Toaru Majutsu no Index:SSVolume2 Chapter3
 Chapter 3: A Father’s Wish Creates a Point of Contact and an Interaction. The Fourth Friday of February.
It was the last dregs of February that came after Valentine’s Day.
At least, that was the way a middle aged man named Kamijou Touya viewed it.
“I see. So they’re having a carnival here in Europe.”
The word carnival made Touya think of girls in Brazil wearing what looked like peacock feathers and shaking their hips back and forth at tremendous speed, but it seemed there weren’t any peacock girls in Italy. Too bad. The men and women wearing masks made of glass that he did see were a very surreal sight. He felt that it was the kind of thing that would get the cops called on you if you wore it inside a department store.
As should be obvious from seeing this far inside his mind, Kamijou Touya was not part of a specific religion and he didn’t distinguish between established world religions, new religions, and cults. As such, the stereotypical Japanese man tilted his head to the side quizzically wondering what kind of festival this carnival was.
He asked that very question to the girl working at a local souvenir shop in a tent spread out at the edge of the stone paving.
“Umm, well, y’see. A time of fasting called Lent is coming up. This is the festival where we stuff ourselves full of food before fasting, but a lot of other things have gotten mixed in. For example, the samba from Rio’s carnival which was originally African religious music that then developed further in Brazil.”
“That’s a fairly sloppy explanation… So are those masks an official part of it?”
“Hmm… That’s just a custom from Venice that people thought was fun so they brought it here. There’s no tradition of glass masks here in Milan. Oh right, wanna buy a mask?”
The blonde-haired blue-eyed girl encouraged him to buy what wasn’t even a local souvenir with a smile on her face.
Touya was a little surprised.
“Ha ha. You don’t even know the fundamentals of business, do you?”
“Huh? Mister, you aren’t a traveler who came here because it was carnival time?”
“I may not look it, but I just completed some work. I just finished up some business negotiations.”
Touya was in charge of deals at a foreign investment company.
Explaining it that way may make him sound like a normal everyday salaryman, but the kind of business he worked with was rather special. Technically, he was part of the company’s “Securities Exchange Counter Measure Group”.
His duty was to do whatever he could to stop mergers or the trading of stocks that would be harmful to the company. In a world where anyone could use a computer to buy or sell stocks over the span of a few hours, his position was very important.
Generally, the securities exchange was freely allowed, but, when it involved crossing national borders, the legal regulations of certain countries could make it difficult. But that’s where he came in. Just eleven elites were assigned to the Securities Exchange Counter Measure Group and they would use economics, psychology, and any other techniques they had to do business in the “gray zone”.
(Well, simply put, you can’t say “stop buying this security”, but saying “you might lose a lot of money if you keep buying up this security” is considered okay.)
“Yeah, I don’t know anything about business. As you can see, this is just a part time job for me. I’m just stuck out on the roadside away from management like the little match girl.”
“Let’s start with that. You need to have confidence in the products you’re selling. It isn’t because of the atmosphere of the festival that the yakisoba at an Ennichi festival looks so delicious. It’s because the old man selling it thinks it’s really delicious.”
“What’s an Ennichi festival?”
“It’s the same reason the way the service staff at chain stores acts is standardized. If it’s obvious whether the employees in a specific restaurant are confident in the product or not, that alone will change how the customers view it. That’s why it’s all standardized to show a uniform amount of confidence.”
“So are you going to buy something or not? I don’t care if you’re just looking or killing time.”
Touya sighed at her complete lack of motivation.
“I’m looking for an Italian souvenir. I want something that looks Italian at first glance and that no one would reject as a gift. Also, something that has the blessing of god would be a plus.”
“Oh, oh, I see. You want a local good-luck charm. You Japanese people really do like your indirect descriptions, don’t you?”
After responding, the shop girl started rummaging through the pile of goods.
“Here you go. It’s a lucky one dollar bill. How does 100 euros sound?”
“Italy doesn’t even use dollars.”
“Here, I’ll give you a receipt. They treat you like a tax evader if you don’t give them out here.”
“Hey, don’t start bringing out a receipt when I haven’t even bought it! Talk about high-pressure salesmanship.”
“…Odd. I heard that Japanese people would buy anything if it was supposed to be lucky,” muttered the shop girl, but then her face paled as if she had spotted something.
She hurriedly gathered up all her goods, pulled on a string to fold up the tent, and had completed her escape preparations in only 15 seconds. Touya looked on in surprise and the shop girl spoke to him.
“Oh, crap. Something bad’s on its way! Sorry, mister! See you if we ever cross paths again!!”
“Someone who won’t let me sell souvenirs like this is headed this way and fast!! She’s especially strict about ripping off Japanese sightseers like this! Also, if I were to list off the three things I hate the most, they’d be parents, teachers, and missionaries!!”
While talking on and on, the shop girl picked up her pile of goods, put the folded up tent on top of her backpack like a mountain climber, and ran off.
(She doesn’t know what Ennichi is, but she knew the word “en”…?)
Touya felt a bit thrown off after being left behind and he just stood there dumbfounded.
“…Mh. I was sure Balbina’s characteristic magic power was coming from here.”
Along with that suspicious-sounding muttering in Italian, a figure appeared.
It was a woman wearing an old worn-out white nun’s habit. She was somewhere between the latter half of her twenties and her thirties. Touya guessed that she must have once been beautiful, but she currently looked like the resident of a damaged piece of film that had faded.
She was squatting down with her palms on the ground where the girl’s shop had been set up moments before.
“Yes, it’s still warm. Which means she ran. By any chance did you see an unintelligent little lamb in the middle of her rebellious age?”
Touya was taken aback at being addressed so suddenly, but he soon responded.
“No. I only saw a charming young lady with freckles.”
“I have to take every point you have off for smiling while saying a line that sets my teeth on edge like that. But what are you doing here anyway?”
“I was looking at Italian souvenirs. Who are you by the way? Are you that girl’s guardian or teacher?”
Touya asked because of what the girl had said about the things she hated.
However, it seemed this woman was neither of those things. That left one option.
“I am a missionary for the Roman Catholic Church. My name is Lidvia Lorenzetti. If you are interested in God or have an idea where Balbina who ducked out of the morning sermon in order to gather some money is, contact me.”
…Despite what she had told him, Kamijou Touya ended up running into Lidvia the missionary 5 more times that day.
“Why do I find you standing in all of the places Balbina is likely to go?”
“Because I’m looking for Italian souvenirs. She just happens to be at every place I go. By the way, why does she pack up her booth and run away whenever you show up?”
“? They sell souvenirs everywhere. Look, they’re selling Milan cookies and Milan manjuu over there. Just buy something and leave.”
“…Wait, they sell manjuu in Italy?”
“And you have a pasta dish called the Napolitan in Japan. There’s no need for you to buy the elaborate goods Balbina is selling.”
“Well, I have my reasons.”
Touya took a breath to help with his fatigue.
“Do you believe in misfortune?”
“I do. Because I’ve seen it. To be honest, my only son is a person surrounded by misfortune. He hasn’t done anything bad, and yet he always gets wrapped up in various kinds of trouble. It’s such a common occurrence that, even when he suffers through completely unreasonable experiences, those around him just point and laugh.”
Touya pointed toward a small doll at another booth.
“…It’s pathetic, isn’t it? I complain about it all the time and yet, in the end, I don’t do anything about it. I thought I could help even a little by buying up every kind of good-luck charm I could find, but that may have been nothing more than something to console myself. I may have just wanted to be able to say that I had tried to do something about it.”
Lidvia said nothing.
Touya could not remain silent even though he thought he was probably being a bother making her listen to his grumblings.
“The truth is, I want to rid him of the problems surrounding him with my own hands. I am his father after all. But what am I supposed to do about something invisible like misfortune? I truly am pathetic. I’m an idiot for clinging to this kind of thing.”
Touya suddenly realised Lidvia was staring down at the ground.
He tilted his head to the side in puzzlement.
“Heh heh. How lovely. It’s such a wonderful difficulty. It’s thrust before you and you feel like you can’t do anything about it no matter what. It’s all…It’s all just so…”
Lidvia was smiling. However, this was not the kind of smile that was meant to give relief to others. It was a smile for herself alone that looked like drool would come pouring out if she wasn’t careful.
“Wonderful!! Such wonderful impossibility! Such wonderful irrationality!! The more difficult the difficulty, the more I want to solve it!! Heh heh heh. So you want to get rid of the misfortune surrounding your son? That speeds things up. Balbina! Magical Plant Master Balbinaaaaaaa!!”
As she yelled, Lidvia ran down a small alley at Mach speed and came back a few dozen seconds later dragging the shop girl by the nape of the neck. The shop girl, Balbina, was pouting as she was dragged.
“Ow ow owwwww!! C’mon! What’s wrong with having a little part time job!?”
“This is no time for that! We have a situation here!!”
Lidvia explained the situation.
“Gehhh!! You idiot!! If you’re trying to save someone, you need to say so sooner!!”
Touya couldn’t keep up with the high intensity of the two Italians. Leaving the middle aged man behind, Lidvia and Balbina raised their voltage even further. Touya had no idea what was going on as Balbina pulled some strange dolls and dried plants from her bag. Then she started writing on one side of a small notebook.
“Well, I’ll gather up all the ones that don’t need a chant or a ceremony and have an effect just sitting there! If you make sure to follow the warnings on storing them I’m writing for you, it should all work out!!”
“It would be bad if he was caught by an anti-magician organization where he lives. Are you concealing them?”
“Don’t worry! That’s no problem!! They’re all below the level of a spiritual item and none of them are only used for magical things, so they aren’t enough to draw suspicion. They should be able to be passed off as odd souvenirs. They’re a gray so close to white that it would be hard for even professional magicians to tell the difference!!”
They pushed the items on Touya with their seal of approval and finally Lidvia practically forced a Bible into his pocket.
“If that just isn’t enough, go see a church in your area. We build them in order to protect the lambs who are suffering from meaningless tragedy!!”
“Ha ha ha. I suppose so,” Touya said while laughing a little. “To be honest, I wouldn’t say I believe in god, but, if people as kind as you believe in him, perhaps I could, too.”
In the same city, Oriana Thomson, the large-breasted female courier who often worked with Lidvia was using her seductive tongue to do battle with some gelato. Suddenly, Lidvia came running towards Oriana at tremendous speed and tackled her. “Orianaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!”
Oriana was fairly fit, but her body doubled over from the blow and the gelato was knocked to the ground. Completely unaware of the courier’s trembling, Lidvia put her hands to her cheeks and wiggled her hips back and forth quickly.
“T-today!! Today is such a wonderful day!! I may have been mistaken about the Japanese! I had thought they were the enemies of society for having something so uncivilized as Academy City, so I never would have thought there was a father there who cared so much for his child!! We may have to alter our plan for capturing Academy City to a gentler and more peaceful one!!”
“Wh…what has her…so worked up…?”
Oriana was having trouble breathing, but she managed to ask her question to Balbina who Lidvia had dragged along with her. After hearing Balbina’s explanation, Oriana spoke as if she was a bit worried.
“I-I see. But, well…sigh. Her annoying good mood is—”
Before Oriana could finish, Lidvia suddenly yelled. Lidvia’s quickly wiggling hip hit Oriana and she was knocked to the side. There was a disconcerting cracking noise and Balbina’s face paled.
Lidvia ignored it and spoke.
“Let’s do it like this!! Difficulties are called difficulties because they aren’t easily solved! Let’s start solving it from one end for the sake of those who don’t know how fun it is!! First we need to prepare the spiritual item. It’s heavily affected by the arrangement of the stars, so we need to take measurements for the corresponding coordinates for the location!!”
Lidvia was excessively excited and Balbina ran off again. Oriana tried to run off too, but Lidvia captured the courier before she could.
- She used the Japanese word "en" when she said "if we ever cross paths again".
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