Toaru Majutsu no Index:Volume1 Chapter2
Chapter 2: The Illusionist Bestows Demise. The_7th-Egde.
It was night; the sirens of an ambulance and fire trucks rang from the main road and echoed by.
The dorm had seemed mostly abandoned, but the triggering of the fire alarm and the subsequent sprinklers going off had changed matters. In no time at all, the empty dorm was filled with fire trucks and onlookers.
Kamijou had used his right hand to destroy the tracking function of the hood in his room before taking it with him. Had he left it working and abandoned it in some arbitrary place, he could have fooled the pursuers, but she obstinately insisted that she take it with her.
Kamijou Touma clicked his tongue in a back alley. He held Index’s bloody form in his arms as he could not let her wound touch the dirty ground.
He could not hand Index over to an ambulance.
Academy City fundamentally disliked outsiders. That was why walls surrounded the city and three satellites were constantly monitoring all activities. Even the drivers of the trucks that supplied convenience stores needed an exclusive ID to get in.
For that reason, information about an outsider without an ID, like Index, would spread if she were hospitalized.
Not to mention, her enemy was part of some organization.
If she were attacked there, the damage would have spread to those around her. Also, she would be defenseless if she were attacked while recovering or in surgery.
“But I can’t just leave her like this.”
“I’ll… be fine. If you… can just stop the bleeding…”
Index’s voice was weak and showed no hint of the mechanical voice she donned while she explained runes.
And, that was why Kamijou immediately knew that what she had said was wrong. Her wound was beyond something an amateur could solve by wrapping bandages. Kamijou was accustomed to fights and he performed first aid on himself for most of the wounds best kept secret. But, the wound on her back was bad enough to make even Kamijou lose his cool.
There remained only one thing that they could rely on.
He still did not believe in it, but he had nothing else left to believe in.
“Hey, hey! Can you hear me?” Kamijou lightly slapped Index’s cheek. “Is there anything that can heal wounds in those 103,000 grimoires of yours?”
Kamijou’s idea of magic was nothing more than the attack magic and recovery magic in RPGs.
It was true that Index had said that she was naturally unable to process magic power by herself and therefore could not use magic; but, Kamijou could handle supernatural powers, so if Index would just tell him what to do…
Index’s breathing was shallow. However, this was more due to blood loss than pain. Her pale lips trembled.
“There is… but…”
Kamijou’s face lit up for an instant until the word “but” belatedly caught in his mind.
“You… can’t do it…” Index let out a small breath. “Even if I… taught you the spell… your power would surely… get in the way… ow… even if you perfectly… imitated it.”
Kamijou looked down at his right hand in shock.
Imagine Breaker. The power residing there had indeed completely negated Stiyl’s flames. And so there was a chance that it would negate Index’s recovery magic the same way.
“Shit! Not again… Why is it always this right hand’s fault!?”
That just meant that he needed to call someone: such as Aogami Pierce or that Biri Biri girl Misaka Mikoto. The faces of a few tough people whom he would have no worries about getting involved in this kind of trouble floated up in his mind.
“…?” Index fell silent for a bit. “No… That isn’t what I meant.”
“Not your right hand… The problem is… that you’re an esper.” In that broiling night, she shivered like on a snowy mountain in midwinter. “Magic is not… something to be used by ‘talented people’ like you espers. ‘Untalented people wanted… to do what the ‘talented people’ could do… so they created certain spells and rituals… which are known as magic.”
Kamijou was about ready to shout, “This is no time for explanations!”
“You don’t get it…? The circuitry is different between ‘talented people’ and ‘untalented people’… ‘Talented people’ cannot use the systems created…for the ‘untalented people…’”
Kamijou was left speechless. It was true that drugs and electrodes were used on espers like Kamijou to forcibly expand the circuitry of their brains in a way that made it different from a normal human’s. It was true that their bodies were different from others.
But he could not believe it. No, he did not want to believe it.
2.3 million students lived in Academy City and every single one of them had undergone the powers development Curriculum. Even if it were not visibly apparent, even if they could not bend a spoon with efforts so strenuous they burst the blood vessels in their brain, and even if they were the weakest of espers, they were indeed made differently from a normal person.
In other words, the people who lived in that city could not use magic, the one thing that could save the girl.
There was a way to save the person before who lay before him, and yet not a single person could.
“Damn it…” Kamijou bared his canines like a beast. “How could this happen? How could this happen!? What the hell is this!? How is this fair!?”
Index’s trembling grew worse.
What Kamijou found the most difficult to bear was the fact that she received punishment for his own inability.
“‘Talented’ my ass,” he spat out. “I can’t even save the girl suffering before my eyes.”
However, he could come up with no other solution to the situation. The fact that the 2.3 million students living in the city could not use magic was the rule he needed to break down first.
Kamijou suddenly noticed something off about his thought process.
“Hey, any normal ‘talentless’ person can use magic, right?”
“And this isn’t going to end up being useless because the person has no talent for magic, right?”
“You don’t… need to worry about that… As long as they prepare correctly and perform it correctly… even a middle school student should be able to do it.” Index thought for a bit. “Although, if they get the steps wrong, the pathways in their brain and their neural circuitry could be fried… But with the knowledge of my 103,000 grimoires, it will be fine. Do not worry.”
Without thinking, he looked up as if to howl at the moon in the night sky.
It was true that 2.3 million students lived in Academy City and that they had all been developed to have some kind of psychic power.
However, the teachers that developed them were normal humans.
“I hope she isn’t already asleep.”
The face of a certain teacher appeared in Kamijou Touma’s mind.
It was the face of Tsukuyomi Komoe, the 135 centimeter tall homeroom teacher of his class who a red randoseru would suit despite her being a teacher.
Kamijou used a pay phone to get Komoe-sensei’s address from Aogami Pierce. (Kamijou had dropped and broken his phone that morning. Why Aogami Pierce knew Komoe’s address was a mystery. Kamijou suspected he was a stalker.) Kamijou then began to walk with Index’s limp form on his back.
“This is the place…”
He arrived after 15 minutes of walking from that back alley.
Utterly unbefitting of Komoe-sensei’s 12 year old appearance, it was a two story wooden apartment building that looked so old and worn down that Kamijou felt it must have weathered the bombing of Tokyo. Since the washing machine was sitting directly out in the passageway, it must have had nothing like a bath.
Normally, Kamijou would joke about it for the next 10 minutes, but he did not even smile.
After checking the nameplates on the first floor’s doors, he climbed up the run-down and rusty metal staircase and checked the doors there. When he reached the door furthest back on the second floor, he had finally found “Tsukuyomi Komoe” written in hiragana.
Kamijou rang the doorbell twice and then kicked at the door with all his might.
His foot striking the door made a tremendous noise.
However, the door did not so much as budge. True to form, Kamijou had the misfortune to think he heard an unpleasant crack come from his big toe.
“~ ~ ~!!”
“Yes, yes, yeees! The anti-newspaper salesman door is the only sturdy thing here. I’ll open it, okay?”
Why didn’t I just wait? He reprimanded himself.
As Kamijou had that teary-eyed thought, the door clicked open and a pajama wearing Komoe-sensei’s head poked out through the crack. Her relaxed expression made it clear that she could not see Index’s back wound from her position.
“Wah, Kamijou-chan. Did you start working part time as a newspaper salesman?”
“What newspaper has its workers solicit people with a nun on their backs?” remarked Kamijou with displeasure. “I’m in a bit of trouble, so I’ll be coming in. Excuse me.”
“W-Wait, wait, wait!” Komoe-sensei frantically tried to block Kamijou’s way as he pushed her aside. “I-I can’t have you suddenly coming into my room. And it isn’t just because my room is a horrible mess with empty beer cans littering the floor and cigarette butts piled up in the ash tray!”
“…See if you can make the same joke after seeing what I’m carrying on my back.”
“I-I wasn’t joking! …Gyahhh!?’
“So now you notice it!”
“I didn’t see you had such a bad wound on your back, Kamijou-chan!”
Komoe-sensei began to panic at the sudden sight of blood and Kamijou finally managed to push her aside and enter the room.
It looked like a room belonging to a middle aged man who loved betting on horse races. The badly worn tatami mats had countless empty beer cans strewn across them and the silver ash tray had a veritable mountain of cigarette butts in it. In what seemed like some kind of joke, in the middle of the room there was even a tea table of the kind a stubborn father would flip over.
“…I see. So you weren’t joking.”
“I suppose it is hardly the time, but do you have a problem with girls who smoke?”
Kamijou felt that was hardly the problem as he stared at his homeroom teacher who appeared 12 and kicked some beer cans out of the way to clear an open spot. He was reluctant to sit on the worn tatami mat, but there was no time to worry about preparing a futon.
He laid Index face down on the floor to ensure her wound did not touch the floor.
The way her clothes were torn hid the actual wound from view, but a dark red liquid was flowing out like fuel oil. “Sh-Shouldn’t you call an ambulance? Th-The phone is over there.”
Komoe-sensei pointed toward a corner of the room with a trembling hand. For some reason, her phone was a black rotary dial phone.
“The mana in the blood is flowing out along with the blood.”
Kamijou and Komoe-sensei reflexively turned toward Index.
Index was still sprawled out limply on the floor but her eyes were silently open even as her head lay on its side like a broken doll. Her eyes were colder than the pale moonlight and more precise than the gears of a clock. Her eyes were so perfectly serene that they looked inhuman.
“Warning: Chapter 2, Verse 6. The loss of the life force known as mana due to blood loss has exceeded a certain amount and John’s Pen is being forcibly awoken. …If the current situation persists, my body will lose the bare minimum of necessary life force and expire in about 15 minutes according to the international standard minute defined by the clock tower in London. It would be best if you followed the instructions I am about to give in order to perform the most efficient treatment.”
Komoe-sensei stared at Index in shock.
Kamijou could hardly blame her. Even though he had heard that voice once before, he simply could not get used to it.
Kamijou looked over at Komoe-sensei and thought.
If he out and bluntly asked her to use magic, she would surely tell him it was hardly the time to be pretending to be a magical girl and that she was much too old for that kind of thing anyway. So, how was he supposed to convince her?
“Hmm. Sensei, sensei. Since it’s an emergency, I’ll keep this short. I need to tell you a secret, so come over here.”
Kamijou waved his hand like he was calling over a small dog and Komoe-sensei approached with no caution whatsoever.
“Sorry,” Kamijou apologized to Index under his breath.
He lifted up her ripped clothes to reveal the horrible wound hidden beneath.
He could hardly blame Komoe-sensei for jumping in shock.
The wound was so bad that it shocked even Kamijou. It was a horizontally straight line cut across her back. It was as if a cardboard box had been sliced using a ruler and box cutter. Beyond the red blood, pink muscle, and yellow fat, something hard and white that seemed to be her backbone was visible.
If the wound were viewed as a red mouth, the lips around it had gone utterly pale like a person who had been in a pool.
“Gh…” Kamijou forced away some dizziness and carefully lowered the clothing that was wet with blood.
Even when the clothes touched the wound, Index’s icy eyes did not move in the slightest.
“I’m going to call an ambulance. In the mean time, you need to listen to what this girl has to say and do whatever she wants… Just make sure she doesn’t lose consciousness. As you can tell by her clothing, she’s religious. Thanks.”
If she viewed it as nothing more than consoling the girl, she could continue to view magic as impossible. For that reason, Kamijou had changed the focus in Komoe-sensei’s mind from treating the wound to continuing the conversation by any means necessary.
Komoe-sensei was nodding with an extremely serious expression and pale face.
The one problem was that Kamijou had to kill time outside while it happened.
If an ambulance arrived before the magic were complete, the “consolation” would end, meaning that he could not actually call an ambulance.
But, that alone did not mean Kamijou had to leave. After all, he could just dial 117 with the room’s black phone and pretend to be calling an ambulance while actually speaking to a recording.
The real problem lay elsewhere.
“Hey, Index,” Kamijou spoke softly to Index as she remained collapsed on the floor. “Is there anything I can do?”
“There is not. The best option for you would be to leave.”
Her overly clear and concise wording made Kamijou clench his right fist so hard it was painful.
There was nothing Kamijou could do and it was all because of his right hand that would negate the recovery magic simply by being present in the room.
“…Then, sensei. I’m gonna go look for a pay phone.”
“Wait… eh? Kamijou-chan, I have a phone he-…”
Kamijou ignored Komoe-sensei’s words, opened the door, and left the room.
He gritted his teeth at the fact that he could do nothing but leave.
Kamijou ran through the city at night. As he ran, he clenched his right hand that could negate even the systems of God but could not protect a single person.
After Kamijou Touma left the room, Index moved her pale lips.
“What is the current time in Japan Standard Time? Also, what is the date?”
“It is 8:30 PM on July 20th…”
“You did not seem to reference a clock. Is the time accurate?”
“I do not have a clock in my room, but my internal clock is accurate down to the second, so do not worry.”
“You don’t need to doubt me that much. I have heard that some jockeys have internal clocks accurate to a tenth of a second and you can regulate it with certain eating habits and rhythmic activities,” explained Komoe-sensei in puzzlement.
She may not have been an esper, but she indeed was a resident of Academy City. The concepts of common knowledge that were normal for medical and scientific fronts were different between those within the city and those without. Still lying face down on the floor, Index glanced out the window with only her eyes.
“From the location of the stars and angle of the moon… the time matches the direction of Sirius with an error of 0.038. Now, to check once more: the current time in Japan Standard Time is July 20th 8:30 PM, is that correct?”
“Yes. Well, technically it is now 53 seconds past that, but… Ah, no!! Don’t get up!!”
Komoe-sensei frantically tried to push Index back down as she tried to sit up, further damaging her already injured body, but Index’s gaze did not waver in the slightest.
Her gaze was neither frightening nor piercing.
All emotion had simply disappeared from her eyes as if a light switch had been turned off.
There lacked any real presence in her eyes. It was like her soul was missing.
“It is no matter. It can be regenerated,” said Index as she headed for the tea table in the center of the room. “It is near the end of Cancer. The time is between eight and midnight. The direction is west. Under the protection of Undine, the role of the angel is the cherub…”
The sound of Komoe-sensei gulping could be heard throughout the room.
Unexpectedly, Index began to draw some kind of figure atop the small tea table with her bloody finger. Even those unfamiliar with a magic circle would recognize it as something religious. Komoe-sensei had already grown timid, but now something overwhelmed her to the point of muteness.
After drawing a circle of blood that filled the tea table, Index drew a star-shaped symbol known as a pentagram.
Characters in some strange language were written all around it. The words were likely the same as Index’s mutterings. She had asked about the constellations and time because the words written changed depending on the time and season.
As Index crafted her magic, she showed none of the weakness of an injured one. Her extreme focus made it seem like her sense of pain had been temporarily cut off altogether.
A silent chill ran down Komoe-sensei’s back as she heard the dripping of blood coming from the girl’s back.
“W-W-Wh-What is this?”
“Magic.” Index paused after that one word. “I will now need your help and your body. If you do as I say, no one will meet any misfortune and you will avoid the target of anyone’s resentment.”
“H-How can you say that so calmly!? Just lie down and wait for the ambulance! Umm… bandages, bandages. With a wound this bad, I should bind the area around the artery to stop the flow of blood…”
“That level of treatment cannot completely close up my wound. I am not familiar with the term ambulance, but, is it capable of completely closing this wound in the next 15 minutes and supplying me with the needed level of mana?”
It was true that an ambulance would take 10 minutes to arrive even if they called at exactly that instant and would also take that long to take her back to the hospital and on top of that, the treatment would not start the second she arrived at the hospital. Komoe-sensei lacked the understanding of what an occult term like mana meant, but it was true that just closing the wound would not bring back her stamina.
Even if the wound were closed at that exact instant with a needle and thread, would that pale girl be too weak to live long enough to recover her missing stamina?
“Please.” inquired Index without the slightest change in her expression.
A mix of fresh blood and saliva was dripping from the corner of her mouth.
She had no intensity and there was nothing ghastly about her either. But, her calmness and composure were more frightening than either. How everything she did seemed to widen the wound made her seem like a broken machine continuing to run without realizing something was amiss.
If I do anything that makes her resist, her situation could become even worse. Komoe-sensei conceded.
Komoe-sensei sighed. Of course she did not believe in magic. However, Kamijou had asked her to keep the conversation going to make sure the girl did not lose consciousness.
All she could do was try not to provoke the girl sitting before her and place her hopes in Kamijou’s calling an ambulance as quickly as possible if not sooner and in the splendid first aid of the EMTs in the ambulance.
“So what should I do? I am not a magical girl.”
“I thank you for your cooperation. First… take that… that… what is that black thing?”
“? Oh, that is a video game memory card.”
“??? …Well, fine. At any rate, take that black thing and place it in the middle of the table.”
“Technically, it’s a tea table…”
Komoe-sensei did as she was told and placed the memory card in the middle of the tea table. She then took a mechanical pencil lead case, an empty box of chocolates, and two small paperback books and put them on the tea table as well. She also took two small figurines that came with her food, and lined them up next to each other.
Komoe-sensei wondered what the point of it was but Index was still completely serious, despite looking about ready to collapse. All of her complaints disappeared before the gaze as sharp as a Japanese sword that emanated from that pale face.
“What is this? You called it magic, but isn’t this just playing with dolls?”
Sure enough, the whole looked like a miniature version of the room. The memory card was the tea table, the two books standing up were the bookshelf and closet, and the two figurines were in the exact place of the two individuals in the room. When glass beads were scattered over the tea table, they seemed to stop in places that perfectly emulated the beer cans scattered across the floor.
“The substances do not matter. It is the same as how a magnifying glass magnifies regardless of whether the lens is made of glass or plastic… As long as the form and role are the same, the ceremony is possible,” muttered Index as she dripped with sweat. “I just need you to accurately carry out my instructions. If you mistake the order, the pathways in your brain and your neural circuitry could be fried.”
“I am saying that failure will turn your body into mincemeat and kill you. Please be careful.”
“Bh!?” Komoe-sensei almost spat out, but Index continued without paying any heed.
“We will now create a temple for the angel to descend into. Follow my lead and chant.”
What Index said after that went beyond words and become nothing but sound. Without thinking about the meaning, Komoe-sensei attempted to copy just the tone into something like a hum or song.
Suddenly, the figures on top of the tea table started to “sing” as well. “Kyahh!?” one of them screamed with the exact same timing. The figures were vibrating. Just as vibrations are transmitted along the string in a toy telephone and come out as a voice in the paper cup on the other end, the figure vibrated and reproduced Komoe-sensei’s voice.
The reason Komoe-sensei did not panic and run from the room right then and there was likely because she lived in a city housing 2.3 million espers. A normal person would have thought they were out of their mind.
“Link complete.” Index’s voice and the voice from the tea table made it sound double. “The temple created on the table has been linked to this room. To put it simply, everything that happens in this room will happen on the table and everything that happens on the table will happen in this room.”
Index pushed the tea table lightly with her foot.
In that instant, the entire apartment shook under Komoe-sensei’s feet as if from some great shock.
She could feel the stuffy air of the room growing as clear as the air in a forest in the early morning.
However, nothing akin to an angel was present. All that was present was what could only be described as an invisible presence. A feeling assaulted Komoe-sensei’s entire body like she was being watched by thousands of eyeballs from every direction.
And then, Index suddenly shouted.
“Imagine! Imagine a golden angel with the body of a child! Imagine a beautiful angel with two wings!”
When carrying out magic, determining the field was important.
For example, a pebble thrown into the sea creates a feeble ripple. However, a pebble dropped into a bucket makes quite a ripple. The concept was the same. To alter the world with magic, the field in which the alteration would take place had to be demarcated.
A protector was a temporary god in a small demarcated world. If one properly imagined a protector, fixated its form, and freely controlled it, one could more easily cause mysterious things to happen in a limited field. Komoe-sensei did not receive any such explanation and was having a hard time imagining an angel. The term “golden angel” only made her think of that thing about one gold one or five silver ones. 
As the image in Komoe-sensei’s mind lost coherence, the surrounding presence followed suit and lost its form. An unpleasant feeling ran down Komoe-sensei’s back like she was wrapped in the rotten mud from the bottom of a swamp.
“Just imagine it! This will not actually call in an angel. It is just a gathering of invisible mana. It will take form according to your will as the magic user!” She must have truly been desperate because even the voice of that cool, mechanical Index grew as sharp as an icicle.
Komoe-sensei’s eyes opened wide at that sudden change and she hurriedly began to mutter under her breath. “…A cute angel, a cute angel, a cute angel.”
Hazily, she frantically called up an image of the girl angel she had seen in a shoujo manga long ago.
Whatever it was that felt like invisible mud hanging in the room’s air took form as if it had been shoved inside a human-shaped balloon… or at least that was how it seemed to Komoe-sensei.
She timidly opened her eyes to check.
…Huh? This will not actually call in an angel? She considered the idea.
The instant that doubt entered her mind, the human-shaped water balloon burst and the invisible mud splattered across the room.
“…The fixation of its form has failed.” Index looked around with her sharp gaze. “If the temple is at least protected by a blue color Undine, it will be enough. …Continue.”
Her words were positive enough, but Index’s eyes were not smiling in the slightest.
Komoe-sensei flinched back like a child whose parents had just seen a failed test that she had tried to keep hidden.
“Chant. It will be over with just a bit more.”
The sharp order refused to let Komoe-sensei lose her composure despite her rising confusion and flagging thoughts.
Index, Komoe-sensei, and the two figurines on the tea table sang. The back of Index’s figurine on the table began to melt.
It was as if it were rubber being held up to a lighter. It melted, the surface lost its unevenness, it grew smooth, it cooled and hardened once more, and its form came back together.
Komoe-sensei felt like her heart was freezing over.
Currently, Index was sitting across the tea table from her.
She did not have the courage to circle around and see what was happening to Index’s back.
Index’s pale face was covered in oily sweat.
Her glassy eyes still showed no sign of pain or suffering.
“Replenishment of mana and stabilization of condition confirmed. Returning John’s Pen to dormant mode.”
Like a switch had been flipped, a soft light returned to Index’s eyes. Like a fire being lit in a cooled fireplace, warmth filled the room’s atmosphere.
The look in Index’s eyes was so kind and warm that Komoe-sensei could not help but feel that warmth. It was the look of a normal girl.
“Now, if the descended protector is returned and the temple destroyed, it will be over.” Index smiled painfully. “This is what magic is. It’s the same as how “apple” and “ringo” mean the same thing. You don’t need a glass wand when a plastic umbrella is just as clear. It’s the same thing with tarot cards. As long as the design and numbers match, you can perform divinations with the cut outs from the back of a shoujo manga.” Index’s sweating did not stop.
Komoe-sensei grew even more afraid. She began to worry that what she had done had only made Index’s condition worse.
“Don’t worry.” Index looked about ready to collapse even then. “It’s like a cold. You need your own strength to get better. The wound itself has been closed up, so I’ll be fine.”
As soon as she said that, Index collapsed to the side. The figurine fell over, too. The tea table shook slightly and the room linked to it was assaulted by a thundering tremble.
Komoe-sensei was about to run around the tea table to Index, but Index began to sing.
When Komoe-sensei followed along and sang one last song, the strange atmosphere returned to the normal and stuffy atmosphere of the apartment. Komoe-sensei cautiously shook the tea table but nothing happened.
Thank goodness, she thought.
As Komoe-sensei closed her eyes in relief, Index spoke. Komoe-sensei thought that anyone would be glad to have their deadly wound healed, but the nun said something else.
“I’m glad I did not burden anyone with anything.” Komoe-sensei stared at Index in surprise. “…If I had died here, he may have had to bear the burden.”
Index closed her as if to sleep and said nothing more. When that girl’s back was sliced, when she collapsed and when she had performed the strange ritual, she had never once thought about herself. She had been thinking about the person who had carried her there.
Komoe-sensei could not think the same way. She had no one to think that way about. That was why she asked one thing.
She was sure Index was already asleep and would not hear her; but that was exactly why she asked it, yet the girl answered with her eyes still closed.
“I don’t know.”
She had never felt that way about anyone before and she did not know what the feeling was. But, when he recklessly angered for her while facing that magician, she had wanted him to run away even if she had to crawl to him and force him. When he had run away from Innocentius, she had thought she would cry when he had returned.
She could not fathom it, but when she was with him, nothing ever went as she wanted and she felt pushed around.
And yet, those unexpected things were enjoyable and made her so happy. She did not recognize what the feeling was, however.
This time, Index fell into a deep sleep with a smile on her face, as if she were enjoying a pleasant dream.
After dawn came, her symptoms were like those of a cold.
Index was bedridden with a high fever and a headache, though, she lacked a runny nose or a sore throat because it was not a genuine virus. It was simply a matter of regaining her missing stamina, so no matter how many immunity-strengthening cold medicines she took, the efforts would be futile.
“…So why are you wearing only panties down below?”
Index, lying down, had a wet towel on her forehead; she apparently was unable to stand the hot dampness inside the futon and had one leg sticking out in Kamijou’s direction. She wore a pale green pajama top but her bright skin-colored thigh was sticking out up to its base. Due to her fever, the skin was a bit pink.
The towel had grown lukewarm so Komoe-sensei stuck it into a basin of water and splashed it around while she glared at Kamijou.
“…Kamijou-chan. I think those clothes were a bit too much.”
“Those clothes” likely referred to the safety-pin-covered white nun’s habit.
Kamijou agreed with her completely about it but Index looked like a displeased cat over having her familiar habit taken from her.
“The real question is how the pajamas of a beer-loving, heavy-smoking adult like you fit Index so perfectly. Just what is the age difference between you two anyway?”
Komoe-sensei (age unknown) was at a loss for words, but Index went in to kick her while she was down.
“Please don’t look down on me like that. These pajamas are actually a bit tight around the chest.”
“What… impossible! That can’t be right. Now you’re just making fun of me!” protested Komoe-sensei.
“Actually, do you even have anything in the chest area for it to be tight around!?” asked Kamijou.
As the two ladies glared at him and Kamijou’s soul reflexively entered prostration mode.
“Right, right. By the way, Kamijou-chan, who exactly is this girl?”
“My little sister.”
“That is a blatant lie. With that silver hair and those green eyes, she is clearly a foreigner!”
“She’s my stepsister.”
“…And you’re a pervert?”
“I’m just kidding! I’m well aware that a stepsister is bad manners but a real sister is against the rules!”
“Kamijou-chan,” she said, suddenly switching over to her instructor voice.
Kamijou fell silent. It was not at all surprising that Komoe-sensei wanted to know what was going on. Not only had he brought a strange foreigner to her, but the girl had had a blade wound on her back that clearly smelled of bad news. Komoe-sensei was even forced to take part in some strange bit of magic.
It would have been difficult to ask her to turn a blind eye.
“Sensei, can I ask one thing?”
“Are you asking so you can tell the police or Academy City’s board of directors?”
“Yes,” Komoe-sensei immediately said with a nod. With no hesitation, she had told her student that she would sell them out. “I do not know what kind of situation you two are in.” Komoe-sensei smiled. “But if it happened here in Academy City, it is our duty as teachers to resolve it. Taking responsibility for the children is the duty of the adults. Now that I know you are in some kind of trouble, I cannot sit idly by.”
That was what Tsukuyomi Komoe said, yet she had no power, no strength, and no duty to do so.
She merely said it with the straightforwardness of a famous katana slicing straight through the proper place at the proper time.
“I just…” Kamijou said before he finished under his breath. …Can’t stand up to her.
Kamijou had lived a long 15 or so years and yet had never seen someone else like that teacher: the type seen in dramas, not even seen in movies anymore.
“If you were a complete stranger, I wouldn’t have hesitated to get you involved, but I owe you for that magic, so I can’t let you get involved.”
Kamijou’s response was just as straightforward.
He had already had enough of seeing people who were willing to protect others for nothing in return be hurt before his eyes.
Komoe-sensei fell silent for a moment.
“Mhh. I am not going to let you get away with trying to trick me with some cool line.”
“…? Sensei, why’d you get up and head for the door?”
“I am giving this a stay of execution. I need to go to the supermarket for groceries. Kamijou-chan, you figure out exactly what it is you need to tell me in the mean time. And…”
“I might get so caught up in shopping that I forget. No cheating when I get back. Make sure you tell me, okay?”
Kamijou thought Komoe-sensei smiled as she spoke.
With the sound of the apartment door opening and then closing, Kamijou and Index were left alone in the room.
She’s trying to be kind, he realized.
From the smile of a child plotting something on her face, Kamijou had a feeling Komoe-sensei would “forgot” everything once she returned from the supermarket.
If he later decided to consult her about it, she would surely act furious and say “Why didn’t you tell me sooner!? I completely forgot!” and happily agree to help.
With a sigh, Kamijou turned toward Index who lay in the futon.
“…Sorry. I know this is no time to be worried about appearances.”
“Don’t worry about it. This is for the best.” Index shook her head. “It would be wrong to get her any more involved. …And she can’t use any more magic.”
“?” Kamijou frowned.
“Grimoires are dangerous. Written in them are aberrant and uncommon knowledge as well as twisted laws that break the common laws of this world. Whether they’re for good or evil, those things are toxic in this world. Merely learning the knowledge of a ‘different world’ will destroy the brain of the one who learns it,” explained Index.
Kamijou tried to translate that in a way he understood. So is it like forcefully running a program that isn’t compatible with a computer’s OS?
“My brain and spirit are protected by religious barriers and magicians who attempt to exceed being human must exceed the boundaries of their own common knowledge to arrive at the desired state of mind that can almost be likened to a type of insanity. However, for a normal person from a barely religious country like Japan, it could all be over after just casting one more spell.”
“I-I see…” Kamijou somehow managed to stop the shock he had received from showing. “Well, that’s a shame. I was hoping she would be able to perform alchemy for me. You know alchemy, right? It can turn lead into gold.”
He of course omitted the fact that he knew this from an item mixing RPG with a young female alchemist as its protagonist.
“Well, there is a technique for that called Ars Magna, but preparing the tools with modern materials would cost… um… 7 trillion yen in this country’s currency.”
“… … … …Well, that definitely isn’t worth it,” muttered Kamijou soullessly.
Index smiled weakly and said, “…Yeah. Turning lead into gold accomplishes nothing more than make nobles happy.”
“But… wait. Now that I think about it, what does that do? How does it work? If you’re turning lead into gold, are you rearranging the Pb atoms into Au?”
“I don’t really know, but it’s only a 14th century technique.”
“Wait, do you mean what I think you mean? It might actually be changing the atomic arrangement!? You mean you could cause proton decay without a particle accelerator and nuclear fusion without a nuclear reactor!? Wait just a second. I’m not even sure the seven Level 5s of Academy City could do that!”
“Wait, don’t look so confused! Um… um… Ah. If you’re wondering just how amazing that would be, that kind of thing would let us easily create atomic robots or mobile suits!”
“What are those?”
With those three words she cast aside all of the dreams of men.
As Kamijou’s head hung down limply, Index seemed to feel she had done something wrong.
“A-Anyway, the holy swords and magic wands used in ceremonies can be made with modern materials as substitutes, but there is a limit. …This especially goes for sacred items related to God such as the Lance of Longinus, Joseph’s Holy Grail, or The_ROOD. Even after 1000 years, it seems no substitutes can be made… ow…” As she talked on and on excitedly, she began to hold her temple like she had a hangover.
Kamijou Touma looked at Index’s face as she lay in the futon.
She had 103,000 grimoires in her head. Just reading one of them could drive you insane and yet she had put each and every letter of all those books in her head. How much pain had that process caused her?
Yet she never once complained about her pain.
“Do you want to know?” she asked while ignoring her own pain as if apologizing to Kamijou.
Index’s usual cheerful tone had set a context that made that quiet voice stand out and seem to hold even more determination.
Sensei, you idiot. He reprimanded her.
Index’s situation was irrelevant to Kamijou. Whatever situation she had possibly been in, there was no way he could abandon her. As long as he could defeat her enemies and keep her safe, he saw no reason to dig into her old wounds.
“Do you want to know what my circumstances are?” repeated the girl naming herself Index.
Kamijou made up his mind and replied, “That kinda makes me feel like a priest, y’know?”
In a way, it really did. He felt like a priest listening to the confessions of a sinner.
“Do you know why?” Index asked. “The Christian church was originally a single organization, but now there are the Catholics, the Protestants, the Roman Catholics, the Russian Orthodox, the Anglicans, the Nestorians, the Athanasians, the Gnostics, and more. Do you know why these splits occurred?”
Kamijou had at least skimmed through his history textbook, so he had an idea what the answer was. However, he hesitated to mention it in front of the “genuine” Index.
“That’s good enough.” Index actually smiled. “It was because politics were mixed in with the church. Sects split, opposed each other, and fought. In the end, even people who believed in the same God were each other’s enemies. Even as we believe in the same God, we each walk a different road of many scattered paths.”
Of course, people’s ideas on things naturally differed. Some wanted to make money with the word of God while others refused to allow that. Some felt they were loved by God more than anyone else in the world while others refused to accept that.
“After the sects stopped interacting with each other, we each underwent our own isolated development which gave us our individual characteristics. We changed in accordance to the situations or cultures of our countries.” Index let out a small breath. “The Roman Catholic Church manages and controls the world, the Russian Orthodox Church searches out and eliminates the occult and the Anglican Church I belong to…”
Index’s words caught in her throat for a second.
“England is a country of magic,” she said as if that was a bitter memory. “So the Anglican Church is especially advanced in anti-magician culture and techniques as seen by witch hunts and the inquisition.”
In London alone were a number of public companies calling themselves magic cabals and there were 10 times that many shell corporations that really only existed on paper. Their trials and errors that had begun as a means of protecting the citizens from the “evil magicians lurking in the city” had developed too far in one direction and at some point became a culture of slaughter and execution.
“The Anglican Church has a special division,” said Index as if she were confessing her own sins. “It investigates magic and develops countermeasures with which to defeat magicians. It is known as Necessarius.” She sounded exactly like a nun.
“If you do not know your enemy, you cannot defend against their attacks. However, understanding an impure enemy will make your own heart impure and touching an impure enemy will make your body impure. That is why Necessarius, the church of necessary evils, was created to draw all of those impurities into one place. And the most extreme case of this is…”
“The 103,000 grimoires.”
“Yes.” Index gave a small nod. “Magic is something like an equation. If you skillfully reverse the calculations, you can counteract your opponent’s attack. That is why I had these 103,000 grimoires put into me. …If you know magic from all around the world, you can neutralize magic from all around the world.”
Kamijou looked down at his right hand.
He had thought his right hand was of no use. The power of his right hand would not let him defeat even a single delinquent, would not raise his scores on tests, and would not make him popular with girls, and so he had mainly just ignored it.
But, this girl had gone through hell to achieve the same thing.
“But if these grimoires are so dangerous and you know where they are, why don’t you just burn them without reading them? As long as there are people to read and learn from these grimoires, magicians will continue to appear without end, right?”
“The actual books are less important than the contents. Even if you got rid of an Original, the magicians who knew the contents would pass that on to their followers, so it would be pointless. Although someone who does that is known as a sorcerer rather than a magician,” explained Index.
Is it something like data posted on the internet? Even if you delete the original data, copy after copy of the data will continue to exist. Kamijou analogized.
“Also, a grimoire is nothing more than a textbook.” Index sounded as if she were in pain. “Just reading one does not make you a magician. Magicians change it up to suit themselves and create a new type of magic.”
It was less like data and more like a constantly changing computer virus. To completely eliminate the virus, you had to be constantly analyzing the virus and creating new antivirus software.
“As I said before, grimoires are dangerous.” Index narrowed her eyes. “When disposing just a copy, an expert Inquisitioner must sew his eyes shut to prevent pollution of his brain, and even then it takes 5 years of baptisms to fully rid him of the poison. The human mind cannot handle an Original. The only option for the 103,000 Originals scattered about the world is to seal them.”
It was as if she were discussing what to do with a vast collection of leftover nuclear weapons.
Actually, that was more or less what it was. Most likely, the very people who had written them had not expected this.
“Tch. But can’t magic be used by any normal person excluding us espers? Then wouldn’t this spread throughout the world in no time at all?”
Kamijou recalled Stiyl’s flames. What if everyone in the world could use that kind of power? The common knowledge of the world that built its foundation on science would crumble.
“You… don’t have to worry about that. The magic cabals do not recklessly let the grimoires get out to the general public.”
“? Why not? Wouldn’t it be better for them to have more comrades to fight for them?”
“That is exactly why. If every single person who had a gun were friends, there would be no war.”
Just because two people knew magic did not mean they were on the same side. It was because they knew the power of their trump cards that they did not want to recklessly create enemy magicians.
The grimoires were treated like the plans of a new weapon.
“Hmm. I think I get it.” Kamijou seemed deep in thought. “So basically, they want to get their hands on the bomb in your head.”
She was a library with perfect copies of the world’s 103,000 Original grimoires in her head. To obtain her was to obtain all the magic in the world.
“…Right.” From her voice, it sounded like she was about to die. “With the 103,000 grimoires, you would be able to twist everything in the world to your will without exception. That is what we call a Magic God.”
Not the god of the demon world, but someone who had thoroughly mastered magic to the point of entering the domain of god.
A Magic God.
…Fuck that, Kamijou thought angrily.
Without realizing, Kamijou had begun to grit his back teeth. He could tell from how Index acted that she did not choose to have those 103,000 grimoires put into her head. Kamijou recalled Stiyl’s flames. She lived like that for no reason other than to prevent as many victims as she could.
Kamijou could not stand how the magicians were using those feelings to their advantage and could not stand how the church referred to her as “impure”. All of them were treating a human being like a thing and Index must have seen nothing but people who did that. The fact that she still put everyone above herself despite that was what Kamijou could stand the least.
Kamijou had no clue what it was that made him so angry. But, that one word made him truly snap.
He lightly tapped Index on the forehead.
“…Oh, come on. Why didn’t you tell me about something this important?”
Index froze in place as Kamijou stared at that bedridden girl with his canines bared. Her eyes opened wide like she had done something horribly wrong and her lips frantically moved like she was trying to say something.
“But, I didn’t think you would believe me and I didn’t want to scare you. And… um…”
Index seemed about to burst into tears and her voice grew quieter and quieter as she spoke. Kamijou could barely hear her toward the end.
Still, Kamijou heard her say “I didn’t want you to hate me.”
“No, fuck that!!” He literally heard a snapping noise. “Don’t look down on people and come up with your own estimation of them! Church secrets? 103,000 grimoires? Yeah, that stuff is amazing and incredible. And yes, it all seems so absurd that I still don’t really believe it. But…” Kamijou paused for a beat. “Is that it?” Index’s eyes opened wide. Her small lips frantically moved as if to say something, but no words came out.
“Don’t look down on me like that. Did you really think I would call you creepy or disgusting or something just because you memorized 103,000 grimoires!? Did you think I would abandon you and run off the instant magicians showed up? Fuck that. If that were all I was capable of, I wouldn’t have taken you in the first place!”
As Kamijou spoke, he finally realized what it was he was so upset about.
Kamijou had simply wanted to be of some help to Index. He did not want to see Index get hurt anymore. That was it. And yet, she refused to let Kamijou protect her while she put herself in harm’s way to protect him. Kamijou had wanted to hear her ask for help just once.
It was frustrating for him. So very, very frustrating.
“…Just trust me a little. Don’t come up with your own estimations of people.”
That was all there was to it. Even if he did not have his right hand and were a normal person, it would have been no reason for Kamijou to back down.
No such reason could exist.
Index merely stared at Kamijou’s face in astonishment for a time. But then, tears welled up in her eyes.
It was as if her eyes were made of ice and had begun to melt.
Index clenched and sealed her lips to choke down the sobs, but her lips trembled as if she could no longer stand it. She drew the futon up to her mouth and bit onto it. If not for the blanket, the enlarged and growing tears in her eyes would have made her seem like she had bawled like a kindergartener.
In all likelihood, the tears were not merely in response to the words Kamijou had spoken.
Kamijou lacked enough conceit to think it was. He doubted his words had made that much of an impression on her. Most likely, something that had been building up within her had come flowing out with his words as the trigger.
Just as he felt his heart break at the thought of no one ever having said those words to her before, Kamijou also felt that he had finally seen Index’s “weakness” which made him a bit happy.
However, Kamijou was not the kind of pervert who enjoyed watching girls cry. In fact, it was incredibly awkward.
If Komoe-sensei unknowingly entered at that moment, he was sure she would unhesitatingly tell him to die.
“U-Um… Y’see. I have my right hand, so no magician is any match for me!”
“…But… sob… you said you have supplementary lessons during summer break.”
“…Did I say that?”
“You definitely did.”
Apparently, the girl who had perfectly memorized 103,000 books had an excellent memory.
“Don’t feel bad about throwing someone’s everyday life into disorder with something like this. My supplementary lessons aren’t that big a deal. School doesn’t want to hold me back if they can help it, so if I ditch the supplementary lessons, I can just go to supplementary lessons for the supplementary lessons. I can put them off as long as I need to.”
If Komoe-sensei had heard that, that room would likely have turned into a battlefield, but he paid that no heed.
With tears still in her eyes, Index looked up at Kamijou.
“…Then why were you in such a rush to get to your supplementary lessons?”
“… … … …Oh.”
Kamijou thought back. Sure enough, after he had stripped her nude by destroying her Walking Church with Imagine Breaker and that closed elevator-like silence had taken over, he had…
“Because you had plans and because you had a normal life to live, I felt it was wrong to disturb all that…”
“I was in the way there.”
“I was in the way…”
Once she repeated herself with tears in her eyes, it was downright impossible to try to get out of it.
“I’m fwowwy!” Kamijou Touma apologized as he quickly entered prostration mode.
Index slowly sat up in the futon like a sick person, grabbed Kamijou’s ears, and bit down on the top of his head like it was a giant onigiri.
About 600 meters away on top of a multi-tenant building, Stiyl took his binoculars away from his eyes.
“The boy Index is with… I’ve looked into him. …How is she?”
Without turning around, Stiyl replied to the girl who had spoken to him.
“She’s alive. But that must mean they have a magic user.”
The girl gave no response, but it seemed she was more relieved that no one had died than worried about a new enemy.
The girl was 18, but she was about a head shorter than Stiyl who was only 14.
But then, Stiyl was over 2 meters tall, so the girl was still tall when compared to the average Japanese height.
Her waist-long black hair was tied in a ponytail and at her waist was a sheathed Japanese sword over two meters long. It was a type known as a “command sword” that was used in Shinto rain calling ceremonies.
However, it was difficult to call her a Japanese beauty.
She wore used jeans and a white shirt. For someone reason, the left leg of her jeans were completely cut off up to the base of her thigh, the extra cloth at the bottom of her T-shirt was tied off so her midriff was visible, she wore knee high boots, and her Japanese sword was hanging down in a leather holster like a pistol.
She looked something like a sheriff from a Western who had traded their pistol for a Japanese sword.
Just like Stiyl, the perfume-smelling priest, her outfit was hardly normal.
“So who exactly is this guy, Kanzaki?”
“Thing about that… I was unable to get much information on the boy. At the very least, it seems he’s not a magician or supernaturally powered in some other way.”
“What, are you trying to say he’s just a normal high school student?” Stiyl lit the cigarette he pulled out by staring at the tip. “Just stop. I may not look it, but I’m a magician that has fully analyzed the existing 24 runes and developed 6 new and powerful runes. This world isn’t kind enough to let a powerless amateur drive back Innocentius’s flames of judgment.”
With Index’s assistance, he had put together a plan using that help almost immediately. Plus there was that strange right hand of his. If he were a normal person in Japan, than it truly was a country of mysteries.
“True.” Kanzaki Kaori narrowed her eyes. “The real issue is that someone with that much battle ability is categorized as nothing more than a hopeless student who is prone to getting into fights.”
Academy City had a hidden side where it was an institution that mass produced espers.
Even if the organization under which Stiyl and Kanzaki operated was hiding Index’s presence, Stiyl and Kanzaki had contacted the organization known as the Five Elements Institution beforehand to get permission to enter the city. Even the magic group that was known as the greatest in the world could not remain hidden within the enemy’s field.
“Perhaps the information is being intentionally blocked. Also, Index’s wounds were magically healed. Kanzaki, do any other magical organizations exist in the Far East?”
They had decided that the boy must have had an organization other than the Five Elements Institution on his side. They mistakenly believed that this other organization was thoroughly eliminating all information on Kamijou.
“If they’re doing something in this city, the Five Elements Institution’s informants must have picked up on them.” Kanzaki closed her eyes. “We have an unknown number of enemies and no chance of backup. This is a difficult development.”
It was all a misunderstanding. Kamijou’s Imagine Breaker had zero effect unless it was being used on supernatural powers. In other words, Academy City’s System Scan was unable to measure his power because it used machines to measure it. And so, Kamijou had the misfortune to be treated like a Level 0 despite possessing a top class right hand.
“In the worst case scenario, this could develop into a magical battle against an organization. Stiyl, I heard your runes have a fatal flaw when it comes to waterproofing.”
“I’ve already compensated for that. I laminated the runes. The same trick won’t work on me again.” Like a stage magician, he pulled out the runes that now looked almost like trading cards. “This time, I will place the barrier 2 kilometers around the area rather than just on the building. It will take 164,000 cards and the preparations will take 60 hours to complete.”
Unlike in video games, real magic took a bit more than just the chanting of a spell.
It may seem like it was all it took at first glance, on the contrary, quite a bit of preparation was necessary behind the scenes. Stiyl’s flames were the type of thing that had instructions along the lines of “Take a silver wolf’s fang that has soaked up 10 years of moonlight and…” For this reason, Stiyl’s speed was actually that of an expert.
In short, magical battles were a matter of reading what was to come. When the battle started, you were essentially caught in the trap that was the enemy’s barrier. When defending, you had to determine what the enemy’s spell was, and find a way to turn it back at the enemy. When attacking, you had to predict what kinds of counterattacks would come and rearrange your spell accordingly. Unlike simple martial arts, you had to think 100-200 steps ahead amidst constantly changing surroundings. While savage terms like “fighting” were used, it was actually more of an intellectual battle.
For that reason, an enemy force of unknown numbers put a magician at a serious disadvantage.
“…She looks so happy,” the rune magician suddenly said as he stared 600 meters ahead without using his binoculars. “She looks so very, very happy. She always lives such a happy life.” He sounded like he was spitting out some kind of thick liquid. “How long do we have to keep ripping that to pieces?”
Kanzaki stared 600 meters ahead from behind Stiyl.
Even without using binoculars or magic, she could see clearly with her 8.0 vision. Through the window, she could see the girl angrily biting down on the boy’s head while he flailed his arms around and struggled.
“It must be a complicated feeling,” said Kanzaki like a machine. “…For someone like you who was once in that same position.”
“…I’m used to it,” replied the flame magician.
He truly had experienced that feeling many times before.
“Bathtime♪ Bathtime♪” sang Index as she walked next to Kamijou, holding a wash basin in both hands.
As if to say she were done being sick, she had changed from pajamas into her safety-pin-covered nun’s habit.
Kamijou had no idea what kind of magic trick she used, but the bloody habit was perfectly clean. He had a feeling it would tear into pieces if place in the washing machine, so he wondered if she had taken it apart and washed each individual piece.
“Does it bother you that much? To be honest, I don’t care about the smell.”
“Are you the type that likes the smell of sweat?”
“I didn’t mean it like that!!”
After three days, she was finally well enough to head out and a bath was her first request.
Komoe-sensei’s apartment lacked anything even remotely resembling a bath so their only options were to borrow the one in the manager’s room or head to the run down public bath nearby. And so, the young boy and girl were walking along a footpath at night with wash basins in hand.
“Just what era of Japanese culture are we living in?” Komoe-sensei had commented with a smile as she explained the public bath system. She let Kamijou and Index stay in her apartment without asking for details on their situation. Kamijou agreed to freeload with her because he did not want to return to his dorm that was undoubtedly being watched by the enemy.
“Touma, Touma,” said Index in a muffled voice because she was lightly biting the upper arm of his shirt.
Due to her habit of biting people, it was nothing more than a gesture similar to grabbing at a person’s clothes to draw their attention.
“…What?” Kamijou replied in exasperation.
That morning, Index had realized she didn’t know his name, so he had introduced himself to her. In the time since then, she had to have called his name about sixty thousand times.
“Nothing. I just like calling your name for no reason.” Her expression was like that of a child going to an amusement park for the first time.
Index seemed much attached to him.
It was likely because of what had happened three days prior but Kamijou was less happy than he was unsure how to feel about the fact that no one had ever said something that basic to Index.
“Komoe said the Japanese public bath has coffee milk. What’s coffee milk? Is it like a cappuccino?”
“You’re not gonna find anything that elegant in a public bath. Don’t get your hopes up so much,” said Kamijou. “Hmm, but the giant bath might be a bit shocking to you. In England, the cramped baths like those at a hotel are most common, right?”
“Hm? …I don’t really know.” Index tilted her head to the side as if she really did not know. “The first thing I remember is begin here in Japan. I don’t really know how things are back in England.”
“…Hmm. So that’s why you speak Japanese so fluently. If you were here since you were little, then you’re practically Japanese yourself.”
However, the certainty that she would be safe if she escaped to the Anglican Church became less credibility. He had thought she would head home, but she would actually be heading to another country that she had never seen before.
“No, no. That isn’t what I meant.” Index shook her head, shaking her long silver hair back and forth. “Apparently, I was born and raised in London’s St. George’s Cathedral. Apparently, I only came here about a year ago.”
“Apparently?” Kamijou frowned at that vague term.
“Yes. I have no memories from before about a year ago when I arrived.” Index smiled.
Just like a child heading to an amusement park for the first time in her life. It was the perfection of the smile that showed Kamijou the fear and pain behind it.
“When I first woke up in a back alley, I had no idea who I was. All I knew was that I had to run away. I couldn’t remember what I ate for dinner the night before, but knowledge of things like magic, the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, and Necessarius were swirling around in my mind. It was so scary…”
“Then you don’t even know why you lost your memories?”
“That’s right,” she replied.
Kamijou knew nothing of psychology, but he knew from video games and dramas that there were two major causes of amnesia: receiving a major shock to the head or sealing a memory that your heart simply could not bear.
“God damn it…” Kamijou muttered as he looked up into the night sky.
While he did feel anger towards the magicians who would do that to a girl like her, he was mostly overcome by a sense of powerlessness.
He now knew why Index had covered for him and grown so oddly attached to him. It was simply that Kamijou just so happened to be the first person she had gotten to know after spending a year alone in the world without knowing anything.
This displeased Kamijou.
He had no idea why, but for some reason that answer truly angered him.
“Mh? Touma, are you angry?”
“No, I’m not.”
The question had caught him off guard, but Kamijou managed to feign ignorance.
“If I upset you in some way, I apologize. Touma, what’s got you so mad? Is it puberty?”
“I don’t want to hear about puberty from someone with a childlike body of yours.”
“Mh. What was that? I really do think you’re mad. Or are you only pretending to be mad to trouble me? I don’t like that side of you, Touma.”
“Hey, don’t say that when you never really liked me in the first place. I’m not expecting that kind of wonderful love comedy-esque turn of events with you.”
“Huh? …Why are you staring up at me like that… princess?”
Even when he tried to force it in the direction of a gag, Index gave no response.
Odd. This is weird. Why is Index folding her arms, looking up at me with tears in her eyes, lightly biting her lower lip with a hurt-looking expression on her face? Kamijou intelligently considered.
“Yes?” Kamijou responded, deciding he might as well respond since she called his name.
He had a strong foreboding of misfortune.
“I hate you.”
In that instant, Kamijou gained a good amount of experience points for the rare experience of a girl biting down on the entirety of the top of his head.
Index headed on to the public bath alone.
Meanwhile, Kamijou trudged on toward the public bath. He had tried running after Index at first but the angry white nun ran off like a stray cat whenever she saw him. Despite this, he would see Index’s back after walking a bit further as if she were waiting for him. After that, the cycle would repeat. She was truly like a capricious cat.
Well, we’re headed to the same place, so we’ll meet up again eventually. With that thought, Kamijou gave up trying to run after her.
Not to mention that he sensed impending misfortune in the form of an arrest should someone see him (seemingly) chasing a weak and helpless young British nun down a dark pathway at night like a Namahage.
“A British nun, hm?” Kamijou muttered under his breath as he walked down the dark pathway alone.
He knew that Index would be brought to the Anglican Church’s headquarters in London if he took her to one of their churches in Japan. There would be nothing left for Kamijou to do. It would all surely end with something like, “It may have just been a short time, but thank you. I will never forget you because of my perfect memory.”
Kamijou felt something sharply stabbing inside his chest, but he had no other ideas of what to do. If Index were not brought under the church’s protection, she would continue to be chased by magicians. Also, it was unrealistic to try to follow Index to England.
They lived in different worlds, they stood different places, and they existed in different dimensions.
Kamijou lived in the world of scientific ESP and she lived in the world of the magical occult.
Like land and sea, their two worlds would never cross paths.
That was all there was to it.
That was all there was to it, but it still annoyed him like a fish bone stuck in his throat.
Suddenly his vainly spinning thoughts cut off.
Something was not right. Kamijou checked the time displayed on a department store’s electronic billboard. It was exactly 8 PM. It would still be some time before most people would be asleep, and yet, a horrible silence had fallen over the area like that of a forest’s at night. A strange, out-of-place sensation hung over the area.
Come to think of it, I haven’t seen anyone since we were walking together… With a puzzled thought and a puzzled look, Kamijou walked further along.
And when he came to a major road with three lanes in each direction, the out-of-place feeling shifted to a full-blown sense of things being blatantly wrong.
There was no one there.
No one entered or exited the major department stores that lined the road like drinks on a convenience store rack. The footpath that usually felt overly narrow now felt horribly wide and not a single car was driving along that runway of a road. All of the cars parked on the side of road were empty as if abandoned.
It was like a farm road out in the country. “This is because Stiyl carved the Opila rune for a people clearing field.”
A female voice suddenly entered his head like a Japanese sword stabbing into the core of his face.
He had not noticed.
She hid behind nothing and did not sneak behind him. She stood in the center of the wide runway-like road around 10 meters ahead of him, cutting off his path.
It went beyond the point of not seeing or noticing her due to the dark. An instant before there truly was no one. But, in the time it took him to blink, the girl had appeared.
“All of the people around this area have had their focuses averted so that they avoid approaching here for whatever reason. Most are likely inside the buildings, so worry not.”
His body reacted before his mind could manage to. All of the blood in his body seemed to gather in his right hand. With rope-like pain was tightly binding his wrist, Kamijou instinctually sensed that the girl was dangerous.
The girl wore a T-shirt and jeans with a leg boldly cut off, her clothes completely removed from normalcy.
However, the two meter plus Japanese sword hanging from her waist like a pistol emanated a freezing bloodlust. The blade was hidden within a scabbard but the black scabbard appeared as full of history as the pillar of an old Japanese building, making it clear that the sword was real.
“The God Purifying Demon Destroyer… An excellent ‘true name.’”
However, the girl herself showed no signs of nervousness. The relaxed way she spoke, like that of someone having a casual conversation, made it all the more frightening.
“…Who are you?”
“I am Kanzaki Kaori. …I would prefer to not give my other name, if possible.”
“Your other name?”
“My magic name.”
He had expected it, to a certain extent, but Kamijou still took a step back.
Magic name. That was the “name of bloodshed” that Stiyl offered before attacking Kamijou with magic.
“So… what? Are you from that magic cabal or whatever, just like Stiyl?”
“…?” For a split second, Kanzaki frowned in doubt. “Oh, did you hear that from Index?”
Kamijou gave no reply.
A magic cabal, the organization chasing Index to acquire her 103,000 grimoires, a group striving to become Magic Gods, people who have so thoroughly mastered magic that they can twist everything in the world to their will.
“To be honest,” Kanzaki closed one eye. “I would like to take her into our care without having to give my magic name.”
Kamijou shuddered. Kamijou had a trump card, his right hand, and yet, the enemy standing before him sent a chill down his back.
“…And if I refuse?” Kamijou asked nevertheless. He had no reason to fall back.
“Then I will have no choice.” Kanzaki closed her other eye. “I will have to give my name until she has been brought into our care.”
An earthquake-like shock caused the ground under Kamijou’s feet to tremble.
It was like a bomb had gone off. The night sky at the edge of his vision that should have been covered in the pale blue darkness was instead colored with a burning orange like that of the sunset. Giant flames were spreading a few hundred meters ahead.
The enemy was an organization and Kamijou knew the name of a flame magician.
Kamijou reflexively looked over in the direction of the exploding flames and in that instant, Kanzaki Kaori’s slicing attack approached him.
A distance of 10 meters lay between Kamijou and Kanzaki. Additionally, Kanzaki’s katana surpassed two meters long, so it looked impossible for her slender feminine arms to pull it from its scabbard, much less swing it around.
…But that was just how it looked.
In the next instant, the air above Kamijou’s head was sliced apart like she wielded a giant laser. In shock, he froze in place and the blade of a wind turbine behind him to the right was silently sliced through diagonally as if it were made of butter.
“Please stop this,” said a voice 10 meters before front of him. “Ignoring my warnings will only lead to death.” Kanzaki’s two meters plus sword was already in the scabbard. The strike was so quick Kamijou never saw the blade exposed in the air. He was unable to move.
The only reason he was still standing was because Kanzaki had intentionally missed. The situation seemed so unreal that he had only just barely managed to realize that fact. His enemy was so absurdly powerful that his mind could not keep up.
With a loud thud, the sliced wind turbine blade fell to the ground behind him.
Though the wreckage of the blade fell so closely by, Kamijou was still unable to move.
Kamijou gritted his teeth at the thought of how ridiculously sharp that blade must have been.
Kanzaki opened one of her closed eyes and said, “I will ask you again.” She narrowed her eyes slightly. “I would like to take her into our care without having to give my magic name.”
Kanzaki’s voice was unhesitant, her voice so cold she seemed to be saying that that level of destruction was not worth any surprise.
“…Wh-What the hell are you saying?”
As if his feet were glued to the ground, he could move neither forwards nor backwards. His legs trembled like he had just finished running a full marathon and could feel his strength leaving them.
“I have no reason to surrender to-…”
“I will ask as many times as necessary.”
In an instant —truly only an instant— Kanzaki’s right hand blurred and disappeared like a bug in a video game.
With a roar, something flew at Kamijou with frightening speed.
Kamijou felt like giant lasers were being fired of every direction, like a giant tornado of wind blades.
Kamijou Touma watched as that typhoon sliced the asphalt, the streetlights, and the trees lining the street at set intervals to pieces as if it were an industrial water jet cutter. A fist-sized piece of asphalt flew through the air and struck Kamijou’s right shoulder, which was enough to send him flying and almost knock him unconscious.
Grasping his right shoulder, Kamijou looked around while moving only his eyes.
One… two… three, four, five, six, seven. A total of seven linear sword slices continued for a few dozen meters across the flat ground. The cuts came in at many seemingly random angles and looked something like fingernail scratches on a steel door.
He heard a click as her katana returned to its scabbard.
“I would like to take her into our care without having to give my magic name.”
With her right hand still on the hilt of her sword, Kanzaki simply spoke her words with no malice or anger.
Seven strikes, but Kamijou was unable to see even a single one. She had performed seven iai strokes in that single instant. And, had she wanted to, any or all of those seven strikes could have been a deadly attack that sliced Kamijou in two.
No. He had only heard the metallic sound of the sword being sheathed once.
It was most likely the supernatural power known as magic. She possessed some magic that extended the range of her strikes by dozens of meters and gave her the swordsmanship to attack seven times with one draw.
“The speed of the Nanasen attackthat my Shichiten Shichitou creates is enough to kill you seven times over in the period of time known as an instant. People refer to this as an instant kill. Calling this a certain kill would not be far from the truth.”
Silently, Kamijou clenched his fist with enough force to crush his right hand.
She had overwhelming speed, power, and range. Most likely, that slicing attack had something to do with the supernatural power known as magic. In that case, he just had to touch the actual attack itself.
“Keep dreaming,” she said, cutting off his thoughts. “I heard from Stiyl that your right hand can dispel magic for some reason. However, am I correct in thinking you cannot do so unless you touch it with that right hand of yours?”
Exactly. Kamijou’s right hand was of no use if he could not touch it.
It was not just an issue of speed. Unlike Misaka Mikoto’s Biri Biri-ing and Railgun that shot in a straight line, he could not predict where Kanzaki Kaori’s Nanasen would go due to its constant changing. If Kamijou tried to use Imagine Breaker, those seven slices would likely slice his arm to pieces right off the bat.
“I will ask as many times as it takes.”
Kanzaki’s right hand silently grabbed the hilt of Shichiten Shichitou at her waist.
Kamijou felt a cold sweat on his cheek.
If Kanzaki’s mood changed and she went in for the kill, Kamijou would certainly be sliced to pieces in an instant. Given how she had sliced the trees lining the road to pieces at a range of a few dozen meters, trying to run away or use something as a shield would be suicide.
Kamijou calculated the distance between himself and Kanzaki.
It was about 10 meters. If he ran as quickly as his physical body would let him, he could cover that distance in four steps.
…Move, Kamijou desperately commanded his legs that seemed attached to the ground with instant glue.
“Will you let us take her into our care before I give my magic name?”
He took one step forward as if ripping his feet off of the ground. One of Kanzaki’s eyebrows twitched up as Kamijou moved to take another explosive step forward like a bullet.
He took his next step. If he could not run away, could not evade to the right or left, and could not use anything as a shield, the only option left was to head forward and open up a path for himself.
“I do not know what is driving you this far, but…”
Kanzaki gave a sigh that held more pity than surprise. And then…
The small fragments of the destroyed asphalt and trees floated in the air like dust. With a roar of wind, that cloud of dust was sliced to pieces before Kamijou’s eyes.
He knew in his head that he could negate it if he touched it with his right hand, but his heart immediately chose to evade. He crouched down with such force it looked like he was swinging his head down and his heart froze as the seven waves passed overhead.
He had not calculated it and there was no way he could have succeeded had he tried. He had only managed to evade due to pure luck and he proceeded to take another powerful step, the third of the four.
No matter how strange of an attack Nanasen was, it was still an iai strike at its base. It was an ancient sword technique that let fly a single definitive attack that began with the action of sliding the sword from its scabbard, meaning that the time when the blade was out of its scabbard left the user defenseless and unable to use another iai strike.
If he took that last step to reach Kanzaki, he would win. The final hope that the thought gave Kamijou was shattered to pieces with a small click.
It was the much-too-short slightly metallic noise of the katana being returned to its scabbard.
The roar came from directly in front of Kamijou at pointblank range.
The seven strikes were on him before his body’s reflexes could even kick in.
Kamijou stuck his right fist forward toward the slicing attacks in front of him, but the movement was more like a defensive attempt at catching a ball thrown at his face than an offensive attack.
As long as it was a supernatural power, Kamijou’s right hand could negate it even if it were the power of God or of vampires.
Due to the close proximity, the seven strikes were released simultaneously without spread, which meant he could blow away all seven of them with one strike of Imagine Breaker.
As the strikes glowed blue in the moonlight, the skin of one finger on Kamijou’s fist lightly touched them….
…And was eaten into.
It did not disappear. Even with Imagine Breaker, those absurd strikes did not disappear.
Kamijou immediately tried to pull his hand back but was too slow. After all, he had stuck his own hand into the oncoming strike of a Japanese sword.
She narrowed her eyes slightly at the sight of him. In the next instant, the wet sound of flesh being sliced apart filled the area. Kamijou held his bloody right hand with his left and fell to his knees.
He was honestly surprised to find all five of his fingers were still attached. This was of course not due to Kamijou’s fingers being tough or Kanzaki’s skill being poor. Kamijou’s body was not sliced to pieces due to the simple fact of her having held back, held back even more, and allowed him to live.
Still on his knees, Kamijou looked up.
Kanzaki stood with the blue moon’s perfect circle behind her. He could see things like red threads in front of her.
It was akin to a spider web. It was only once Kamijou’s blood covered them like evening dew on a spider web that he could see the seven steel wires.
“I can’t believe this…” Kamijou clenched his teeth. “Are you even a magician?”
The ridiculously huge katana was nothing but a decoration.
It was unsurprising that he was unable to see the instant she drew the sword. Kanzaki had never actually drawn it. She had only moved the sword slightly within the scabbard and then moved it back. That motion was to hide the hand manipulating the seven wires.
Kamijou’s hand was relatively unharmed because Kanzaki had loosened the wires just before they severed his fingers.
“As I said, I heard about your ability from Stiyl.” Kanzaki sounded disinterested. “That was when I realized: your power is not of greater quantity, it is of a different type. It is the same as rock paper scissors. No matter how many times you use rock, you can never defeat my paper.”
“…” Kamijou clenched his bloody fist.
“You seem mistaken about something.” It seemed to pain Kanzaki to look at him. “I am not disguising a lack of ability with a cheap trick. Shichiten Shichitou is not a mere decoration. Beyond Nanasen is the true Yuisen.”
“…” He clenched his bloody fist.
“And more importantly, I have not given my magic name yet.”
“…” He clenched it.
“Please do not make me give it, boy.” Kanzaki bit her lip. “I don’t wish to give it ever again.”
His clenched fist trembled. She was clearly different from Stiyl. She was not a simple one-trick pony. From the most basic of the basics to the most complex of the complexities, she was a kind completely differently from Kamijou.
“…Like I can give up.”
Even so, Kamijou did not unclench his fist. He kept his right hand closed despite having no feeling in it.
Index had not given up in her attempt to face Kamijou when sliced in the back by that magician.
“What did you say? …I could not hear you.”
“I said shut the hell up, you damn robot!!”
Kamijou clenched his bloody fist and tried to swing it at the face of the girl standing before him.
But, the toe of Kanzaki’s boot jabbed into his solar plexus before he could. All the air in his lungs burst from his mouth and the Shichiten Shichitou’s black scabbard struck him on the side of the face like a baseball bat. His body spun like a tornado and he struck the ground shoulder-first.
Before he could cry out in pain, Kamijou saw the bottom of a boot coming down to crush his head.
In an attempt to evade, he immediately rolled to the side and…
As that term entered Kamijou’s ears, seven slicing attacks broke the asphalt around him to pieces. Kamijou’s entire body was pelted by an explosion of small fragments from every direction.
Kamijou writhed in place as intense pain similar to being brutalized by five or six people assaulted him. Kanzaki approached him with her boots scraping on the ground.
I need to get up… He told himself.
However, his legs were too tired to move.
“Surely that is enough.” Her quiet voice actually sounded pained. “There is no reason for you to go this far for her. Lasting even 30 seconds against one of the top 10 magicians in London is quite an achievement. She cannot blame you after going this far.”
Kamijou’s mind was hazy, but he managed to recall something.
He recalled that Index would indeed not blame him no matter what he did.
But… He thought.
He could not give up precisely because she continued to withstand it all without blaming others. He wanted to save the girl who smiled so perfectly with the otherwise heartbreaking expression.
Kamijou forced his destroyed right hand into a fist like it was a dying bug.
His body could still move. It moved when asked.
“…Why?” Kamijou whispered from his collapsed position on the ground. “You look like you don’t like this. You aren’t like that Stiyl guy; you’re hesitating to kill your enemy. You could easily have killed me from the beginning if you wanted to, but you didn’t. …You still have enough of a normal human’s way of thinking to hesitate about things like that, don’t you?”
Kanzaki had asked again and again. She had asked to have it all ended before she had to give her magic name.
The rune magician naming himself Stiyl Magnus had not shown the slightest bit of hesitation in that regard.
Kanzaki Kaori fell silent, but Kamijou’s mind was too hazy from the pain to notice.
“Then surely you know, right? You know that chasing a girl around until she collapses from hunger and then slicing her back open with a sword is wrong, right?” As he spoke the words as if he were coughing up blood, Kanzaki could only continue to listen. “Did you know that she has no memories beyond about a year ago thanks to you? What the hell did you do to her while chasing her down to cause something like that?”
He received no response. Kamijou could not understand.
He would have understood if this magician were trying to gain the 103,000 grimoires to become a Magic God that could (supposedly) bend the rules of the world in order to make some wishes like healing a child with an incurable disease or something for a dead lover come true.
But she was not doing that.
She was part of an organization. She was doing it because she had been told to, because it was her job, and because those were here orders. That was all it had taken for her to chase down a girl and slice her back open.
“Why?” repeated Kamijou, his teeth clenched. “I’m a loser who couldn’t save a single girl after risking my life to desperately fight you. I’m a weakling who can’t do anything but lie on the ground and watch you take her away.” He sounded like he could burst into tears like a child at any moment.
“But you’re different, aren’t you?” He had no idea what he was saying. “With your power, you could protect anyone or anything and save anything or anyone.” He had no idea who he was speaking to.
“So why are you doing this?”
He regretted that he had thought he could protect everything he wanted with the little power he had.
He regretted that someone with such overwhelming power was using it only to hunt down a small girl.
He regretted that the situation seemed to be saying that he was worse than even someone like that.
He regretted it all and he thought he would cry.
Silence built atop silence, creating an even greater silence.
Had Kamijou’s mind been clearer, he would have definitely been surprised.
Kanzaki was the one driven into a corner.
With only a few words, he had driven one of the top 10 magicians in London into a corner.
“I really did not mean to slice her back open. I thought the barrier of her Walking Church habit was still functioning… I only sliced her because I was absolutely sure it would not hurt her… And yet…”
Kamijou did not understand what Kanzaki was saying.
“I am not doing this because I want to,” said Kanzaki. “But she cannot live if I do not do this. …She will… die.”
Kanzaki sounded like a child, about to burst into tears.
“The organization I belong to is the same as hers. I am from Necessarius of the Anglican Church,” she said as if coughing up blood. “She is my colleague… and my precious friend.”
- This is a reference to Japanese candy known as Chocoballs. If you are lucky, the package will have either a gold angel or silver angel printed on it. One gold angel or five silver angels can be exchanged for a can of toys.
- Ringo is Japanese for apple.
- “God Purifying Demon Destroyer” (神浄の討魔) is pronounced “Kamijou no Touma” but uses different kanji than Touma’s name (上条当麻).
- Nanasen means “Seven Flashes”.
- Shichiten Shichitou means “Seven Heavens Seven Swords”.
- Yuisen means "Single Flash".