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MahoukaKoukounoRettousei:Volume14

Chapter1
[Kyuuchouji(KyuuchouTemple)],whereKokonoeYakumoservedastheheadpriest,layontopofasmall
hillatFuchuuCity,OldMetroTokyo.Asadevotedtempleforvolunteerphysicalwork,wordamongthe
templestaffwasthatitwasprobablya[linktoasceticpractice]closetotheneighbourhood,ithadfitted
intotheregionalcommunityasanindispensableparttothetownscenery.
Andasanextra,whenthetownspeoplehadachancetolookatoldmapdetails,theywereinfora
surprise.Itdidn'tmatterifoldmeantahundredyearsold,theywerelookingatgenuinemaps.
Theylearnedthattherewasnotemplefromthestart.
Theylearnedthattherewasnohillatsuchaplace.
Duringthelaterperiodofthetwentyyearsofrepeatedworldwars,thecapitaldefenseforceswere
deployedtotheChoufuu,Fuchuu,Mitaka,andMusashinodistricts,withChoufuuAirFieldservingastheir
base.Andfollowingtherulesoftroopdeployment,theciviliansintheseareashadbeenevacuatedfor
almosttenyears.ThehillKyuuchoujistoodonwasformedfromtheearthdugupwhenalarge
undergrounddefensebunkerwasconstructedonitsspot.
Whileitwasregretfulthatthecapitalsustaineddamagesduringthewar,thankstothe[MusashinoAA
fortress],theoldcapitalwardescapedunscathed.Ontheotherhand,thedefensepositionborethebrunt
oftheattacksfrommultipleattackers,butthatmeantthecivilianevacuationdidnotgotowaste.
Andsoitwasunavoidablefortheblankthatoccurredbetweenthetownanditsresidents.Thepeople
returnedtotheirown[residences]becausethewarhadended.Andlaterthegovernmentspentmoneyto
reconstructthetown.Althoughitwouldn'tbecompletelythesameasbefore.
Afteratotalsealing,withoutanydismantlingoftheundergrounddefensebunker,andtheaccompanying
townreplanning,thenumberoffamiliesthatwereunabletoreturntotheirformerresidenceswas
reduced.Andthequickinstallationofanadvancedtransportationsystemgavethetownscenerya
somewhatfuturisticlook.
Whatwasaddedwasnotonlyoverheadtrackswheresmallscalecompacttraintypepublictransportation
facilities[Cabinets]ranthrough.Apartfromthosenewfeatures,traditionalfeaturesandvariousfacilities
largeandsmallwereaddedtothetownscenery.A[largetempleontopofasmallhill],Kyuuchouji,was
oneofthem.
Thetemplehadahistorythatwassomewhat,no,considerablydelicatetosay.Thepreviouspriest,inshort
Yakumo'smaster,wascompensatedforcooperatingwiththeNinthMagicianDevelopmentResearch
Institute,andobtainedtheresidenceandfacilitytotraindisciplesdisciplesin[Shinobi],ratherthan
disciplesinBuddhistpriesthood.
Andforthatreason,thefaadeofKyuuchoujiwasaimedforcamouflageandwasintentionallyconstructed
intheoldstyle.Eventhegroundsinsidethefencingwereina20thcenturystyle.
Incontrast,thetrainingfacilitywasdugdeep,deepdownintotheearthanditsarea,evenwiderthanthe
groundsaboveit,wasfortifiedwiththelatesttechnology.Notonlywasitatraininggroundforancient
magic,atpresentitwasevenatraininggroundatthehighestlevelformodernmagic.

KazamaintroducingTatsuyatoYakumowasmorethantointroducethelattertothisundergroundfacility.
Asamasteroftaijutsu,Yakumo'sskillwastoprank.However,Kazama'sexpectationswerenotonlytoaim
forTatsuya'staijutsuimprovement.HedidnotbringTatsuyaintothemilitaryinordertobeausual
closecombatspecialist.Hewasexpecting,totheveryend,theabilitiesofanextremelypowerfulmagician
thatcouldfightonthefrontlines.
Itwasafacilitywherebothtaijutsucoachingandmagictrainingwerepossible.Assoonasheknewthat
Tatsuya'shousewaswithinanagreeablyshortdistancefromKyuuchoujiintheneighbouringtown,this
templewasKazama'sonlychoice.
Andnow,TatsuyawasenteringintothelowestlevelofKyuuchouji'sundergroundtrainingfacility.This
trainingroomhad,fromthefloortotheceilingandeventhewalls,threelayerscomprisingof10cmthick
concrete,30cmthicklead,and60cmthickofneutronshieldingconcrete.
Thiswasnonuclearshelter,itwasmeantasatrainingroomformagic.Andastowhysuchsecureanti
radiationshieldingwasrequired,therewasareasonbehinditwithinthehistoryofhow21stcenturymagic
wasdeveloped.
ResearchanddevelopmentonmodernmagicoriginatedinAD1999,inanincidentwhenanAmerican
policeofficerusedanunusualpower(atthattimeitwasstillcalledESP)totakedownnuclearterrorism.
Fromthoseeventsonwards,R&Donmodernmagicstartedoutasameanstocounternuclearthreats;
basicallytheprimaryobjectiveswerethecontrolandsuppressionofnuclearfission,andtheisolationand
nullificationofradiation.
Withfocusedresearchonitbeingworthwhile,itwasatastagewhereitwassafetosaythatneutron
barriersandgammaradiationfilterswerecompleted.Nevertheless,eventodaythedevelopmentand
improvementofspellsagainstnuclearreactionswasessentialdatacapturedinmagicabilitydevelopment.
Evenso,whatTatsuyawasabouttodointhisroomwasneitherpracticeforradiationisolationmagicnor
improvingnuclearfissioncontrolmagic.Insomeways,itwastheopposite.
Thisundergroundtrainingroomwascurrentlyturningintoapool.Evenso,itwasnotbeingfloodedfor
swimmingpurposes.Withhisshouldersjustoutofthewater,Tatsuyawasinshortsleevedtrainingwear
holdingapistolshapedCADinonehand.Thoughhewasn'tswimming,bothhisheadandhairwere
drenched.
WhathisrighthandwasgrippingwasnothisfavoriteSilverHornCustom.Itwasclearfromitsplain
appearancethatitwasaprototype.Thebiggestdifferencewasthebayonetlikeobjectattachedtothe
muzzleendofthebarrel.Animitation,becauseitwasneithersharpnorpointed,andonlybecausethe
metallicthickplatewasconstructedtobelikeabayonet.
Withhisrighthandunderwater,Tatsuyapulledthetrigger.Thetwoactivationsequencesthatgenerated
underwaterwereabsorbedintohisrightarm.ThefirstonewasoutputfromthepistolshapedCAD.The
otheronewasoutputfromthebayonetlikeattachment.
Themagicsequencesactedontheattachment.WaterbubbledatthetipoftheCAD.Thegroansthat
escapedfromTatsuya'sclenchedteethgrewlouderandhewentdownonhisknees.Hisrighthand
hideouslyburneddeepredduetotheseverescalding,TatsuyaendedupdroppingtheCADduetothe
injury.
Submergeduptothetopofhishead,heimmediatelywentuptostandingposition.Hishairbeing
drenchedwasbecauseofthisbeingrepeated.Oftenwithraggedbreaths,hewouldraisehisrighthandto
eyelevelandrepeatedlyclenchitopenandclosed.Therewerenoremnantsofscaldingduetotheuseof

[Restoration],butthesemiconsciousactionwasduetotheimmediatelyuncomfortablefeelingthathe
mightsufferintensedamage.
Withhisrighthandfinallyregainingitssensation,hestretcheditoutunderwater.Itsfingerslatchedonthe
CADwhichhadfloatedup.Eventhebayonetlikeattachment,whichwasburnedofffromthetipwhenit
wassubmergedatthattime,wasbacktoitsoldformdueto[Restoration].
TatsuyathenagainpreparedhisCADunderwater.However,acommandingvoicewithnoonearoundand
nothingclosetohisearssoftlyechoed.
["Tatsuyakun,it'salmostmidnight."]
Withanairvibratingspellitsactivationwasdifferentyetitscontentswerethesameasthoseactivation
sequencesfromUSNASTARSPlanetclassmagicianSylviaMercuryFaustYakumowhisperedfromoutside
intoTatsuya.
"...Understood."
Tatsuya'sreplywasspokeninthesamemannerasbeforebutYakumounderstoodwhatwaspickedout
fromTatsuya'svoiceusinghisspell.
Sureenough,assoonasTatsuyamadeclearthathistrainingwasover,thewaterintheroombeganto
recede.Ashewaitedforthewatertorecede,Tatsuyausedemissiontypemagictoshakeoffthemoisture
fromhishair,skin,andclothes.
Hiscastingdidn'taimforatotallydrystate.Assoonashedriedhisclothesenoughsonormalmovement
wouldn'tbeaproblem,heusedgravitytypemagictoflickthedoorswitchontheothersideoftheroom.
Duetothenatureofthetrainingroom,noelectricalequipmentcouldbeinstalledinsidethewalls.
("Aninaccessibleroomifmagicweren'tused...")
Asheruminatedoncemoreonthefactthatcameonlynow,Tatsuyastartedontheladderthatwould
bringhimbacktosurfaceforYakumohadcuttheelectricalpowertotheelevator.

September232096,Sunday.Eventhoughhehadreturnedhomethenightbefore,justbeforeadate
changingmidnight,Tatsuyastillstartedoutthismorningveryearlyformorningtraining.ThatmadeMiyuki,
whowascheckingtheunreadmessagesonthehomeserver,abitworriedforanearlyrisingTatsuya.
Hewasnotabrotherwhowouldstopuponbeingtoldnottooverexerthimself.No,resortingtopersuasion
bytearsmightforabitgethimtolistentowhatshesaid,butperhapseventhatwouldonlybe
temporary.Andshehadjustusedthatweaponlastmonth.
"I'llholdontosympathetictacticsforalittlelongeruntilit'stimeforseriousneed."Miyukiresignedly
thought.
Inthekitchen,Minamihadalreadystartedpreparingbreakfast.LatelyMiyukiandMinamigotsurprisingly
cooperativetogether,andchangedtherulesaboutwhopreparedwhatmeal.Fromthestart,withthe
developmentofhomeautomation,sincetherewasnopreparingmealsbyhandunlessforspecialevents,
theappearanceofstrugglinginthekitchenlookedhilariousfromathirdpersonviewthatwaswhatthe
twoofthembelatedlynoticed.
Andso,MiyukileftthekitchenworktoMinamiassheheadedforthebathroom.
ShethencontrolledtheHARinthedressingroom,takingoutTatsuya'sclothesunderwearincluded,but
Miyukiwasnotintobeingbashful.
Intruth,ithadbeeninherthirdyearofmiddleschoolthatshehadhadthoughtsonwhetheritwasgood
beingbashfullikeamaideninsituationswhereshewasinfrontofmaleunderweareventhoughit
belongedtoherbelovedbrother.Although,whensheimaginedherselfbeingredcheekedinfrontofher
brother'sunderwear,shechangedhermindthinking[thisisfordegeneratesratherthanmaidens].If
anotherpersonsawherexpressingherdelightfulsmile,asshewashardatworkpreparingtheshowerfor
herbrother,hewouldhavethoughtshewasbeyondhelpinvariousways.Butperhapshewouldnever
meetMiyukiherselffacetofaceandtellherthat.
Havingpreparedforherbrother'spromptreturn,Miyuki'slasttaskwastoplacethetowelasitwasin
otherwordsholdthetowelinherhandsandheadatahurriedpacefortheentryway.Shewasnotinto
unladylikebehaviorlikerunninginsidethehouse.Evenifshewasn'tseenbyherbrother,Miyukididn't
havethegutstobehaveinawayherbrotherdeemedunsuitable.
Duetodoorbiometrics,thesoundofthedoorbeingunlockedechoedtobothkitchenandlivingroom.By
thetimeMinamihadstoppedwatchinghercookingandcameoutofthekitchen,Miyukiwasalready
standingbyintheentryway.
"Welcomeback,Oniisama."
"I'mhome."
"...Welcomeback,Tatsuyaniisama."
TheslightdelaywasduetothetimeMinamitooktorushfromthekitchentotheentryway.Shewasoutof
thekitchenatthesametimeoftheunlocking,butforthismorningMiyukistillendedupinabigleadover
her.WhenshefirstcametothishouseMinamicouldn'thideherdisdainoverthis,butnowadaysshehad
allbutgivenup.

Andthatwastheproperresponse.Theymaynotbeinthemiddleofcombat,butitwasstrangeforMiyuki
tocorrectlyascertainTatsuya'spresenceevenwhenhewasstillover50metersaway.Minaminotputting
upanastonishedexpressionwouldbeearningthepraisesinstead.
"Oniisama,theshowerhasbeenpreparedforyou."
"Thankyou."
Miyukifollowedbehindherbrother,whohadtakenthetowelandenteredthebathroom,withatruly
happysmilingface.Onseeingher,Minamiexhaledsecretly.Evenforaliveinmaid,thisleveloflettingoff
steamshouldhavebeenpermitted.

ItwasSundayandyetduetocircumstancesalreadymentioned,morningsattheShibasproceeded
accordingtotheeverusualtimetable.Thatmeantacomfortableteatimeafterbreakfast.AndforMiyuki,
whohadgivenintoMinamioverpreparingbreakfast,preparingTatsuya'steawassomethingshedidn't
turnover.ForMinami'spart,shewouldbestudyingand,toavoidtakingdamagefromthesicklysweet
atmosphere,wasassignedthetaskofcleaningandlaundry.
Hereverusualwholeheartedlypreparedcoffeeearningthe[wordsofpraise]fromTatsuyaandfinally
settlingdown,Miyukithen,
"Oniisama,Iwouldliketoaskyouaboutsomething."
SuddenlymadeuphermindandtriedaskingTatsuyaononethingthathadbeenclawingathermindfor
quiteawhile.
"What?"
Itwasblunt,butTatsuya'svoicetowardshisyoungersisterwasgentleallthesame.Encouraged,Miyuki
threwawaythelastofherhesitations.
"WhyisOniisamanotenteredintothisyear'sThesisCompetition?I'mawarethatthesolarfurnace
experimentperformedlastAprilattheschoolgroundswasexemptedfromsubmittingascreeningthesis
whichwasrequiredforMagicEngineeringstudents,itdoesmeanitwasn'tprohibitedfromparticipating,
wasit?"
"Comenow,don'tsayitwasn'toutjustfornothing."
Theideaofprohibitedfromparticipatingwasstrange,Tatsuyasmiledasheshookhishead.
"Thenwhy...?"
"It'sbecauseIdon'thavethetime."
Tatsuya'sanswertoMiyuki'sshortfollowupquestionwasjustasshort,andwaspreciseunlikeMiyuki's
inquiry.
"Wasit...relatedtothemagicthatOniisamaispracticingeverydayuntillateatnight?"
Miyukihesitatinglyfollowedupwithaquestion.Shewasatalosswhetherornotitwasokayforherto
intrudefurther,

"That'sright.Youunderstooditwell."
Tatsuya'shandreachedouttowardsMiyuki'sheadwhowasbesidehim.Alongwithhiscommending
words,Tatsuyasoftlystrokedhisyoungersister'shair.Suchgentlesensationledthehesitationremaining
inMiyuki'shearttomeltaway.
"WasitperhapswhatisOniisamamakingeffortsforisnotpracticingmagic,butdevelopmentofanew
kindofmagic?"
"AsexpectedofmyMiyuki,shereallyknowswhatI'mdoing."
ThosewordswereembarrassingtoMiyukievenmorethanhishandtouchingherhair,althoughsheknew
thatmostofitwasflattery,orratherinjest.
Tatsuyawouldn'thavetosubjecthimselftosuchhardshipifitweretrainingforanexistingmagic.The
virtualmagiccalculationareathatwasplantedinhimmayhavesuchlowmagicoutput,butmorethan
copyingentiremagicsequencesandthenusingit,itcancompletelyidentifythestructureofthemagic
sequencesnomatterthemagicandwhatstatusitmaybejustbeforeactivation.Fromthereonitwasa
problemofthroughput.Ifitwasmagichecouldactivatehecoulduseitwithoutanytraining,ifitwasnot
thennomatterthetraininghecouldnotuseit.Andwithhiseyesightandanalyticskills,therewasno
magicspellthathecouldnotanalyze.
Whateverwastroublinghimatthistimeuntillateeverynight,therewasnowaythatwasanexisting
magic.
"I'vestarteddevelopmentofthismagicsinceMarch.Thatmaybethecase;ittookmesometimeeven
thoughIclarifiedthetheoriesfromtheonset.ItwasfinallyinJunethatImanagedtoclearthemagicspell
designphase."
Andso,Iwasn'tintotheThesisCompetitionatall,Tatsuyasmiled.
However,Miyukiwasn'tsmilingatwhatsheheard.Firstoff,thefactwasthatherbrother,thetheoretician
[Silver]ofthemysteriousgeniusmagicengineerTaurusSilver,tookthreemonthsjusttoworkoutthe
theories.Anotherthingwasthedevelopmentstart,whichwasMarch.
"ThenthenewmagicOniisamawasdealingwithnow...wasitmeantfortheconfrontationwithLina?"
"Youunderstooditwell."
TheanswerthatcameoutfromTatsuyahadthesamewords,butitsnuancewassurprisinglydifferent.This
timeithadbothrealsurpriseandadmiration.TatsuyareallyfeltadmirationatMiyukiforfiguringoutan
almostcorrectanswerwiththosehintsonly.
"ThemagicI'mdevelopingnowisamagicsequenceforacloserangedirectattackthatusestheFAE
theory."
"FAE...theory?IfIrememberright,thatwasthetheoryusedbehindLina'sweapon,wasn'tit?"
"Yes,themagictheorythatwasthefoundationforwhatLinaused;thestrategicclasswieldedmagic
weapon[Brionac]...FAE,that'sFreeAfterExecution."

ThestrongemotionsthatwereputintoTatsuya'stonewereeitherrespecttowardstheengineerwho
completedtheersatzdivineweaponBrionac...orantagonism.ItwasfeltbyMiyuki,notwhichoftheone,
butinthatitcouldbebothofthem.
"Theresultinggeneratedphenomenonthatwasmanipulatedbymagicwasaphenomenonthatwas
essentiallynotpartofthisworld,soimmediatelyafterthemanipulationtheshacklesduetothelawsof
physicswereweakened.Andsoduringtheshorttimelaguntilthenormallawsofphysicstakeeffect,one
canexecutethenextmagicwithanamountofpowerfarsmallerthantherequiredinterferencepowerto
donormalphenomenonmanipulation.That'showthehypothesisgoes."
AndthereuponTatsuyanoticedhisownmistake,andshookhisheadashesmiledbitterly.
"No,it'snotahypothesis.ItwasalreadydemonstratedbyBrionacthattheFAEtheoryiscorrect."
"Oniisama,pardonme.There'ssomethingaboutwhatyou'vediscussednowthatIdon'tunderstand,can
youclarifyitforme?"
Miyuki'squestionwasnotmeresocializing;itwasachancetoclearupherdoubtduetoherloveof
learning.Ifitwereameredifficulttheory,shewouldhaveprobablysweptitoffbygivingherbrother
annoyingthoughts.ButtheFAEwasatheoryconnectedtomagicusedbyLina.Miyukicouldn'tbring
herselftoremainignorantofthat.
"Goahead,noneedtorestrainyourself."
"Aslongasitisnotasingleprocessmagic,magicisconstructedusingconsecutiveprocesses.Withthat
many,thesucceedingprocesswilltakeoverandtakeeffectonthestateoftheeventmanipulationofthe
previousprocess.However,forsuchmagic,Ihavenoactualexperienceineasilyactivatingthesecond
processonward,isn'tthisacounterexampletotheFAEtheory?"
"Isee..."
OnhearingMiyuki'squestion,Tatsuya,hisheadasifstruckatablindspot,nodded.
"Thatkindofmisunderstandingisprobablycommonamongmagicians."
Howeverthatwasanunexpectedlystrongemotionhefelt,notbecauseitwasunexpectedthatwhat
Miyukipointedoutwascorrect,butbecauseevenproficientmagiciansonthelevelofMiyukiwould
misunderstandsomethinglikethat.
"Misunderstanding,yousaid?"
"Thefactisthatmagicprocessesbythemselvesarenotmagic."
AtTatsuya'sshortexplanation,Miyukiexpressedconfusion.
Ofcourse,Tatsuyaintendedtokeeponexplaininguntilheryoungersistergotit.
"Takethismagicforexample"
Ashesaidthat,Tatsuyaopenedthesugarpotlid,madeasugarcubefloattohiseyelevelandhelditthere,
thenasecondlaterhereturneditbacktothepot.
"Oniisama...thatmaybeseasoning,butyou'reawarehowIfeelonwastingfood."

"Oh,yeah,sorry."
And,uponseeingMiyukirebukinghimforwhatshesaw,hewasstuckwithdoinganapologywithoutany
excuses.
Miyukismiledsatisfactorilyatherbrothermeeklyapologizing.
"Wellthen,"
Experiencingthediscomfortingyoungandoldrankreversal,Tatsuyaslightlyforcedthediscussionbackon
track.
"There'snoneedtosayittoyou,butthemagicjustusedwasthepopularbasictrainingspell[Suspension].
Amagiccomprisingoffourprocessesagravitationtypeantigravitymagicprocesstomakethesugar
cubefloat,amovementtyperestmagicprocesstosuspendthesugarcubemidair,agravitationtype
gravitycontrolmagicprocesstoslowlylowerthesugarcubeintothesugarpot,andamovementtyperest
magicprocesstomakethesugarcubestaystillinsidethesugarpotwithoutimpactingit.Howeverthis
presentation,nowthatyou'vesaidit,wouldeasilyfomentmisunderstanding."
"WherehaveImadeamisunderstanding?"
"Ididn'tsayyoumadeamisunderstanding.It'sjustthatforthefourprocessesofthemagic,thedelusion
thateachofthemisanindependentmagicrises."
"Thatwas...adelusion?"
TatsuyanoddedgravelyatMiyuki,whowascurrentlybewildereduponbeingtoldthatunexpectedfact.
"Suspensionisafourprocessmagic,butit'sthosefourprocessesthatitbecomesasinglemagic.Toreach
thestagewherethemagicisactivatedonehastocompleteconstructingthemagicsequencesuntilthe
finalrestprocessanddefinethevariables.Withoutthefullmagicpowertocoverthefourprocesses,"
TatsuyabrokeoffthereandhiseyesgazedintoMiyuki,asifascertaininghercomprehension.
"Themagicwouldn'tbeinterruptedduringactivation,theantigravityprocesswouldn'tactivatefromthe
start."
Miyukiexpressedasurprisedlook.
"That'sright...ifeachprocesswereindependentmagic,themomentthemagicpowerisinsufficientthe
magicwouldhavebeencutoffmidway...andnottheresultwhenitwouldhavebeennonactivatedfrom
thestart."
Mutteringasiftalkingtoherself,MiyukiwasatthatmomentdigestingeagerlywhatTatsuyahadtaught
her.
"Magicprocessesarebythemselvesnotindependentmagic.Theyare,throughandthrough,partofone
magic.That'swhatyoumean,isn'titOniisama."
"Exactlyasyou'vesaidit.That'smyMiyuki,yousurelearnfast."

SmileduponbyTatsuya,Miyukiturnedhereyesawaybashfully.Itwasanexpressionofpureandsimple
embarrassment,butthistimethefeelingofembarrassmentbecauseshewasunabletocomprehend
somethinguntilshewastaughtthismuch,wasstronger.
Tatsuyawasnotpraisingheroutofsarcasm,hewasreallycommendingher.Miyukiwasashamedof
herselfwhowasawareofthatandyet,whileshe'sherbrother'syoungersister,allthemoreunableto
understandthismuch.
Although,sheprobablythoughtthatshealwaysmustn'tturnherfaceaway.MiyukifacedTatsuyawitha
forcedsmile.
"Now,now,somethinglikethiswouldendupbeingintuitivelymisunderstoodwithoutpracticallyany
personalexperience,nomatterhowmuchofthetheoryyou'veunderstood.Magicisnotascholarly
pursuit,butatechnicalcapability.Withoutanyexperienceinfailingtoactivatemagic,wewouldn'tbe
troubledoveritsreasons."
Tatsuyawasn'tsharpatotherpeople'semotions,butit'sadifferentstorytowardsMiyuki.Whetherit's
seeingMiyukigointoaslump,orquicklygoingaroundwithacoverup.
"Besidestheimportantpointisnotthereasonwhymagicfailedtoactivate,it'sthefactthatmagic
processesareonlynothingmorethanconvenientobjects.Asperwhatmodernmagicschemehadtaken
form,fromactivationsequencetomagicsequenceconstruction,tosuccessfullydescribetheactivation
sequenceit'sonlyconvenientthatthemagicsequencebebrokendownintomodulescalledprocesses."
Thenagain,Miyukiisnotthetypewhodoesn'tknowshe'sbeingencouragedonbyherbrother.Tatsuya
wasconcernedabouther.Gladaboutthat,herforcedsmilesoftenedupsomewhat.
"IfinallyunderstoodwhatOniisamawastalkingabout."
Miyukilightlypokedherownhead,andsheexpressedapleasant[Sorry,forbeingadunceofayounger
sister]smile.Asthatexpressionwouldcauseonetoexperiencelargegapswiththeusualimagesofanall
tooorderlybeautybringingabouteventhecoldness,Tatsuyareleasedpowerenoughtototallygetridof
hisawarenesstowardsostrichism.
"Magicprocessesarethroughandthroughpartofmagic.Thereforeeventmanipulationduetomagicgoes
throughallprocessesandissingular.Sinceevencompletingoneprocessisstillnothingmorethanamid
stageeventmanipulationthemanipulatedeventwon'tbesuccessful,theeventmanipulationdifficulty
loweringdescribedbytheFAEtheorywouldn'toccur,right?"
"...That'sright.Fullmarksforyou,Miyuki."
EvenTatsuyahadhissensestakenawaybyhisyoungersistercharminglyswingingslightlyherheadonto
oneside.Hetriedtocoveritupbypretendingtobeunnaturallysilent,asifscrutinizingMiyuki'sanswer,
buthehadnofaithinhimselfwhetherornothecanreallydeceivehisyoungersister.
Miyuki'ssmile,thatmadeflowersbloomtotheirfullglory,rejectedTatsuya'spryingassomething
unsophisticated.

Justhowdoesthatpairpasstimeduringaholiday?
Forupperclassmen,classmates,andunderclassmenwhoknewtosomeextentthesiblingsTatsuyaand
MiyukithatmeantthemajorityofFirstHighstudents,itwasthefirsttimeallofthemhadencountered
thisquestion.Andso,
Theyflirtwitheachotheralldaylong,likeacoupleinpassionatelove?
Nono,saywhatyouwantbuttogothatfar...atleasthowaboutonthelevelofanalldaydate?
Nah,that'snaive.I'msurethatcouplewouldfinallyendupinascenewhere...
Inthosesituations,acolorfularrayofspeculationspreadaround.
Theirspeculationswerepartiallyspoton.It'struethatthepairareveryhappilyspendingtheirrestdays,
evengoingondates.
However,itisnoteveryday.InfactTatsuyamanytimeswasawayfromhomeonSundays.It'smostlygoing
totheFLTresearchlabsorbeingsummonedbytheIndependentMagicequippedBattalion,buteversince
MinamicametotheShibahouse,hestoppedworryingaboutMiyukibeingalone,andsothefrequencyof
occurrencewentup.
Buttodaywasrightnowunusual,fortherearenoappointmentssetforTatsuya.EvenMiyukiwasnotinto
saying"Iwanttogoout".Itwasn'tbecausethestudentcouncilelectionsweremovedtoweekends;itwas
coveredbythefactthatTatsuyawasphysicallyexhaustedduetotraining.
Andsototellthewholestory,Miyukiwasinnomoodtoentertaingueststoday.Eventhoughthoseguests
werecloserelatives.What'smore,shewasdisinclinedtoshowthispairintothehouse.Evenifthepeople
werecloserelativesshecan'tresteasy,eventhoughsheknewthey'realliesshecannotlowerherguard.
ButthosewerenothingmorethanMiyuki'spersonalsentiments.Moreovertheirreasonwas[forher
brother]andsinceTatsuyadidn'tshowanystanceofdenyingthem,Miyuki(onthesurface)hasnoreason
nottowelcomethem.
"Fumiya,Ayako,goodforyoutocome."
"Fumiyakun,Ayakochan,welcome."
TatsuyaandMiyukifriendlyaddressedthepairwhohadjustsettleddownafterbeingledinsidebyMinami
andofferedtositonthesofa.ItwasfortheabovementionedreasonsthatMiyuki'smannerswerequite
diplomatic,whileTatsuyawasnevertolowerhisguardwhoeverhewasfacingapartfromoneperson.
Butseenfromoutsidethepair'smannersshowedanimpeccablyfriendlyaffection.
"Tatsuyasan,Miyukioneesama,pardonusforintrudingyou."
"Tatsuyaniisan,Miyukisan,longtimenosee."
IncontrastwiththegreetingsoftheShibasiblings,theresponseoftheKurobasiblingswerestiff.
ComparedtoTatsuyaandhissistertheyshouldnotbeconsiderablyinexperienced.AgewisethoseJune

borntwinswouldhavebeensixteen,thesameagewithMarchbornMiyuki.Whethersixteenyearsofage
wasadultageorminoragewassetasidefornow,andsinceitwasalmostignoredthetwinsshouldbeable
toeasilyandcompletelyhidetheirnervousness.
Inotherwords,todaywasperhapsduetobusinessthatcorrespondedtothose[considerablematters].
BothTatsuyaandMiyukidrewthatconclusionfromtheirappearances.
"WhichremindsmeFumiya,Minamiwasindebtedtoyouforlastmonth."
Minami,standingbesidethesofa,quicklybowedtoFumiyawhowasbewilderedatsuddenlybeing
thankedbyTatsuya.
"Thankstoyoueliminatingtheguards,yousavedmefromtrouble."
"O,oh...thatincident,right?"
Onthewordsforguardelimination,Fumiyagraduallyrealizeditwastheincidentduringthelastdayofthe
9SCwhenhebroughtdownthesecuritysurroundingthevanMinamiwason.
"No,it'snotaconsiderablematter."
Don'tmindaboutit,Fumiyatriedtoanswerthisback.However,
"Thoughthismaynotrepaythefavorbacktoyou"
Tatsuyawasquicktofollowuphiswords.
"IstheresomethingImaybeabletohelpyouwith?"
Fumiyawasstruckspeechlessattheunexpectedwords,whileAyakosittingbesidehimexhaledloudly.
"...Really,we'renomatchforTatsuyasan.Withacalmlookthatshowszerointerestinotherpeople's
mood,hebroughtdownsuchasurpriseattackatus."
Shakingherheadwithalookthat'sraringtosaysomethingeventhoughshe'sstumped,sheturnedher
focusatheryoungertwinwho'sfrozenbesideher.
"Fumiya,let'stakeuphisoffer.We'reonlyemissariesfromthestart,wehavenochoiceaboutit."
"Y,yes.You'reright..."
Fumiyanoddedwitharesignedlook,thenfromaninnerpocketofhisjacketheneatlyworeeventhough
it'saSundayhetookoutanormalsizedsealedletter.
Therewasnoaddress.Pickingupthesealedenvelopethenturningitover,Tatsuyalightlyraisedhisbrows.
Miyuki,peeringoverfromherbrother'sside,lightlygaspedassheplacedahandintohermouth.
Writtenonthereversesidewasthenameoftheiraunt,YotsubaMaya.
"We'reheretopersonallyhandthistoyoufromthemistress."
AtFumiya'swords,Miyukilookedbesideatherbrother.TatsuyanoddedbackatMiyuki,acceptedthe
paperknifethatwaspresentedbyafastactingMinami,thenbrokeopentheseal.

Insidetheenvelopewasasimplesinglesheetofstationery.Tatsuyalookeditoverthoroughly,andwhen
donereadinghehandeditovertoMiyukiwho'sbeenwaitingpatiently.
"Areyouaware,Fumiya,ofthecontentsthatwerewrittenhere?"
Fumiyashowedsomeslighthesitation,
"Yes,I'maware"
Andyetansweredonhisownwithoutaskinghissisterforhelp.
"Isee"
ThistimeTatsuyashiftedhisfocusontoMiyuki.Miyukihadjustfinishedreadingthestationery,andwas
softlynoddingwiththeintentionto[it'syourcall].
"ThatwrittenhereisacommissionforassistanceforthecaptureofZhouGongjin?"
"Thattooweknow."
Thistime,Tatsuyaplainlyraisedhiseyebrows.
"Isee.Thecommissionisnotafigureofspeech,it'smeantasitwaswritten."
BothFumiyaandAyakonoddedasone.
MiyukihalfrosetoherfeetandfacedTatsuya.
"Oniisama...whyhasAuntofferedthis[commission]tous?"
Thequestionwasisitokaytocommissionwhenorderingitwasenough.EvenTatsuyawasofthesame
opiniononthematter.
"Onthatmatterwewereentrustedwithaverbalmessage."
"Averbalmessage?Isitsomethingthatcannotbelefteveninaletter?"
Secrecywasnormallytighterforpaperdocumentationthanelectronicdata.He'swonderingjustwhatkind
thecontentsaretomakeherhesitatetoevenputitintotheletter.
However,Ayakodidn'tanswerdirectlytothatquestion.
"'Itdoesn'tmatterifyourefusethisjob.'"
"Auntwouldsaysuchathing!?"
Miyukiunintentionallyraisedhervoice,then*facedTatsuya*andashamedlymuttered[Pardonme].
Tatsuyaunderstoodthereasoningthatmadehisyoungersisterbetakenaback.Howeverhewasnotthat
muchsurprised.MayamaybetheheadofhouseYotsuba,butsinceTatsuya'sstatustotheYotsubawas
thatofaGuardian,Miyukihasthehighestauthoritywhenitcomestoorderinghim.Andasperthesecret
agreementarrangedbetweenhouseYotsubaand101stBrigade,apartfrommissionsthatconcernMiyuki's
protection,itwasdecidedthatthe101stBrigadehasthepreferentialright.

MiyukiwasseeingasabsolutetruththemightoftheYotsuba,orrathersinceshedoesn'tknowwellthe
competenciesofothermagicorganizationsormilitarypowers,shewasatastatewhereshewasconvinced
thatshecannotgoagainstMaya'sorders.Infact,evenMayacannotignoretheYotsubaorganizationand
itsagreementwiththemilitary.Withthesesetregulations,therearen'tmanycaseswhereMayacanorder
Tatsuya.
Accordingly,Tatsuyajudgedthatitwasn'ttimeyettoopposeMaya.Andthatcall,justbecausethe
opponenthadbehavedlikealamb,won'tchange.
"Fumiya,tellAuntthatitis[accepted]."
BothMiyukiandAyakofacedTatsuyawithplainlysurprisedlooks.
"Iwillcertainlypasstheword....Myapologies,Tatsuyaniisan."
AndFumiyafacedTatsuyaandbowedverydeeply.
"WhyisFumiyaapologizing?"
"CapturingZhouGongjinwasamissionoriginallygiventotheKuroba.Andbecauseofourincompetence
weendedupcausingTatsuyaniisantrouble..."
The[incompetence]FumiyasaidreferredtothecircumstancessurroundinglastmonthwhenonMaya's
orderstheKurobasortiedtoYokohamaChinatownforZhouGongjin'scapture.Thattimetheheadof
house,Mitsugu,wasseverelyinjuredwithonearmcompletelybittenoff,andthedragnetsetbythe
KurobahitsquadwasbrokenallowingZhoutoescape.
Fumiya'slook,whenheansweredTatsuya'squestion,had[shame]writtenalloverit.
"Fumiya,itisnotbadtoaskforotherpeople'shelp."
Atthatstate,Tatsuyatookonanunexpectedbrotherlyattitude.
"AllthemoreifitisaKurobabusiness,youshouldhaveactivelysoughtmeoutevenifyousuppressyour
ownsentiments."
"Tatsuyaniisan...?"
"WantingtoaccomplishbyyourownwhatwasentrustedtoyouisanattitudeIcanunderstand.However
makingthemissionsucceedisthegreaterpriority."
Bytheirownmeantbytheirownstrength,thatistosaythemanifestationofjuvenileperfectionismandan
aspectofdangerousobsessioncommonamongtheyouth.
"Failureisnotpermittedwhetherit'syourormywork."
Tatsuya'svoicewasstern.However,hiddeninthereisagentlenessthatwouldmakeMiyukienvious.
"...You'reright.Itwasaverbalgaffe."
EvenFumiyaunderstoodthatTatsuyawaslookingafterhimwithouttheneedtobetaughtofthatby
anyone.

"Soit'snotanapologythen,isit.Thankyouverymuch,Tatsuyaniisan."
OnseeingFumiyabowingdownagain,Tatsuyarepliedbackwithasatisfiednod.
"Wellthenlet'shearoutwhat'sclearthusfar."
"Understood.AfterescapingYokohama,ZhouGongjinheadedwestbysea,apparentlyhisescaperoute
throughthePacificwasblocked.AfterdisembarkingatIse,ZhouwascorneredatBiwakooohashiashewas
headingnorth,butheendedupgettingaway.WebelievehehasslippedinsomewhereinKyoto.Ourmen
arecurrentlyonthemoveandsearchingintheOoharaarea.
"Anyinfoonthesupporters?"
"It'slikelythatthe[Traditionalists],theorganizationofancientmagiciansopposingthehousesof[Nine],
havehadahandinhisescape."
"Thetraditionalists,eh?"
"Tatsuyaniisan,doyouknowofthem?"
"I'veheardabitofthemfromMasterYakumo.They'renotonlyadomesticgatheringofastrayancient
magicians,theyhaveancientmagiciansthathavefledfromthemainlandandtheyhaveeventakenin
occultists,probablyattemptingtoboostorganizationalstrength.AndlasttimeIremembertherewere
refugeeoccultistswithintheKudou;isitpossiblethattheyhavegivenahand?"
"Wedon'thavetoworryaboutthat.TheoccultistsunderKudouescapedfromtheformerNinth
LaboratoryimmediatelyafterZhouGongjin'sescapefromYokohamaandhavejoinedupwiththe
traditionalists.NoneedtoinquiretotheKudouaboutthis,wegotdirectconfirmationfromthem."
"Thefactthatthetraditionalistsandthehousesof[Nine]arejoininghandsbehindthescenesis
unthinkable.NoneedtoworryabouttheKudoustabbingatourbacks."
"Tatsuyasan?"
ItwasAyako,uptonowwasleavingtheexplanationtoheryoungerbrother,whowasreservedlyasking
Tatsuyawhowasstaringintomidspaceandthinkingaboutsomething.
"No,pardonme.I'llkeepthoseinmind."
Ondetectingthatthosethankfulwordscontaina[questiontimeisover]sign,AyakoandFumiyastoodup
asone.

DuringthetimewhenTatsuyaandMiyukilefttoseeAyakoandFumiyaoffattheentrance,Minamiwas
clearingawaythetabletopandpreparedadditionalblacktea.Hersorryfeelingsforjumpingthegunonher
master(Miyuki)hadalreadydisappearedfromwithinher.Shehasemotionsofrespecttowardshermaster
Miyuki,esteemtowardsherasamagician,andaspirationstowardsherasayounggirl.Atthesametime,
she'sabitbotheredathermastertakingupmaidduties,andiswellawareofherinconvenientlysevere
brothercomplex.
Returningtothelivingroomwithteacupsinhand,Minamiwasmotionedtosettleherselfonthesofa
Fumiyahadsatonjustnow.Reluctantly,sheloweredtheteacupsinfrontofTatsuyaandMiyukiandhad
justsatdownwhenTatsuyaslightlyfrowned.

"Err,Tatsuyasama...?"
MinamihadinternallycategorizedTatsuyaasonewithmorecommonsensethanMiyuki.Inshort,a
companionevenmoresensiblethanhermaster.Whileshewasn'treactingwildly,Minamiwasdrivento
worrywhethershehadcommittedsomekindofblunder.
"Minami,prepareonemorecupoftea."
"Yes...?"
Shewasselfawarethatnowshemighthaveshownastupefiedexpression;Minami'sconfusionwas
evidentinherface.
(Isthereanotherguestcomingrightafterthistime?)
"It'snotwhatyouthink."
SheherselfmaynothavenoticeditbutMinami'sfacehasnotonlyconfusion,evenherdoubtwasshowing
up.
Whenheperceivedwhatwasonherexpression,Tatsuyabroughtinacorrectionalongwithaslightly
strainedsmile.
"Imeantthatyoupreparesomeforyourselfsinceourconversationmighttakelong."
Minami'sdoubtclearedupwithTatsuya'sexplanation,butanewconfusioncameupatthesametime.
Evenso,Tatsuyasawrightthroughit.
"It'suncomfortableformeandMiyukihavingsomethingtodrinkwhileyoudon'thaveany."
"...Pleasewaitforamoment."
Asshewasbeatendownwithanotwellunderstoodsenseofdefeat,shequicklywentbacktothekitchen.

AshewaswaitingforMinamitobringherowncupandreturntothesofa,TatsuyaspreadoutMaya's
letteronthetable.Onlytersebusinesswaswrittenonthesinglesheetofstationery.Heused[Elemental
Sight]toreadtheinformationattachedtobothstationeryandenvelope,buttherewerenotracesof
specialtricksbeingapplied.
"Inotherwords,Aunt'staskreallyappearstobeonlytohelpoutinthecaptureofZhouGongjin."
Explainedonthis,astronglysuspiciouslookshoweduponMiyuki'sface.
"WhyAuntwouldonlythistimechoosenotanorderbutacommission?"
"It'struethatitbothersme.AndunlessweaskAuntwewon'tknowtheanswer..."
TatsuyalookedatMiyuki,andthenatMinami.
Itwasnowayaseveregaze.Evenso,tensionranthroughMinami'sspine.

"Bothofyoumaynotbeawareofit,butfromthestartAuntholdsnoauthoritytoorderme.Toputitmore
concisely,Aunt'scommandauthorityhasthelowestprecedence."
MiyukiandMinami'sshockandawewerelaidbare.Bothofthemcoveringtheirmouthsinunisonwas
perhapsthefruitsoftheirmannerseducationortheresultofthemaidunderhermaster'sinfluence.
"NeedlesstobesaidguaranteeingMiyuki'ssafetyisthehighestpriority,butthenextinpriorityareduties
withIndependentMagicequippedBattalion.Aunt'scommandauthoritycomesinthirdafterthat."
MiyukistirringbesidehimwastransmittedtoTatsuya,buthedidn'tgiveattentionanymorethanthat.
EvenMinami,whowasfocusedonTatsuya'swords,didn'tgazecoldlyasusualatawrithingMiyuki's
brothercomplexreaction.
"HoweveruptonowwhenAunthasinstructedworkforme,itwasalwaysintheformoforders.Perhaps
theyknewthroughwaysandmeansthatI'mnotinaduty,butinanycasethatwasthenorm."
Tatsuyathenreachedforhisteacup.Eitherhewasthirstywithallthetalking,orperhapsbehindhistea
drinkinghewascollectinghisthoughts.Hisreturningthecuptoitssaucerwasabitslowerthanusual.
"Sinceanottoocommonmethodwasused,itseemsthatwehaveanunusualsituation.Suchasthecase
thistimewhenitrequiresspecialcountermeasures,forexample."
ComprehensionwasinMinami'sexpression,butworrywasshowingupinMiyuki's.
"Thatis,thetaskthistimeisespeciallydangerous,right?"
"WehaveanopponentwhohasheavilyinjuredtheheadofhouseKuroba,andisstillevadingtheYotsuba's
pursuit.It'snoeasytasktocaptureortooffhim."
Ashewasansweringwiththose,hegentlystrokedMiyuki'shairasiftellingherto"nottoworry".On
feelingthosehandsasTatsuyasayinghewasnotthinkingofitasadangerousmission,Miyukiregainedher
composure.
"Theproblemisnotthedifficultyofthemission."
However,thenextthingTatsuyainformedthemwhenheletgoofhairstrokingbroughttensionbackto
MiyukiandMinami'sexpressions.
"It'sthefirsttimeformeinasituationwherethetarget'swhereaboutsareunknown,andIsayit'svery
rarefortheYotsuba.AndIhaven'tknownofonewhohasthecapacitytoescapefromtheYotsuba'shand."
Tatsuyasighedatthedifficultyofthelatesttask.
"Anopponentforsuchasituation.There'snoavoidingthatthismightturnintoalongtermtask."
Miyuki'sexpressionturnedfromtensiontoworryandloneliness.UponseeingthatTatsuyahastilyadded
hisnextwords.
"Itdoesn'tmeanthatI'llbegoneforextendedperiods.Thereisschool,andfromthestartIhavezero
knowhowonpersonssearchIhavetocommissionotherpeopletolocatehiswhereabouts.Myturnwill
comewhenZhouGongjinislocated."
"...Willitturnintoabattle?"

"Miyuki,enoughwiththatface.There'snowayI'mgoingagainsthimalone.Thetaskthatisrequestedof
meistocutoffallofthetarget'sescaperoutes."
Ashesaid,thatTatsuyapointedathimself.
Miyuki,havingunderstoodwhatthatmeant,breathedasighofrelief.
"HoweverfromtimetotimetherearedaysthatIhavetobeawayfromthehouse."
TatsuyapretendedthathedidnotseeMiyuki's"that'snotwhatyousaid"sulkedlook.
"Whenthattimecomes,Minami,youprotecther."
Minamididn'tunderstandwellwhyshewasmadetosithere.Asaresult,shewassofarvaguelylistening
toTatsuya'stalkwithhermoodthatitwasotherpeople'sproblems.
"Yes!"
However,thatwasinsomewayasurpriseattack.Minami,onhearingformallyfromTatsuyathetasksthat
weregiventoherasamagicianandaGuardian,instinctivelystraightenedherbackmorethanthatwas
necessaryandendedupansweringinasurprisedtone.
Tatsuyaremainedimpassiveevenwhenhearingher"Yass!"response.
"Magicstrengthwise,Miyukiisstrongerthanyouare.Perhapsshecanusemanyspellsinsimulated
combat.Butthosehavenothingtodowiththis."
"Yes"
InspiredbyTatsuya'sserioustone,Minamithistimesolidlyrespondedback.
"Minami,fortheYotsubayouareMiyuki'sGuardian.Butformeyou'remorethanthat,you'reoneofthe
fewmagicianswhomIcanputmytrustin."
Tatsuya'svoicewasdarklygrave.TatsuyawasawarethatMayawastheonewhosentinMinamiandhad
somehiddenplansforher;likewise,MinamiwasawarethatTatsuyaknew.But,ontopofthat,Tatsuya
saidhetrustedMinami.Judgingwithhisowneyes,hesaidshewastrustworthy.
"WhenI'moutofthehouse,IentrustMiyukitoyou."
"Pleaseleavetheresttome."
Minamisquarelyacceptedthattrust.

DuetothenatureofworkoftheKurobafamily,theyhavenumerousbusinesstrips.Forthatreason,they
haveregularhotelsineveryareainJapan.Formajorcities,eitherahotelunderthedirectpatronageofthe
YotsubaorahotelwithdirectYotsubafundingwassetup.EventhistimeFumiyaandhissisterwere
stayingatahotelsetupundertheYotsubaumbrella.
AndsotheycouldmakecallstotheYotsubamainhousewithoutfearofbeingintercepted.
"Themistress'letterhascertainlybeenhandedtoTatsuyaniisan.Moreoverwewereentrustedwith
Tatsuyaniisan'sverbalmessage."
FumiyawasreportingwhathadtranspiredtodaytotheYotsubamainhouse.
["AndwhatdidTatsuyadonosay?"]
ThenumberhewascallingwasadirectlinetoMaya,butbecauseofcircumstancessheunexpectedlycould
notanswerthecall,andsohewasspeakingwithHayamainstead.Fumiyadidn'tmindtalkingtoabutleron
theresultsofthetaskthatwasorderedbytheirmistresssince[Hayamasanastheotherpartywaseasyon
thenerves].
Acknowledged,hesaid."
["Anythingelse?Didhesayanythingindicatingaboutacensureshould,forexample,therequestof
Madambenotaccepted?"]
"No,hedidnotsayanythingofthesort."
["Indeed.GoodworkFumiyadonoandAyakodono.IwillrelaytoTatsuyadonofromhereonthedetailed
appointments."]
"Isee.Apleasuretalkingtoyou."
AsFumiyasaidthat,Hayamarespectfullybowedonscreen.Withthis,thecallhadended.Fumiyatoo
bowedtohimashecutofftheline.

"Withthisourmissionisover,right?Thistimewewerereallyjustmeremessengers,weren'twe?"
Ayako,whowasbesidehimlisteningtotheircall,talkedinaflattonetoFumiya,whotookabigbreather
afterfinishinghisreport.Onthesurfaceonewouldthinkthosewordswouldrevealherdispleasureonthe
zeroresistanceatthemission,butlookingatherexpressionwouldmakeonerealizethatshewasvery
receptiveatthefactthatthemissionwasoverquickly.
"It'sstillsixintheevening.Wecangethomeearlyatthistime,sowhatnextthen?"
Fumiya,whohadjustsatdown,shookhisheadatAyako'sinquiry.
"Well,we'llgotakearesttoday.Afterallthemainhousetookthetroubleofpreparingforusaluxurious
roomlikethissuiteofthreeadjoiningrooms."

"Sothisisthesocalledluxurious...Sosuchpettybourgeoislikestuffmeantwe'refarfromMayasama's
envoyswe'renotevenfittobeFather'senvoys."
Afterlightlyrebukingheryoungerbrother'sidletalk,Ayakonoticedthatmixedinwiththe[idletalk]wasa
cynicalstreak,sounusualforherbrother.
"Fumiya,areyouunhappywithtoday'stask?"
Ayakochangedhertone,andtookonaskingpointblankheryoungerbrother'strueintentions.
"Ihavenocomplaintsonthemissionitself."
Withaparadoxicalexpression,Fumiyaacknowledgedthathehadcomplaintsrelatingtotoday'smission.
"Iknowthatbeinganenvoyisanimportanttask,andIknowalsothatI'mthepersonsuitedforthetaskof
bringingMayasama'slettertoTatsuyaniisan.But..."
"Youarenothappywiththeconditionsthatwereimposedwhenbringingtheletter,areyou?"
AyakosupplementedFumiya'smuddledwordswithhersoftvoice.
"That'swhatI'mtalkingabout!"
FumiyablewhispentupemotionsupatAyako's[sisterly]voice.
"Justwhatthehellarethese,notmakingamoveandnotshakingoffwhatisfollowingus!"
Thatwastherestriction,ratherthancondition,thatwasimposeduponFumiyatoday.
Ontheonset,duringthetimehewasordereddirectlybyMayato[bringthislettertoTatsuyasan],Fumiya
hasnobeefagainstbeingsentonanerrand;insteadhewashappyaboutit.Hewassimplyhappythathe
wasgoingtoseeTatsuya,andwasjustsatisfiedbeingmadeanintermediarytosendoutarequestto
TatsuyawhowassaidtobenotonverygoodtermswithMaya(buttheyappearedtobe).
HoweverafterMayahadleft,onbeinginformedontheabovementionedrestrictionsasanimportant
pointoftoday'smissionfrombutlerHanabishi,theYotsuba'snumbertwoservantandinchargeofvarious
arrangementsincidenttotheacceptedprimary[task],hefeltthatcoldwaterwasdousedontohim.Itwas
notthathewasgettingunhappyonmeetingTatsuya.Whathewasharboringwasnotdisappointment,but
worry.
"AndIknowthatwe'rebeingshadowedandwecannotinterferewithit!Thankstothem,it'llendupwith
usinformingsomegangfromsomewheretheresidenceofTatsuyaniisanandMiyukisan!"
"It'sallright,Fumiya.Whoevertheyare,theycannotdivulgethelinkbetweenTatsuyasanandthe
Yotsuba.Hehimselfmaynotbeawareofit,butTatsuyasan'spersonaldatawasmanipulatedsuchthatthe
moreitisinvestigatedthemoretheywillconcludethatithasnolinkwiththeYotsuba."
Ayako'sconsolingwordsunfortunatelyhadalmostnoeffecttoFumiyanow.
"I'mnotworriedaboutthat!TheguysthatweretailinguscouldbethepeoplehidingZhouGongjin."
AyakodidnotbrushoffFumiya'sjudgementas[overthinking].FromthetimehefledYokohama,Zhou
GongjinwaswellawarethathispursuersweretheKuroba.However,inaccordancetotheirfamily

directive,FumiyaandAyakowentontodeliberatelystandthemselvesoutastheKurobaduringlast
month's9SC.
"EventhoughthebestcaseiswhereTatsuyaniisanwouldbebotheredduetoincompetencefromusthe
Kuroba,duetoouractionallowingustobefollowed,theywouldendupinsomeone'scrosshairs.Ican't
seeTatsuyaniisanfacetofaceanymore,"Fumiyalamented,facedownandinagrimtone.
"Fumiya"
Ayakostoodinfrontofhimandcalledoutheryoungerbrother'sname.
"Whataryu!?"
Ayakohadpulledbothwaysthecheeksofherbrother,whohadraisedhisheadup.
"Whatareyoudoing!?"
Fumiyaimmediatelyshookoffhersister'shands,butonseeingAyakoquiteroughlypullinghim,hischeeks
reddened.Towardsatearfullyprotestingyoungerbrother,Ayakohad,foraninstant,shownareally
pleasantlookingsadisticsmile,thenquicklyswitchedtoakeptupfalsesmile.
"Neesan?"
Inanalmostsuspicioustone,Fumiyaaskedforanexplanationfromhissister.
"Youshouldberelaxingmore,Fumiya.It'sdifferentwhenyou'restuckwithyourinattentiveness,butsince
it'sthemainhouse'sordersshouldn'tyoubedoingnothing?It'snotyourmission.Itdoesn'tmatterevenif
theygoforTatsuyasan.Evenshouldtheytrysomethingmeddlesome,itonlymeanswehavetheenemy
bythetail."
"Neesan..."
AseatedFumiyastaredwithupturnedeyesbackatAyakowhowasstandinginfrontofhim.Fromathird
personviewasfarasFumiyahimselfwasconcernedhewasinsomethingunintentionalanexpression
thatcouldonlybecalledcute,butthenAyakowordlesslyandforcefullypulledback.
"Ishouldbesayingsomethingthatmightbeveryappropriate,butIsawexactlyawhilebackthat's
somewhatinteresting."
"W,wellFumiya,itshouldbenothingofthatsort.Andoh,wecan'treturnatthisrate,Imustgofixour
luggage."
"Butwedidn'tprepareluggageforanight'sstay!"
"Wellthen,Fumiya,seeyouatdinnertime."
"Ah,hey,don'trunoutonme!"
Theescapepacequickeningallthemorewhentoldnottoescapewasnotlimitedtothieves.Ayakoran
intoherownroom,andclickeditshutbeforeFumiyacouldcatchup.

Itwasalittleoveramonthbeforethisyear's[NationalMagicHighSchoolThesisCompetition].However,
themostdiscussedtopicamongtheFirstHighstudentswas,still,notthethesiscompetition.
"Thisyearprobablywon'thavethechaosoflastyear,right?"
"Toldyoubeforeitwouldn'toccur.Andinthefirstplacetheelectionitselfisprobablyunnecessary.Evenif,
forargument'ssake,anopponentstoodup,it'sstillalandslidevictoryforShibasan."
"Shibasan'sthatgood,eh?Ican'twaitfortheoratorical.Dammit,ifonlythatbrotherisn'tpresent."
"Don'tbestupid.Shibasancan'thaveaboyfriendbecauseofthatelderbrother,right?Unlikea
performer,shecannotbebetrayed.She'sthebest."
Sowentaconversationbetweensecondyearboys.
"IwonderwhoShibasanplacestowhatposition?"
"It'sexciting...nomore,isn'tit.It'stheannualelections,andthisyearthere'sespeciallynoonebrave
enoughtostanduptoher."
"Ifthat'sthecasethenthefirstyearSaegusasanwillbevicechairman,andMitsuisanwillbetreasurer,
right?"
"Eh?Oniisanisnotgivenaposition?"
"Oniisan...wait,isn'theajunior?"
"Well,yeahheis.Didn'theimpressyouassomethingasan[Oniisan]?"
"Ifthat'sthecaseisn'tit'Oniisama'?EvenIwishforsuchan[Oniisama]."
"Rightright.Didn'tthat[Oniisama]becomeatreasurer?Youknowthatotherpeoplecan'tholdback
Shibasan?"
"Oh,justlikewhathappenedlastyear,right..."
Sowenttheconversationbetweenthirdyeargirls.Also,gossipsimilartothosecouldbeheardhereand
thereinthecafeteria.TheFirstHighstudents'currentinterestgravitatedtowardsthestudentcouncil
presidentelectionscomingthisweekend.
Mostofall,thisyearwasanalmostcertainvoteofconfidencewithzeroopposition.
Thisyearalsothegeneralstudentmeetinghadnomajorthemeslikelastyear'sregulationschangein
studentcouncilmemberselectioncriteria.Theboys'talkwasonMiyuki'scharmingfigurethatwasbound
tobeseenontheoratorical,whilethegirls'talkconvergedonwhowouldbechosenforwhatposition.
"You'rean[Oniisama]now,Tatsuyakun."
"It'sbadmannerstoeavesdrop,Erika."

ThechitchatalsoreachedthetableofTatsuya,thepersonconcerned.Forgetit;it'snotonlythevoices.
Thoughnoonewasshamelessenoughtoseehimopenly,Tatsuya'santennaimmediatelypickedoutmany
timesthestealthyquickpeeksthatwereheadedhisway.
Rightnow,therearefiveatsametable:Tatsuya,Erika,Leo,Mizuki,andMikihiko.Miyukiwouldhavetried
too,butitwouldbetroublesomewithtoomanygazesconvergingonthem,soshehesitantlytookher
lunchatthestudentcouncilroom,alongwithHonokaandShizuku.Honokaherselfdidn'tchoseherfriends
overherlove,it'sthatshe'savoidingbyherselfthemaelstromofgazesheadedatthepersonconcerned.
"Tatsuya,you'renotrunningforstudentcouncilpresidentthisyear?"
"Ididn'tannouncemycandidacylastyeareither."
AsLeo'squestionsteppedonlastyear'spollcount,Tatsuya'sansweronceagainstressedthatlastyear's
votecountwasinvalidated.Themassivenumberofinvalidatedballotslastyearwassomething
unspeakablenotonlytoMiyuki,whoendedupwithanembarrassinglyhumiliatingnickname,butalsoto
Tatsuya.
"Nownow,therewouldn'tbearacketlikelastyearforthisyear,right?"
ThinkingthatprovokingTatsuyatoomuchwasuntimely,Erikasaidthattosmooththingsover.
"I'msurethere'snowiseguywhocanmakefunofMiyuki'sspeech."
Mikihikoexpressedthesameopinioninanearnesttone.
"OhyeahTatsuyasan,whowaschosenbyMiyukisantotakeonthenewroles?"
EventheotherthreelistenedattentivelytoMizuki'squestion,nottomentiontheotherssurroundingthe
tablewho,allasone,werestrainingtheirears.
"Iwasn'ttoldofthat.Wedidn'tdiscussitmuchbackathome."
SignsofdisappointmentwentalonghereandthereonTatsuya'sdirectanswer.

"Didn'tItellyouthatitstillhasn'tbeendecidedyet?Theelectionsarenotyetover,don'trushsuchstuff."
Atthesametimeinthestudentcouncilroom,Miyukiwassayingthatinanexasperatedtone.
"Honoka,inthissituationMiyukiwouldrefusetoyield.Giveitup."
"Uh...I'msorry,Miyuki,formakingsuchruckus."
Honoka,alreadylosinghernerveatMiyuki'sillnaturedaura,luckilysurrenderedatherclosefriend's
rebuking.
"...Iwasabitharshonmywords.I'msorry,too,Honoka.Iwastryingtounderstandwellthereason
behindyouworryingmyOniisama'sactions."
MiyukisaidthatassheglancedatHonoka'sback.
Honoka,lockedonbytheMiyuki'sgaze,turnedaround.

StandingtherewasPixie,whohadjustfinishedpreparingtheaftermealtea.
"Ugu..."
Honokastiffenedherexpression,butShizukupattedlightlyonhershoulder.
ShizukushowedhershakingheadatHonokawhohadturnedaround.
"It'stoolate,Honoka."
Honokahungherhead,crestfallen.
Azusa,Isori,andKanonallsmiledwrylyastheylookedsympatheticallyatadiscouragedHonoka.
IzumiandKasumilookedateachotherwithan"Hm?"expression.

"Eh?Isn'tthatMinamichan?"
"Hm,that'sheralright."
TatsuyaspokeinalightlysurprisedtonetowardsamystifiedMizukiandErika.
"TherearetimesMinamiwouldcometothedininghallwithherclassmates."
Sheprobablyrealizedthatshewasbeingwatched.Minami,holdingatray,turnedtothegroupof
classmatesattheendofthequeueandwasgreetedupon.Tatsuyanoddedbackatherthenturnedhis
focusbacktohistwofemalefriends.
"Smallwonderatthat."
"True,true."
Thepairlaugheddeceptivelybutthen,
"Whichremindsme,Tatsuyakun,whyaren'tyoujoiningtheThesiscompetition?"
Seeingthesituationturnsour,Erikatriedtodivertintothepressingsubject.
Tatsuyawasnottheonewhocouldn'treadthatgirl'smotives,butfactsaboutMinamiwerenevera
subjectworthnaggingabout.TatsuyawillinglyacquiescedtoErika'srequest.
"Verysimple,it'smerelybecauseIhavenotimeforit."
"Eh,whatdoyoumeanbythat?"
Mikihikowaslikelytheonewhohadshownthemostinterestonthissubject.Evennowhewasespecially
strainingtolistenin,indicatingthatthebiggestissuewasTatsuya'sanswer.
"Nomatterwhatandhowyouputit,itisaswhatIsaid."
Tatsuyatriedtoanswerassuchtoendthediscussion,buthequicklychangedhismindonseeingtheother
fiveoverpoweringgazesonhimthatdemandedhisexplanation.

"Afterthestellarfurnaceexperiments,Iwentintoanindependentstudy,butitstillhasn'treachedthe
stagewhereIcanannounceit."
"Oh...soyou'reengagedinanextremelyadvancedstudy,eh?"
Leoletoutasighashenoddeddeeply.Intoita[tellmewhatsubjectisit!]nuancewasincludedbut,
"Youcouldsaythat.Butitscontentsareasecret."
HecouldnotstraightoutsaythathewasintodevelopmentofacombatmagicthatusestheFAEtheory.
"Err"
Andasexpected,adispleasedvoicecameoutfromErika.However,
"Erikachan,youshouldn'tbesayingsuchnonsense!"
"Erika,I'msureTatsuyahassomereasonforkeepingitasecret.Firstoff,evenrevealingthemagictheories
thelevelofthestellarfurnacewouldnotevensatisfyourcuriosity."
Mizuki'swordsweretorebukeErika,whileMikihiko'swordswereaimedatbothErikaandLeo.
Inshort,Mikihikowassayingthat[theywouldnotunderstandatallevenwiththedetailedexplanation],
butintelligencewisethepairwereneverdull.However,itwasforthatallthosereasonsthatbothErika
andLeodidnotobjectatwhatMikihikohadpointedout.Bothwerenotstupidenoughtoknowthattobe
strangelyobstinatewouldonlybringtroubleuponthemselves.
"Speakingofwhich,Tatsuyakun,didtheyrequestyourassistance?"
"Theyhaven'tfornow."
"Thisyear'sfrontmanisKeisenpai,right?YouandKeisenpaiareongoodterms."
"OfcourseIwouldcooperateiftheywouldtellmeso,butitisnotmytimethisyear."
TowardsErika'ssurprisefilledquestion,Tatsuyaanswerednotwith[smilinganddodging],butwitha
honestmanner.
"Eh,whyisthat?"
ThistimeitwasMizuki,tiltingherheadtohersideandlookingdoubtful.
"Thisyear'svenuewillbeinKyoto."
"ThethesiscompetitionalternatesbetweenYokohamaandKyoto,butthebiasoftheevaluationis
differentbylocation.Theysaythatwhenit'sheldatYokohamathepracticalsubjectsarevaluedhighly,
whereasit'sthepurelytheoreticalsubjectsthatarepreferredinKyoto."
TatsuyanoddedatMikihiko'sadditionalexplanation.
"IntheKyotoheldcompetition,presentationsrelatedtothetheoriesofmagiclikethecardinalcode
hypothesisareeasilyrankedhigherthansubjectsonactivationsequenceimprovements,powersystems
thatusemagic,andmagicsequencedevelopmentfortheaforementionedpurpose."

Leofinallyshookhisheadmanytimeswithacrestfallenexpression.
"SotheycannotuseTatsuya'sexpertiseifheweretojoin."
"IthoughtTatsuyawasfaraheadofthehighschoolstudentsevenforpuretheoreticalfields..."
However,Mizukimeeklyraisedherprotest,unabletoacceptit.
"Yeah,anditisn'tthatdifficulttodo."
ErikaansweredMizuki'squestion.Orrather,shedirectlyvoicedoutwhatwasherownidea.
"?"
"Keisenpaimaynotlosehisnerveorgrowjealous,butwhenthemethodologiesaredifferenttheywould
haveahardtimeevenjusttomutuallyreconcileofmethods."
"Aretheyreallythatdifferent?"
"Nowlook,IhadmyCADcarvedbyKeisenpai,right?Andfromtimetotime,IhadTatsuyarun
maintenanceonitsoheknowsaboutitsomehow.Whatdoyoumeantheapproacharedifferentwhen
theysupportonthesamespell."
"Isee...carvedsealsupportisclosertoourAncientMagictalismans."
Asthefriendssidelinedthemainpersonandwentontheirowntopic,theafternoonclassbellrang.

7:30pm.Normallyitwouldbestillatimeforgettogetherafterdinner.Butfortoday,whentheneedles
pointat7:25pmthoughit'snotaclassicwallclockbutamodernonewithavirtualtwoneedleclockface
Tatsuyawentintohisownroom.There,usinghisownroom'ssecurityenhancedvoiceonlytelephone,
hecalledacertainlady'sprivatenumber.
["Hello,thisisFujibayashi."]
Thetelephone,withitsnormalvisionphoneimageprocessingresourcesalldivertedtoencryption,was
handlinghighgradeencryptionataspeedthatdidnotinterferewiththecall.
"ThisisShiba.Myapologiesforcallingyouthislateatnight."
Hehurriedlyendedhistimewithhispreciousyoungersistertomakethiscallatthistime,somethinghe
hadarrangedforinanadvanceemail.
["It'srareforyouTatsuyakuntocontactme.What'sthematter,youhaveurgentbusiness?"]
"Itisurgentbusiness.Farmoreimportantthantime."
Anuneasypausecameaboutfromthesuggestiveexpression.
["...somehowIdon'twanttohearit."]
"AndIdon'twanttosayitifIcould."
["........."]
Fujibayashi'ssilenceurgedTatsuyaon.
Butalthoughasfarastonightgoes,Tatsuya'sspeakingmustbeunaffectedbyanyreactionfrom
Fujibayashi.
"IaskforElderKudou'scooperation."
AndTatsuya'srequestsmoothlywentout,eventhoughhehadspokenofthe[unspeakablewords].
["WithGrandfather?"]
"Yes.ArequestnottoLieutenantFujibayashiofthe101stIndependentMagicBattalion,butastoa
daughteroftheFujibayashiandElderKudou'sgranddaughter.AndIwantyoutosetatimeandplace
whereIcandiscussprivatelywithhim."
["Whenyousayprivately,youmeanit'slinkedtoYotsubabusiness?"]
ThistimeTatsuyawassilent.
["Consideringtheeventlastmonth,Ican'tsayIrefuse,canI?"]
"That'sright."

Fujibayashiwasstartledintoalmostvoicingthatout.Anddespiteofwhathehadsaidhimself,Tatsuya's
callforcooperationnowhasthat[returningthefavorfromthattime]nuance;shedidn'texpecthimto
freelyadmitit.
Itwouldtakeherseveralsecondstospinouthernextwords.
AndsoTatsuyaresumedtheconversation.
"HoweverIhavenointentionofspeakingoutunreasonabledemands.IwouldratherconsiderfortheElder
tokindlyobligeavoluntaryassistance."
["CanIhearoutthebusinessathand?"]
"ThelocationandcaptureofacertainmagicianwhohadescapedfromYokohamaChinatown."
["...Isee.NowIknowthat'stheYotsubawantingtohiretheservicesofGrandfather."]
AsignthatshowedthatFujibayashiwaslettinghernervousnessupwassentfromtheothersideofthe
phone.
"Itseemsyou'reawarethattheYotsubaranintotrouble."
Itwasn'ttheYotsubathatwantedtohiretheservicesofKudouRetsubutTatsuya,buthedidn'tbotherto
clearFujibayashi'smisunderstanding.
["TruthistheJSDFarehavingahardtime,too!AsLieutenantFujibayashiyou'remorethanwelcometoset
outanddealwiththisguy."]
Shedeliberatelycallingherself[LieutenantFujibayashi]wasapettyresponsetoTatsuya'swordsawhile
back.AlthoughasfarasTatsuyaisconcernedthislevelofwordplaywasinadequateforsarcasm.
EvenFujibayashimighthavereadthemoodwiththesilentresponse.Withuneasycoughing,she
attemptedtoclearitaway.What'smore,sheusedherdeliberatebusinessliketonetoanswerTatsuya's
request.
["Verywell,IwillaskwhenitisconvenientforGrandfather.Isreplyingbymailallrightwithyou?"]
"Noproblem.JustusetheIndependentMagicBattalion'sfortheencryption."
Withthesewords,Tatsuyawasonlysayingtokeepthesecurityup.HoweverforFujibayashithiswas
distrustaimedather[senderblankmail]themonthbeforelast.
["...Allrightthen!"]
TatsuyawasrackinghisbrainsjustwhatnervesdidhetouchatFujibayashi,whohadbrusquelycutoffthe
conversation.

Withthecallover,hefelthisthroatwasdry,soTatsuyawentforthediningroom.
There,Miyukiwasbyherselfdrinkingtea.
"Oniisama,youwantsomethingtodrink?"

Miyuki,seatedinfrontofthediningtable,immediatelystoodupandaskedTatsuya.
"Sure,I'mabitthirsty."
Thoughheanswereddirectly,TatsuyadidnotaskforMinami'swhereabouts.Studying,cleaning,bathing,
whatever,TatsuyaknewfromsightthatMinamiwasoutfromthisplace,andhetoohasnotasksforher.
"Iwillprepareoneimmediately."
WaterwasenoughforTatsuya,buthe'snotraisingprotestsatMiyuki'snotice.Heknewhisyounger
sister'seagernesstosupporthim,andasfarasheknew,herhelpinghimtoomuchisatleastnot
displeasing.Ratherit'sthereverseandsohesawnoreasontorefuseher.
"Pleasewaitinthelivingroom."
AsMiyukirequestedhim,Tatsuyatransferredtothelivingroom.

Afteranunder5minutewaitatthesofa,Miyukishowedupfromthediningroom,carryingatraywithtwo
glassesofmilkiceteaonit.Sheoughttobedrinkinghotteaawhileback,sohersharewasprobablya
remix.
Miyukisoundlesslysetcoastersandglassesontopoftheglasshardandshinysofatable.Oneinfrontof
Tatsuyaandtheotherbesideit.ThenMiyuki,asifshehastheexpectedprivilegehewassuresheherself
madethatclearsatdownbesideTatsuya.
Tatsuyawassittingonaoneseatersofa,sosnugglingclosetohimisimpossible.Evenso,Miyukididnot
showsignsoffeelingdiscomfort.Softlysmiling,she,togetherwithherbrother,broughtintoherlipsthe
strawsoficechilledmilktea.
Miyukiletherstrawgofirst.Shesilentlyreturnedherglassontothetable,satbackonthesofa,andlooked
hardatherbrother'sprofile.
Tatsuyaimmediatelyrecognizedthatgaze.Heletgoofhisstraw,returnedtheglasswithasoftclink,and
methersister'sgazeheadon.
"Thecalljustthen,it'srelatedtoyesterday'stalk,isn'tit?"
WhenTatsuyawentintohisownroom,henotifiedthathewasgoing[tomakeacall],buthedidn'tclarify
wheretoandwhatbusinessfor.AnditlookedlikeMiyukimanagedtogetthemright.It'sprobablynotthat
hardtodeducegiventhatitwasjusttoday'syesterday.Evenso,Tatsuyafeltadmirationforher.
"That'sright."
"Isitallrighttohearoutwhoyoutalkedtoonthephone?"
Hewasabitstumpedoverthisquestion.Nevertheless,Tatsuyawenttoansweringhertruthfully.
"LieutenantFujibayashi."
"...Oniisama,areyourequestingfortheassistanceoftheIndependentMagicBatallion?"

WithMiyuki'squestion,alowkeydissentingviewwasexpressed.EvenTatsuyahassharedacommon
misgivingwhetherit'sallrighttoallowmilitaryinterventioninaYotsubabusiness.Andforthatveryreason
hedidn'tcallKazamabuttoFujibayashi.
"No,IrequestedtoFujibayashiforanintermediarywithElderKudou."
"Isn'tthatdangerous?CommunicationswiththeIndependentMagicequippedBattalionaresubjectto
bugging."
Nowadays,freedomofprivatecommunicationisguaranteedevenformilitarypersonnel.Althoughhigh
compressionultrasonicdatacommunicationswereinstalledinvoicetelephonessinceoverfiftyyearsago,
antiinformationleakbuggingsystemswereinstalledintelephonyequipmentofvitalinstallationsto
handlethis.Itwasnotconversationtappingviaautomaticallyfilteringoutsoundwavesapartfromthosein
theaudiblerange,butastherewerecertainthatsomehardwarewastappedbetweensenderandreceiver
tolistentosoundwavesintransit,theycan'tshakeoffthepossibilitythatsomeotherequipmentwasalso
attached.EvenTatsuyahadtakenthisintoaccountandwasonthelookoutforit.
"Itshouldbesafe.ThenumberIcalledwasLieutenant'sprivatenumber.Idon'tthinkeventhelikesof
EchelonIIIcanbeusedtointerceptthelinesthe[ElectronSorceress]privatelyuses."
Don'tworry,TatsuyawasexplainingthistoMiyuki.However,thesewerecarelesswordsnotlearnedinthe
past.
"...Isee.Fujibayashisan'sprivatetelephonenumber."
Itwasalreadytoolatetothink,"Ohshit".Tatsuyathoughtjustnowthatitwouldbeapaintopacifyan
alreadyenragedyoungersisterjustlikeAprillastyear.
"Bytheway,Oniisama.WheredidyougetFujibayashisan'spersonalnumber?"
EvenMiyuki'stoneandexpressionweretotallythesamelikeinthe[broadcastboothbarricadecase]that
precededtheBlancheraids.Atthattime,thechaoswasapproachingrightbeforehimsoitwassomehow
leftinthedark,butthistime...
(Now,howdoItalkmywayoutofthis?)
Franklyspeaking,Tatsuyaistotallynotinguiltyterritory.NotonlydidheknowFujibayashisan'spersonal
telephonenumber,butalsothoseofKazama,Sanada,andYamanaka.Buthedidn'timaginethateven
revealingthesewouldmakeMiyukiwholeheartedlyagree.Shemayagreeonthesurface,butdeepdown
shewouldbehellbentondraggingitout.
Lookslikeit'llbetoughtopersuadeherthistime,Tatsuyathought.

AndasTatsuyaforesaw,Miyuki'stemperwasnotthateasytopacify.Nevertheless,shewouldneverdo
somethinglikeexplodeinangeratorignoreTatsuya,andsointhepubliceyetheyneverwentonasibling
fight.ObjectivelyMiyukiwasonlylightlypeeved,butevensoittookTatsuyasomeserious[relationship
mending]fortwodaysuntilWednesdayforhimtocompletelybringbacktheoriginalintimatesibling
relationship.
Thenit'sSeptember28,Friday.Thenightbeforethelongawaitedstudentcouncilpresidentelections,
Tatsuya'shomegotaphonecallfromFujibayashi.
"Fujibayashisan,isitallrighttousethisnumber?"
Tatsuyadidnotcallher[LieutenantFujibayashi]but[Fujibayashisan]becauseofherciviliangetupoffrill
blouseoncountrystylelongskirt.Andheasked[isitallright]becauseshedidn'tconnecttohisroom's
securityhardenedphonebuttothenumberconnectedtothenormalvideophone.
["We'renotbeingbuggednow.Theytrythatandwehavethembythetail."]
Somehow,itseemedthiswasdeliberatelydone.
["Well,we'llbesafeeveniftheydidbugus.Ourline'scoveredwithatriplelayerofdummysignals."]
Shemayhavespokenitlikeit'snothing,butTatsuyawasmoreamazedthanadmiredashewaswell
informedoneventhenotyetcompletedmachinetechnology.
"...Somethingwasdonetomakewhatisnormalinamilitaryonlylinepossibleinanaverageline."
However,hewasmistaken.
["It'ssomethingyoucan'trealizewithcurrentphysicaltechnology."]
Isee,hethought.It'sprobablyoneofthe[ElectronSorceress]secrettechniquesbeingusedliberally.Were
Tatsuyatospendtimeusinghis[eyesight]hemightunderstandwhatwasbeingdone.However,hehas
littleinterestintechniqueshe'sunabletoreplicate.
["Moreoverit'sdifficulttomaintainthisconditionforprolongedperiodssoI'llmakethisbrief.Grandfather
isreceptivewiththeoneonone."]
TheanswerFujibayashideliveredwas,forTatsuya,animmediategoodnews.
["DateandtimeisOctober6,Saturday,18:00.TheplaceisattheKudouprimaryresidenceatIkoma.You're
finewiththeschedule?"]
Tatsuyamentallycheckedhisschedule,andconfirmedthatthedaywasvacant.
"Theschedule'sfinewithme.AndIknowtheplace."
["Isee."]
Andthen,Fujibayashishowedanevilexpression.

["GrandfatherwasoverjoyedwhenheheardthatTatsuyakunwishesforaoneononewithhim."]
"Ishouldbesaying,I'mhonored,then."
HerexpressiondisappearingonseeingTatsuyagrumble,Fujibayashigiggled.
["You'remakingafacethatsaysit'samixedblessing.Justacceptit,that'showitiswhenyourelyonthat
person."]
"Bethankfulthatyou'renoteventurnedawayatthegates,iswhatyou'resaying."
["Well,youcouldsaythat.Prepareyourselfinadvance,Tatsuyakun,you'redivingrightintothemultitude
offettersthatarerampantinJapan'smagicworld."]
TatsuyacoollytookFujibayashi'swords,whichwerespokenwithasmileandamenacingeye.
"Iwasmorethanpreparedalongtimeagoforthatlevel."
["Verywell.Itoowillbepresentonthatday."]
"Isee.WellIlookforwardtomeetingyou."
AtthesametimeTatsuyalightlybowed,thedisplayshowingFujibayashi'ssmileblackedout.

Thecalljustnowwastakenatthelivingroom.Theydidn'tjoinwiththeconversation,butMiyukiand
MinamiwerelisteningatTatsuyaandFujibayashi'sconversation,andFujibayashididn'tseeanyproblems
withthat.
"Oniisama...isitreallyallright?"
MiyukiworriedlycalledouttoTatsuya,whohadjustfinishedthecall.SomeonelookingatMinamicantell
thatshe,too,wasdirectingasympatheticlookatTatsuya....Sympathy,notworry,probablybecause
Minamicorrectlyunderstoodthesignificanceofhavingabondwitha[teacher].
"GettingintouchwithKudouRetsu?It'sinevitablethatyou'reworriedaboutit."
Tatsuyasmiledashepickeduptheglassoficedtea.Butsincetheconversationwentlongerthanexpected
ithadendeduplukewarm,sohereturnedittothetablewithoutsippingit.
Alightmistswirledinsideofthatglass.Toloweronlythetemperatureofthecontentswithoutfreezingthe
glass,theairincontactwiththeicedteawassubjecttomidaircondensation.
Needlesstosay,itwasMiyuki'smagic.Itwasturningbackteaatalmostroomtemperatureintoicedtea,
withouttheexpectedchillingandfreezing.WhenTatsuyaindicatedwordlesslyhisthankswithasmile,
Miyukisilentlylookeddown,bashful.
Tatsuyamoistenedhisthroatwiththewellchilledstraighttea,thenresumedwithhisanswertothe
question.
"KudouRetsutookaninterestinme,sothisisnotrelatedtothetaskathand.Andwhat'smoreit'snoton
themeaningofsomequiteinterestinggreenhorn.PerhapsKudouRetsuknewaboutmyoriginsandmy
magic."

Miyukiwaswideopenedatthat.Shewasprobablydulysurprisedatthelasthalfofherbrother'swords.
HereanoverlyandspeciallyregardedadverseeffectontheYotsubahadappeared,butTatsuyafeltno
specialneedtoreproveit.Atpresent,it'senoughforMiyukitobeonthelookoutonlyattheYotsuba.
TatsuyawillhandlevigilanceattheTenMasterClansandothermagicianorganizations.
"IheardKudouRetsuwasclosewiththepreviousheadoftheYotsuba,andwiththatlinkhewasthe
privateteacherofYotsubaMiyaandYotsubaMaya."
"Theprevioushead...thatwasourgrandfather,wasn'tit?"
"Yes.TheleaderofthatincidentwhentheYotsuba'sinfamywasbroadcasttotheworld."
ForsomereasonMiyukismiledalittle.WhenTatsuyamadean[Eh?]expression,sheamusinglygiggled
moreandmore.
"...Pardonme.Oniisamahasbeenspeakingasifitwasotherpeople'sproblem."
Tatsuyafurrowedhisbrowsindoubt.
"Whatdoyoumeanbythat?"
"Comeon,Oniisama.Iftheworldknewofthetruthbehind[ScorchedHalloween],theywouldbetoobusy
toeventhinkwhatGrandfatherhaddone,right?"
Tatsuya,atthatinstant,asifhegulpeddownaojiruinsteadofcoldteathoughinfactTatsuyawouldn't
makethatmistakehisexpressionchangedintoalightpaleexpressionsomewhatdifferentfrombeing
expressionless.
"...Atanyratetherearethosedetails,soit'snomysteryeventhoughKudouRetsuknewmuchofme."
"...Andthat'sallrightwithyou?"
Miyukitimidlyaskedwithaninarticulatetone.
Whileit'struethat[it'sokaynottobesilent]whentherearenooneelselistening,it'snotsomethingtobe
askedevenforagirlwho'sstillsixteen.
"I'mnotkeepingsilent."
ButforTatsuya,hehasnohesitationinsayingthatout.
"Theopponentwasoncethe[world'swiliest].TryasImighttosilencemyself,actuallydoingitmightbe
difficult.Idon'tthinkthatwouldbenecessary.Whatissaidformyselfispersonaldataofastrategiclevel
magician.It'sveryunlikelythatKudouRetsudoesn'tunderstandtheimportanceofkeepingsecrets."
Tatsuyajustnowwasaddressinghimas[KudouRetsu],not[teacher]andnot[Elder].Perhapshe'saware
thathesaidthatoutoften.Perhapshelimitedittoplaceswherethereisnooneelselistening,buthewas
declaringthathehasnointentionofpayingrespecttoKudouRetsu.Becauseoftheparasitedoll
experiments,TatsuyaperhapsrecognizedthatKudouRetsuisneveraniceperson.
EvensoTatsuyahighlyvaluedKudouRetsu'sintelligenceandabilities.Hedecidedthatthere'snouse
keepingsilentsincehejudgedthattheoldmanunderstoodthemeritsofkeepingajokerlikeShibaTatsuya
coveredup.

"Besidesthere'snostatelikeweremainasantagonistsagainstKudouRetsu.Fromhereon,weshould
considerthisassquaringthebooksonlendingsandborrowings."
"Wecandependonthem,right?"
"Itisn'trequiredforalliestobeeverdependablepartners.Inshort,it'sintimesofneedthatit'sbestto
moveaccordingtoourrequests.Andforthatthere'snoprobleminpayingoutanequivalent
compensation."
Minamididnottotallygetwhatthesiblingsweretalkingabout.However,shedidnotbothertoaskher
mistressorhermistress'brother.Shewastaughtthatunnecessarycuriosityisforbiddenforamaid
workingathermasters'house,andsorightnowshewasobservingthem.

Chapter2
September29,Saturday.Thisyear,boththegeneralstudentbodymeetingandtheelectionofthestudent
bodypresidentfinishedwithoutdrama.Inordertopreventinvalidballotslikelastyearsintheceremonial
election,fromthisyearon,disposableshortrangewirelesscardsweredistributedwhenthestudents
entered,thecardswereadaptedtobecomevotingapparatuswhentheygottotheirseats.Asinmost
yearstherewasonlyonecandidate,ApprovedandOpposedbuttonshadbeenprovidedonthecard.It
wasdesignedtotransmitwhichbuttonwaspressedsothatthevotescouldbetallied.
Oncetheelectronicmessagewassent,thecardswerethrownaway.Theelectronictagsonthecardswere
developedenoughtobecalledcheapbutitwasstillmoreexpensivethanpaper.Wasthistrulynecessary
expenditureforasimplehighschoolelectionwasanaturalthought.However,withthedonationofthe
cardsfromacompanyaffiliatedwiththeKitayamaclan,theproblemwasresolvedandthismethodwas
adopted.Consequently,Shizukusfamilymadeabelatedexpansionintothecommercialfieldofacademic
magicbyeffectivelysecuringafootholdatFirstHigh.
Puttingasidethoseadultconsiderations,thenewmethodofelectronicvotingallowedrealtimeresults,
andsoMiyukiwasinvestedintotheofficeofStudentbodypresidentwitharoughlyonehundredpercent
approved.Noonewashittingopposedevenasajoke,wasthisadorationorfearItwastoodifficultto
determinewhichitwas.
Andso,letuscelebrateMiyukisinaugurationasstudentcouncilpresident.Cheers!
AtErikasprompt,everyonehoisteduptheirsoftdrinkglassesup.Thechorusofcheerscamefromthe
relatives,friendsandkouhaithathadassembledatEinebriese;essentiallyfrom:Tatsuya,Leo,Mizuki,
Mikihiko,Honoka,Shizuku,Minami,Izumi,KasumiandKento.KasumididnthangoutwithTatsuyasgroup
allthatmuchbuttodayIzumihaddraggedher.
Well.Itsinevitabletocallitinevitable.
NoonecontestedthecommentErikamadeimmediatelyafterthetoast.
Ofcourse!ItsunthinkableforanyoneotherthanMiyukisenpaitobeFirstHighsstudentcouncil
president!Nooneelseisfittorepresenttheschoolinability!Talent!Beauty!Elegantdeportment!The
resultswereaheavenlyjudgement!
Insteadofapersontheremark,therewasanextremelyagitatedunderclassman.
Uh,ohreally?
TheseatedMiyukicringedseverelyattheaggressiveenthusiasm.Kasumifeltlikethrowinginthetowelat
heryoungertwinsshamefulbehaviorsoshesippedherdrinkasifithadnothingtodowithher.
Miyuki,haveyoudecidedwhotheofficersare?
WhileeveryoneelseevenTatsuyawashesitatingtospeak,Shizukugallantlyaskedthequestionor
rathershewascompletelyignoringIzumi.
Atherwords,IzumigazedatMiyukievenmorefervently.Honokawasalsodeeplyinterestedbuthereyes
flickeredbackandforthbetweenMiyukiandTatsuyaevenly.

Miyukiwasawareofbothoftheirgazesbut,shepretendedshewasntawareofeitherespeciallyIzumis
assheansweredShizukusquestion.
IthoughtIwouldaskIzumichantobevicepresident
Izumiscryofjoywasindistinguishablefromascream;naturally,evenmoreembarrassedKasumishuther
mouthandpretendedthescenehadnothingtodowithherharder.
Iamstilldecidingabouttheotherofficers.IthinkIwantHonokashelpaswellbut..
Asshespoke,MiyukicastaflickeringlooknotatHonokabutatTatsuya.
ItmighthavebeenduetoMiyukisdisplayofhesitation,neitherShizukunorHonokaventuredmore
questions.

Althoughthereweresomerambunctiousfemalestudents,generallyspeaking,thepartyremainedpeaceful
andrespectfulofthecafesambianceuntilitended.SinceitwasSaturday,theylefttheshopbefore
sunset.Thatbeingsaid,whenTatsuyaandthegirlsarrivedattheirhousethewesternskyhadturnedfrom
darkbrightredtoindigo.
AppetizershadaccompaniedthecuisinetheyhadorderedatEinebriesebuttheywereeatingasuitable
quantity.TomorrowwasSundayandneitherTatsuya,MiyukinorMinamihadhaddinneryettoday.
MiyukiandMinamistartedaslighttiffoverwhowouldpourtheteabut,Tatsuyasauthoritative
declarationofTodayisacelebrationforMiyukiafterallmadeMiyukireturnfromthekitchen,ameasure
thatincitedatemporarypeace,andsatdownnexttohimfairlyclose.
Minamienteredthelivingroomcarryingatraywhenshesawthemtogetherhereyebrowstwitchedin
surprise.However,shesaidnothing,sheshowednomoreemotion,sheplacedmilkteainfrontofMiyuki
andcoffeeinfrontofTatsuyaandstoodtothesideofthetable.
TatsuyadidnoteventellMinamitosittoday.Rather,heintendedtoreleaseherfromherhouseworkand
askhertoleavetheroom.However,MiyukiwishedtodiscusssomethingwithMinamiandspoketoher
beforetakingherteacup.
Minamichan.
Yes,Miyukineesama.
Bytheway,Iwishyoutojointhestudentcouncilasthesecretary,Minamichan.
Minamisexpressiondidnotovertlychangebut,herbodystiffenedasifunderpressure.Andevenpeople
otherthanTatsuyawouldnoticethatshewasunmistakablykeepingherselffromtrembling.
...agreed
ThetonewasmorestiffthanhumbleasshegaveMiyukiaveryshortreply.
Ifshespokehonestly,Minamiwouldprobablyberesistingtheideaofjoiningthestudentcouncil.
However,shealsounderstoodbeingattachedtothestudentcouncilwassomewhatconvenientfor
fulfillingherdutiesasaguardian.Herhalfheartedreplyjustnowwasasignofherinnerconflict.

Thatsright.ItwouldalsobeusefultogetaroundtheCADrestrictions.Minamishouldbecomeastudent
councilofficer.
Youreright,Oniisama.
TatsuyasupportedMiyukisideaandMiyukihappilybridgedthegapbetweenthem.
Watchingthedistancebetweenhersiblingmastersbecomenearzero,Minamirealizedthatitwouldbe
futiletosayanything.

TatsuyamighthavebeenreluctantMiyukiwasprobablyevenmorereluctantbutthesiblingswere
unabletoendthedaywithonlythistypeofpeacefulproblem.Afterteatimewaspartlyover,Tatsuyawent
tohisownroomandgotthatphonetomakeaphonecall.Thenumberhecalledwasadirectlinetothe
Yotsubaclanhead.However,Mayadidnotanswerthephone.
[Tatsuyadono,IamsorrybutthisisinconvenientforOkusamarightnow]
HewassoinformedbyHayamawhoansweredinstead;thebrusqueexplanationdidnotevensaywhatshe
wasdoing.Apparently,shewaspretendingtobeout,Tatsuyathought.
However,hedidnotfeellikeaskingwhy.ItwasunnecessarytoinformMayaoftonightsbusinessdirectly.
Itwasgoodtohaveanalibiwheninformingherofhisbusiness.GivinganapologeticmessagetoHayama
wasasmootherwayoffulfillinghispurposethantalkingtoMaya.
Sothen,willyoupassonamessagetoObaueregardingthedutyIundertooktheotherday
[Pleasegoon.]
Hayamamighthaveanticipatedtherequest,hisagreementwasratherprompt.
IwishtoborrowhelpfromtheKudouclantosearchforthetarget.Ihavealreadyarrangedforameeting
withtheformerKudouclanheadthroughtheFujibayashiclan.
[Ohhh]
HecouldnotdiscernjustfromthevoicewhetherHayamawasactuallysurprisedormerelypretendingto
besurprised.Itwasdoubtfulthathecouldtellevenifhesawhisface.
[YouarenotaskingtheIndependentBattalionforaid;youareaskinghelpfromKudoukakka?]
Wherevertheoriginalrequestcamefrom,Ibelieveitisbesttoavoidaskingaidfromthemilitary
regardingYotsubabusiness.
[YoudontmindaskingafavorfromtheKudouclan?]
ThereisahighprobabilitythatthisZhouisalliedwiththeTraditionalists,right?Ifthatisso,thenagood
planwouldbetoaskforaidfromtheclansofninewhohavealongstandingantagonisticrelationship
withtheTraditionalists.Besides,theKudouclanowesusapersonalfavoroverlastmonthsincident.If
thetimebetweenreceivingthefavorandrepayingthefavorgetstoolong,thingsgetuncomfortable;I
believeitisbestifthescalesgetbalancedbeforethathappens.

Hayamasamusedlaughcouldbeheardfromthereceiver.Thiswasapparentlygenuineamusement.He
hadntparticularlyaimedforthistohappenthoughtTatsuyaasheapatheticallywaitedforHayamasreply.
[Despiteyouryouth,youunderstandthewaysoftheworldquitewell,Tatsuyadono.]
Itmightbecalledabenefitofmaturity,Hayamaquicklyrecoveredfromhisfitoflaughter.Hedidnot
concealhisamusement,however.
[Certainly,askingforaidfromtheKudouclanatthistimeisawisechoiceinmanyrespects.Fine.Iwill
informOkusama.]

Pleasedoso.
Despiteknowingitwouldntbeseen,Tatsuyabowedhisheadtothetransceiver.
[Asaconditionforgettinghelp,detailedreportsarenotnecessary.Sincetheotherpartyismilitaryand
oneoftheTenMasterclans,IwillinformOkusamatoleavethismattertoTatsuyadonosdiscretion.]
Afterfiringoffhisbigpartingshot,Hayamacutofftheconnection.

Hayama,whohadspokentoTatsuyawiththereceiverinspeakermode,hungupthephoneandbowed
deeplytothewalloppositethedesk.
Itisasyouheard,Okusama.
TatsuyasdeductionaboutMayasbeingoutwasrightonthemark.However,forhertobeinthesame
roomlisteningtohimspeakwascompletelybeyondhisexpectations.
Mayahadbeenforciblykeepinghermouthshutforawhile.Apparently,stiflingherlaughterhadbeenan
extremehardship.PerhapsshewasawarethatHayamaaddressinghermeantthatthephonecallwas
over,sheletoutalaughthatwasunbecomingofalady.
Evenfacedwiththetarnishmentofhismistresssdignifiedmanner,Hayamasdeferentialattitudedidnot
change.Notonlydidhenotverballyadmonishher,hedidnotdirectevenashardofdisapprovalwithhis
eyestowardMaya.
However,Mayamighthavefeltuncomfortableunderhisstoicgaze,herlaughtersoonfadedaway.
Pleaseforgiveme,Hayamasan.WhatTatsuyasansaidwassoadorable,Icouldntrestrainmyself.
Mayausedahandkerchieftowipeawaythefewtearsthathadleakedfromhereyes.Thus,herexpression
switchedtocompleteseriousness.
Whoonearthhasbeenfillingupthatboywithsuchtwistedwisdom?
AndMayacockedherheadwithaseriousexpression.
IamnotawareofanyerrorinTatsuyadonosstatedreasoning.
Inoneaspect,hescorrectbutitsnotnormal.
HayamaavouchedadefenseofTatsuya.Perhaps,forthatreason,Mayarepliedwithadisinterestedtone
andlook.
Althoughordinarily,anexchangeoffavorswoulddeepenbonds.
Tatsuyadonodoesnotneedbondsbornfromanexchangeoffavors,right.
Ah,youth.
Hayamaneitheragreednordisagreedwiththosewords.However,sensingherfrivolitywasinviting
censure,Mayachangedthesubject.
Bytheway,howisthesearchforZhouGongjingoing?Iwonderifthereareanynewclues.
Thequickchangeoftopicdidnotfazehim;therewasnohesitationinHayamasreply.

Therearenonewclues.Unfortunately,theresbeennothingsincehefledafterthesmallscalebattlenear
KyotosSanzeninattheendoflastmonth.
Sothatswherewelosthistrail.Sinceitwouldbeundesirableforaforeignmagiciantoincurthewrathof
afamoustemplelikeSanzenininthiscountry...theTraditionalistsareprobablyatworkbehindthe
scenes.
Mayamurmuredinadisgustedtone.Ihaveheardthattheysaythatinordertoprotectthetraditionsof
ancientmagic,theyhavecombinedtheirschools.However,actuallywhilethisbandofancientmagicians
knownastheTraditionalistscooperatedwiththeformerLab9fortheirownpurposesforthechildish
reasonofnotgettingtheresultstheywanted,theyholdagrudgeagainsttheclansof9whothey
mistakenlyblame,promptingtheirunprincipledanddisorderlyactsofhostilityandharassment.Maya
hatedtheirchildishmentalityinawaythatwasdifferentfromtheirhatredtowardstheclansof9.
Okusama,isitalrightnottopassthisinformationontoTatsuyadono?
Noneed.MitsugusanisthoroughlyinvestigatingthevicinityofOohara,right?Besides,thatmanis
probablynotgoingtostayinthesameareaforlong.
Hayamabowedhisheadacknowledginghismistresspoint.

TatsuyasdailypatternhadrecentlybecometospendeveningsatYakumostempleonthepractical
developmentofanewmagic,haveearlymorningpracticesafterheawoke,hehadschoolafterwardsifit
wasaweekday,andifitwasaweekenddevelopingthetheoryofthenewmagic.
Today,Sunday,September30th.Onthisdayaswell,afterbreakfast,Tatsuyasecludedhimselfinthe
undergroundlabtowrestlewiththeproblemofdebuggingthenewmagic.
...noproblemwiththeprocessthatproducesBaryon.Fromthebeginning,itwassomethingthatcouldbe
donebasedoffjusttheanalysisandmaintainingthenecessarystandardsofspeedanduniform
compositionispossible.
Hewasnotmurmuringamonologuewithoutthinking,hewasdoingitconsciously.Tatsuyawassofarat
theendofhisroperightnowthatifhedidnotvoicehisideas,theywouldntsettleinhismind.
Next,therearenoproblemswiththemovementtypespellaccordingtothesimulation.Itisessentially
thesameasthemovementofgasafterall.ThereisalsothetrickofusingLorentzpowerlikeLinabut,
consideringthenatureofFAE,movingitdirectlybymagicisprobablyfaster.
Tatsuyasigheddeeply.Intheend,thesewerehisonlyconclusions.
AsIthought,thekeyisstructuringitsothemovementtypemagicfinisheswithinthetimemeantby
FAE?
Afterusinganalyticalmagic,heconcludedhehadtocompletethemovementtypemagicintheminuscule
amountoftimebeforethelawsofphysicsregaineditscoercivepower.Forjustoutputtingthemagic
sequence,hehadanadvantageoveranormalmagicianduetohisabilitytoflashcast.However,inorderto
completethemagic,interferencepowerwasessential.ForTatsuyawhooriginallyonlyhadinterference
powerforAnalyticaluseandrevivaluse,thiswasaseriousproblem.
Tatsuyafeltthatheneededtochangehismoodsohewentuponeflooraroundnoon.
Heperceivedtheabnormalityimmediatelyafterhefinishedascendingthestair.Whenheexaminedthe
insideofthehouse,therewasanonhumanpresence.
Asyntheticbody?No.Anartificialspirit?
Artificialspiritwasthename,modernmagicassignedtoacertaintypeofsequence(ashikigamiora
shiki).Spiritwasanaturalphenomenonthataccompaniedapsioninformationbodydescribedbythe
informationdimensionthatcontinuedtoremainasanindependentpsioninformationbodyafter
applicablephenomenonterminated.Thismanmadespiritdevelopedbyprocessesmainlyinducedby
ancientmagictechniquesforcreatingindependentinformationbodieswasanartificialspirit.However,all
independentinformationbodieswiththepotentialtobesubjugatedthatcanbesummonedbya
sequencewerenotmanufacturedbythesetechniques;psioninformationthatpossessedanaturally
developedpushioninformationbodyasacorethatcouldbecapturedandenslavedwererather
numerous.

Theindependentinformationbodystoppedinmidairasifitwasclingingtotheoverhangofthehouses
wall.ThesespellswerethesameastheprotectivespellstokeepoutintrudersonFirstHighsouterwall.
Thatbeingsaid
(SinceIdontknowwhatkindofdataitllbeabletoglean.)
Tatsuyadidnotthinkhisknowledgeofmagicsequenceswascomplete.TheShikicouldbeequippedwith
afunctionhedidntknowof,hecouldnotignorethepossibilitythatitcouldsearchtheinsideofthehouse
fromoutsidethewallofdefensivespells.
Onceagain,Tatsuyadirectedhiseyethroughthewallstotheartificialspirit.
Heanalyzedthestructuralinformation.
Theindependentinformationbodywasconstructedofnothingbutpsions.
Thelackofapushioncoremeantitwasanartificialspiritashethought.Andsolikeamagicsequence,he
couldanalyzeitcompletely.
Tatsuyaextendedhisrighthandtowardtheartificialspirit.TherewasnoCADinthathand.
Variableinput:lockedonstructuraldataoftheartificialspirit.
InsteadofoutputtinganactivationsequencefromaCAD,themagicsequenceconstructionprocesssurged
fromthedatacenterofTatsuyasmagiccalculationareaandsentitintotheactualizationsector.
Magicsequenceprojection:Dissectionactivate
Aninvisibleflashburst.
Thebondsthatformedtheconstructioninformationoftheartificialspiritwereallcompletelysevered;the
psioninformationbodybecameachaoticclumpofpsionsandwasengulfedbytheinformationdimension.
Justasheopenedthedoortothelivingroom,MiyukiexhortedTatsuya.
Oniisama,whatonearthwasthatjustnow?
Eventhoughitwaslabeledexhorting,MiyukiwasnotangrywithTatsuya;theforemostemotiononher
facewasanxiety.
Youknowwhathappenedjustnow?
Tatsuyaexpressedhisastonishment.Apparently,Miyukisensedhisusageofdissection.Hisconcernover
thedetectionofhismagicusageseemedtobeinonerespectanexpressionofhisprideinnothavingeasily
detectablemagicbutTatsuyahadnosuchconceit.MinamiwhohadtrailedafterMiyukiwhenshecame
outclearlydidnotunderstandthesiblingsconversation.
IdidntsenseitwellenoughtosaythatIknowwhathappenedbutIfeelasifOniisamaused
dissection.
Aah.Anartificialspiritwasexaminingtheinsideofthehouse.

Tatsuyahadntintendedtoinformherhimselfbuthealsodidntintendtoconcealitso,heansweredyes
tohissistersquestionandexplainedthesituation.
Perhaps,itsrelatedtothejobyouacceptedlastmonth.
IsthisthedeedofthepersoncalledZhouGongjin?
Maybeanunderling,Itsprobablytheworkofcompatriotsofthosewhoareshelteringhim.
Afterhesaidthat,Tatsuyaletoutanunusuallyclearsigh.
Fumiyaandhissisterwerefollowed?
MiyukiandMinamiseyeswidenedathismurmur.
CantbeatailwouldnotbepermittedwithAyakochanaround.
MiyukisshockevenovercameherfirmbeliefthateverythingTatsuyasaidwascorrectbutMinamididnot
havethelatitudetofeeldoubt.
Itcouldhavebeendonedeliberately.
Ayakochanpurposelyletsomeonetailhertothishouse!?
PsionscoiledaroundMiyuki.
Itwasaharbingerofamagicexplosion.
However,Miyukiwasmaturing.Beforesheunconsciouslyactualizedmagic,sheintentionallyclampedit
down.Tatsuyaseyesnarrowedashewatchedtheprocess.
Ithinkitwasslightlydifferent.MostlikelyAyako.no,notjustAyakobutFumiyaaswellmighthavebeen
forbiddentoactagainstthetaileveniftheyspottedthem.
ListeningtoherbrothersguessrestoredMiyukiscalmbutnotbeanymeanscompletely.
Bywhothatshouldntbeconsidered.Forwhatreason.
Icantgetthetruthwithoutaskingbut,theymightintendtousemeasadecoy.
Theydare!?
Miyuki,dontbeangry.Isaidwecantknowthetruthwithoutasking,right.
But
Miyukihadalreadyfallenintothetrapofnotconsideringanyalternatives.However,Tatsuyadidnot
rebukeherforthat.
Besides,itisreasonabletousemeasadecoy.Theopponentthistimeisanopponentcapableofgravely
injuringKurobaMitsugu.Eventhoughitsinhand,theydontknowitsapestle.Havingmewhowontfall
toanythingbutafatalwoundbearthefullbruntisnotamistaketactically.

Sodontbeangryaboutit,Tatsuyasmiled.
Oniisama!
However,thisreplyindicatedMiyukiwouldntpermitanymoreofthisdecoystuff.
Please,donottalkanymoreaboutcarelesslyriskingyourbody!Itsnotalrightaslongasyoudontdieor
aslongasnowoundsremain,evenyoushouldunderstandthat!
TheunthinkablemenacinglookfromMiyukihaltedanyexcusesfromTatsuya.
Please,OniisamathinkabouthowIwillfeelbeforeyouletyourselfgetinjured!
...sorry.
Tatsuyasomehowsqueezedoutanapology,
Minami,sorryformakingyouwait.Youhavemadethepreparationsforlunch,right?
ThenhechangedthesubjectandaddressedMinami.
Yes,Tatsuyaoniisama.Pleasecomeintothediningroom,youtooMiyukioneesama.
MinamididnotconsidertroublingTatsuyaalittle;shewasgenuinelyagoodobedientgirl.

Tatsuyaanalyzedthehumanconstructspiritakatheshikigamiandaroundthattime.
Uuhhaa!?
InasmallparkaboutfivehundredmetersfromTatsuyashouse,amalearoundthirtysittingonabench
suddenlyletoutahighpitchednoise.
Themalesittingnexttohimflusteredlylookedrighttoleftseveraltimes.Theattentionobstructionbarrier,
hehadputup,wasfunctioningnormally.Whiletheyknewthattheirimagesandvoicesdidnotregister
intoanyonesmemory,evensohewhisperedWhathappened?.
Theshikigamiwaserased
Erased?Notreversalortheft?
Neither,Ithink.
ThemanbeingquestionedturnedhisheadtotheleftandrightanumberoftimesashesaidIdontknow
why.
ThefeedbackfromtheShikigamiabruptlydisappeared.
AreyousayingapersoninthathouseusedanobscureBuddhistunravelingincantation?
Wrong!no,Idontknow.
Hisconfusionreachingitspeak,themanwhohadmadethehighpitchedsoundcalmeddownsomewhat.
Idontfeelthesignalthespellemits.Itsthesameforyou,right?
That,well,itstruebut
ThispairofancientmagicianshaddivviedupthejobofsearchingofTatsuyashousebetweenthem.One
manipulatedtheshikigamiandtheothermaintainedthesecurity.Theoneinchargeofsecurityinorderto
preventinjuriescausedbyareversal,inadditiontothebarrierspell,deployedamagicalradartodetect
signsofmagic.
However,thereshouldntbeawaytospontaneouslydissolveashikigamiwithoutinterferingbythat
arcaneart,right?Idontbelieveyourcontroloftheshikigamifaltered.
Ofcoursenot!But..
Hisexpressiononceagainconfused,themanturnedhisheadwhileitwasstillaimeddownward.Ashadow
suddenlyfellonthegroundhisgazewasaimedat.
Thetwomenlookedupinsurprise.Theirshockwasfromthefactthattherewasasignthatsomeonehad
clearlyapproachedthemwithoutthembeingawareofitwhiletheyhadabarriertokeeppeople
approachingthemup,however,thatshockovertheenemyshadowturnedtowarinessandbelligerence.

Thepersonstandingbeforethemwaswearingbuddhistgarments.Hewaswearinganoverhangingwicker
hatandmonksstoleandhadavajrabellinonehand.
ThemenknewfromtheirinvestigationofthetargetofthefriendlyrelationshipbetweentheShibasiblings
andKyuuchoutemple.ThefactthatthefamedKokonoeYakumowasthemasterofKyuuchoutemplehad
beendeeplyetchedintotheirmindssincetheyhadtakenonthisduty.Thepairseyesmetinstantly,they
choseflightoverapreemptivestrike.
Theinstanttheirhipsrose,asifhehadanticipatedthatmoment,themonkstandingbeforethepairrang
thevajrabell.
Thecleartimbreresoundedatthepairfromthreedirections.
Withshockedexpressions,themanseatedontheleftlookedleftandthemanseatedontherightlooked
right.
Twomonksidenticaltotheoneinfrontwerewavingvajrabellsinexactlythesamemanner.
Thepairwhohadstartedtostandlostpowerintheirlegs.
Bythemomentthepairrealizedtheyunderaspell,theirmindswerealreadyhalfwayunconscious.

TatsuyavisitedKyuuchouTempletoborrowtheundergroundtrainingroomandwaspromptlyinvitedinto
aroominthemonksquarterwhenhearrived.Itwasthesameroom;hehadmetwithYakumotoconsult
withhimontheParasiteDollmatterin.YakumosatdownatthesametimeasTatsuyaandstartedthe
conversationwithoutapreamble.
Itseemslikeyoureentangledinanothertroublesomematter.
Withjustthat,Tatsuyawasawarethatthiswasabouttodaysshikigamiincident.
Imsorry,haveIcausedyoudifficulties?
IfyouthoughtaboutitthenYakumo'susageoflongdistancemonitoringspellsinbroaddaylightonthose
whocouldbesaidtobeunderhisprotectioninanearbycitywasntsomethinghispupilsaregoingto
observewithoutsayinganything.
Manyofmypupilshaveanabundanceofhotblood.
Whilesmilingwryly,YakumoansweredyestoTatsuyasquestionindirectly.
Sothen,whathappenedthistime?
PerhapsTatsuyahadtoanswerinsomewaybut,astobeexpected,hewaspuzzledabouthowtoanswer.
However,thatwasonlyforaminusculeperiod.Hedecidedtotakethemiddlepathbetweenanswering
andnotanswering.
IthinkthistroubleisrelatedtotheworkItookon.
Work?ForKazumakun?
No,theworkdidnotcomefromthemilitary.
Yakumoseyesnarrowedastheyremainedintheirsmilingstate.Ashesmiled.astronglightwasemitted
fromhiseyes.
Isitalrighttoaskaboutthedetailsofthiswork?
TheresagoodchancethatitwillbecomeajobintheKyotodistrict.So,Ithinkit'sbestifIdontcauseyou
moretrouble,Master.
Yakumoslipstwitchedupslightly.Thelightinhiseyesabated,theslightsmilebecamehisusualone.
Youdontneedtobesodiffident.Thereissomewhatofaconnectiontothetraditionalists.
ItwasunexpectedthatYakumowastheonewhobroughtupthenameoftraditionalistsbutTatsuyas
convictionwasthathisfamilyssearchforthemagiciandidnotfallunderYakumospurview.
AsIthought,thisisrelatedtothegroupofancientmagicianscalledtraditionalists.

Theyarenotcalledthat,theyhavemerelyclaimedthename
YakumosdisplayoffastidiousnesswascutetoTatsuyabutherefrainedfromshowingit.
Therefore,Mastermustnotlendahand.Acivilwarbetweenfellowancientmagiciansisnojoke.
Therewasnoonewithinthenationsancientmagiciansthattookthenameoftraditionalistslightly.From
thebeginning,theancientmagicianswhoclaimedthenametraditionalistswerenotparticularlyloyalto
thetraditionaltrainingregimes,theyhadcooperatedwiththeformerLab9becausetheydesiredthe
knowhowofmodernmagic.Forthosewhohadcontinuedtostrictlydefendtheirtraditions,itwas
shamelessofthemtoclaimthemantleoftraditionalists.Manyofthemagiciansattachedtothe
Traditionalistswereemployedincovertoperations,sothenumberofmagicianswhoknewnotmuchmore
aboutthefactionthanthenamewhoproclaimedtheTraditionalistsmustbepurgedisnotsmall.
Awnuts,Imstillfarfromenlightenment.
Perhapsherecognizedthatthehostilityhefeltwasunlikehim,Yakumoletoutanembarrassedsmile.
Aretheguyswhowerepeekingatmyhousestillsecuredhere?TheresstillalittlesomethingIwishtoask
them?
Itsimpossibletoday.
YakumoansweredTatsuyasquestionwithapenetratinglycoldsmile.
Imalittletiredtoday.Illgotakearestinaquietplacenow.
Ofcourse,Tatsuyawasnotoverwhelmedbythatlevelofpressure.Hecontinuedtoaskpolitequestions
withanamiablesmile.
Isthatso?Thenwontyouatleasttellmeoftheirbackground?
Oh,thoseguysarewildmagiciansemployedbytheTraditionalists.
Wild?
Doubtfully,Tatsuyarepeatedtheword.
Doyoumeanfreemagicians?
Youcancallthemthatalso.
Therearepeoplelikethatinthiscountry?
Magicianswereascarcehumanresource;allofthemfromthegoodtothebadwereunderacountrys
control.Tatsuyahimselfwasanexceptioninthathewasnotundergovernmentalcontrolbutpeoplelike
himwerecorralledingeneralundertheprivatecombatpowerofthetwentyeightfamilies,theTenMaster
Clanssystemcouldbecalledanindirectformofgovernmentmanagement.Itwasanovelsurprisefor
Tatsuyathatamagicianwithpracticalskillscouldbeunaffiliatedwithanorganization.
Thereare.Thereareaquiteafewpeoplewhocantacquiretheskillsofmodernmagicbutcanuseunique
skills.

...soyoumeantherearequiteafewfreemagiciansontheancientmagicside?
Well.Idontknowtheexactnumberbut,Ibelieveitsnotasmallnumber.
Inshort,forthisjob,thismeanthecouldpotentiallybetakingonmoremagicianopponentsthanhehad
supposedbeforenow.Inhishead,Tatsuyarevisedthelevelofdifficultyupward.

CommonEra2096,October1.TheinaugurationofthenewstudentcounciloftheFirstHighSchool
attachedtotheNationalMagicUniversity.Members:PresidentShibaMiyuki,VicePresidentSaegusa
Izumi,TreasurerMitsuiHonoka,SecretarySakuraiMinamiandSecretarialChiefShibaTatsuya.
Ofcourse,therewereobjectionstotheenigmaticpostofSecretarialChief.TheStaffRoomthatnormally
interferewiththestudentcouncilsgrantingofpositionsaskedWhattheheckisthis?.Thedefault
organizationofstudentcouncilsinschoolswasPresident,VicePresident,TreasurerandSecretary.There
wasnoSecretarialChiefpost,however,Miyukirepelledalloppositionwithasmilethatneitheragreed
nordisagreedandmadethestatement,theofficialnicknameofSecretarialChiefisSecretary.Notone
personwasabletomakethereasonableobjectionthattherewasnoreasonfortheSecretarialChieftobe
nicknamedsecretary.
ItwasalsoafactthatamultitudeofstudentswantedTatsuyatoremainastudentcouncilofficer.IfMiyuki
wentoutofcontrol,theonlyonewhocouldstopitwasTatsuya.Thatwassomethingacknowledgedbythe
thirdandsecondyearstudents,andifTatsuyawasdrivenoffthestudentcouncil,theywouldbeableto
seeMiyukigooutofcontrolwiththeirowneyes.
ThesignificanceofthismorningtothestudentcouncilofFirstHighwasfraughtwithfearofpolitical
dictatorshipbutthedominatedstudentslookedhappywhileappearingthattheywishedforalittlerescue.
AdictatorialsystemrunbyanIdolmightbeagoodwaytoputit.Forthedictator,itwasatypeofparadise.
Ofcourse,Miyukididnthaveadesiretodominate,muchlessaspirationsofbecomingadictator.Thetruth
wasshewasreluctanttoeventakeupthedutiesofstudentcouncilpresident.Hertrueunadulterated
feelingwaswouldntitbegreatifOniisamabecamestudentcouncilpresident.And,wouldfallinto
dangeroussupplementaldelusionssuchasIfthathappenedthenIwouldgoalloutdoinganythingfor
him,vicepresident,secretary,teaserver,anything;ifanyoneasked.
Anyway,MiyukididnotwantTatsuyainasubordinatepositiontoherself.Thatwasinspiteofthepointed
remindersfromtheYotsubaclanofwhattheirrelationshipwas,itwasunendurableforher.So,she
createdtheunusualtitleofSecretarialChieftoelevatehimalittleinordertoreachacompromiseinside
herself.
Anywayinthesecircumstances,allobjectionsandlogicalargumentsaboutTatsuyastitleofSecretarial
ChiefweresilencedinonehouratthelunchbreakandanotherhourafterschoolbyMiyukispersuasive
powerandpeacewasfinallyrestoredtothestudentcouncilroom.
Thetimingwasprobablycalculated.ThenewlyinauguratedClubActivitiesHeadandthenewlyappointed
PublicMoralsChiefcameintotheStudentCouncilroomtogether.
Umm,Iamlookingforwardtoworkingwelltogetherthisyear.
Iamlookingforwardtoworkingwithyouaswell,Yoshidakun.
MiyukirepliedtothenervousMikihikowhoneverlosthisstiffnesswhileattemptingafriendlyattitude
withasmilefilledwithaffection.

BetrayingtheexpectationsofthemajoritythatKanonssuccessorwouldbeShizuku,Mikihikowaschosen
tobethenewPublicMoralsChief.ThePublicMoralsChiefwaselectedfromandbytheninecommittee
members;thistimeitwasaclosecontestwithfivevotesforMikihikoandfourvotesforShizuku.
Incidentally,MikihikovotedforShizukuandShizukuvotedforMikihiko.Therewasanattempttohalt
MikihikosassumptionoftheofficeofPublicMoralsChiefbecausehewasaformersecondcoursestudent
butthemajorityofthecommitteemembersyieldedtotheoutstandingforceofShizukusauraofIdont
wantthatbothersomejob.
ThereforeShizukuabandonedthenervousMikihikoandengagedinanimatedgirltalkwithHonokalike
IsntitgreatthatTatsuyasanisremainingontheStudentCouncil?Uh,huh..
Thiswasthefirstfacetofacebetweenthestudentcouncilpresidentandthenewlyelectedpublicmorals
chief,theydiscussedtheproblemofchoosingpublicmoralscommitteememberstoreplacetheretirees
but,asithappenedatthistime,thestudentcouncilhadyettomakethethreerecommendationsfromthe
secondyearssothattheywouldstayonthepublicmoralscommitteeso,Mikihikospartofthe
conversationwasreallyoverwiththegreeting.Apparently,thereweresomeproceduralconcernstotake
careofso,Mikihikohadsometimetokill.HeandTatsuyawenttoacorneroftheroomwithanisolated
terminalemplaced.
Whatsup,Tatsuya?
MikihikothoughtTatsuyaspostureindicatedsomethingwasgoingonso,hesatdownonthechairinfront
oftheterminalandwhisperedthequestiontoTatsuyawhowasstandingtotheside.
First,takealookatthisforme.
Hedidntanswerthequestiondirectly,Tatsuyamanipulatedtheterminalskeyboardwithonehand.
Themonitordisplayedastringofcharactersandagraph.
Anactivationsequence?
Itwasanactivationsequenceinmachinecodenotconvertedintopsionsignalsbutitwastranslatedinto
modellanguagethatwaseasyforpeopletounderstandandagraph.

Isthis.adescriptionofanactivationsequencethatconstructsashikigami?Youwereluckytofindsuch
raredata.
Itwasbychance.WhatIwantedtoaskisifshikigamiconstructiondiffersbyschoolorsomethinglike
that.
ItseemedlikeMikihikoassumedthathepulleditoutofsomelibrary.Hedidntsaythathehadcreatedthis
analysishimself,hewasindirectlyinquiringabouttheorigin.
Ofcourse,thereare.Whatsmore,thereareeasytospotpeculiarities.Forexample,this.shouldbea
Shugendouschool.TheoccultistusingthisshikigamiislikelyamemberoftheShugendouTouzangroup,
unmistakably.
AretherefactionsinShugendou?
Idcalltheschoolsratherthanfactions,no,sects?AShugendoudescendedfromShingonBuddhism.

ShingonBuddhism?IthoughtshikigamiwereOnmyouspells,mageartsandthelike,but,aretherespells
thatsupportshikigamiintheesotericbuddhistteachings?
MikihikosfacehadasomewhatproudlookashenoddedhisanswertoTatsuyasnaivequestions.
Thereare.Practitionerslinkedtotheesotericbuddhistteachingcallthem,Gohouthough.Theyarein
essencethesame.
Justthen,MikihikocasuallyreturnedhiseyestothemonitorandaOh?looksurfaced.
Whatsthis?Thewayitsarrangedisunusualandweird
Afterlookingatthemonitorforawhile,MikihikolookedupatTatsuyawithalookofcomprehension.
Isee,Iunderstandwhyyourebeingsosneaky,Tatsuya.Youpulledthisdataoutofanunderground
website,right?
Whydoyouthinkso?
Tatsuyasquestionwaspurelyarequestforananswerbut,MikihikonoddedwithaGotit,gotitlook.
Afterall,isntthisshikigamiclearlyforbuggingandsurveillance?
Really?
TatsuyassinglewordmeantLimitedutilityinshikigamiaredistinctive?however,
Itsclearlymadetobeusedforillegalpurposes.
Mikihikomadeamorerestrictiveinterpretation.
Oh.Adangerousthing.Itwascorrecttoconsultwithyou,Mikihiko.Illerasethisdata.
Yes,thatsthebestthingtodo.
TatsuyascasualflatterymadeMikihikosmileingoodhumour.
Mikihikoreturnedtopublicmoralsheadquarterstodrawupthepatrolrecordithadbeenaverylong
timesinceapublicmoralschiefhadpersonallydrawnupthepatrolrecorditwasnearlytimeforthe
schoolgatetoclose,thenewclubactivitieschairmanwasthenexttocomeandsayhello.
Igarashikun,congratulationsonassumingtheclubactivitieschairmanship.
Uh,huh.Thankyou,President.
ThenewchairmansnervousnessreallywentupinfrontofMiyuki.
Inorderforthesmoothmanagementofthestudentcouncilaffairs,wedependonthecooperationofthe
clubmanagementcommitteeformanythings.Iamlookingforwardtoworkingwithyou.
Mymyselfincluded!IbelieveIwillbeusingthehelpofeveryoneinthestudentcouncilinvarious
matters.Ilookforwardtoworkingwithyou,aswell.

IzumiwhowaswatchingthemeetingbetweenMiyukiandIgarashifromnotfaraway,murmuredhelooks
somewhatunreliabletoHonokawhowasnexttoher.Honokasonlyanswerwasapainedsmile.
NewChairmanIgarashisenpaiseemskindoftimid,noratherheseemsdocile.
Whilecontinuingtowork,Izumicasually,asifshejusthappenedtothinktomentionit,reportedher
impressionofNewChairmanIgarashitoMiyuki.
Iwonderwhy?Hedidseemextremelytense.
Tense?
Izumisvoicewasfilledwithextremedoubt.
MiyukidoyouknowIgarashi?
TatsuyathrewalifelinetoMiyukiwhowaspuzzledonhowtorespondtoIzumisoverlycandidreaction.
Yes,ourclassesaredifferentbutdespitehimbeingsomeonewithsuperiorpracticalskills,Iveworked
withhimcountlesstimesonthedatamanagementside.However,IthinkHonokaandShizukuknowhim
better.Imcertainthattheyareinthesameclub.
ReceivinganeyesignalfromMiyuki,Honokaopenedhermouth.
Heistheyoungerbrotheroflastyearsgirlsbiathlonclubpresident,Igarashisenpai.
Becauseheisnotinclinedtoanyspecializedmagic,hisperformancerecordsincompetitionarentallthat
greatbut,intermsofabilityalone,hecantbecriticized.
Abilityalone?
SensingtheimplicationsinShizukusstatement,Tatsuyaparrotedherwordsintoaquestion.
Igarashikun,howshouldIputit...callinghimtimiddoesntseemquiterightbut,atcriticalmoments.
Atendencytohesitate.Thattraitmeantthatifhewasdrivenintoacornerandhadtotakeareckless
chancetogetout,hewouldselfdestruct..agoodwaytoputitmightbetosayhisdispositionmeanthe
faredpoorlyincompetitions.
Sohesmoreofastaffofficerorasecondincommand.Notreallysuitedforleadership.
AfterHonokahadpainstakingchosensomewhatmildwordstocritiquehim,Shizukuspoileditwithher
severeevaluation.
Cometothinkofit,whyisntTomitsukakunthenewchairman?
Mikihikoposedthequestionaftertheworkofthepublicmoralscommitteewasdoneandheonceagain
cametothestudentcouncilroom.

ThegossipbeforehandmadeitseemlikeTomitsukasenpaiwasasurething?

Perhapsbecauseshe'ssofamiliarwithhimasafellowpublicmoralsmember,Kasumireadilychimedinher
agreementwithMikihikoscomment.
Hattorisenpaiprobablyfeltdifferently.
Byimplicitlypointingoutthat,itwasfortheClubManagementGrouptodecidewhowouldbechairman,
MiyukipressedthemtoceasetheirantiIgarashigossip.

Therewasabriefpausefromthestudentcouncilpresidentselectionuntilthestudentcouncilofficers
wereappointedandthen,thepreparationsfortheThesisCompetitionwentfullthrottle.Eventhoughin
theKyotoexhibition,therealmofpuretheoryhadtheupperhand,theThesisCompetitionstillrequireda
presentationofmagic,whichmeanttheyhadtorapidlyworkonpreparingthedevicesforthe
performance.

However,unlikelastyear,theplacewheretheyweremakingstuffwasnotmainlyintheschoolcourtyard
butthelecturehall.Thegreatclamoroflastyearsproductionwasreducedinvolumetomaketheuproar
acomparativeshadowofthepreviousyear.Silentfigurescouldbeseenconstructingelaborateblueprints.
WhileTatsuyawaswatching,IsoridirecttheconstructionoftheProjectiontypeMagicCirclefromthe
secondfloorofthelecturehall,hemetwithMikihikoregardingsecurity.
soIbelieveitwillbealright,ifwedontjustselectfromthepublicmoralscommittee,insteadwell
solicitforvolunteersextensivelyandselectguardmembersfromthemasusual.
Ofcourse.Sincethepublicmoralscommitteeonlyhasninepeopleandthatsnotenoughtoworkwell.I
thinkyoullhavealotofpeopleinterestedinguardingthesitenotjustguardingtherepresentatives.
IbelievethepersoninoverallchargeofsecuritythisyearisHattorisenpai?
Senpaiisinanonlineconferencewiththepersonsinchargeoftheotherschoolssecurityforces.
TheotherschoolshaventexpressedanydissatisfactionaboutaFirstHighstudentbeinginchargeoverall
fortwoyearsinarow?
Thatsfine.TheoverallsecuritychiefisdispatchedbytheschoolwhichwonMonolithCodeintheNine
SchoolsCompetitionseemstobeanunwrittenrule.
Eh,thatshowitgoes.
Juumonjisenpaibeingthechieflastyearwasntjustbecausehewasamemberofthetenmasterclans.
TheoneswhointerruptedTatsuyaandMikihikosconversationwereLeoandErika.Theyhadbeenquietup
untilthentokeepfrominterferingbuttheinsiderinfomadethemspeakwithoutthinking.

Ahh,itsthefirsttimeIveheardofitaswell.
ThetruthisIdidntknowuntilrecentlyaswell.Itsnotsomethingknownwithoutbeingtold.
However,TatsuyaandMikihikodidntseemtomindandjustmadeashowofteasingthem.
Then,whichoneareyougoingtotakecareofforme,guardingorsecurity?
Somycooperationistakenasagiven?
Ofcourse.Imcountingonyou.
TheimpudentcommentsonlymadeTatsuyasmilewithoutawordandhedidntbothertopretendthathe
wasgoingtoturndownMikihikosrequest.HehadcometospeaktoMikihikoforthesakeofcooperation
betweenthestudentcouncilandthepublicmoralscommittee;however,hewasalsoreadytolendhisown
personalefforts.
Okay.HowaboutItakeonsitesecurity?
TheplacecalledKyotowasconvenientforreasonsotherthantheworkafterall.
Then,Illhelpyououtthereaswell.
Whatcouldhebethinking;Leohadsuddenlyraisedhishandwhenheheardthat.
IfIbecomesitesecurity,Illneedtodoapreliminaryinspection.
no,whathewasthinkingwasquiteobvious.
Eeh,sinceImgoingtoKyotowithTatsuyakun,youlljointheguards.Thatsyourstrongpointright,being
ameatwall?

Justthen,Erikavoicedadifferentopinioninatonethatdidnotsoundatalljoking.
Arentmeatwallsjustforgettinghitandstabbed!Dontsayanythingsowhacked!
Sometimesbeinghitisachoice.
Naturally,thesecondhalfwasshocking.However,theearnestMikihikowasbotheredbythefirsthalfof
thecomments.
Erika.youintendtogoandstayovernightinKyoto?
ThatswhatIsaid,so?
GoingonaroundtripinadaybetweenKyotoandTokyowasnotabsolutelyimpossible,now.Forbusiness
purposes,itwasarathernormalschedule.However,thiswasapreliminarysecurityinspection,notjustthe
site,theKyotoconferencecenteranditsenvirons,butawideareaaroundthemhadtobeinspected.Last
yearsincidentcomestomindquicklybut,conversely,sinceitwasjustlastyear,noonewouldexpectto
catchthemoffguardsoquickly.
Bythat..youwanttogoonanovernighttripwithTatsuya?

Ididiot!
ForsomereasonthesuspicionthatshemightbetakingatripforaonenightstanddidnotmakeErikas
faceturnredbutwhite.
Whwhat?
ThatthreateninglooksodesperateandforcefulasifherlifewasindangercausedMikihikostongueto
tangle,unfortunately.Justthen,hewasoverpoweredbywhathethoughtasErikasexcessiveresponse
but,whenheheardherreasoning,theblooddrainedfromMikihikosfaceaswell.
WhatwouldIdoifMiyukiheardthat!?Shewouldntletitgoasajoke!
Mikihikobusilylookedhitherandthither.Furthermore,hiseyeswerethoseofsomeoneonabattlefield.
Tosayhelookedlikehewasinalifeanddeathstrugglewasnotagrandioseexaggeration.
Itwasntletitgoasajoke,itwasthatshewouldntletitgoeventhoughitwasjustajoke.Thatwouldnt
meanthatshewastakingtheirfrivoloustalkseriouslybut,ratherthatshewouldntforgivethemforsaying
suchathingevenwhensheknewtheywerejoking.Thatwasntjustadistinctpossibility,thatwas
unmistakablyhowitwouldgo,thoughtMikihiko.Wastherealreadyanabsolutezerocoldfrontbearing
downonthemalready.Mikihikoearnestlyfearedtherewas.
However,suchnakedlyfearfulvigilancewasrecklessbehavior.
...Youguys,justwhatareyouthinkingaboutmysister?
MikihikoandErikasnecksgaveoffsqueaksastheywhippedtheirheadstowardthevoicetheyheard.
BeforetheireyesastheylookedbehindthemwasTatsuyawithapenetratinglycoldsmileonhisface.
Goodgriefyourloosetalktookyearsoffmylife,Miki.
MynameisMikihiko
Thevoice,Mikihikowhippedouttomakehisusualprotest,lackeditsusualvigor.ThetruthwasMikihiko
wasengulfedbysympathyforErikaanditwasnotforthefirsttime.
TheywerenotdirectlyharmedbyTatsuya,ofcourse.Hehadjustturnedanicecoldstareonthepair.
However,justthatwasenoughtomakeMikihikofallunderthedelusionthathislifewasbeingwhittled
away.
Itwasnotthecoldofsnowandice.Itwasthecoldofakeensharpblade.Itcamedirectlyfromitsthreatto
onesexistence.
Erikawasinasimilarstate;herfacelookedcompletelydrainedandexhausted.
Ithinkyouwerebothirresponsiblyrude,Erika,Mikihiko.
Fromtheirfriendsattitudes,theyprobablyhadntbeenclearedfromsuspicion,yet.Tatsuyawasyellinghis
dissatisfactionwithhisdisappointedface.Theflatteningintimidatinglookwasalreadygonebutnoone
neededtobetoldthathewasinillhumor.Notjust,theinterestedparties,ErikaandMikihikobutLeo,the
innocentbystanderstronglyfelttheneedtochangethesubject.

Wewell,wouldntitbealrightifallofusweresitesecurity?ChiyodasenpaiisgoingtobeclingingtoIsori
senpaiassheguardshim,rightandKitayamaisgoingtobeattachedtoNakajousenpai,right?
Practically,nothinghadhappenedandheprobablyconsidereditchildishtostayangry.Tatsuyawasthe
onewhorespondedtoLeostactfulattempt.
NotjustShizuku.ChikurasenpaiandMibusenpaiarealsocooperatingwithhertoguardNakajousenpai.
SeeingTatsuyarespondpositivelytothechangeofconversation,ErikaandMikihikobreathedsighsof
relief.No,actuallytheydidnotdothatthepairdidnotactuallyperformtheactitwasjustclearfrom
seeingthetensiondisappearfromtheirmanner.
Keisenpaishouldbefineenoughevenwithoutaguard.
KiriharasenpaihasvolunteeredtobeMinakamisenpaisguard.
MikihikofollowedupErikascommentbyalludingtowhowouldbeguardingtheotherrepresentative,
MinakamiCarey.Hearingthosewords,forsomereasonLeoletoutagroan.
Minakamisenpaidoesthatguyreallyneedaguard?
Apparently,hecouldntunderstandwhytherewastalkofattachingKiriharasenpaitoCarey.
Eveninourschoolhessomeonethatiscountedclosetothetopofthepossessorsofsuperiorcombat
power,right?Mikihikowhohasbeenonateamwithhimshouldbethemostwellinformed,though.
AsLeohadstated,Carey,HattoriandMikihikohadunitedasmembersofthisyearsMonolithCodeteam
toseizevictoryforFirstHigh.Inbouts,hehaddisplayedthedefensivepowerofanironwallandwasa
strongplayerwhohadntallowedhisopponentstointerferewiththemonolithhedefendedevenonce.
Minakamisenpaihasextensiveknowledgeofalotofindividualmagics.Thatswhyhewasableto
completelyblockhisopponentsattacksinMonolithCode,hecorrectlygraspedtheopposingplayers
magicinthefirstshotandfromthesecondshoton,hewasabletocounterbalanceitwithhisexcellent
magicthatstheincredibleskillhepossesses.
Amagicspellcannotinterferewithamagicspell.Informationfortificationkeptthephenomenonstable
(thetransformedevent)asitadvanced,itwasatechniquethatcausedtheopponentsmagictoendina
misfire,areainterferenceworkedontargetedzonebyusingeventinterferencepowertoforbiddingthe
transformedcontentstochangebybrushingasidetheopponentsphenomenainterferencepower,it
neverinterfereswiththeopponentsmagicspell.
However,resultswerebasedontheeffectsthemagicinduced,incasewherethatmagicinterferedwithan
actualphysicalphenonomenultimatelyitremainedaphysicalphenomenon.Becauseitispossibleof
coursetohavetheresultsofalterationtocounterbalanceeachother.Forexample,ifaclodofairthat
decreasespressurethroughmagicisplacedinsidethetrajectoryofacompressedairbulletthe
compressioncannotbemaintained.Inshort,themagichasbeenneutralized.Thisphenomenoniscalled
magiccounterbalancing.Ifonesinterferencepowerisgreaterthantheiropponentsthenitwaspossible
tocalculatemagicthatwouldblotouttheblowbackphenomenaalterationbut,iftheinterferencepower
isonlyalittlehigherthan,therestorationpowerwouldovercomethecounterbalancingeffect.
However,inordertoeffectmagiccounterbalancingonpurposethen,youhadtocorrectlypredictthe
magicthatwouldbeusedincludingthecoordinatesoftheeventmodification.Counterbalancingmagic
effectswasaneasytosay,hardtodotechnique.

Aguywhomamagicwontworkonifhesseenitonce?Howcool.
Aguywhowontletanymagichesseenoncegetbyhim?Howcool.
AlthoughLeosaiditlikeitwasajokeinajestingtone,heknewenoughtorecognizeitwasahighlevelskill.
Hahaha,forthatreasonMinakamisenpaiisreallymuchbetterattheory.
WhileMikihikojoinedLeoinlaughingathischildishjoke,hisanswerdidnotreallyanswerthequestion.
Erikawastheonewhoofferedananswertothequestion,didCareyreallyneedaguard.
Inshort,Minakamineedsatanktotakethefirsthitofmagic.
Oh.Gotit!
BothErikawhohadneverletgooftheideaofameatwallandLeowhohadjustgottentheconceptnow
ErikachanLeokun.
GotpiercedbythecoldglareofMizuki.

Theswitchinpublicmasstransittosmallindividualvehicleswasnotlimitedtotrains.Ithadbecome
normalinmetropolitanareastouseanAItaxitogobetweenonesownhomeandtheneighborhood
station.Whengoingtothestationfromtheirhomes,citizensIDwereusedtocallacommutertotheir
home;whenreturninghomefromthestation,theycaughtanemptycarinthecommuterboardingzone.
Onstreetcornerswithoutacommuterboardingzone,youcoulduseasmartphonetoaccessthepublic
transitnetworktosummonthenearestemptycar.
Tatsuyashouseholdactedtypicallyfortheirarea,theyusedcommuterstoandfromtheirhomeandthe
station.Iftheycouldhaveusedmagicthenitwouldntbenecessary,however,thelegalrestrictionsonthe
useofmagicwereunfortunatelyexcessive.Modernsocietywasstillnotthattoleranttowardmagicians.
Tatsuya,MiyukiandMinami,allworkedverylateonpreparationsfortheThesiscompetitionandwerejust
nowwaitinginfrontofthestationforacommutertocomeunderapurplestainedsky.
Itwasnotunusualfortherenottobeanemptycarinfrontofthestation.Itjustmeantthattherewerenot
morecommutersinusethanwereneeded.Inshort,itwouldbeaworldlyexcess.
Besides,theallocationofcommuterswaslinkedtothecabinetoperation,Waitingover5minuteswasrare.
Inshort,enoughwereprovidedsothatuserswouldnotfeelitwasinconvenient.
Actually,Tatsuyaandtheresthadonlybeenwaitingaround2minutes.Theyhadalreadyenteredarequest
foracommuterintothededicatedlineinfrontofthestation.Tatsuyaandtheotherswerepausing
temporarilyinthewaitingzoneabout10metersawayfromtheoffloadingzonewhereamalehad
apparentlybeendroppedoffinthezoneabout30secondsbefore.Thedoorautomaticallyclosed,Tatsuya
watchedthecabslowlyneartheparkinglotwithoutmovingontotheroadandplacedhisrighthandin
hispocketwherehewashidinghisCAD.
MinamilookedupatTatsuyasfacewithstartledeyes,flusteredsheturnedhereyestothecommuter.At
theendofherlineofsight,beforethedoorofthestoppedtrainsdooropened,apsionwaveemittedfrom
withinthetraincar.
BeforeTatsuyatookouthisCAD,Minamierectedacylindricalheatresistantbarrieragainstphysical
objects.TheobjectsofherprotectionwereherselfandMiyuki.ShehadnotputTatsuyainsidethebarrier
becauseitwouldhinderhismovements.Thiswastheresultofhalfayearspractice.
However,thedelugeofthepsionwavefrominsidethecarwasnotmeanttoactivatemagic.
Itwastochaoticallybroadcastanoverlappingechoofpsionnoise.Itdidnothaveanobstructingeffecton
magiclikecastjamming.Instead,thedensity,whichwasslightlyhigherthancastjamming,washigh
enoughtohampertheabilitytoperceivemagicanddiscernpsions.Itwouldprobablybeappropriateto
callitapsionsmokescreen.
(Anartificialspiritselfdestructed!?Likeapsiontimebomb!)
MiyukiandMinamiwerethrownintoconfusionbytheunexpectednessofthistypeofsurpriseattack;
Tatsuyasawthroughthenatureofthisattackatonce.
(Ifthisisamagicalsmokescreenthenthenextmove)

Minami,DownwardWhirlwind.
YeYes!
MinamiactivatedthemagicatvirtuallythesametimeasTatsuyagavetheorder.Afiercesprayofwater
arosefromtherotationofthefountainno,thewaterofthefountainallchangedintoasprayofwater,
instantlyitwastransformedtoathickfog.Afterwardtheareawasobscuredbythickfog,whichwould
unmistakablybetroublesometogetridofevenbymagicallyrousingthewind.Becausemicroscopicdrops
ofwaterundertheirfoesinfluencemingledwiththeairoftheatmosphericcurrentthatwasthetargetfor
manipulation.
Nevertheless,Minamihadactivatedhermagicbeforethefogreachedthem.Manipulatingaircurrents
withahighconcentrationofmicroscopicdropsofwatermixedinhadahighdegreeofdifficultyduetothe
factthatthetargetisalwaysoutofsighttothepractitioner,aftertheshotisfired,theobscuringfogshould
notinterferewiththemagic.
Asaresult,swirlingwhirlingairwasdrawnfromtheupperatmospheredowntothesurfacebythemagic
ofDownwardWhirlwind.Minamiwasintheeyeasthewhirlwindblewaroundher;beforethetrioseyes,
theobstructingfogwasblownawaybythewhirlwindatonce.
Atonce,theysawasmallleanmaleblownoutofthestoppedcommuterandmeettheeyesofTatsuya
whoheadedupthetrio.Themangraspedasmallcrossbowinhishand;hiseyeswerewidewithshock.It
seemedthathehadnotanticipatedthesmokescreenbeinginstantlydestroyedbymagic.However,being
flabbergastedbytheunexpectedwasasignofinexperience.Allitdidwasgiveyouropponentsanopening.
Tatsuyawouldnotoverlookthat.Tatsuyaadroitlybenthisrightlegaimingatthesmallmanwhilehewas
temporarilydefenseless.
Helandedaroundhousekick.
Heknockedthecrossbowoutofthemanshand.
Tatsuyabenthislegandswitchedtoasidekick.
Thesmallmanwithanachingbellywassentintothecommuterbehindhiminabentoverstance.He
crashedintothetrainandmighthavehithishead;therewasnosignofanyattempttostandup.Hismind
wastoohazyorhemightbeunconscious.
Itseemedlikethesafetywasalreadyoff,thecrossbowshotoffthedartasithittheroad.However,
fortunately,thedartonlyhittheroadandnoonewashurt.
Ashisrightleghittheground,Tatsuyafeltpsionswavertoconstructamagicsequencefromhisrighthand
side.Heswiftlyturnedtofacethatdirection.Thespelltracewasemanatingfromthemanwhohadfallen
bythecommuter.
Tatsuya,whowasabouttotakeouthisCADthistime,stalledthemovement.
BeforeTatsuyacouldrespond,Miyukiscounterattacklanded.
Presumably,themanhadbeentheonetostartconstructingaspellfirst.However,Miyukiwasactuallythe
onetofirstactivateaspell.

Themanactivatedaspell.Tatsuyasabilitytoobserveinformationbodiescaughttheprojectionofthe
magicsequenceaimedonemeteroverMiyukishead.Andhealsosawthatmagicsequencefallapart
withoutdoinganything.
Oniisama.Wasthatrecordedjustnow?
Miyukisquestionreferredtowhethertheirfoesmagichadbeenrecordedbythepsionwavesensors
installedwiththestreetcameras;inshort,shewasaskingwhethertheexcuseoflegitimateselfdefense
hadbeenestablished.
Maybe,anywayevenifitwasntrecorded,itsfinesincetherearewitnesses.
TatsuyasanswersignaledhisapprovalofMiyukisattack.Hewasinfrontofthestationandtherewereat
least4spectatorsthathadbeenawareofthepsionwaveofthedevelopmentofthefirstmagicsequence.
Theirfaceswererecordedinhismemory.Becausetheyweremagicians,theyshouldhavebeenabletosee
theexchangeofblows.
Asthesiblingsmadetheirverbalexchange,themanreleasedaspellforthethirdtime.
AllofitwasblockedbyMiyukisinterferencezone.
Themanbeguntoconstructaspellforthefifthtime.Notforthepurposeofattacking,thespellwasfor
escape.Theirmaleopponentturnedonhisheel.
Donotflee.
ThequietproclamationwasfromMiyuki.Instantly,themanfadedfromsight;immediately,thecolor
returnedandlikeapuppetwhosespringwascut,hecollapsedbeforehecouldmove.
Tatsuyasquattedbythemansflankandcheckedhispulse.Next,heplacedhishandinfrontofthenose,
fornowhewascontinuingtobreathealbeitweakly.
Lookslike,therewontbeanyaftereffects.Yourskillshaveimproved,Miyuki.
Whatshehadusedwasaspellthatloweredheropponentsbodytemperatureandtookawaytheabilityto
moveonesbody.Loweringbodytemperaturebyonlyafewdegreeswithoutinflictingaftereffectswasa
verydifficulttechniquebutthistimesheskillfullyspreaditoutovertheareatokeepitfrombeing
excessive.Miyukirepliedtoherbrotherspraisewithredstainedcheeksthatsaidthankyouverymuch.
Hismindhadbeeninsuchastateofconfusion,hehadnotevenassumedadefensiveposture;themans
facethoughwashorrible.Thebeautifulgirlwasgettingflusteredandblushinginfrontofthemanshehad
leftgrazed,bruisedandwithableedingnose.Fromthebystanderspointofview,itwasanextremely
surrealscene.
Ofcourse,theinjuriesTatsuyahadinflictedonthesmallmanwithhisflyingkicksweremoreserious.After
bindinghisarmsandlegssohewouldntescape,Tatsuyalefthimontheroad,henceintermsofbrutality,
Tatsuyawasunmistakablyinthewinnerscircle.
Tatsuyaniisama.
TherewasnowayTatsuyawouldadministerfirstaidtoapersonwhoattackedthem,hequicklyarosefrom
themanssideatMinamiscall.
Please,lookatthis.

Iexpectitisasacredpurifyingarrow.
TatsuyacalmlymutteredthiswhilelookingatthecrossbowdartthatMinamiwasholdinginherhandand
profferinguptohimtosee.
...doyouknow?
HedidnotdisplaytheslightestsignofsurprisebutthiswasprobablyacuriositytoMinami.Thereflexive
questionwasessentiallyincomplete.
No,IjustgotalookatitwhenIsenthimflying.
MinamididnotgoInthatsecond!?insurprise.ShehadbeenraisedbytheYotsubaasamaidwhowasa
Guardiancandidate.ShehadseenmanyaberrantpeopleintheYotsubatrainingcourse.Ratherherscaleof
normalwassetclosetoabnormal.Forher,Tatsuyasphysicalprowesswasprettymuchinthenormal
category.
TatsuyahadonlyglancedatitoncebutMiyukiexaminedtheSacredArrowclosely.
ItsusedinAncientMagic;asatooltopreventtheusageofmagic?
Tobeexact,itisatooltopreventtheusingofmagicasanintermediarytoSBs.Itdoesnthavemuch
effectontypesofmagicthatinfusethemagicsequenceasatargetdirectly.
HearingTatsuyasexplanation,Miyukicantedherhead
CouldtheythinkweareAncientmagicians?
Unlikeagenuinesacredarrow,thisarrowhastheabilitytowoundorkillwhenitstrikesbut
Tatsuyamutteredcynicallywhilelookingatthesharpenedarrowhead.Theshaftandarrowheadwere
formedasasingleobjectwiththeonlydistinctivetraitvisiblethegenuinebirdfeatherusedinthesacred
arrow;alltheotherfeaturesappearedtobenormalforaquarreltobeusedinacrossbow.However,from
lookingatthesheercompressionofwoodintheshaft,charms(Shingon,invocations)hadbeenwrittenon
shavedwood,rolleduplikeathinpaperscroll,andmadeintoacompressedmaterial.
WhileitwascalledaSacredArrow,itsuserswerenotlimitedtomagiciansconnectedtoShintoism.Text
wasacommonlyusedmediumforspelltoolsamongancientmagicusers.
LikeIthoughthishypothesisisthatouroffensivespellsuseSBmagic.Ifhedidnotattackusbecausehe
mistookusforsomeoneelsethenforsomereasonwevebeenmistakenforancientmagicians.
Atthatpoint,TatsuyanoticesavoicesayingPolicenearingthem.
Letsreturntothistopiclater.
Theincidenthadoccurredinfrontofthestationclosesttotheirhome.Therewerenumerouswitnesses
andthestreetcamerashadalsorecordedeverything.Runningawaywouldbeidiotic.
Thinkingofthetimeinwhichhewouldbeheldforquestioning,Tatsuyaletoutahugesigh.

Thepolicereleasedthemaboutonehourlater.Evenso,thatcouldbesaidtoberatherquick.Fromthe

start,theirstatusasvictimshadnotbeendoubted;asexpected,thiswasduetothedatafromthestreet
camerasandpsionwavesensors.
Awnuts,itssodarnlate.
Lookingonlyatthetime,itcouldntbereallycalledlateyet.However,thepsychologicalfatiguemadeit
feellikethetimewasmuchlater.
ThatwastrueformorethanTatsuya.
Youareright.Ishouldstartpreparingdinnerimmediately.
FatiguealsocoatedMiyukisvoiceasshereplied.
Miyukioneesama,thatsmyjob.
Minamistoneofvoicewasalsostrangelydull.Evenso,shesteadfastlyproclaimedherkitchenrights,
eitherfromstubbornnessorfromdiligence.Probably,fromboth.
Really?Then,pleasedoso.
Gotit.
WhileMiyukieasilysurrenderedwithafeeblelook,Minamiwentandstoodinthekitchenwithout
changingclothes.
Oniisama,Ihavetopreparefortomorrow.
However,sheturnedaroundinsurpriseatthenextstatement.Minamisfacehadaslightlysourcast.
TomorrowwasthedaytheywouldvisittheKudouhouseinIkoma.Shewasbetweenarockandahard
place,withregardtoherduty:Itwasonlyanovernightstaybut,shouldntshebehelpingwiththatasa
maid?,However,Ihavetogetstartedondinnerimmediately
Youprobablydontneedtohurrysomuch.Howaboutbothofyouchange?Itwillbealrightifyouwait
untilafterdinnertopreparefortomorrow.
Yes,Tatsuyaniisama.Wewilldoitthatway.
ForMinamiwhowasindirestraits,Tatsuyaswordswerealifeline.
ItsadirectivefromTatsuyaniisama.Letsdoashesays,Miyukineesama.
ShedidnotgiveMiyukitimetospeakup,Minamishooedhermistresstothesecondfloor.
Intheend,MiyukiandMinamionlysharedthepreparationsforthetripthatwereforTatsuya;thepair
tookcareofthemselvesafterwards.Whilehewatchedtheexcitedpairmerrilyexchangingopinionsin
frontofhisownclosets,Tatsuyaonlymadeanitsinevitablesmile.
Later,Tatsuyabegundiscussingtherecentattackwiththepairwhentheysatfortheirpostponedteatime
inthelivingroom.
Thoseguysjustnowwereunmistakablyancientmagicians.NotjusttheSacredArrowbutthespellcaston
thatguytolethimescape,thetransparencytransformationspelldidnotinterferebylightreflectionor

lightrefraction;itwasmentalinterferencemagicthatmaderecognitionofonesownexistencetrivial.Itis
thesametypeofmagicthatKudouRetsuusedatlastyearsNineSchoolsCompetitionsopening
ceremony.
ThenitissomeoneunderthethumboftheKudouclan?
TatsuyashookhisheadatMiyukisquestion.
AKudouclanpractitionerwouldnotmistakeusforAncientMagicians.Rather,theyareprobably
underlingsoftheTraditionalistswhoarefiercelyhostiletothem.
TheTraditionaliststhatFumiyaspokeofThatsanextremelygrandiosenamebut,whatonearthkind
oftraditionaretheyadvocating?
Miyukicantedherheadinpuzzlement.Anyonewhodidnotknowofthesourceofthenameofthe
Traditionalistswouldunmistakablythinkthat.
Theremightnotbeaparticularmeaning.
TatsuyaturnedhisheadatthescathingpointMinamimadewithawrysmileandaOh?lookonhisface.
ItseemslikeMinamiknowsoftheTraditionalists.
Yes.IwastaughtaboutallaboutthemsincetheyareoneoftheMagicSocietiesthemainfamilyhasto
monitor.TheancientmagicianswhofeelbetrayedbytheformerLab9mightbeassemblingforthe
purposeofavengingthemselvesontheTenMasterClans.
Shedisplayednosignofunsurelyinhermanner,soshedefinitelyknewofthemassurmised.
Ithinksayingtheirgoalisvengeancewouldbeanoverstatementbut,therestmatcheswhatIknow.
Ofcourse,theydifferedslightlyintheirperceptionbutthiswasduetothedifferenceinhowthe
informationwastransmittedtothemsoitcouldbecalledinevitable.
Sothen,thereasonweweremistakenforancientmagicians..Miyukidoyouremembertheartificial
spiritthatinvestigatedourhouseafewdaysago?
Yes,youmeanSunday?
ItseemsthatMastersdisciplescaughttheculpritsforus.
Isee.soyoumeanitsbecausewehavebeenmistakenforYakumosenseisunderlings.
Miyukinoddedwithalookofunderstanding.However,ontheotherhand,Minamilookedunconvinced.
Whatisit,Minamichan?YouknowofYakumosenseiofcourse?
MiyukisperceptiveskillswerenotsharpbutshenoticedandDontholdbacktobepolite,iftheres
somethingyouwanttoaskwasimplicitinherprompting.
Yes,Iknowofhimbut,whywouldYakumosenseidetainthemagicianswhoweresearchingthehouse?

ThelightinMinamiseyesshowedherdoubtwentbeyondsimplepuzzlementandintosuspicion.Miyuki
didnotcomprehendwhatwasweighingonhermindbutTatsuyaunderstood.
No,Minamiyouaremistaken.NeitherInorMiyukihaveacceptedMasterspatronage.
MinamiwouldprobablyconsidernotjustbeingtaughtmartialartsbyYakumosenseibutbeingunderhis
patronagetobeaformofbetrayaloftheYotsubaclan.
OneofMastersfavoritethingstodoistoproclaimhimselfmoreashinobithanamonk.Idaresaythatas
aShinobiheprobablycantignoreanyonesniffingaroundhisgardenandthelike.Evenifhewasnt
lookingforthem.
Itsthatkindofthing?
Apparently,shefinallyunderstoodtheexplanation.SuspicionvanishedfromMinamiseyes.
Thankstotodaysattack,Iknowtwothings.
Theyhadcleareduptheoddsuspicions;theywerenowontothemaintopic.
First,Iknowthatwehaveclearlybecomeatargetofthetraditionalists.
TensionranthroughMiyukiandMinamisfaces.
Theotherthing,Iknowisthatourenemyisunawareofourbackground.
Miyukisuccessfullysuppressedhersurprisebut,Minamiletoutasmallah!?.
ItsfairlycertainthatFumiyaandAyakoweretailed.IftheyknowFumiyaandAyakoareKurobathen
theywouldknowthat,theKurobaclanisconnectedtotheYotsubaclan.Attheveryleast,ZhouGongjin
wouldseemtoknowthattheKurobaareinchargeoftheYotsubascovertoperations.
Tatsuyaseemedtofindsomethingamusingaboutthispoint;hemadeasmallsmile.
Oniisama?
Oh,sorry.IsaidYotsubascovertoperations,theexpressionimpliedthattheYotsubaundertooknon
covertoperationsandthatmademesmile.Payitnomind.
Tatsuyashookawayhisidlethoughtandreturnedtothemainsubject.
Inshort,whiletheyknowthatourhousewasvisitedbypeoplerelatedtotheYotsubaclan;theydont
knowthatwearerelatedtotheYotsubaclan.So,theythinkwearenothingmorethanmagician
subordinatesoftheYotsuba.SinceiftheythoughtwewereYotsubamagiciansthen,theywouldnotexpect
ustohavethecharmsandtoolsofancientmagicians.
InshorttheybelievethatweareancientmagiciansemployedbytheKurobawhoareYotsuba
subordinates,right?
ThisquestionburstoutofMinami.Althoughitwasfaint,shesenseddanger.
Thatisthewayitis.Eventhoughtheyknowofourexistence,theydontknowwhowereallyare.They
dontknowwhytheKurobachoseusasaccomplices.

Sothat.meansthatthereisapossibilitythattheyllattackpeopleotherthanus?
MiyukiseyeswidenedslightlyatMinamispronouncementandTatsuyaseyesnarrowedslightly.
Right,wecannotignorethepossibilitythatErika,Mikihikoortheothersmightbecometargets.Theres
eventhepossibilitythatHonokaorMizukimightbecomehostages.
ShouldntwerequestprotectionforthemfromObasamaorKurobasan?
MiyukiwasrelativelycalmbecauseTatsuyawasunflustered.Evenso,itwasunderstoodthatitwasan
emergencysituation.ThatthesuggestionthattheymightrelyonMayawasprofferedwithouthesitation
wasproof.
WeshantrelyonObaue.Wemightintendtoaskforprotectionbut,endupusingthemasbait
ThenSensei.
Igetthefeelingitwouldbecostlybutwemighthaveto.
Tatsuyadrainedthecontentsofhiscupandstoodup.
ImgoingtoMastersplace.
Hemighthaveintendedtogothereanywaytopracticehisnewmagic,Tatsuyaseemedabouttoleave
immediately.HisattachcasewithhisexperimentalCADinsidewasalreadytogointhevestibule.
Pleasegotobedbeforeme.Shutthedoorstightly
HetookhisCADTridentoutofthevestibulestoragecubbyandputiton,andasMiyukiandMinami
watchedhimputonathinsweater,theycalledout.
Understood.
Seenoffbythepairspeakingandbowingasone,Tatsuyaopenedthevestibuledoor.

Chapter3
Tatsuyasweekdaymorningswerevirtuallyunchanged.Thenightbefore,Tatsuyamusthavehadsome
kindofdiscussionwithYakumobut,neitherMiyukinorMinamiaskedaboutit.However,hiskeepingtohis
usualroutinesomewhatassuredthemthathehadsomehowsecuredthesafetyoftheirfriends.
However,Tatsuyahimselfwasnotateaseonthematter.Or,moreexactly,itwasnothisnaturetofeelat
easebyonlyapplyingonelayerofprotection.
AfterschoolintheStudentCouncilroom.BecausetheyhadtogototheKudouhouseinIkomaat6:00
today,MiyukihadnotifiedHonokaandIzumithatshehadprivatebusinessandhadtoleavetherestto
them.
Shizuku
TatsuyacalledouttoShizukuwhohadcometohangout.
What?
HerreplylackedcourtesybutTatsuyaknewthatShizukuherselfdidnotmeantobeimpoliteanddidnot
takeoffense.
CouldHonokastaywithyouforawhile?
Huuh!?
Honokawastheonewhoraisedhervoice;Shizukuonlyraisedhereyebrowsslightly.
Why?
Becauseitmaynotbesafeforhertobealone
...uh,whywouldthatbe?
Honokaaskedwithherfacepalefromuneasiness.Ofcourse,Tatsuyaintendedtoexplainthereasonas
muchashecould.
Thetruthis,yesterdayaswegotoffatthestationwewereattackedbysomeone
Ohmy!Youwerenotinjuredwereyou!?
ThefirsttojumpinandspeakinaloudvoicewasIzumi;theoneshewasaskingwasMiyuki.
Iamfine.NeitherOniisama,IorMinamireceivedtheslightestinjury
WhileIzumirubbedMiyukissmiletoherchestthiswasnotasimile,sheactuallydisplayedthegesture,
Izumireturnedtoherseat.
AsMiyukisaidwewerenotinjuredbut,wedontknowwhywewereattacked
Thatwashalfalie.However,theremaininghalfwasthetruthandinthiscase,thatwasthemore
importanthalf.

Thepolice?
Sincetheyhavenotcontactedus,Ibelievetheyarestillinthemidstoftheirinvestigation
Then,doyouknowanything?
Onlythatitwasanancientmagician
Onlythat?Anyotherclues?
ItisasOniisamastated,wedonotknowwhywewereattacked
Then,perhaps
HonokawhohadlistenedtoShizukusandMiyukisexchangeadvancedherthinkinginthedirection
Tatsuyawished.
HewasntaimingforTatsuyapersonally;theresachancethathewasaimingatamemberofFirstHighs
studentcouncil?
TatsuyadidntparticularlywanttoscareHonokabut,inthissituation,itwasbetterifhemadeherwary.
Idontknow.However,asIsaidearlier,Ithinkitbesttoavoidbeingalone
Understood
ShizukuplacedahandonthefrightenedHonokasshoulder.
Honoka,fromtodayonyou'recomingtomyhouse
...yes,Illdothat.Ineedtogetmystuff,isitalrightifyoucomewithmewhenIgohome?
Okay
Theremightbesomeresistancetoabruptlygoingovertothehousetostayeventhoughtheywerefriends,
Honokadisplayedhesitationhowever,intheend,sheappearedtoacceptTatsuyasadviceandletherself
bespoiledbyShizukusgoodwill.
Tatsuyascovertmaneuveringdidnotendthere.
...therefore,wereinasituationwherewedontknowwhowillbetargeted
ItmightbelinkedtotheThesisCompetitionanditmightnotbe?
HehadtoldMiyukiandMinamitowaitalittle;Tatsuyawasspoutingthesamemixoftruthandliesat
Mikihiko.Mikihiko,whowasobservingIsorisworkintheauditoriumagaintodayinthenameofsecurity,
repliedwithquestionsthatindicatedheunderstoodthestoryTatsuyacompiled.
Thatsright.Sincethereasonisundetermined,thetargetscannotbenarroweddown
TherewasnosignofdoubttowardsTatsuyaswordsinMikihikosmanner.InMikihikosdefense,thiswith
lessnaivetethanbecausehewasreactingstronglytotheimportantmatterofstudentsofFirstHighbeing
attacked.

Soweshouldincreasetheguardsontherepresentatives?
No,NakajousenpaihasenoughpeoplewithherandthecombinationofIsorisenpai,Chiyodasenpai,
Minakamisenpai,andKiriharasenpaishouldbeavoidedbymostopponents
Leo,whowaslisteningtothepairsconversationinsilence,noddedinagreementseveraltimes.
IammoreconcernedwithyouguysandMizukithanthem.BecauseyouguysaretheonesIammost
intimatewithinFirstHigh
Whenhesaidmostintimatetothetwomales,helookedalittlebashful.
Ontheotherhand,Erika,thesolewomaninthegroup,wasnotgrinninginsteadshelookedratherstern.
Imfine.IdonotneedtotellyouaboutMiki.Leoisprobablyfineaswell
Iamworriedaboutyou.Afterall,youreagirltoo
Inasense,hewastreatingherasaninferior;Leowasabouttogetverballyabused.
However,Erikasresponsedifferedfromusual.
Thatsright.Itsastheidiotsaid,theonetoworryaboutisMizuki.Becauseinregardstocombatpower,
thatgirlisnothingmorethananordinarygirl
Hecouldhavebeenthinkingthesamething;MikihikonoddedhisagreementtoErikaspointwithan
anxiouslook.
Thatsright..
...Tatsuyakun,forthetimebeingIllaccompanyMizuki.Wouldjusttoandfromschoolbefine?
ErikasplanofpickingupanddroppingoffMizukiherselfcausedeachofthethreemalestoshaketheir
heads.
Youareagirltoo,okay
Nomatter,howtalentedyouareErika,itstoodangerous.Theopponentsareancientmagicians.Ifthey
cameatyoufromthefront,Idontthinkyouwouldcomeupshortbut,wedontknowwhatkindof
underhandedtrickstheymightpull.Thatsright,Tatsuya?
IaminagreementwithMikihikosopinion.Itsonethingifallyouweredoingwasprotectingyourselfbut
havingtoprotectMizukiaswellwontwork,Erika
Atanyrate,Leossimplisticnegativeresponsepossiblythemosteffectiveonecombinedwith
MikihikosandTatsuyaspointsdidnotmakeErikagoallobstinate.
...thenMiki,youescorther
Eeh!
Though,shedidnotforgettolobabombasacounterattack.

Thatsright..Mikihiko,canwedependonyou?
Eh,no,but
Seehertothedoorandbackproperly.Dontforgettointroduceyourselftoherparents.Ifyoudont
youllbemistakenforastalker
Uuu..
Heunderstoodthenecessity.However,therewasstrongemotionalresistance.Especiallytothepartabout
introducinghimselftoherparents.
IwillspeaktoMizuki
Ah,takecareofit
Itwasntquitethat.hisreasonandemotionswereatwarwitheachother.
...understood.Itwouldbetoolateifwewaitedtilsomethinghappened
Hisawkwardnessandembarrassmentsquashedinthenameofagoodcause,Mikihikosintegritywas
intact.


Afterfinishingsomearrangements,TatsuyatraveledtoIkomawithMiyukiandMinami.Theyjourneyedto
Naradirectlybytrainbutswitchedintoacabinetafterreachingit,sincethetransportationnetworkinthe
Keihanshindistrictwasntasmaintainedinareaswithlandmarkarchitectureorhistoricrelevance.
MiyukiandMinamialsohadafavorableopinionofthelineartrainseatsthistime,soTatsuyathoughtit
wasoktotakethiskindofatransportonextendedtripsinthefuture.Meanwhile,theyproceededtothe
KudouhousepassingthroughandenjoyingtheviewoftheIkomayamaMountainsandtheMount
Higashiyamafoothills.
Tothisday,the10MChavenocustomforvisitsbetweenclanhouses.Also,itgoeswithoutsayingthatit's
notablyandfrequentlyseenthatthissocietylimitscontactbetweenmenandwomenofmarriageableage.
TheresasmallchancethatthisisthecasewithTatsuyaandMiyukiwhohaveaconcealedrelationship
withtheYotsubafamily.That'swhyitwasnormalthatthiswasthefirsttimethattheyvisitedtheKudou
residence.Ontheotherhand,therewasnochanceofgettinglostonthewaybecauseafterleavingthe
cabinetstationtherewasanautomaticcommutingservice.
Almostasplanned,theirarrivaltimewas5:55p.m.
Afterleavingthecommuter,theyrangthebell.Ontheothersideoftheintercomwasnotaservantbut
Fujibayashiinstead.
Welcome,Tatsuyakun.Also,Miyukisan,Minamichan,thankyouforcoming.
Sorryaboutthis.WekindofwantedtoaccompanyOniisama.
TatsuyacouldnthelpbutbegratefultoFujibayashiwhopromptlyarrivedherefromTokyoanddisplayed
suchalivelysceneintheirfirsttalk.
Dontworryaboutit.Comeon,guys,pleasedonthesitatetocomein.
Fujibayashiopenedthegatewithasmile,andinvitedthethreeoftheminside.
Ifnooneledtheway,onewouldsurelyneedsomeformofsecondsightabilitysimilartoTatsuyastoget
throughthevestibule.Minamikeptlookingaroundwithanadmiringexpression.WhileMiyukiwithawell
behavedmanner,fixedhereyesonherbrother'sback,butshewassurprisedwiththeviewofalargegreen
wallattheendoftheirpath.
FromtheentrancegateoftheKudouresidencetothefrontdoor,thereliedamazemadewithhedges
morethantwometershigh.Thereprobablywasanentranceforcarselsewhere.Also,nodoubttherewere
someformsoftrapsthere,sincetheentranceforpeoplewasamazewithamagiclikepattern,itwouldbe
incredibleforthecarentrancetogetafreepass.
(Thisresidenceissomekindofafortress)
Lookingfromtheoutside,itwasaluxuriousthreestory,Westernstylebuildingthatseemedtohaveno
peculiarities.
However,thismansionmusthaveamechanismtorejectuninvitedvisitorswhovesteppedonitsgrounds.
Or,maybeitwassupposedtolooklikeafullyfledgedfortifiedmanorcombinedwithsomemilitary
conceptarchitecture.

Highlyimpressive,isntit?
FujibayashiaskedwithasmileandTatsuyafeltanatmosphereofadmiration.
Originally,themansionwasunabletowithstandanattackfromtheTraditionalists.Thefindingsofthe
formerNinthMagicianDevelopmentResearchInstituteindicatedthatdefensesshouldbestrengthenedin
smallincrements.Atwhichpointthesetupofthemansionwasamatterdecidedbythegovernment
FujibayashiquizzedTatsuyawithatonesimilartowithwhichchildrenaskquestionsforariddle:Doyou
knowthereasonforthis?Regardlessofwhatsheexpectedtohearandwhetherhedidntknoworhad
thecorrectresponseTatsuyajustwasntmotivatedenoughtoplayalong.
IheardthatitwasinordertomonitorOsaka.
It'sdiscouragingbutthatsthecorrectanswer.
Tatsuyasecretlythought,"Shereallyseemslikeachild",seeingthedisappointedlookofFujibayashi.
Oniisama,whatdotheyneedtomonitorinOsaka?
TheadmiringexpressionthatFujibayashidisplayedasshewasaskingquestionswaswelldeserved,since
Tatsuyapossessedmorethanjustgeneralknowledge.Anyhow,Miyukiwasaskingherbrother,butonly
thistime,Fujibayashireplied.
SinceOsakaisaninternationalcommercialcity,itsmoretoleranttowardsthedealingsofforeignersand
alsorelativelyeasytosettlein.Nomatterwhat,spieswillalwaysescapesurveillance,andwhenevents
havealreadyhappened,itseasytofallintoapassivesituation.
Inordertopromptlyrespondtoit?
Yes.Becausethesecretmaneuveringofamagicianspyisoneoftheworstnightmaresforapolitician.The
Kudoufamilyhadthetasktoinhibitmagicianstofreereignonforeignespionagemissionsasanexampleof
bestpracticesintheformerNinthMagicianDevelopmentResearchInstitute.
Fornow,Miyukiassumedastanceofcomprehension.Yet,theimpressionofalingeringquestionremained.
Miyukisan,dontrefraintoaskwhateveryouneed.
Fujibayashiseemedawareofit,sosheencouragedMiyuki.
Thankyouverymuchforyourconcern.IdontthinkitsabigdealbutIwasthinkingthattomonitora
spywhosemissionissneakingintoOsaka,shouldn'tabasebeestablishedonthewestsideofOsaka,orat
theveryleastnotontheeastsideofIkomayama?
ItwasacasualquestionthatseemedtohitasorespotforFujibayashi.
Fujibayashifrownedandwasatalossforwords.ThiswasTatsuyascuetostepin.
Thereisthedangerthattheydgetintotroubleforbeingtooclose.
Miyukirevealedasubtlesurprise.
Somethinglike,betrayal!?

Politiciansseemtothinkso.
Themazewascomingtoanendastheysawtheentrance.Thetopicabouthowpoliticiansperceived
magiciansstoppedwithoutfurtherdelvingintoit.
KudouRetsuwasalreadywaitinginthereceptionroom.Thetimewas5:59pm.SinceTatsuyaandthe
othersweren'tlate,therewasnointentionofbeingapologetic,andtheydidntactuallyfeelnervous.
AgainstanelderofthemagicworldinJapan,Tatsuyasmindandbodywereinflawlessconditionasusual.
Idliketosincerelythankyouforyourtimeforreceivingustoday.
RetsurepliedwithasomewhatbittersweetsmiletoTatsuyas100%formalgreetings.
"It'sbeenalongtime.Thelasttimewemetinpersonwassummerlastyear,right?"
Thankyouverymuchforyourintercessiononthematteroftheelectronicgoldensilkworms.
Itwasnothing
SomehesitationfloatedinthefaceofRetsu.However,heovercamethatinhimself.
"Truthfullyspeaking,sinceyouproposedthismeeting,therewasnoobligationformetoreceiveyou;
however,Imgladthatwemeetagain.
Iapologizeforgivingyoutrouble.
TatsuyabowedmaintaininghissocialcourteousnessbygesturetowhichRetsuwavedtopreventhimfrom
continuing.
ShibaTatsuyakun.ThismaybeofselfsatisfactionbutIwanttoapologizefirst.TheParasiteDollmatter
wassomethingthatIconceivedandplanned.Idontintendtomakeexcusesasaloser,butIalsodont
thinktheaffairwasatallwrong.However,IbelievethatItroubledandcausedsomegriefonyouandfor
that,Imreallysorry.
Sayingso,Retsudeeplyloweredhishead,sittingdowninacushionsofausedinthereceptionroom.Both
TatsuyaandMiyukiwatchedhimwithaseriousface,butonlyMinamistandingbehindMiyukihadeyes
revealingacoldlight.
Let'sjustsaythatImnotinapositiontoaskforforgiveness,butattheveryleastIwantedtoapologize.
"YourExcellency,pleaseraiseyourhead"
Tatsuyarepliedwitharespectfulvoice.
Everypersondoeswhattheythinkisbest.Evenanovicesuchasmyselfunderstandsthislineofthought.
Atthatplace,Ideemedthatitwasn'tpossibleformetoagreewiththeexperimentsthatyourExcellency
envisionedtoperform.However,I'mnotgoingtodenythatyourExcellency'sideaofunattendedmagic
weapondevelopmentiscertainlyneeded.
I'mrelievedthatyouthinkthatway.
RetsuraisedhisheadandfacedTatsuya.Then,TatsuyaandRetsulookedintoeachotherseyes.

IheardaboutyourmissionfromKyouko.
TheconversationresumedfromRetsusside.
CapturingZhouGongjin.ThisisamissionfromMaya.no,Yotsubadono,right?
Yes,thatsright.
MiyukigracefullysatnexttoTatsuya,however,shewasconcealingthatinternallyshewassurprisedand
shaken.ShedidntexpectTatsuyatoopenlyadmithisconnectionwithMaya,nomatterthecircumstances
orthehighprobabilityofKudouRetsutoknowaboutit,evenifhewastobecomeanallyinthismission.
DoyouhappentoknowwheretherequestforYotsubadonoiscomingfrom?
"No.IdontknowaboutitandalsoIthinkthatitsnotnecessaryformetoknow.
AreyousatisfiedwithbeingapawnoftheYotsuba?
TatsuyareturnedaNoagainwithanunwaveringpokerfacetoRetsustestquestion(intruth,wanna
beattemptquestion).
"Mainly,itsbecauseIfoundoutthatIshouldn'tknow."
Retsuonlysighed,seeingTatsuyawithoutanappearanceofoverexertedwords.
Isee...soyouvefiguredoutaboutthatpersontothatextent.
Tatsuyadidntansweranything.Hisattitudewasof"nocomments".
ApparentlyMiyukikundoesntseemtoknoweitherNo,forgivemeforsayingsomethingthisvague.
Retsusighedagain,lookingatTatsuyaandMiyukiinalternation.
The10MCareboundbytherulesoftheMC.Intherules,a10MCmemberisn'tsupposedtoletother
10MCconspiretogether.Also,theycanonlycooperateinemergencysituations."
Yes
TatsuyadidntknowtheminutedetailsoftheMCrules.Andhejustheardofthissubstantialruleforthe
firsttime.Hedidnotdaretogivecommentsofcriticism,kepthisreplybrief,andnoddedonlywithshort
words.
TheKudoufamilycan'treceiveacooperationrequestfromtheYotsubafamily.SoIthinkforthismatter
itsShibaTatsuyawhoasanindividualaskedafavorfromKudouRetsuasindividual.
Thankyouverymuch.
Withonevoice,TatsuyaandMiyukipronouncedtheirgratefulnesstotheroundaboutacceptancefrom
Retsu.
WhileMiyukishowedaconservativesmile,Tatsuyaremainedexpressionless.

ThemeetingwithKudouRetsuwasoverinlessthantenminutes;however,itendedupbeinggoodenough
forTatsuya.Hesupposedlyrequestedassistanceasanindividual,butheobtainedagreementof
cooperationasaprivateassociate.Intheend,itwasaplusthatthemeetingdidntextendforanylonger.
Afterwards,FujibayashiinvitedTatsuyaandthegirlstodinner,sotheyexcusedthemselvestoRetsuand
accompaniedher.Itwasaninformaldinnerwithouttheheadofthehousebeingpresent,soTatsuyawas
gratefultoFujibayashiforherthoughtfulness.
TheKudouresidencehadseveraldiningrooms,sotheywereguidedthroughthem.Astheyweretalking,
theyheardlightknockingsoundsoneachoneasifdisheswerebeingserved.Theyarrivedtoonethat
seemedforchildren,butinrealityitwasonewherechildrensparentscouldsocialize.
Comein.
Fujibayashiinvitedtheminandthedoorwasslowlyopened.
Pleaseexcuseus.Grandfatheraskedmetoinviteyoutodinner
EnteringtheroomtherewasayoungmanofanagesimilartoMiyukiandMinami.
Surprisewasreflectedonhisbeautifulface.
Minamiheldherbreathwiththeyoungmanshumantranscendingappearance.
EvenTatsuyacouldnthelpbutgazeattheyoungmanshandsomelooksinadmiration.
Inaword,beautiful,butnotinthesenseoffemaleprettiness.Thisyoungmanwas,excusingthe
expression,theidealbishonen
Tatsuyaonlyknewofonepersonthatwasasstrikingasthisyoungmanwas.
ThepersoninquestionisMiyuki,theidealbishojo,whohadnocomparisonamongstmales.
Minorukun,howlongareyougoingtostandthere?
FujibayashiswordstotheyoungmanstunnedMiyuki.
Imsorry!
TheyoungmanshowedanappropriatelyhastydiligenceforhisageandsteppedinbetweenFujibayashi
andthetableofTatsuyasgroup.
Itsverynicetomeetyou
Theyoungmanbeganhisselfintroductionwithastillslightlyshakenvoice.
IamKudouMinoru,theyoungestsonofKudouMakoto,theheadoftheKudoufamily.Iamafirstyear
studentintheSecondHighSchool.ItsanhonortomeetyouShibaTatsuyasan,ShibaMiyukisan,and
SakuraiMinamisan
Minamiwassurpriseduponhearingherfullnameandevenblushed.
Nicetomeetyou.ImShibaTatsuya.

TatsuyarepliedtoMinoruandgotupasacourtesy.
ImMiyuki,theyoungersister.Minorusan,youalreadyknewaboutus,isthatright?
Inasplitsecond,MiyukistoodupandsmiledtoMinoru.BothTatsuyaandMiyukiintroducedthemselves
toMinoruinafriendlymanner,withoutbeingonguard.
Minorugotseriouslyembarrassedinfrontoftwosuchpeople.Althoughheblushedandgaveoffan
uncanny,easytobefondofimpression,thesupersuperbishonenpartdidntchangeforasecond.
Isawyouraccomplishmentsinthe9SC.Umm,also,justcallmeMinoruwithoutthehonorificandplease
dontusepolitelanguagewithme,becauseImyourjuniorandImalsohappierwithoutthem.
HewasasbeautifulasMiyukibutintermsofcharacter,heseemedabitsuperficialandinferiortoMiyuki,
almostordinary.Maybeitwasbecausehewastheyoungersonofthefamilyheadandhadntreceived
enoughheireducation.
Then,IllcallyouMinorukun.
WhenMiyukisweetlysmiledalmostgrinning,Minoruavertedhiseyesinembarrassment.
ItwasfinallyMinamisturn.
Pleaseexcusemyrudeness*clank*!
Minamistoodupwithaparticularlydullmetallicsoundattheendofherspeech.Itsdifficulttosayitwas
suitableinthewayofmanners,butMinamididntworryaboutitfornow,andhurriedtofixher
introduction.
Imean,Iapologizeforbeinglateinmyintroduction.MynameisSakuraiMinami.Itisapleasuretomeet
youMinorusama.
Oh,yes,thatsverykindofyou.However,Idpreferitifyoudidntusesama
MinoruwasabituncomfortableinfrontofMinamisnervousfaceandstiffbody.
Minorukun,unfortunately,thisisinnatureacustomofMinami.Willyouoverlookit?
Thisway,MinorudidntstronglyinsistfollowingTatsuyashumbleexpression.
Ok.Ifyouputitthatway
Intheend,Minorugaveinandthetopicwassettled.
Intermsofage,Miyuki,MinoruandMinamiallwere16yearolds,butintermsofgrade,Minoruand
Minamiwerefirstyearhighschoolstudents.Inaddition,itcouldbesaidthatitwasdifficultforthemto
talkcasuallywitheachother.
Minorukunthisisnotamarriagemeeting,theresnoneedtobesotense.
Oh?That...Imsorry,Kyokoneesan.

YoutooMinamichanThoughitdbeunreasonabletoactunreservedlyallofasudden,pleaserelaxyour
shouldersabitmore.Beingsotensecanbeuncourteous.

Imsorry,Miyukineesama.
TensionremainedbetweenMinoruandMinami,withtheirconversationcuttingoff.Itseemedtobea
situationfollowedbyanuncomfortableairanditwashardforthemtocontinuewithaneasygoingbanter.
Dontsaythat,Miyuki.Youhavetoconsiderthatthisisthefirsttimefora16yearoldgirltomeetamale
ofthesameage.Notbeingtensemightbetoobigofahurdleforher.

ForTatsuya,awaytolessenMinorusuneasinesswascomingupwithpleasantbanter,beforearelative
intervenesinfrontofguests.

Oniisama,Imalsoa16yearoldgirlmeetingMinorukunforthefirsttime.WouldyoumeanthatI'mnot
includedinthatcategory?
WithMiyukissulkingreaction,sheagainprovedheroversensitivitytoTatsuyaswords.
Simply,yourenotanaveragegirlbecauseyoureasophisticatedyounglady.
Oh,Oniisama,thethingsyousay
Miyukieasilyrecoveredherstateofmindandsheputherhandsupagainstherpalepinkcheeks,while
avoidingherelderbrotherseyes.
Thentheyheardaleaking*giggle*soundlikethestartofalaugh.
Minoruturnedaroundandputbothhandstohismouthinordertocontrolhimself.Hefelttheirgazesand
blushedasifhewasembarrassed.Still,hecouldntimmediatelystiflehislaughter.Andittookhimabout
10secondstosomehowregaincomposure.
Pardonmyrudeness...
Minorusexpressionwhileblushingandapologizingaffordedhimconvincingattractivenessandgavean
impressionofapproachabilitythatwaspreviouslyconcealed.
Weaswell,sincemyelderbrotherjokedtoomuch.
MiyukitookcontrolofthesituationbyimposingalloftheresponsibilityonTatsuya.
HearingMiyukisintervention,Tatsuyamadeafaceasifitwassomeoneelsesbusiness.
NoYouShibasiblingshaveaverypleasantrelationship,dontyou.
Atoogoodofarelationshipcanbetroublesome.
IdontrememberitinconveniencingFujibayashisan.

FujibayashiintervenedinMinorustalkteasinghimandTatsuyatookadvantageofthat.
Anyway,Imabitjealousofyourrelationship.Irarelyconversewithmyelderbrothersduetoourage
differences.Ialsodonthavefriends,either.
Wouldntyouhavefriendsinschool?
Miyukisquestionmighthavelackedsomeconsideration.
"BecausemybodyisnaturallyweakI'moftenabsentfromschool."
Miyukimadeanexpressionasiftosaymymistake.
Minoruattemptedtorepelthesurfacinguncomfortableair.
ButImfeelingokthisweek.Oh,Iknow!Willeveryonestayovernighttoday?
Yes,werestayinginahotelnearhere.
"Whynotstayinthishouse?"
TatsuyahesitatedonhowtodealwithMinoruwhohadanairofachildleftbehindbyhisplaymatesabout
him.Hehadaverylikeablereaction,butimproperforthegrandsonofKudouRetsu.Tatsuyacouldnotduly
assessifitwasanactorgenuinechildishness.
Minorukun,pleasedontasktheimpossible.
FujibayashicametotherescueofTatsuyaandMiyukiwhohadtroublegivingananswer.
Ok,letswaituntilwearecloserfriends.
Afterbeinglightlyreproachedbyhiscousin,hisso(ostensibly)longedsister,Minorufirmlynoddedwitha
smilelikesayingOh,itslikethat.
"Insteadofthat,Minorukun,whataboutguidingTatsuyasgrouptomorrow?"
MinorusreactiontoFujibayashissuddenproposalwasfasterthanTatsuyasandMiyukis.
Yes,byallmeans!
Wouldntthatcausetroubleforyou?
Mostprobably,MiyukiunderstoodthatMinoruhadgoodwillwithoutreserve,buthewasthecooperating
allytheyjustmetearliertoday.Persuasively,FujibayashidealtwithMiyukiwhosensiblytriedtodecline
theproposal.
However,Tatsuyakun,Miyukisan,Minamichan,noneofyouarefamiliarwiththisarea,right?Although
Minorukunsconstitutionisweak,hesnotvulnerabletodiseaselikeItsuwaMiosan.Andalsothe
Traditionalistsmaybelurkingaroundonthelocationsyouregoingtosearch.
Tatsuyaseyesstartedshiningsharply.

WhiletakingnoteofTatsuyaslook,Fujibayashicalmlyturnedtohercousinstating"Ne?Isntthatright
Minorukun?"
"Yes.I'moftenabsentfromschool,soIhavemoreconfidencethanmyelderbrothersonthedetailsabout
myGrandfatherswork,Shibasan."
PleasecallmeTatsuya.
PleasecallmeMiyukiaswell.
Minorustuttered,belatedlyrealizingthathewascallingShibasantoonepersonbutthereweretwo
peoplethere,sotheynoticedandlethimknowaboutcallingthembytheirfirstnames.
PleasecallmeMinami.
Atthispoint,Minamiwantedtotakeadvantageofthesituationandtimidlyberegardedwithgood
intentionsandnotbecauseofastrongdesireforselfexpression.
"Tatsuyasan,yourjobistolookforamagicianoftheTraditionalists?"
Minoruaskedthequestionwithaseriousfaceanddefinitelynotoutofawhim.Afterall,hesa10MC
magician.
Moreorless,somethinglikethat.
Thegivenanswerhadanuancetomakeitparticularlydifferent.
Isee.
Minorudidntaskanunnecessaryquestiontofindoutwhatwasdifferent.
"Inthatcase,IthinkIcanbehelpful.KyotoistheTraditionalistsbasewiththelargestconcentrationof
them,although,Naracanberegardedbymanyasthemainstronghold.Tomorrowpleaseletmeguide
yourway."
TatsuyaconsideredMinoru'ssuggestionsasveryvaluable.Ontheotherhand,MiyukiandMinamihadan
expressionof"Eh?"ontheirfaces,soFujibayashidecidedtoclearsomeoftheirdoubts.
"AlthoughtheTraditionalistsareonelargemagicassociation,itsnotasingleorganization,butthereareat
leastmorethantenmagiciangroupsconformingaFederation,witheachgrouphavingastronghold.As
youmightrecall,the10MChave
Upto18divisionsincluded,alldividedintoatotalof28,right?Itsthesamethinghereandthere.
Indeed,thetwogirlshadafaceasiftheywereconvinced.
WiththeendofFujibayashisexplanation,Tatsuyawrappeduptheirmeeting.
"Thankyouforyourkindness.Minorukun,wewillbeunderyourcaretomorrow."
Thiswasadangerousmissionwheretherewereexpectationstodeliverplacedontheabilitiesofa16year
oldyoungman.However,neitherMiyukinorMinamiobjectedtothisarrangement.

NotonlyMiyukiearnestlyfollowedTatsuyasdecision,Minamialsowasindoctrinatedintonotinterjecting
onherMastersdecisionsorgoingbeyondtheroleofaminutemaid.

Thenextday,Tatsuyaandthegirlscheckedoutofthehotelearlyinthemorning,andagainvisitedthe
Kudouresidence.TheysenttheirluggagestraighttotheNaraStationtoincreasetheirmobility.
Speakingaboutmobility,Miyukiwaswearingskinnyjeans,whichwasararelookonher.Furthermore,it
wasofresistantfabricmoresuitableforhikingthanforwalkingaroundthatvillage.Inadditiontoherpants
hertophadalongknittedautumnclothinginsteadofablouse.However,thatdidn'tmeanshelooked
plainatall.Bothhertopandbottomwerebodyfitapparel,whichemphasizedMiyuki'soverallbeauty.Not
onlyherface,butwithoutintenselyfocusingonherbodyappeal.
MinamialsomatchedMiyukiinthatdepartment,dressedinaknittedsweaterandpants.Still,there'sno
pointofcomparison.Miyukiismoregirlishlycuteratherthanhavingamaturewomanlycharmandalso
she'sabittallerthanMinami.
Justpast7o'clockattheKudouResidence,Minoruwaswaitingforthethreewithafacethatdidnt
resembletirednessorfatigue.

Hedidntseemtopretendanytoughness,asItcanbesaidthathisconditionwasfine.
Goodmorning.Didyoualreadyhavebreakfast?
Goodmorning,Minorukun.
Werefine,thankyou.Wealreadyhadone.
TatsuyaandMinamirepliedinarow.AsMiyukianxiouslyaskedaquestion,asmallregretfullooksurfaced
Minorusface.

Haveyounoteatenyet,Minorukun?Coulditbethatyouwerewaitingforus?
No,Imfine.
Minoruhastilyshookhishead.
Iwasthinkingtoinviteyoutohelpyourselvesifyouhaven'thadyourbreakfast.Inanycase,I'vefinished
preparations.
Isee.

ArelievedsmilespreadonMiyukisface.Minoruonlytimidlyflusteredabit,yethewasntcharmedby
Miyukissmile.
Anyway,comethisway.Ihaveacarprepared.
TheKudoufamilyspreparedcarwasalimousine.Thisundoubtedlymustbeverycommonforthem.
However,Tatsuyacouldn'tdiscardthepossibilitythatitcouldbesomeformofharassment.
Thedriverwasanelderlyman.AbitsimilartothebodyguardthatMayumiintroducedtothemsometime
ago.
Mayumi'sbodyguardwascertainlyanextranumber.Tatsuyaglancedatthedriverandwonderedifhetoo
wasanextranumber.
TatsuyaconsideredthepossibilityofFujibayashidrivingforthem.Asexpected,shewasnotavailabletodo
so.
Itwasunreasonabletocountonhersupport.Atthatpoint,healsowasntworkingforthemilitary.
Tatsuyaimmediatelychangedhismind.
Itdidntseemtobeanexaggerationoralietosaypreparationswerecomplete.Minoruboardedthe
limousine,followedbyTatsuyawhosatacrossfromeachother,andMinamiwhosatnexttoMinoru.Even
thoughTatsuyaandMinorusatfacetoface,theyhadplentyofspacefornottouchingeachother'sfeet.
Thisistosay,thiswasindeedatruelimousine.
WhenMinoruboardedthelimousine,MiyukisawinhisrightwristageneralpurposemodelCADbracelet,
partiallyexposedbecausehisjacketwasfittohisbodyandthesleeverolledupcasuallylettingherseeit.It
wasunusualtowearabraceletCADonthedominantarm(duringdinnerthedaybefore,theyconfirmed
thathewasrighthanded).Minorunoticedhereyeswerebashfulandanxiousaboutit,asifsheneededto
askhim.
Whatisthat?
UponMiyukisquestion,Minorurolleduphisleftsleeve,showingthathedidnthaveanythingonhisleft
wrist.Whenheuncoveredhisrightwrist,theCADwasrevealed.MinoruthenwrappedtheCADwithboth
hands.
99activationtypesjustarentenoughIhaventfoundanengineerwhoisconsiderablygoodat
adjustmentsaccordingtomystyle.
99activationtypescanbestoredinsidethegeneralizedCAD.However,Minorucomplainedthathecant
getenoughofthebestusageforallthatmagic.
AlthoughitshardtooperateaCADwithbothhands,itbecameeasierthankstoFLTdevelopedthought
operatedauxiliarydevice.
Minorukun,areyouusingFLTscompletethoughtoperatedtypeCAD?
Yeah.

Announcingthat,thistimeheshowedMiyukiamedaltypeCADbypullingachainthatitwashangingfrom
hisneck.
Thisauxiliarydeviceisawonderfulproduct.ThisdevelopmentofTaurusSilverisnodoubtgenius!
Minorushowedhislongingwithadazzlingvoice.MiyukinoddedandexpressedanIagreewhile
concealinghersmilingface.Shewasdelightedinsocializingaboutthepraisesofherbrotherwhilehiding
thesecretofTatsuyabeingSilver.
Everyone,howmuchdoyouknowregardingthetraditionalists?
Minoruaskedtheotherthreeassoonasthelimousinestartedrunning.
Atransparentshieldingdividedthelimousinescabinandthedriverseat.Also,voicecommunicationcould
beexchangedviamicrophone.
Themicrophonelightwasoff,butthecarbelongedtotheKudoufamily.
Itwouldntseemlikelysomeoneelsecouldheartheirconversation.
MinamichanandImostlydontknoweverythingyouinformedwithOniisamalasttime.
Somehow,Miyukithoughtfullyreturnedacautiousanswer.RetsumayhavebeenawareofTatsuyas
relationshipwiththeYotsuba,buttherestoftheKudoufamilydidntequallyknow.
Miyukiwasthinkingintuitivelytothenotsosmalldegreeofquestioning.Makotowasthecurrentheadof
thefamily,anditwasknownthatRetsuwasthepreviousheadofthefamily.Withthis,Retsumaintained
onlyacertainamountofpowerinsidetheKudoufamily.
Ifthat'sthecase,itwasn'tagoodthingtoseeMinoruaskingforMinami'ssourceofknowledge.
IheardafewthingsfromMasterKokonoeYakumo.Ancientmagicianscouldn'tobtainresultswithout
dependingonparticipatingintheformerNinthMagicianDevelopmentResearchInstitute.Afterwards,
probablybasedonamisunderstanding,agroupofunjustifiedresentfulancientmagiciansinconsistently
unitedaftertheInstituteclosed.
AfterTatsuyaswords,Minorurevealedabittersmilecoatedwithspiteandtoppedwithasarcastic
condescendingattitude.Justlaughingnotevenraisinganeyebrowofsurprise.Minorumaybeanownerof
aseverementalityorpossiblycynicallymatchedbyhisoutwardappearance.
Thatisaboutright.
Declaringthistothisextent,isthistheTatsuyaweknowof?
Theyclaimtobe'Traditionalists',butinsteadofmagicianswhoinheritedgenuinetraditions,theyshould
becalled'Unorthodox'.Ormaybe,themostnonadornedwordtocallthemcouldbeOutsiders
ItwasntthefirsttimethatTatsuyaheardthisinformation,buthemerelylistenedtoitwithoutchimingin.
TherearesomewhosaythatAncientmagichidintheshadowsfromsocietyuntilthestudyofModern
magicgotintofullswing.Thereasonwasmaybethattalentedmagicianschosetoavoidpersecution,but
therewerecircumstancesinwhichpeopleinpowerdidntwantancientmagictobecomepublic.Also,
magicusedtohidematerialevidenceisastrongweaponinthestruggleforpower.

AdeadlycursedtraditionfromtheancienttimesoftheHeianperiod?Itsacommonviewalsoappearing
inhistorybooksnow,butisthereevidencethatit'safact?"
Atleast,theresarecordleftofancientmagiciansthatparticipatedintheformerNinthMagician
DevelopmentResearchInstitute.Anyhow,itwasntaliteraldeadlycursedirectlymakinglifeactivitystop,
however,itsademonstrationrecordofamaterialremotecontroltechniquetodriveatargetintoa
hallucinationtocommitsuicidewithaknife.
Wasthekillingeffective?
Minamiwastheonewhoaskedthequestionwithanunyieldingvoice.InYotsubatraining,shehadnt
experiencedalongdistancekillingwherenocounterattackorresistancewaspossible,however,shefaced
anincidentwhereapartnerwaskilledinthetrainingprocess.Likewise,Miyukihadafeelingofdisgustbut
shedidntrevealitwithherexpression.TheonlyonewhoremainedcalmwithMinoruswordswas
Tatsuya.
Therecordswerentforged.
Minami,Minorukundidntexplicitlyansweryourquestion,buttosomeextentyoushouldhave
understoodhisanswer.
TatsuyalecturedMinamibutdidnotblametheformerninthresearch.
MinamihadanOhno!expressionwrittenonherface.Feelingshakenimmediatelyturnedtowards
Minoruandbowed.
Imsorry,Minorusama!
No,Iwasinsensitive.Therewasntaneedtomentionthisstory.
Thefeelingremainedstiffinhisvoice.Rememberingthefeelingofguiltfromtheinhumaneactsthathis
relativeswereinvolvedin.
However,inadditiontoMinorusmentalstrengthhewasntenslavedbyit.
Backtothemainconversation.Itdoesntlooktomelikeallmemberswereinvolvedinsuchdirtyjobsin
responsetoappealsfrompowerfulmagiciansbeforeestablishingmodernmagic.Placingsubordinate
magiciansatadistancefrompowerfulmagicianswholearnedmagic.
Tatsuyaraisedhisquestionforthesakeofadvancingtheconversationratheraskingaquestionaboutif
therewasanysignificanttruthtothis.
Yes.FamouswarriormonksfromKoufukujiandEnryakuji.Tatsuyaasyousay,aftertheEdoshogunate
wasestablished,violentaspectsofthereligiousorthodoxschoolorganizationwereremoved.
Asyoucanseeswordhuntswereimplemented.Strongpoliticalforceswerenotpermittedtohave
armedreligiousforces.Ofcoursethiswasundeniable.
However,atthesametimetoturnedablindeyeonthesurfaceevenifitwasanecessarytohavemilitary
powertohaveanestablishedstablepoliticalsystem.
TheEdoshogunategovernmentwasfilledwithvariousproblemsfromamodernisticpointofview.
Becausecertainlyforatimelostlargescalerebellions.

Andthusexcludedarepeoplewholosttheirworkandwentunderground."
Thatisso,scarcelytherewasntpeoplewhoheldthepowerofBuddhismusedforcombatamongthem.
Combatmagicianssoonwentundergroundnotcastingawayanyofthemilitarypowertheyheld.The
castersandtheirsubordinatespushedbackatthepoliticalforces.
Minorumadeoutabigsigh.Lettingouthisdisdainwhileshowinghisfatigue.
ThesamewaytheancientmagicmagiciansparticipatedintheformerninthresearchInstitute.Everyone
fromninjutsuusersandvariousonmyojifromTsuchimikadoweredispatched.Asexpecteddidntreliedon
disgracefulimitations.
Whatsthedifference?
Ithinkthedifferenceisthatyoutraintocontrolyourselfishness.
Repeatedlyblinking,Minorurepliedbackimmediatelytothequestionwhichcameoutasifhewas
speakingtohimself.
Youwouldthinkhewouldbecomebewilderedbythisinthiscase,yethisappearancewasabitmore
normal.
Sorry.Idontmeantostrayoffthediscussion.ItappearsIstillhungerforconversationwithpeoplewho
arethesameageasme.
Dontworryaboutit.Itsnotlikeitwasanidlechat.
Thanks.Umm,howfarintothestorymightitbe?AhhaboutthebirthoftheTraditionalists.
SeeingTatsuyanodinconfirmation,Minorucontinuedwiththemainsubject.
Becauseofthesortofbackgroundtheyhad.Thebaseoftheorthodoxschoolinwhichtheirbaseare
originallycloseto.Perhaps,sortofpreparationofaplacemayhavebeenbetterthanthereverse.
Suchasnearfamoustemplesandshrines.
Yes,thatwouldbeannoyingtoanyonewhoisseriouslyreligious.
TatsuyaandMinorulookedateachotherandbrieflysmiled.However,Minoru'sstrikingsmilethatwas
beyondthedistinctionofgender,althoughsimilarcouldn'tbecomparedtothatofamanlierTatsuya.An
atmosphereofmysteryremainedaboutthesimilaritiesbetweenthetwo.
Everyone,IthinkweshouldgobacktoNaraStation.
Yes,thatsright.
Miyukireturnedasimplereply,upuntilnowTatsuyawasfocusinghisattentiononMinoru.
Actually,theplaceIwenttoisashortdistancefromtheKasugaShrineinNara.Therefore,wecanfocusin
Katsuragibygatheringforthelatestinformation.SouthernNararegionissurelytheloyaltraditionalist
Thatsright,Imrelyingonyou.

Imleavingthedecisionstoyou.
MinorutookthethreetoawalkingroadcalledKatsuragiKodlocatedattheImperialPalaceCity
(Goseshi),tothesouthwestoftheNaraBasin.Themostprobablereasonfortakingthispathinthemiddle
ofIkarugawasthattherewasnoTraditionalisthideoutaroundhere.
KatsuragiKodohasaboardwalkthattakesapproximately6to7hourstowalkaroundwithaleisurely
pace,butthistimetheydidnthavethatmuchtime.Minoruindicatedthathehadalimousinewaitingfor
themattheboardwalkexit,soheproposedthattheyborrowedastanduptypeelectricrobotscooterasa
waytogetthere.
Althoughitsanautomatictype,toridea1seaterrobotscooter,oneneedsamotorcyclelicense(this
designationhasntchangedsincethelastcentury),andatwoseatmotorcyclelicensefordrivingthe2
seatertype.Unfortunately,neitherMiyukinorMinamihadthistypeoflicense.
No,forMiyukiitwascertainlyfortunatelyratherthanunfortunately,sincetheyinevitablyhadto
borrowtwoseaters,becauseTatsuyahadalargetwoseatmotorcyclelicenseandMinorualsohada
normaltwoseatmotorcyclelicense,sothepairingswouldturnouttobeTatsuyaandMiyukiplusMinoru
andMinami.
Iapologize,Minorusama.
Dontworryaboutit.BecauseIllbetheonedriving.
MinorudidntcareatallthatMinamiwasntasapologeticasbefore.Well,normalhighschoolmale
studentscouldhaveanimpressionofbenefitforthesesituations.Butwithoutadoubt,eventhoughnotto
thelevelofMiyukisprettygirlcategory,boysnotconsideringMinamiasaprettygirlshouldbea
minority.Anyhow,nomatterhowsuper,superprettyboyMinoruwas,hejustwasnttheunkindtype.
Then,speakingoftheotherpair.
Atwopassengerrobotmotorscooterisavehiclewheretwopassengerslineupstandingbesideeach
other,thedriverholdsthesteeringwheelformaneuvering,andthefellowpassengergrabsasafetybar
attachedtothevehicleframe.
However,Miyukididntholdontothesafetybar.
ShecircledherarmsaroundTatsuyaswaistclingingtohim.
TherobotscooterofTatsuyaandMiyukifollowedMinorus.Theydidntadvancesidebyside,because
Minoruwasguiding,itwasthenaturalformationandalsobecausetheressomespacethathadtobeleft
betweenthevehiclesandthesidewalktonotdisturbpedestrians.Also,youcansaythatinthisformation,
MinoruandMinamididnthavetoseethesiblingsclingingtoeachother.However,everytimeMinami
lookedbackandcheckedonthem,shesighedwithanexhaustedexpression.Inturn,Minoruwhoforthe
firsttimesawthesiblingsphysicalcontactlookedundisturbed.
Assuch,Minamiwasforcedtopushawaythementalfatiguebyobservingthescenerythroughoutthe
roadway.
Ontheotherhand,ifwetalkaboutresults,thesearchinKatsuragiKodwasinvainintheend.Although
wesayinvain,Minorumentionedaboutthehighpossibilitythatitwouldhappenlikethissothere
shouldntbeanydisappointment.Andofcourse,therewassometimeforsightseeinghistoricand

venerableshrineswithatouchingaurasuchasKuhonji,Hitokotonushi,andTakamahikowhichrefreshed
theirsouls(thereasonitwasntasearchwasthattheyexploredmagicfromtheexterioroftheshrines).
Also,therewasanunexpectedmeeting.
Shibakun?
Ayoungmanapparently,apriestapprenticewhocleanedtheprecinctsoftheTakakamoshrine,calledout
toTatsuya.Theyoungmanhadawhitehakamaandwasntwearingglasses.Otherthanthat,itwasaface
Tatsuyaremembered.
Tsukasasenpai,itsbeenalongtime.
ItwasTsukasaKinoe,studentandthosedaysformercaptainoftheKendoClubatFirstHighSchoolwhoin
AprillastyearsufferedbrainwashingmagicbyhandoftheAntiMagicOrganizationinthe"Blanche
incident".
YourememberedmeNo,Icausedyoutroublethattime.Ihaventbeenabletoproperlysaysorry.I
sincerelyapologizeforthattime.
Herepliedandgenuinelyloweredhishead.Itwasarefreshingmoodcomparedtothosedays.
No,Tsukasasenpaiwasalsoavictim
InreplytoTatsuyasconciliatorywords,Kinoeshookhisheadindisapproval.
It'sbecauseIwasweakthatIallowedmypathtobemisled.However,IcansaythatIfeelgratefulforyour
kindness.
Then,asifsuddenlyremembering,headdedthenextfactinatonewithoutcontempt.
Also,ImnotTsukasaanymore.Mymotherdivorcedandtookbackhermaidenname,soImKamono
Kinoenow.
Isthatso?Byanychance,isthatthereasonwhyyouvecomehere?
"Ididn'tgettoknowyousodeeply,butyou'rereallysharp.Becauseoftheseeyes."
Sayingso,Kinoepointedtobothofhiseyes.
Yousee,Ididntknowthemainbranchofmyfamilyuntiltheycontactedme.Lateron,some
complicationshappened,but,intheendIwasabletostudyhere.
ItwasntsuchanunexpectedtalkforTatsuyaifhelistenedtothecircumstances.First,Tatsuyarecalled
thatYakumomentionedbeforethatKinoehadanaffiliationwiththeKamoclan.Also,theTakakamoshrine
istheheadquartersoftheKamoshrinesinJapanandalsohomeofthepatrongodoftheKamoclan.
Furthermore,thecaseoftheKamoClanisparticularlymysteriousintheworldofMagic,wherethemain
branchcantakeadvantageofbloodrelativesofanonmainbranch,eventhosebranchestothefarend
fromthemainbranch,andtakecareoftheirexceptionalborntalentintheTakakamoshrine.
Imstudyinghereasameansforexpiation,towashawayalltheimpuritythatmybodygot.
Isitlikethat?Kamonosenpai,pleasedontsaysuchharshthings,dontloseyourself.

Thanks.Oncemoreallowmetoapologizeagain.
Aftersayingso,Kinoeboweddeeplyonceagainandreturnedtocleaningtheprecinct.
Tatsuyalefttheprecinctswiththeintentionofnotdisturbinghimanylonger.Hereturnedtotheplace
wheretherobotscooterwaswithoutsayinganythingaboutwhatjusthappened,butMiyukiwasthefirst
totalk.
Oniisama,thankgodyoureok.
"Yeah"
Honestly,TatsuyawasnttooconcernedaboutKinoeanddidntneedtorememberabouthimuntilthey
metintheshrine.However,Tatsuya,whosufferedthecurseofmagic,feltakeenlyplannedbreathoffresh
airwiththemanifestationofthisyoungmansefforttotrytoreturntotherightpathwithouthavingto
breakhisrelationshipwithmagic,sincehecouldhavehadhislifedistortedbecauseofmagic.
AfterleavingKatsuragiKod,MinoruguidedthegroupbytheKashiharashrinetowardstheIshibutai
KofuntomboftheAmanokaguyamaMountain.TheideawastoleadthemtotheTraditionalistsbase,
supposedlyaroundthisplace,butthesearchendedinfailureandturnedouttobeonlysightseeing.
Then,fourpeoplearrivedtotheNaraParkat3p.m.
Isthereamagicassociationbaseinthistown?
TheysaythatinsidetheMikasayamaMountainthereisalargescalebasethatcouldbeoneofthe
traditionalistsbases
Mikasayamaisasanctuary,betteryet,aworshipobject,wasn'tenteringforbiddenexceptforsightseeing
throughthelimitedscenicroute?
TheTraditionalistsmightthinkthatthisplaceissuitableforthembecauseitsaholyplaceandpeople
dontapproachit.But,don'tyouthinkthatonewhoproperlyconveysmagichasthequalificationsto
receiveGodsblessing?
Understood.Atreeisbesthiddeninaforest,IthinkPleasecontinueyourguidance.
AlwaysledbyMinoru,thefourgotoffthelimousineandbeguntowalktowardstheintersectionofthe
waystoTodaijiandKasugataishathroughtheKasugayamaboardwalk.Untilthe21stcentury,therewasa
drivewaythroughthismountainpath,butinthisera,therewasonlyasidewalk.Thiswasbecausewiththe
developmentofscienceandmagic,the"fear"forholyobjectsbegantorevive.Isitpossiblethattherewas
somethingleftoutofthescientificresolutionthatmighthaveexistedtohelpregainthepietyoftheheart?
Asanancientgreekphilosophersaid:IdonotthinkIknowwhatIdonotknow".
Thefourwalkinginorder,first,Minoru,leading,next,TatsuyaandMiyuki,behindMinoru,andMinamiin
therear,onestepbehindtheothers.ButitwasonlywhentheypassedtheUkigumoShrine,asubordinate
shrineofKasugataisha,thatTatsuyaandMiyukibeganthementionedformation.
Fornoparticularreason.Also,itcanbedaringlysaidthatMinorustartedpayingregardtoMinami.
Ara,whatalovelyshrine.

"Itcantbesaidatallthatsizedoesnotmatter,sincewhenhavingthenecessaryappearancetodeifya
god,sizeisagreatasset.It'sbecauseGodhasalreadydecidedtheheightandtheweight."
Heh,thethingsyousayOniisama.Isntthatabitdisrespectful?
Isthatso?Anyway,I'mnotgoingtolietomyselftopleaseGod.
Fufu,let'sleaveitatthis.
Thesiblingsenjoyedtheirtalkwhilewalking.Additionally,thesistersarmheldfirmlythebrothersarm
andthedistancefromeachotherwasapproximatelyzero.JustincaseMinamiwatchedintheback,this
wouldhavemadeherverymuchsayprofanities.
Anyway,Minamiwasashamedtolook.Strangely,theimpressionofitbeingimmoralandunsightlydidnt
springout,butsheonlylooked,bloodwentuptoherface,andherbodygothellhotwithrage.Still,she
couldntgetawayfromit.Shelookeddownandenduredthepenance.
ThisresultedinMinorugettingconcernedthatMinamiwaswalkingwithanenragedface.
"IsherealsoEdanomiyaofKasugataisha?"
Thecheerfulconversationofthesiblingsdidnotinterrupt,notevenwiththeremotepossibilityof
whetherornottheyrealizedorknewofMinamisstate.
Yes.TherearetwoshrineswheredeitiesareworshippedinEdanomiya,theAtagoShrinewherethedeityis
Kagutsuchiwhowillprotectwithoutstandingvirtueforfire,andtheHijiriAkiraShrine,wellknownbecause
copperwerefirstextractedhereinJapan.
DeitiesinKasugataishainclude:TakemikazuchinoMikotosama,Futsunushisama,AmenoKoyaneno
Mikotosama,Himegamisama,right?ThatremindsmeArentthesefourdeitiesthesameasYoshida
kunsparents'house,too?
"No,IthinktheoneyouretalkingaboutistheYoshidashrine,butitsbecauseitsnameisthesameas
Mikihikosfamilyname,right?Buttheyreunrelated.Also,hishouseisn'tashrine.
Oh.Isitlikethat?
"Yes.Italsoisn'tareligiouscorporation.Mikihikosparents'homeisaschool,aprivateone,forthestudy
ofmagic."
Oh,thisisembarrassing.Iwas,wrongthewholetime.Oniisama,nexttimepleasehurryandteachme
sooner.
Miyukisulkedwithapamperedvoice.
Evenwithsomereproachingglaresaround,thedistanceofTatsuyaandMiyukididn'tchange.
Minamilookedatthefloorsoshedidnthavetofacethedemeanorofthosetwo,andalsoenduredher
desperatedesiretoblockherears.
Nexttothem,MinoruwatchedTatsuyaandMiyukiandtheiraspectseemedtobeheartwarming.


PatiencetimewasoverforMinamiinfrontoftheboardwalkentrance.
Suddenly,Tatsuyastoppedandlightlyshookhisleftarm,whichwasleanedonMiyuki,andshereleasedit
immediately.
Tatsuyawasnttheonlyonewhosensedanimpact.
Minoruwasslightlylateindetectingit,openlylookedaroundtotherightandleftwithwarinessandwith
eyesdyedbyatendercolor,embracingapenetratinglight.
ThedaywasSunday.AlargenumberoftouristswerealsobesidesTatsuyasgroupinthevicinityofa
branchpointthatleadstotheKasugataishaShrine.
Butnow,Tatsuyasgroupweretheonlyonesleftthere,andlittlebylittleasilhouettewasdrawnfromthe
boardwalkuptotheentrance.
ItsaBarrierofMentalInterferenceMagic
Tatsuyamuttered,
Isitanenemy?
MiyukiperceptivelyaskedbackTatsuyawhilecarefullywatchingthesurroundings.Minamiimitatedthat
nexttoMinoru.
TatsuyanoticedthatMinorualsoseemedtohavesensedsomeabnormality.
OddthingthatneitherMiyukinorMinamiquestionedwhythesilhouettewasunnaturallydisappearing.
Particularly,MiyukiwhohassolidtolerancetomindattacksduetopossessingOuterSystematicMental
Interferencemagicofthestrongestclass.
Minoruhadtheanswertothatquestion.
Thecasterofthebarrierappeartobeofhighlevel.Theyseemtohavenarrowedthemagicoutputdown
toaminimumtomakethembarelyunnoticed.
Itcanbesaidthatitsalimitedconcepttopreventtorevealtheuseofmagicsincemagicacts
instantaneouslyinconventionalmodernmagic.Magictodelayactivationofthemagicrecordhasbeen
developedtotheutmostspecificallytocontroltechniqueactivationtiming,buttechnologytohidemagic
activationonlyexistsasindividualskills.
EvenIfthemagicpoweroftheopponentishigh,Miyukihasahigherpowertoinvalidatephenomenon
interference.However,withoutnoticing,thistimeshewasbeinggraduallyledtohavesomeweak
judgementduetocircumstanceswheresheactuallygotplayedintotheopponentsresistance.
ItlookslikethiskindoftechniqueisprettycommoninAncientMagic.
Becausewemodernmagiciansgivegreatimportancetotheabilitytoproperlyusevariousmethodsto
supportvarioussituations,unlikeancientmagicianswhotendtomaximizethevalueofmagicianswith
specialandunusualtechniques."

Itseemsthereasonforthisisthedevelopmentoftheuseofspecialmagiccombinedwithsecondary
techniques.
MinorusknowledgewashelpfulforTatsuyainvariousways.Especially,concerningknowledgeaboutthe
NinthMagicianDevelopmentResearchInstituteonAncientMagic,itwasrefreshingtohearasomewhat
differentperspectivethantheorthodoxmagicknowledgefromYakumoorMikihiko.Tatsuyawantedto
haveanexchangeofargumentsinsomemorewaystodrawknowledge,butunfortunately,thiswasn'tthe
timetodothis.
However,forTatsuyasantohavenoticedthistechniquesoquickly,ithasbeenahugemiscalculation
fromthem,hasntit?
ImmediatelyafterMinorusaidthat,therewasasoundofleavesshakingintheforestclosetothem.
ItlooksliketheyareveryconfidentabouttheirInvisibility.
Thehostilitythatwasconcealeduntilthenbecamerevealed.Whenthefourpeoplesurroundedthem.
Iknowwheretheyare,Imgoingtocommencemyattack.
Minorudaringlyvoicedaloudthisdeclaration,asaprovocationfortheenemiesthatsurroundedthem.
Itwasaquestionofwhethertheopponentwasshorttemperedoritwasmeaninglesstohideanyfurther.
Minami!
Yes!
AtthesametimeTatsuyaorderedMinamitobuildabarrier,asilverlightemergedtothesurface.
Thesourceofthesilverlightthatborderedoutsidethedefensewallwaseitherathickneedleoratiny
arrowlikeametaldartbulletemittedbymagic(aFlechettebullet).
Afterdoingpreparationstogeneratedefensemagicatanymoment,Miyukilookedforthepositionofthe
archer.However,whenshefoundoutthelocation,Tatsuyaalreadywasontheothersideofthetrees.
Ascreambrokeoutsuccessively.ItwasacryofpainduetoaholedrilledinthebodybyTatsuyasPartial
Decomposition.
Miyukithoughtthatitwasallrighttoleavethatsidetoherelderbrotherandsetupmagicintheopposite
direction.
Psionfluctuation,thatis,signsofmagicactivationoccurredrightovertheheadsofMiyukiandMinami.
Miyukirememberedseeingthismanytimes,sinceitwaslikeMikihikosspecialityoflightningSBmagic.
However,itdisappearedinstantlybecauseofTatsuyasspecialityofCombatMagicInformationBody
Decomposition:GramDispersion.
Oniisama,everythingisalrighthere!
Inordertoproveherownwords,MiyukiexpandedherZoneInterference.Atfirst,shesetupafieldaround
hermerelyasathincylindricallayer,tonotaffectthemagicofMinamiandMinoru.Then,shestretched
theforcefieldpillartothetopandlittlebylittlewideneditlaterallyandintoaheightthatcontinuednot
disruptingthosetwo.Then,shesolidifiedthecircularforcefieldimmediatelyunderthesurfacelevel

towardsthebottomofthepillar.Thus,inlessthanasecond,shebuiltaZoneInterferencefieldinthe
shapeofahugecocktailglasswhereoffensivemagicwasntallowedatallfromeithertheskyorthe
underground.
Amazing!ItsliketheHolyGrail.
Minorurevealedanexclamation,betteryet,animpressionofamazement.However,hewasntonly
appreciatingMiyukismagic.HewaswalkingapartfromthesideofMiyukiandMinamitoanopposite
directionwhereheheardascreamofanassailantwhowasshotbyTatsuya.
Butbeforeanythingelse,MinamitriedtostopMinorusrecklessindependentaction.Shethought
somethinglikecourteouslytellinghimtodoitasTatsuya,whoatanyratequicklymovedtotheenemys
sideinsteadofwalkingslowlytothefrontashewasdoingit.
Exceptthat,MiyukipreventedherfromtryingtostopMinoru.SheheldMinamisarmwhowasgoingto
raisehervoice,andwithanunexpectedlygentlerejectinggesturewithherheadsignaledMinamithatit
wasunnecessary.
Minamiknewthereasonimmediately.
Thereseemedtobetwotypesofenemymagicians.Ancientmagiciansnotconcernedwithstickingtothe
traditionwhoadoptedtheconceptofanarmedbuiltinmodernmagicCADthatfiresaphysicalweapon
calledFlechettebullet.AndancientmagiciansfixatedtothetraditionaltypewhosetupattackswithSB
MagicenslavingIndependentInformationBodiesusingConsciousnessInducedOuterSystematicMental
InterferenceMagic.
TatsuyacounteredtheformertypeofmagicianandMinoruheadedtowardsthesideofalatteronewho
washiding.Theenemydidn'tunderstandMinoru'saimandalsowasinaconfusedstate,butimmediately
after,theyconcentratedintenseattacksonhim.MaybetheynoticedthehatefullineageoftheKudous,so
whateveritwas,MiyukiandMinamiwerecompletelyforgotfromthepicture.
However,allenemysmagicwasunsuccessful.Wind,fireandsoundmagicwentthroughMinoruand
dispersedwithoutexceptionleavingnodamageatall.Alsomagicthatcouldcausedirectinjuryorinner
woundsallfailedduetoabsenceoftarget.
Isitanillusion?Icantbelieveit
Minamismutterwasbynomeansexaggerated.AmagiciandoesnthavetobeTatsuyatobeableto
perceivepsionslikephysicallightandsound.ThebodyofMinoruwhichgotreflectedintoMinami'sfieldof
visionhadthesamepsionpatternjustastherealbodywhichwaswalkingnexttoheruntilnow.
Inotherwords,thepersonwascertainlythere,ifrecognizedbyamagicalsense.
Parade.ThetechniqueoftheKudouFamilythatincorporateselementsofNinjutsu.
Withhercomment,ashiverbeyondpraisedwelledinMiyukisvoice.
Evenso,thisisamazingThisprecisionisbetterthanLinas.
WhenyousayLina,youmeanUSNAStarsHighCommander,AngieSirius?
Yes.ThatAngieSirius.AngelinaKudouShields.WecallherLina.Shesagentleandlenientchildabit
inappropriateformilitarypersonnel,buthermagiccapacitydidntshamethenameofaStarsHigh

Commander.However,Minorukunistechnicallysuperiortoher,atleastwithrespecttoParade.Ihaveto
saythattheKudouFamilyishomeofsuchpowerfuldescendants.
HowwouldMinorufeelonceheheardMiyukislastremark?Maybehedfeelpraisedwithhonor,orhed
beembarrassedandsayImstillfarfromit,orhedexpressmodestyandsayPowerfuldescendants,
that'sreallyoutofthequestion.Orratherhedbeshockedthathewasbeingwatched.Anyway,he
volunteeredtobetheguidewithpurecourtesy,sohewouldntdoanythingagainstMiyukiortheothers.
Fortunately,Minorudidn'thearMiyukislastremark.Hisconsciousnesswas100%focusedonenemy
neutralization.
AnactivationsequencestartedonMinoru'srighthandanditwasabsorbedinamoment.Duetotheuseof
aperfectthoughtoperatedtypeCAD,nobuttonswerepressed,whichshouldntgiveanysurpriseonce
thatisknown.Thereshouldbeaspecialmentionoftheactivationsequencereadingspeed,whichevenif
itsestimatedconservatively,itshouldbecomparabletothespeedofFirstHighSchoolformerstudent
councilpresidentSaegusaMayumi.
However,itwasstillearlytobesurprised.
Withoutleavinganintervaltobeshockedabouttheactivationsequenceprocessingspeed,Minoru
releasedhismagic.
Withonestepofhis,thegroundstartedemittinglight.ThiswastheDispersionSystematicMagic"Spark".
Afundamentaltechniquethatforcesoutelectronsfromasubstanceandcausesanelectricdischarge
phenomenon.Themagictargetisusuallytheairmoleculeswithinanarrowrangefromthesubstance.
Althoughionizationofthisnatureisarelativelycommonphenomenon,itrequiresaveryhighinterference
powerbecausethemagicaffectsthesubstancestructurealteringit.Also,ordinarymagicianshavelow
densityofionization,thatis,thebesttheycanproduceisasmallnumberofmoleculeswithinacertain
volumeofgasinaverylimitedrangefromthesubstance.
Thisisanactivationagainstgroundsurfacelimitsjustaboutwithinsight.
So,thisSparkhasanelectricaldischargerangebroaderthanthecombinationmagic"Slithering
Thunders"thattheformerClubManagementGroupChiefHattoriHanzouisstrongat.Moreover,asforthe
degreeofdifficulty,Sparkisabettertechnique,despiteHattorismagic,thatappliesconditionslikeusing
africtionalstaticelectricitydischarge.
(AboveHattorisenpaiandcomparabletoSaegusasenpai!?)
AsMiyukiwatchedthescene,sheforgottocastsupportmagic.

TatsuyalookedwithadmirationathowMinorusmagicneutralizedhalfofthemagiciansthatsurrounded
themformingasupposedly,butaccuratelydepictedsemicircularshape.
Inthesameway,Miyukiwasimpressedaswell,abouthowMinorumadeSpark,whichrequiresstrong
phenomenoninterferencepowertoactonmanytargetobjects.But,Tatsuyawasreallypayingattention
thatthepurposeforthiswideareasparkwasntonlyforpreparationtobringtheenemyintotheopen.
Whenordinarymagicians,no,whenfirstclassmagicianslackinterferenceforce,theyusemagicthat
wouldfailforactivationasasacrificialstone.Inthatsense,Tatsuyasoonprovedbeforehiseyesthat
Minoruwassortofanownerofmagicpowerthatcompensatedhisextravaganttactics.
Tostoptheelectriccurrentfromcrawlinguptheirfooting,theenemy'smagiciansuseddefense
techniques.Inmodernmagic,specialconditionsfortheactivationmethodneedtobepreparedinadvance
whenusingaCADtoinvokemagicforadetectedattackinorderforthemagictohavethetimingtonot
miss.Mostprobably,theSBmagicusesadisposableartificialspiritcausingaphenomenonmodificationto
canceloutthe"castersdetectedmagicphenomenon".Tatsuyaguessedthisancientritemagicwascalled
"Oniyaraijutsu.(Chanttochaseevilspiritsaway.)
Inthiscase,theopponentsmagicrealnaturewasntimportant.
Magicwasactivatedautomatically,namely,Invisibility,whichwasmagicinstantlyreleasedwiththe
purposeofunintentionally,hidetheenemyswhereabouts.ItwasclearlyforTatsuya,toknowtheplace
wheretheenemywashidingevenwithouttheuseofElementalSight.However,neitherMiyukinor
Minamiknew,andofcoursenotevenMinoruwhoforcedthissituation.
MinorusActivationSequenceinhislefthandexpandedandhisarmabsorbedit.Hehadmostlymastered
theperfectthoughtoperatedtypeCAD.It'sagoodthingfordevelopers,butwhenconsideringthatonly
twomonthshavepassedsincethenewproductwasfirstsold,inthissense,Minorusabilitycanthelped
buttobeterrifying.
AnelectriccurrentflowedwhereMinorupointedat.Itdidntformeitheraluminousphenomenonorany
soundofdielectricalbreakdown,butTatsuyawhousedhisexceptionaltalentofinformationbody
recognition"watchedit.Minorusmagicproducedthesameeffectascreatinganoutsideinterferenceon
anelectriccurrentfromhisbodyandthenpoureditinsidetheenemymagician.
ThesoundofahumanbreakingdownarrivedtoTatsuyasears.Thiswastheresultofanenemymagician
beingattackedbyMinorureceivinganelectricshockandlosingbodyfreedom.
Thebodyofamagicianisprotectedfromthemagicofotherswithaninformationreinforcementdefensive
wallthatunfoldsunconsciously.ThisdoesnotchangeevenforAncientMagicmagicians.Inthiscase,
Minorubrokethroughthedefensivewalleasilyanddirectlytriggeredmagicintotheenemy.
EvenwiththemagicRupture,whichIchijouMasakiwasgoodat,itwasdifficulttobreakthroughan
informationreinforcementdefensivewallinaninstant.Tatsuyadidn'twitnessthescenehimself,butknew
aboutitbecauseofadetailedbattlereportabouttheYokohamaincident.
MinorusforteisDispersionSystematicMagicwithElectricityInterference,thatis,electronicexerciseand
distribution.Asthecircumstancesshow,thismagicisMinorusspecialty,soitcan'tbeestablishedthat
Minoru'sinterferencepowerexceedsMasakis.Ontheotherhand,Minoruhasmanagedtofusethe
AncientMagicandModernMagicinatechniquecalledParade,andthatswhyhisabilitycanbesaidto
equalMasakisModernMagic.
PeoplefellinsuccessionwhereverMinorupointedhisvisionstraighton.

Asfortheenemyattacks,theycouldntcatchanysubstancefromMinoru.
Didtheenemyfinallyrealizethedifferenceinabilitythatshouldhavecalledthedifferenceinthestatus
quo?Theonlythingthatcouldbeseenwastheshapeoftheshadowofonemagicianthathid.
Hedidntsurrender,becausehestillheldhismagiccharms.Heshowedhisstancesoexpressly,sohedidnt
escape.Itwasaposturetounveiladesperateattack,orbetteryet,togoforthesinkorswim.
Ofcourse,Minoruseyesfacedthatman.
Itcanbeunfairtocallitneglect.Minorujustwasnotgrantedmorechancestofight,becausehistalentwas
theverytopnotch,excepthewasn'tendowedbutwithanailingbody.
TheenemythatheldthecharmswasdefeatedbyMinorusmagic
Atthesametimealmostsimultaneously,asmallshadowrushedbesidesbushesclosertoMiyukirather
thanMinoru.
Itwasnotamagician.Itwasamuchagilefourleggedbeastandconsiderablysmallerthanahuman.
AKanko!?(Kankoisacreaturethatresemblesafoxspiritfamiliar.)
WhetherMinorusvoicecalledforMiyukisattentionorreflexivelyexpressedsurprise,ifitwasawarning,
Miyukiwasbeyondhelp.Rightthen,thesmallbeastwastobounceuponMiyukiwithclearmalicious
intent.
Miyukiwatchedthebeastthatwasgoingtoattackherwithoutblinkinghereyes.
Miyukisama!
Minamiwastheonethatmovedinthatmoment.
WiththeobjectshieldthatMinamisetup,shesensedandstartedtoreflexthatsomethinghadslipped
throughitratherthanbrokenit.
Then,inorderforMiyukisbodytobecovered,MinamiservedherselfasashieldforherMaster.
Thatsaid,MiyukiistallerthanMinami.ForMinamitocoverMiyuki,ithastobeintheformofjumpand
pushdown.
ItdbeunthinkablethatMiyukicouldhaveafragmentofexpectationthatMinamiwouldcomeforthwith
thisbehavior,sosheturnedherbackoveratherwitsend.
"Miyuki!"
Tatsuyacriedoutwithanindeedimpatientvoice.Butsoonafter,heregainedcomposure.
MinamirushedtolookbackatwhatwasunderlyingMiyukitograspanunexpectedviewofsomething
reallyfrozen.
WhatwasdisplayeduponMinamiseyes,andnotbeingametaphorbutreal,wastheicedupbodyofa
longsmallanimalknockeddown.

IthuuuurtsMinamichan,quicklymoveback,please.
Minamistoodupinahurryuponhearingthatvoice.Miyukisvoicedidn'thaveangeratall,butMinamis
heartwasjustbeforeapanicattack.
AsexpectedofMiyuki.Splendidreactionyouhadthere.
TatsuyaapproachedandheldouthishandtoMiyuki.
Miyukihappilygraspedherelderbrother'shand,andgotupwithamovethathardlymadeherfeelany
weight.
I'mOniisama'slittlesisterafterall.Imustbeabletodothismuch.
NeitherTatsuyanorMiyukiseemedtocatchsightofMinamiwhoalmostfaintedwithstrain.
Meanwhile,Minoruneutralizedallremainingenemies.

TatsuyaleftthesideofMiyukiandMinamiforamomenttosearchthepocketsoftheenemythey
defeated.However,Tatsuyadidntfindanycluestohisidentitybylookingathisbelongings.Thesearch
didntdependonreasonsomuch,sohewasntdisappointed.Hejustreturnedtothetwogirlswitha
nonchalantlook.
MinamiandMiyukikeptexchanginglinessuchas"Imsorry,Imsorry"vs."It'sok,Idon'tworryaboutit."
and"Imsorry,Imsorry,Imsorry,......"vs."It'sreallyok,Iwon'tworryaboutitanymore".Tatsuyajudged
thatitwasnecessaryalittlemoretimeuntilMinamicouldcalmdownandpaidmoreattentiontoMinoru
whowalkedtothisplace.Tatsuyawasgoingtothankhimforhisassistance,buttheonewhotalkedfirst
wasMinoru.
Itisamazing,Tatsuyasan.Tothinkthatyouhavecompletedtheenemycleanupinthisshorttime."
Tatsuyahadahardtimetryingtosuppressabittersmile.
No,Werentyoutheonewhowasamazing?Mypartwasonlytobeavailableforsurpriseattacks,butyou
broughttothefrontallenemiesthathidandhadthemundercontrol.
IfIsaythat,Iwouldbedoingafoulplay.WouldyouhappentoknowaboutParade?
Yes.But,thatpersontheremustbewondering:WhydoIknowoftheexistenceofParadeandknow
aboutit.
Itsconfidential.
Minoruansweredsopromptlyandwithanexpressivesmilethatnobitofmalicecouldbefelt.Maybethis
wasalreadyknown,butTatsuyathoughthehadafacelikeanangelandalsoagoodpersonality.
TatsuyathoughtthatitwasntcertainthatheseemedtobepronetocriticismandwordslikeYoudont
sayfromstrangers,butthen,hedecidedtochangethesubjectbeforefallingintothehumilityoftheloop
complimentingeachother.

Bytheway,howlongdoesittakefromheretotheTraditionalistsbase?Wehaventspenttoomuchtime
inbattle,butnowthatanambushwassethere,theenemycanexpectustoknowtheirhidingplace.But
evenifwegonow,Idontthinkwewillfindanycluesleft."
Yes.Inaddition,wecan'tleavethemhereunattended.
Oniisama,isntitbetterforustodepartsoon?Westillhaveplentyofroomtocatchthetrainbutbeing
seeninthisplaceatthishour,fortoolongwontdoanygoodforus.
MiyukicalledforTatsuyasattentionevenifthereasonwasntbeingjealousthatTatsuyaandMinoruwere
interactingongoodterms.
Yes,thatscorrect.Weredoneheretoday,right?
Oh,well,hereIam.Ahem,IknowthatIshouldmindmyownbusinessbut,aroundwhattimeisyour
returnticket?
Itsfor10:30p.m.Westillhave3hours.
BecauseTatsuyaintendedtotakemoretimeforsearching,hetookthereturnticketsonareasonablylater
time.Bytheway,thesystemcalledticketalwayschangesformbutstillsurvivesinthisera.
So,whatwouldyousayifwegotoanOnsen(hotspring)?
Onsen?
MiyukilistenedtotheconversationofMinoruandTatsuyaonthesideandafter,shefrownedher
eyebrowssuspiciously.Minamiintendedtodothisinsecret,butalmostcompletelyexposedtoher
companions,sheopenedhersweaternecktoconfirmherbodyodor.
Thisofcoursehasanobviousmeaning.ThewomenwereimpatientandthinkingthatMinorusteppedona
landminewiththeiremotions.
No,no,no,youtwograciousladieshaventbeentouchedbyanyimpurityoruncleanness.
MiyukipiercedalookofthemooninthewaterintoMinoru.
Minoruswholebodybecamestiff.Thedignifiedfightofminutesagonowseemedtobejustpretense.
Tatsuyaprobablyperceivedhimselftohavetopullsomeone'schestnutsoutofthefireandonlysighedin
hismind.
Minoru,thatssuicide.
TatsuyagavefirstadecisiveblowforMinorutobehavemoreconsciousofnotextendingdamage.
Miyuki,Minamitoo,pleasecalmdown.MinorujustsuggestedthatifwebathintheOnsenweshould
healourbattlefatigue,thatsall.
Besidethem,MinoruwasspeechlessofthewaythatTatsuyapersuadedtheyoungersisterswithastrong
tone.
Ithinkitsnotabadstory.Whatwillyoudo?

.IfOniisamasaysso
Althoughnothavingafaceofbeingcompletelyconvinced,Miyukinodded,while,ontheotherhand,a
danglinglightofexpectationwasreflectedintheeyesofthosewhowouldbecharmedbyherinthe
Onsen.
MaybeMinamiwasembarrassedsittingnexttoMiyuki,becausesheheldthesweaterbytheneckwithher
righthand.
MinoruguidedthepartytoanOnsenlocationthatwasonawellestablishedhotelnotfarfromthe
Heijkyruins.Itcanbesaidthat,hewasguidinginsteadofescorting,asTatsuyasoundlyinsistedMinoru
tobeonthatposition,soincaseofasurpriseattackthepartycouldfleeleavingMinorufightingalone.
Surprisingly,Minoruspersonalitywasofthosethatcanbecompelled.
IfMinoruhadntgonewiththem,Tatsuyawouldhavebeeninthepositionofgettingdraggedintoafamily
bathwithMiyuki.Itsnotthathedidntwantit,butitwasinconceivabletobewiththetwogirlsalonein
suchaplace.
Infact,TatsuyawantedtotalkabitmoretoMinoru.
Then,withoutenteringthehotspringinthehotel,TatsuyaandMinorustayedintheguestroomfacing
eachotheracrossthetatamiroomtable.
SoTatsuyasan,whatdoyouneedtoknowabouttheKanko?
Imsurprised.Youhaveasplendidinsight.
TatsuyapraisedMinoruquiteearnestly,soMinorutookitasacompliment.
No,IjustblurtedoutsomewordfrommemoryofasubjectthatIdontknowmuchaboutandthat
seemedtoattractyourinterest.
Tatsuyajustpraisedtheabsenceofperceptivenessandchosenotvoicingitagain.Healsodecidedtodelve
intothemainsubject.
WhatkindofexistenceisthisKanko?It'simpossiblenothavingseenorheardaboutacreaturethat
holdsseamlesssubstanceandthatappearsintheshapeofafox.Also,notanordinarybeingisabletoslip
throughMinami'sguardianbarrier.
Forjustabriefmoment,hesitationwasreflectedonMinoruseyes
Doyoualreadyknowabouttheparasites,right?
Yes.Youknowaboutthem,too?
Yes.Briefly,thisKankoisafamiliarcreatedwiththesameprincipleastheparasites
Thesameprinciple?Isitembeddedintheindependentinformationbodyofthebeast?
Yes.Justafteracreatureiskilled,theyextracttheinformationbodyandcreateanartificialspirit.Thisnew
youngcongenerbeastbettersaidFamiliar,iscreatedwiththemagicalabilityoftheparentembedded.
Thisancientmagicritesurprisinglyseemstobepopulartechnology.

Sothen,thisKankoissurelysomekindofcreatedFamiliar?
Yes.But,isthatreallywhatyouwantedtohear?
Minoruseemedtoemitanairofmalice.Hereallydidntappeartobeparticipatingintheharboringofthe
parasites.Hegavetheimpressionofbeingcautiousandofonlyexpectingtoreceivequestioningfrom
Tatsuyaonthemethodforbreedingparasites.Maybeitwasmisunderstoodthattherewasanincreaseof
parasites,andwiththat,morehumansofferedassacrifices.Anyhow,withthis,tensioncouldrevealthe
explicitaspectofsomethingincreasinglysuperhuman.
However,thiswasntTatsuyasimpression.Becausehewasaccustomedtothesuperhumangoodlooks,he
reallydidntfeelanyparticularpressure.
"No,thisisenoughfornow."
AllthesuspicioushintsonMinorusfacedisappearedafterbeingcaughtbysurprisewithTatsuyas
response.Hewaspushedtogiveoutaninnocentvoiceafterthis.
SsSorryaboutthat.
AsomehowdistortedlaughterattackstruckMinoruandhecouldntstopit.Thatwasthekindoffellowhe
happenedtobe.
Youknowwhat,Tatsuyasan,whatcanIsay,youreallyareaprofoundperson.Iunderstandnowwhy
Grandfatherhastakeninterestinyou.
No.Imjustanordinaryperson.
Minoruslaughtercontinued,withtheideaofdirectinganobjectiontoTatsuyawhoasahumanbeinghad
adazzlingmind.
Rightafterbeingguidedtotheirroom,MiyukiandMinamidecidedtogototheOnsen,particularlythebig
communalbath.TherewasntanyrequestfromMiyukiforTatsuyatoaccompanythem.Ontheother
hand,sinceMiyukiwasjusttooinquisitive,therewasntanyspecificneedtohidethetalkaboutthe
Kanko
Intheend,itseemedlikeacorrectchoicetomakethisdecision.Also,theOnsenunexpectedlyprovided
comfortableandpleasantfeelingsforthebath.
Thecommunalbathwasquitecrowdedinitsownway.Asusualinthisdate,therewasntanyoneexposed
nakedinpublic.Therewasapartitiontoseparatetheboothtowashthebodyandtheplungebathtubwith
thehotwater.Thiswasalongestablishedratherquiethotel,anddespiteaconsiderablenumberofadults
werethere,itcanbesaidthattheexposureforthepeopleinthebathwascontrolled,infact,censored.
Still,Miyukicaughteverybody'seye.
Therewasntanymixedbathinginthisplace,explicitlyonlybathingforpeopleofthesamesex.
Additionally,womenpresentthistimeweremostlyadultandsomeelderlytoo.Nevertheless,whenMiyuki
appearedbesidethebathtub,alleyesofthevisitorsturnedsimultaneouslyontoher,puttingsome
quietnessintheroomasiftimestoppedatall.
Then,assoonasherwhitefootwasquietlyimmersedinthehotwater,adeepsighleakedoutofnowhere
andafterwardstimebeguntoadvanceagain.

Next,Miyukistartedtoslowlysubmergeandthehotwatergentlyquiveredherbathrobeagainstherbody.
Itwasntjustoneortwothatfeltthatacelestialmaidenwiththerobeofanangelhadjustdescended.
Miyukifeltverycomfortableandexhaledacaptivatingsigh.Butinsteadofanexhaling,itsoundedasan
inhaling.
Suddenly,aroughwavehitthesurfaceofthehotwater.Thereweretwowomenthatlookedliketwenty
yearoldswhoslightlystartledincommotionandimmediatelygotoutofthebathroom.Thisdidnt
purposefullymeanthatthetwowomenprovokedoneortwopeopletoleave,butwithoutnoticing,Miyuki
andMinamiwereleftaloneinthespring.
Whatonearthwouldhavehappened,everyone?
AfterMiyukiswords,Minamisecretlyexhaledasighnexttoherdazzlingcompanion.
Minamiunderstoodverywellthefeelingsofthewomenwholeft.Likewise,regardingrealfeelings,Minami
alsodidn'twanttotakeabathwithMiyuki.Itwasonlyaftershejoinedthebaththatshecasuallynoticed.
Asifstimulatingtheinferioritycomplexofawoman,evenheridentitywassoshakenthatshewantedto
runawaythescene.
ThismightbenolongerrelevantbutMinamihasevenbecomeattachedtosuchoffthemarkconcern.
Well,thisisperfect.Thiswaywecaneasilybemorerelaxed.
Minamiregrettablyagreedwiththisopinion.WhenMiyukiattractsattention,Minamiwhoisbesideher
necessarilyneedstofitintothepicture.MinamiisnotusedtobeinggazedatunlikeMiyuki.Shecertainlyis
abeautifulgirl,butshedoesnothavetheextremelygoodlooksseizingalleyesofthesamesexaswellas
theoppositeone.Actually,thefactthatjustthetwoofthembecamealoneinthebathsomewhatrelieved
Minami.
Yes.Thisisreallynice
Followingthat,Miyukisighed.
Minamisbodytrembledwithfearinsteadofsurprise.
Ara?WhathappenedMinamichan?Areyoucold...?Isitpossiblethatthewaterhasbecomechillier?
Minamiwasntcoldatall.Onthecontrary,shewaskindofburning.
Ibetterimmerseabitmore.Thethingisthatmybodydoesnotmuchabidebythiskindoftemperature
anditwasalreadyheatedenough.
Itwasamisunderstanding.Actually,Minamiwantedtoleavethehotwaterimmediately.However,she
couldntopposeMiyuki'swishesjustlikethat.So,understandingMiyukishintandfeelingthepressure,
Minamiimmersedherbodyinthewater.
MiyukismiledlookingsatisfiedseeingadiligentMinamiwhoimmersedinthehotwater.ButMinami's
consciousnessshookwithdizziness.Nomatterwhooneis,ifahotbathistoolong,onewillbeaffected
withhotwaterfatigue.

Tatsuyaleftthehotel,alongsideMiyukiwholookedabsolutelyrefreshedandMinamiwhoforsomereason
hadanexhaustedface.Actually,thefaretheyappliedhaddinnerincluded,butitwaslateandtheydidnt
haveenoughtimeforit.
Later,infrontofthestation,MinorusawwithsorroweyesthepartingofTatsuyaandthetwogirls,who
wereabouttoleaveinalimousine.
Todaywasreallyfun.
Asusual,whatMinorusaidwasnotputintocourteouswords.
No.Weretheonesgratefulforyourhelp.
Tatsuyarepliedonbehalfofthethree.
MinoruturnedtowardsTatsuyawitheyeslikeapuppythistime.Thatwasanexpressionthatwouldmake
awomanofmarriageagelosesanity.
Canwemeetagainlater?
Idsaythatthemissionisnotoveryet,soonwellmeetandthattimewellbeunderyourcareagain.
Idbegladto!PleaseletmeknowofanythingIcanassist.Ifitissomethingwithinmycapability,I'llbe
gladinlendingyouahand...
Thankyou.So,wellbeseeingyoulater."
Yes.Untilthetimeweseeeachotheragain.

TatsuyaandthegirlspartedfromMinoruwhileexchangingafarewellwiththepromiseofmeetingagain.


AsthethreereturnedtoTokyo,theydinedoutbeforereturninghome.Tatsuyawenttohisroomand
enteredonhispersonalterminalinsteadofhishometerminal.Heimmediatelynoticedamessageonthe
answeringmachine.ThesenderofthemessagewasFujibayashi.
Eventhoughhethoughtthatthereweremanyopportunitiestocontactherrecently,hedecidedthistime
waspropertocallheronherprivatenumber.
Ah,Tatsuyakun?Welcomeback.
ItwasastrangefeelingtobecalledWelcomebackonacall.Eventoday,whentheaddresseewasonthe
othersideofthevideo.
Iapologizeforcallingthislate.IsFujibayashisanstillattheKudousresidence?
Thisquestionwasquiterelevant,sinceFujibayashiwaspresentwhenTatsuyawasmeetingKudouRetsu.
Yeah,yourequiteperceptive.
Imjustguessing.
Ara,Isthatso?SinceitisTatsuyakun,Ithoughtyou'dsurelyhacksomelocalconnectiontoobtain
information.
Unfortunately,IdonthavetheinformationgatheringskillsetthatFujibayashisanhas.Besides,Ihavea
questionaboutthemessageIjustreceived.Whatwasthatoftodayspecifically?
That.EventhoughTatsuyadidntexpresshisawarenesswithanyweirdmeaning,Fujibayashilaughed
withoutemittinganysound.
Right.About'that'...
Sheusedthesameword,beforefollowingupwiththedetails.
ItsaboutthebunchthatattackedTatsuyasgroupthisevening.
FujibayashieasilyexpressedthewordthatTatsuyamadeambiguous.
Tatsuyadidn'traiseanycomplaintaboutwhatwasmentioned.Ontheotherhand,Fujibayashididn'tworry
aboutanyeavesdropping,asthesafetyoftheconnectionwasguaranteed.
Doyouknowtheiridentity?
Yes,thoughIthinkitwasquiteevident.
MagiciansfromtheancientfactionoftheTraditionalists.
Well,youalreadyknew.
FujibayashirepliedwithanapatheticvoicetoTatsuyascorrectanswer.

Still,I'msurethisisnottheend,right?
TatsuyaaskedconfidentlyFujibayashi.However,ifthat'salltheretoit,shewouldn'tgosofarastoask
Tatsuyatoreturnhercall.
Youreright.Itsnodoubtthatthebunchthatattackedyouguyswasanexecutionunitfromthe
Traditionalistsandalsotheyinvolvedamonkthatwasexiledfromthecontinent.
Withthiscomment,Fujibayashimadeasomewhatdisagreeableface.
ForthedevelopmentoftheParasiteDolls,theKudouinvolvedthepresenceofthismonkwhoalsowas
protectedbythem.IknewthismonkrushedbacktotheTraditionalistshideout,butitssurprisingtohave
foundhiminthisplacethistime.
Isn'tthattobeexpected?
Well,that'sright
FollowingTatsuyascomment,Fujibayashinoddedwithasourfaceasifpainedbyabugbite.
Theyinvitedamagicianwithahighpotentialofbecomingtheirenemytothefaction,instilledhimwith
feartodotheircovertoperations,andnowtheylethimescape...Additionally,hewasanaccompliceto
attackcivilians,ontopofthat,minors.IwonderwhatthehellwastheKudouClanthinkingoffordoing
this.
Evenifweputasidetheattackontheminors,attackingciviliansisunheardof.Anyway,Minorukunwas
alsoattackedinthe9SCrace,soatleastIdon'tintendtoputtheblamesolelyonKudouClan.
Well,yourerightItcantbehelpednow.
Fujibayashisomewhatshookherneckwithhercomment.Also,withtheintentofchangingthemoodshe
alsohandcombedherslightlyflusteredhair.
IwantedyoutocallmebecauseIhadtoapologizeforanothermatter.
Apologizetome,yousay?
Yes.ThethingisthatIshouldhavecalledyoubeforeyoudid,butIdidntknowwhenyouweregoingto
doit.
Idontmindaboutit.Bytheway,youweresayingsomethingaboutanapology?
Tatsuyadidnotfeignignorance;hereallyhadnoideaaboutit.Incontrast,interestinglyinitsownway,
Fujibayashiwaswearingaveryuncomfortableface,asifshewasexpectingTatsuyasremark.
Actually,itsamatterabouttodaysattackincidentThismatterhasbecomecompetencyoftheunitin
chargeoftheinformationgathering.
Suddenly,Fujibayashistonechangedtoamoreformalonefromamilitaryofficer.
Isthatso?Lieutenant,thenhowthatwouldconcernme?
Bymakinganefforttomakeapokerfaceexpression,FujibayashipreparedtoanswerTatsuyasquestion.

Insumup,the101unitcannotinterveneonthiscase.Needlesstosay,theIndependentMagicBattalion
cannotprovideyouanyhelp.
Unfortunately,thepokerfacedidnotcomeupuntilthestatementwassaid.
Sorryaboutthat,Tatsuyakun
FujibayashiapologizedtoTatsuyawithatrulypitiableexpression.
Wehaveonlytakenadvantageofyouwhenweneededyou,butwecannotprovidethehelpyouneedat
criticaltimes.
However,Tatsuyadidntquiteunderstandtosatisfactionwhatwaswhatshewasworryingabout.
Lieutenant,Ithinkyoushouldntworryaboutthismatterthismuch.Fortheconcernthatyousaythatyou
havetakenadvantageofme,onthecontrary,Ithinkthatyouhavelentmeyourhandinmanyways.
Exceptthatthesituationisdifferentfrombefore.ThistimeTatsuyakunhimselfhasbeencompletely
marked.
ItsneitherthefaultofyouLieutenant,northefaultoftheMajor.Evenifthereexistedanyreason,I
wouldntputanyinconveniencetotheunit.
AnxietyemergedinFujibayashisface.ShecouldfeelTatsuyasthoughtsofhisownpersonalsafetydidnt
mattertohim.
Hey
HertonereturnedfromFujibayashitheLieutenanttoFujibayashitheinformalindividual.
CouldntyouaskYakumosenseiforhishelp?
TatsuyafacedFujibayashisquestioningexpressiononthescreen.
IhavealreadyaskedMasterforhishelp.Particularly,Ihaveaskedtosecretlywatchmyschoolfriends
surroundings.
Iwasntreferringtothat.
Apartfromimpatient,Fujibayashiseemedtostarttofeelabitirritated.
Whataboutaskingforyourownpersonalprotection?Ifnot,evenifyoudontwantprotectionforyour
own,atleastforMiyukisanandMinamichan.
Infact,FujibayashiwasalittlefrustratedwithTatsuyawhodidntfollowtherealmeaningofherconcern.
LieutenantFujibayashimightforget,butMiyukiisalreadywellprotectedbecauseMinamiandIareher
officialguardians.
WhateverFujibayashireflexivelystartedexpressing;Tatsuyawasreadytoscrutinizeitoverthescreen
Moreover,ImnotgoingtoinvolveMasterinthisaffairforanyothermatter.

"Why?"
Fujibayashiaskedwithatoneembracingregainedusualcomposure.
TherelationshipoftheKudou,theTraditionalists,andMasterisverydeep.ThemoreMasterisinvolved,
theresapossibilitythatMastersNinjitsudisciplescouldcauseamishap.Withthis,mostprobably,the
onesattheHieizantemplewillmove.Ifthathappens,acivilwarwillcometolife.Probably,theMaster
Clansmightnothavecontroloverthis.
Tatsuyaprobablydidnotconsiderallthesepossibilities.Hedesignedthemasaninsurancetopreventany
refutingcounterargumentfromFujibayashi.
Ifanythinglikethishappens,itwillneedlesslygivethechancetoacttothosethataresponsoringthe
runawayZhouGongjin.
...Didyousaythatthereisamastermind?
Thatwouldbeverylikely.
AfterTatsuyasremark,Fujibayashiremainedlostinthoughtontheothersideofthescreen.
Well,whetherthemaneuverachievesthatthetopbrassofZhouGongjinsorganizationmarchesintothe
fieldforthefinalstage,orpushesthemintoacriticalsituationTatsuyakunyoureallythinkthisZhou
GongjinisnottheMastermind?
ThetalkaboutifhestheMastermindiseasy.Ishouldlocatehiswhereaboutsandthentakecareofhim.
Theproblemlieswiththeoutcomeofthisbecauseitslikeincreasingtheoverallriskinanattemptto
reducetheriskassociatedwithhiscapture,whichIthinkfrommypointofviewitsafoolishplan
Andofcourse,Ithinkitsofprioritytothinkaboutthesafetyofoneself
LieutenantFujibayashi
FujibayashiloweredhereyesuponTatsuyascriticizing.
OkIunderstand.However,ifyoufeelthatthethingsgetreallydangerous,contactmeimmediately
withoutdoubt.Thisisbecausetakingactionforsecuringthelifeofamemberinamilitaryunitisallowed
bythemilitarydiscipline.
Rogerthat.
Tatsuyarespondedwithahandsalute.Ithastobenoted,thatthiswasntdoneassarcasm,butratherto
makehisdeclarationofintentionasamemberofamilitaryunitandalsotomakeFujibayashireassuredof
thisintent.

Chapter4
TatsuyaandtherestreturnedfromNara.And,thefollowingevening.NeithertheShibahousehold,northe
Kudouclan,northeKurobaclan,norFirstHigh,norKyuuchoutemplemadeanymoveregardingthesearch
forZhouGongjin.
AhighclasshouseclosetotheheartoftheTokyodowntown.Thesplendidabodewasbuilttoblendin
withtheregularhouses,itssplendorwasexactlythesameastheotherwesternstylehouses.Theowner,
SaegusaKouichi,hadcalledhiscurrenttrustedretainerwhoservedashisdaughtersbodyguard,Nakura
Saburotohisstudy.
Doyouremembertheboy,ShibaTatsuya?
Themastersquerywasfiredoffafterthegreeting.
AyoungkouhaiofMayumiojousamasfromherhighschoolyears
Nakuranaturallyrepliedblandlyandinoffensively.Ofcourse,Nakurarecalledmorethanthataswellbut
hedidnotsayit.
KouichidirectedhiseyestowardNakuratomakeaglance.Thereplydidnotmatchhisopinionbut,Kouichi
didnotvoiceareproof.
ThatkouhaiofMayumishadcontactwiththeKurobatwins
ThepairthatcoveredthemselvesingloryatthisyearsNineSchoolsCompetition,hmm.Themaleofthe
Kurobaclanstwinsattractedattentionwhilesomehowavoidingtheeyesofthoseconnectedwithmagic.
Somehow,huh
KouichismannerofspeakingsaidIknowsomethingisbeingconcealed,however,hedidnotputitinto
concretewords.
Twoweeksago,thosetwinsoftheKurobaclanvisitedShibaTatsuyashouse.Andyesterdayandtheday
beforeyesterday,ShibaTatsuyavisitedtheKudouclan.Apparently,hemetwithSensei
HespokedirectlytoKudouRetsusama.Thatisnotriflingthing
Onceagain,KouichigaveNakuraaglancingglare.
Nakura,stopplayingdumb
Thistime,hedidnotstopwithalook.
ShibapassedamessagefromtheKurobatwinstoSensei.Thereisonlyoneincidentthatcouldgivethe
YotsubaareasonthatwouldspecificallyrequiretheKudouscooperation
KouichiknewoftheKurobastroopsfailuretocaptureZhouGongjininYokohamasChinatown.
Nakurawastheonewhohadreportedthattohim.


NakurawasnotgoingtopointoutthattheonewhocontactedtheKudouclanwasnottheKurobatwins
butShibaTatsuya.KouichihadntstateditovertlybutNakuraknewhismasterhaddeducedthe
relationshipbetweenShibaTatsuyaandtheYotsubaclan.
Anyways,thatmancannotfleetheYotsubawhentheyhavesecuredtheKudouclansaid
KouichiwasreferringtoZhouGongjinwhenhesaidthatman.TheKudouclanandtheYoutsubaclan
allyingtosearchforZhouwasKouichioverthinkingthingsthoughtNakurajustnow.Hehadgatheredthe
datathatthesuppositionwasbasedon.However,NakuradidnotmentionthattoKouichi.
IdontcareifthatmangetsswattedbytheYotsuba.However,ifhegetscaughtbytheYotsuba,theresa
highprobabilitythatmyclanwouldbeplacedinunfavorablecircumstances
Nakurabowedtoconveyhisagreementtohismasterwithoutwords.
TheYotsubamustnotbecomeawareoftherelationshipbetweentheSaegusaandZhouGongjin
NakuraandKouichihaddifferentopinionsonthatpoint.NakurahadconfirmedthattheYotsubawere
alreadyawareoftheSaegusaclansaccommodationwithZhouGongjin.
Theyprobablyhadntgottenholdofevidence.However,likeNakuraandhisilkneithertheYotsubanorthe
Kurobaundertheirumbrellaneededevidence.TheYotsubalivedintheUnderthesameaspeoplelike
Nakura.WhiletheUnderwasaworldthatlikedtoplaywithfire,thewaythenaturalorderofthingswas
viewedwasdifferentfromthewayasurfacedwellerlikeKouichisawthings.Nakurathoughtthatbut,due
totheworldstheylivedinbeingdifferent,hethoughttherewasnowayforthattobeunderstoodwitha
mereverbalexplanation.youacquiredZhouGongjinslocation?
Forgiveme,please.NotevenIknowhiswhereabouts
AwaveofangerpassedoverKouichisface.
Hismasteronthevergeoflosingit,Nakuracontinuedwithstatementstopushhimtothebrink.
However,wesecuredalineofcommunication.Callinghimoutispotentiallypossible
Kouichiaudiblygroundhisbackteeth.HefeltthathewasbeingmockedbyNakura.However,he
immediatelythrewouttheemotionandrestoredhiscalm.Perhapsitwashisnaturaldisposition,his
elegancewasnotabitfrayed.
ThencalloutZhouGongjin.Andtakecareofhimdecisively
Asyouwish
Herepliedtothekillorderwithanod,therewasnohesitation.Fromthebeginning,thesekindofjobs
werehisspecialty,beforehewashiredbytheSaegusa,themajorityofhisemploymentcamefrombeing
anassassin.
Ifyouwantbackup,pickwhoeveryouwishtoaccompanyyou.Youdonotneedtoworryaboutthe
mansionssecurity
No,justmewillbeenough

Kouichiscowledslightlyattheconfidentandconceitedwords,Nakurablandlydelivered.
ZhouGongjinhastheskilltobreakthroughaKurobablockade.Ibelievethatyouretheonewhoreported
thattome?
KouichispointdidnotcrackNakurasfacade.
Thatwasindeedso.PardonmyrudenessbutIbelievethatthehousesecuritysskillsareonlygood
enoughtodiefruitlessly.Instead,theywouldbeahinderance
Harshwordsbut,therewasnotraceofangeronKouichisface.
Understood.Itsalrightforyoutohandleitformethewayyouthinkbest
Forgivemyimpertinence
Nakurarespectfullybowedhisheadtothecasuallygivencommand.
Ah.IlltransferthedutyofguardingMayumiasusual
Thankyouforyourconsideration
NakurarepliedwithhisheadstillbowedandwithdrewfromthestudywithoutmeetingKouichiseyes.

ThislastvisittoNaradidnotproduceanyactualresultsregardingthesearchforZhouGongjinbut,hehad
securedthroughaninterviewthecooperationoftheelderwhostillwieldedinfluenceovertheworldof
Japanesemagicdespitehisclaimsofretirement.Theyhadcapturedthemainlandsmagicianswhohad
vengefullyambushedthem.Hewouldhavetowaitontheinformationdivisionbut,hewasnotinsuchdire
straitsthathehadtostealthilyusetheinformationdivisionforcluesfromtheprisonerstheyhadbeen
given.
TatsuyaspentadenselypackedSaturdayhowever,ifhewasabletoleaveschoolatnoonthenadifferent
kindofbusinesswouldbewaiting.Today,hegothelpfromIsoriatlast,insidethelecturehall,hedisplayed
bytheprojectortheresultsofcastingassistancecarvedseals,hehadgarneredfromtheexperimental
devicetheyhadmanufactured.
.....inshort,theproblemiswhatisagoodwaytomakethepointabouthowmuchmarginforerrorthere
iswithcarvedseals,right?
Right.Justhowmuchtheformcanbedistortedandstillbeeffectiveasacastingassistant?Itisan
essentialpartofthisthesis
Itwouldbealrighttoshowmewhatexperimentaldatayouhavegatheredsofar,right?
Yes,here
MiyukiseemedproudandHonokaspellboundastheystaredatTatsuyaandIsorisinteractedthatway.
Honoka,Miyuki,Iamgoingbacktomypatrol
HavingShizukusvoicecomeatherfromthesidemadeHonokastartandreturntoherself.
Ah,yes.Goodluck
Shizuku,thankyouforyourwork
Thanks.Honoka,Miyuki,later
AsHonokawatchedShizukusbackassheleft,MiyukisaidWeshouldreturnaswelltoher.
MiyukicarefullypickedoutatimethatwouldnotinterruptthemtocallouttoTatsuyaandthepair
returnedtotheStudentCouncilroom.Alongtheway,MiyukiquestionedHonokaasifnothinghad
changed.
Uptonow,youhaventfeltlikeanyonewasfollowingyouorwatchingyou?
Yes,Imfine.Ojisamahasbeenreallyworriedaboutme,heevenmadearrangementswithasecurity
companyformysake
Asecuritycompanyofmagicians?

Yesactually,itsMorisakikunsfamilybusiness
ListeningtothosewordsmadeMiyukisfacechangesubtly,itcouldbesaidtobequiteunderstandable.
TheMorisakifamilyranasecuritycompanythatwashighlyrespectedbyboththeordinaryandmagician
socialsphere.Miyukiwasawareofitaswellbut,herfirstimpressiondidntquitejellwithit.
Wewell,Ojisamamadethearrangementsso,Ithinkitwillbealright
....right.NothingwouldbewrongwiththechoiceofShizukusOtousama
Asomewhatboredatmospherewaftedbetweenthepair.ItwaserasedoutbyHonokasuneasy
questioning.
MiyukihowlongmustIstayatShizukusplace
ThesheerunexpectednessofwhatsheheardmadeMiyukiblinkhereyes.
DidShizukusfamilysaysomething?
Ididntmeananythinglikethat!ItsbecauseOjisama,Obasama,andthepeopleworkingforShizukus
familyhavebeenentirelytoonicetome!
HerreflexivecrymadeHonokamakeaahface.
Forgiveme,please.Ididntmeantoimplythat
Nno,Miyuki!Pleaseforgiveme.ThewayIspokewasmixedup!
AnyfurtherprotestationsofItsmyfaultfromMiyukiwereleftunsaidduetoHonokasangrylook.
Umm,Ididntmeanthat,ImeantjusthowlongdoIhavetohaveabodyguardandbeonmyguard
Honokasuneasinesswasnatural.Sinceshewasntadescendantofmagiciansproducedfromalab,she
hadntbeenraisedtoserveinbattle.
Miyukifeltthatherstandardswerenotmistaken.
Eventhoughitmightbelong,IthinkuntiltheThesisCompetitionisover
ItlookedlikeHonokahadnotexpectedaclearanswer.ShegazedbackatMiyukisfacewithahuh?look.
Itsfine.Nothingscarywillhappen
MiyukikeptagentlesmilelikethekindusedtoreassuresmallchildrenwithinHonokaslineofsightasshe
answered.Honokaturnedredandlookeddowninshame.
UntillastSaturday,theyhadntbeenawareofitbutMizukiandMikihikoshouseswereunexpectedly
close.
MizukishousewasonestationfromthecitycenterofAtsugicity.
MikihikoshomewasinIseharacityatthefootofMountTanzawa.

DistancewisetheywerentthatclosebutregardingcommutingonthecabinetlinefromAtsugitoIsehara,
itwasaround5minutesfromthecloseststationtoMizukishometothecloseststationtoMikihikos
home.
Um,Yoshidakun.Justthisfarisfine,really
No,thatwouldbepointless
TheyhadleftjustbeforetheschoolgatesclosedduetopreparingfortheThesisCompetition.Becausethe
topic,Isorihadchosenforthistime,neededmorecomputergraphicstypestuffcreatedthandevices
constructed;theArtclub,Mizukibelongedto,wasgoingallout.Herownspecialtywasoldfashioned
watercolorpaintingbutshewasalsofairlyskilledatCGwhichwasanindispensableabilityinthisproject.
Forthatreason,shewasntabletoleaveschooluntilthelastpossiblemoment.Well,thankstothat,seeing
MizukihomedidnotinterferewithhisdutiesasthePublicMoralscommitteechief.
ItwasalreadyOctoberandnearlytheTenth.Sincelongago,thepassingofAutumnEquinoxmeantthat
daysofautumnwererunningout.Theskywasrapidlystartingonthetwinklingstars.Nomatterhowmuch
pedestriantraffictherewasdowntownorhowmanycommutersgoingdirectlyfromthestationtotheir
homes;therewasnowayleavingagirlatthestationwithaSeeyou,latercountedasseeingherhome.
Justas,Mikihikostated.
Mizuki,herself,wasnotdispleasedwithMikihikoseeingherhome.However,shewasunsureaboutwhat
totalkaboutasacouplealoneamongcommuters.Itwasnotlikethepairhadawealthofpossibletopics,
theyhadalreadyexhaustedavarietyoftopicsinthecabinetonSaturdayandestablishedthattheywere
finishedwiththoseonMonday.
Justtwopeoplealoneinanarrowcarwithouttalking.WithMiyukisslightshyness,thecabinetwasquite
tryingorratheranordeal.
Theintervalinfrontofthestationwhilewaitinginlineforacabinetwaswithouttalkingbut,sincethey
werenotinaprivateenclosedspace,thesilencehadntbeenburdensome.
Cometothinkofit,isntyourspecialtywatercolors,Shibatasan?
Uh,yes
DespitethefactthatMikihikohadntwaiteduntil,theyhadgottenintothecabinettoofferupthetopicof
conversation,hehadtakenthetroubletothinkup;itdidnotpromptanythoughtofwhataninsensitive
boyinMizuki.
Really.Ilikethesubtlecolouringofwatercolors...IcanaddcolortoCGmorefreelynowbut,Imstillone
ofthosewhowishtopaintbybrush
ItwasMizukisnaturetoanswerthequestions,shewasasked,tothefullest.
Yet,youregoodatCGdespitethat,incredible
Itsnothing,Istillhavealongwaystogoonwatercolors
ThehumbleandshyMizukisfaceturnedextremelyredandwhineddontflattermewithoutwords.
Unfortunately,MikihikohadnevergarneredEXPinthatkindofsensing.

But,yourclubpresidentboastsofyou.Hesaysyourtalentsforgraphicsisincredible,Shibatasan.Come
tothinkofit,arentyougettinggoodgradesinMagicGeometry,Shibatasan?
Yeyes.IhavebeenreceivingthepointsIearnedineachroundoftests
Mizukismiledjokingly.
haha,sameasme.ThankstoMagicHistoryandMagicLinguistics,Iammaintainingmyhighrank.
However,nomatterwhatIdoIhavetroublewithMagicalEngineering
Yourspecialtyischarms,Yoshidakun.eh,cometothinkofitYoshidakun,youdidntchoseMagic
Geometry.Why?
BecauseMagicPharmacologyismoreusefulformytechniques.ThetruthisIactuallywanttostudyMagic
Geometryaswell
SothatswhyyougotoTsudzurasenseisofficeoccasionally
No,thatssortofbecausesenseihasbeencallingmeover..
Eventhoughtheywereundertheimpressionthattherewereinnodanger,thepossibilityofitlaybetween
thepairastheytalked.
However,nomatterhowmuchhewasenjoyinghisconversationwithMizuki,Mikihikodidnotshirkhis
monitoringtheirsurroundings.
Evennow,Mikihikowasdealingwiththeshikigamisearchingthearea.InordertokeepMizukiunaware,he
didnotcutofftheconversationasheusedtheshikigamiandatthesametime,hetriggeredan
investigativespell.
Theareaofthespelldidnotexpandspatially;itexpandedinsignificance.AllthegazesuponMizukithat
emittedsignificantmagicalwaveswerereflectedinMikihikosmind.Itdidnotmatterifitwasfilledwithill
orgoodwill,thoughthelustfulonesweremorenumerousthanthebenignones.Shedidnotstandout
nexttoMiyukiandErikabutMizukiwasalsoagirlthatwassignificantlycuterthanaverage.Besides,since
shebecameasecondyear,herbodyhadmaturedintoonethathadthepowertodrawtheeye.
Thedensityofthatkindofstaticmadeittoughbuttheappliedfilterpickedouttheonessuffusedwith
magicalwavesandsentitintoMikihikosmind,irritatinghiminmanyways.Whileunderthatstrain,
MikihikolocatedhistargetwithouteitherMizukiorthemagiciansgunningforherbeingawareofit.
FujibayashihadoncestatedthatMikihikohadtheglowofaprodigy.BeforehegottoknowTatsuya,he
hadspentayearfeelinglikeafailure.SincehegottoknowTatsuya,hehadbeenembroiledinharrowing
eventsandhisimageofhimselfhadbeenreexaminedandchangedinsidethatyear.Thedegreeofgrowth
thathadtakeninhiminthetwoyearperiodwastheequivalenttotentotwentyyearsforanormal
practitioner.
Itisthepointinthetalktocometothispair.Beforetheireyes,thedoortothecommutercar,theywere
waitingfor,opened.MikihikoletMizukigetonfirst,heexaminedthesurroundingarea,didtheJuhou
chantofReturnanancientmagictoreturnashikigamitotheonewhodispatchedit.

Thereisanunderlayertothisscene.Inanabstractsensetobesure,thiswasnotametaphoricunderlayer,
thiswassomethingtakingplacearoundthebackentrancetoabuildingratherthanthefrontentryway.
Describingabuildingsentranceasanentrywaydoesseemstrangeatfirstbut,anywayitwasonthe
oppositesideofthebuildingstothestorefrontsmeanttoattractcustomers,eveninthisage,therewere
backalleywayscreatedbybuildings.Trashwasautomaticallydisposedofbyadedicatedunderground
tube,cleaningmachinesboughtbythelocaldistricttocleanthewalkwaysmeanttherewasnotrashso
therewasnobadsmells.However,itwasinevitablethatthecitylightsdidnotreachthere.
Darnit,thatbrat!
Lurkinginthedeepdarknessofthatpathway,amaninhisfortieswasusingahandtostemofftheabusive
language.
Hisrighthandwascoveringthefingersofhislefthandthatweredrippingblood.
Hesentmyshikibacktome.IsnttheYoshidassecondsonsupposedtohavelosthismysticpower!
Wasspeakingtohimselfahabit,hecertainlydidnotactlikesomeonepretendinghewasntalone.
Neverthelessthatwasaviolentwaytodoit...Iwasonlywatching
Wasthebloodflowinglongerthanheexpected,themantemporarilyreleasedhislefthandandtookacard
ofpaperthatcouldnotserveasahandkerchiefhehadtakenoutacharm.
Justforthat,Illusemyownbloodasanoffering
Ashespoke,themanpressedacharmtohiswoundandchantedacurse.Sincehebounditwiththelast
activationlineofKyuukyuunyoritsuryou,perhapshewasanonmyoujiorperhapssomekindofchinese
occultist.
Imgoingtomakeyourememberme,youdarnYoshidabrat.Mybloodisntcheap
Futile,futile.Withyourskill,oldman,allyouwouldgetwasyourcursereturnedtoyouagain
Withaterrifiedlook,themanturnedtowardthevoice.Hewasnotanamateur.Hehadputupakekkaito
keepanyonebeingawareofhimsohecouldconcentrateonhiswork.Hehadnotforgottentoputupa
circletowarnhimifanyoneapproached.Nonetheless,hehadbeentakencompletelybysurprise.
Withoutwords,themantookoutanewcharm.Therewasnowaythiswasanamateurwhohappenedto
breachthekekkaibychance.Consideringtheremarksthathadjustbeenmade,thiswasunmistakablyan
enemy.
However,themansspellwasnotreleased.
Yourenotwatchingyourback

Theattentionofthemanwhohadturnedaroundhadbeenharvestedbytheyoungmanwhohadjust
approachedhimfrombehind.Hehadgottenhitwithanattackthatcausedhimtoloseconsciousness.Asa
matteroffact,thiswasadangerousactwithpotentialaftereffectsthatcouldnotbeignored.However,
theydidnotshowanysignofhesitation.
Theseguysaretoocrappytobegoodtraining.Areguardsreallynecessary?
Hey,dontsaythat.Enduringinactivityisalsopartoftraining
Thetwoyoungmenlookingateachotherresembledeachotherfaciallyandphysically.Thiswasnota
resemblancesincebirth,theyhadeatenricefromthesamepot,theyhadovercomethesamehell,atype
ofconstructedresemblance.
Andmorethananything,theirheadswereshavedsmooththesameway.

Thefollowingdayduringthebreakbetweenthefirstandsecondperiods.TatsuyavisitedPublicMorals
headquartersasrequestedbyMikihiko.
Ah,Tatsuya.Sorryaboutcallingyouhere
TatsuyasawMikihiko,whohadarrivedfirst,operatinghishandheldconsole,whenheenteredtheroom.
HelockedthedooranddisplayedtheInconferencesign.
Noproblem.Sowhythehurry
Theresnotime,soIllbebrief.Yesterdayonthewayhome,Shibatawastargeted
TatsuyashowedasurprisedfaceattheinformationgivenbytheharshlyscowlingMikihiko.
Mizuki?But,shedidntactlikethathadhappened
Shibataisunaware.Shewasonlywatchedbyshikigami,distanceviewingandthelikeandIbrokealltheir
spells
Oh,Isee
TheeyesofMikihikohadanedgeofhostilityashestaredatTatsuyaasheheardthereliefinTatsuyas
voice.
Itisasyouexpected,Tatsuya
Ah.Thanksforescortingherforme
But,isntitstrange

TatsuyapretendedthathedidntunderstandwhatMikihikowassayingandlistenedtohisscolding.
WhytheheckdidShibatasanhavetobetargetedbythosethugs?Theywerentsimplepunks.Iwouldnt
callthemtopnotchbut,itfeltliketheywerentamateurcriminals
Professionalcriminals?
TheywereUndermagicians
Foraninstant,Mikihikofalteredasifitwashardtoputintowordsbuthedidnotstaysilent.
WhyareguyslikethattargetingShibatasan?IftheirgoalwastheThesisCompetitionthentheyshouldbe
targetingIsorisenpaiorNakajousenpaiorMinakamisenpai.Tatsuyaarentyouhidingsomethingfromus?
ThatactivationsequenceforamodifiedShikigamithatyoushowedmebeforewasntsomethingyou
accidentallyfound.TheguyswhoattackedyouareconnectedtotheonesthatarekeepingtabsonShibata
san,right!?
TherewasnoreplyfromTatsuya.
Mikihikowasthefirsttolookaway.
Tatsuya...youcanrejectmebysayingsomethinglikeitsunnecessarybut,Ioweyou.Itisthankstoyou
thatmyconfidenceandabilityasamagicianwasrestored
Tatsuyatriedtointerrupttorefutethatbut,Mikihikocontinuedtospeak.
So,Iwouldntbedeadweight.IlldoanythingifIcanbeofhelptoyouandifyouwanttokeepitsecret,I
wonttellanyone
HeturnedhisfacebacktoTatsuyawithdesperation.ThelightthatcouldbeseeninMikihikoseyeswas
similartothatofacorneredanimal.
However,ifIdontknowwhatshappening,IwontbeabletoprotectShibatasan!
Justnow,MikihikohadconfessedtoTatsuyathathehadspecialfeelingsforMizukibut,he,himself,was
probablyunawareofit.Tatsuyadidnotattempttousethattoavoidtheconversation.
Icannotgointodetail
Tatsuya!
MikihikonaturallyraisedhisvoiceandpressedclosertoTatsuya.
AforeignmagicianwhoservedasaguideforenemyoperativesinlastyearsYokohamaIncidentisbeing
shelteredbytheTraditionalists.Iampursuinghim
However,whenthenextwordsoutofTatsuyasmouthinformedhimofaportionofthetruth,Mikihiko
lostbothhisvoiceandthecolorinhisface.
Imsorry.ThatsallImabletosay
Isee..you

MikihikostoppedspeakingbeforehesaidJDSFandshuthismouth,takenaback.Even,withina
soundproofingfieldthatwasnotsomethingtobespokenaloud.
Now,Iamtheonewhoissorry..and,thankyoufortellingme
Mikihikocompletelymisunderstood.JustasTatsuyahadinducedhimto.
And,Tatsuyafeltnoguiltoverthis.Theactualtruthofthissituation,hisrelationshipwiththeYotsuba,was
somethingthatshouldnotbeknownyet.Itwasstilltoodangerousforittobeknown.Itwaswaytoosoon
todragMikihikoinasanaccomplice.
Tatsuya,yousaidtheTraditionalists
Yes.Iknowthetargetisbeingshelteredbythem
.....theIthinkIcanbeuseful.Afterschool.nothatwouldntwork.Canyoutalktonight?AfterIsee
Shibatasanhome,Illcomebacktoschoolagain
Gotit
AtimelimithadntbeensetbyMayaofcourseandfromTatsuyasperspectivetherewasnotareasonto
rush.ItwasnotlikehehadapersonalgrudgewithZhouGongjin.Theunvarnishedtruthwasthatleavingit
alonewouldntmakehimanxiousatall.
However,thoughtTatsuya,wouldMikihikoreallybesatisfiedwiththat.

7:30pmintheevening.Astobeexpected,bythishour,theworkforthethesiscompetitionwasfinishing
upfortheday.Onlythemalestudentsremainedbut,thiswasntaproblemforeitherPublicSafetyor
PublicMorals.
Asusualtheformerstudentcouncilofficerwastheresoclosingthegateafterwardscouldbelefttothe
thesisteamleader,Isori.However,fromthestart,thestudentcouncilpresidenthaddesignatedhimasher
representativetosupervise.SonooneregardedTatsuyaspresenceafterschoolassuspicious.
Duetonothaveanyfreetime,hisproblemslikehisnormalschoolworkwerepilingupprettyhigh.
Tatsuyacalleduphisowncurriculumonthestudentcouncilterminalanddealtwithallhistoweringpileof
homeworkinoneswoop.
Immediatelyafterhefinishedoffhisphysicspaper,thechimerangindicatingthattherewasavisitortothe
studentcouncilroom.
Pixie,please
Yes.Master
TatsuyacommandedPixiewhohadbeenturnedintothestudentcouncilsmaidtodealwithit.She
confirmedthevisitorsbiodataandimmediatelyopenedthedoor.Mikihikocameinandsheleftbythe
samedoor,Tatsuyahadalreadygivenherorders.
Ivekeptyouwaiting,Tatsuya
WhilesittingdownontheseatPixiehadoffered,Mikihikomadethefirsteasygreeting.

No,itwasagoodtimeformetotakeabreather
MikihikocastadoubtfuleyeonTatsuyawhoansweredthus.Tatsuyahadlefttheterminalasitwas.
Mikihikocouldseethelistsofreportsonthemonitorfromwherehewassitting.
However,theextratsukkomibrokethetension.
Itsabitabruptbut,letscontinuefromthismorning
Mikihikoconsideredkeepinghisthoughtsfreshmoreimportantthanthemoodandplungedintothemain
topic.
Iwanttoconfirmonething.Tatsuyaareyoucertainthatthetargetisbeingshelteredbythe
Traditionalists?
Itwasatrustworthyinformationsource
Isee..
Mikihikospentabriefperiodoftime,onlyafewseconds,sunkeninthought.
First,letsmakemypositionclear.ThosewhoclaimthenameofTraditionalistsarealargegroupmadeup
ofbothgoodandbadancientmagicians.ItwouldbefinetosaythattheAncientMagiciansaredividedinto
theTraditionalists,thosewhosupportthemandthosewhoopposethem
Really?Mastersaidthattheyweredespisedbymagicianswhosucceededgenuinetraditions
HehadnotactuallygotthatinformationfromYakumohowever,Tatsuyafeltthatputtingitthatwaywould
allaysuspicions.
Certainly.Howeverincontrast,manypractitionerswhofeelconstrainedbyhierarchyanddisciplineand
lackstatussympathizewiththeTraditionalistswhoarenotassociatedwithaTradition
WhatabouttheYoshidaclan?
Alittlewhileago,MikihikohadsaidMakemypositionclear.Inshort,heprobablymeanttomakeeither
hisownorhisclanspositionfororagainstthetraditionalistsclear.
TheYoshidaclanhasbeencalledareligiousordertypeofclanfromold.Duetothefactthatweseek
spellsthatenshrinegodsandspellsthatleadustogod
ThatwasatraitofmagicianswhoalliedwiththeTraditionalists.
Soofcourse,theYoshidaclanisantagonistictotheTraditionalists
However,Mikihikosreplyindicatedthereverse.
TheTraditionalistswhopartneredwiththeformerLab9andwe,theYoshidaclanarefundamentally
differentinhowwethinkaboutmagic.TheYoshidaclansgoalhasalwaysbeenspellsthatbringuscloser
togod.Sotheresnowaywewouldallyourselveswithguyswhowanttogetstrongerbyanymeans
necessary

WasMikihikosstatementhisownopinionorwasitasetofvaluesgiventohimbyhisparents;withonly
whathestatedhere,hecouldnttell.However,itwasclearthathetookprideintheideaevenifhewas
onlyborrowingtheconcept.
Therefore,thistimeasidefromwhateverconsiderationsthereare,itisalrighttorelyonmeforthis.Ifyou
wishit,TatsuyaIthinkyoucangetthecooperationofthewholeYoshidaclan
No,thatwouldbeabit.ifIcouldcallontheYoshidaclanforcooperationthenitwouldntbesomething
thatcantbetalkedabout
Thatsright
TatsuyaandMikihikomeantdifferentthingsbycantbetalkedaboutbut,Tatsuyawastheonlyonewho
knewthat.
Understoodthenthenextthingistoplan.SinceTatsuyacantgivedetailedinformation,Ihavetothinkof
awaysthatdontneedit
AsMikihikosaidthathemadeamaliciousgrinthatcouldnotbesaidtobeillsuitedtohisface.
Idontknowwhethertocallitgoodorbadluck,thisyearsThesisCompetitiontakesplaceinKyoto,the
Traditionalistsmainheadquarters
WhatMikihikohadenthusiasticallytoldhimdidnotmatchtheinformationhehadgottenfromFujibayashi
andMinoruinNarabutTatsuyadidnothaveenoughsourcematerialtodeterminewhowascorrect.
Thatseemsso
However,regardlessofwhicheveronewascorrect,TatsuyalistenedtoMikihiko.
Fromthestart,Iexpectedtodispatchasecurityteamtochecktheconditionsofthesitebut,IthinkIll
addmyselftoit
Therefore?
Youcanjointhesecurityteaminchargeofthatformeright,Tatsuya?
MikihikoansweredTatsuyasquestionwithaquestion.
TatsuyawasnoturgedtoreplytoMikihikosquestion.
Ican
Then,itwouldbeokayforyoutomovefreelywithinthecityanditsenvirons.Underthepretextof
ensuringnothinglikewhathappenedlastyearoccurs,thesiteareatosearchcanbeseenasverywide
Imgratefulforthat.Then,whataboutyou,Mikihiko?
Illbethedecoy.IllhittheNewInternationalConferenceCenterservingasthesitewithagaudy
investigativespell,IwilltrywithallmymighttocauseabacklashtotheTraditionalistssenses
Gotit

TatsuyasmirkedunderstandingMikihikosintentions.
IftheTraditionalistscomeaftermethenIcanlegallyclaimselfdefense.Ifthathappensitwontbe
TatsuyasbusinesssincetheyrepickingafightwiththeYoshidafamily
Thedifferenceincombatpowerwontbeaproblem?
Ifitsaonetooneconfrontationthen,Iabsolutelywontloseintermsofability.IftheTraditionaliststry
tooverwhelmtheYoshidaclanbynumbersalonethentheothertraditionaloccultgroupswonttakeit
lyingdown.Theimportantthingistheothersidepicksthefight.Becausemembersoftheancientstyle
traditionsplaceimportanceontitles.IfIpickedthefightthentheywouldprobablymillaroundlike
gawkersbut,iftheypickthefightmakenomistaketheywouldintercede
Tatsuyaswiftlyranthesimulationsforthosesituationsinhishead.Hefearedthatfellowmembersofthe
ancientocculttraditionswouldhaveagrandioseclashwithmagicandturnthecityanditsenvironsintoa
battlefield.ThepoliceandthemilitarywouldhavetheirhandsfullsuppressingitandZhouGongjinwould
seizehischancetoflee.
However,ifitappearedasiftheTraditionalistspickedthefightfirstandtheAncientocculttradition
magiciansintercededthatwouldgivehimanexcusetoinvestigatetheinnerworkingsofthe
Traditionalists.ForTatsuyathatwouldmeanhecouldanticipateextremelydesirabledevelopments.
Iftheothersidedoesntstartsomething?
ThenmyritualwillfindTatsuyastarget.Youropponentisanoccultmagicianfromthecontinent,right?
Sohispsionwaveswouldbedifferent.ThankstoTatsuyaworkingmetothebone,Myawarenessofpsion
wavesisatlastaskillImextremelyproficientat.ImconfidentthatamongAncientoccultpractitionersI
havenosuperiors
Bigtalk
AsTatsuyasmiled,Mikihikodidnotdenythathewasbragging.Hecoulddiscernthedifferencesbetween
thetechniquesofancientmagicians.Hedidnotrecognizesimilarhabitsinthepsionwavesofmodern
magicians.Becauseitwouldbemeaningless,evenifheobservedpsionwavesthathadnotyetbecome
spells.ToomanydifferentpracticalmethodshadbeenbornfromModernmagicsframeworktoresearch.
Forexample,eventheStarshadalmostnomagicianswhoweremodernmagicmagiciansthatcould
implementawaytodetectthepsionwavesofparasitesasaccuratelyashehimselfcould.
Mikihikohadafirmfoundationtobasehisconfidenceon.
WhatareyougoingtodoaboutMizuki?
TheMikihikosfacethathadbeenoverflowingwithconfidencewassuddenlyclouded.Tatsuyafoundthat
easilyunderstoodchangestrangebutevenhehadenoughdiscretionnottolaughatthiskindofmoment.
.....itistoodangerousforShibatasantogowithme
ThenIllarrangeforMizukisprotection
Canyoutakecareofit?
Ofcourse.Afterall,thiswasoriginallymyproblem

Mikihikosighed,relieved.;heprobablythoughtTatsuyawouldmakearrangementswiththeJSDF.
ThetruthwashehadalreadyhadYakumosstudentsprotectingMizukibut,heintendedtohaveanother
teamdispatchedfromadifferentsourcethanMikihikoexpectedjustincase.
Whenshallwedoit?
Illlaythegroundworkontheschoolssideofthingsasthepublicmoralschief..Friday?
Understood.IlltellMiyukitomakethepreparationsinsecretonthestudentcouncilssideofthings
.....but,youreamemberofthestudentcouncilaswell,Tatsuya?Doityourself
Tatsuyadidntreplytothat,justmadeamalicioussmirk.
Mikihikoalsomadeapainedsmileandstoodup.

CommonEra2096,October11th,Sundayevening,acertainplacewithinthecitylimitsofKyoto.
Theskywasheavywithcloudsandevennowrainthreatenedtopouroutoftheblacknightsky.
Eventhisparkthatwasaplaceforpeopletorestduringtheday,nowthatitwasthemiddleofnight
showedlittlesignofthepresenceofpeople.Andonthisparticularevening,therewereonlytwohuman
silhouettes.
Nakurasama.HaveImadeyouwait?
ZhouGongjincalledouttoNakurawhowasstandingbytheriversideashewalkedfromupstream.
No,youarerightontime,Zhousan
Nakuralookedupandrepliedwithasuitablyfriendlygreeting.
Althoughtheybothextendedtheirhands,theywerestillcarefultokeepexactlytherightdistanceasthey
facedeachother.
Itsbeenabouttwomonths
Zhoustartedtheconversation,
Yes,Ihaventcontactedyouforawhile.EvenifItriedtovisit,Idonotknowwhereyournewresidenceis,
youwilljusthavetoforgiveme
NakuracounteredZhousJabwithmatchingbluntness.

Lastmonth,Iwassurprisedbyamattersuddenlycomingupthatleftmenochoicebuttomove.Ifyou
knewaboutitbeforehand,youcouldhaveinformedme
No,Icannotexpresshowimpossibleitwouldhavebeen.Consideringwhoyouropponentwas,itis
inevitablethatwecouldnthavegottenacluebeforehand
ZhouhadturnedtailandranawayfromKurobaatNakurasdirectiveandZhouwasbeingsarcasticwhen
hespokeaboutitbeingtootoughfortheSaegusaclantogetinsideinformationfromtheYotsuba.Zhou
madeagracefulsmileatthehonestlookthatNakuramethisilltemperedoutburstwith.Thiswastheir
normalwayofinteraction.
Sothen,Nakurasama,whatcouldbeyourbusinesstoday
Zhoussmilewassounshakenasifhisfacedidntknowhowtomakeanyotherexpressionbutasmileas
hequestionedNakura.Therewasnotraceofimpatience.Thesituationwasnotsuitableforalong
conversation.
Zhousan,areyouawareofKudoujoiningforceswithYotsuba
Zhouseyebrowstwitchedinsurprise.Still,hissmiledidnotcollapse.No.coulditbebecauseofme?
Ibelievethesituationisthus,Zhousan,theYotsubaclanknowsthattheTraditionalistsareshelteringyou,
sotheyrequestedtheaidoftheKudouclanwhohaveanadversarialrelationshipwiththeTraditionalists
Hahahahaha..
Zhousuddenlyburstoutlaughing.
Ivebecomequiteprominent.NotjusttheYotsubawhoareatthepinnacleofthestrongestinthemodern
worldeventheformerholdersofthetitlethestrongest,theKudouareaimingforme
ZhouGongjinlaughseemedsohappy.
Hedidnotgetdesperate;thiswasnotthemadnessofsomeonedrivenintoacorner.
Fromthestart,tranquilitydisturbedhimhislaughgaveoffthatimpression.
TheKudouclanwiththeirlonghostilerelationshipwiththeTraditionalistshaveprobablyinvestigated
themthoroughly.Ibelievewithoutadoubtitwilltakelongtopinpointyourhidingplace
NakurawasunmovedbyZhousweirdnessandindifferentlycontinuedhisanalysis.
Zhouquelledhislaughterandansweredinacynicalvoice.
Right,certainly.ThegentlefolksoftheTraditionalistshavetakencareofmefornearlytwomonths,
however,justaboutnowwouldbeasuitabletimetotakemyleave.SodoyouNakurasamaorratherthe
Saegusaclansaythattheycanfurnishmewithanewhidingplace?
Yes
Thatdidntseemtobetheanswerhewasexpecting.ZhoucastadoubtfuleyeupontheagreeingNakura.

Letusspeakfrankly.TheSaegusacannotpermityoutofallintoYotsubahands,Zhousan.Becausethelink
betweenyou,Zhousan,andtheSaegusaclanabsolutelymustnotberevealed
Soyoupreparedanescaperouteformetobeforehand?
Yes
Zhouusedthewords,escaperouteratherthanhidingplacewhenheaskedNakuraforconfirmation.
IwillescortyoutoaplacethehandsoftheYotsubacantreach
Really.couldthenameofthatplacebe
Zhoucasuallyreachedintohispocket.
Nakurahadalready,unobtrusivelygrippedacellphoneshapedCAD.
somethinglikethepyre!
No,thenameoftheplaceisHell!
Thepairsimultaneouslykickedoffofthegroundtogaindistance.Zhoutookaglowingblacktalismanfrom
hispocketwhatheproducewasaninscribedcardandNakuraletlooseanactivationsequencefromhis
CAD.
Zhouprobablyhadthespellonstandbyfromthebeginning.Theirmagicsactivatedatthesametime.
Anentirelyblack,fourleggedbeastcamefromZhouscard,likelyasyntheticbodythatimitatedadoghad
leaptout.TheblackdoginstantlysprangoffthegroundtomakeapouncestraightatNakuraswindpipe.
Tenoddtransparentneedlespiercedtheshadowybodyfrombelow
Nakuraslegwassubmergedintheriver.Theneedlesthatpiercedtheshadowbeastwerefiredofffrom
thevicinityofthatleg.
Waterneedles,huh
Zhouseyeswereabletoperceivethenatureofthetransparentneedleswithinthedarkness.
Thatwascareless.Itwasamistaketosetthemeetingattheriverbank.Thehighergroundadvantage
seemstobeyours
Thatismagicthatconstructsasyntheticbeastusingshadowsasamedium
Yes.Theboringnameisembarrassingbut,mymastercallsit,Shadowbeast.Thespellisahybridmagic
thatincorporateswesternsorcerymakingittoodisgracefultobragabout
Westernsorcery...ahellhound,eh.So,Ierredontime,huh.Ishouldofatleastmadeitanightwhen
themoonwasout
Thepairwasnotjustcarelesslyexchangingdiscourseontechniques.Astheyweretalking,the
shadowbeastwasspatoutofthecardinZhouhadinhishandandNakuraintercepteditwiththewater
needles.

Zhoudidnotappeartobecomposingnewmagic.Inshort,theinscribedcardZhouheldprobablyhadmany
morebeastsstockpiledwithin.Despitethefactthatthenumberwasalreadyoverten,therewasnosignof
thesupplybeingexhausted.Justhowmanylayersofmagichadbeenpiledontothattinycard,itscapacity
seemedtohavenobounds.
However,Idontunderstand
What
Nonetheless,thefirsttovoiceaquestionwasZhou.
Nakurasexpressiondidnotchange;hewasattackingthephantombeast,Zhouhadsummoned
mechanically.Thereply,hemadetoZhou,wasalmostcompletelydevoidofemotion.
ThedevelopmentfocusofLab7wascolonycontrolmagic.Attheveryleast,colonycontrolmagicshould
beabletomoveover100objectssimultaneously.Thenumberofobjectsbeingmanipulatedshouldntbe
thislow.Coulditpossiblybethatyouaretakingiteasyonme
Ridiculous.YouarenotanopponentIcantakelightly,Zhousan
Nakuraansweredwitharegretfulvoice.Zhousattentionwasmoredrawntotheemotionpackedintothe
voicethanthestatement.
Zhousan,doyouknowofthewords,extranumbers
WaterneedlesflewtowardZhou.Althoughtheycouldnotpossiblydiscernedinthedarknessbythehuman
eye,Zhoueasilydodgedthemwithasidestep.
Thiswasnotaspeedwithintherangeofhumanphysicalprowess.Itwasprobablyanancientmagicofthe
continentthathadthesameeffectsaspersonalaccelerationmagic.
Iknowofit.Magiciansdescendedfrommagiciansthatweregrantedanumberbythemagician
developmentlabsthatcreatedtheTenMasterClansbutwerelaterstrippedoftheirnumber
Waterneedlesflewonebyone.DespitekeepingZhoubusydodging,thetimingwithwhichthe
shadowbeastsweresummonedwasunabated.Thepositionsofoffenseanddefensewereinstantly
reversed.
So,whatarethereasonsforstrippingnumbers?
Searchme,Iamnotthatwellinformed.But,theonlyreasonImawareofisthedesiredabilitieswasnt
developed
Theneedlesbecameadownpour.Zhoupulledoutahandkerchieffromhischestpocket.
Thewhitehandkerchiefexpandedtoasizethatcoveredhisentirebody,itdefendedhimfromthewater
needleshower.
Nakuraceasedhisattack.
Zhoupeekedhisfaceoutfromunderneaththecloth.
Iamwithoutadoubt,amagicianwhoisunableofdevelopingtheabilitythatLab7hopedfor

Really,sorryaboutthat
Zhoufiredoffasingleshadowbeast.
NakuraoperatedhisCADandbarelymanagedtoshootitdown.
Zhouloweredthehandholdingtheinscribedcard.
NakurakepthisfingersonhisCAD,asthediscussionaboutExtraNumbersresumed.
Thebasicmodelofcolonycontrolmagicistopreparetheprojectilebeforehandwithaspelltomanipulate
it
Nakuraunfoldedanactivationsequence.
Zhoupreparedthewhitecloth.
However,Ididntthinkthatwascombateffective.Battledoesntonlyoccurattimeswhenyou
convenientlyhaveabulkymediumonhand.Despitethefactthedevelopmentofanassistancetoolknown
asaCADthatyoucouldwearallthetime,forsomereasonyouhadtocarryallthatextrastuff
Yourwordswouldmaketheearsofthetypeofancientoccultistswhocouldntusemagicwithouthaving
cursetoolstouseasaconvenientmediumburn.However,IbelieveCADSarenottheonlythingsyoucan
wearallthetime?Therearealsotypesthatlooklikelargeguns
GunshapedCADsarespecializedmodel.Idontthinkthosearecombateffectiveeither
NakuraandZhouremainedonthebrinkofinvokingmagic,theybothwerelookingforagapintheothers
defenses.Perhaps,eventheverywords,theywereexchanging,mightbeatactictocreateanopportunity.
AnywayIcouldnotcomprehendtheLaboratory'splan.Therefore,Iarrangedsequencesthatcoulduse
colonycontrolmagicatanytime.Atthatsametime,thenumberoftargetsIcancontrolislessthan100
but,inexchange,Iworkedoutatechniquetomakeliquidsformprojectiles
Howunfortunate
Asaresult,thenumberwasstripped
Atthispoint,theorderinwhichtheymadestatementswasreversed.
ZhouGongjinlaidthetrap.
AfragmentofNakurasmindwasdistracted.
ZhouthrewtheinscribedcardatNakura.
Whilehewascaughtoffguard,NakurapeltedwaterneedlesatZhou.Itwasnotabarrage,hecreatedan
orbitingcircle.
Ashadowbeastjumpedoutoftheinscribedcardmidair.
Nakuracomposednewmagictoambushit.

Thewhiteclothfellwithathud.Zhouwasnolongeroverthere.
Theshadowbeast,piercedbythewaterneedles,dissolvedintothenightsshadows.
Thepackofwaterneedlesthatweremakinganarcfruitlesslypenetratedtheair.
Theinscribedcardthatfellontothesurfaceoftheriverspatoutablackshadow.
Nakura,whocaughtthatatthecornerofhiseye,invokedaleapingspell.
Nakuraavoidedthesprayofwaterthatspatfromthejawbyahairsbreadth.
Nakura,wholandedontheotherbank,preparedhisnextattackashecorrectedhisstance.AsNakura
eyedthedarknessoftheriverbetweenthebanks,hisabdomenwaspiercedfrombehindbyablackhorn.

Thehorn,piercingNakurasabdomen,brokedowntoathickgooeytarlikesubstancethatwasblownaway
bythenightwindthatpassedoverthesurfaceoftheriver.Robbedofthesupport,Nakuracollapsedface
up.
Hecouldhearthesoundoffootstepstreadingonriverpebblesfromthedirectionofhishead.With
difficulty,helookedinthatdirection;thefirstthinghesawwasZhoucoveredbyawhitecloth.Zhouwas
walkingfromtheotherside.Hewasntunwoundedeither.Thefabricattheleftshoulderandrightflankof
hisexpensivethreepiecesuithadopenholesfromwhichbloodsulliedit.
Itappearsthatyouwerenotdeceivedbytheshadowbeast
Nakuraunderstoodwhathadhappenedwithoutanexplanation.Hehadleapedtotheoppositebank
intendingtogetawayfromZhoubut,Zhouhadactuallybeenonthisside,hehadturnedhisbackonhis
enemywhenhelanded.
Yes,I,myself,tookthepartofyourplaything
Directional.misdirection...is...this...the...ancient...artof.Kimon...Tonkou?
ItwasdifficulttounderstandNakurasbrokenspeechbut,Zhousabilitytounderstandwasunimpeded.
Yes.Nevertheless,ithasbeenalongtimesincemybloodhasflowedthismuch.Icansaywithoutlying
thattheskillsofNakuraSaburooutstripthoseofKurobaMitsugu
Ha..ha..ha..I...am...honored
ZhoukneltdownononekneenexttoNakuraandspokeinagentlevoice.
Wehavebeencloseenoughtosharesaketogether.Dontyouhaveanylastwishes?
A...wish...yes...I...have.just...one
Whatcoulditbe?
That.you
Yes

Pleasediewithme!
Nakuramusteredthelastofhisstrengthasheshouted.
Thatspellcouldbecalledthewordsofacurse.
NakurasbodyburstopenfromthechestandneedlesmadefromhisbloodattackeZhouGongjin.
Zhoustoodup.
Hescowledlookingattheredneedlesthatpiercedthearmsthathadprotectedhisface.
Therearemanywishes,Iwouldbewillingtograntsinceitwasyourlastone,however
Hegropedfortheneedlesthathadslippedthroughthegapsthatbotharmshadlefttoreachhisearsto
getthemout.
Theneedlesmeltedbackintobloodandtinyscarsremainedonhisearlobes.Zhoublewoutasighandtook
outanewinscribedcardfromhisjacketpocket.
Whenthebloodneedlesmetthetimelimitforphenonomenmodification,theymeltedallatonce.
Hechantedashortspell.
ThepiercingwoundsonZhouGongjinsskindisappearedlikeatimelapsedphotoimages(=highspeed
regeneration).
Unfortunately,thislevelofmagiccannotkillme
Zhougotupandsighedashelookedathisownskin.HehadprobablyexpectedNakuratohavesomekind
ofselfdestructiveattackprepared.Hehadgothisarmsupintimetoprotecthisfacebecausehewas
watchingforawaterneedleattack.
Cantstayhereanylonger.Evenifitisthemiddleofthenight,Icanthelpstandingoutlookinglikethis
However,thatwasbecausehehadntforeseenthatNakurawouldusehisownbloodtoattackhim.He
lookeddownathisclothesthatweresmearedwithhisvictimsbloodandletoutasigh.
Zhoutookoutthehandkerchief,hehadreturnedtohispocketunnoticed.
No,hehadntreturnedit.Thiswasclearlyadifferentonefrombefore.
Itwasnotwhite,itwasablackhandkerchief.
Heexpandedthedarknesscoloredhandkerchief,hecoveredhisbodywithalargewideshadow.
Thehandkerchiefthatturnedintoablackclothchangedintoashadow,leavingnothingbutNakurasbody
behind.

Chapter5
October12th,Friday.WithhalfamonthremaininguntiltheThesisCompetitiononOctober28th,the
hustleandbustlewithintheschoolabruptlyincreased.TheKyotoThesisCompetitionwassaidtobe
dedicatedtopuretheory,expectationswerethattheoperationaldetailswouldntbeasextensiveaslast
years,butintheend,itturnedintoatremendouscommotion.
Asthepresenter,Isoripersonallytookcommandandenteredthefraytomanagethepreparations.Hattori
wasincommandofthesecurityteamandwaszealousintrainingthem.HonokaandIzumiwereworking
togethertogetahandleonthearrangementstotraveltoKyoto.
Ofcourse,neitherTatsuyanorMiyukiwereplayingaround.AsStudentCouncilPresident,Miyukiwas
responsibleforkeepinganeyeontheprogressoftheentireoperationanddispatchinghelptoportions
whereitwasboggingdown.ThehelpinmostcaseswasTatsuya.Heparticipatedinpresentation
preparations,hetookpartinthetrainingofthesecurityteamandwhenMiyuki,HonokaandIzumicouldn't
beinmultipleplaces,hetookcareoftheStudentCouncilbusinessandhealsoflittedaboutasMiyukis
aide.
WhenMikihikofinallycametotheStudentCouncilroom,Tatsuyahadtieduphisexhaustingworklong
enoughtotakeabreak,justaroundthetimetheschoolgatewasclosingafterschool.
Pardonme.
ItseemedlikeMikihikowasnotyetusedtousingtheconnectingstaircasebetweenthestudentCouncil
roomandPublicMoralsheadquarters.Therewasadistinctdifferencebetweenhimandthecarefree
Shizukuwhocameinwithhim(additionally,ShizukuwasinthemidstofguardingAzusa).Yourerighton
time,Mikihiko
AlthoughTatsuyacalledouttohiminalightheartedtone,Mikihikonervousnesswasntthateasily
dispelled.
Wellthen...SinceIwasabletoseehowbusyyouwere,therewasnowayIwasgoingtobelaterthanI
promised
Hearingthatstatement,Miyukiletoutalaughthatsomehowexudedrecognition.
ItwouldbeareliefifeveryonewasasearnestasYoshidakun
Feelingthatthiswasthecalmbeforethestorm,TatsuyaurgedMikihikotogetdowntobusiness.
Mikihiko,shallwebeginthebriefingrightaway
Yes,lets
Perhaps,Mikihikogotthesameimpression,hespreadoutthehugerollofelectronicpaper,hehadinhis
handontotheconferencetable.
AmapofthecityofKyotoemergedontheelectronicpaperthatalmostcompletelycoveredthetable.
Todaysbriefingisregardingthepreliminaryreportonthesecurityoftheactuallocation
Inaformaltone,Mikihikobegunhisexplanation.

Regardingsecurityontheactualday,theformerheadofclubactivities,Hattorihasbeenassignedto
proceedwiththearrangements.Hattorisenpaiisalsopersonallyoverseeingthebriefingoftheother
schoolsandIthinkitsfinetoleaveittohim,right
IsitalrightnottohaveinvitedHattorisenpaitothismeeting?
TheonewhonoddedinanswertoHonokasquestionasiftosayitwasfinewasnotMikihikobutTatsuya.
AnagreementwasreachedwithformerchairmanHattori,thatitwouldbefineifhewasmerelynotified
oftheresultsofthebriefing.Right,ChiefYoshida
ItisasSecretarialChiefShibasays
Mikihikoseemedtohavetroublesayingthetitle,SecretarialChief.However,hedidnthavethenerveto
ignoretheofficialtitleinfrontofMiyuki.
FormerchairmanHattorisaiditwasfineforhimnottotakepartintodaysbriefing.Sinceallweredoing
isgatheringinformation.Doesntallheneedtodoisusetheresultingdata
Perhaps,hecouldn'tignorehisuneasinesswithspeakinginaformalmanner;Mikihikocarelesslylapsed
intoaninformalfriendlymanner.
Itsabouttimetogettotheessentials
Perhaps,Tatsuyaalsofoundthateasier,heimmediatelymatchedthatmodeofspeaking.
Okay.So,pleaselookoverhere
Although,histonewasfriendly,thiswasthewayhealwaysspoketoMiyuki.
Thisisthesite,theNewInternationalConventionCenter
Thatsprettymuchintheoutskirtsofthecity
Lookingatthemap,Izumistatedheropinionundiffidently.
Itseemsliketheresastrongfeelingintheareaaboutnotwantingtohaveconventionsinthemiddleof
thecity
AfteransweringIzumisquestionwhilesmilingironically,Mikihikosfacestiffened.

Unlikelastyear,thevolumeoftrafficintheareaisnotthatmuch.Soitcanbeseenthattherearenttoo
manyplaceswherecriminals,subversivesandthelikecanambushus.However,becausetheareaisso
rural,itisextremelyeasytoconcealthepreparationstodoso
Mikihikotemporarilyenlargedthevicinityoftheconventioncenterbefore,replacingitwiththemapofthe
entirecityofKyoto.
And,evenifthereisnotaclosehidingplace;Ialsobelievethattherearepotentiallocationsthatcanbe
convertedtoabasenottoofaraway
Ashadbeenarrangedbeforehand,Miyukibrokeinduringthepauseintheconversation.

Inshort,itisyouropinion,Yoshidakun,thatamuchwiderareathanthevicinityofthesiteshouldbe
investigated?
Yes.Nowaydowewantarepeatoflastyear
Withoutamomentsdelay,Tatsuyaletloosethesecondroundofcoveringfire.
Agreed.Althoughwearenothingmorethanhighschoolstudents,westillneedtodoeverythingwecan
Tatsuyagarneredgazesfilledwithsurprise.Inanycase,Honoka,IzumiandMinamiwhoknewthehidden
detailsturnedtheireyestowardhimwithoutintendingtobut,rightnow,itwasimportantthatHonoka
andIzuminotdevelopanylingeringsuspicionsaboutwhatthepeoplewholeftweredoing.
So,Mikihiko.whoareyougoingtosendonthepreliminaryinvestigation?
Illgo
IsitalrightforthePublicMoralsChieftobeabsentfromschool?
IintendtoentrusttheschooltoKitayamaoftheguarddetail.AlsoIwishTatsuyatocome
Noproblem.Itsprobablynecessaryforatleastonememberofthesecurityteamtocheckovertheactual
site
Tatsuyafollowedupwithanod;Miyukiraisedherhand.
Oniisama,isitalrightifIgowithyou?
You,theStudentcouncilpresident
Tatsuyaaskedthequestionwithoutbecomingvisiblypaler.Actinginthesekindsofconditionswasmoreof
aspecialtyofMiyukis.
Iwishtosetupanappointmentcheckoutthehotel,thecheeringsquadsarestayingatpersonally.Iwish
toconfirmthatthereisashelter,theycanbeevacuatedtoiftheunlikelyoccurs
Miyuki,Icandothat
Honoka,dontyouhavetransportation,reservations,andindividualrequeststotakecareof?Iamonly
overseeingthegeneraloperation,Idonthaveanyotherspecificjob
Oh,alright..
ADisappointedHonokayielded.
IzumiseemedtowanttosaysomethingasshelistenedtoMiyukiandHonokasexchangebut,Miyuki
turnedtoherbeforeshespoke.
IzumichanwhileIamonmytriptoKyoto,wontyoutotakemyplaceandrunthingsformeastheVice
President
Please,leaveittome.Usemetothefullest

Itgoeswithoutsaying,IzumiactuallywantedtogowithMiyukitoKyotoaswell.Havingbeenaskedbyher
esteemedMiyukiherselftobeherproxy,shewasntabletosayno.Rather,Izumiwasthetypeofthegirl
whowouldbeallexcitedoverMiyukisenpaiaskedmetodosomethingforher!
Whatstheschedule?
Itwouldbealittletightbut,howabouta2dayand1nighttripontheweekendbeforetheThesis
Competition,the20thtothe21th?
Itsagoodplan,haveyoualreadypinneddowntheaccommodations
No,Ithoughtweddecideonthatnow
Isee.Minami
TatsuyascallingouttoMinamiwasthelastoftheirplannedmoves.
Yes
InspiteofexplainingthisscenariotoMinamiaswell,shewasnotverysurprised.Shealwaysseemed
morecomposedthansuitedherage.
Sorry,butwillyoumakethehotelreservationsforme.Ifyoucanmakeitthehotel,wearestayinginthe
daybeforetheThesisCompetition.Forfourpeople:me,Miyuki,Mikihiko,andyou,Minami
Me,aswell?
Uh,huh.YouwillhelpMiyukioverthereforme
RegretpassedoverIzumisfaceinresponsetoTatsuyasstatement.Shewasprobablythinkingshewanted
toberunningaroundsupportingMiyukiherself.However,shehadalreadyacceptedthejobofbeing
Miyukisstandin.IfTatsuyahadbeentheonewhohadaskedher,Izumiwouldprobablyhaveeasily
withdrawnherpreviousagreement.However,itwasimpossibleforIzumitoeventhinkofabandoninga
taskMiyukihadaskedhertodo.
Itwastimefortheschoolgatestoclose,TatsuyawasslightlyaheadHonokawhomhewasescortingin
leavingthestudentcouncilroom.TheyweregoingtowhereShizukuwhowasguardingAzusawhowas
directingtheconstructionofthepresentationdevicewas.
Alongtheway,theylinkedupwithMikihikowhowasdonewithlockingupPublicMoralsheadquartersand
thethreewenttotheexperimentbuilding.
AsidefromtheworkIsoriwasoverseeingtheauditorium,AzusawasmakingaconsoleCADthatwould
comparetheexperimentseffects.
Shizuku!
HonokacalledouttoShizuku.Forsomereason,ChikuraTomokoandSayakawhowereonAzusassecurity
detailwithShizukuandKiriharawhowassupposedtobeguardingCarey,allturnedtolookatTatsuya.
Shiba,whatsup?Weshouldhaveputintherequeststoworkovertime

Asexpected,KiriharahadalreadystoppedcallinghimShibaAni.TatsuyawasShibaandMiyukiwas
President.Itcouldbecalledthemostproperwayofaddressingthem.
Certainly,theovertimerequestswereacceptedbut,itsstillbadforfemalestudentstostaylateintothe
nightatschool
....but
KiriharanotifiedSayakathattheywereleavingsoonwithaglancebackward.Apparently,Sayakafeltthe
needtobewillfulaboutit.
Whatsup?
Asthemoodwasonthevergeofturninguncomfortable,ShizukuaskedHonokathat.Sheprobably
intendedtoswitchthetopicofconversationsinceshecouldreadthemoodbut,TatsuyaandMikihikohad
adifferentmattertodiscusswithShizuku.
Kitayamasan,Iwanttoaskyoualittlefavor
Askme?
Mikihikobroachedthematterwhilefightingtheurgetosnickerattheclassicallyexaggeratedpuppetlike
headtiltshemade.
Asithappens,wediscussedgoingtoKyotoandforalookaroundbeforetheThesisCompetition
Toprepareforsomethinglikelastyear?
WhenShizukuheardthewordsLookaround,shegraspedtheunstatedreason.
Right.Fortwodays,weintendtocheckoutvariousmattersona2day1nightstaystartingthe21st.Will
youactasPublicMoralsChiefformeforthose2days
Forsomereason,ShizukulookedtowardHonokainsteadofthebowingMikihiko.
Whataboutyou,Honoka?
eh,Im.stayinghere?
Hmmmm.
ShizukusfocusswitchedtoTatsuya.
Areyougoing,Tatsuyasan?
Uh,huh
Shizukuthoughtaboutitforamomentthen,saidOkaytoMikihiko.
Thankyou.Thatsarelief
Yourwelcome

Asshespoke,hereyeswerenotlookingtowardthestillbowingMikihikobuttowardHonokawhowas
avoidinglookingatTatsuya.

Insidethecabinetonthewayhome,Tatsuyawasreadingwebnewsarticleswhenhisfacechangedtoa
Saywhat?typeofexpression.
Oniisama,issomethingwrong?
Miyukiwhowassittingnexttohimnoticedimmediatelyandquestionedhim.
Ah,thisnews
TatsuyaturnedtheinformationterminaltowardMiyuki.AlocalKyotonewsarticlewasdisplayedthere.It
seemslikeTatsuyahadalreadystartedcollectinginformation.
Thearticlecontainedafullreportonthebodyofamurderedmandiscoveredatafamoussightseeingspot.
Itwasdiscoveredthismorning,thevictimsNakuraSanburosan...Oniisama,thisperson!?
MiyukialsoreadilyunderstoodthereasonforTatsuyasreaction.
Someoneyouknow?
Thatwasanaturalquestion,Minamididnotrecognizethename.
Ifitisnotsomebodywiththesamename,thisisthemagicianthatservesasSaegusaMayumis
bodyguard
Minamiseyeswidened.
Itisthesamegentleman,right?
Idontknow,thereisntapicture
Althoughthatiswhathesaidbut,Tatsuyaintuitivelybelievedthatthisvictimwastheelderlymagicianthat
wasMayumisguard.
Ifitisthesamegentleman...coulditbeacoincidence?
Thequestion,MiyukivoicedwasthesameonethatTatsuyaandMinamiweregrapplingwith.
AmagicianoftheSaegusaClanwaskilledinKyotowhereitwaslikelyZhouGongjinwasinhiding.
Additionally,hisbodyindicatedthedeathhadbeenviolent.

Normally,itwouldbeunthinkabletowritetheconditionofthebodyinanarticle;perhaps,itwasbecause
itwastheresultofmagiccombat.
Amagicianwhowaslikelyanextrayetskilledenoughtobeentrustedwithguardingtheeldestdaughterof
theSaegusaclanhadbeenkilledinmagiccombat.Evenskillstothatextentcouldbeovercome.Likeby
thatmanwhodeeplywoundedKurobaMitsuguandbreakthrutheKurobaExecutionsquadsperimeter
andescape.
TherewasnowayTatsuyacouldconsiderthisacoincidence.

TheonewhowasmostsurprisedtoseethenewsthatNakurahadbeenkilledwasunmistakablyher.
Otousama,pleaseexplainthis!
HavingbeeninformedthatKouichihadreturnedhome,Mayumiwentintohisstudyuninvited.
Nakurasanhasbeenkilled,whatdoesthismean!?
Bothhandsgesturingwildlyinfrontofthegrandiosedesk,shepressedKouichiwhosatbeyonditfor
answers.
HowdoyouknowNakurawaskilled?
Therewasacallfromthepoliceaskingabouthisbackground!
Youtookit?Whataboutschool
TheycouldntcontactOtousamaormyOniisamasso,theymovedontome!
Dolts...whatwereyoudoing
Kouichiletoutareproachfulmurmurathissonsmistakeswhileignoringhisown.Listeningtothis,
Mayumibecameevenmoreincensed.
Thatkindofthingdoesntmatter!
Herfatherandtheelderofherbrothersdisappearancesandtheyoungerofherbrotherspretendingthat
hewasnthomewerenormaloccurrencesandasfarasshewasconcernedcompletelytrivial.
Enough,pleasestopdodging!TheysaidNakurasankilled,whatdoesthatmean!?
Itmeanswhatitsays,right?Nakurawaskilled.Agoodmanhasdied
ThatisntwhatImasking!WhywasNakurasankilledinKyoto!?

Theresnoreasonforyoutoknow
Kouichicoldlyrebuffedhisdaughter.However,Mayumididnotflinchfromsomethingofthisdegree,she
wasnotaweakOjousama.
Nakurasanismybodyguard.Ishouldmeetthequalificationsofknowing
Thetonehadbecomesubduedbut,deepwithinfierieremotionsswirled.Oneprobablydidnothavetobe
Kouichitoknowthat.Sinceheknewhisdaughterscharacter,hewasawaresomedegreeofcompromise
wasnecessary.
NakurawasdispatchedtoKyototodocertainwork.Heprobablygotentangledinsometroublethere
Certainwork?Whatwasthat
AnimportanttaskfortheSaegusaclanoftheTenMasterClans
Igotthat!Whatwasthetask!?
Youdontneedtoknow
However,Kouichiwouldnotacknowledgeaneedforagreaterdegreeofcompromisethanthat.
ThatwascommunicatedtoMayumiaswell.Sherealizedquestioninghimevenfurtherwasfutile.
.....understood.Excuseme
Feelingagreatdealofmistrustforherfather,Mayumileftthestudy.

However,Mayumihadnotgivenuponherquestforthetruth.
Totellthetruth,MayumiandNakurahadntreallybeenthatfriendly.Nakurasmannerwasnormally
courteoustoMayumiandalwaysthatofaservant.Mayumihadntknownhimwell,hehadmadeherfeel
uneasy.
Evenso,foranonshortperiodoftime,hewassomeoneshehadknownthathadaccompaniedherinher
movementsandhadbeenkilled.Moreover,hehaddiedduetoatasksetbyherownfather.
Mayumicompletelydisbelievedherfatherswords,Heprobablygotentangledinsometroublethere.
Shewasconvincedthathehadnotbeendraggedintosomethingwhilehewasworkingbutratherhewas
killedbecausehewasworking.
However,thatwasnothingmorethanMayumisintuition,justnowshehadnothingtobaseiton.She
acknowledgedthatherself.
Whatsup,Mayumi.Youhavebeenbreathingoutsighsforsometimenow.Besides,youseemsomewhat
dispirited.Issomethingwrong?
eh?No,Mari.Itsnothing
Itdoesntlooklikenothingbut...ifitisreallynothingthenputitoutofyourmind.Youvebeenthinking
aboutitforawhilenow

Oh,Ihave!?
Flustered,Mayumisatupstraightandfixedhergapingcollarandstraightenedthecuffsofhersleeves.
TheywereattheMagicUniversityscafe,itwasthetimebetweenthemorningandafternoonlecturesalso
knownaslunchtime.Itwasaperiodoftimewhenalotofstudentsgatheredtogetherafterfinishingtheir
meals,thiswasnotatimewhenthesightofthehonoreddaughteroftheSaegusaClanoftheTenMaster
Clansappearingsomewhatlistlesswouldgounnoticed.
Bytheway,MaribeingheredidnotmeanshewasskippingoutonherDefenseCollegeeducational
regime.TherewerespecialmilitaryskillsresearchclassesattheMagicUniversitytoputitsimply,there
wereclassestoeducatemagicianstobeofficersunderthissystemtheDefenseCollegewouldsendover
achosenstudentonceaweektotakepartinthelectureswiththoseacceptedintothelecturecourse.Mari
hadbeenchosenandtodaywasthedayofthelecture.
Mayumitemporarilylookedasifnothingwaswrongbutshecouldntkeepitupforlong.Probablybecause
shefeltsecureinfrontofafriendshehadntseeninawhile.Mayumiforciblystoppedherselfwhenshe
realizedshewassighingdeeplyagain.
Mari,theressomethingIwanttoconsultyouabout
MayumiputbothelbowsonthetableandconcealedhermouthwithherhandsasshespoketoMari.It
wasanillmanneredposebutitwastheeasiestwaytopreventherlipsfrombeingread.Itwasallowedto
useasoundproofingfieldinthecafebut,magicthatobstructedthelightbecauseyoudidntwanttobe
seenwasntpermitted.
Whatisit?
Marimadethesamepose.Theposesdeepenedtheimpressionthattheywerediscussingsecretstothe
spectators.
Mari,doyourememberNakurasan?
Thatsyourbodyguard,right?Whatabouthim
Hewaskilled
Killed,yousay,ohno...when?
Marihadbeenabouttoaskhowcanspeakaboutitlookingsocalm?but,shelookedintoMayumiseyes
andsawthegriefandangerswirlingtogetherinthemandchangedherquestionasshespoke.
Thedaybeforeyesterday,perhapsinthemiddleofthenight.TheKyotopolicecontactedmeyesterday
Kyoto?Soitwasntsomeoneaimingforyou?
Uh,huh
Isee..
Marisomehowstoppedherselffromlettingoutasighofreliefwithoutthinking.Shewasfeigningcalmbut
deepinherheartshewaswaveringatonestepawayfrompanic.IfsomeonewasgunningforMayumi,

whatcouldshedo...thethoughtwhirled.Knowingthatfornow,itwasanabsurdfearallowedMarito
grieveforthedeceased.
Itsunfortunate.youhavemycondolences
Thankyou
Asolemnairflowedbetweenthepair.Inthesewordlessmoments,theywereprobablyofferingupsilent
prayersforthedeceased.
So,whatwasthecauseofdeath?Wasitanaccident?
Murder
Marialreadyexpectedthatanswer.ForsomeoneemployedasabodyguardbytheTenMasterClansthat
wasanormalrisk.
But,Idontknowthereason
Beforehereyes,herfriendwasusingallherstrengthtobeartheweightyemotionsthatwereburstingout.
EvenbeforeshewasaskedthatbyMari,onedidnoteyestoseethat.
FatherwonttellmeanythingmorethanhesenthimtoKyotoonbusiness.Whatbusiness,whatkindof
job,everythingisunclear.Atanyrate,Imsureitwassomekindofshadyjobbutevensowhydidhelose
hislife.
AsoundofsomethingbeingswallowedcouldbeheardfromMayumisthroat.Unmistakably,itwasafitof
crying.
ItsnotthatIwanttoavengehimorsomething
Mayumisomehowquietedheremotionsandwiththatcalm,shecontinuedtotalkwithavoicethat
showedherstrongwill.
ItsnothinglikethatbutsomehowIcantjustletitgo.IfeelthatitssomethingIshouldntleaveitasitis
What..doyouhavesomebasisforyourthinking?
WhileshewasoverwhelmedbyMayumisdetermination,Marimadearationalpoint.
Rightnow,nothing.Thisisnothingmorethanmyintuition.But,Icantignoreit.Icanthelpfeeling
anxious
I..stilldonthavemuchunoccupiedtime
TheMagicUniversityandtheDefenseCollegewerenotallthatfaraparttobeexact,theMagic
Universityandthespecialtacticsresearchdepartmentannexwerenotthatfarapart.Also,sincethe
secretsandinherentmagicsofmagicstudentshadtobeconcealed,studenthousinghadtobeinapproved
dormitories;itwasntthathardforthemtomeet.
However,asMariimplied,therewasnofreedomintheDefenseCollegescurriculumastherewasinMagic
Universitys.Itcouldbesaidwiththemultiplerequiredcourses,afirstyearstudentdidnthaveroomin

theirlifetodoanythingelse.AsmuchasMariwishedthatshecouldhelpherfriendwithherworriesthat
wasimpossiblewithherschedule.
...howaboutconsultingwithJuumonjiorTatsuyakun?
Unexpectedlysheofferedupaname,Mayumihadntthoughtof,hereyeswidenedandsheblinked
rapidly,manytimes.
IcanunderstandJuumonjikunbutwhyTatsuyakun?
IsntthisyearsThesisCompetitioninKyoto?
MayumisensedthatMariwasntreallyansweringaquestionwithaquestion.
TheCompetitionisatmostatwodayonenightstay,right?Besideshellbebusy,hewouldnthavethe
freetimetodoanythingelse,right?
Thatstuffhappenedjustlastyear.Wouldnttheydotheirowninvestigationofthearea?
Yes,theymightdothat.But,Tatsuyakunwouldprobablybehelpingwiththepresentationspreparations
andtheresalsothestudentcouncilwork.Whenhessobusy,toexpresslyaskhimtomeetwith
me.what?
MayumibecameawarethatMariwaslookingatherwithastunnedlook.
Wehavethisandthattodoaswell.Wouldntitbefinetojustaskhim?
Overwhelmedbythecommonsense,Mayumicouldntcomeupwitheventhefragmentofarebuttal.
Anyway,whyhaveyouonlybeenworriedabouthissituation?IsntthefirstthingtodotogetJuumonji
kunscooperation?Juumonjiisalreadyacollegestudentsoisnthemorelikelytobeaccommodatingthan
Tatsuyakunthehighschoolstudentandasforwhichwouldbemorereliable,Ithinkforsurethatitwould
beJuumonjikun
Ththats..werebothmembersoftheTenMasterClans,IdontwanttheproblemsoftheSaegusaClan
tocausetroublefortheJuumonjiClan
MarididnthearMayumisexcuse.Shewasabletohearthesoundbut,hermindcompletelyignoredit.
Mayumi,Idontbelieveitbut
Whwhat?
Marisexpressionwasnotthemischievoussmileonewouldwearwhenteasingagoodfriend,herfacewas
subtlyseriousshowingherearnestandgenuineconcernforMayumi.
Youcouldntpossiblybegenuinelyinlovewithhim?
IttooksometimeforMariswordstopenetrateMayumisconsciousness.
Byhim.Tatsuyakun!?
Idiot,youretooloud!

SinceMayumihadputupasoundprooffield,herwordsdidntleakoutbut,Marislookwassomenacingit
madeherforgetthat.
Thatsimpossible!Right,impossible!Seriously,mebeinlololo..
Marifixatedcooleyesonhermumblingfriend.
Mayumi,ifyoucouldseeyourselfnowwouldyoureallybeabletodeclareitsimpossible?
Thatis..
Mayumisvoicetrailedofffromlackofconfidence.
However,shedidntenditthere.Resolutely,shelookedupandpuffedoutherchest.
No,thatisreallyimpossible.Whatsimpossibleisimpossible
...youreawfullyconfidentbut,yourstatementsreallylackpersuasivepower
Tatsuyakunisareliableboy.Likealittlebrother.Right,alittlebrother.Alittlebrother!
No,isntthatwrong?Afterall,youandhimarenotbloodrelated,right?
Yes,Itsaneldersistersrighttobehelpedbyherlittlebrother!Alright,IllgetTatsuyatohelpmedigfor
thetruth.First,IllcheckthetrainscheduleforgoingtoTokyo
No,youshould.
FacedwiththestrangelyconfusedMayumi,Mariploppeddownwithanexhaustedlook.

October,14thSunday.TatsuyavisitedtheYokohamabranchofficeoftheMagicAssociation.
Tatsuyainformedthereceptiondeskofhisnameandtoldthemthathehadanappointment.
Hewasalreadywaitingintheinterviewroom.
Hayamasan,itsbeenawhilesincewehavespoken.IhavenotkeptyouwaitinghaveI?
No,youarerightontime,Tatsuyadono.SinceIwastheonewhosummonedyou,itisonlynaturalthatI
arrivedfirst.Please,donottroubleyourselfaboutitanyfurther
TatsuyabowedandstoodontheoppositesidefromHayama.
Asiftheyhadagreedonthetimingbeforehand,thepairsatdownatthesametime.Theslightfirmnessof
thecushionmaintainedthefeelingoftensionthatwastheimpression,Tatsuyaharboredonthesofa.

Yourbusinessisamattertodowiththecurrentjob?
Tatsuyasettheconversationoff.
Yes.AbouttheattackyouincurredafewdaysinNaraandtherest.Youwerenotinjured?
Iamfine.Miyukiandtheothersdidnotreceiveeventhelightestwound.Iamthankfulforyourconcern
Thatisgood.Well,fellowsofthatleveldonthavemuchofachancetoslowTatsuyadown.Bytheway,
haveyouidentifiedthosepeople?
Idonotknowhowreliableitisatthispoint.Theresinterferenceinmyaccesstothemilitaryinformation
division,Icannotinvestigatethedetails
Hoo,theinformationdivision
Theywereexchangingjabsmixedwithtruthandlies.Tatsuyawasnottellinghimeverythingheknewand
Hayamawasalsoprobablyconcealingthings.No,ifitwaslimitedtothisconversation,itwasmorelike
Hayamahadntsaidanything.
Iamsorry.Butforthatreason,IhavenotmadeenoughprogressthatIamabletogiveyouareport
No,no.BothOkusamaandmyselfviewsecuringthecooperationoftheKudouClanasamajor
accomplishmentinitself
TatsuyaobservedHayamasfaceasmuchashecouldgetawaywithwithoutbeingrude.Wastheline
aboutMiyabeingimpressed,thetruthormerelipservice;itwasunfortunatebut,thepowerofTatsuyas
eyeswereunabletodeterminethat.
So,itwouldbefineformetoassumethatmyprogresstowardthecurrentobjectiveissatisfactory
Itissufficient
Fornow,hehadsecuredfreedomofmovement;forTatsuya,thatwasnothingbutgood.
OntheKurobafront,havetheyacquiredanynewinformation?
Therearenodevelopmentsthere
TheshortestanswerpossibleperhapstokeepfromgrantingTatsuyaanymaterialtomakeconjectures
from.ThosedistrustfulthoughtsfloatedacrossTatsuyasmind.
Well,Tatsuyadono.Iwillbegoingnow,IwilltellOkusamawhatyousaidinordertoaskherhonored
opinion
huhThatwasprobablytobeexpected.Therewasnowayitwouldendwithhimonlyaskingaboutthe
progressoftheinvestigation.
RegardingOkusama,shallshehearfrommethatTatsuyadonodoesnotrequirereinforcements
Reinforcements,hmm.

ThosewordswereoutsidehiscalculationssoTatsuyacouldnotimmediatelyreply.Mayasendinghim
reinforcementswasnotsomething,Tatsuyahadevenconsidered.
However,thisisagoodopportunity,thoughtTatsuya.Hehadactuallyintendedtotosomeonedispatched
fromMikitsugu'sareasecretlyfromMayaorHayamabut,takingadvantageofarequesttoMayafor
reinforcementswasprobablythebestwaytoavoidfuturetrouble.
Hayamasan.WhenthenoticeofthisdutywasdeliveredwereFumiyaandhissisterdirectedtopurposely
overlookatail?
HayamacockedhisheadwithaseriousfaceatTatsuyaswords.
Really?Igavenosuchdirectivebut.
Hayamadidntappearbefuddled.However,therehadbeensuchadirectivethatwasclearfromlookingat
theresultingsituation.
Ahh,cometothinkofit,HanabishikunstruckupaconversationwithFumiyadonoaboutsomething
Hanabishisan,hmm
AYotsubaClanemployeeofthesecondrank.AmagicianthattheYotsubahadheadhuntedfromoutside,
Hismagicalpowerwasordinarybuthewasaformerservicemanwithextensivecombatexperience.He
wasinchargeoffinetuningschedulingandprovidingequipmentforillegaloperationsrelatedtomagic
requestedbytheYotsubaClan.Anotherwaytoputitwouldbehewasthebutlerthatservedasthe
Yotsubascontroltower.
However,IbelieveHanabishisanwouldnotissuesuchadirectiveonhisowninitiative
Iamsorry.NotevenIknowmorethanthat
Thatwasalie.Mayastrustedretainerwouldnotbeunawareofsuchanimportantmatterasinformation
concerningTatsuyaandMiyukibeingleaked.NevermindTatsuya,Miyukiwasacandidatetobethenext
clanhead.
However,hehaddeclaredthatIdonotknowwhichleftTatsuyanowayofpressinghimfurther.Tatsuya
changedhisattackplan.
Isee.Nevertheless,IbelieveFumiyawasunmistakablyfollowed.ManmadeSpiritswereableto
investigateourhomeandwewereattackedintheareainfrontofthestation
Somethinglikethat..Tatsuyadono,itsinexcusable.IwilllistentoHanabishikunsexplanation
No,sincewhatsdoneisdoneisdoesnotreallymatter,however
Then?

Asamatteroffact,underlingsoftheTraditionalisthavebeenhauntingthevicinityofclassmatesofmine
andMiyuki

Hmm...thatwouldbeworryingforTatsuyadonoandMiyukisamaaswell
Yes.Fornow,IhavebeencopingwithitthroughthegoodwilloftheKitayamafamilyandtheKyuuchou
templebutcanyourecommendtoObauethatshelendmeahand
Isee,freeingoneselffromworryisastandardtactic.Miyasamawouldalsowishyoutofreeof
hindrances
Please.IdonotwishtotakeupmoreoftheMasterstime
TheunspokenimplicationofthatstatementwasthethreatthatmoreofYakumosinterventionwillbe
permittedwhichcouldcauseproblems,Hayamashouldunderstandthat.Tatsuyathoughtthatboththe
YotsubaandYakumoshouldunderstandthathewantedthisforboththeirsakesbut,hedidnotstatethat
openly.
Bytheway,Tatsuyadono,aboutKyuuchoutemple
Hayamaabruptlychangedthetopic,thismightbehiswayofproclaimingthathedidnotwishtopursue
theissuefurther.
Recently,youhavebeenengagedindevelopingnewmagicattheKyuuchoutemple,Tatsuyadono
Youarewellinformed
ThesurprisethatshowedonTatsuyasfacewasnotanact.Whentheheckdidtheyfindout,bywhat
means,Tatsuyahadabsolutelynoidea.
Simplededuction.WehaveinformationregardingwhatisinsidethebasementofKyuuchoutemple
Isee,sothatwaswhatiscalledatrickquestion
Tatsuyashowedanexpressionofregretbutthatwasanact.Hewasrelievednowthatheknewhis
informationconcealmenthadntbeenpenetratedanditwasagoodtimetorevealthedevelopmentofhis
newmagicanyway.Thiscouldbecalledagoodopportunitytodowhatwasknownaslobbingaballto
keeparunneronbase.
ItisasyouhavesaidIhaveborrowedthebasementoftheKyuuchoutempletoengageinthecreationof
anewattackmagic
DoyoumindifIinquireastowhattype?
Ofcoursenot.IhavenosecretsfromObaue
TatsuyasfaceproclaimedhisinnocenceasheansweredHayamasquestionwithaboldfacelie.
ThemagicIaminthemidstofdevelopingisacloserangephysicalattackspell.Ibelieveyouhavegone
throughthereportconcerningtheBrionacusedbyAngieSiriusoftheSTARS
SoyouaretryingtoreproducetheBrionac
Thereareminordifferencesinthetheorybutthatisthebasicconcept.ThetruthisIhadamatchatFirst
HighinAprilwithanopponentonwhomMistDispersionwouldntwork

TheTomitsukaClansRangeZero
Soyouareawareofit.Ihadanepiphanythen.AsMiyukisGuardian,Iurgentlyneedarepulsionmagicfor
useagainstopponentsonwhomdecompositionwillnotwork
Perhaps,Tatsuyasfeelingresonatedwithhim;Hayamabowedhisheaddeeplyinagreement.
Anexcellentendeavour
Ifthismagicisperfected,IshouldprobablynotonlybeabletopiercethepsionarmorofRangeZerobut
theJuumonjiClansPhalanx.IthinkIwillbeabletounveilitatthenextShougatsu
Foraninstant,Hayamasunkintosilencewithagravelook.Buthisgentlebutlerssmilewasrestoredso
quicklythatonewouldthinkthathadbeenanillusion.
Isthenameofthemagicbeendecided,yet
Ithasnotbeenperfectedyet,soonlyatemporaryone..
Ifyoumay
Whenitiscompletedforunveiling,IintendtogiveitthenameBaryonLance
...howinteresting.IwilllookforwardtobeingabletoseeitwithMiyukisamaatShougatsu
Ashespoke,Hayamagotup.
Tatsuyaalsofeltitwasasuitabletime.
Soonthematterofguardingourschoolfriends,pleasetakecareofit
Pleaseperformyourdutieswithdispatchaswell,Tatsuyadono
TatsuyamadeabowtoHayamaandlefttheinterviewroom.
Theshakingofhandsdidnotexistbetweenthesetwo.

October15th,Monday.
FirstHighwasdeepinthemiddleofthetumultofpreparingfortheThesisCompetition.whichcovereda
differentcommotion.
ThenewsthattheformerstudentcouncilpresidentandtheeldestdaughteroftheSaegusaClanoftheTen
MasterClans,SaegusaMayumihadrequestedameetingwithShibaTatsuyahadcapturedtheinterestof
thestudents.
Inthemidstofthestudentsirresponsiblyexchangingrumors,thereweremanystudentswhowereunable
totakethenewswithacalmheart.
Liketheformer,chairmanHattoriGyobu.
OrthestudentcounciltreasurerMitsuiHonoka.
AndMiyukiwhowasboththestudentcouncilpresidentandTatsuyassisterwhofeltanindescribable
uneasinessasshewatchedthepairdisappearintothereceptionroom.