Toaru Majutsu no Index:Volume10 Chapter7
Chapter 7: The Foe Who Should Be Beaten, The Person Who Should Be Protected. Parabolic_Antenna.
Because of what was in front of him, Kamijou Touma couldn’t help but shout out.
There was no one left at the bus stop.
Right now, it was 3:30 PM, as the heat of this hot day began to weaken. There was only a simple tin-roofed bus stop there, all alone, facing the road. There was no one sitting on the bench, no one queuing up. The surrounding people weren’t looking at the bus-stop, like how they would treat a lost child standing there.
The situation in front of him made him laugh weakly.
Kamijou just stood there.
On both sides of the road, there was no sign of any auto-bus, and there were no clues as well. Forget about which bus Oriana took, he was not even clear if she had taken the bus from this bus stop.
At first, if they couldn’t catch Oriana in three minutes, she would escape.
They had wasted quite some time when Himegami was attacked. By calculating the distance and time, one knew that they couldn’t catch up to Oriana.
In terms of common knowledge, this was to be expected.
(That Oriana, where did she run off to…!!?)
Facing this reality, Kamijou couldn’t help but feel giddy. No matter how he swore, what kinds of thoughts he had, a desire that couldn’t be attained meant that it couldn’t be attained. Though not everything could go a person’s way, such a simple fact shot Kamijou down.
He couldn’t catch up to Oriana anymore.
As for Lidvia, there was not even half of a single clue on her.
If this kept up, they couldn’t prevent her from using the ‘Apostle’s Cross’.
Kamijou pulled out his phone and dialled Tsuchimikado Motoharu’s number. He pressed the call button and waited for a few seconds. Tsuchimikado seemed to be waiting for a call, as he immediately answered it. Kamijou said straight away,
“Sorry, Tsuchimikado. I lost Oriana at the bus stop. Himegami got hit by one of her magic attacks, so I guess she’s still around. Is there any way to check that out?”
“No…about this, it’s a bit tough nya.”
Tsuchimikado said in a weak voice,
“The ‘all-around reality array’ can only reach 3 kilometers in all directions. It won’t be effective…from where I am now, and Stiyl can’t set up the ‘all-around reality array’ on his own…right now, even if I take a bus to where Stiyl is, if Oriana’s taking a bus…she’ll be able to completely get away from the effective zone.”
Then now what? Kamijou looked around.
There was still no clue.
“…Which line will Oriana most likely take, do you know nya?”
Kamijou was looking at the tour guidebook of Daihaseisai.
“…The route of this bus seems like it will loop around the seventh school district, but I don’t know where Oriana will alight. Estimating the time that elapsed up till now, the bus should have passed through 4 stations, so she might still be taking the bus.”
“Oriana, she…should be trying her best to escape as far as she can…so, she’s most likely still on the bus.”
“But, there’s an underground train near the second stop, and the fourth stop is a terminal where other buses will stop at as well. She might change transportation somewhere.”
Tsuchimikado Motoharu became silent.
There were all sorts of people around Kamijou, students spending their free time eating some ice cream, spectators rushing to the next arena, parents being pestered by their children to buy them fruit juice. There were supposed to be all sorts of noises and footsteps around him…but Kamijou could only hear a silence.
Right now, they were in a fix.
They couldn’t predict Oriana’s movements.
Did she, or did she not take the auto-bus?
Basically, where was she headed to?
“…Wait a sec, Tsuchimikado?”
Kamijou lifted his head as he said in a low voice.
Hearing Kamijou say this, Tsuchimikado braced his wounded body and replied,
“Let me ask you, why was Oriana on the streets just now?”
“Eh? That’s because…we were chasing her, so in order to escape—”
“No, I mean before that.”
“The reason why this chase began was because I bumped into Oriana when I was with Fukiyose-san. Then, what’s Oriana’s purpose for walking over there?”
Kamijou slowly arranged his thoughts,
“If Oriana and Lidvia never intended to trade the ‘Apostle’s Cross’, she can’t possibly be meeting up with someone on the streets. So, why was she on the streets? What’s her aim? Can’t she prevent herself from taking this kind of risk?”
“I see nya.”
Tsuchimikado’s voice indicated that he had recovered in strength.
“At least in the morning, Oriana didn’t…have the ‘Apostle’s Cross’. Even so, she still took action…that means that she needs a reason to work alone.”
As Kamijou asked, Tsuchimikado seemed like he couldn’t endure the pain as he groaned.
“I don’t know nya…this, I have no idea about it. But…the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ hasn’t activated yet. The reason behind it…may be related to this. That Oriana, might she be…looking for the conditions to use the ‘Apostle’s Cross’…”
The conditions, Tsuchimikado said,
This was something that the magicians felt may be a clue in leading them to Oriana. Before knowing the answer, because Tsuchimikado had been using the security facilities of Academy City to look for Oriana, because they had an advantage when pursuing her, they had delayed it all the way till now…
“The searching criteria…? In other words, one can’t use it without a special environment? Oriana must be moving around to look for that condition.”
“…To sneak into Academy City without any assurance…and now they’re hastily looking for the condition now? This might be a bit strange…of all times, in this critical juncture, Stiyl just had to turn off his phone!”
Now that Tsuchimikado mentioned it, Kamijou remembered that Stiyl was exchanging information with some people from Academy City. Stiyl did mention it before…
“Oh yeah, that guy said it before, about a storage room for the ‘Apostle’s Cross’.”
“What? Kami-yan, even if it’s trivial…it’s alright, just tell me what you know in detail.”
“Okay, seems like the work in London isn’t proceeding smoothly. Right now, we know that the windows of the storage room are sealed, and there are two doors.”
“Hmmm…two doors…? Like those in the airtight labs?”
“…No, what are they like?”
Kamijou slightly nodded his head.
“Ah, that’s right, it seems the purpose is to prevent light from shining on it.”
“Light huh…the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ is a powerful spiritual tool, maybe they don’t want to activate it accidentally nya…”
Tsuchimikado remained quiet.
One could hear him breathing lightly, probably because his breathing was irregular.
Such a silence meant that he was seriously thinking about this.
This silence, one formed when Tsuchimikado tried not to make a sound, stimulated Kamijou’s nerves even more. The sweat flowing down his face wrinkled it, as he began to ponder as well. A security vault, conditions of using it, two doors, and a room with no windows. To prevent light from shining in, that meant that light was…
“Will there be a problem once that ‘Apostle’s Cross’ touches light?”
“…I don’t think so…if so, there’s no need to care about the location and time, right? Even now…the sun is still up. If they only need this to activate the ‘Apostle’s Cross’…they would have done it right from the beginning. If it’s such a simple thing, they only need to forcefully invade Academy City…and use the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ before being captured…wouldn’t that be enough? It’s like a game of kicking the can…but, if the spiritual tool activates…because of some form of light, I guess it’s possible… About 2,000 years ago, Christianity at that time…before it was segregated into Roman Catholics or British Puritans, there were quite a few…spells that used light. The baptism centre has 3 windows, and using the light shining in, three sorts of light are formed. This represented…the Trinity nya.”
“Then, what does it have to do with the light that’s required to activate it…?”
Kamijou raised this doubt that was floating in his head. Tsuchimikado didn’t answer; he probably didn’t know either.
“Say, Kami-yan…is that…all the information that you have?”
Kamijou put his phone near his ear as he pondered. The magic topic that Stiyl talked about wasn’t in his field of work. If he could memorise it, he could say it out immediately without understanding the principles, but there were many things that he couldn’t memorise. Even so, he was trying to force out what he remembered.
“That Stiyl said that it’s too troublesome to explain it, so he sent Orsola’s email report into my phone.”
The heat in Tsuchimikado’s voice lowered.
“Sorry, I can’t read it since it’s in foreign language. Can you read it if I send it over?”
“How would I know if…you don’t send it over nya? What foreign language are you talking about? It’s not in English?”
Tsuchimikado informed Kamijou of his new mail address. Kamijou cut the line and opened his mail, forwarding the mail that Stiyl had sent him to Tsuchimikado.
Two minutes later, Kamijou’s phone again indicated an incoming call.
“Kami-yan, anyway…I’ve read the report. This is…Italian, they didn’t turn these words into a magical code.”
“…Then, what’s the content about?”
“This seems to be…after arranging the British Library…miscellaneous records, just ordinary stuff. The security vault of the ‘Apostle’s Cross’…will organize…a biannual…cleaning. This record seems to be a record…that some of the security members recorded during the cleaning nya.”
In the mail, there were several rules regarding the cleaning.
First, they had to clean it on a certain day.
Second, they had to do it in the daytime.
“Well…it’s not major information.”
“Wait a sec, Tsuchimikado. Read that mail again.”
Kamijou kept the handphone at his ear for a while. It was a while before Tsuchimikado spoke.
“Daytime? Not nighttime? That’s strange, they already used two doors to prevent light from shining in. Isn’t daytime even brighter?”
“Seems like…it’s not just that.”
Tsuchimikado said that there was something written on the back of the report.
In practicality, such a rule was rather ambiguous, according to this guard’s report, even if the guards forgot to clean it in the day, they wouldn’t clean it at night. He’d say ‘everything will be done tomorrow morning’ and go home.
“This inspector’s report, seems…it isn’t appropriate to say that the attitude of the guard isn’t good nya. Also, while they were working…there seem to be a few people who were…playing with astrology horoscope. Damn it…it’s not really some important information after all. The…content of this is about the guard grumbling.”
Kamijou felt that there was something fishy with this report.
“…The ‘Apostle’s Cross’ is a rather important artifact of the Roman Catholics, right?”
“That’s right nya…and because of this, to these people, it’s a Holy item that they might even weep…or even kneel down in front of.”
“Then normally, would they let others take care of it so easily?”
“Hm. I also feel that those guys…wouldn’t just anyhow leave it. The keeper of the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ seems to be some sort of elite group…the record of the inspector, he’s just away for a while…so he can only…write such a record. What’s going on?”
“During the case of the ‘Book of the Law’…though the decoding failed, Orsola Aquinas’…information analysis…the level of danger…was such that the whole…Roman Catholic Church felt it was too dangerous. Though Stiyl seems to think that it’s nothing, since Orsola…would choose this to be the report, it may mean that…there’s some discrepancies in it nya…”
“Seems like it.”
Kamijou replied to Tsuchimikado, thinking carefully about the events that had happened up till now.
The windows of the security vault were removed, and there were two doors for the entrance to completely prevent light from shining in.
Even so, the cleaners carried out their cleaning only in the daytime, and not in the nighttime.
And the report even said, the guards who forgot to clean it up didn’t do it at night, but said that he’d do it the next day, and went home.
In other words, the main point was—
“Tsuchimikado, regarding the light’s that’s supposed to activate the ‘Apostle’s Cross’, is it a light that only appears at night, and not in the day? Because from the actions of the guard, even if he ignored the first rule that ‘they had to clean it on a certain day,’ he had to abide by the regulation of ‘they had to do it in the daytime,’ right?”
Between these two rules, even if they were to remove one, they had to put the other as priority. In it, there must be a reason why they had to put the other rule as the priority.
“Hm…it’s not unreasonable…nya.”
Tsuchimikado’s words weren’t clear as he said,
“But, that night light…what can it be? Can it be…moonlight? Like, a full moon…if it can be activated on a certain phase of the moon period…if it’s this sort of condition, the moon cycle and the date on the calendar…would be different. Even if they have already decided it…the date will differ because of the moon cycle, so they can’t decide on a…‘safe date’.”
Tsuchimikado’s suggestion was that if it used ‘moonlight’, which was unrelated to the moon phase, there was no need to strictly set a day for cleaning. Like, Easter or Christmas. They could just do it by choosing a certain day.
He concluded, since there was a need to choose a date, there must be some sort of religious meaning behind it. In this situation, the date would be closely related to the conditions needed to be fulfilled in order to activate the ‘Apostle’s Cross’.
“…A night’s light…huh?”
Kamijou held onto his handphone with one hand as he sunk deep into thought.
(It’s not that Oriana didn’t intend to use the ‘Apostle’s Cross’, but they can’t use it.)
Kamijou arranged all the information that he had in his head.
(They have to use a certain sort of light if they want to use the ‘Apostle’s Cross’.)
A fact that he had witnessed himself, and Stiyl’s information from the British Library, and then Tsuchimikado’s assumptions. He reconsidered these carefully.
(It’s not a day’s light, but a night’s light.)
Kamijou stared at the wall of the building. There were many electronic bulletins that were formed by lights.
(No, that’s not right. Since it’s something that was available several thousand years ago, it shouldn’t be something like a light bulb or LED, it’s something that only this night scene has.)
His eyes moved away from the bulletin.
(A naturally occurring light…)
He held onto the handphone with one hand as he sunk deeper into his own thoughts.
(Also, it’s a light that related to the calendar…)
Kamijou Touma seemed to realise it as he looked up at the sky hovering over Academy City.
Tsuchimikado had mentioned this when he read Orsola’s report a while back.
The keepers of the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ weren’t serious.
A lot of them were playing with astrology.
What if the astrology was important?
“This…is rather likely nya…”
Tsuchimikado seemed to nod his head as he remained silent for a while, and said,
“A spiritual tool…that uses constellations, isn’t rare…a constellation spell is the basic of the basics, the summoning of an Angel needs to match the constellation of the season.”
Tsuchimikado added on that compared to the moon cycle, which is based on a month, a constellation is based on a year. For example, if a ‘Spring’s Constellation’ was the key to activating the ‘Apostle’s Cross’, they had to clean it up in a season with an ‘Autumn’s Constellation’. Just like this, they could easily mark down a ‘safe date’ on the calendar.
“This means that the guards…didn’t have bad attitude…they might be…using the constellation to collect…all the required information for their work nya…”
Tsuchimikado seemed to agree with this, but just something like this wasn’t very clear.
Thus, Kamijou honestly asked,
“A force is required to activate the ‘Apostle’s Cross’, but to use it, what’s the type to be used?”
“Basically…it uses 12 ecliptic, 28 north days, and 48 south, a total of…88 constellations, one of which is required to use the magic. In other words…in this situation, the ecliptic Aries and Scorpio do not have any power on their own…the stars that are arranged in a constellation, though they look very close…the distance is somewhat far huh? To include each and every single one of them…it’s rather difficult.”
“…Is it really like this?”
Though he wasn’t familiar with constellations, Kamijou knew that it was something that people believed in several thousand years ago. There was a way to calculate the distance between the stars? To be honest, could anyone accurately recognize the structure of the universe in that time?
As Kamijou raised his doubt.
“That’s why they have to use that, Kami-yan.”
“The old universe…no, we basically call it the sky…everyone thought that…this sky…surrounds the Earth like a giant dish plate…well, this feels like a celestial chart…nya?”
“…The magic of a constellation, uses such a celestial chart…it’s unrelated to the actual power of a star or the distance. This is something that displays this fixed picture…that appears…on this night sky…into a magic array. The picture itself is very simple, but that’s…a large-scale force. The picture itself isn’t complicated, so it can normally be used on several spells…but such a useful spell…there shouldn’t be a lot of them nya.”
Tsuchimikado said that when they were at the seaside resort, the night sky when the Archangel used the ‘power of God’ was used to develop this constellation magic, ‘a sky that’s beneficial to the caster.’ Kamijou couldn’t accurately tell how large scale the spells were that required the use of a constellation in the magic side. However, it was a shock for him now that he knew that this spell was somewhat related to the spells that Angels used.
“Then, that Oriana…”
“These…may be the possible conditions that’s required to activate the ‘Apostle’s Cross’. Because they need to gather the light of the night…onto…that Cross on the ground, and to accomplish that objective, they have to set up some sort of antenna to absorb the night’s light, and then use the link…required for the spell to be activated. The reason why Oriana was running around on the streets…was probably because she was…looking for the best place to establish this antenna.”
Tsuchimikado said that not all spells that used stars followed this rule. Like for example, on the last day of Kamijou’s summer holidays, the spear Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli that the Aztec magician had used. That kind of magic that used the power of Venus had nothing to do with the night, it just heavily relied on Venus’ actual position. But, the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ probably didn’t follow the same rule, because if it did, Oriana didn’t need to find an opportunity. If it could use a certain light source like sunlight, they could have quickly activated the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ and dominated Academy City quickly.
Thus, the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ was likely to be a spiritual tool that used the ‘appearance of a constellation,’ a picture of it.
The reason why Oriana was moving about was because she was looking for a place where she could use the appearance of the constellation. Even so, what was her reason for walking around the streets? Was it that the places that she had checked up till now weren’t suitable for activating the ‘Apostle’s Cross’, or was she looking for the most suitable place?
“…However, for Oriana to really intend on…using the power of the Constellation…to activate the ‘Apostle’s Cross’…this is rather likely…”
Tsuchimikado said as he ended his explanation.
“‘This is rather likely’? What do you mean by that?”
“This assumption…though rather solid, has a few…contradictions that need to be solved nya.”
What would that be? Kamijou frowned.
Tsuchimikado said directly,
“Listen carefully, Kami-yan…the so-called ‘Apostle’s Cross’ is something…highly related to Peter… one of the twelve Apostles…of the ‘original Church’ that the ‘Son of God’ created when he died. Of course, the Romans…used this power to create the Roman Catholics, and the event that caused this to happen…was ‘Peter’s death’, or something after that.”
Tsuchimikado said that Peter was executed during the late 1st century A.D., and Emperor Constantine first recognised Christianity in the early 4th century, and the Frankish king, Papal the short, gave up this land in the 8th century. The time between these events was rather long.
Even so, it was after Peter’s death that people first erected ‘a Cross to commemorate Peter,’ and stated that ‘this land is Peter’s inheritance,’ which led to a long road that ended up with 2 billion believers forming the nucleus of the Roman Catholic Church.
“About this, the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ was originally a Cross that’s set up on a grave. It should be something that was completed before some certain Cathedral was built. What’s wrong with this?”
“The date to use the ‘Apostle’s Cross’…and the constellation are important, I agree with these two points. But…Peter died…on the 29th of June. It’s a different season, the sky is also different…you should have heard of…the summer and winter constellations, right? Also, because of the latitude and longitude…one will see different constellations in Japan’s sky as compared to the Vatican. The Vatican’s sky on 29th June…is different from Japan’s sky in late September. If they can’t solve this problem, it’s impossible for them to use the constellations nya…”
In other words, during this season, they couldn’t use the ‘Apostle’s Cross’?
Kamijou slightly frowned.
“But, what would happen if they don’t care about the season and use the ‘Apostle’s Cross’?”
“Kami-yan, think about it…we use a direct current for our shavers…what would happen if we use alternating current instead?”
“I don’t know to what extent will this thing…be destroyed, but at least…they can’t successfully execute their plan. If not for this, wouldn’t it be meaningless for them…to specially these important…‘conditions of usage’ nya?”
“…Then, why would they bring in a spiritual tool that they can’t use…?”
“I don’t know nya…there may be a condition…to overcome this nya. Damn it, there’s not enough time to…think about this properly.”
Now that it was mentioned, Kamijou re-realised the restrictions.
“Assuming if Oriana and Lidvia are waiting for the constellations to appear in the night because they want to use the ‘Apostle’s Cross’, the restriction of activating it is still sunset, right?”
“It’s not immediate. According to the constellations, we may see it clearly only when the stars from the first to third class can be seen. Right now, the time…”
Maybe it was because this call was very long, the time was about to reach 4 PM. The sunset of the end of September was normally just before 7 PM. Because the first star would shine before sunset, according to the situation, it would be extremely difficult if they operated after 6 PM.
In other words, they had to find Oriana in the next two to three hours. No, the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ may not be in Oriana’s hands. In this situation, they could only force Oriana to spit out Lidvia’s whereabouts and catch her.
There wasn’t much time.
There was no guarantee that they could catch Oriana at all, and on top of that, they had to find Lidvia.
“I feel that we’re lacking the decisive blow… anyway, let’s get to work. I’m moving…along where Oriana went by, looking for a common point in this constellations spell…if we’re successful…maybe we can know where Oriana’s targeting…”
“Wait…wait a sec! You’re okay if you take action in this condition?”
“In this…situation? …Kami-yan, what kind of condition do you think I’m in now?”
Tsuchimikado pretended to be calm as he said this.
On the other side of the call, on the screen now, was an idiot who was still talking despite all his injuries. Besides magic, Tsuchimikado had the Auto Regeneration, but that was a Level 0 ability. Though it was better than nothing, it wasn’t an ability that could remove wounds like an eraser.
Kamijou intended to say something, but he knew that it was useless to talk about anything right now.
“…I know. Then, what do I have to do during this time?”
Just as Tsuchimikado was about to propose something.
A different voice came from behind Kamijou,
“…Touma, what are you doing here?”
The auto bus was at an auto bus stop.
Like the other passengers around her, Oriana Thomson glanced around.
This wasn’t an ordinary parking for passengers to alight and board the bus. As the bus was too heavy, the AI controlling the bus had immediately come to a halt. It seemed that as there were already so many people on the bus, and yet there were other people boarding it, the bus had reached its limit.
A female voice came from the audio speakers on the bus. It seemed to be pre-recorded, as there was no sense of any emotion in the voice.
"This bus will now stop due to safety concerns, we're sorry for this inconvenience—"
Basically, they weren’t informed on how to settle this problem. If no one was getting off the bus, the overweight situation wouldn’t be solved. However, it would be a different case altogether if someone was willing to give up his own baggage.
Oriana decided to get off the bus.
From the comfort of the cooling air-conditioning to the tarmac road.
Instead of staying in the bus, not knowing when it could move, it might be better to go off and look for other methods of transport.
She then walked onto the street. There may have been an arena nearby, as there were many people around. The surrounding stalls were also selling stuff used for cheering, like megaphones and round fans.
Oriana was completely unable to see what was behind the bus stop.
(So now, it’s seems that Kanzaki Kaori isn’t coming.)
She gently sighed.
(Now that I’ve confirmed that no one else is pursuing me, the card that’s to be specially used against a Saint can’t be used. That card doesn’t seem to be effective against normal magicians…so who’s going to satisfy my thirst of battle? Never mind. I’ll probably face off against a Saint in this long life.)
At this moment, Oriana thought of the black-haired girl whose upper body had been badly damaged, the female student whose flesh had been destroyed together with the hidden Cross.
Oriana looked at the stack of flashcards in her hand.
She bitterly tore a flashcard and activated a communicating spell. This was a spell that transmitted a person’s thoughts to another, as Oriana sent over a certain scene that was etched in her mind.
“I know what you want to say.”
The other party was Lidvia Lorenzetti.
But what Oriana heard wasn’t an interrupted way of speaking.
“The girl that you took care of was just an ordinary person.”
This interrupted tone.
Bang! Oriana kicked hard at the ground.
Though she knew that doing so would attract a lot of attention, it seemed to have been done on reflex.
(Not just once, to misfire twice…!!)
This icy tone reverberated through Oriana, who was gritting her teeth.
“There was a name and photo in the report regarding the Alchemist incident. Her name is Himegami Aisa, and though she has an important power, she’s not a magician. That Colt Cross is used to seal a unique power, and is just a spiritual tool that was given by another magician, there’s no offensive capability at all. In order to avoid a misunderstanding, the British Puritans once gave a formal report.”
The report about Kanzaki Kaori was really a bluff. And, to think that girl who she mistook as an enemy had nothing to do with the British Puritans.
“…The worst scenario.”
“It’s really the worst scenario. We have laid hands on someone who’s completely unrelated to this incident, and twice to boot. Though the reason for the first time was due to other magicians getting involved, we’re fully responsible this time.”
Lidvia said in a firm voice.
“We have taken action against those we should be protecting.”
This was truly the voice of a nun who evangelised to others who didn’t know about Christianity.
“The people we should extend out our hands to aren’t Saints who have great morals, but sinners who are lost and need redemption. This is what the ‘Son of God’ said to Matthew, the tax collector who was hated by everyone else, when he ate with him. We have defied this rule. Do you know what this means?”
Oriana remained silent.
Lidvia’s words weren’t interrupted, as there was no sense of hesitation in these words. From the beginning to the end, that was a voice that followed the decision of the Bible, and a voice that allowed no interruption. Also—
“We can’t make a second mistake again. For these people whom we have hurt, we have to be extra careful, and use the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ to take over Academy City.”
There was no sense of hesitation in her tone.
No matter the amount of downsides, she had to turn all these into positives.
Lidvia Lorenzetti continued on with this kind of feeling.
She was reflecting on it, and at the same time, regretting it.
Lidvia should be in even more emotional pain than Oriana.
But she would use this pain as food for progress. She understood the meaning of the word ‘training’, and no matter how painful it was, she would use this chance to increase her pace.
Thus, Oriana wouldn’t stop.
From birth till death, she wouldn’t stop.
Oriana felt a chill flowing down her backbone.
Not because of the difference in power, but because of the ‘difference’ in ideals.
Then, Oriana asked this nun who was not the least swayed.
“…Thus, everything would be successful, right? All the problems would be solved as long as we take in Academy City, right?”
“Touma, what are you doing here?”
Kamijou was shocked.
He frantically turned around, and in front of him was Index, clad in cheerleading attire. She was holding pompons in both hands, and the calico cat that was surrounded by them seemed to hate the plastic plush feel, as it continued to struggle.
She slightly inclined her head.
Her head was tilted, but her eyebrows were twitching, indicating that she was angry.
(Damn it…! Our school…will be competing in the arena nearby!?)
Outside Academy City, there were many magicians waiting. They were of different nationalities and organisations. And these magicians had set up a magic sensing spell around Index that was of a 1 km radius.
Once the magic sensing spell sensed some form of magical power, they would immediately enter Academy City.
And among these people, not all of them would have eliminating Oriana and Lidvia as their priority. People against Academy City would use this chance to do all sorts of sabotage work.
“Touma, why aren’t you with those classmates from your ‘class’? Everyone was looking for you, and now everyone is heading out towards the next ‘arena’.”
Index seemed to be looking for something as she said this.
“It felt like you were still involved in the matches this morning, but you weren’t around in the afternoon. Why?”
Though Index was speaking in a somewhat lecturing tone, she was lacking her usual excitement and energy.
The girl’s innocent look...
Revealed an expression that made one wonder whether it was a good thing or a bad thing.
It might have come from Kamijou’s experience of butting into other people’s affairs.
(That Oriana seems to have gotten far away. There doesn’t seem to be any bus stop nearby!?)
Kamijou continued to think as he wished that his target, Oriana, had gotten far away. Right now, he was anxious because of these conflicting thoughts.
On the other side of the phone call, Tsuchimikado was also silently waiting for the situation to develop. Kamijou saw that there was no auto-bus stop on the road in front and beyond of him.
“Say, Touma, where have Aisa and Komoe gone? Weren’t they with you?”
Hearing Index’s voice, Kamijou couldn’t help but freeze up.
(That’s right, Stiyl and Komoe-sensei are using magic to heal Himegami…!?)
His actions were stiff.
There was only about a kilometre to that place. What to do now?
“Ah…ahhh, they heard that the committee members are lacking in manpower right now, so they went over to help out. That’s weird, I thought that they have already sent out an email to the class.”
“Mn, maybe it’s outside the perimeter. The electrowaves haven’t reached the centre yet? Oh my, they haven’t checked how many cables are there…if it’s an ordinary store, there should be a relay base. Why? Though the news reported that having too many people contact each other at the same time during Daihaseisai will cause the cables to overload, the central processing ability should be increased at this point.”
Index, who was in this cheerleading attire, tilted her head.
Kamijou planned to smoke through using information about the Science world that Index was unfamiliar with, and it seemed to be working.
He shook the phone slightly in his hand.
“I’m using the phone now, Index. I’ll be back later, so just go back to where everyone else is. Ah—hello, hello? Is there anything strange going on over there?”
“No…there isn’t. There’s nothing strange going on outside, relax…”
Hearing this voice, Kamijou felt relieved.
Index slightly frowned when she saw Kamijou act like this.
“Touma, Touma. I heard that the next activity is something called a ‘group exercise’ (Note: the participants have to combine their limbs to perform several figures, and finally, build a human pyramid and get the most nimble person to get to the top of the pyramid to fling the ribbon in the person’s hand to end it). Can you come over?”
Kamijou paused for a while, and said,
“I’ll go. I need to settle some things that I have to help out with, so I will participate later. Can you wait for me, Index?”
He just said a promise that he could not fulfill.
Index nodded her head without hesitation.
She hugged the calico cat that was surrounded by the pompons.
“I got it, Touma, you have to get over there. I’ll cheer for Touma, and will seriously follow the actions that Komoe taught me. You’ll be shocked.”
With that cheery face, Index turned her back on Kamijou. She continued forward, maybe towards the next arena. As she didn’t take a detour, and even ignored the food stalls around her, it seemed that she truly believed what Kamijou said.
Kamijou Touma couldn’t move as he watched her figure vanish. He waited till she disappeared before taking action. He closed his eyes, as if he was lowering his head and apologising.
On the other side of the phone, Tsuchimikado said.
“…I’m sorry, Kami-yan.”
If Oriana and Lidvia had not arrived in this city, he should have been able to enjoy Daihaseisai together with his classmates. If Tsuchimikado and Stiyl hadn’t asked for his help, he might not have realised that something was going on, and may ended up going out with Index or Himegami. He was just an ordinary person. Even if a magician snuck in, he didn’t have to take part in the battle.
Kamijou thought of this possibility.
He firmly declared.
“Smiling while not knowing anything is also something that’s unbearable. I don’t want you guys to be painfully stained in blood while Index and I are enjoying ourselves.”
That was right, Tsuchimikado himself could have enjoyed Daihaseisai. Even Stiyl could have come to Academy City aside from the reason that he had to battle as a magician.
They hadn’t brought misfortune.
Also, even if they had brought it, there was no need for them to run away.
“So, I was thinking. To selfishly push all the things that I hate onto Index…is really stupid. Because of this, I’m happy that I’m not willing to get her involved in this.”
Tsuchimikado Motoharu couldn’t say anything.
Basically, only Kamijou Touma was talking.
He was asking the other person to give him the privilege to decide what to do.
“Let’s settle these things and get back to Index. Everyone’s like an idiot, fooling around, eating and drinking, taking photos—and sinking into this wonderful memory.”
Using the bus stop where he lost Oriana Thomson as the centre, Kamijou Touma looked around as if he was drawing a circle.
Of course, there was a high likelihood that Oriana had taken the auto-bus and got away. However, it was possible that she defied their expectations and chose not to take the bus. Since they couldn’t track Oriana down using the offensive methods, and Kamijou couldn’t find out about the methods of using the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ since his technical abilities were inadequate, he could only eliminate the possibilities of these ordinary methods.
The lead, Tsuchimikado, was analysing Oriana’s movements from a while back, trying to find out where the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ could be activated. Kamijou could only let a specialised magician handle it as he waited for the report.
Kamijou continued to run, his skin feeling the 4:30 PM air.
From noon to afternoon, the streets were still rather warm, but the feeling of the sun beating down on the skin was much gentler now. The only thing that hadn’t changed was that Kamijou was running through the crowd that was heading towards shops, buying gifts, as well as towards the next arena. On the way, he could see someone with fluffy blond hair in the crowd.
(…!? No, no, that’s not Oriana.)
As there were several students who dyed their hair, and there were also tourists from other countries, it was not uncommon to see people with blond hair.
In order not to block other people who were moving about, Kamijou went to the side of the road and stopped for a while.
(Oriana doesn’t seem to be waiting for me to leave…however, this is the situation if she’s not in the building.)
He thought as he looked up from the pavement. The windows of the towers that were of uneven height reflected sunlight.
(It’s hard to look through everything in one go…but then, that’s better than not doing anything at all. Alright, let’s do it!)
Kamijou pat his face with both hands, and headed towards a tower near a large electronics store.
On the way…
“‘Wait a second,’ says Misaka as Misaka chases after and looks. ‘Misaka just wants to look at souvenirs, so don’t abandon me,’ says Misaka as Misaka tries to argue back but has no intention of stopping.”
He could hear a child’s voice.
Kamijou casually turned around, and among the crowd, he heard someone that he shouldn’t be seeing anywhere around here. It was like a child’s voice, and may be hiding among the crowd, but Misaka…? He thought about it for a while, but right now, there were more important things to do.
(Right now, Tsuchimikado is doing the main task. I can only silently cheer him on.)
He passed through the auto-door and looked around the spacious and bright store.
The air-conditioning was rather comfortable, and the store was sufficiently laminated. The feeling of sunlight beating down on his skin was also rather slow. Kamijou slowly looked around the store, checking whether Oriana was in the store, occasionally looking outside the large window panel.
The glaring sunlight was fading from the 4:30 PM sky. Though the sky wasn’t red yet, it felt that the blue colour was becoming lighter. In an hour, it would be an evening sky.
Then the first star would twinkle.
Before the curtain of the night completely settled, the brightness of the constellation would probably reveal itself first.
“…If our estimate from a while back is correct, there’s only two hours left.”
Just as Kamijou sighed, the phone rang.
The display showed not Tsuchimikado’s name, but an unknown number.
He picked up the phone. It was from Stiyl Magnus.
“I asked Tsuchimikado what your number is, but I don’t intend to record it.”
Maybe Stiyl was smoking, as Kamijou could hear the sound of air puffing out.
“I’m done with that female student. Where are you right now?”
Kamijou’s breathing momentarily stopped.
He hastily gripped the phone tightly.
“!? How’s Himegami now!?”
“…It’ll be troublesome if you expect perfection from me. It’s a method that I’m unfamiliar with. One can’t possibly be successful the first time he uses a healing spell. To be honest, I don’t want to use that kind of spell again. I’m only using a layman’s knowledge as reference, carefully inspecting through these vague words to find the magical meaning behind it, and then recombining them to form a healing spell. Such an action is like walking on a tightrope. I was sweating over whether I’ll lose control of the spell, and even now, I’m crossing my fingers about it.”
Stiyl said unhappily.
For a man with such pride to say this, it meant that it was a really dangerous operation.
Kamijou felt that something heavy fell off his abdomen.
“Anyway, I’ve already strengthened her blood vessels, added blood in them, and eased her pain signals to get her away from her shock state. What’s next is the doctor’s job…the paramedics are rather confident, saying that in a nearby hospital, there’s a miracle doctor who can fulfill much more of his ability the more critical the situation is.”
It sounded embarrassing.
It was like a hooligan saving a cat on the roadside, and then caught in the act by an ordinary citizen.
“Ah? What’s with this lifeless tone? I said it several times, I can’t possibly live with you cheerfully…WAHH!!”
Dong!! An unbelievable voice came from the phone.
A voice besides Stiyl’s…
“Uuu! Sensei hasn’t thanked you yet! Uwahhh~!! If you weren’t here, Himegami…Himegami would have—!!”
“Stop…stop it!! Why are you hugging me and crying!! I never guaranteed that I could heal her. If we can’t restore her strength, she’ll still fall in the end… ARE YOU LISTENING!!?”
Putting the phone next to his ear, Kamijou was silently worried (maybe) that Komoe-sensei, who was clinging onto the magician, would be burnt to a crisp, but Stiyl unexpectedly didn’t seem to be using his powers. Seemed like if the other person was a small girl, he would let down his guard.
He couldn’t talk about the magic battle in front of Komoe-sensei.
Kamijou intended to say “Call you back later,” and end off the call, but—
In the midst of this ruckus, Stiyl said,
“He seemed to have gotten some clue. I’ll get over there as soon as I get rid of her.”
Tsuchimikado was at a certain corner of the seventh school district.
It was where Kamijou and Fukiyose had first met Oriana.
It was an ordinary road. There were several large department stores around, as the gas cylinder-sized robotic guards passed by the wind-powered windmill generators, moving around on the road. The students wearing P.E. attire were passing through as usual, but the tourists, who were in plainclothes, would especially stop by to see these robots. It was a place that could be easily spotted, but at the same time, a place that one could easily get lost.
Tsuchimikado had already switched out of his damaged P.E. clothes for new ones, and it was almost impossible for one to see the bandages wrapped underneath from the outside. Even so, it was hard to conceal that pale face of his. There was no wind blowing, but his body continued to sway, and his breathing was abnormally light and rushed. The Level 0 ability, ‘Auto Regeneration’ could only repair broken blood vessels. Even so, without this ability, he might have fallen a long time ago, right?
Even in this condition, Tsuchimikado Motoharu continued to stand under a corner of the large sun.
The reason was simple: he had something to do.
(To practically use my own feet to confirm things…)
Tsuchimikado looked up at the flying ships and balloons in the blue sky.
(…I know about quite a few things. That Oriana took the risk to come out and walk about on the streets, so the reason is this?)
He was a skilled user of a major eastern magic type—the Onmyoji Arts.
Though it was Onmyoji, he had to practice quite a lot of spells, like fengshui, divination, alchemy, mantra, prayer and clepsydra, etc, with all sorts of targets and directions, including the calculation of time and the survival of a country; managing all these was the real ability of Onmyoji.
Tsuchimikado’s speciality was in fengshui, but this was all that he had learnt.
One could understand it by looking at the sky.
The sky was blocked by the dark green leaves of the trees, but this was unrelated.
By confirming today’s date and coordinates, he could tell what kind of stars were arranged in the blue sky. Even if he didn’t use a celestial globe or an astrology site, he could accurately assimilate all the knowledge of the constellations and their positions in his head.
(If it’s of Index level, even if the person doesn’t look up at the sky to confirm it, it’s likely that the person could guess the answer by hearing this nya…)
Tsuchimikado bitterly thought.
It was already a problem to think of even using pure knowledge to go up against that girl.
No matter what, he still managed to come up with a conclusion.
(I see…nya. By using the constellations…such a view, this seems to be correct. This seems…to be based on an autumn’s constellation nya…no matter from which point…seems like one can use the same magical meaning behind it, completely…analysing this constellation…this should be what the enemy did…it hurts.)
Tsuchimikado scowled as he pressed on his flank, arranging his thoughts.
Following the path that Oriana had taken, he understood something.
No matter where he looked at the constellation, it was all the same.
At first glance, it was an obvious conclusion, but if mixed in with a magician meaning, the situation was different.
A so-called constellation was really something temporary seen from Earth. The stars looked like they were arranged, but that was just a misconception seen from both near and far-off distances. In radical terms, if one saw the constellations seen on Earth from the side, they would look completely different.
In even stricter terms, if one was to observe the constellation from a slightly different point, the constellation would be ‘slightly’ off shape. That was also something that could not be sensed by the human eye. Thus, several new magicians who interpreted it wrongly would lose control of their own spells. For Greek and Egyptian magicians who had wanted to use the power of the constellation, the reason why they had wanted to build giant temples was to establish a more intricate and sophisticated observatory.
The starry sky itself wasn’t strange, as it was a resource that anyone could use, but it took time to prepare a spell to accept the power of a constellation: this was the characteristic of a spell that required the use of a constellation. Though Tsuchimikado mentioned before that ‘a constellation could be used on numerous types of spells,’ there had to be different observatories set up for different types of spells. An example would be the multi-religions Greeks, who established their ‘Ares Temple’ and ‘Helios Temple’.
Even so, Tsuchimikado had already passed through 3 to 4 observatories, and yet the displayed meanings were completely the same.
(This isn’t a coincidence nya. In other words—I can confirm that Oriana and Lidvia are planning to use an autumn constellation to activate the ‘Apostle’s Cross’…)
Tsuchimikado looked up at the wide sky.
He narrowed his eyes as he looked through the sunglasses.
(…If so, what’s with this contradiction?)
“Ah, Fukiyose? Are you feeling better now?”
Fukiyose Seiri made a call, and Tsukuyomi Komoe’s voice could immediately be heard.
She was in the atrium of the hospital now. After resting on the hospital bed for a while and walking around after that, she had regained her strength, and her mobility had drastically increased.
In this resting place that had a roof, there were wooden benches. Besides Fukiyose, there were 5 or 6 patients using their phones. There was a metal plate nailed onto the pillar, ‘Phone usage area, sophisticated medical devices are forbidden to be brought in here,’ like a sign indicating that it was a smoking area.
To people who liked to make a call whenever they were free, the hospital, a place that banned the use of handphones everywhere, was a rather oppressive place to them. This place was one that allowed them to use their phones at will.
Fukiyose placed the phone near her ear.
“I’m alright here. Is there anything wrong with Daihaseisai? Like, did those fools disclose any funnels?”
“Ah! There is! There is! Himegami was in critical danger!”
“…Don’t tell me that those idiots saw her changing!?”
“It’s not that! Himegami-san was attacked and sent to the hospital! Luckily, Kamijou and his friend were passing by. If it was just Komoe-sensei…if it was just me, it would have been a really serious situation…”
Komoe-sensei sounded depressed, but it didn’t feel like despair from deep inside her heart. Maybe she was relieved that they had avoided the worst case scenario.
But, Fukiyose was still mindful of some things.
The first question that came to mind was, by who? And why?
The transfer student, Himegami Aisa, may have a few problems of her own. However, it was said every year that those people who hated Academy City wanted to make use of Daihaseisai to do something. If so—
(What are the Anti-Skill and Judgement members doing…?)
Not considering the Judgement members who had to take part in the matches, Anti-Skill should be doubly prepared. The open feeling of Daihaseisai was just what it looked like on the surface.
Were they slacking around?
Or was it that someone with better abilities than them was running around on the streets?
And most importantly,
“What does ‘if not for Kamijou and his friend’ mean?”
“It’s just like that. Himegami was hurt badly, Sensei was unable to handle it by myself! But Kamijou and his friend settled it flawlessly! Ah, who’s that priest that’s with Kamijou? He ran away before I could thank him…ah! Can it be that guy who slipped past the corner!!”
On the other side of the phone, one could clearly hear the sound of footsteps ‘patapata’.
Wasn’t that the same feeling in the beginning?
That time, when she fell due to heatstroke, who was the one who had reacted first, and who took care of her?
That boy who specially sneaked into other schools’ matches.
Calmly assessing the entire situation, it did seem strange.
(I got heatstroke, Himegami was attacked. Is there anything related between these two cases? However, if both cases are related to Kamijou Touma…)
What was going on? Fukiyose frowned.
(…What’s going on in this city?)
Kamijou heard about the information from Tsuchimikado, who had returned. Maybe his ‘Auto Regeneration’ was starting to gain effect, as his tone seemed to be more energetic. But, seeing his rather pale face covered with cold sweat, Kamijou felt that he should go to the hospital for a check-up.
Tsuchimikado told him two things.
Oriana and Lidvia intended to use one of Autumn’s constellations to activate the ‘Apostle’s Cross’. Every point ‘observatory’ was based on that constellation. However, Tsuchimikado was rather suspicious about his own results.
“The reason why Oriana is moving about is definitely related to the constellations, and may also be the crux to the activation of the ‘Apostle’s Cross’—but this is really suspicious. Can this really activate the St. Peter’s Cross? No matter what, in historical records, the times when the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ was activated were mainly during times with summer constellations. No matter how one thinks, at the end of September, it should be an autumn’s constellation now. It’s really hard to imagine it as a replacement…what other conditions, there should be something that we don’t know about.”
Tsuchimikado looked pale and his skin looked sweaty. The new set of P.E. clothes that he had changed into looked new, but there were blood stains on his fingerprints.
It looked painful, but he probably didn’t want to be asked about it.
“But, right now, wouldn’t Oriana not risk being found out by her pursuers when she starts to look for points that are related to that constellation, Tsuchimikado? Do you know of places that Oriana might not have gone to? And where?”
“Hm…but I’m rather mindful about that ‘unexplained problem’. According to the results, besides the places that I found, there are also other places that can be used as an ‘observatory’ nya. To be honest, there’s not enough time. If we suddenly decide to rush off to the ‘observatory’ that we predicted, and if Oriana activates the spell somewhere else in the opposite direction, what next? We can’t just pack up and close shop nya.”
Tsuchimikado said, as he rubbed away the sweat that was flowing down.
Kamijou confirmed the time.
It was around 5 PM.
That was right, even if they used the tram or the bus, as of the time now, it was rather dangerous to get from one side of the street to another. Not knowing the actual time made it even harder for them. If they were not careful, everything might be over in an hour.
Kamijou looked at the clock function on his phone’s display.
“Come to think about it, we don’t even have time to even think! Just standing around, doing nothing, time will still go on! I don’t want to snap back only to realise that we can’t make it there in time.”
“I know that…damn it, what’s that Stiyl doing at this time?”
Tsuchimikado also knew that it was a critical situation for them, his voice sounding bitter.
Were they going to step in without any concrete information?
Or were they going to step in after having enough information?
No matter what they chose, they lacked the necessary condition required to push them into action. Their thoughts created silence, which created a huge pressure, and Kamijou felt that the air around them was getting heavier.
Suddenly, the phone rang.
It was not from Kamijou’s phone.
Tsuchimikado looked surprised as he picked up the phone, and upon seeing the display on the screen, his expression changed drastically.
“Kami-yan, it’s from the British Puritans.”
Come to think of it, Stiyl had mentioned that he requested information from the members of the English Library.
Maybe there was some new information.
Anyway, to Kamijou and Tsuchimikado, who wanted some new information, they didn’t care what kind of content it was. Tsuchimikado, who was normally cool-headed, slightly panicked as he picked up the phone. The loudspeaker function was already activated, but Kamijou placed his face near Tsuchimikado’s phone.
In the end, on the other side of the phone, the voice belonged to…
“Oh my, may I ask, are you Mr. Stiyl Magnus?”
“TO THINK THAT IT’S A WRONG NUMBER!!”
Both of them exclaimed at the same time. The woman on the phone sounded depressed, and said “I’m sorry”…it was alright, really, but since she wanted to talk to Stiyl, a foreigner, why was she speaking in Japanese? Kamijou wondered.
Tsuchimikado irritatedly sighed.
“Ah—ah—this is Tsuchimikado. I’m working with Stiyl right now, so I’ll take the report nya…now, what do you have?”
“Just this. I’ve checked the records of the English Library, and found some new information regarding the ‘Apostle’s Cross’, so I’m going to report it.”
That casual voice could be heard.
On hearing that voice, Kamijou started to feel suspicious. Where had he heard this voice before?
“Ah, don’t tell me…you’re Orsola?”
“This voice…ara ara. So it’s you. Thank you for what you’ve done during the past few days. Thanks to you, my body has now completely—”
“Nya, we’re off topic. Can we continue?”
Tsuchimikado said in an anxious and tired voice,
“—I’m working very well with the British Puritans. Two days ago, Miss Kanzaki even introduced me to this Japanese food store that sold wonderful food…ah, that’s right, I heard that they’re letting the Amakusa handle London’s own little Japan.”
“You’re ignoring Tsuchimikado’s words with a smile on your face!? Ah—hurry up and tell us what you know!!”
Kamijou started to shout, and Tsuchimikado shook his head about as if he was anemic. On the other side of the phone, Orsola at least gave an “Ara ara” as she got away from the topic.
“I see, then I better start talking about the information that I obtained from the English Library fast…Hohoho, this is good news, isn’t it?”
“…Even if you say it, please don’t tell us anything about places that sell good Japanese food.”
Kamijou said softly. In response, the other person said with a lively tone,
“I know that.”
“Actually, there’s a sushi shop five minutes from Waterloo station that sells really good sushi.”
“DIDN’T I TELL YOU NOT TO SAY THIS!? STOP CHANGING THE TOPIC!! HURRY UP AND TELL US ANYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT THE ‘APOSTLE’S CROSS’!!”
“What a pity…then, back on topic, please listen carefully.”
Orsola’s soft voice had a certain force in it.
Kamijou and Tsuchimikado looked very serious as they focused all their attention on the phone.
“From the scattered records of the English Library, what we got are the conditions required to use the ‘Apostle’s Cross’.”
Kamijou’s shoulders shuddered slightly.
Right now, what they wanted to know the most was information on the conditions required to use the ‘Apostle’s Cross’.
Orsola said to the two of them, now holding their breaths and waiting for further information.
“I heard that the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ is a large scale spiritual tool that requires the power of a constellation. People place the Cross on the Earth to accurately collect astronomical information. This is a mechanism that aligns itself accurately, collects light in the sky, and helps a caster activate the magic’s effects.”
“Which is what I told Kami-yan. The ‘Apostle’s Cross’ is some sort of a parabolic antenna. But…”
“…About this. To be honest, it isn’t something new.”
Kamijou inadvertently sighed, and Tsuchimikado just let his shoulders drop.
“Oh my, why are you all so depressed?”
“We’re sorry, Orsola, we’re thankful that you work hard to find information for us. We’ve also found some things on this side, and right now, we don’t know how to take the next step.”
Orsola sounded depressed, but Kamijou was unable to care more about it.
Though Kamijou and Tsuchimikado didn’t know how much information Orsola had gotten from the English Library, it should be less than what they had. If they couldn’t get a better result now, it was like declaring that there was no suitable clue for them in this deadlock.
Kamijou and Tsuchimikado looked grim.
At this moment, Orsola Aquinas, who was on the other side of the phone, said,
“—Then, about the information that Sherry and I found regarding the suitable constellations for the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ to be used, you should know about it. The ‘Apostle’s Cross’ doesn’t use any summer or winter constellation, and can use 88 different types of constellations all over the world…”
Kamijou and Tsuchimikado let out this sound at the same time.
“Wait a sec, Orsola. What did you just say? I know that the area for it to be used is limited, but this is the first time that I heard that all the summer and winter constellations can’t be used. Just now, Tsuchimikado was worrying about the current season, that it’s impossible to use the ‘Apostle’s Cross’. If we can solve this, all our problems are gone. So I’ll be really grateful if you can explain this clearly.”
“…Ah, the situation has unexpectedly changed for the better. This is something to be happy about. However, I’m still a bit sad that not all the information can be used.”
”Stop despairing on your side. Hurry up and explain it, Miss Orsola. Also, is that Sherry you mentioned that Sherry!!?”
Kamijou called out two to three times, and at least Orsola finally got back on topic.
“That…St. Peterborough…called St. Peter in England, is still widely called St. Peterborough. He was martyred on the 29th of June. Of course, the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ that the Vatican used was something later.”
Christianity was recognized in the 4th century. In reality, the Holy See was marked as an independent ‘territory’ around the 8th century. However, the time when ‘Apostle’s Cross’ had been used, which was after Peter’s death, was around the 1st century. Tsuchimikado had already explained this.
Orsola again theorised that when Emperor Constantine recognized Christianity at the start of the 4th century, when Frankish King Papal invaded Italy and handed the land over to the pope—these events that were beneficial to the Roman Catholics, all of them were due to the power of the ‘Apostle’s Cross’.
“???...Excuse me, Orsola, but I’m completely clueless about history here.”
“In other words, you just need to remember that the time for the Cross to be used at the Vatican is normally during the end of June to the start of July.”
Orsola sounded relaxed. However, Tsuchimikado instinctively asked,
“…You say, at the Vatican?”
“Yes. In history, the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ was used once. Like what everyone here knows, that Cross can also be used anywhere outside the Vatican. Now the problem is—”
She pauses for a while, before continuing,
“—The only time when the Cross can be used at the Vatican is on June 29th. If one is to use it somewhere else, it must have its own date. In other words…”
Orsola continued again,
“In order to use the ‘Apostle’s Cross’, the caster has to know the details, features and characteristics of the area. Also, the caster has to choose the most effective constellations on the area out of the 88 for the activation to be complete. Lots of knowledge is required for these complicated characteristics of the area and constellation, though it’ll cause a constraint of using it only once a year. If they use this method, even if it’s the entire world, it may end up being taken over by the Roman Catholics.”
According to what Orsola said, in order to evangelise to the ‘sinners’, Lidvia Lorenzetti continued to move around the world. During this time, she might have looked for the conditions that were required to activate the ‘Apostle’s Cross’, which were the constellations corresponding to the local region, and the location and duration for the ‘observatory’ to be used. While Orsola was still a Roman Catholic, she had seen Lidvia carrying an old set of binoculars as she headed off to the next area.
“In other words, Lidvia once entered Academy City to look for places to use the ‘Apostle’s Cross’?”
“This problem can be solved by using a test…for example, there’s no need for all the latitudes and longitudes, as one can mark it down using the North Star. By knowing the important stuff before calculating the rest on a table, it’s alright for them even if they don’t enter Academy City. ”
Kamijou slowly digested what Orsola had told him.
“Wait a sec, isn’t that a Cross that was made because of Peter’s death? If so, why can it be used in times other than the time when Peter died?”
“That’s what I was wondering…”
Orsola pondered for a while, and said,
“That spiritual tool…seemed like it was prepared before Peter’s death…”
“…What’s going on?”
“Actually, Peter did think through it, where he would be killed. As you all know, where Peter is resting today is the centre of the Vatican. He knew that the place where he was going to be killed would be closely linked to the history after that, so it ended up like that…thus, besides the Vatican…if there’s another place that’s suitable to the Roman Catholics, he could have chosen that place to increase the strength of the conditions required to use the ‘Apostle’s Cross’.”
Hearing this, Kamijou swallowed his saliva.
“But, even if he can choose the place, he can’t change the date, right? Like say, not when he’s about to die, but to decide a date to use it…”
“That’s right. In fact, Peter was executed on the 29th of June. That is also the day that the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ can be used at the Vatican.”
“…If so, he intended to be killed that day, purposely letting himself get caught?”
“That isn’t…impossible nya.”
“Peter wasn’t on good terms with the Roman empire at that time, for he was enemies with the high magician of the empire, Simon Magus, and in the end, killed him. (Note: Legend had it that the magician Simon wanted to show that his power exceeds those of the Apostles, and thus let himself float in the air. As Simon was floating in the air, Peter kneeled down and asked God for a miracle. In the end, Simon immediately fell down and ended up dead). To do that sort of thing when Christianity was being persecuted, one can imagine what sort of end he would meet.”
“And there are many legends about Peter when he was executed. Besides the just stated one, there’s also the famous ‘Quo Vadis (Where are you going?)’ legend (Note: At first, Peter was convinced by his fellow believers to escape to the gates of Rome, and saw Jesus. He asked Jesus, “Where are you going?” Jesus replied, “I’m going back to Rome, to be nailed on the Cross again.” Thus, Peter understood what he meant, and went back to pay the price of his faith with his life). As Peter was being pursued by the Imperial soldiers, he was saved by his fellow believers, who begged him to run onto the streets. He already reached the gates, only to let himself get captured by the soldiers. Furthermore, he saw a vision of the ‘Son of God’ at the exit, realising that that is the time when he has to be the martyr.”
“On the day that Peter was executed on the Cross, he made this request, ‘I don’t dare to die the same way as my Lord, so please turn the Cross over.’ Of course, such a sentence came from a highly revered Christian, but maybe—”
“—Maybe, there’s some sort of significance in this act…”
Kamijou couldn’t help but mutter.
One of the twelve Apostles, Peter must have known that no matter what action he took, he would be executed one day. So, he could have used his own death and tried to get the best out of it, even considering what might happen several hundred years later.
After that, it was the founding of the Holy See.
For this land, for the person he should be protecting silently.
This was different from an ordinary conviction. He actually considered the effects, results and outcome of where he was going to be killed, and at what time, before setting off for his road to death. This was the ultimate mix of coldness and mercy, a magic that could only be displayed by the ultimate performance. This was the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ spell that the Roman Catholics so rarely used.
“For historical Greats to do something on their own tombs isn’t uncommon. Even Prince Shotoku ‘completely destroyed’ the fengshui of his own tomb where he should be laid to rest forever, for he intended to cut ties with his descendants.”
Tsuchimikado’s face remains green as he said this, half impressed and half finding it unbearable.
After hearing this, Kamijou raised the most important question,
“Then, Orsola. Do you know…where the possible locations that the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ can be used on the 19th of September in Japan are?”
The other person replied without hesitation.
“Of course I do.”
Both mother and daughter, Misaka Misuzu and Mikoto were on the streets.
It was a corner on the second storey of a large department that linked the subway to the surface and to an overhead bridge with a complicated three part road. On the second level that both of them were on, there were many stores on both sides selling handicrafts.
There was still some time till the next match which involved Tokiwadai Middle. Mikoto was accompanying Misuzu on a shopping trip, and the places that Misuzu wanted to go to were places that were set aside to allow people to shop.
“Wait a second, you don’t have to buy that vase cylinder that costs like 5 billion yen! You’ll get sick of it in 3 days! 3 days!”
“Oh Mikoto. Speaking about Academy City, one has to buy this sort of thing that no one can figure out as a gift, you know!”
“What? If we’re using the latest and most advanced technology, we can’t allow you to bring it out anyway. Also, what’s with that multi-flowered vase? It says what ‘In theory, this can replicate the surface of the fifth dimension with light refraction technology,’ this is basically a lie! Can you really go to the fifth dimension to check it out!?”
“But it’s this sort of uncertainty that makes it so interesting.”
“A real gift should be about dwelling in wonderful memories!”
“Wa, to say something like dwelling in wonderful memories, Mikoto’s really a girl—”
“Shut up, stupid mom.”
Mikoto tugged at her mother’s hand, pulling her away from the stall. She was trying to advise her mother to buy a souvenir that was more worth it. For a middle school student who was going through a rebellious stage, one could say that she had a rather good relationship with her family members.
The mother and daughter combo seemed to be attracting quite a lot of attention, but they didn’t seem to mind it.
“Ah, a souvenir, but I want to go to places that can only be seen in Academy City. Mikoto, do you know of any good places? Okaa-san wants to see a giant spaceship.”
“…What are you treating Academy City as?”
“Then I’ll compromise and have a pure and innocent girl that looks like a humanoid weapon.”
“THERE’S NO SUCH THING!!”
Mikoto inadvertently shouted out. At this moment, she felt that someone was staring at her with a strong intensity from somewhere outside her field of vision. Compared to the crowd that was staring at her, it was of a totally different intensity.
Mikoto stuttered as she turned around. The twin-pigtailed girl sitting on the athletic upside-down V-shaped wheelchair was looking strange. Shirai Kuroko’s eyes were glittering, radiating a shining light, and even the person pushing the wheelchair, a petite girl with a flowerbed on her head, couldn’t help but flinch.
Shirai Kuroko swallowed her saliva as she said,
“This…is this onee-sama’s…family member? This…is wonderful. So wonderful that words can’t describe it! What’s with this expansion of onee-sama’s radiance? Damn…damn it. If so, I made up my mind! Kuroko won’t care whether they’re sisters or mother or daughter, I’ll take them all! MWAHAHAHAHAHA!!”
Basking in the glow of the Misaka family, Shirai Kuroko’s thought process was completely messed up.
Deep inside, Mikoto swore not to let this person know of the Sisters’ existence.
“Ara ara, is Mikoto’s interest heading in that direction?”
“What direction are you talking about? I’m always straight!!”
“You’re right. Mikoto’s rather infatuated with that boy, so she doesn’t have enough time to look for other love interests.”
“EH? JUST SHUT UP!!”
Misuzu agilely dodged past a diving Mikoto. At this moment, she saw a familiar person from the corner of her eye.
(Hm? That’s…hoho, speak of the devil.)
Right now, Mikoto and Misuzu were at the second level, located on a three part road that led both upstairs and downstairs. The familiar person was holding onto a handrail, facing the lower level. Maybe because of this, it seemed that he didn’t notice them.
It was a boy with spiky black hair. There was a blond teenager beside him, a head taller, wearing sunglasses. Both of them were in similar P.E. attire, so it seemed that they were classmates.
(Both of them look serious though.)
From here, she couldn’t hear what they were saying, but the expressions of these boys were such that it was rare to even see it in an important corporate dealing. It was the look of someone putting the fate of others on their shoulders. What was making these young boys look like this in Misuzu’s eyes? Misuzu couldn’t imagine.
“Hey, Mikoto, isn’t your Prince Charming over there?”
“Who would fall for that— no, I don’t understand what you’re trying to say!!”
Now flushed red, Mikoto must have thought that her mother was teasing her, so she chose not to look in the direction that Misuzu was pointing. At this point, the boys disappeared as they moved into the crowd.
Tsuchimikado hung up the phone.
“Now it seems like the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ that Oriana and Lidvia have isn’t something that they can use whenever they want to.”
“Yup. They might have investigated the possible locations of the ‘observatories’. According to Orsola’s explanation, Lidvia might have looked for the locations and active durations of these observatories.”
According to the report that Orsola Aquinas provided, Lidvia was looking for any possible observatories. That was done by going to several areas to test, compile the results, and calculate the locations. In other words, she might not have been to the ‘observatory’ in Academy City.
“Which means right now, what Lidvia and Oriana are doing is going there themselves to calculate the marginal error in coordinates…or something like that.”
“Seems like it. Oriana was moving around this entire time because she couldn’t find a suitable place to use the magic, or maybe there are some other reasons. Anyway—it’s here.”
At the place that Orsola indicated, located inside Academy City, besides the places that Oriana Thomson had searched through, there was still one last place left.
“Though we took a long way to get here, it seems like the situation has changed for the better. It’ll be great if it’s really successful.”
Kamijou looked up at the sky. It was 5:20 PM, and the blue sky was gradually turning orange.
“A single location… How long has it been since when we last saw Oriana? Maybe she could have checked that place out already, and has moved on to other places?”
“Nope. I’ve already checked out the other places…from a constellation viewpoint, it doesn’t seem very suitable. Even if it’s outside, there are two areas blocked by towers, and another 3 are blocked by the leaves of trees. So, they would use this extremely open area as their final destination nya.”
“An open area—hey! That’s where you marked out on the map!”
“That’s right. There’s no other place more open than this.”
Tsuchimikado said as he gave Kamijou the map that had marker markings on it. The extent of his injuries was grave; his fingers were trembling and the marked out areas weren’t very obvious.
The 23rd school district.
It was a unique school district that completely specialised in aeronautical and astronautical engineering. Besides the international airport that was used for foreign tourists to arrive and depart, all the other parts on the map were blank. This blank meant that it wasn’t a place recommended for touring. Besides civilian aircraft, this place was where fighter jets, protectors of Academy City’s airspace, and unmanned helicopters were developed. The security during Daihaseisai should be at its best. The place that Tsuchimikado had marked out with a marker on the map was right in the middle of the blank area. Looking at this, one couldn’t really tell what was so different here as compared to other streets.
Seeing Kamijou’s puzzled look, Tsuchimikado chuckled.
“It’s the ‘Ironhide Institute of Aviation Technology’, a subsidiary body of the airport…it specialises in the development of a short runway in Academy City nya. For me, who knows what’s going on inside, it’s a different thing altogether, but for Oriana, who’s here for the first time, it should be hard for her to take down this place nya.”
“…However, Oriana is a magician, right? She won’t even care about the defences that Academy City set up. I don’t think she’s the type of person who’ll care about being caught on camera.”
“However, all the observatories that Oriana has been through are places where the security is rather lax. You’ll understand it once you go there that she’s moving from the least secured area to the most secured one. Oriana and Lidvia seem to be more cautious about Academy City than we expected…if Oriana didn’t care about the security at all, she wouldn’t have sneaked among the crowd. Kami-yan, think about the past battles against those magicians. Do you think that Sherry Cromwell actually cared about the security’s movements?”
Now that he mentioned it, these magicians…seemed like they’d break through from the front if they could do so.
Oriana and Lidvia intended to make use of the intricate balance between the science power and the magic power during Daihaseisai. They didn’t want to use their power to radically change the current situation.
Outside Academy City, there were many different magicians waiting for the chance. It was impossible for them to take on the magicians and the defences of Academy City.
“Anyway, we can only hope that the security will somehow be able to trip Oriana up, and that we can hurry up and launch our counterattack. Basically, they’re heading to the last ‘observatory’. Everything will be over once we catch them there.”
“What? Though it sounds easy when you say that, if we rendezvous with Oriana there, we would be wasting the same amount of time!”
Just as Kamijou was speaking, he caught sight of a red-haired priest who was rather obvious looking.
Just as he was turning around with a surprised look on his face, Stiyl Magnus was running over.
“What were you doing all this while nya. Don’t tell me you ran into Oriana and Lidvia…”
Stiyl seemed to have difficulty saying it, so Kamijou answered for him.
“Oh yeah, this guy was thanked and lot by Komoe-sensei for saving someone, being hassled by sensei, and being bothered by it. That must be what happened.”
“Eh!? You…you silly amateur! I got away from that woman once I finished that call just now. Even if I use that ‘Disperse by-standers’ spell, once I get away from the spell boundary, I’ll be caught again. I spent quite a while before I got away.”
Stiyl unhappily spit out the shortened cigarette and extinguished it by stepping on it. Tsuchimikado’s expression remained cold as he observed Stiyl.
“…Nya, that should be the Kami-yan disease. In this serious situation, while this Mr. Tsuchimikado is drenched in blood as he uses the ‘all-around reality array’, you’re stuck in this sort of love comedy situation nya…and to think that the target isn’t Index, but Komoe-sensei. You two are so weird, always so half-hearted. If you’re a man, you should just focus on one and go all the way!”
“Stop talking about that Kami-yan disease. For you to say this when you’re infatuated with your own sister, it doesn’t seem real to me.”
“No way! Who’d feel affectionate for his own sister!? I, TSUCHIMIKADO, WOULD NEVER…IT HURTS!! …My wounds will hurt once I sho…shout…”
Tsuchimikado pressed against his waist as he continued to tremble.
Kamijou tiredly shook his head.
“Let’s not talk about Maika, right now, we have to focus on what to do next. The security around the 23rd school district is really high. We don’t even know how to get in.”
“…Wait…wait a second, Kami-yan. Let the elite Onmyoji specialist Tsuchimikado Motoharu handle this situation…we just need to use that, that special privilege that Oriana doesn’t have, but we do.”
“Ah? What privilege?”
Kamijou let out a surprised sound. Tsuchimikado chuckled as he operated his phone.
“Mn. Do you know about the General Superintendent of Academy City nya?”
Oriana Thomson was at the last stop of the 23rd school district.
The 23rd school district was different from the other school districts, in that there was only one station. The train station, which connected to all the roads in this district, was enormous, the width and complexity comparable to that of an international airport.
There were 8 ordinary train lanes, 5 subway lines, 2 high speed monorail lines, and another 4 bus lanes at the bus terminal that was just outside the main entrance. Besides that, there were also a special delivery lane and a VIP-use lane that were not opened to ordinary people.
Standing among them, Oriana nonchalantly looked around and muttered in her own heart.
The security system had changed.
There were many guards at the terminal, hidden among the crowd full of people that were carrying large-sized baggage trolleys with one hand. However, their positioning had changed. More accurately, it felt like they were letting down their guard. Though they weren’t suddenly leaving the station, they were moving to places without any significance. If so, the number of blind corners would increase for them.
Standing in this white-based station, with the walls and ceiling full of windows to absorb as much sunlight as possible, Oriana continued to ponder.
The 23rd school district was a special area in Academy City. Besides the path that was connected to the international airport, everything else was inaccessible. In reality, it was easy to get all the way to the terminal, but difficult to take the next step forward. Thus, she had been waiting on the path that linked the terminal with the international airport, continuously looking for a chance…
(The chance is definitely here, but this is a little too weird.)
She wanted to contact Lidvia, but to use the communicating spell in this situation, would she be discovered by the magician scouts? Oriana pondered before placing the flashcard near her mouth. She theorised that the enemy’s investigating ability shouldn’t be that strong.
She tore a flashcard and muttered.
“You should be mentally prepared to start the final preparations now.”
The reply came in the form of words on the surface of her retina, scrolling down like words moving down a screen.
“…Isn’t it still not time yet?”
“This nee-chan wants to take it easy, but it seems like those boys have made their move. To be slow by a beat in this intense moment, it may be a bit too ugly.”
From the corner of her eye, Oriana caught sight of the guards who were changing their positions.
“The security has changed unnaturally. Maybe they found out that we are here. There’s no ‘dispel by-stander’ or any spell that manipulate senses. This has to be orders from Academy City itself.”
“You mean that Academy City broke its own balance, and plan to take us down in one swoop?”
“On the contrary, it feels like they’re deliberately retreating, creating a competitive atmosphere. The guards seem lost. Maybe they don’t know why they have to change their set-up.”
“If it’s an invitation from the enemy, there’s no need to reply, right? Anyway, get away from the station first, and to another district.”
Oriana looked up at the giant clock above the platform.
“I’ve looked around, and the most suitable place to use it is still here. If so, I’ll be waiting here…probably won’t involve any ordinary people here.”
“Is there any way to gain time by checking through it?”
“This problem will differ based on the number of enemies. But this nee-chan will work hard even if there are many of them.”
Oriana’s eyes left the electronic bulletin as she headed towards the stairs at the platform leading up.
Her strides were large and fast.
“Then so be it.”
“Mn. Then I’ll get prepared, Lidvia. We have to take down Academy City this time. As if we’re shovelling in an innocent girl who is unaware of things into the ground.”
With a rumbling sound, the train slid into the subway platform.
Tsuchimikado Motoharu didn’t even look at the lump of metal that was slowing down.
His eyes were on his companions, Kamijou and Stiyl.
“I told the big guy up there to slightly change the security status of the 23rd school district. Even so, it’s too unreasonable to ‘remove all security of the 23rd district’, and most likely won’t be allowed. We can only move in through the ‘gap’ formed when they move from position A to B…”
According to Tsuchimikado, the higher-ups seemed to have ordered the changes to the positioning of the satellites and the image processing. Right now, they were switching it around, so aerial monitoring would be much more lax.
Kamijou remembered the other person that Tsuchimikado had been talking to.
The general director of Academy City.
As it was a phone call, Kamijou couldn’t hear the other person’s voice. But to be of a higher footing than Tsuchimikado, who was well-versed in science and magic, one could imagine that this man was somewhere even more far-reaching. This was something that the ordinary high school student, Kamijou Touma, was unable to see or reach.
“If we use the surface appearance of the constellation in the night sky, the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ probably won’t be activated immediately after sunset. Right now, it’s 5:25 PM, and it takes only 10 minutes to the 23rd school district’s terminal station nya. The result is that we still don’t know the time limit, though it’s likely to be between 6 to 7…there’s approximately 25 minutes left once we reached the station.”
“Tsuchimikado. You just said that we’re going to sneak in through the lapses in security when the guards are shifting around. There’s a 10 minute time lag. Do you think that this position change will remain as it is?”
“Kami-yan. The security changes don’t just involve one building. It’s impossible to finish switching the guards around in 10 minutes. This is like a school’s evacuation drill, the more people there are, the slower the movements— this is basic logic nya. At least when we sneak into the 23rd school district at 5:35 PM, we can still pounce on the lapses in security.”
Hearing this, Stiyl tossed the cigarette into the ashtray that was in the smoking area.
“Let me confirm this, you’re going to appear before Oriana like that?”
“Eh? I do want to rest for a while nya, but even if security is lax, there can’t possibly be none at all. The 23rd school district isn’t so simple that you two can break through like that.”
Stiyl casually replied.
This wasn’t to ask for any reason, but to check the other person’s intent.
“From 6 to 7, this is our limit, and at the same time, Oriana and Lidvia’s sickle. Even if they want to head off to other areas, the time would be up once they reach the other place. To them, wouldn’t they have to use the ‘Apostle’s Cross’ in the 23rd district?”
Kamijou listened to what they said.
After that, the boy said,
“Whether it’s chasing after others or being chased, we’ll put an end to it now.”
“Oriana and Lidvia should be thinking about the same thing. And we have no disagreements—”
After that, the gradually decelerating train that was running with all its might finally stopped.
As the train arrived, the metal doors slid apart, releasing the people in the train onto the platform, but Kamijou and company didn’t mind the crowd. The crowd seemed to be avoiding the trio as they moved out in a human wave.
“—Once we step onto this train, there’s no way back. Right now, there’s only an all-out bloody battle with Oriana and Lidvia. Are you ready, Kamijou Touma?”
Hearing Stiyl’s voice, Kamijou remained silent.
A lot of things had happened today. He had smelled and tasted blood, tasted sand, fought with a magician that was walking on the street, fell into the enemy’s trap, saw someone fall in front of himself personally, realised that he was helpless in front of these injured people; grinding his teeth as he pulled through, he came all the way here.
Swallowing all these, Kamijou nodded his head.
“Remember, I don’t want to settle this by killing others.”
After that, Tsuchimikado chuckled like a child, while Stiyl lifted his lips slightly. They were expressing their feelings by smiling.
The three of them moved into the train.
The auto-doors closed. The train accelerated slowly as it headed into the subway…
Heading towards the war that was waiting for them.
Between the lines 6
Oriana Thomson’s family members were all Christians.
Every Sunday, when they head out to Church, the elderly and kind priest would look at this young girl, and in a simple manner, repeat the same words over and over again.
He said that she must be a useful person.
She was always wondering: what is a useful person?
Of course, Oriana was normally a very kind person. For example, she would pick up an empty can on the ground, guide lost people who were standing in front of a subway map, work hard to deliver things that people really wanted to deliver to the destination.
Such kind actions might not be ‘helpful to people’.
What if Oriana picked up an empty can that was on the road, and someone who wanted to get some money and a home by cleaning the area would be troubled because there was nothing for him to do?
What if Oriana helped that someone go back home safely and that person might end up killing his own family?
What if the thing that the person wanted Oriana to deliver was a cursed item?
Even if she didn’t want to do this, even if she really wanted to be helpful to others, it would still cause a tragedy. This world was filled with many people with many different thoughts. Like the time when Oriana helped someone with corrupted values, each action she did to help someone may end up hurting someone else. It might end up pushing the poor, helpless, defenceless soul that Oriana wanted to protect into the depths of hell.
The difficult thing was that she couldn’t predict whether her acts would betray her own good intentions. If she had only known that such actions would betray her good intentions, she just didn’t need to do it. On the contrary, once she knew that this action would lead to success, she would choose to take this action without hesitation.
Oriana knew that it was just plain stubbornness. This logic was like gambling: even if Oriana chose red a hundred times, and even when it was unrelated to Oriana’s own thoughts and words, the ball would always end up in different positions, and with differing luck and conditions, decide her victory or loss. Whether it was a guaranteed win when she chose red, or whether she would get the same number after a hundred times, there was no simple way to win. This was reality.
What if this game involved human lives?
Even if she had to win this,
Which side should she bet on?
Was there anyone who could simply decide the outcome?
Just as she was being asked to help,
Her wounded heart was too afraid to extend out her hand. In the end, when she was unable to help, the person who requested help really got hurt in the end.
Because of this, she wanted a benchmark.
She wanted to use a benchmark for her to not suspect anyone.
The sure-win method of roulette—it’d be great if there was a benchmark. Because everyone’s stand was different, the bickering would lead to tragedy. Like scooping up water with both hands, no matter how hard she tried, the water would flow out from the gaps between her intertwined fingers.
(It doesn’t matter, even if it’s the Emperor.)
Oriana Thomson hoped.
(It doesn’t matter whether it’s the king, pope, president, ministers, no matter the title, no matter who’s on the throne, I’ll fight for others. Whether it’s science or magic, these things don’t matter—)
She gritted her teeth as she thought,
(—I beg you, decide on a rule. Please grant my wish, allow me to have a clear benchmark and make everyone happy. A world that runs on this best rule that won’t let anyone get involved in any discord, that may lead to tragedy.)
She thought about this, but she was unable to say it.
The reason was simple.
Though she said that she wanted to help others…
She had ended up harming others this time.