is high. Act earnestly."

"Hahhaaha, I doubt the witches would have a fighter plane. It's all right, we're armed in here, there's no need to worr——"

The pilot's speech ended there.

The copilot saw something in the sky, it was quite a distance away and traveling in their direction.

"Hey! What's that?!"

He looked like he couldn't believe it and pointed at the sky.

The place their line of sight was attracted at... had a human figure with an opened parachute in it.

"You must be joking right...? Sky-diving at such time? At this altitude?"

"——Intercept it immediately! Shoot it down!"

"Ha?"

"Hurry up!"

"No, but... a transport aircraft shouldn't shoot a normal huma..."

In the meantime, the figure with an opened parachute approached steadily. It was something unbelievable, but their intersection was clearly predicted.

It was perfectly heading in their direction.

At this rate, that figure would without a doubt hit the transport aircraft.

Momentarily, the figure disconnected the parachute.

It's body was rounded and it has began to glide in the direction of the transport aircraft. No. It was clearly flying.

No way?!

Kanata was surprised that a human started to fly in the sky. The figure stretched its body and pulled out two machine guns with loaded magazines from her hips, she turned the muzzles towards the cockpit of the transport aircraft.

Just as he was told by Kanata, the pilot opened fire at the figure.

The bullets were shot in rapid fire and grazed the figure.

However, since the figure was a bit higher, it didn't hit.

The figure bypassed the bullet storm——and opened fire from its machine guns towards the cockpit.

The cockpit's window that normally wouldn't be penetrated by a machine gun has cracked, and the bullets took down the pilot and the co-pilot.

Kanata immediately jumped back.

"Summis desiderantes affectibus——Malleus Maleficarum!"

At the same time as she made a declaration of summoning a Relic Eater, the figure slipped in from where a window glass should be. But there was no way to avoid impact after entering a transport aircraft that flies at 500 kilometers per hour.

The figure with a full-face helmet got in contact with Kanata and was flung towards along with a dull sound.

After further passing through the space, they slammed into the strong hatch of the cargo hold.

The hatch has completely collapsed as if it was hit by a cannon, and the transport machine shook violently on the impact.

A normal human being would probably die, but Kanata barely managed to finish changing into Witch Hunter Form and was still alive.

"Ghh! ...y..ou...!"

"——! A Relic Eater!?"

Surprised by the lead-colored armor Kanata was wearing, the figure took a deep breath.

I'm the one surprised, thought Kanata. There was no way she could predict that there was someone who would suddenly plunge into the cockpit.

Kanata tried to take out the figure that attacked her by surprise and was aiming the machine guns at her abdomen by delivering a kick to its abdomen. The attacker was blown away by the shock and rebuilt its posture.

She pulled loose her body that was stuck in the hatch and entered battle readiness.

Both confronted each other with a glare.

The transport aircraft is already falling... at this rate it'll crash into the ground. I need to defeat this guy and grab the controls. Moreover, my Relic Eater isn't cut out for close combat.

Her Relic Eater was 『Nobunaga』, a sniper-rifle type.

Its intrinsic performance was to have greater power the greater the distance was, from up close it was no different from a normal rifle. The enemy's weapon were two machine guns, they had strangely long magazines. They didn't appear to be a Magical Heritage, but paired with the enemy's ridiculous toughness it amounted to great fighting potential.

Rather what's up with him... why is he alive after a collision at 500 kmph?! I don't get it!

She continued to glare frustrated, the attacker in the body suit opened its mouth.

"This seems like a miss. Hey, you."

"...talking with the enemy isn't my hobby."

"I have no use for this place any longer. If you overlook me, I'll overlook you. Escape with a parachute."

It said these words with a fragmentary speech, Kanata was dumbfounded.

But soon enough she vented out, and laughed quietly.

"O-overlook? You, will overlook me?"

"Yeah."

"Hahaha, don't make me laugh! You damn brat!"

Screaming angrily, Kanata aimed Nobunaga's muzzle at the attacker.

The attacker crouched and protruded the machine guns in front.

"——Don't look down on Inquisitors!"

Kanata released a single hit from Nobunaga. However, the attacker followed the attack and avoided it with ease.

Not surprised by the fact it was avoided, Kanata rushed towards the attacker instead while raising a cry.

"HAAAAAAAAAaa!!"

Despite having her body bathed in the machine gun bullets, she jumped into the enemy's bosom.

The surprise attacker rotated its body and swung the machine gun with its long magazine like a tonfa, aiming at Kanata's chin. Kanata received that blow with her upper left arm.

Although it was powerful, it wasn't enough to break Witch Hunter Form's armor.

Kanata didn't miss the gap in the enemy's defense when she blocked the attack, and grasped attacker's both hands.

"I caught you...!"

The attacker was shocked, Kanata raised a foot high up.

The enemy took a defensive posture——however, Kanata hasn't intended to attack. She kicked the hatch emergency opening button.

A heavy sound of the hatch opening all at once could be heard, and the two's bodies were flung into the sky from the transport aircraft and propelled by strong wind.

"Khh!"

As they were entangled in the sky, the surprise attacker distanced itself from Kanata with a kick.

Gently, the attacker grasped the handle of the sword on its back. Unbelievable red, shining wing-like particles appeared on the surprise-attackers back and the attacker flew away in a blink of an eye.

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

 

She could no longer see Kanata, she wouldn't have been able to escape before falling to the ground so being dragged to the outside was convenient for the attacker.

"Orochi told me not to pull it out but... it's problematic when the opponent has a Relic Eater."

The attacker continued the flight, and tried heading towards the second aircraft.

While flapping wings like a fly, fixing the track she turned her body to the west.

However, the fact that taking distance when going against Kanata put her in a fatal disadvantage was unknown for the attacker. The moment she forgot about Kanata's presence,

——vuooOOOOOON!

"Wah?!"

A bullet made out of an enormous lump of magic assaulted her back. The attacker fluttered her wings just in time, and managed to avoid it. However, one of the wings has been erased by the lump of magic.

"——From such a distance?!"

She looked in Kanata's direction. Far below, Kanata as small as a grain of rice started sniping by using the Relic Eater 『Nobunaga』.

Despite falling down, Kanata targeted her in middle of her flight and shoot accurately.

The attacker recognized Kanata as a threat beyond her.

"I can't beat her like that! Gotta run!"

She rebuilt the wings, and tried leaving again. However, no matter where she ran the attacks of falling Kanata always reached her.

 

"There's a report from Oonogi, there was an enemy surprise attack."

On the ground, in the convoy car that was running at full speed of several hundred kilometers per hour on a highway in order to exit the Kansai area, Kurogane Hayato heard a report from his subordinate. He wasn't surprised, they expected a surprise attack from Valhalla in advance. Rather, since it was evident they were aiming for Kusanagi Kiseki, they were able to lead them astray.

"Continue with current strategy. Maintain current speed and travel to our destination."

He issued a command to the driver, and went to the cargo hold in the rear. On the loading platform in something that looked like a container, there was a large Iron Maiden and a single man leaning with his back against the wall.

"...enemy's surprise attack has been confirmed. Be ready to go out at any time."

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

"...did you hear me? Kirigaya."

Hearing Hayato's strong tone of voice, Kyouya who was sitting on the bench raised his face up.

"I know it even if you don't tell me, Captain."

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

"By the way, just like the Chairman you've got quite an obsession when it comes to Kusanagi don't you. Normally there would be an application for sentence and imprisonment for him, quite soft aren't ya."

"What are you trying to say."

Without any expression and intimidating, Hayato asked. Kyouya laughed with low voice.

"...just like I said."

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

"Are you an ally of humans? Or maybe an ally of heretics?"

Hayato didn't answer, he just looked down on Kyouya.

"I'm bothered by you, the EXE's captain and Dullahan's top... doing half-assed job."

"You're not in a position to suspect me."

"I can do it even without you. If you're no one's ally, then don't get in the way of my revenge...!"

Kyouya stood up and glared at Hayato from below.

"I'll have my revenge...! And not only against that shitty necromancer! I won't discriminate and will erase all heretics from this world...! If you're not motivated despite being captain, then get outta my way!"

"...I see. So Nero prefers shallow guys like you. Ootori Ouka was an idiot as well, but you are on a completely different level."

As Hayato quietly provoked him, blood vessels appeared on Kyouya's temples.

All Hayato did was look at him coldly.

"I'm not interested in your silly revenge. I'm just going to "To enforce my own principles by acting as Inquisitor" and carry through with it. Don't compare it with foolishness like that."

"...you bastardd...!"

"Do your job properly. That is all I require of you. Keep your vomit-like aspirations inside your stomach."

Air atmosphere started boiling and Kyouya was about to grab Hayato's collar.

That was when the transport vehicle shook.

It has tilted strongly and they felt as if gravity disappeared for a moment.

The two supported themselves by putting their hands on the wall and somehow managed to keep standing.

"...so they came!"

Kyouya raised his face happily.

《"Objects have fallen in front! Those are——Dragoons! There are three machines! The car in front was crushed!"》

Kyouya heard the driver's shout and opened the container's hatch.

As the night breeze stroked his hair, Kyouya landed on the road and glanced in the direction the convoy's vehicles were traveling.

Because the transportation was secret and there were no regulations, on the road there was a lot of civilian vehicles. A number of cars passed by the convoy's side and started piling up in front.

The civilians immediately realized what was the cause.

Standing in the center of a huge crater in the direction they traveled were three mechanical dolls.

"Niiice... there's three heretics...! A good harvest... ain't it!"

His eyes were glowing, and Kyouya showed a glimpse of his sharp teeth, he trembled in joy and anger.

"...these are Heroes. I'll take on two of them, you deal with the one left behind."

Hayato left the convoy vehicle and lined up next to Kyouya.

"HAAa?! Don't say such bullshit——they're all, all mine!"

"Do as you please. But don't complain if you die after getting caught up in one of my attacks."

"That's my line!"

Kyouya stood while retracting half of his body and readying his gun, Hayato began to rotate the revolver's cylinder. In the middle of wave of people running away screaming, the two spoke the words of power on their own and at the very same moment.

" "Summis desiderantes affectibus——Malleus Maleficarum!" "

The two magical beings raised a signal to start the battle on the highway filled with screams.

 

***

 

A memory from the past has been revived.

Takeru was always able to clearly recall things from five years ago.

 

He and Kiseki had first met when they were around nine years old.

In the mountains of Touhoku region, existed the Kusanagi's house. The house itself and the site were large, appearance-wise it's been visibly ruined and believed to be a haunted house by people who lived below the mountain. In front, there was a sign which said 『Kusanagi True-Light style』, but because punks have drawn over it with a spray, most of the characters weren't visible.

Takeru grew up Inside of what was a dojo only in name; it could only be called a ruin.

He had a father and a mother, but he had no grandparents nor relatives. Takeru himself was never told anything about his family, and had no interest in it.

His mother was very gentle, but his father was very strict. He worked mainly by instructing swordsmanship in a different dojo, but it wasn't very lucrative. Moreover, for some reason his father was always covered with bruises.

From time to time Takeru was indoctrinated with swordsmanship physically and mentally by his father.

『"Cling to the sword."』

『"Swordsmanship is the only thing that establishes your existence."』

『"Don't be upset by anything other than swordsmanship, don't hate anything, don't rejoice over anything."』

『"The only thing you're allowed to do is swordsmanship."』

The same thing was imprinted into him on a daily basis. That was the education policy for men of Kusanagi house. From generation to a generation, men of Kusanagi family were quick to have blood rush to their heads.

Ever since he was a baby, because of a feeling of being cramped inside of him, Takeru went on rampages all the time.

Although he didn't get it, anyhow, the inside of his body felt as if it was too "narrow" for him.

Therefore, ever since childhood, men of Kusanagi house were drilled with swordsmanship. At first, his parents continued to leave them in pools of blood every day, indoctrinating them on the difference between weak and strong, on the pain got from the others, and on the pain they gave to others.

The children always started to think of winning against their parents, and started to yearn to learn swordsmanship from their parents, their hearts, technique, body and mind were trained.

Then by learning discipline and patience, they were able to overcome the『narrowness』 specific to Kusanagi household.

His father was strong. As an instructor of Kusanagi True-Light style his ability was impeccable.

However, Takeru had a talent beyond that of his father's.

On the other hand, he had more inhuman heart than anyone else.

That was why he was uncontrollable even despite learning swordsmanship and his temper was overflowing.

During his life among normal people, that flame of his was haunting him.

Having the Kusanagi house being called foolish was one of the reasons for that.

When he went to a normal elementary school, he was called the 'demon child', despised and sometimes even thrown stones at.

Takeru left the three who threw stones at him in all beaten up and bloody.

Even as his opponents were crying and calling for help, Takeru did not cease swinging down a wooden sword on them.

『"For a long time that household just causes problems doesn't it. Kusanagi-san and this one's father barely even work do they."』

『"It seems like they teach kendo in a dojo elsewhere, but one can tell it's not profitable if they look at the house. It seems like they don't want to work properly."』

『"...what's the point of teaching an uncouth anachronism like swordsmanship to kids, geez..."』

Every time Takeru heard the gossips in the neighborhood he went around destroying windows and glass in the nearby houses.

Every time, his parents apologized for him afterwards.

『"Why does Father and Mother lower their heads? They are the ones at fault."』

Takeru was unable to understand his parents' behavior and was dissatisfied. His parents explained it many times to him, but he never understood. The only ones he respected, was his own family.

He was endlessly irritated. It was narrow, way too narrow.

His heart screamed, and the scrabble inside his head continued every day.

 

It was a hot, summer day.

Inside of a deep forest, he squinted as intense sunlight peeked through from between leaves. He could hear a singing voice from somewhere.

Takeru followed that voice and continued to walk through the mountain. After moving what appeared in front of him deep in the mountains, was a big storehouse. That storehouse was placed in between cliffs and was built in a place where sunlight almost never reached.

It was a place he would normally never find. The warehouse itself was made of black stone which looked like it was painted with lacquer. It was cold to the touch, and it could be seen that it was reinforced many, many times. He realized that the reinforcement was also applied recently. The singing voice he heard was coming from inside.

It was a lullaby he heard his mother sing before.

As if invited, walked around the storehouse.

His feet stopped in a place he heard the voice best.

『"...hey, is someone inside?"』

From inside, he could hear a voice taking breath.

『"....a p-person? I-is someone there?"』

Seemingly frightened, the voice trembled. After he looked closely, at the bottom of the warehouse's wall there was a small gap. Takeru approached that gap and bent his knees, crouching.

『"You, what are you doing in a box like that. Are you a youkai or something?"』

『"Aa...uu...Kiseki is... called Kiseki."』

『"...I'm Kusanagi Takeru. You, are you human?"』

As he spoke to her frankly, a confused voice saying "Ah, umm, nn" came from inside.

After a while, something came out from inside.

It was a white finger.

Kiseki in silence poked her finger through the small gap.

『"............what is it."』

『"H...handshiook. When meeting people first...time... shake hands, is what Mom said."』

While saying it with poor wording, Kiseki tried her best to poke her finger outside.

Although Takeru was suspicious of it, he didn't intend to act rudely, and seeking a handshake was something normal. Although reluctant, he entwined his finger with Kiseki's.

Kiseki's finger was cold and it felt pleasant.

『"...ahh〜♪."』

She let out a joyful voice.

Mysteriously, only when he was in contact with Kiseki, Takeru no longer felt the 『narrowness』.

After experiencing it for the first time, Takeru didn't leave the place and sat down nearby.

『"...you, why are you inside of a box like that?"』

『"I don't know. Ever since I was born, I was here."』

『"Hmmm. Well, it doesn't matter."』

『"Hey hey. I want, to talk."』

『"Talk, about what."』

『"About, outside. About, Takeru-kun."』

Kiseki said with an excited voice.

Normally, he would pass on talking with others, but when he was with Kiseki, the noise inside of his mind subsided for some reason.

From that day onward, Takeru started to go to the place Kiseki was in every day.

After speaking with her, Takeru's temper settled down to a certain extent, although he was still unable to adapt to others, he caused less problems at school.

His parents also welcomed that change.

——Until they learned that Takeru met with Kiseki.

 

One year has passed ever since Takeru encountered Kiseki deep in the mountains.

Takeru went to the box's location on daily basis. He himself didn't know why did he.

He was taught that swordsmanship is all there is, even now that thinking was unchanged.

However, strangely... only when he was speaking with Kiseki, he felt comfortable.

Only when he was together with Kiseki, he stopped feeling it was narrow.

It was extremely comforting.

『"I want to talk today too."』

Kiseki begged Takeru from inside the box like she always did.

They always talked about silly things. About how harsh was the practice that day, on how resilient the cockroaches in dojo were, how annoying the shitty brats from neighborhood were, about how he was called a catastrophe, it was nothing interesting.

Even so, Kiseki happily hit the walls of the box.

『"What kind of creatures are insects? I've never seen any."』

『"This deep in the mountains, there must be plenty of insects. Some must have entered your box right?"』

『"No, none entered here."』

『"Nothing entered through this gap?"』

『"Probably, insects are too afraid to enter here."』

Hearing that the insects are scared of her, Takeru faced down.

Ever since they met, he tried to avoid touching this subject.

For Takeru it was irrelevant, he didn't think there were any problems with it. That's why he always thought there's no need to consider it.

『"Hey...you, what are you?"』

Takeru casually asked her that question. Kiseki fell silent.

In silence, Takeru leaned his back on the box and felt a gentle touch.

『"...Kiseki is... Kiseki."』

Surely, Kiseki must have known her own identity, thought Takeru.

『"Didn't you think about going outside of there?"』

『"............going outside?"』

『"That's normal isn't it. I hate narrow places. I feel like smashing and breaking everything. Is it different for you?"』

『"Kiseki hates wide places. I never saw it, but I know I hate them. Also, I was told that I can't go outside. Kiseki was told that she's something that shouldn't be there."』

『"Who the hell told you that."』

『"Dad and Mom."』

『"That's no parent."』

『"............"』

『"............"』

『"............"』

『"You want to go outside, don't you."』

『"I hate wide places, but I want to meet Takeru-kun properly... I think."』

『"I got it, I'll get you out."』

『"...really?"』

『"I won't lie, there's no point."』

Saying so, Takeru stood up.

And he took out the sword he had by his waist all at once.

『"I'll take you out of there."』

『"I will save you no matter what. I promise."』

Takeru slashed the box's wall with the sword.

However, only a high pitched sound has come and the box was unscathed.

Even so, Takeru tried dozens of times without giving up, he continued to hit it with his techniques.

But the box wouldn't budge after all.

『"Hey, let's stop?"』

『"Why would we stop? When I'm with you, my heart doesn't scream that its narrow. That's why, I too, want to meet you, I want to be by your side."』

『"...Takeru-kun."』

『"Whether you can live or not, it's not something for others to decide. I hate that kind of thing..."』

『"............"』

『"I want to talk with ya face to face!!"』

His hand was numb, and it seemed like he was unable to bear the pain any longer.

Kiseki too, was the same. Held on a short leash, she only continued to live.

Who decided for her that she can't live. God? If such an arrogant thing exists, he'll cut its brain apart. He'll crush him, he'll crush it all.

Takeru remained expressionless, but the inside of his chest was overflowing with anger.

Yeah, narrow, too narrow. This body is too narrow to embody my anger.

What appearances. What 'ordinary' heart. My body is too small to afford such things to exist in it.

Just by having the anger in it, my body is already full.

Putting everything in, Takeru swung the sword down.

The moment he hit the wall, the sword's blade was blown away with a high-pitched sound, it has broken in the middle.

『"Damn...!"』

As he spat out a curse, once again he put strength into the broken sword.

But at that time, someone strongly grabbed his shoulders.

As he turned around, he found his father standing there.

His father's figure was bleeding despair, anger, and sadness.

He beat Takeru's cheeks with abandon and dragged him until he brought him back to their house.

The story he was told by his father seemed like a fairy tale.

 

In fact, it was a fairy tale. It was actually never told to anyone other than those of Kusanagi household, after hearing such a crazy story, no one would believe it.

The fact that Kiseki was Takeru's little sister, that Kusanagi True-Light style which was wielded in the battles originated from Kusanagi Double-Edged swordsmanship style that was used to fight fantastic organisms.

And, that the Kusanagi family has inherited a curse from ancient times.

Any and all of it, was unknown to Takeru.

『"Girls born from Kusanagi bloodline are always heretical."』

Takeru's father told him something so grave, completely indifferently.

In Japan, there were once fantastic creatures called 'demons'.

Demons had weird and bad characteristics. They didn't breed, instead they dwelled inside humans by 《Reincarnating》. After being defeated, the demon would be born again from another human's crotch. Kusanagi household from a generation to generation continued to live by subduing the demons. It was said that they killed an eight-headed dragon that came from mythical world once and have stolen Godly techniques. Since they were too reckless for humans to handle, Kusanagi held those techniques not minding self-destruction and ruin, they have slaughtered demons along with onmyoujis.

But even if they wiped all demons out, the demon's soul would conceive someone and a new demon would be born. In order to prevent demons from reincarnating, Kusanagi had onmyoujis seal all the demons in themselves.

In order not to have other humans give birth to demons. In order to prevent their spread.

Kusanagi have——carried the curse by themselves.

Like that, from a generation to generation humans of Kusanagi passed the name of demon's crystallization.

Hyakki Yakou.

That's how Kusanagi called the demon's very crystallization. From a generation to generation, people of Kusanagi family conceived and gave birth to a demon, and instantly killed it.

『"The ones born as Hyakki Yakou were only girls. For generations, the girls that were born to Kusanagi household were killed right after birth."』

However... his father chagrined and faced down.

『"The demon's power steadily increases every year, with my skill... I am no longer able to kill her. Whether I cut off her head or pierce her heart... Hyakki Yakou... Kiseki won't die."』

Ever since she was born, Kiseki held an unimaginable amount of power.

When father cut off her head, a new one has immediately grown. As soon as she was born, Kiseki has massacred the rest of the clan leaving only his father and mother.

『"That's weird. If Kiseki is a demon, then father and mother should have killed her. I would do so. That's why I think there's no way for her to be a demon."』

Takeru said.

『"Kiseki is gentle."』

He believed that she was definitely human, and there was no way he would believe she was a demon.

His father didn't say anything. Takeru thought that he was still hiding something, but because it was too ridiculous of a story, he didn't bother to ask.

『"Don't get close to Kiseki. That's... not something as gentle as you think it is."』

『"Why, I don't understand why not. I want to meet her. When I'm beside her, my heart isn't filled with noise. I don't know if I love her or hate her. But she is something necessary to me."』

『"...you too, started to say very human things haven't you."』

Half of his father's expression displayed joy, the other half was a complex and sad smile.

『"However, I cannot allow you to meet Kiseki. I can't afford to have you shoulder this burden. You must understand that..."』

Even despite what he was told to understand, he wasn't convinced.

Inside of Takeru, Kiseki's existence had already grown too large. Whether she was a demon or whatever, it no longer mattered.

Just by knowing the fact that Kiseki was his little sister, he was happy.

『"Does Kiseki know... that she's my little sister?"』

『"............"』

『"...Father, I'm glad. I'm glad to have her as my little sister. Thanks to her, I was able to understand human feelings a little. A little more, and I feel like I could become a decent human Father told me to become. Please, don't say I can't meet with her."』

Hearing Takeru's words, his father stood up.

『"...forgive... your powerless father."』

What did those words mean, Takeru still didn't know.

 

For a few months after that, Takeru was forbidden to meet with Kiseki.

Forced to practice in a dojo elsewhere, Takeru had been away from home.

And, on a certain night under the new moon, a tragedy happened. As Takeru returned to the house, in the middle of the dojo he found his father and mother fallen down and bleeding.

Takeru's breathing turned shallow as he rushed to his father.

『"Take...ru... is it."』

『"What happened!"』

『"............Kiseki has...left the box...I couldn't do it..."』

『"Do... do what...?!"』

『"I couldn't... restrain her any longer. Right from the beginning... I was hated by Kiseki. My inability to kill that child... was decided right from the beginning."』

With chagrin, his father grit his teeth.

He understood the story by seeing the sword his father gripped.

Overflowing with anger, his father pressed the sword's handle against Takeru's chest.

『"...you...choose."』

『"What... are you saying..."』

『"Now, only you can do it. You have involved yourself with her too much."』

『"............"』

『"If possible... you were the only one I didn't want to shoulder this."』

While spitting blood, he grabbed Takeru's shoulder.

『"If you are one of Kusanagi... then you need to make a choice... just like I did."』

『"............"』

『"...to kill... or to protect... you choose."』

Why was he trying to entrust this to him, Takeru didn't know that about his father.

Seeing his father's tears, he couldn't let out a voice.

『"That girl is human... born with a human heart, soul, and a body of a demon."』

『"............what do you mean by that...?"』

『"And... you are..."』

Takeru opened his eyes wide and waited for next words to come.

But no matter how long he waited, his father never said it.

Before he noticed, Takeru walked through the mountain with a sword in his hand.

His gait was unsteady, he had no strength to tear through the vines and he unknowingly fell many times as he walked.

『"...Kiseki."』

Only able to call her by that name, he was dumbfounded.

He was too young to shoulder his own destiny. If it was Takeru from before, he would simply do what his father told him to do. But at the moment, Takeru's sword turned rusty. For Takeru, Kiseki was currently more precious than anyone else, she was someone he needed more than anyone else.

『"...Kiseki...where are you..."』

Takeru wandered as if seeking help.

He wanted to touch that girl as soon as possible.

He wanted to do something about this cramped feeling somehow. At the moment, the only one who could possibly understand him was only Kiseki. The two of them were alone in this world. Surely, world wouldn't forgive their existence.

I want to meet her. I want to meet Kiseki. Seeking her he walked through the forest. His father told him to either kill or protect.

That's why Takeru chose to protect.

It was obvious. Kiseki was his little sister. There was no hesitation, he'll protect her with his life on the line.

He will protest against this world that doesn't acknowledge her existence, with all the strength he has.

The speed at which he walked increased, and he started to run.

He ran, ran and ran... and finally, he reached the place his little sister was in.

『"————"』

All his thoughts from before, his words, they were all blown away.

He overlooked the poor village from a cliff.

Under an eerie sky with only a single star shining, there was a single demon.

Clothed in white, a demon that looked like a girl.

However, the only part which was beautiful was the girl-shaped center. Other than that, her surroundings——were wriggling. It seemed like a mass of demons swirling inside of a pot, indescribable things were crowding in there. There were mouths everywhere. There were eyes everywhere. There were horns everywhere.

It was like a castle built in the ruins.

It was like a threat which continues to evolve.

It was like insanity blossoming.

The ground surrounding her was covered with meat, rocks, grass and trees were eroded and taken in as part of its own flesh.

It was appropriate to call that figure 'chaos' itself. The lumps of meat with an unclear fleshy or skin color were steaming, and the mouths were whispering. Calling him.

——Takeru

——Takeru-kun...where?

Calling Takeru's name, with love, loneliness, anxiety.

From the mountain's cliff, he could hear it echo throughout the mountains.

The demon chorus calling his name dearly ceased abruptly.

And numerous pupils embedded in the wriggling meat lumps moved, seeing Takeru.

 

『『『『『『『『『『『『『『『"Takeru-kun?"』』』』』』』』』』』』』』』

 

『" Ohh we finally meet "』

 

While shedding blood-like tears, the human form in the center turned around towards Takeru.

The pure white costume was dyed red near where her heart was, part of the girl smiled to him.

What he felt, was not fear. It was sadness. The surroundings were disproportionate and irregular, but that was a human smile.

I want to protect her. That feeling didn't change even now.

But what is this spectacle unfolding before me? Is this Kiseki?

Confidence to protect his overwhelming little sister from the public was gradually lost.

In the middle of wriggling meat, Kiseki single-mindedly smiled to Takeru.

And she said her single wish.

 

『『『『『『『『『『『『『『『" Kill me? "』』』』』』』』』』』』』』』

 

『" Kill Kiseki, Takeru-kun "』

 

As if responding to her request, Takeru started walking.

Despite not having any strength to hold the sword, he held it not allowing it fall to the ground.

He was finally able to understand what his father told him.

Surely, no one could kill Kiseki. There was no one able to kill her. However, if she were to desire death, if it was death by hand of her beloved one, Kiseki would surely accept it. She would gladly accept death by Takeru's hands and accept it peacefully.

He understood it to a painful extent. That was Kusanagi family's destiny. Surely his father, grandfather and also great-grandfather as well as their predecessors from long ago were burdened with Kusanagi's duty and have accomplished it. They have been shouldering this tragedy.

Kusanagi style's truth, was that of slaughtering the detestable comrades.

Takeru could do nothing but follow suit.

He couldn't protect. That's why, as one of Kusanagi he had to kill.

While stumbling through the wriggling variants, he walked up to Kiseki. On her forehead, there was a single, red crystalline horn. It was truly irregular and disproportionate enough to plight his mind.

Kiseki stretched a hand towards approaching Takeru's back and hugged him.

『"I always, wanted to be like this."』

『"............"』

『"Please, stop Kiseki."』

『"............"』

『"I can no longer do it myself. Kiseki's body is fulfilling her wishes on its own. At this rate, Kiseki might end up killing all people in the world. No more... I don't want to be any more honest than this. Don't want my heart to be forcefully exposed."』

『"............ngh."』

『"You promised... haven't you, right? That you will, save Kiseki."』

『"............"』

『"That's why... kill me? Takeru-kun."』

『"............kuh..uu..."』

『"I don't want dad, or mom... only by Takeru-kun... in Kiseki's world, there's only Takeru-kun."』

Takeru poised the blade to Kiseki's neck. She made a genuinely peaceful expression as if accepting everything. If he cut her off now, a gentle conclusion would have come. Only a member of Kusanagi would die, and Kiseki would have attained peace she desired by dying. There was no need to hesitate. After all, Kusanagi style existed to kill demons. After all, that was what Kiseki wished for.

——But, why was it,

——Why, was Kiseki so warm.

——Why, just by touching Kiseki he felt so comfortable inside.

『"...it's impossi...ble...?"』

Tears flowed down Takeru's cheek. Ever since he was born, it was the first time he cried.

『"Don't fuck with me...dam...mit..."』

The days he spent with Kiseki, every day they spent together separated by the box have flashed in his mind all at once.

It was all silly, but also irreplaceable.

Those days were incredibly dear to him.

『"Such thing... this is too much. Why is it... why, when we finally can be happy together, when the person who makes me human appeared, why do I have to kill her."』

『"............"』

『"It's impossible...for me...! Because I love you, I'm endlessly scared of you...!"』

『"............"』

『"I can't... kill my little sister...!"』

Takeru dropped his sword and staggering he moved away.

Without a doubt, he was frightened. Seeing Kiseki, Takeru got scared.

Kiseki was stunned, in the middle of lumps of flesh, she tilted her neck while looking at Takeru.

『"Onii...chan?"』

It was then, that Kiseki learned of Takeru being her brother.

Strength left his legs, and Takeru fell on his butt.

Kiseki was puzzled, and towards Takeru... she tried stretching her hand towards her brother.

『"Hiii...!"』

His fear was released outside.

Rather than being scared of Kiseki, he was scared of killing her. He was scared of having the emotion of cherishing his important person turn into something murderous.

However, this rejection was fatal to Kiseki's mind.

Seeing Takeru's frightened appearance, Kiseki's tears poured down.

『"AA...uu...UUuuu......!"』

In the middle of feeling rejected, loneliness came.

Wide, it was too lonely in this wideness. For a demon vessel, a human soul was too small. For the human soul, the vessel was too wide. Open, the body cried wanting to open. Expand your mind, flap your wings, her body demanded that of her.

The shackles called reason have collapsed and Kiseki's essence was laid bare.

『"Open."』 『"Open."』 『"Open."』 『"Open."』 『"Open."』 『"Open."』 『"Open."』 『"Open."』 『"Open."』 『"Open."』 『"Open."』

The lips attached to lumps of flesh started to sing like a chorus.

Demon acted like a demon, opened the spirit, and broke open the soul. Takeru's fear has bloomed and turned into despair.

The only existence that was her salvation, the only existence of her brother that comforted her could no longer give her salvation.

That's why, she wanted to destroy everything.

『"Aa, aaa...——————!"』

A scream that seemed like it would tear her chest apart has roared.

As Kiseki gasped painfully, the lump of meat started walking towards the cliff.

『"Stop... don't break it open...! Kiseki didn't think of that! I didn't want it! Kill me... save me, Takeru-kun...!"』

While tears continued to flow, she begged for Takeru to kill her.

『"...Kiseki...!"』

Takeru tried to reach out with his hands towards Kiseki who was at the centre of meat mass that was singing like a chorus.

But it was too late. Kusanagi Kiseki's soul has already flourished just as the demon body wanted it to.

The castle of ruin was delighted. It blessed Kusanagi Kiseki's blossoming.

Among the cheers and murmurs of the variant, Kiseki looked at Takeru in the end.

 

『"———Liar."』

 

That was the last word she said.

That's when Takeru realized he broke the promise.

With her back towards the cliff's edge, Kiseki's body fell down the cliff.

Takeru could only look at it, stunned.

After a moment of silence, the forest below stirred.

Where Kiseki has fell down——demons overflowed.

Hyakki Yakou flowed under the new moon. Like a flood, it swallowed the forest, swallowed people.

Screams acted like festival music praising the moonless night.

The demon's feast never ends. I won't end until it swallows the entire world.

Flames and smell of burning flesh attacked Takeru.

 

——It's your fault, all of it, is your fault.

 

Under the jet-black sky, screams echoed.

Takeru shook in despair for the first time.

He felt a bunch of emotions he didn't know. He felt a bunch of gentle emotions he never understood. He finally understood them, obtained them, because the girl with a body of a demon was there. Kusanagi Takeru could be born as a person because an existence called Kusanagi Kiseki was there.

On that day, Takeru lost it. All the tranquillity he had.

 

***

 

"..................Kiseki."

When he opened his eyes, he saw a dark ceiling.

Takeru was in a cold box made out of concrete. He raised his body from a simple pipe bed and leaned his back against the cold wall.

What was inside of the room, was a bed and a dirty toilet. Also, an entrance with iron bars in it.

He was in the Inquisition's prison. Two days had elapsed since they were caught by Inquisition after assisting a getaway.

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

It was the first time in years that he had a dream of the past.

Since then I... haven't changed at all.

Once again, he let go of his little sister's hand.

The circumstances were different. There was a prospect of fully controlling Kiseki's power. It will go well if he obediently obeys their words.

However, whether he could trust Sougetsu or not was another manner.

In any case, Takeru being forbidden from meeting her was a fact.

Like this... I can't protect her...

If he couldn't meet her, then there was no longer anything Takeru could do for her. At best, he could only continue to wait and possibly obtain permission to visit her by obeying Sougetsu. When he thought that, he realized that from the very beginning, she had been taken hostage and her existence was only used as such.

Takeru held his knees and crouched.

"...Kusanagi, did you wake up?"

Unexpectedly, a voice called out to him from behind.

He stared at the wall intently and asked fearfully.

"Ootori?"

"Yeah, I'm glad. It seemed like you had a nightmare so I was worried."

"You... why."

He placed a hand on the wall and asked.

"I'm the main culprit. I cannot allow all the blame to fall on you Kusanagi. That's why I surrendered."

"...you haven't let yourself get caught on purpose have you?"

"From the very moment I decided to prepare some time for you siblings I was prepared for this. Unless I do this I won't be at ease."

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

"A crime is a crime. It's natural to be punished for it."

Spitting a sigh because of Ouka's dignified tone, Takeru once again deposited his back on the wall.

Mysteriously, he could tell that Ouka also leaned with her back against the wall in the same place on the opposite side, inside of the room next to his.

Separated by the wall, the two sat down on the beds back-to-back.

"I'm sorry, Kusanagi. It's my fault it has turned out like this."

"...what are you talking about. There's no way it's your fault."

"But, I've heard that you were prohibited to visit her. Looking at the result, I have only robbed you two of valuable time together..."

Her discouraged voice and a sigh were colored with disappointment she felt towards herself.

"I am... no good. I haven't grown at all. I'm running in circles again."

"I was able to spend time with my little sister outside thanks to Ootori. It's something I feel grateful for, not a reason to blame you."

"Even if just a little, I wanted to decrease the burden you were carrying but..."

Hearing Ouka's words full of regret, Takeru thought of them as mysterious.

"...why would you go that far for someone like me?"

"............wait a moment? You're the one asking me such a thing?!"

With a momentum that made it seem she leaned over, Ouka displayed an excessive reaction.

"But isn't it like that? You, someone who doesn't allow crimes bent your own policy to shoulder our, siblings' sins... ain't that weird?"

As Takeru said so mystified, Ouka fell silent.

He was unable to see her facial expression because they were separated by a wall, but he heard a deep sigh.

Takeru was able to imagine her amazed expression.

"...I too had a little sister. I want to meet her but never will, I understand your feelings well. That's why I wanted the two of you spend time happily, even if it was temporary."

Want to meet her but never will. Those were heavy words.

Although he couldn't meet her whenever he wanted, meeting Kiseki and talking with her wasn't impossible for Takeru. But Ouka will never get a chance like that.

She's been already deprived of her beloved family.

"I... am grateful to you."

"...grateful?"

"Thanks to Kusanagi I can maintain my calm even in front of vicious criminals... I really feel better now."

"No way, that's just you——"

"Because I found comrades."

Hearing her say 'comrades', Takeru swallowed the words he was about to say.

"...I'm bad at expressing my emotions. Honestly, I don't know what to say... but, over the last few months, the 35th Test Platoon has comforted me. The platoon activities are peaceful, and you might think I turned cowardly... but that's the truth, it can't be helped."

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

"For me who lived only thriving on revenge, this stagnation is pleasant. I was able to grasp something I thought I would never grasp again. I no longer only push forward, but I feel like I have learned the importance of looking back."

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

"All of it, was given to me by you, Kusanagi. You are the one who changed me."

Ouka said so.

The fact I am moving in a good direction is all thanks to Kusanagi, is what she meant. Ouka continued to speak while pouting.

"Also there's that... don't forget that you forced half of my burden on yourself. That's why let me shoulder some of yours."

"...eh."

"T-to walk side by side... is what you said right? Don't you... remember?"

She squeezed out her voice.

Even if she didn't ask, it was something he said. He remembered it.

There were no lies in those words. As Ouka was walking through the darkness alone, he wanted to do something to support her. She was only seeking revenge, when her shoulders shook from anger, Ouka's back looked lonely.

Ouka overlapped with his past self, and he thought that if it's him, he would be able to walk beside her.

"...for people who walk together, when one person leans down the other supports them, is what I think. But if only one continues to lean on the other... it's no good."

"...why? I don't think I'm being leaned on by you at all."

"W-why you ask...! W-w-w walking together is that kind of thing! You're always bearing your comrades' burdens don't you?! I think that's a great thing to do as a captain, but you'll eventually collapse! T-that's why..."

Desperately trying to spin words, Ouka stammered.

"..that's why... umm...let me too...shoulder half."

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

"Let me... walk beside you."

Despite mumbling, Ouka relayed her feelings to Takeru.

Being told that, there was no way he wouldn't be happy. At the same time, he started feeling uneasy. Being told to let others shoulder his burden was the first time.

Takeru looked down and made a self-mocking smile.

"...hey, Ootori. Do you remember the team deathmatch against classmates two years ago?"

"What's with you all of a sudden? I remember a little... at that time you were completely different from how you are now and you had a rebellious look in your eyes unlike now. You were just like me."

Just like me. Hearing those words, Takeru embraced a deep emotion.

Unexpectedly they were feeling the same... is what it meant.

"You said that I changed you, but you were the one to change me first."

"......?"

"I don't blame you for not remembering. All you did, was to beat me up."

"B-beat you up?"

Feeling nostalgic Takeru looked up at the ceiling with a wry smile.

"Yeah... I was all beat up."

Even at this moment Takeru could recall that moment clearly.

The team deathmatch happened immediately after they became 2nd years. Probably because he could no longer bear just having lectures in class for a year, he was burning with fighting spirit to show his swordsmanship he was polishing until that day.

He didn't feel like losing to anyone. He wasn't allowed to lose to anyone.

To change Inquisition and save Kiseki, he couldn't lose to anyone. He challenged her and lost, memories flashed through his head in defeat. He did all he could aside from using Soumatou, yet lost.

『"It's my win."』

The figure standing in the darkness which aimed the muzzle at him was incredibly beautiful.

I'm no match for her, that's how strong that impression was. The light in her eyes was similar to his own. This woman was living only through her strong will. For only one purpose, she stood up and polished herself.

She discarded everything, she rejected everything, those were eyes of someone who lived by hating everything.

Her cobalt blue pupils were deep and dark. Although they were similar to each other, there were places where places she was much darker in. Her eyes said "you can't catch up to me", "your true self is that of paper-mache", "you aren't allowed to line up next to me".

This woman, will be always ahead of me.

Vaguely, Takeru from that time thought so about Ouka.

"...at that time... I was super frustrated. After losing once, in order to confirm my determination I went to visit Kiseki. After going to see her, I was half in tears as I said 『"No matter how many times I lose, I will save you. That's the only reason for me to live"』..."

Feeling nostalgic, Takeru squinted.

"...Kiseki from back then didn't listen to me. Even during visitations, she was turned with her back to me and didn't show me her face."

"...is that so."

"But only at that time, she turned around to me and with an angry expression she said so."

Takeru squeezed his fingers into a fist and hit his own knee.

"『Onii-chan doesn't understand how Kiseki feels. Onii-chan doesn't understand feelings of other people. You will save Kiseki? Do you understand what does it mean to save someone?"』..."

"...that's... harsh."

"Yeah. As expected, even my reckless self from couldn't bear it."

With a wry smile, this time he hit his head.

"Since then... I, have started to think a little about how others feel."

After being told by Kiseki "Onii-chan doesn't understand feelings of other people.", Takeru stopped for the first time ever and started to look around.

What are the feelings of others? What does it mean to save people?

He asked Ikaruga that, and she was taken aback.

Takeru found himself desperate, and found himself telling everything to Ikaruga.

He started to change little by little. He began to understand others. At first, it was all for the sake of his little sister. In order to understand what was she thinking, what was she wishing for... wanting to know such thing was hard. He tried reading books, he tried to mimic behavior of an admirable main character. Takeru tried a lot of things and continued to seek it clumsily.

It was then that he entered the 35th Test Platoon. Back in those days, despite being clumsy he became able to think more like a human. Although he made distinctive comrades, all of them were strong and have repelled each other, the first one left, then the second and third. That's when he was entrusted with being a captain.

Honestly, he thought he was unsuitable for it. He wasn't skilled and he didn't understand what others felt, having others as his subordinates was reckless. It's still impossible for me, that was how he was thinking back then.

"It was at that time, that I reunited with you."

He met with Ouka, learned about her past, and it was then that his own self overlapped with hers in his mind.

We're similar, he thought. The sadness that tormented Ouka, anger, Takeru could understand it in its entirety. By overlapping his own feelings with hers, Takeru was finally able to understand other people.

Mari too, Usagi too and Ikaruga too.

He burdened himself with various pasts and embraced many problems. Every time, Takeru's own circumstances overlapped with that of the girls'.

That was why he wanted to save them. It seemed like that was the right thing to do.

Takeru started to become a captain because he was defeated by Ouka and reunited with her.

"...that's why the one to be grateful, is me. If you hadn't violently crushed me back then, my current self wouldn't be here today. I would have remained an outrageous and reckless idiot."

"...I didn't defeat you with such intention."

"Even so, I'm grateful. You are the one made me stop... you're my benefactor."

Being called his benefactor, despite being on the other a smile crept on her face and she started muttering something in an undertone.

After conveying all his feelings Takeru suddenly spat out a sigh.

"...I, have no confidence."

"? What?"

"I have involved myself with many people and I think my personality has gotten more decent than before but... in the end, sometimes I start to think it's just superficial, make-believe."

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

"Back at the beginning, my reason was to do it for little sister's sake. I tried reading books and think like decent human beings or pretended to be normal by imitating others... all of that stacked up and made me as I am now... that's why."

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

"In the end, I think it's something artificial and fake."

Takeru was always uneasy.

Even as he was shouldering the burden of his comrades, he only learned what is the right thing to do, wasn't that different from wanting to help? When he thought about that, he a had no reason to help his comrades. It was because they were his comrades, that's all.

Was it really accompanied by his feelings?

Wasn't he merely using a ready template?

Such a thought was always in a corner of his mind.

Ouka heard what worried Takeru, and exploded with laughter on the other side of the wall.

"...hey, people are seriously bothered here, it's not something to laugh about."

"Pftt... s-sorry... kufufu... you've got unexpectedly cute parts don't you."

"What cute... stop laughing about it, read the mood."

Dissatisfied, Takeru started strongly hitting the wall between his room and Ouka's.

"No, sorry... that's putting the cart before the horse. Kusanagi, if you really were a person who doesn't think of others, you wouldn't be agonizing yourself about such a thing right?"

"...eh."

"You keep taking action, haven't you become a fine person? You took action because you wanted to become a person who would save his comrades? That decides it altogether. Because you hoped for that, you took the righteous actions. Your motives are irrelevant. You took action, that is all."

Being told that, he realized that what she said was obvious.

Ouka laughed gently.

"You became a decent human. A clumsy human called Kusanagi Takeru. Soft-hearted, sharp in strange places, thinking of comrades... the captain of the 35th Test Platoon. If it's that, you can have confidence, I think."

You are lacking in many aspects though, Ouka laughed cheerfully.

"Puff up your chest. You are you. Kusanagi Takeru I know very well."

Those words resounded inside of Takeru's heart.

I'm glad, he thought sincerely.

"...thank you, Ootori."

"No need to thank me, I just said something obvious."

The two aligned their backs against each other through the wall.

"You are not alone, Kusanagi."

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

"I, we are with you. We're comrades. Your little sister... about Kiseki, let's consider about her together."

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

"Then surely... we will find an exit. It will be no longer impossible. That's what you always told us haven't you."

"...yeah."

"That's why this time, I will guarantee you that."

Ouka laughed and went silent.

Walking together side by side. It was just like Ouka said it was, when one looks like they are about to collapse, the other supports them. Even if just a little, they help out. Takeru was sincerely grateful to have Ouka be in that position.

If everyone tackles it together, there's nothing impossible.

How reassuring words they were. Up until now, that's how the 35th Test Platoon has overcome all difficulties. There were results he could believe in.

That's why this time too, he believed.

That they would definitely protect Kiseki.TMG_v05_237

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

The silence wasn't bothersome. Mysteriously, it comforted him.

Despite being separated by the wall, he could feel the warmth of Ouka's back.

For a while the two stayed silent, then suddenly someone hit the cell's door.

"Ummm... about here? Oh, there there, Kusanagi-kuun."

A strangely laid-back, disproportionate voice rang out from behind the iron bars.

Takeru stood up from the bed and approached the entrance.

"Yahho♪ I came to save you〜."

The one who was there, was the student council president, Hojishiro Nagaru.

"President Hojishiro... why."

Ouka from the room next to his also saw Nagaru through the bars.

For some reason, in Nagaru's hands there were keys to the cell.

She opened the prison cells of Takeru's and Ouka's letting them out in silence.

"Why would president Hojishiro... save us?"

As Ouka asked, Nagaru put a hand on her hip and grinned.

"I've got quite a few acquaintances among prison guards. I asked them for a favour, to give me the keys."

"Wha... did you bribe them?!"

"How horrible〜Ouka-chan... I've said that I have a lot comrades haven't I."

Nufufun, she laughed in a strange manner and puffed her chest proudly.

"But... why..."

As Takeru asked, Nagaru's expression turned serious.

"To have you in my debt... is what I want to say, but as expected, even I won't do such a dangerous thing for such a reason. I have an emergency report for you."

"Emergency, is it."

"Yeah. Recently, did you hear that your little sister's transportation started?"

"...no, I only know that it was to happen today..."

Takeru downcast his face slightly and tightened his fist.

Nagaru looked at his expression and conveyed in a cautious tone of voice.

"Calm down and listen. Kusanagi Kiseki... your little sister's convoy vehicle seems to have been attacked by Valhalla."

"............whaa."

He opened his eyes wide and turned completely stiff. So as not to upset him as much as possible, Nagaru continued with a calm tone of voice.

"Not much information from the field has been reported to me, but the battle has certainly started. Three transport aircrafts and seven ground convoy vehicles were attacked at almost the same time, surely it was a planned assault... surely, when the Hero attacked and Mephisto was contracted they were aiming for your sister as well."

"Why Kiseki...?! She's unrelated to Valhalla! Even Inquisition cannot control her... what do they want from my little sister!"

"...there's no time to talk about those circumstances. It's a secondary matter, but the civilians have taken considerable amount of damage. Moreover, if Imouto-chan is caught in combat... the town itself is in danger."

"...ngh..."

"I sent the coordinates to Suginami-chan's GPS. Leave this place to me, you should head out to the scene at once. If something were to happen..."

Even without being told that, Takeru launched and ran down the hallway. Ouka too, has followed him.

When they exit the Inquisition's disciplinary facility, at the exit there already were Ikaruga, Usagi and Mari waiting.

"...you four."

In response to Takeru's surprise, the three nodded lightly.

"We have heard the entire story from the Student Council President. Despite our poor abilities, the three of us will assist you."

"We can't just stay silent can we? Takeru's little sister is in middle of a crisis after all. Let us help out."

Usagi and Mari stood in front of Takeru puffing their chests proudly.

Ikaruga too, stood next to them.

"I can't participate in battle, and since this is sudden I didn't prepare anything. What I can do, is to drive a car at best."

Takeru's pupils shook from how thankful he felt, he bit his lower lip and raised his eyebrows.

When he tried to open his mouth, Mari and Usagi made a grand sigh.

"Even if you tell us not to, we'll come anyway! Just how many battles do you think we have went through up until now? Don't say such a pain-in-the-ass line after all this time."

"Good grief. If you say something like 'it's dangerous, don't come' or 'it's my problem'〜 I'll hit you! In your vital point! It'll hurt a lot!"

The two suddenly puffed up angrily, Takeru shook his head a bit apologetic.

"No, honestly... having you help out is great. It wouldn't do if it was for me, but for my little sister... I want you to cooperate with me."

Because of his unexpected reaction, Mari and Usagi were stunned.

Since it was Takeru, they were already sure he would say "don't get involved". They looked at him mystified, but rather than at Takeru, they immediately directed their line of sight and stared at Ouka.

"W-what is it? Why are you glaring at me?"

"...Ootori, did something happen between you and Kusanagi in jail?"

"...ha?!"

"Having Takeru obediently agree to our help like that is strange. Something happened right?"

"You guys, this is not time for bothering about something silly like that, hurry up and get in the car!"

While being quite angry, Ouka pressed on Usagi's and Mari's backs.

As anger flowed through her head, Ouka looked back at Takeru and cleared her throat.

"Kusanagi, all Relic Eaters are released. What Student Council President said is all true... use Mistilteinn and go ahead. You should be faster than we are."

As Ouka said so, before he realized, in a slight distance away from the five of them he saw Lapis standing alone.

She was staring at Takeru expressionlessly.

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

It was as if she knew everything, making his distrust grow.

It was obvious as she was a property of Inquisition but... not being told anything by her made him simply sad. Despite fighting together until now, Takeru didn't know anything about Lapis.

Lapis didn't show any of her feelings. Her attitude of just thinking of herself as of a sword wouldn't budge.

Thinking that the faint bond between them that he felt has grown was a misunderstanding, Takeru squinted.

"Takeru-kun."

From behind sounded Nagaru's voice.

He turned around and with a serious expression she compared Lapis and Takeru.

"...you can't trust Mistilteinn."

"...I know that... but right now, I need her power."

Nagaru knew well that Lapis was essential under current circumstances, she closed her eyes and nodded.

"Make sure to stay alive and come back okay? Together with Imouto-chan."

"Yes."

"Also, let me hear your answer from before. There's a lot I want to tell you from my side. About Imouto-chan's treatment, I'll show you that I can do something about it. I'll make sure to do something in the direction that will convince you..."

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

"That's why, be sure not to make the wrong choice."

She said so, and waved to Takeru. He nodded strongly and let spat out a breath with his eyes closed.

Under his feet, an azure magical circle appeared.

He raised his hand in front of him and opened his eyes wide at the same time,

"Summis desiderantes affectibus——"

As if cutting through, he swung horizontally.

"——Malleus Maleficarum!"

And Takeru's struggle to help his beloved little sister began.

25 thoughts on “Chapter 4 - Kusanagi Takeru

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  1. Jay

    Rather what's up with him... why is he alive after a collision at 500 kpmh?! I don't get it!

    500 kmph (kilometres per hour) i believe.

    Reply
  2. slumberknight

    T^T

    suggestions, there were actually more but well... I was reading...
    she acted along Kurogane Hayato, > alongside
    violently on the impact. > at
    Kanata a threat beyond her. > as a
    punks drawn over it with a spray, > have
    Takeru himself has never told anything > was
    he had more inhuman heart than anyone else. > add a
    You're asking the one asking me such a thing?!" > why is there a repeat of asking
    Takeru was finally able to understand other person. > people
    As not to upset him> add so
    Just how much battles do you > many

    Reply
  3. Sonoda Yuki

    "You can kill, or you can protect, it’s your choice. That’s only up to you." After rereading the series to get a a handle on things after a being away from the series for several months... I'm impressed, but it seems as if you didn't retain any edits from BT? At least match one quote to the other in this case.

    I'm also starting to wonder about the 『Monster』 who taught him the Double-Edged style after the events in that flashback.

    Reply
  4. wing

    Damn im going to cry again T^T *sob*

    P.S : this vol might be the saddest and darkest T^T

    Reply
  5. Vibhav

    Very touching chapter. My vision's getting blurry, seriously its very rare for me to get this emotional. Best chapter so far and as always amazing traslations. Rather than a translated work it feels more like a original piece,

    please keep up the good work and try to catch up to the latest volumes as fast as possible.

    Reply
  6. Kaiflame

    『”This deep in the mountains, there must be plenty insects. Some must have entered your box right?”』
    "plenty insects" or "plenty of insects."?

    Anyways... Krytyk, once the Antimagic anime comes out are you going to watch it? Or do you think that the original work is superior to the adaption, so there's no point in watching it.

    Reply
    1. krytykkrytyk Post author

      Original adaptation is usually superior, however depending on the anime quality it might be worth to watch it. It depends on the anime's art, how loyal it is to the novel, and music. Sometimes anime can provide new experience... if it's done properly. I'll use Seikoku no Ryuu Kishi as comparison, I believe manga version simply amazing because of how great the art is, and it remains relatively loyal to novel, as such it's a great and new experience to re-read manga version of that series.

      On the other hand, if you look at antimagic manga, the art is poorish, needless moe is added in and tons of pointless fanservice. Honestly? It's poor enough for me to call it garbage... no offence for those who like it, but it's nowhere close to the novel.

      Also, fixing that insect line.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Another example of how good an adaptation may get is sword art online's anime
        However an example of how bad it may get is sword art online's manga
        So you should just watch it to check if it will be great or completely lame

        Reply
    2. Aichi

      Somehow kyouya's attitute pisses me off a lot..Hopefully kusanagi beats the crap out of him soon.

      Reply
  7. gohanish

    haa . my hands are shivering . this is just wonderful .lets see how he saves her . does he change her constitution and turn her into the blue elf in next volume

    Reply
  8. Kaiflame

    『”What king of creatures are insects? I’ve never seen any.”』
    You mean what "kind of creatures" yes?

    Reply
  9. Kemm

    Don't tell me that those last words continued " a demon… born with a demon heart, soul, and a body of a human". That would explain the feeling of "room" and the feeling of "cramped" each of them has.

    Thanks for your work.

    Reply
    1. krytykkrytyk Post author

      Well, that's pretty much obvious at this point. Yeah, Takeru is born with a soul of a demon and body of a human.

      It's not said anywhere, but I'm guessing both Kiseki's and Takeru's peculiarities are excessively strong compared to their ancestors... it's said Takeru is more inhuman, but also talented than his father, and not even discipline can contain him. And Kiseki, well... cannot control herself anyhow and is immortal.

      Reply
    1. ecky

      Storm of emotion hit your place i think, it hit my place too that's why it's raining.
      this chapter is hard too describe.. heartwarming but also very sad..
      maybe one of my most favorite chapter in this series.. soo much feellll!!!
      Also great translation from Krytyk-san, Otsukare..*bow

      Reply
      1. victorrama

        *touches his own cheek*

        Water...? Is it raining...?
        I...this volume is...very diff from the previous vols....
        So....beautiful...and sad..

        Reply

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