Toaru Majutsu no Index:Volume2 Chapter3
Chapter 3: The Master Has Shut Off the World Like a God. DEUS_EX_MACHINA.
Stiyl Magnus journeyed for the top floor of the North block. Perhaps Kamijou, whom Stiyl had used as bait, was attracting many more enemies than he had predicted as Stiyl faced essentially no resistance. He hid himself completely, checked every secret entrance, and formed a grasp of the building’s situation.
It seemed Deep Blood Himegami Aisa was not imprisoned inside. Having checked the dust and mana traces left behind at the entrance, it seemed that whether it the front or back of the coin, no one had entered.
There was no one, no subordinates, no soldiers or not even Aureolus himself, an environment that would not monitor an escaping prisoner. If such an event occurred, it would have become much more complicated, meaning that Himegami Aisa was not in fact imprisoned but willingly assisting Aureolus Izzard. If it were so, it seemed Stiyl had to face the terrifying and unknown power called Deep Blood.
…Damn it. Why are espers so hard to handle. Having such thoughts, Stiyl’s mind wandered to the boy that was used as bait. If the boy died, it would have meant little to Stiyl. From the beginning, Stiyl had told him that they were not allies and clearly stated the boy was a shield. However, when the boy was pushed down, he had seemed so betrayed.
It was the expression of someone backstabbed.
He had attacked him with a flame sword on their first meeting and had even dragged him to that deadly battlefield. Why did the boy see him as a comrade?
Stiyl was uneasy. Though just a small irritant, it caused Stiyl some uneasiness. …Damn it. Why are espers so hard to handle!
Stiyl began to dash down the narrow emergency staircase. Considering he had used him as bait, such an action was futile. However, Stiyl could not appease his conscience unless he did something with some impact. The remains of Stiyl’s humanity argued back.
“I don’t understand. Why are you so anxious?” inquired an icy voice behind Stiyl.
“…” Stiyl slowed turned his head. He knew what would have happened if he let an enemy sneak behind him.
Behind Stiyl Magnus stood…
“Hm. So it’s over here?” As orange sunset melded with purple night, Index arrived before Misawa Cram School, whose normalness made it seem strange. Index had tracked the owner of the runes stuck to the student dormitory. However, it seemed the mana trail disappeared once it entered the building.
To be blunt, it was an obviously abnormal building that feigned normality. Its intentions were clear.
Like how individuals had mana, the world had “power.”
Christians called the existence God’s Blessings. The creation of the Golden Dawn organization mapped the blueprint of Western magic called Telesma. In terms of contemporary language, the most similar were the geography and astronomy of Feng Shui. As the name would suggest, a pulse formed from the forces and flows of the entire world that formed blood vessels extending everywhere.
It was similar to how mana formed from human life force, similar to gasoline refined from crude oil. Similarly, the energy spread out over the planet was not too powerful (at least relatively. The lifespan of planetary objects could not be compared to that of a human’s and thus the “power” was much larger than human mana.). Through a temple or shrine, it was possible to convert this power into a “planetary energy”, generating huge sums of energy.
The power filled the world like air and ordinary people (magicians included as well) could not feel it. Only specially trained magicians or Feng Shui masters could see the force. However, there was no such energy in the four buildings before Index.
Though the power of the world was normally undetectable like basic air, if a vacuum formed, breathing became impossible. Similarly, Index felt an incomparable strangeness.
It was like some tower of death was sliced into cubes, becoming the largest tombstone in the world. It was much too extreme, even if for the sake of trapping mana inside.
Though Kamijou’s right hand was capable of destroying the world’s power, it was not a large problem. If the power returned to the soil like falling leaves, it rejoined the cycle of life in the form of destruction, perfectly natural. Before Index realized the Walking Church’s destruction, she had not realized how harmonious the hand was with nature.
However, the magic tower differed. It was like a city of stone and steel formed after cutting down a forest through forced methods. It was an ugly representation of urbanization.
Had the rune magician not realized? It was perhaps because the rune magician was a walking refinery of vast amounts of mana. Similar to how people react to eating foods with strong tastes, slight changes in flavor went undetected. In contrast, Index, who could not refine mana, clearly felt the slight change.
“This isn’t a boundary preventing enemies from invading but a boundary to prevent escape. Hm… It’s like an Egyptian pyramid…” muttered the white nun and walked through the automatic doors.
Index had no reason to head back. In face of such an abnormal existence, she had ever more reason to bring the boy home.
The moment she stepped inside, she felt the difference in the atmosphere. It felt like she had walked from under the scorching sun into a shop with a hyperactive air conditioner. The lively and peaceful street had become a cold-blooded battlefield with the ominous presence of permeating death. It was not a false impression for, deep inside the expansive room, at a wall near the lifts was a dead knight donned with Roman Catholic tools.
Index cautiously approached the knight and observed him. The knight’s tool, the enchanted suit Surgical Armor was imbued with magic that absorbed physical strikes. As the emphasis was focused on physical defense, the equipment was frailer against magic attacks. However, the enchanted armor was forcefully destroyed by a powerful physical attack. Someone had ignored the defensive attribute.
…Either someone doesn’t know anything about magic or he’s just really crazy.
Of course, examining the building that was similar to a pharaoh’s tomb, the former was impossible. In which case, the situation was troublesome. Those capable of destroying the enchanted Roman Catholic armor with pure physical force were either those capable of summoning archangels or metal golem specialists.
Then, she heard the sound of something clashing. Index looked back and found, beside the elevator, the entrance to an emergency staircase. There seemed to have been the sound of dragging and heavy breathing.
“Who’s…” Before she could finish her question, the thing climbed out of the emergency staircase.
It could not have been called human or object. It was no longer human. Its lower half was ripped, its left arm blown to smithereens, and its face’s right side blown off. Even its remaining left side was charred. Such a thing could not have been called human.
The half of its remaining face was still moving. Unbelievably, it seemed the head tilted with thought. As Index began to think of something unimportant, it used a hand to support itself in preparation to leap.
Without a word, it leaped. Index could only frantically backtrack and trip and tumble over the remains of the knight. The thing seemingly lost its target and seemed to be positioned to land on Index.
“Be crushed!” A stern man’s voice was heard in the icy expanse.
The wall near the elevator ripped apart like paper and a man’s hand emerged from within. The large hand grasped like it was catching a ball and found the charred head of the thing.
Then, before Index lying on the floor, the thing’s body shattered as the man had declared. Like gathered ash being crushed, with a “pak!” three cracks appeared on the thing’s body, beginning to break into pieces. It then exploded into something like snow-flakes that disappeared before touching Index’s face.
“Open!” The voice was heard once more and the immobile elevator doors ripped open from the inside. The twisted elevator that should not have opened, did. It was an ultimate magic that forced the user’s surroundings to morph according to his words.
“Don’t tell me…”
Facing the puzzled, mumbling Index, a tall, lean man exited the lift, appearing careless. His green hair was combed back and he wore a white Italian suit and high class leather shoes.
“Hm. It’s been a while, but I don’t think you remember me. Inevitably, you can’t remember the name Aureolus Izzard. But, to me, this might be somewhat lucky.” Said the man who had numerous mosquito-bite like marks on his head.
It was acupuncture, an Asian healing technique that seemed out of place with Westerners. In truth, this was false pretense. For example the founder of Golden Dawn, a Western magic organization, loved Buddhist concepts.
“But, even if you don’t remember, I shall say what I need to. It’s been a while Index. It seems you’ve forgotten me but I’m quite happy to see you haven’t changed.” He said as he reached his hand out, blocking Index’s eyes. It was the hand of a human or perhaps a monster that crushed the charred creature.
Index could not move as she responded. “Do-Don’t tell me… the Golden Ars Magna?”
The man responded with a soft smile.
“Let’s go home.” Kamijou said. Unable to get past the flowing gold, Kamijou could only make a detour through the four buildings and return to Himegami. “I beat that guy called Aureolus. I didn’t kill him but he’s done. He can’t fight, he’s wounded and his heart’s broken.”
So, go home.
There was nothing left to protect. The students that took part in the Gregorian Chant could not be saved and he ended up dueling the alchemist. There lacked any reason for Kamijou to remain there. He himself desired to escape that battlefield filled with death and return home.
He wanted to go home and he wanted to have dinner with Index. It would be alright so long as he escaped Misawa Cram School.
If I could just see her, I could return to the normal world. Before I’m stuck here, before I get used to a world of murder and death… If I can’t go back it’s over. He realized blankly and ever so clearly.
A devil appeared in Kamijou’s fragile heart.
First, according to Stiyl, Index had to have her memory wiped every year.
Second, according to Stiyl, Index found a new partner every year.
Finally, according to Stiyl, Index was completely ignorant.
Easily imaginable, the Index who smiled years past was not the Index that Kamijou knew. There were too many around Index that needed her.
He had not explicitly said it, but Stiyl did imply it when he had said “this does not mean we have given up and are leaving her to you.”
“…” A sudden feeling of grogginess forced Kamijou to support himself with his hand. He felt that if he treated that child just like any other person, he would be unable to return to his ordinary life.
…Such an ugly and possessive thought.
In such critical circumstances, thoughts of self defeat could easily become self-sacrifice or other suicidal actions. Kamijou took a deep breath and calmed himself, forcing himself not to think in such a way. He had realized that if such thoughts continued, his mind would have crumbled.
Anyways… I’d better get Himegami out of here. Kamijou sighed with a thought.
“That Aureolus Izzard was a fake.” Himegami Aisa said matter-of-factly.
“He was just a clone. I’ve seen the real one before so I can tell. The real one wouldn’t kill so indiscriminately.”
Each word she spoke etched into Kamijou’s thoughts. It was true. Analyzing carefully, something was wrong. The alchemist had certainly used Misawa Cram School as a fortress but had for some reason self destructed the students with the Gregorian Chant? If it were the case, would he not have broken his disguise?
Even with such analysis, Kamijou was unwilling to believe reality. He could not calmly think because what remained of his sanity was the fact that he would finally go home. He could not simply accept that he had to step back into the battlefield.
“Hold on! Hold it right there…! What do you mean? I just beat Aureolus Izzard!”
“Like I said, he was a fake.” She responded quickly. “The real body has many needles to stab with. The ones without needles are definitely fake, not to mention the real one isn’t that weak.”
Kamijou could not admit to it and neither did he want to. His thoughts were focused on going home and he was wholly unwilling to accept another enemy’s existence.
“The real one is only interested in what he wants. I don’t think he’d stop you if you went home.” Himegami’s calming tone finally soothed Kamijou’s rampaging mood. However, something she said seemed strange.
“Hold on. You’re coming with me aren’t you? Since he wants you, why would he let us go?”
“The question isn’t ‘why can’t he let us go’. It’s ‘why should I go with you?’”
“What?” Kamijou, confused, could say little more. Even if they defeated all enemies, Himegami did not intend to escape from Misawa Cram.
“Don’t be mistaken. I’m here of my own accord. I don’t plan to escape from here. On the contrary, my goal can only be achieved here. Without that alchemist, it’s possible it might never be fulfilled.” Rather than sound lost, Himegami may have even sounded like Aureolus’ friend.
What’s going on? There are psychological cases where imprisoned or monitored hostages have felt mysterious sympathy for criminals. Is Himegami like that?
“No matter what your aims, the guy doesn’t consider you an ally, right? And if you are one, why are you imprisoned here?”
“I was imprisoned before he took command of Misawa Cram.” She said with resolve. “Do you really want to know how I was treated here? Do you want to know why there are so many secret rooms? I don’t think you could handle the truth.”
“Ever since the alchemist came, the secret rooms were never used again. I’m just staying here. I don’t feel the need to go outside. If I did randomly go out, I’d attract ‘them.’”
Kamijou remembered what Stiyl had told him prior to their invasion. Though it seemed like an ordinary building, it possessed a perfectly disguised barrier.
Deep Blood: a legend of even the magic world. A girl was said to possess the ability to instantly kill vampires. Perhaps…
“What do you mean? Don’t tell me you hide here to avoid conflicts with them?”
“…My blood has the power to attract them with a sweet scent and also kill them. Lure them, kill them. I’m like a carnivorous plant: colorful and deadly. Such is my nature.”
Kamijou’s eyes widened. Even when Stiyl simply mentioned vampires, he was filled with fear and disgust and now, he knew Himegami Aisa truly had the powerful ability to kill vampires. However, Himegami’s words sounded lonely. It was as if she were standing in the cold rain.
"Do you know what vampires are like?" Kamijou could not possibly answer. All he could think of were evil vampires in fiction who attacked humans. In fact, the term vampire itself seemed unrealistic.
“They’re no different from us. They cry, smile, get angry, get happy, laugh for others, and act for others. All of these people—without exception—are killed.” Himegami replied with words that only those who had seen Hell could say. She sounded like her heart bled. Her happy memories had been shattered.
“Academy City researches powers. I thought I could come here to analyze the secrets of my powers. If I knew its source I could get rid of it. However, I couldn’t find a way to be rid of it.” Himegami said. “I don’t want to kill anyone. I’d decided that I’d rather kill myself than kill other people.”
Such was the reason that the girl titled Deep Blood agonized alone.
“Please don’t try to convince me otherwise. It’s not so bad. Aureolus said that he could create a simply boundary that takes the appearance of clothes, called the Walking Church. If I put it on, I can go outside without the fear of luring ‘them.’”
“I have my goals and Aureolus has his. We need each other to fulfill them. So, it’s okay. Aureolus will fulfill his end of the bargain and keep me safe. I’ll explain it to Aureolus for you if you want to leave this battlefield.” Kamijou could not consent. He did not understand the burden she bore. He did not know how to save her. He did not know what to do.
“Tell me something.” He asked because he did not know. “If you don’t want to attract vampires, why were you eating outside when we first met?”
“Simple. Aureolus needs me because he wants a vampire. If I stay inside this boundary, I can’t attract one.”
“Isn’t that the opposite of what you want? Don’t you want to stop hurting vampires? If you do, why would you accept that ord—“
“Yes. But, Aureolus promised me he wouldn’t hurt it after he captured one. He just wants their help.”
“…What? I thought you had worked hard just to escape Misawa Cram.”
“Even if I had intended to escape, why are you here?”
“I’m here to save you of course. Do I need any other reason?”
Himegami’s eyes widened at his argument. It was like she had gotten a birthday present even she had forgotten what day it was. “Unbelievable. But don’t worry, I wasn’t imprisoned. You can relax and go home, no problem.” She smiled. “Aureolus said he wants to save someone and can’t do it by himself. That’s why he needs a vampire and also why I agreed to help. This’s the first time I agreed to use this power to save, not kill.”
Were her words true? Even if Himegami were not lying, it was unknown whether Aureolus was noble. After all, Aureolus was a murderer and mastermind who had created that battlefield of carnage. Her words contradicted the situation.
And, even if Aureolus Izzard was as she said…
“...This won’t do.”
“If in fact Aureolus Izzard is as you say, that he isn’t a monster, that he’s still barely human, you can’t let him keep doing these terrible things. Though I think people can be saved when they fall, if Aureolus continues like this, he’ll reach a point of no return.”
She remained silent. In truth, she had already realized. Aureolus’ desires had begun to diverge from reality. Simply looking at the battlefield itself showed that the truth differed substantially from “not hurting anyone.”
“On exactly what basis do you refute my ideas?” said a male voice that interrupted Kamijou.
A mysterious ringing permeated their conversation, forcing both silent. It was like a whisper to the ear, though the owner of the voice had transferred the vibrations not through air but through something metaphysical.
The footsteps clacked behind Himegami in a corridor 30 meters away.
No one should have been there. No one should have been there. But, in the blink of an eye, Kamijou witnessed a man appear before him. Surely there were no places to hide. Not to mention, the man had never hid.
“You…” Kamijou began to distrust his very own eyes.
The man that suddenly appeared was the Aureolus Izzard that Kamijou had beaten down. His limbs were intact and he had not a single scratch.
Did he use some special power to heal? Kamijou considered it but deemed it illogical. Regardless of physical healing, one’s personality would remain constant. Like a twin brother with a completely different persona, the person before him was identical but possessed a wholly different atmosphere.
Not to mention the pressure… He was thirty meters away but Kamijou felt an overwhelming sensation as if the enemy had already stabbed his ribs.
Despair. The only suitable description of that man was power.
Dangerous! His instinct warned him. This person is dangerous! He’s someone that definitely can’t be beaten while in this building.
Because of the warning, Kamijou took a step forward to protect Himegami. From the beginning, sacrificing someone to save himself was never an option.
“Calm down. Don’t interfere. I will go there now.”
Before Kamijou could take even a step forward, Aureolus Izzard had covered the entire 30 meter distance between them.
With Aureolus’ sudden appearance, Kamijou’s mind froze with incomprehension. Rather than fast, he had appeared out of nowhere like a scene change in movies.
“Naturally, you’re wondering what happened. However, I have no obligation to answer.” The alchemist said with calm.
“Himegami’s blood is very important so I can’t hand her over. I’m here to reclaim her.”
The word “reclaim” swirled in Kamijou’s confused mind. “You bastard!”
How could he run away? He had to close the two meter distance between them and rescue the imprisoned Himegami from the mastermind Aureolus. He rushed forward.
“In any case… You,” The alchemist calmly began. “shall not touch me.”
The change was drastic.
Initially, nothing changed, which was the source of the strangeness. Kamijou had rushed at Aureolus with maximum force. However, the distance did not lessen, as if he were chasing the setting sun on the horizon. Run and run and run but the two meters did not disappear.
Like a corridor expanding into infinity, Aureolus and Himegami seemed to retreat from him. With a sense of anxiousness, Kamijou remembered the existence of Imagine Breaker in his right hand. Any supernatural power would be negated, even one of God’s miracles.
But how exactly am I supposed to use this effectively!?
“Tell me exactly,” said Aureolus emotionlessly. “Why I can’t turn back?”
Kamijou, chilled, stopped. He dared not approach the alchemist, his body warning him of the danger of approaching. Aureolus stared at Kamijou without feeling like a toy insect staring with pins.
Without warning, Aureolus procured from his white suit a thin needle as thin as hair that smelled faintly of antiseptic. Aureolus stabbed the needle into his neck as if to hypnotize himself.
Kamijou backed away from this declaration of Kamijou’s death. However, Aureolus removed then needle and tossed it aside. “Unfortunately, you’re an uninteresting boy.”
Then, Kamijou shockingly realized that, regardless of his efforts, he could not retreat from Aureolus. In a mysterious predicament, Kamijou could move neither forward nor backward. His heart nearly burst with his inability to act as Aureolus silently reached his hand to grab something far away from Kamijou’s heart, as if to dig it out. “Diss—“ began the stern alchemist.
“Hold on a minute!” Himegami had suddenly appeared between them and interrupted the alchemist. Kamijou was amazed that Himegami had dared to actually stand between them to protect him from the true alchemist with overwhelming power.
Kamijou hurriedly reached a hand out to push her away but could not move approach even a single centimeter. Like a child confronting an assailer with a machinegun, Kamijou trembled from the fear danger.
Then, Kamijou remembered her title: Deep Blood.
Her legendary, mysterious power killed the vampires that even Stiyl so feared. With her power, as the strongest ace, they could perhaps turn around the situation.
Don’t tell me… Please tell me she has a chance. If she doesn’t… she shouldn’t be doing this…
Aureolus glanced at the thinking Kamijou with disinterest. He seemed to lack a regard for his trump, Deep Blood. “Obviously, at this point, you might harbor a sense of hope, which is expected. However, Deep Blood is no match for me.” Aureolus said coldly. “Naturally, you might wonder how the name Deep Blood came to be. Hm. Yes. She certainly has the power to kill vampires… but have you ever wondered, considering it’s so powerful, why it’s limited to vampires? Why don’t they call her Overkill Annihilator?”
…Don’t tell me… With his final hope snatched, Kamijou’s thought processes simplified.
“Essentially, Deep Blood is an ability exclusively effective on vampires. The truth is none so extravagant. It’s simply a unique type of blood. Her sweet-smelling blood lures vampires to her and when they consume but a drop of her blood, they disintegrate. The terrifying thing is the fact that it lures each and every vampire. They drink her blood knowing they will die. It’s only effective against Cain’s descendants, vampires; not humans.” Aureolus elaborated as he obtained another needle, stabbing this one as well into his neck. What was its effect? The rather emotionless alchemist seemed somewhat excited. “Hm? Are you going to retort by attacking me? How are you any different from me? In the end, you’re just like me. You need Deep Blood.”
His words carved their way into Kamijou’s heart. Kamijou knew the despair but he also wanted to struggle until the willpower in his heart disappeared.
“That’s not true. This person didn’t know the definition of Deep Blood or even what vampires are like. He came here to save a stranger he met this morning. We haven’t even been formally introduced but he wouldn’t leave me behind.” The person who said this to Aureolus was Himegami, not Kamijou. She widely spread her arms, becoming a shield and warding away the verbal attacks. "Aureolus Izzard, what is it that you want?"
Himegami’s words caused Aureolus’ eyebrows to twitch. “Are you going to get ordinary people, neither magicians nor alchemists, involved and kill them so regularly? Is this going to satisfy you? Is this your goal?”
“If it’s such a meaningless objective, then I shall quit. I know I can’t defeat you, but I have the right to decide whether to bite my own tongue and end my life.” Her eyes never broke the honest expression of patience. It was almost difficult to discern who the king of the fortress was.
Once again, he pulled out a needle and stabbed his neck. “Essentially, we don’t have time to waste on such things.” He said with casualness. “There’re too many things to deal with. Dealing with Index is much more troublesome than the intruder. It’s simple to defeat others but it’s not something I handle well.”
Aureolus’ nonchalant words had nearly caused Kamijou to stop breathing. Hold on. Hold on. Index? Don’t tell me… she came here?!
The infinite distance between them prevented Kamijou from grabbing Aureolus and changing the dire situation. The hand that the alchemist had lowered was raised again and Himegami, with a defiant look, stepped toward Aureolus.
“Don’t worry, I won’t kill him.” He said easily as he removed the needle. “Young man: as for what happened here…”
Damn it! What kind of sick joke is this!? I can’t back away now!
The alchemist, apparently seeing through Kamijou’s heart, smiled. “…Forget everything.”
The sun had set.
“…?” Kamijou rose from the seat and looked around himself. Seat? He found that he was inside a student bus that apparently did not go in the direction of Kamijou’s dormitory. The final stop on the bus wrote “17th District: Before Misawa Cram School.” Typically speaking, the final busses stopped running at 6:30. It was possibly a cram school bus considering it was rare for buses to travel at midnight.
“Misawa Cram?” Kamijou’s head tilted. Was that the name of the cram school? Kamijou pondered it but found no answer. He himself could not have been a cram school student; Kamijou Touma could not write his holiday assignments let alone prepare for exams.
The term memory loss sent chills down Kamijou’s spine. He had thought that it was simply memory loss of previous experiences, but, as things stood, it may have been much worse than he had expected.
“…Better check it out at the hospital.” While muttering to himself, Kamijou decided to first get off the bus for he knew not where it was headed. After exiting at the nearest stop, Kamijou found that he was unfamiliar with the surrounding scenery.
He physically felt relatively balanced and was wide awake. At first glance, he seemed very healthy but it seemed safer to do a check-up at a hospital considering he had lost several hours of memories.
If I go to the hospital I’ll need my health insurance card. Better go home first. Are hospitals still open right now? Do I need to call for emergency services? Wait, how am I going to explain this to Index? Wouldn’t she be suspicious if I wanted to go to the hospital all of a sudden? Would she be angry that she hasn’t eaten dinner this whole time…? His mind swirling about, Kamijou walked to his dormitory since there were no buses at that time going in that direction.
He felt like something was calling out to him.
Kamijou bent his head with puzzlement. It was strange. Why did he feel like he had forgotten something important? It was like forgetting to turn off the stove before going on holiday, that sort of irresolvable danger.
What’s going on? Kamijou thought about the Misawa Cram School that he had never been to and muttered.
“Nevermind. If I can’t remember, it’s probably not important.”
With that conclusion, he continued forward. As of that moment, the most important thing was to calm down Index, who would likely be angry and starving. It seemed his only option was the 700 yen black honey pudding.
I really shouldn’t’ve bought that 3600 yen reference book. Kamijou sighed and scratched his head with his right hand...
…His right hand that could negate any supernatural power, even a Godly miracle…
PAKIN! With the sound of his skull shattering, the entire day’s memories rushed into his mind.
“…!” Kamijou erratically looked around and only found a scene cloaked in the night’s darkness. Considering the station’s distance, he could no longer see Misawa Cram School from where he was. How long had it been? He could not find Stiyl, Himegami or Aureolus and—of course— Index.
Aureolus had said “forget everything” and Kamijou had truly forgotten everything. He forgot the Misawa Cram School that became a battlefield, Himegami being taken away by Aureolus and also what the alchemist said about Index.
The last few hours were completely lost. Even alone, Stiyl’s probably okay in there, right? With him coming to mind, Kamijou began to run towards Misawa Cram School.
During his run, Kamijou, whose mind was in disarray, had noticed that he had not met anyone else along the way; in fact no one else was on the road aside from him. Even if it were afterhours, it was downtown Academy City. It was unnatural to not have met a single person.
…What’s going on?
By the time Kamijou had noticed the abnormality, he was already within visible sight of Misawa Cram School. An absence of people was something Kamijou had experienced before due to the Opila runes that Stiyl had utilized the previous evening.
However, this time, rather than an absence of people, Kamijou was surprised to find people surrounding Misawa Cram School. Kamijou stopped and did a double take. Somewhat far away, he saw a few people, whose genders were indiscernible, donned in skin-tight silver armor. The lack of people made it seem all the more suspicious. From Kamijou’s angle he saw three individuals. If they were surrounding the four buildings, there must have been more of their comrades.
…What? Who are these weird guys…? People from the Church? Mindful of these people, Kamijou decided to approach one of them. Perhaps the situation had changed while Kamijou had lost his memory like an idiot.
“Oi. What are you people doing? Are you members of the Church?” Kamijou remembered the knight who had died near the elevator. The people wore armor similar to that of the fallen knight.
One of them responded, shocked to hear the term “Church.” “I’m a member of the 13 Knights of the Roman Catholics, ‘Lancelot’ Vittorio Cassera.” He said rather impatiently. “Oh, so you’re a survivor of that battlefield? We saw you walk from over here. You’re really lucky. If you don’t want to die, get back.”
Kamijou wondered what nonsense he was spouting as he examined the entire suit of armor.
“We don’t wish to cause unnecessary damage. We’ll have the Gregorian Sacred Song Corp use the Gregorian Chant to carry out a Holy Incantation Bombardment. This is a means we decided after much deliberation in order to keep collateral damage to a minimum.”
The knight’s words were surprising. The Gregorian Chant was the spell that the Misawa Cram School students had used. According to Stiyl, the spell was of Roman Catholic origin. It was intended to be the ultimate weapon of the Roman Catholics. By utilizing 3333 monks gathered outside of a cathedral and having them chant the long spell, it intensified the power of the spell like sunlight into a magnifying glass.
Stiyl’s words once again floated in his mind. The replica already had such power, how much did the real one have?
“Bombard?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? HOW POWERFUL IS THIS THING!? HOW MANY PEOPLE INSIDE WILL GET INVOLVED!? ARE YOU GOING TO BLOW UP THE ENTIRE BUILDING!?”
“Certainly. This holy spell gathers 3333 at the greatest holy location in the world. The Vatican Church can accurately turn anything in this world to dust. Not to mention, if we leave that heretic’s tower intact, it’d be an insult to our pride.”
“WHAT NONSENSE ARE YOU SAYING!? THERE ARE STILL COUNTLESS INNOCENT STUDENTS INSIDE! AND STIYL AND HIMEGAMI ARE STILL INSIDE! EVEN AUREOLUS—!”
Aureolus, the man that wanted to simply wanted to summon a vampire to save someone’s life.
“EXACTLY HOW BIG WILL THE BLAST RADIUS BE WHEN THAT HUGE BUILDING BLOWS UP?!? RUBBLE WILL FLY LIKE CANNONBALLS FOR 600 METERS!!”
“The end justifies the means! The bloodshed of today will be the foundation of tomorrow!”
Kamijou could not remain calm as his anger boiled at those words. His last comment had contradicted what he had said before. For the sake of relieving unnecessary suffering, Kamijou was told to run away. Yet somehow, the knight nonsensically felt no remorse for the lives of the people within Misawa Cram.
"ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? YOUR COMRADE’S IN THERE TOO!” said Kamijou, invoking the knight that died beside the elevator.
“Percival has been martyred in enemy territory. His life will be avenged for the better tomorrow.”
The dying, armored knight was unintelligible and filled with fury, seemingly having lost his ability to think calmly.
“Damn it! Wait a minute! One hour, no, 30 minutes will be enough!”
“We have no reason to listen your opinion! Begin the attack now!” The armored man calling himself Lancelot raised his large sword into the sky. Giving off a red glow, Kamijou thought it looked like an antenna.
Before Kamijou could stop him, the antenna was swung down.
“Revelation 8:7,” So began the coordinated ritual. “The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down onto the earth!"
Perhaps due to the result of magic, a horn was heard from the glowing sword, a howling, echoing noise was heard through the night.
All voices vanished.
The clouds floating in the night sky promptly scattered and from far away were lightning. An enormous pillar of light descended from the heavens. However, the pillar was red. Like thousands of flaming arrows moving in close proximity, the pillar was spear striking one of the four Misawa Cram buildings.
The red lotus pierced roof to basement, crushing the tower to half of its original height like a squashed aluminum can. The glass shattered and interior decorations flew about in chaos.
However, there was more. The tower that was hit directly dragged the two neighboring towers by the overhead corridors, leaving the last unaffected tower like a tombstone.
The act of madness left Kamijou in bewilderment.
The buildings were twisted, cracks formed along the walls and people fell through the gaps like dust being patted from pants. Numerous pieces of falling debris utterly devastated the surroundings like a meteor shower. The only possible upside was the lack of people that the Opila rune had caused.
Kamijou grit his teeth at the thought that many students and teachers, Stiyl, Himegami, Aureolus and perhaps even Index were still inside.
Kamijou exploded like a cannon, but not at the armored person. There was no time to bother with him; Kamijou’s destination was the site of bombardment. A storm of dust prevented Kamijou from making any progress. He could not open his eyes let alone see. Even so, he continued forward. In the back of his mind, he hoped it was all a joke. Then, something changed.
“?” Initially, Kamijou was under the impression that the dust began to scatter. The immense dust flew forward as if carried by a strong wind… to the wreckage called Misawa Cram School. “!?”
Dust was just part of it. The previously falling rubble began to float in midair and the crumbling walls flipped erect. The debris moved together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and completely reformed the smooth towers that looked freshly renovated.
It was like watching a show in rewind. The collapsed towers were upright and the falling people were reabsorbed through the cracks. Most of the damage was repaired and soon, all four Misawa Cram towers were reformed as if nothing had happened. Even the neighboring buildings crushed by rubble reverted to what they were prior. One would have wonder if Kamijou’s memories were being manipulated.
Wait. Reverting things back to normal… Don’t tell me…! Kamijou looked up at the sky. The red lotus Divine spear that was fired from the sky had reappeared. Any onlooker could have realized where the spear was aimed: eye for an eye.
“Ah… ahh…” Kamijou turned to look at the moaning armored man. His knees had given way and he collapsed onto the ground. It seemed he truly knew how powerful the real Gregorian Chant was.
What’s going on? Kamijou returned his gaze to the night sky. Even the seven Level 5s of Academy City could not possibly create such a miracle.
Is that the enemy’s… That’s that guy’s real power…!!
Aureolus Izzard. In face of such a terrifying enemy, how would Kamijou fight him? Kamijou stood idly by with a numbed mind.
“DAMN IT!” Kamijou abandoned his fears and dashed off to Misawa Cram School.
Once he had arrived in front of the automatic doors, he hesitated to go in. With fear and trepidation, Kamijou entered the doors and returned to the battlefield.
The cram school’s interior was unchanged and, because of it, Kamijou felt goose bumps. Not to mention, the students were unharmed as they continued to listen to the teachers’ lectures. The students were fine despite the Gregorian Chant and the transmuting Limen Magna.
Passing through a certain classroom on a corridor, Kamijou saw something surprising and stopped.
Sitting a seat in the very back of the wide classroom was a girl that Kamijou recognized. She had braided hair and glasses… she was the girl who was turn to gold by Aureolus’ Limen Magna when she protected Himegami.
She was there. It was like nothing had happened. She lived in that ordinary world.
“…!” The peaceful scene struck fear in Kamijou. Under the guidance of the alchemist’s magic, life and death, fortune and misfortune, normal and abnormal were all reshuffled.
Kamijou did not know where to go. Arriving at a straight corridor, he finally found a familiar face.
“What? Why are you so panicky?” There stood the person who had betrayed him, used him as bait and could still shamelessly smile. There stood Stiyl Magnus, a person Kamijou truly loathed but was perplexedly relieved to see.
“Hm. If you’re still here, I guess we’re still in Japan, right? No wonder I’ve been seeing so many Asians this whole time. Speaking of which, what is this mysterious boundary? Kekkai? I seem to be somewhat familiar with it.” Stiyl ignored Kamijou as he continued to mutter. Apparently, his memories were wiped like Kamijou’s. It seemed he had even forgotten the objective they had for Misawa Cram School, implying his memories were erased even more extensively that Kamijou’s.
He could return Stiyl’s memories if he touched Stiyl’s head with his right hand, but Kamijou was worried whether doing so would erase Stiyl’s revival post-bombardment. His right hand was ineffective against Aureolus’ order that he “shall not touch,” but, if it involved Stiyl’s life, the effect may have been undesirable.
“Oi! What block were you in?”
“Just tell me!”
“Should be North Block. Why?”
Kamijou heaved a sigh of relief. Only the North block was untouched after the Gregorian bombardment, meaning Stiyl had no need to be revived.
Once confirmed, Kamijou knew what to do. “Oi! Stiyl! Let me teach you a charm that erases your doubts.”
“…Oriental Charms are Kanzaki’s specialty.”
“Just do as I say. It’s simple. Close your eyes and stick your tongue out!”
With a look of suspicion, he followed Kamijou’s instructions.
"HERE'S A SOUVENIR FOR ACTUALLY USING ME AS BAIT AND ESCAPING BY YOURSELF, YOU BASTARD!" declared Kamijou.
Kamijou slammed an uppercut against Stiyl’s chin using his right hand.
Memories returned and a tongue was bitten, proceeded by rolling on the floor.
Aureolus Izzard stood on the highest floor of the Northern-most block. It was a floor called Principal’s office, a large space that encompassed the entire level. As a cram school, it was more like a director’s room than a principal’s office.
Aureolus was looking out the window, ignoring the glamorous room and luxurious decorations inside. Though, the night scenery below was not his interest. Instead, he was looking at the face reflected on the window.
…The road taken was quite long.
With one sentence—just a single sentence—like “Revert back to normal” the entire building stood back up like a living creature. He had witnessed the event without even batting an eyebrow. He looked at the mirrored face and sunk into deep thought.
In the past, he was not like that. Though he was more of the stoic type, he was still a human that expressed his emotions. In the current time, he had an emotionless calm that he ignored since he had no time to be bothered with it.
It’s acceptable even if I’ve become like this. Even if he were aware of the change since the very beginning, he had no time to relax. He had an entire world to fight for the sake of achieving his goals.
Aureolus Izzard had done everything to save the single girl on the black ebony table behind him. Index Librorum Prohibitorum. Index. Three years had passed since he had met the girl who did not know her own given name. While involved with the Roman Catholics, he was a secret secretary. Though a member of the Church, he was tasked with writing grimoires, making his situation a unique one amongst unique. He was to decode modern witchcraft, discover ways to counter them, and record the results. He had believed, through his actions, he could protect innocents hurt by witches.
In fact, the grimoires that Aureolus had written had helped many people. However, the Roman Catholic Church had used those grimoires as trump cards. Pagan cults and even other Christian sects like the Anglicans and Orthodoxies had no knowledge of the existence of these trump cards. Such individuals were even warned that they should convert to Catholicism if they wished to be protected from witches. Though the alchemist had devised ways to defend against the witches, many were not benefited, some even harmed. It was much too unreasonable, as if they were patients who could have been operated upon but were abandoned.
Aureolus could not endure. He had originally believed that his trump card was created to save others. Eventually, he had decided to smuggle the “books” he had written. He escaped to England, a country of magic seriously rampant with witches. Aureolus carefully disguised himself and successfully made contact with the Anglicans using underground methods.
It was there that he met the girl that could not be saved. At first glance, he knew. He whom he had given the task of saving the entire world knew that he could save the girl before him. The girl possessed 103,000 grimoires from across the globe, each capable of driving an ordinary person insane. However, the keeper herself smiled on, despite knowing being saved was impossible.
Saving her was impossible. A human being memorizing 103,000 grimoires would result in her physical intoxication because of the grimoires’ logics and the mind being corroded by the actual knowledge. It was the realization that caused the alchemist to see the limits of his knowledge. The girl perpetually facing misfortune always smiled for others. If he could not accomplish saving even her, how could even discuss saving the entire world?
At some point when he had lost count of how many grimoires he had written, he began to wonder why he had not given up and continued to write. It was then he had realized. Even if saving her were impossible, he struggled, using the excuse of providing her with grimoires to visit her.
It was an ordinary story. An alchemist desired to save a girl but in the end was saved by the girl. His realization that he could not save her brought about the end: he could no longer hold a pen, his faith and confidence in his writing ability gone.
Unable to save… unable to save… The alchemist at that time could save no one. However, to save her at no matter the cost, he chose to walk, even fall down, a path of darkness for that one reason.
If Aureolus could obtain the power to save everything, he decided he would utilize it for the girl before him. Thus, Aureolus rebelled against the Roman Catholic Church, Christianity and even the entire world. Despite those actions he had failed. Depleting the knowledge taken from the Hermes and Zurich schools he still failed. He had believed he could simply understand the human anatomy and cure any disease. He had believed that understanding the brain could cure any emotional scar. But of course, he was wrong.
If it were impossible through faith or technology, what was wrong with relying on Cain’s descendants, whose powers surpassed human understanding? For achieving his goal, he was willing to betray and manipulate anyone and anything. This included Deep Blood. And, like that, the alchemist strayed from righteousness. His initial desire to save others had become a pitiful shadow.
Aureolus Izzard had not realized. The girl titled Deep Blood watched him silently from behind with the desire to save others.
Aureolus had not realized. The savior had not arrived.
“Aureolus Izzard reflected the Gregorian Chant? How is that possible?” said the shocked Stiyl as Kamijou told them during their game of tag. Incidentally, Stiyl was playing with a flaming sword.
“It’s true! It was like I was watching the rewind of a video! The damaged towers reverted back to how they were!” said Kamijou, running down the corridor. Stiyl had apparently explored further into the building than Kamijou had but, before he could discover the alchemist’s hiding place, he had wavered.
“If that’s the case… don’t tell me… but modern alchemy can’t possibly do that much…” muttered Stiyl as he exhaled smoke.
“He even used chants like ‘you shall not touch me’ and ‘forget everything.’ Is magic really so omnipotent that anything you want appears!?”
“…How is this possible? Magic’s a form of knowledge with strict rules and logic. If there were such a ridiculous spell, who would want to honestly research magic?”
“Then what did I see? Everything he said somehow happened.”
“’Everything he said…’ is such an irritating term. Reminds me of Ars Magna.”
Focused on the noted term, Kamijou remembered the discussion where Stiyl mentioned the final, unachieved aim of alchemy, where one could project one’s thoughts onto the world. “Then, wait. Has that guy already mastered the most powerful spell in alchemy?”
“THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE!” yelled Stiyl with a rare, violent tone. “I said it before. Ars Magna isn’t something achievable by humans. The incantation exists, sure, but it can’t be completed with one, no, two hundred years of continuous incantation. You can’t shorten the incantation and the later generations can’t pick it up. Like a game of telephone it gets more and more twisted. Humans with limited lifespan just can’t possibly have that kind of magic!” Stiyl’s refutation was logical for those who understood magic, but, Stiyl himself trembled as if he had seen something unbelievable.
“You’re right.” Kamijou pondered from a different point of view. “If could really do anything he wanted, we wouldn’t be alive. He wouldn’t’ve used the False Sacred Song Corps to use the Gregorian Chant or that fake Aureolus. Wouldn’t he have just said ‘die?’’
In fact, vampires and Deep Blood would have been unnecessary. If it were necessary, he could have just created a vampire. If the alchemist’s desires were projectable onto reality, why was there a need for vampires?
“Speaking of which, what’s his aim? I’d heard he wanted to save someone but he ended up mercilessly killing a lot of people. Right now, even Index is involved… Did the stress of blowing this out of proportion get to him?”
“What? That child too?”
“I heard him talk about her but I never actually saw her. Maybe he was delusional or something.” Kamijou said with an easygoing demeanor, “Maybe consolation for himself?”
Stiyl’s expression had become more serious. Apparently bitter, he spat his cigarette away. “Tch! I see what’s going on. He isolated himself for three years to study alchemy and hasn’t kept track of current events.” Said Stiyl has he stuffed a new cigarette. “I know what he wants. It’s Index.”
“What?” Confused, to his understanding, the situation had no relevance to Index.
“Listen, Kamijou Touma. Index has had her memories erased every year. Every year, her relationship changed and found a new partner each time.”
“So… What about it?”
“This year, it’s you. Two years ago it was me and,” Stiyl continued vengefully. “three years ago it was Aureolus Izzard. They were teacher and student.”
“The fate for every companion was the same. They tried to save her from having her memory wiped but absolutely failed.” He said with disdain. “It was of course the same for him. And, it would seem he didn’t accept it.”
“What do you mean?”
“Simple. We companions weren’t abandoned by her, she simply forgot us. If that so, then all they needed to do was cure Index and salvage her memory. Wouldn’t she go back to them?”
Kamijou’s heart felt a pain like a hammering stake. He did not know what affected him so much. It was a good thing that Index was healed but still there was an inexplicable and invisible impact. He remembered the smile. That smile that she showed to others carried a heavy burden for Kamijou.
“But it won’t happen.” Stiyl smiled. “Just like how erasing someone’s memories is already a huge sin, changing memories is as well. He must know this or he’s completely lost his senses.” Stiyl voice was much too soft. As Kamijou turned around to face Stiyl and hear more clearly, Stiyl simply exhaled smoke and calmly shook his head.
“It’s nothing. I’m saying that guy can’t save that child. It’s that simple.”
“Why?” Kamijou failed to make the connection, his mind focused on the idea of his omnipotence. If he could take away people’s memories or revive the dead, what could he possibly not do?
“The reason’s simple. It’s you.”
“Haven’t you saved her already? How could someone be saved twice? It’s that simple, nothing more to it.”
The boy drew the connections. Aureolus Izzard was Index’s former partner three years prior. Since he had lost Index, he had lost contact and did not know the current situation.
Which meant that Aureolus…
“We’re here. Look, he even deliberately left the door open for us. How nice.” Stiyl looked forward. In the highest floor of Misawa Cram School’s North tower, the enormous doors leading into the principal’s office were open. They were inviting Kamijou and Stiyl.
The space was quite wide.
The room was once owned by the former-principal, incidentally also the founder of the cult, of Misawa Cram School. Though the room was luxurious, it lacked class and represented the cult’s twisted desires. It was like the annoying experience of entering a restaurant adorned properly but showed no care for the clients.
Himegami was shocked to see Kamijou enter the room but Aureolus, by contrast, had no reaction as if expecting his entrance. The emptiness a severe one that was reminiscent of old, faded, yellowish photographs.
This was not planned by the alchemist. Perhaps to him, there was nothing in the world he could not do, and, because of it, little seemed real. Like an esper capable of altering the minds of others, when he saw others smile, he felt no happiness. When he saw the perfect smile, it was as significant to him as the flick of a finger.
The logic was similar. For someone capable of creating anything, his actual creations held little value. Even the environment lacked the atmosphere of a battlefield. Anywhere Aureolus Izzard appeared became a futile battlefield.
“Obviously, I can see that you’ve deduced my goal.” He began calmly. “If that’s the case, why do you intend to stop me? Wasn’t your rune magic meant to save Index?” The alchemist glanced before him. On the luxurious table lied the sleeping silver-haired girl.
Kamijou tried to dash forward but was stopped by Stiyl’s long arm.
“Simply put, this method can’t save that child. I don’t want to watch an operation doomed to fail. This child isn’t that worthless.”
“This isn’t true. It’s just your envy, but I understand. Because we were comrades who had the same dream be crushed, you are unhappy that I’ve surpassed you. However, I don’t consider it enjoyable and I never will.” Stiyl frowned at the way Aureolus said it so naturally without even a hint of sarcasm.
“In the past, Index’s brain was overloaded with so much information that her memories were erased each and every year. It was a fate the human body could not defy.” He said sternly. “However, by using a power above humanity, I can solve the problem. When I had reached this conclusion, I found it unbelievable that no one had suggested we borrow the power of vampires.”
“Vampires are immortal and store infinite amounts of memories in their brains that are similar to humans’. I’d never heard of a vampire’s brain being overloaded by information.” said the alchemist. “Essentially, vampires possess this attribute: no matter how long they live their existences are maintained.”
“Hmph. I see. So you intend to interact with vampires and ask them to teach their method?” Stiyl shook his cigarette with his mouth. “For the sake of safety, let me ask. If this method can’t be used on people, what do you intend to do?”
“Basically, if a human’s body cannot do it, I’ll place the Forbidden Library in something not human.” Aureolus said without hesitation.
The alchemist’s plan meant that he would…
“Turn her into a vampire? Tch! What Christian in this world would be happy to become a descendant of Cain? This’s a common mistake people have. When you want to save someone, the most important thing is to consider their thoughts and perspective, right? It’s something I only learned recently.”
“…Absolutely ridiculous. That kind of mindset is just feigned kindness. This child once told me at that final moment that she did not want to forget me. Even if she defied the teachings, even if she willingly sacrificed her life, she wanted to keep her memories. She told me these things while she couldn’t even move. She didn’t even realize she was crying—while smiling!” Aureolus grit his teeth. Kamijou did not know what he was thinking or remembering.
“It would seem you don’t intend to change your mind no matter what. If that’s the case, though a bit cruel, I’ll have to use my trump card.” Stiyl suddenly turned to Kamijou. “Oi! Current partner! Tell him! Tell this train wreck what fatal flaw his plan has.”
“…What?” Aureolus finally turned to look at Kamijou. Kamijou had a difficulty figuring out which part of Stiyl’s comments angered the alchemist.
“Just what time period are you from?”
With a perplexed expression, the alchemist stared at Kamijou.
“And that’s what is. Index has already been saved. Not by you, not by but by the current partner. This guy did what you couldn’t achieve.” Stiyl smirked with cruelty. “This happened only a week ago. Ah it’s predictable that you wouldn’t know. You were away from that child for three years so of course you wouldn’t know she’d been saved.
“Yeah. I can understand you don’t believe it. I even witnessed it myself but couldn’t believe it. No, I didn’t want to believe it myself. This is a declaration for me: that child will never come back to me again.”
“PREPOSTEROUS! THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE! HOW COULD THERE BE ANY OTHER WAY TO SAVE INDEX?! A PERSON THAT POSSESSES A HUMAN BODY! THIS GUY ISN’T EVEN A MAGICIAN OR ALCHEMIST. JUST WHAT COULD HE POSSIBLY DO?”
“About that, since it involves Necessarius… no, since it concerns the pride of the Anglican Church, I’d rather not tell the story. I can only tell you this,” Stiyl exhaled the smoke with cruelty. “That guy’s right hand has an ability called Imagine Breaker. Basically, it’s a terrifying ability that shouldn’t belong to an ordinary person.”
Shocked and unable to calm down, the alchemist stared at Kamijou. “…Hold on a minute. This means…”
“That’s right. It’s been tough for you. I’d heard you’d betrayed the Catholic Church and hid underground for three years? It looks like it was a waste of time. Hm. I can understand the pain of getting nothing back in return. However, this child is currently living a happy life with her partner as you’d wished.”
It was the decisive sentence. The foundations supporting Aureolus Izzard crumbled.
He began his maniacal laughter.
…This guy’s insane. Kamijou thought numbly but surely. Unexpectedly, the eyes began to follow something. In front of them all, on the large table, the girl moved. The sleep Index began to regain some consciousness after Aureolus’ mad laughter. She was perhaps the last barrier for Aureolus’ mental sanity.
She widened her eyes slightly and softly spoke like a person holding thread in their hand. “…Touma?”
The person she saw was not the Aureolus Izzard before her. She cared not who, when, where or how she was brought there. She cared not for her current state or what happened during her unconsciousness.
She smiled. She smiled happily. In her line of sight was Kamijou Touma.
“Ah.” Kamijou automatically backed off. He was glad to see her with such an attitude. Kamijou felt it irreplaceable as she acted like a kitten opening its eyes, only caring about Kamijou’s expression.
This scene brought about a sharp coldness. Behind Index, the alchemist who was supposed to be the main character was forgotten by the girl he had sought to protect. His face stiffened as if he had witnessed the end of the world.
Kamijou could not face the reality. Aureolus Izzard was once the male protagonist. He had betrayed the Catholic Church, renounced his beliefs and became an alchemist, all to save the girl in front of him. He faced the worst outcome. Even Kamijou Touma, if he had taken one wrong step, would have faced a similar fate.
The pure, holy girl before them was beloved by people all over the world. Because she was a holy girl, she could only love a male protagonist. That simple purity, bordering on cruelty, caused the most pain.
I should be perfect!! Why are you unmoved!?! What do I lack!?
Kamijou remember the defeated clone. It was not a shallowly crafted replica. The dummy itself truly portrayed the character Aureolus Izzard.
“Ugh!” Aureolus Izzard was speechless. He smiled a frozen, twisted smile as if he’d barfed air. Right above Index, Aureolus raised his hand. It seemed like the blade of a guillotine but Index’s gaze had not left Kamijou, causing the alchemist even more rage as he placed more force in his arm.
Kamijou considered running to her but because of his anxiousness could not decide with which foot to step first. The alchemist laughed maniacally and Kamijou, the current protagonist, raised his right hand.
It was too late. He had not made it in time.
The alchemist’s arm was… never swung down.
“Ugh…” Above Index’s head, the arm, which was raising what seemed to be a guillotine, trembled. “Ugh… UGGHHH!” He was immobile. He had lost everything. He had become an alchemist and even betrayed his old allies to save a single girl. But, the girl was already saved by a stranger whom he did not know and Index ignored the man who had sacrificed everything for her.
If Kamijou were in that position, could he have still relied on Index? Could he convince himself that it was not betrayal? Aureolus Izzard could not bring himself to hurt her. For the alchemist, she was that important.
Kamijou did not move. He had no memories and, despite the fact that others told him that he had saved her, did not remember how he did or what he was thinking when he had. Like that, Kamijou Touma gained the trust of others by saving someone from whence he had no memories. In face of the alchemist, Kamijou wondered whether he had a right to keep her with him.
Aureolus turned and glared sharply at Kamijou. The alchemist had the power to sentence anyone to death with a single sentence. Kamijou knew it was a glare of death but, deep deep inside, understood his feelings. It was impossible for Aureolus to calm down. He could not bring himself to kill Index and, having lost all direct, went on a rampage.
Who would become the scapegoat?
Logically, the outcome was predictable.
“SLAM TO THE GROUND, INTRUDERS!!”
Like an explosion, an angry roar was heard.
Immediately, Kamijou felt the weight of uncountable hands push him to the ground as if he were a bank robber being crushed to the floor after having his gun taken away. As the term “intruder” included Stiyl, Kamijou saw the red-haired magician be flattened to the floor from the corner of his eye.
The sensation of having his intestines flipped around almost caused Kamijou to puke. He began to move his right hand, which felt like it was being attracted by a strong magnetic field, forcefully to his chest, inch by inch. If he could contact his body perhaps it would have released him like when he recovered his memories.
“HA! HAHA! HAHAHAHA! I WON’T KILL YOU SO EASILY! LET ME ENJOY THIS A LITTLE LONGER! I WON’T DO ANYTHING TO INDEX, BUT I WON’T BE ABLE TO MAINTAIN MY SANITY IF I DON’T TAKE IT OUT YOU TWO!”
He pulled out a needle as thin as hair and aimed with trembling at his body. Then, he stabbed it like pressing button in his body. He then tossed aside the needle like a poisonous bug nibbling at his flesh. The actions were signals and declarations of the commencing attack.
Aureolus again glared at Kamijou.
Himegami Aisa moved between them with the same posture she had when she shielded Kamijou prior. However, this time there was a decisive difference: Aureolus valued not Himegami Aisa but Deep Blood. Since his aim was to save Index, if it were impossible, there would have been no reason to keep a useless method!
"Hime--" Kamijou began but could say nothing to save her.
The image of her back radiated her worry and, not just for Kamijou, but Aureolus and his crumbling sanity. Not explicitly said, but Kamijou could tell that she wanted to calm Aureolus down before he went down the road of destruction.
Who could have simply said the cruel reality?
“Out of the way, woman!”
It was the greatest failure. Kamijou saw the serious eyes that raged like gun barrels. Kamijou moved, or rather tried to move, his hand. If he did not move in, Himegami would surely die. Slowly, bit by bit, inch by inch, he dragged the right hand bound to the floor. He used his very teeth to touch his ace, his right hand, like he was going to eat his index finger.
BANG! With the sound of bones breaking, his body regained freedom. This is my chance! Kamijou frantically stood up to move Himegami aside and silence Aureolus.
“Die.” As Aureolus Izzard speak, time seemed to stop.
Assassinated, strangled, poisoned, shot, beheaded, slaughtered, hacked, beaten up, burned, nipped, crushed, ganged up, frozen, drowned. No one knew with what method Himegami was to die.
With no wounds, no bleeding and no illness, she simply died.
Like a consumed battery, she was expended. If souls existed, hers was extracted from her flesh, leaving behind an empty shell.
Himegami did not even cry out. Looking like she would cry, she held back her tears. Her preparation had prevented any surprise or shock. She wore an expression of regret from her inability to prevent the predetermined. Himegami Aisa knew the result of blocking Aureolus. Even so, with a speck of hope, she still attempted it.
The girl no one needed was viewed as a simple object until the very end. Like how the alchemist had never understood how to be a protagonist, Himegami Aisa had failed to become a heroine till the bitter end. Like an unappreciated background, she was dead and worthless. Such was the fate of Deep Blood Himegami Aisa.
In face of such a scene, who could have remained silent?
“Whose life…” Kamijou’s eyes ignored the alchemist’s existence and ran toward Himegami Aisa who was falling onto the floor. There was no reason. He simply felt that if he allowed her to reach the ground, her death would have become permanent. “ARE YOU MESSING WITH, YOU BASTARD!
The instant before she reached the ground, Kamijou managed to catch her with both arms. She was quite light, so light it seemed like something important was stolen from her. She felt unbelievably soft in his arms. But, with his right carrying her, he felt a weak but definite heart beat.
“What? My Ars Magna imbued with Gold has been dispelled by your right hand?” The alchemist’s expression froze.
“IMPOSSIBLE! HIMEGAMI AISA’S DEATH WAS ALREADY DECIDED! DOES YOUR RIGHT HAND POSSESS SOME SORT OF HOLY VATICAN SECRET ART!?”
"..." Kamijou did not reply. It was enough and his questions were unimportant. Like when he touched his head and regained his day’s memories, why he could negate the order to die was unimportant.
It was important that Kamijou would definitely not forgive the alchemist. He would pity him and understand him. Even if Aureolus could not bring himself to kill her after she hurt him, the man’s actions were absolutely unforgivable.
The situation had changed. Sure, Kamijou had witnessed as the alchemist’s most important person betrayed him, as his most important person was taken away and as his anger exploded and had refused to scold himself. Before someone that he truly cared for, how could he simply vent his anger for self-satisfaction? Kamijou wholeheartedly disagreed.
The current him did not understand the old Kamijou Touma: what memories he had, the past he lived, his plans for the future, what he liked, what he hated, what he protected in the past and what he wanted to protect in future were all lost. But, surely, there one thing he knew. Kamijou Touma would never have approved of the alchemist’s, no man’s, actions.
The two Kamijou Toumas who were walking their own paths had finally reached a common understanding, an intersection.
“Alright, Aureolus Izzard. If you think you can do anything you want…” Kamijou Touma gently placed Himegami Aisa onto the floor and stood up. He made no sound but anger seethed around him like static electricity. Without any restraint, he declared. “THEN I'LL DESTROY THAT FUCKED UP ILLUSION OF YOURS!!”
The words belonged to no one else. It was the voice of the Imagine Breaker, Kamijou Touma.
Between the Lines 2
That’s why I wanted to be a spellcaster.
It was a story of ten years past. On a certain night, a mountain village in Kyoto was attacked by a vampire. It had happened so suddenly, without warning, without a trace.
A once ordinary village that had no need for a police station had become living hell overnight. The defending young people were killed one by one until it was difficult to tell who was or was not a vampire. The former companions eventually were consumed in the chaos of murdering each other. Before the sun rose, there were two types of life: the dead and the vampires.
How? Why did I survive for so long? The girl thought in her young heart. Vampires were everywhere, the familiar aunts and uncles who had once said goodbye to her at night. The farmer uncle who had once told her that “it’s late, hurry up and go home,” bit into her neck.
The moment it happened, he turned to dust.
Yuzu, who had once told her “we’ll play together tomorrow,” bit into her neck.
The moment it happened, she turned to dust.
Her mother, who had once told her to “run away”, bit into her neck.
The moment it happened, she turned to dust.
Thus, the vampires realized. Like vampires’ bane, if they bit her neck, they died. Irrelevant of her desires, the girl’s blood was acid. If their mouths made contact with her blood, they melted and perished. Even so, they continued to do it while the girl gently stared as the once familiar vampires became dust scattering in the wind.
What could she have said?
“I’m sorry.” said every vampire.
Some had said they had not wanted to become vampires while others said they had not wanted others to become like them. They believed that by reducing to ashes, they could have been redeemed.
Eventually, the village was caked by ash. It was peaceful. With a lack of people, it was peaceful. Even the first vampire, the instigator of the tragedy, was unaccounted for. It was unknown whether the vampire had bitten her and joined the ashes.
The instigator was a victim as well. The girl, whose ability killed them in one stroke, likely instilled fear in that vampire. Trembling each and every day with nowhere to go, he had chosen to kill a girl without the necessary power. Having exhausted all options, the vampire had considered converting the entire village to bolster the strike.
However, an entire village of vampires was decimated by that one girl.
So, I wanted to be a spellcaster.
I want to save those that can’t be saved. I want to save the abandoned. Whether victims or sinners, dead or not, I want to pull them out of Hell. The only magicians who can defy logic exist in picture books.
No matter what, she had to become a spellcaster. She dreamed of the day she became one. Her mind was set on becoming one. Therefore, the day that she met the alchemist, was the day that the impossible dream found a possibility. That night, with comfortable excitement, she could not sleep.
However, in present time, the alchemist stood before her.
"Out of the way, woman!"
Her sought after dream was horribly shattered by the twisted mouth.
At the moment of death, she knew not what she was even thinking, unable to maintain her own consciousness. Under that hazy circumstance of disorientation, her mind was dragged into a dark abyss.
But it was then that she heard a boy’s roar that came from neither the magician nor alchemist. It was the voice of that ordinary boy. “ARE YOU MESSING WITH, YOU BASTARD!!”
The boy was angered. Angered not because of what the alchemist did but because of the girl’s death.
To the girl, he looked stunning. And, for some reason, she thought that the unattainable dream was standing right there.