Toaru Majutsu no Index:Volume11 Chapter4
Chapter 4: Fireboats and a Battle of Gunfire. Lotte_di_Liberazione.
Agnese was inside a room of the flagship of the ‘Queen’s Fleet’, the ‘Queen of the Adriatic Sea’. This ship was a whole lot different from the other escort ships, and the room was a lot more amazing.
It was a square room.
The length was about 20 metres, and it looked like a perfect square. However, on closer look, the four walls were tilted inwards. This room wasn’t a cube, but a square-base pyramid. Looking up at the walls that gave off a white light bulb-like glow, one could see the peak that was so high above.
But there was something weird with this peak.
On first glance, it looked like it was 100 metres high. Of course, this ship wasn’t that tall. This may have been a result of magic being used to keep the space that the ship was unable to retain. Either that, or it was a form of trickart.
This wasn’t the only strange thing. This square-base pyramid was covered with equilateral triangular tiles. Basically, equilateral triangles couldn’t possibly form a square base, so there should be some other tiles to fill it up.
But no matter how one looked, there didn’t seem to be such a thing.
This as basically trying to force the introduction of a graphical theory that couldn’t possibly exist. These unique characteristics were indicating a Holy space that was unexplainable through the laws of physics.
There were no decorations inside the room.
The completely flat surface of the floor, which was caused by the reflection of white light on the ice, seemed to be showing its rejection to other people. There didn’t seem to be any space for negotiations, as an invisible pressure forced in from outside.
Agnese stared at the middle of the room.
There was an iceball-like object, 7 metres in diameter, in the middle of the room, and it was unknown how it stuck onto the floor. This inexplicable object similar to a soap bubble was the ‘cage’ that Agnese should be staying in.
The low rumbling reached Agnese’s ears.
“‘Divine Cannon of St Barbara’…? What on earth is it firing at?”
The sound echoed throughout the four corners.
After a while,
“Don’t you understand? Sister Agnese.”
In this dim room, the person leaning on the ice object said.
It was the figure of a male.
He was wearing a heavy sacred robe, and the 4 necklaces on his neck looked like annual rings of a tree trunk. There were several Crosses hung on them.
Agnese thought, that’s the Menorah (The Menorah is a symbol of Judaism, and also the emblem of the coat of arms of Israel. The reason why ‘7’ is used is because ‘7’ represents the number of days that God created the world, 6 days of creation + 1 day of rest, and the Menorah is shaped like a tree to symbolise the Tree of Life). This was another representation of the Sephirot (they are the 10 attributes/emanations in the Kabbalah) and the four worlds through the 7 candles.
Suddenly, a voice that didn’t belong to the duo could be heard. The voice came from the Cross on his body.
“Ship 37 was sunk. Can we stop our firing…the mainland would likely interfere if we continue. Just deploying the fleet alone is enough to cause Veneto—”
“Leave the dealings with others to my subordinates. That’s not under my jurisdiction.”
After saying that, the man named Biagio stroked the Cross on his neck with his fingers. That should be the switch for the communication thing, as the voice of the follower was cut off.
He looked at Agnese’s face, and smiled,
“I’ve been to many departments, but it’s really hard to find any competent followers.”
“If they’re incompetent followers, it should be the officer’s role to develop them.”
“That’s just idealistic thinking. And, that’s why you fail in life, Sister Agnese. You’re here because you didn’t choose your followers wisely.”
Agnese casually replied.
Biagio twisted his lips viciously,
“…I said before not to let the 37th ship near the main fleet before the intruders are found. In the end, even the ‘bridge’ got linked. What would happen if the intruders got onto the other ships? If something happened to you, we couldn’t even restore anything.”
Hearing his words, Agnese hugged her own body with her two hands.
Even so, it should be impossible to hide the fact that her nun's habit’s functions were destroyed.
Her habit was specially made. On the design of revealing skin, there was a spell of Christian punishment on it. It was an exposed punishment—the mark of shame, meant to use shame to punish the person. No matter whether it was suicide or homicide, the counterspell would prevent the person from dying. This wasn’t because someone cared and wanted the person to live; it was to add on to the misery and pain. As it would cause an extremely huge ‘burden’, it couldn’t be used for a long time.
“However, it’s really ironic.”
“Don’t say that, Sister Agnese.”
“It’s really unexpected, that of all people, only a heretic like you is compatible with the large scale spell of the Roman Catholics that protects the Adriatic Sea.”
The crux of the ‘Queen of the Adriatic Sea’ was the ‘Appointed Time of the Rosary’. Agnese didn’t know the details of the structure and effects, but it was said that it was only effective when Agnese’s mind was crushed.
“Humans use their minds to create magical energy inside their bodies. But if the ‘Appointed Time of the Rosary’ uses magical energy created by an ordinary person, it can’t be fully utilised. So, Sister Agnese, it’s time for you to take the stage. Please fulfil your purpose to the fullest.”
These words may seem exaggerated, but the main gist was to create an ‘abnormal magical energy’, so they had to turn a human into one with ‘an abnormal mind’—which was to turn the person into a handicap—that was all that it was. Agnese was supposedly suited for this because the way her brain ‘would be destroyed’ was suited for the ‘Appointed Time of the Rosary’.
Though despicable, nothing could be changed even if Agnese grumbled.
She knew all about this the moment she stepped in.
“More importantly, I heard that number 37 was sunk. What’s going on?”
“Are you implying that you want to know what’s going on?”
“…That management committee, which are your subordinates, they should be down there.”
“I supposed their methods should be decided by me, no?”
Agnese remained silent. She thought that before the ship was sunk, the boy and the rest should have already escaped that ship.
“If they only relied on their escape spell, it’s a bit too optimistic.”
“…What do you mean?”
“It may be faster for you once you see their corpses, but it’s too troublesome to pick up the bits and pieces that are scattered on the Adriatic Sea. In that case, it’ll be rather hard to determine who they are. What now?”
Agnese silently gnashed her teeth.
Hearing the soft sound of Agnese gnashing her teeth, Biagio smirked.
At this moment,
“Bishop Biagio, we have an emergency!!”
An urgent voice came from one of the numerous Crosses.
“There’s a giant construct underneath where number 37 was sunk. It seemed to be salvaging the remains…”
Biagio carelessly twisted his lips.
“An underwater spell…like what Sister Lucia did just now, is that underwater again? We may have to reorganise the ‘Queen’s Fleet’ capability in order to control the waters. You said that it’s a huge construct? If so, it’s impossible for one person to create this kind of thing alone…as expected, there’s an ‘organisation’ in Chioggia. That’s why I said to crush them. I’ve already given this order, and again, my subordinates have failed me. Really, not only did they not crush the ‘organisation’ successfully, they even let the intruders on the ship escape…”
Biagio stared at Agnese’s face.
This time, there was no smile on his face, as his eyes betrayed his anxiety.
“…Really, those guys are so useless.”
The taste of seawater, which had flowed into Kamijou’s throat, awakened his blurry consciousness.
He was in the water.
He could see his limbs drifting slightly in the water. It was unknown how deep the water was. The night sea seemed to be covered by the darkness, as even if he looked up, he could only see the dark surface of the water. The ice fleet should be nearby, but he seemed to be covered by some thick membrane, as he couldn’t see the light.
White bubbles emerged from his mouth as the fragments of air continued to rise.
(Or…Orsola…where are they…?)
A certain person’s name appeared in his mind.
The remains of the ice ship were gone, so the ice with the modified melting point likely melted back into water. Maybe they were already starting to create another ship somewhere else.
(Lu…cia, and An…gelene, they…)
He knew that he had to head to the surface, but his thoughts didn’t follow his actions.
He couldn’t link his motive, actions and results in his mind, as if he was really about to succumb to the sleep devil.
The air bubbles escaped from his mouth, moving upwards.
(Damn…damn it…I will…really…die…)
He was not far from the surface of the sea.
It was like an illusion of looking up a cliff to see an exit there.
The black sea in Kamijou’s vision was suddenly destroyed.
He thought that maybe there was a killer whale or a shark nearby, only to realise that he mistook the dimensions. The ‘thing’ that was slowly approaching from afar was about 30 metres long.
Before Kamijou could consider anything.
Crack. The front tip of the long and narrow construct opened up in fours like a flower blooming.
As if it was about to swallow the boy.
Completely wet, Kamijou was lying on a wooden floor.
The one looking down on him was Index, the rectangular suitcase and Kamijou’s luggage bag were placed on each side.
It was a long dim space. The height was about 8 metres and the length was 30 metres. The walls and ceiling weren’t rectangular, but arched like a tunnel.
It was made of old black wood, and seemed to be intricately made as if it was a wooden roller coaster.
“Don’t look so worried, he’ll wake up soon.”
A man’s voice could be heard.
“I was shocked when the entire ship got bombed without mercy. Alright, in terms of results, this is truly a miracle.”
That’s not the problem, right? Index thought.
The owner of the voice should also know this, that was why he said that on purpose.
“You see, he’s awake.”
Index quickly turned her head and stared at Kamijou, who was on the floor.
His wet eyelids opened slightly.
Kamijou called her name as he slowly got up from the floor.
“Touma, Are you alright?”
The one saying this was the silver-haired green-eyed girl. After seeing Kamijou’s face, she seemed rather relieved, though she quickly reverted back to her sulking expression.
The one standing beside her was—
“Yo, long time no see. I’m the substitute Supreme Pontiff of the Amakusa Christian Catholics, and we’re now affiliated with the English Anglicans.”
His black hair was now even darker, and his fizzy afro was shining like a beetle. He was wearing a loose shirt and jeans, and was extremely tall, but his body size didn’t match his clothes size, making him look extremely skinny. There were four mini-electric fans attached together by a rope, which was hung on his neck. For some reason, his shoelaces were more than 1 metre long.
Kamijou couldn’t help but sigh.
Like Agnese and Orsola, he had met this guy during ‘The Book of the Law’ incident.
“This means…it’s the Amakusa?”
They did come to Chioggia to help Orsola move house. After Index had gotten separated from Kamijou, she ran around looking for Amakusa members.
Kamijou wanted to wipe away the sweat on his forehead, but his limbs and even his pockets were drenched by seawater. Just as he was wondering what to do, someone popped up beside him to give him a white wet handkerchief.
Looking closely, the double-eyelid girl was beside him.
“Please use it.”
After Kamijou received it, the girl replied ‘no problem’ before running off.
“Why are…you guys here…? And, where is this place…?”
Looking around, in the midst of the dark space, he could see and sense the presence of numerous people. Seemed like the entire Amakusa group was gathered within this wooden tunnel. They were gossiping about,
“How was it, Itsuwa?”
“You should have stayed beside him a bit longer.”
What was going on?
“Oh ya…eh? Where’s Orsola and the others!?”
“Anyway, we got everyone. The known identities are Orsola, Lucia and Angelene. There are also the tied-up men and some Roman Catholic nuns, and we’re currently interrogating them.”
Though he didn’t know how many people there were on the ship, Kamijou finally relaxed on hearing Tatemiya’s words. He looked around, and said,
“Is this the secret base of the Amakusa? In that situation, how did you save us when we dropped into the sea?”
“It is really hard to imagine this. Let me tell you, this isn’t a construct, it’s a vehicle.”
Before Kamijou could let out this voice, he habitually jolted, and his body swayed backwards. It was as if the facilities in the tunnel were moving. Being shocked, Kamijou froze.
“I wanted to say submarine, but this isn’t so high-tech. At most, it’s just a wooden ship that has submarine capabilities.”
“In other words…”
Tatemiya lowered his voice as he said,
“It’s a ship that can float and sink.”
POW!! The sound of the water surface breaking could be heard from outside the tunnel. Kamijou’s vision was tilted according to the jerks. While he still couldn’t believe it, the tunnel shaped roof broke open from the middle. With the sound of wood clattering, it was like a set of double doors being opened.
One could see the moon that was glowing like a light bulb in the night sky.
The smell of the sea whiffed into his nose. The footing was a bit unstable as if he was on a boat.
“It may be a bit hard to understand. I suppose you can believe it now?”
Tatemiya rubbed against the wooden wall that didn’t have any weird shapes on it.
With a creaking sound, the floor that was about 30 metres long suddenly rose. The sound of gears rubbing against each other could be heard, and 40 seconds later, they were already at the ceiling. It was like a blueprint when one can see the layout from the top.
What was in front of him was the night sea.
The place which Kamijou was standing on was 30 metres long and 8 metres wide, and it looked something like a rugby ball. The opened ceiling extended to the left and right like wings, and on the sea, there were many artificial islands made of a large amount of wood.
“Are you kidding me…”
Kamijou couldn’t help but mutter.
This definitely looked like a ship, but there was no control room, cabins or communication rooms. It was just the middle of the tunnel that was called a ‘ship’. Just this being made of wood didn’t make any common sense. It was like a cardboard prop springing to life.
“…You guys actually brought these things for moving houses?”
“What? We’re basically hidden Christians in the first place. It’s expected that we’ll hide weapons. Also, we specialise in island combat.”
Tatemiya smirked, and said,
“Paper is made from wood, and then, ships are made from wood. By using this little relationship, we can make them this small.”
Tatemiya said as he pulled out something like paper notes from his pockets. They were tied up with rubber bands. Are they all ships? Kamijou thought that there was some incantation written on it, but it was just plain white paper.
(Magic…it’s really exaggerating.)
Kamijou shook his head as he exhaled, turning to look at the surroundings below him.
He could barely see the land near the surface of the water. The streets of Chioggia…or maybe not. There seemed to be many more lights.
On the other hand, one could see a white light bulb-like glow on the dark sea on the other side. If one was not careful, it may be brighter than the streets of Chioggia…it should be the ‘Queen’s Fleet’. From far away, the difference in scale was even more obvious. To Kamijou, who was unfamiliar with the magic world and marine warfare basics, he was unable to tell whether this place was safe.
Up till now, though he had stepped into the enemy’s territory numerous times, no matter the place, facility or building, it was basically a piece of land.
However, this time was different. There were about a hundred of these places to fight on.
Thinking about the face of the girl that said that she wanted to stay behind, Kamijou couldn’t help but frown.
Seeing his expression like this, Index said,
“No matter what we do next, we have to confirm what’s going on. I want to know how far away we are from the safety zone, how far we should retreat…more importantly, Touma looks like he has something to say.”
Kamijou seemed to be a bit short of words,
“Actually, I’m not so sure about that destroyed ship. Guess maybe Lucia and Angelene are more suited to explain it.”
“Nothing. I’m just thinking that even when we’re in the enemy’s territory, Touma’s still Touma.”
“WHAT’S WITH THAT?”
Kamijou shouted again, but the response he got was an unhappy look on her face. As Kamijou wanted to continue talking about this topic, he started to look around. By the way, where were the two people he mentioned?
At this moment, the human wall formed by the Amakusa teenagers split apart.
Lucia and Angelene walked out from behind the human wall. However, both of them looked like they wanted to run away. Orsola continued to smile as she pushed the girls’ backs from behind.
“Oh, so you’re alright…seems like it. In other words, we’re all alive. Though the cannons didn’t hit us, we did fall from a five to seven storey height.”
Kamijou casually converses with them, but Lucia and Angelene were both blushing as they silently turned their heads aside. Eh? Kamijou couldn’t help but make a stiff face when he didn’t get a reply.
Orsola smiled as she said to the Roman Catholic nuns,
“Really, there’s no need to be shy about it.”
“No…we mustn’t say these kind of words so easily!!”
Gritting her teeth as she said this, Angelene swung her large sleeves as she looked like she was about to cry. Lucia didn’t shout or cry, but she was closing her eyes, muttering as she drew a Cross. Maybe it was to help her stabilise her emotions.
Unable to understand what was going on, Kamijou frowned.
Seeing this, Tatemiya laughed.
“About this…because it was dark, I’m not so sure what happened over there.”
“…These words aren’t exactly making me comfortable, you know.”
“It’s that. Lucia and Angelene’s nun robes are different from Orsola. You see, their sleeves and skirts are yellow. That’s a restraining device that the Roman Catholics prepared. With that, they have a similar effect of ‘being unable to escape a certain distance from a certain point’.”
“What does that mean?”
“In, other, words, you’re a slow guy. If you don’t destroy it, those two will collapse due to the restraining effects. That would be troublesome. Thus…I don’t know how to say this, but you seemed to have accidentally used your right hand when you were unconscious.”
WHAT? Kamijou widened his eyes.
“In simpler terms, those nun robes—”
Tatemiya twisted his lips and gave a smirk, and then pointed at Lucia’s face. To the tall nun who revealed a surprised look, the substitute Supreme Pontiff said sternly,
“Dropped off cleanly.”
With those short-sleeved arms of hers, Lucia blushed as she hugged Angelene, and looked away. She was like a mother protecting her child, using her body as a shield.
Looking closely, their nun's robes were like Index’s; there were safety pins all over the place. The gold rings on their heads were also gone.
Thinking about what might have happened, Kamijou suddenly revealed a surprised look.
“WAIT… WHEN I WAS UNCONSCIOUS, SOMETHING WONDERFUL… NO, SOMETHING RIDICULOUS HAPPENED!? BESIDES, HOW DO I DEAL WITH THIS INDEX WHO’S ANGRY UPON THINKING ABOUT THAT? I DIDN’T SEE ANYTHING AND THIS WAS ALL CAUSED BY YOU!! IT’S UNREASONABLE TO BE ANGRY OVER THIS!”
Though Kamijou was refuting this, he was in a begging position. Regarding Kamijou, who was shouting about, Index didn’t say anything, but her slightly trembling lips revealed white teeth, making it look even scarier. Killing intent enveloped her heart, and even the battle-experienced Amakusa members were frantically yelling and escaping. The entire ship was in a mess.
On the other hand, Angelene, who got away from Lucia’s chest, suddenly remembered something.
“Oh…oh yes. Now’s not the time to say this… Sister Agnese’s still…! Erm…everyone, thank you for saving us, please let us explain the situation…!”
But with that whispering voice of hers, she was completely unable to reach out to Kamijou, who was busy trying to explain himself, and the people surrounding them.
“Touma’s like this all the time!”
“Aren’t you like that as well, Index? Anyone would get angry and start lecturing, but what’s with that bite that can bite through cuttlefish floss?”
“That, about that…”
Seeing the crowd that continued to ignore her, a panicking Angelene frantically waved her hands. The entire scene was like an out-of-control class.
“Erm…about that, we still have something to do. If possible, I want to talk about Sister Agnese’s situation…wa—”
“THAT IS WEIRD! IF YOU HAVE SUCH A POWERFUL BITE ATTACK, CAN’T YOU USE THAT TO DEFEND YOURSELF AGAINST OTHER MAGICIANS!? 103,000 MAGICAL BOOKS? THIS IS EASIER TO POSE A THREAT!”
“Touma, Touma. Do you think that you can win by trying to open my eyes?”
In a rare moment, Kamijou turned around, trying to avoid Index, who leaped over. The white nun leaped onto his back, and both of them rolled on the floor. “WAAAAAAHHHH!!” The double-eyelid girl got caught in it, and fell onto the deck. The wet white handkerchiefs that she was holding onto scattered all over the place, and the surrounding Amakusa members were all shouting,
“ITSUWA, NOW’S THE CHANCE! GO!”
“USE THIS CHANCE TO KISS HIM ON THE EARLOBE!”
“AT LEAST GET ONTO HIS CHEST!”
“SO NOISY, AT LEAST YOU SHOULD GET RID OF YOUR STRONGEST RIVAL INDEX FIRST! ITSUWA, IF YOU’RE A WOMAN, FLING HER AWAY!!!”
Seeing this scene, Tatemiya laughed while Orsola placed a hand on her face and said “Okay, okay”. Lucia, however, couldn’t stand this as she sighed.
In other words, nobody was listening to Angelene.
“That’s, that is…!!”
Angelene was getting even more panicky.
Just as her franticness was at her limit, her eyes suddenly widened.
Deciding on this, Angelene grabbed onto Lucia’s skirt with both hands—
“Look…look here! Everyone, notice this!!”
Whop, Lucia’s nun's skirt was pulled up.
At this moment,
All the conversations ceased.
At first, Lucia was shocked by this sudden silence that would have killed the ears and frowns of all the people staring at her. The emotion was high, as if the Pope was waving his hand from outside the palace. Just as she was incredulous about this silence, she felt a chill around her legs. Just as she looked down in surprise—
2 seconds later, she blushed as if she had just exploded, and quickly used her hands to slap down her skirt that was in the air.
Lucia silently turned towards the petite nun beside her.
“No, it’s not that! Our group often gave the same feeling! So, that…I carelessly did it on habit!!”
Most likely, Angelene was trying to explain her actions. Tatemiya and Lucia, together with the Amakusa teenagers, started to blush and look away. As for Kamijou, who was frozen at the spot, he was bitten on the back of the head by Index.
The Amakusa weren’t so stupid as to let the huge ship land near the shore. After they got near land, Tatemiya pulled out a paper bundle from his pocket and tossed it into the sea. The bundle changed into 20 mini-boats. After Kamijou and the rest got onto the boats, Tatemiya turned the ship back into paper. He didn’t keep the paper, but let it dissolve in the sea.
The rowing boat headed towards a lighted area. Are we heading towards an island? Kamijou thought. Looking through the darkness, it did seem to be land that appeared to point out towards the sea.
“We’re back at Chioggia. However, it’s far away from the town central where Orsola lives, it’s a place near the coast.”
It was said that this place was called Sottomarina.
After reaching the shore, the Amakusa members turned the rowing boats back into paper, and then tossed the paper bundles to form wooden tables and chairs. From the utensils that they prepared, it seemed like they wanted to discuss this while they have dinner.
The tall and elegant Lucia looked around uneasily.
“We really want to spend some time with you, but we need to get back to Sister Agnese now.”
“It’s useless even if you go now.”
Tatemiya bluntly replied,
“We’ve just gone through that situation. Now, those guys are most likely still on their guard. Let’s wait for a while for the situation to clear.”
Just like that, with the dark seaside as the background, a group of people started to prepare for this late dinner.
The ingredients couldn’t possibly be from just tossing paper. The Amakusa teenagers pulled out metal camping utensils and started to prepare their dinner quickly. Looking at their actions, Kamijou felt that there were a lot of excessive movements. Maybe they were according to the Amakusa rituals?
Angelene, who was looking at them preparing the meal, also said,
“Compared to coffee or red tea, I prefer hot butter cocoa chocolate.”
What is that? Kamijou stared at Angelene.
“Ah, you don’t know? It’s a hot chocolate drink with fresh cream on it. Normally, they use thick coffee, but I prefer chocolate, you know?”
Angelene started to talk about her favourite super sweet drink in delight, and Lucia, who was beside her, pressed down on her head.
“Sister Angelene…you sure have let down your guard. They’re only assisting us temporarily. I should have reminded you several times not to be so obsessed with sweet food.”
Seeing Lucia being so angry, Kamijou was somewhat troubled.
“You don’t have to say that, right? Nuns shouldn’t be like that.”
“On what basis are you saying that? Don’t sum-up all Christians to be like Sister Angelene, who’s in training.”
Lucia shouted in an incredulous manner. Regarding this reaction, Index looked away in embarrassment. On a side note, Orsola was eating raw ham off the chopping board, even saying, “My, it sure is good.”…it sure felt that way.
Just like that, the meal was done.
On Tatemiya’s call, Kamijou and company came over.
A white, wet handkerchief suddenly appeared in front of him. Looking closely, the double-eyelid girl was standing there. A hand was on her blushed cheek and her eyes started to swim about.
Without thinking further, Kamijou received it. The Amakusa girl said,
“No, it’s my pleasure.”
After that, she ran away.
“The wet handkerchief tactic again, Itsuwa?”
“Onto the next step! You must at least have the chance to hold that guy’s hand!”
“This is really too slow!”
“No, no, to be unable to gain any progress is Itsuwa’s charm.”
“Soon, it’ll be a battle against the female Supreme Pontiff. At that time, we’ll definitely cheer for Itsuwa!!”
Hearing these words, she continued to shrink. This had been the case all this time, just what was going on? Even Kamijou was a bit mindful about being given a handkerchief.
Of course, the Amakusa members couldn’t all gather at the same table. They were sitting at the other tables while facing here.
Just like that, the information processing and tactical meeting got underway.
“First, we’ll start from the ship that Agnese’s imprisoned on.”
The first one to start speaking was Index.
“That should be the ‘Queen’s Fleet’ that’s protecting the ‘Queen of the Adriatic Sea’.”
Straight to the point.
Lucia and Angelene stared at Index in surprise. To a certain extent, Kamijou was used to it. Seeing this scene made him remember Index’s importance.
“Protecting…? That…what on earth? That large fleet is just an accessory?”
Instead of saying that Tatemiya was in shock, it’s more like he can’t stand it. His expression was like seeing an upstart with too much decoration. Kamijou thought that this wasn’t without reason, as with that amount of firepower, it was already a huge threat.
“Ye…yes. Basically, we don’t know what this ‘Queen of the Adriatic Sea’ is…I’m guessing it’s some incredible facility that even we don’t know of.”
“After we lost to you guys in ‘The Book of the Law’ incident, we got reprimanded and removed from the frontlines. As we had lost our reputation, once we got back to the Roman Catholics, we were forced to work on the ‘Queen’s Fleet’. Even so, we only got a little bit of the orders; we don’t know what contributions we were making.”
Lucia continued on. She filled Angelene’s plate with only vegetables before handing it over to her. Though Angelene looked like she was about to cry, Lucia didn’t waver in the least.
“Being forced to work… What kind of work were you two forced to do?”
After Kamijou tilted his head and asked, Lucia and Angelene stared at each other before saying,
“We…we were assigned to draw wind from the sea.”
“What? Did you say wind??”
“Ah, it’s…not really that…even though it’s wind, it’s wind in the magic sense.”
A magic kind of wind? Kamijou widened his eyes; he didn’t understand the difference. Thus, just as he was about to ask,
“Hm, the wind here should refer to the one used in alchemy in the beginning. Even though it’s work, it’s more of a mental thing.”
“In this scenario, it’s one of the four elements. To remove this is…”
“Maybe they’re trying to create an unstable situation.”
The members started to give opinions on this magic, and the surrounding Amakusa members nodded their heads in agreement. In the end, Kamijou missed out on the opportunity to ask the question. The knowledge of ‘the air of activity is all wind’ passed through his head, but Kamijou was rather depressed that only this thought came to mind.
“The bodies of the ships in the escort fleet use normal seawater. I guess besides that, they used some other spells as well.”
“If…if that’s the case, we can only think of the ‘Queen of the Adriatic Sea’.”
As for Kamijou, who was left out of the conversation, he decided to get back into the topic.
“But… that thing is called the Queen of the Adriatic Sea, right? I remember I heard of this name outside of the Roman Catholics, right?”
Kamijou tilted his head as he dumped the salad with lots of octopus legs in it onto his plate. Index said to Kamijou,
“The Queen of the Adriatic Sea is another given name of Venezia.”
“Eh, if that’s so, it’s a spell that involves Venezia, right? For example, a marine spell that the Roman Catholics in Venezia use?”
“That is the case…”
Orsola wanted to put some raw ham on Angelene’s plate, but Lucia politely refused, saying that they shouldn’t spoil her.
“…Though Venezia and Rome are on the Italian peninsula, they were enemies in the past.”
What? Kamijou frowned. Orsola continued,
“Venezia originally hated being under the dominion of other people, so after escaping into the Adriatic Sea, they built a city there. After that, they continued to maintain this strong sense of independence, even ignoring the requests of the Roman Catholics and the Byzantine Empire to come under them.”
Index chomped on a butter-fried clam, and said,
“In history, AD 829, some businessmen brought the remains of St. Mark, one of the Twelve Apostles (Teh_ping: For your information, he wasn’t. He was one of the Seventy, not Twelve), into Venezia, displaying the attitude of ‘wanting to protect the sleep of an Apostle’. This may be in response to the Roman Catholics doing the same with St. Peter.”
Hearing Index’s words, Lucia nodded,
“Because of salt and trade Venezia had a lot of wealth, she managed to hold off against the Frankish Empire and Genoa, and suppress neighbouring powers such as Padova and Chioggia… After that, it became a powerful marine country near the Roman Senate; but not controlled by it”
Angelene, who was beside Lucia, placed a sliced black sea bream onto her plate, and said,
“Seeing the arrogant ways of Venezia, the Pope of that time had ordered them out of the religion numerous times. Normally speaking, this is the equivalent of a death sentence. But Venezia didn’t care, and continued to prosper…because this city-state might have bared her fangs at anytime, the Roman Catholics couldn’t have possibly gave them such a large fleet spell. On the contrary—”
“—Was that a special large fleet meant to deal with Venezia?”
Kamijou quietly said while he stopped moving his hand holding the fork.
“At that time, the Roman Catholics felt endangered, and the thing they prepared that could bury Venezia was the ‘Queen of the Adriatic Sea’. As it was a spell designated for attacking cities, it can’t defend against incoming fleets. Thus, the defense net used to deal with the Venezian Navy was the ‘Queen’s Fleet’.”
It was a large-scale spell that could destroy a country.
Hearing this fact, compared to Kamijou and Tatemiya’s response, Lucia and Angelene were even more shocked. This was because they had confirmed what they were doing.
“…They pulled out such an old thing. What do those guys intend to do by taking this out?”
Tatemiya shook his head, looking at the light bulb-like glow on the sea far away.
Index revealed a serious expression and said,
“The large scale spell ‘Queen of the Adriatic Sea’ could only be fired at Venezia. The reason was simple: the Roman Catholics feared that if the weapon was stolen by the enemy, the cannons could be turned on them…”
“Then…then, they really intend to destroy Venezia?”
Angelene turned blue with fear. This time, Orsola frowned,
“But the bad relations between the Roman Catholics and Venezia should have been several centuries ago, right? Right now, Venezia is a world-renowned tourist attraction, and the Roman Catholics should gain quite a few benefits from it. I really can’t think of a reason why they would destroy it.”
“…Maybe there’s something very significant, such that it’s beneficial to destroy Venezia.”
After Index said this, silence filled the entire place.
Kamijou swallowed his saliva, and said,
“This spell, the ‘Queen of the Adriatic Sea’ is a several hundred-years-old thing… It’s not just Orsola, I’m wondering why would they choose this time to use it.”
“Hm…normally speaking, the significance of showing power to the outside is extremely big.”
“But aren’t the Roman Catholics the largest power? They didn’t have to specially do this — did something happen to them recently—”
Saying this, Kamijou became silent.
After that, he said,
“…Is it because of the ‘Apostle’s Cross’?”
Lucia and Angelene were shocked by these unexpected words. Index, who knew about this, showed the same expression as Kamijou and Orsola. Only Tatemiya didn’t know anything.
“That’s the highest level spiritual tool that the Roman Catholics are proud of. They used it during Daihaseisai with the intent of taking down Academy City, but didn’t reach their goal in the end. It’s not unexpected for the Roman Catholics to be so anxious.”
Though the Magic side wouldn’t succumb to the Science side because of this, the Roman Catholics must have been hit hard. If the biggest trump card of the Roman Catholics didn’t work, what would happen with the other trump cards? It would be that kind of feeling.
“But if they were feeling anxious and took action, why did they choose to target Venezia? Basically, which idiot thought of the plan… Index, what’s the benefit of mobilising the ‘Queen of the Adriatic Sea’? Can it dominate a city like the ‘Apostle’s Cross’?”
“No such thing. The ‘Queen of the Adriatic Sea’ has no value other than destruction. Basically, it has the effect of ‘taking away everything of value’, like the divine punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah. There shouldn’t be any functions of creation.”
“Sodom and Gomorrah…they’re that, huh. The Archangel ‘The Power of God’ sent a rain of fire on them. (Teh_ping: for more information, read Genesis 18:16 to 19:29)”
Tatemiya said as he gulped down grape wine from a wooden cup.
He continued on in a voice as if he was reading from an old book,
“Though the Angel received the order to punish the immoral cities, there was a devout family there (Teh_ping: In Sodom). So only this family was told to run away before the destruction. At that moment, the Angel added a rule. But on the day the cities were destroyed, the wife broke the rule, and got destroyed along with the cities (Teh_ping: She got turned into a pillar of salt)…”
“Mn, the ‘Queen of the Adriatic Sea’ was meant to launch a rain of fire down on this immoral city called Venezia, from the centre of Venezia to outside, thus everything would be destroyed. That is the first step.”
Index said in a flat tone,
“Other than that, the second phase would be targeted at anyone or anything far away from Venezia. Anyone on tour, or even an art piece in a museum, anything that displays Venetian culture: all these would be taken away. With this, everything regarding Venezia—knowledge or history—will be gone without a trace…”
A chilling topic.
Because it was hard to imagine it, one could see the large scale of it.
This had already exceeded normal imagination.
“…I suppose she doesn’t know what the ‘Queen of the Adriatic Sea’ is at all. She won’t stand aside and do nothing. We attacked you in the past, so we can’t really brag about anything, but it’s hard to imagine Sister Agnese as one that would find that killing magicians or even ordinary Roman Catholics that don’t know anything to be nothing.”
“I won’t beautify her to this extent.”
“…I’m not so sure about the situation, but this should be real. From the looks of it, the Roman Catholics probably didn’t explain it to her, since she’s expendable. From the beginning till the end, she’s just a key, a simple tool.”
One could hear the anger in her words.
Kamijou felt that he could understand those two’s words. However, being suddenly on the sidelines, Index frowned slightly, feeling somewhat suspicious regarding those words.
Tatemiya exhaled a bit, and said,
“Basically, we have to bring Agnese Sanctis away from that place, right? I know it’s difficult without anyone saying it. But if Venezia is going to be destroyed, I can’t just sit by and do nothing.”
Hearing such real words, Lucia and Angelene couldn’t help but squirm.
“Do you know the exact time?”
“…No. But since they gathered such a large fleet, it seems like they won’t hesitate. It takes a lot of resources to maintain that, and after the sun rises, it’ll be too eye-catching. Even if they use the Opila runes, the scale is too…”
“Up…up till now, every ship has been undergoing preparations. Maybe there are only a few ships…but considering that they’re doing such a major thing, they won’t ‘wait’ for long.”
“…In other words, we can’t hesitate anymore.”
Tatemiya said in a slightly anxious voice.
“This…should be a magic problem. If so, we can only ask the English Anglicans for help, right?”
Kamijou said. Though he was not sure of the situation, ‘Necessarius’, which Index was affiliated with, should be a unit meant to handle this.
Tatemiya shook his head and said,
“We have already notified them, but there’s some distance from London. Besides, it’s not just an ordinary mage society, but famous members of the Roman Catholics. If the English Anglicans send their full force to stop it, it may escalate to such an extent that the world would be divided. Just being on the Roman Catholics territory alone—it’s hard to gather other religious groups here.”
From his words, it seemed like helping Kamijou and company was like walking on a tightrope.
Seeing this increasingly unfavourable condition, Kamijou silently gritted his teeth. But on the other hand—
(It’s not over yet. At least we can still walk on the tightrope.)
Even if they couldn’t call for a large amount of backup, if they could use this force for self-defense, it should still be a legitimate excuse.
This was why Tatemiya had sent the Amakusa to save them, and hadn’t rejected Lucia and Angelene upon seeing them.
The Substitute Supreme Pontiff pushed his plate and cup on the table aside, and then shifted the huge plate full of salad near Orsola.
“Let me confirm this.”
Tatemiya sent the wooden container full of salt to the middle of the table, which was empty.
“This is the ‘Queen’s Fleet’. Right now, it’s 10km south of Venezia. There’s some distance to the mainland, and also somewhat far away from the numerous islands around. Even if we don’t use the Opila runes, there should be a blind spot that no one would notice.”
After that, he moved the container full of sauce about 30cm away.
“This is our current position, which is another 10km south. We can’t see the light of the ‘Queen’s Fleet’ from here, and they can only see the night scene of Lido di Venezia. This is a long island stretch that extends from Chioggia to Venezia.”
“The casino here is extremely famous.”
Angelene suddenly mentioned a little trivia ill-fitting of a nun, and got pressed down on the head by Lucia.
Tatemiya grabbed a wooden fork.
“This is 5km away from the ‘Queen’s Fleet’. From the angle and sizes of the cannons, this seems to be the enemy’s defense perimeter. We’ll be bombed continuously if we enter this perimeter.”
Tatemiya drew a circle on the wooden table. With the salt bottle at the middle, he just managed to maintain a distance from the sauce bottle, as if he was drawing an array.
“So basically, they can’t fire at the furthermost places. So if I’m to make a guess, the attack range is about 4 to 5km.”
Tatemiya drew another circle on the inside as if it was an age ring.
After that, he used the fork to gently knock around, indicating a 5km perimeter.
“Basically, we have to get close to this distance if we want to get inside the ‘Queen’s Fleet’. If it’s this ship, we’ll probably get sunk if we’re hit. There are about 100 ships, and just one ship alone has about 30 to 40 cannons. Can all the ships fire in such a confined space…however, to be clear, the cannon fire should come over like rain.”
Tatemiya drew a straight line from the salt bottle to the sauce bottle, and then carved out the inside of the firing range.
“Here’s the problem: how can we avoid the cannon fire and attack here?”
“Even if we charge in, we have to fight with a large number of enemies on the ships.”
It was unknown who swallowed saliva.
There was a term called ‘barrage’, which was a wall formed by cannon fire. What he was asking was a theoretical question of how they should break through this thick wall that didn’t have a crack in it.
“5 km…it’s about a 3 minute ride on a train, right?”
“…You really like to use real-life examples for comparison, huh?”
Tatemiya said in an irritated tone,
“5km on land is different from 5km in the sea. If a navy ship’s engine is installed on a car, the car may end up flying—no, maybe the car body would be crushed by the weight.”
This thing called a ship, it felt slower than a car or a plane, but it was due to water resistance slowing it. Though the direct distance was 5km, it felt a lot more. How could they avoid the cannon fire and rush in when the distance was being pulled apart?
The more one listened, the more disheartening it was.
These words made them lose their appetite.
“What if…we sneak in through the sea like just now?”
Orsola fearfully came up with a suggestion.
“…That…about that, we did use the underwater passageway to escape the prison, but because of it,”
Lucia cut off Angelene and continued,
“The commander of the ‘Queen’s Fleet’ isn’t so stupid as to let us use the same trick a third time. The commander of the fleet is Biagio Busoni, and though his rank is that of a Bishop, he’s a man whose cunning exceeds even that of the Pope. I suppose he would have re-established an anti-sea function for underwater combat.”
“Compared to a single fighting strength, this Bishop is one that specialises in using multiple forces. However, he’s not one who relies on his guards. To be able to create a perfect defensive line, it shows that he can sense the enemy’s presence even through his skin. The position of Bishop isn’t given so easily.”
“??? How great is a Bishop?”
“To…to be able to mobilise a thousand nuns like us, that’s a Bishop.”
Angelene wasn’t mocking herself, but saying this in an ordinary tone.
Tatemiya’s mouth widened.
“So if there aren’t that many people here, would that be the silver lining in the cloud? However, coming back, the problem is the ‘Queen’s Fleet’ battle utility. As it’s made of ice, it can resupply without going to a naval base, right? Such a troublesome opponent.”
A sect that turned paper into a ship had no right to say this, but a fact is still a fact.
That was originally a large fleet meant to fight against the Venetian Navy. It would be a mistake to think that a ship or maybe one or two submarines could fight it.
Lucia and Angelene gritted their teeth unhappily.
Being far away from the centre and hearing this kind of analysis from an outsider made them realise their current situation again.
“Even so…we still have to go.”
Lucia said in a determined manner.
Said Tatemiya scratching his head.
“I never said that you need to come along. It would be too shameless for us to borrow your boat. We have a spell to create a passageway underwater, so we can use that to enter.”
“It’s…it’s not like we don’t have a single chance of winning…”
Angelene said softly.
Her eyes were clearly showing fear and her shoulders were trembling. Even so, she still wouldn’t sit by and do nothing.
“If the underwater passageway we make can open out like tree branches…maybe we can stop the fleet, or maybe we can aim it at a reef to cause a hole in the ship…”
“That cannon can sink our ship in one hit, and even if the ice ship is hit by numerous allies’ fire, it will continue to rebuild itself. I don’t think that can be stopped by destroying it, you know?”
Tatemiya interrupted them.
Lucia and Angelene became silent.
In this silence, both of them continued to try and suppress their breathing, which entered Kamijou’s ears like waves.
“…Then, what do you want us to do?”
Lucia finally said something.
She gritted her teeth and said,
“Nobody would hope for Venezia to be destroyed. If we don’t do something, because of Biagio’s ridiculous commanding, Sister Agnese will be destroyed by this thing, this ‘Queen of the Adriatic Sea’ and become a paralyzed cripple! Do you expect us to sit by and do nothing?”
She closed her eyes, and continued,
“Why do you think we would willingly follow her? Sister Agnese is a devout nun that can make me shiver with just her worshiping. The treasure that the Church should have isn’t money or riches, but a devout believer. I won’t let someone I recognise meet such a terrible fate…no matter what.”
“I…I’m not like Sister Lucia, who acts on belief.”
Angelene revealed a smile, and continued.
She didn’t want recognition, but just wanted to express her opinion.
“Everyone has their own reason. In the past, Sister Agnese took good care of me. Though it’s not like those 1 or 2 major events, I kept getting helped by her. Thus I don’t want to say goodbye to Sister Agnese without repaying her completely. If I want to repay her, now’s the time.”
Kamijou remained silent for a while.
No, it was more like he couldn’t say anything. Lucia and Angelene’s words didn’t have any force in them. Instead, there was a little resistance inside this subject that was impossible to reject.
But, just because of this,
“Tatemiya, that’s enough.”
What? Tatemiya frowned on hearing Kamijou’s words.
“Forget about chances, tactics, practical problems, getting near 5km and being done if we’re hit by a cannon. It’s not that. Right now, we should be discussing on how to help Agnese. Isn’t this the only problem?”
Lucia and Angelene stared at Kamijou with a surprised look.
Hearing Kamijou’s words, Index lowered her shoulders and let out a whole-hearted tired sigh, and Orsola gently patted her on the back as if she was trying to comfort Index. This was probably because they both knew about this side of Kamijou. Actually, they had seen it first-hand before.
Calling this name, it meant that he was talking to the representative of the Amakusa.
Maybe they all sensed this, as not just him, but the teenagers of the Amakusa were all staring at Kamijou.
“Agnese Sanctis isn’t a perfectly friendly person. But these people purposely gave up their chance of being saved in order to save their comrade. And she doesn’t even know what kind of thing the ‘Queen of the Adriatic Sea’ is, which she’ll be used for as a sacrifice. That person’s kind intentions will end up with her being destroyed after she’s used; she’ll end up as a cripple. Basically, just save her. This can also prevent Venezia from getting destroyed. Shouldn’t we do that?”
Kamijou didn’t look around.
He was just staring at Tatemiya as he continued,
“You don’t want to save her? Fine, then I’ll go.”
“THONG!” He stabbed the wooden fork into the table.
“Really, you’re treating me like a bad guy…”
Tatemiya unhappily slackened his jaw,
“Damn it, I’m really sad. I don’t mean that. To me, the problem has already been settled right from the start, which is why I’m asking what’s next. If we want to do it, we have to think of a plausible way.”
Tatemiya shook his head as he said in an impatient tone,
“As for the strategy, I’ve already thought of it.”
Hearing his words everyone, including Kamijou, was silent with shock.
“After I announce the plan and we execute it, whether it results victory or defeat, it’ll be all on me. Even if we fail, we can’t grumble. Actually, I should say that it’s too late, which is why I’m asking if you guys are ready for this. I didn’t expect to be misunderstood.”
Tatemiya revealed a thoroughly disappointed look. He proceeded to look around, away from Kamijou.
In front of him were his comrades, teenagers that were like treasure.
The substitute Supreme Pontiff said to them,
“Anyway, I want to say this. Everyone must come back alive. Don’t die because of this kind of thing, or think that you have to fulfill your beliefs even if you have to die. Anyone who thinks like this, get off the ship. No negotiations. After we head off to the battlefield, we must all come back alive, got it?”
This silent agreement meant that everyone agreed.
Like a teacher asking a stupid student, Tatemiya silently asked,
“What did we learn from the Supreme Pontiff?”
The Amakusa Catholic members said in unison,
“TO REACH OUT TO ALL THE ABANDONED!!”
The ship carrying the Amakusa, Kamijou and company moved north in the Adriatic Sea.
They were heading to the ‘Queen’s Fleet’.
They were standing on the deck of a ship that was floating on the surface of the water.
Tatemiya’s weapon was called the Flamberge. It was a sword that was 180cm long. The wave-like shapes on both sides of the sword were said to have the effect of making wounds bigger. This sword was different from an ordinary sword, as it wasn’t made of metal. It was unknown what material it was made from for it to be white in colour.
“This sword is more suited for rough combat…never mind, we can only adapt to the changes.”
Tatemiya stabbed the giant sword into the floor as he muttered to himself. Because the suitability of use was different from the situation, one had to change weapons sometimes. To Kamijou, who only relied on a fist, this was something he could not imagine.
Lucia was holding a large wooden carriage wheel in her hand. This heavy object was made from the Amakusa paper bundle.
“I can sense a unique ‘smell’…”
She was holding onto the wheel, slowly spinning it about, touching the wheel to feel it.
“…This will do. I should be able to use the attack spell based on St. Catherine’s ‘Wheel Legend’.”
In Kamijou’s memory, she specialised in destroying a large wheel, and used the rain of shrapnel to attack the enemy.
On the other hand, Angelene placed some gold or silver coins into coin bags. She specialised in letting blunt weapons fly about, using them as a weapon to fight with the enemy.
“Ah…I can still put in some of them. But it’ll hurt if I put in too many…then…then maybe a bit less…”
Hearing her being preoccupied with stuffing the coins inside the coin bags, and taking them out, Lucia looked panicky as she got closer.
“Sister Angelene, what are you fussing about with your weapons!? FILL THEM UP, YOU HEAR ME? FILL THEM UP!!”
“WAH! Won’t it hurt if we hit them, then?”
“Even if we want to communicate, we have to create a suitable environment for it. If we could have talked it out without fighting, then we wouldn’t need to work so hard for it!”
From afar, Kamijou stared at the two nuns chattering about. As if he couldn’t stand them, he said,
“Seems like…I misunderstood the Roman Catholics.”
“Though they’re the Roman Catholics, there are all sorts of people in it…isn’t that right?”
Orsola, who was standing beside him, silently said.
“It’s not about eliminating who’s bad; everyone has their own characteristics. You have a bad impression of the Roman Catholics, and actually, I also had…I didn’t believe in my Amakusa friends in the past, thus I caused quite a lot of trouble for everyone.”
“Is that so?”
“I really can’t associate you with bad people.”
“About this…actually, women have a lot of sides to them.”
After Orsola said these somewhat sensational words, she revealed a smile. No matter whether because of her clothing or her speech, this nun didn’t know it herself, yet they emphasized a lot more of the feminism that she was born with.
At this moment, Index suddenly popped in-between them.
She was holding onto a staff.
“Here, take it. The Amakusa people lent it to me, but I can’t use a spiritual tool that requires the processing of magical energy. You might be more suited to take it.”
Orsola received the staff. It was made of silver.
On the tip of the staff, there was a little squatting Angel there. There were six wings on the Angel, surrounding it like a cage.
It was the weapon that Agnese used before. The Amakusa had detained the ‘Agnese Forces’ that surrendered in ‘The Book of the Law’ affair. It had possibly been confiscated then.
At this moment, Kamijou suddenly noticed Index staring intently at him.
“Wha…what now, Index?”
Index remained silent for a while.
“No, it’s nothing.”
“Eh? WHY ARE YOU TURNING YOUR HEAD AWAY SO UNHAPPILY!!? THOUGH IT’S TIRING WHEN YOU REACT SO VIOLENTLY BY BITING ON OTHER PEOPLE’S HEAD, THIS COMPLETELY COLD REACTION OF YOURS IS REALLY TROUBLESOME, YOU KNOW!?”
Index completely ignored Kamijou’s roar as she ran away. Seeing this, Orsola sighed,
“That’s because you didn’t take care of her properly.”
Hearing her say this, right now, Index should be eating spaghetti, happily touring around all sorts of tourist attractions, busy creating wonderful memories. She didn’t expect things to become like this all of a sudden. In actual fact, the one who had been most looking forward to the trip may have been Index.
“Though you always complain that you’re unlucky, you don’t have the intent of stopping, right?”
“…Like a workaholic father who’s unqualified to be a parent.”
The ship continued forward.
It felt like the white bulb-like glow of the ‘Queen’s Fleet’ was a bit stronger as compared to before.
“Are you guys done? If so, let’s start.”
Tatemiya pulled out a rubber band-tied paper bundle from his jeans pocket.
“What do you mean by ‘let’s start’?”
“We can’t just attack the ‘Queen’s Fleet’ with this ship alone. Thus we need to increase our fighting force, like this.”
Tatemiya took off the rubber band as he said this. Shua! He tossed the paper from the ship into the sea. The large number of papers gently swayed about in the air, like confetti falling from a confetti ball, before landing on the dark surface of the sea, silently absorbing seawater.
The papers expanded because of water absorption and created a large number of boats. Different from the ‘Queen’s Fleet’, the slick design made one feel that it was a bit Japanese–styled. Each ship was about 30m long and 7m wide. As for height, they were about 20m. However, compared to the 100m ships of the ‘Queen’s Fleet’, they seemed a lot weaker.
There weren’t just one or two ships; there were tens of ships that appeared. The expanded ships suddenly appeared, squeezing against each other. The fleet of ships squeezed against the one that Kamijou was on, and the hull started to shake.
In surprise, Kamijou stared at the scene in front of him,
“…Isn’t this a large fleet as well? If so, it’ll be one heck of a battle. Even if the enemy is the ‘Queen’s Fleet’, we can fight them head on, can’t we?”
“You’re overestimating us, aren’t you? Look closely, this is a fleet completely different from the ‘Queen’s Fleet’. There aren’t any cannons on them.”
Hearing him say this, there weren’t any cannons on the ships. The walls and decorations on the ships’ hulls would be considered slim, and they didn’t seem able to withstand damage. If so, were these just ordinary ships?
“Then why did you prepare these?”
“You don’t really need to use a navy ship for marine combat. The Amakusa is a secular sect that hides itself in the local culture. Of course, we learnt some English history.”
“Do you know how the English Navy beat the so-called invincible Spanish Navy in the past?”
Ship number 43 of the ‘Queen’s Fleet’ was an intelligence ship that specialised in scouting for enemies.
The nun stationed there, Sister Agatha, exhaled as she stood at the front end of the deck. There were small tables placed on both ends of the ship, and there were ice-made documents on them. The thin ice boards imitated ancient goatskin parchments, and contained all sorts of information, like maps, sea charts, and ship information.
On one of them,
An alarm sounded from the ice document that showed a sea chart of the nearby areas of the Adriatic Sea. Below the indicators of the ‘Queen’s Fleet’ that looked like International Chess pieces, there were many more new chess pieces that were quickly approaching the fleet.
“I see it. Give me the details.”
After the nun shouted, a voice reverberated through the air in response.
“Ships coming in from the south coast of Venezia on the Adriatic Sea, about 30 to 40! Speed…extremely fast! 50 seconds till they reach our fleet!!”
The distance from her to where the ships appeared was about 5km; the speed was about 360km per hour. However, there was a basic difference between land speed and sea speed, because the resistance of air and sea were different.
Basically, this speed was impossible.
Even for a speedboat made by the Science side, the maximum was only 90km per hour.
To reach 360km per hour, a lot of horsepower was required. If the force wasn’t appropriate, the ship might end up being ripped by the sea. But this ‘enemy’ had done the impossible.
“Can we sink it?”
“The ‘Queen of the Adriatic Sea’ has deployed ship numbers 25 to 38; they’re at a position where they can hit them with the cannons. Before those ships hit us, if we can switch the positions of the ships, it will prevent the enemy from escaping.”
“Hurry up and take action. Their target should be the ‘Queen of the Adriatic Sea’; we can’t let them escape.”
Agatha said as she passes the command to all the ships and to aim. Two new documents appeared on the table beside her, indicating the positioning of the ‘Queen’s Fleet’ and the firing trajectory of the cannons.
They were about 4 to 5 km away from the ships.
“THEY’LL REACH OUR FLEET IN 50 SECONDS!! SINK THEM FIRST!!”
As she shouted this, the vibrations shook her eardrums.
The ‘Queen’s Fleet’ fired numerous cannons. Agatha summoned some more ice documents. On the documents, there were quite a few water pillars on the night sea, indicating that ships were being sunk left and right.
But the ship figures didn’t stop. The other boats used the sinking boats as a platform to jump over the water and head forward.
(Using the front few ships as a shield…?)
Agatha couldn’t help but suspect. Even so, she couldn’t tell whether there was any special armour or defensive spell. The enemy ships that were directly sunk didn’t look like they intended to dodge. Even if more than 10 ships were sunk, the enemy hadn’t done anything to avoid them.
The distance between both of them would be closed up soon.
The distance was a few hundred metres, yet the enemy hadn’t fired a single cannon.
(…Wait a second.)
Agatha reexamined the enemy ships on the ice document.
She suddenly froze. The ships indicated didn’t have any cannons.
“If so…EVERYONE GET INTO DEFENSE MODE! THE ENEMY’S TARGET IS—”
Just as Agatha gave the order,
The fast approaching ships weren’t stopping, the enemy ships pierced through the hulls of the outer ships of the ‘Queen’s Fleet’. Not only that, the inside of the wooden boats started to glow, and create large explosions. It was like the entire ship was a bomb.
The explosions rang in her ears.
The sea started to shake, and Agatha leaned on the ship’s rudder as she shouted,
“THEY’RE FIREBOATS—UNMANNED NAVAL SHIPS THAT SELF-DESTRUCT!!”
Hearing the explosions, Tatemiya silently closed his eyes.
“Fireboats were invented before torpedoes were. At first, they were just movable weapons on the sea. Normally, they’re little ships that look just like boats. At first, when the English Navy fought against the invincible Navy, they sent real large ships that were filled with gunpowder to the enemy’s territory.”
Kamijou said in shock,
“Then, you plan to sneak in when the sea’s in a mess? What a crude plan.”
“It hurts…yes…I’m here!”
Hearing one explosion after another, Agatha responded to Biagio’s call.
“If the enemy’s aim is to prevent the ‘Queen of the Adriatic Sea’ from activating, I guess that the enemy won’t just attack from the outside. There must be something — hurry up and search for the enemy.”
Agatha eyes stared at the ice documents on the table. Due to the explosions, ripples and faults formed on the sea charts and maps, so it was hard to determine.
(If the fireboats aren’t the real targets…they should be in another fleet. However…)
She changed the scale: 5km, 10km, 20km, she checked them all, but she didn’t find any ship that matched the requirements. There were three large civilian jets; it shouldn’t be one of them.
Agatha intended to increase the scale, only for her hand to stop.
(…What if they’re not ‘on’ the sea?)
The numerous ice boards disappeared. What replaced them were multiple layers of ice documents stacked on each other. The ice block that appeared on the table had the length and width of the documents. What they indicated wasn’t the horizontal length and width, but the vertical depth.
In other words, it was meant to search for enemies under the sea.
“I found it! 80m South of the ‘Queen’s Fleet’, 40m deep. One huge object is spotted—it’s the ship from earlier!!”
“We’ve been discovered…”
Tatemiya suddenly looked up.
As if responding to his actions, the Amakusa members operating the ship were giving reports.
“We have confirmed the enemy ships’ cannons. Estimated trajectory is -30 degrees. They’re obviously aiming into the sea.”
“There’s some movement on the south side of the enemy’s fleet. They seem to be making a formation against sudden attacks!”
In a cannon fight, though it was not easy to get a gauge on the enemy’s situation, if they were found out, it was too late. Naval warfare wasn’t like air combat, where one could move about easily. It was almost impossible to use speed to dodge or shake away from the enemy’s attack.
Thus, the basis of naval warfare was to find a place to attack without being fired back at.
This tabletop combat had already started before the cannons were fired.
It was expected if the enemy didn’t have any reaction, but if there was a reaction, it meant failure. This was a mind battle full of silence.
“Numerous lasers are locked in on the ship!”
“The co-ordinates are responding. It’s faster than we expected! If this continues…!!”
“This is the worst situation…”
Tatemiya said in a low irritated voice.
“Everyone, brace yourself!! Beware of the enemy’s fire! If this ship is hit by it—”
Before he could finish, explosions covered all the noise.
“A confirmed hit on the ship! The enemy’s now moving extremely slowly!!”
Hearing Agatha’s words, Biagio was somewhat relaxed.
“How can the same trick work the third time? We have prepared some underwater cannons as well.”
What he prepared were cannons that when fired, would cause the surrounding seawater to freeze. With this, the ship that was surrounded by the thick layers of ice would be unable to move. As ice had buoyancy, even if they didn’t do anything, the ship would float to the surface together with the ice. After that, they just needed to use ordinary cannon fire to actually destroy the enemy.
“There’s sixty seconds till the ship completely floats. Let’s take care of the remaining fireboats in the meantime—”
“Sister Agatha! We have an emergency!!”
There was a voice other than Agatha’s. Another nun’s voice.
“The enemy’s forces have gone onto ship number 29! From the weapons and the spells used, it’s the Amakusa from before!!”
What!? Agatha couldn’t help but doubt her ears.
She turned to look at the documents on the table. An unmanned ship had collided with ship number 29…looking closely, the ship wasn’t damaged. Normally, if it had self-destructed, there would be a large hole on the ship…
“They prepared a boat that they didn’t intend to blow up, and the main fleet got on that boat, mixed in with the other ship…that underwater ship was actually another decoy…!?”
Kamijou Touma got off the wooden boat onto the ice ship. Following him, Index, Orsola, Lucia, Angelene, Tatemiya and the Amakusa members jumped off of the boat.
“Forget about trying to control all the ships! No matter what, we can’t win on numbers! Just beat the core of the enemy!”
“Flagship…where’s the ‘Queen of the Adriatic Sea’?”
Kamijou looked around. Several hundred metres away, there was a ship that was a lot bigger than the other ships. However, there were more than ten ships at the middle.
“I’ll make a bridge from ship to ship! Anyway, you guys just go on ahead—”
Tatemiya’s voice overlapped with another.
It was an audio broadcast of a female voice.
“All personnel on number 29, 32 and 34, please retreat! If you can’t make it, jump into the water! We’ll remake these ships after we sink them!!”
“They intend to blow up the ships again!? HURRY UP!!”
Tatemiya tossed the paper bundles around. The paper bundles immediately expanded, creating wooden arched bridges that were linked to the ice ships.
But before they could get on it, the cannon fire flew all over the place. Before the cannons struck, the impact from the vibrations alone was enough to cause Kamijou to almost tumble onto the floor.
He didn’t even have time to open his mouth. The huge ship was being blown apart like flying dirt. The cracking ship walls sunk, creating large water pillars.
The water landed onto the deck.
The large pillar that he couldn’t grab hold of with both hands snapped on being hit by the cannon.
Index was all curled up as Kamijou grabbed her hand and ran over to the bottom of the fallen pillar. The fallen pillar fell aside, and the broken part just so happened to form a bridge linking to the next ship.
Without thinking, Kamijou jumped forward.
With Tatemiya leading, the Amakusa members got onto the ship they made, and moved onto other ships.
Kamijou grabbed Index’s hand and immediately scrambled over to the neighbouring ship. Looking back, Orsola, who was holding the Angel staff, was moving up this pillar and onto this ship. Being hit by the second wave of cannon fire, the ice ship gradually started to tilt, and the pillar acting as a bridge was dragged into the sea.
“Touma, where’re the rest?”
Though most of the Amakusa had used the wooden bridges, one could see a few of them jumping into the sea. Kamijou couldn’t help but grit his teeth, but Orsola, who was beside him, said,
“They have spells to create bridges and ladders. Because they know they can win, they would choose to jump into the water.”
This suggestion brought him a little hope, and he could only believe in this. Besides, the deck was about 10m above the sea. Even if Kamijou reached his hand out, he couldn’t reach it.
“Damn it! Let’s go and destroy that ‘Queen of the Adriatic Sea’!!”
Again, Kamijou wanted to head to the flagship of the ‘Queen’s Fleet’.
At this moment, some new footsteps blocked his entry.
Several nuns were standing on the deck as if it was a stage. Like Lucia and Angelene, they had yellow sleeves and skirts to go with their black-based nun habit. They appeared to be manual workers on this ship, and they seemed to be of Agnese’s Forces.
They should know why Kamijou and company were here, but without saying anything, they flashed their weapons, which ranged from swords, axes, staffs, to things that didn’t even look like weapons, like Bibles and torches.
There were only nuns here.
The people known as caretakers should be on the ship as well, but he couldn’t see them. Maybe they had left the fighting to the labour workers while they hid. But the tactic of blasting the ships together with the enemy wasn’t really an effective tactic.
“…You should know what’s happening to Agnese, right? DON’T YOU WANT TO HELP US!?”
Kamijou yelled, but one of the nuns shook her head.
“I’m sorry, but we can’t have any feelings in our work.”
She said, as a representative for everyone.
“Those are definitely not your true thoughts.”
Orsola said in a heavy tone,
“Maybe they themselves haven’t noticed it, but they were people who recognised Agnese’s ability and followed her. Because they believe the leader will definitely overcome these problems, they would do this. They probably wish that someone would stop them.”
Just because they couldn’t express it in words, they were calling for help in a different way. Right now, they were in a situation when they had to go against what they were thinking and destroy each other. Thinking about this, Kamijou couldn’t help but clench his fist.
As if responding to his actions, several nuns stepped forward.
The distance to the enemy human wall was about 7m.
At this moment,
Something small flew over Kamijou and the nuns’ heads.
Looking up, flying 10m in the air was a carriage wheel.
Before the enemy could shout her name.
BAM!! The wheel exploded. The large number of wooden shrapnel avoided Kamijou, Index and Orsola, following a magical trajectory as it attacked downwards. This could be considered a rain of destruction. The nuns tried to use their weapons and spells to defend themselves, but the entire group was shaken up.
Looking in the direction where the shout came from, it was Lucia and Angelene, who had come onto this ship from another way. On the edge of the deck behind them, there was a bridge linking to the next ship.
“Number 41, retreat immediately!! If you can’t make it, jump into the sea!! This ship will be like the previous ones: we’ll remake this ship after we sink it!!”
The surrounding atmosphere was tense. Though Kamijou didn’t know the specific number, the enemy should be aiming here.
Lucia shouted for Kamijou and company to get past the bridge. At this moment, the nuns went into action.
They were not escaping, but preventing Kamijou’s group from escaping.
Whoosh!! Numerous nuns surrounded Kamijou’s group like a single organism.
“These …IDIOTS! IF YOU’RE SO DARING, WHY WON’T YOU SAVE SISTER AGNESE!!?”
Lucia raised her hand, and the scattered pieces of wood gathered back into the shape of a wheel. After grabbing the wheel, she rushed at the nuns.
But before a battle could begin, another explosion reverberated.
Kamijou shouted as his eardrums vibrated violently. With the sound of lightning, the neighbouring ships were firing cannons. The cannons likely hit the hull, as the entire deck shook violently.
The second wave of attack was coming over.
This time, it seemed like they intended to directly destroy the deck, as loud cannon explosions rose up with a cracking down.
The cannons were aimed at Kamijou’s group, and the black hole looked like a monster glaring over.
At this moment,
“Come out, one of the twelve disciples, tax collector and lowly servant of the eradicating magician!”
The one shouting was Angelene.
The four bags of gold that she had immediately responded to her call.
Red, blue, yellow, green. The four heavy bags with wings smash into the nearby pillar like a metal punch. This was to concentrate the attack at the base of the pillar to smash it. The huge pillar severely tilted.
The large number of cannons hit the falling pillar. Just like that, the ice blocking the cannons exploded and Kamijou’s group was saved by Angelene.
Because of the cannons, the pillar that had become a shield exploded into pieces on falling towards the deck.
The fragments of ice descended. Though they were fragments, each of them were larger than a refrigerator.
Lucia raised the large wheel and immediately detonated it. The large amount of pieces of wood hit the ice fragments, but was unable to deflect all the ice pieces.
The ice pieces that hadn’t been hit flew towards the Roman Catholic nuns.
Flying towards the group of nuns who were formerly called the Agnese’s Forces.
Seeing this situation, Angelene, however, ran towards the group of enemy nuns.
“WAIT…WHERE ARE YOU GOING!?”
Lucia shouted in surprise.
Angelene ignored the surprised nun and gathered the four bags of gold. She then tried to hit the huge ice blocks that were falling.
The cloth of the bags of gold broke and the coins scattered all over the place.
As the bags had smashed the pillar a moment ago, they were at their limits.
“STAY BACK, SISTER ANGELENE!!”
Lucia shouted at Angelene, who had lost her weapon. She looked around, and could see that boy called Kamijou Touma running near Angelene. Maybe he wanted to push her aside.
Angelene wasn’t backing away.
Not only did she not back away, she took a step forward. She bit her teeth and leaped toward the nearest nun. The nun, who had been rooted to the spot, flew backwards, landing on the deck.
After confirming the nun’s safety, as Angelene prepared to get down,
The ice block that was as large as a refrigerator landed beside her.
It landed forcefully on the deck and shattered into a rain of fragments that were as large as a rocks.
With the blunt sound, her petite body danced in the air.
Lucia screamed as if she had just seen an unbelievable thing.
Seeing Lucia frantically ran towards the fallen petite nun, the surrounding nuns seemed to waver in their actions. However, they seemed to suddenly remember their stand, arming themselves again.
At this moment,
“Really, I just had to see this boring thing again.”
Tatemiya and the Amakusa members moved from another ship to this ship through a wooden bridge, forming a human wall between Angelene and the nuns.
He pulled out some paper bundles from his pocket and tossed a bundle to Lucia.
“This is an escape submerging ship. Though it isn’t the best facility, it beats staying in enemy territory. Don’t just use one. Scatter them among the fireboats to confuse the search, the chances of you being hit will decrease a lot!!”
Lucia ran over and put the paper bundle into her sleeve. Though Tatemiya said this, the Agnese’s Force's fighting and mental capabilities meant that they weren’t going let her use the paper bundles so easily. Even if she created a ship out of panic, the concentrated fire would sink the ship.
But there was no time to care about all these now.
Lucia inclined herself over in front of Angelene. Seeing Lucia grab her hand that had gone limp, Angelene smiled,
Angelene pronounced each word as she said,
“…Didn’t…I…say…that…we’ll…go…back…with…everyone? Sister…Agnese… us…and the…people…fighting…over…there…the true…meaning…of…every…one.”
The neighbouring cannons made noise as they took aim.
The third wave of attack was prepared.
Even so, Lucia didn’t look away from Angelene.
“So…I…definitely…can’t die. If…you…can…promise…me…this… I…will…fulfill…it…to…the end. So, I…beg…you. Sister…Lucia. Don’t…differen…tiate…what…enemies…and…comrades. Can…you…simply…fight…together…to protect…everyone…?”
Lucia silently gritted her teeth.
The neighbouring escort ship fired, the cannon shot aimed at her.
But Lucia’s body was not blown to bits.
A right hand blocked this extremely powerful cannon shot.
The seemingly ordinary boy reached his right hand over, as if he wanted to block this ice shot that was shot through magic, before using the strength of his five fingers to crush it.
“HURRY UP AND PROMISE HER, LUCIA!!”
“IF YOU CAN HELP HER, NO MATTER WHAT KIND OF NONSENSICAL ILLUSION IT IS, I’LL SMASH IT!! SO PROMISE HER! SAY SOMETHING! MAKE HER FEEL PRIVILEGED TO BE HERE! GIVE HER SOMETHING TO BELIEVE THAT IT’S WORTH WORKING SO HARD!!”
She stared at Angelene’s face, and silently said,
“I’ll protect everyone. So you…have to fight on.”
Hearing her voice, the petite nun revealed a smile.
The ice ship being hit by the cannons shook about violently. With Kamijou’s right hand, it was impossible to block all these shots. It was not safe here. In fact, nowhere was safe.
Lucia carried Angelene, who was on the floor, with both hands and stood up. Now she couldn’t use her wheel, but she didn’t seem to mind. Right now, she had only one thing on her mind, and that was to fight together even with the disadvantages.
In order to chase after Lucia, the nuns again stepped forward.
At this moment, the Amakusa and Kamijou’s group formed a wall, blocking them.
They were both staring at the same place.
Past a few ships, the flagship ‘Queen of the Adriatic Sea’.
Between the lines 4
In this situation when her consciousness was still blurry, Angelene, who was being carried by Lucia, thought.
An explosion reached her ears, with the sound of swords and axes clashing, but Angelene still thought this way.
(Sister Agnese, for the Church, she worked really hard. The rewards that she got for doing dangerous missions, she used them to print Bibles. And then she visited old and worn down Churches and gave the Bibles to the priests, telling them that she hopes to do her utmost…)
The pain from being hit by the ice blocks spread around her body without stopping.
The scattered fragments of the pillar had hit her temples, concussing her brain.
(Even when Sister Lucia isn’t working, she’ll climb up the Bell Tower to warn everyone immediately in case something abnormal happens. She continued to stay there, and right now, the Bell Tower almost seems to be where she’s staying at…)
Tears started to drip, one by one.
It was not because of pain, but because she was not satisfied.
(Even if it’s others, everyone…definitely…has a virtue. Among us, definitely, no one…is a real…bad person. Why…did it become…like this? I hate bad people. I had enough…of the battle of the balance between good and evil.)
Shaking her limp limbs, she thought.
Sister Angelene just continued to pray.
She bit her teeth.
Tears flowed out of her eyes.
(Someone save them…save me…and my precious comrades. Save them from…this nonsensical…darkness…)