The Inquisitors training institution.
It's nicknamed "AntiMagic Academy".
The age of discrimination towards witches and sorcerers, as well as Magical Heritages has began in the earnest.
In order to crack down on threats related to 【Magic】, the country has established the Inquisition.
The ones who rebelled against it were humans possessing magical power, in other words - witches.
That unrest was later called "Witch-Hunt War", an abominable conflict which consumed the majority of the human race and left a deep scar in minds of people.
After the Witch-Hunt War ended, the Inquisition further increased regulation concerning witches and established laws for punishing them, they also founded an Inquisitor training institution called AntiMagic Academy.
Inquisition's power had a firm foundation established.
"...fired, you say?"
In AntiMagic Academy's chairman's office, a girl with sunset-colored hair frowned dissatisfied.
"Indeed. To be precise, it's deprivation of qualifications, I guess? Since you can obtain them once again, it means you aren't fired. From today onward, you're not a member of Inquisition, which means you have become a student of AntiMagic Academy."
AntiMagic Academy's and Inquisition's chairman, Ootori Sougetsu, said so with a faint smile. His appearance and gestures made it hard to judge whether he was a man or a woman, he had an unique and daunting seductiveness.
"As for why you were punished... you know already, right?"
The girl could tell what was it about and remained silent. Sougetsu raised a cup with tea from an old, luxurious desk and leaned on the back of his chair.
"Don't tell me you forgot about your recent blunder. If it turned out badly it could have become a grave problem for Inquisition. Think of yourself lucky that you got a chance to start over."
"You've abandoned your mission despite being a "Dullahan", this is the punishment for that."
Sougetsu raised both his hands as he said that.
Each inquisitor has an appointed role.
Developing and maintaining various anti-magical weapons, were the "Reginn".
Serving as intelligence and infiltration agents, the "Banshee".
In charge of all medical treatment, responsible for treating injuries caused by magic are the "Seelie".
An assault forward possessing necessary equipment and tasked with Inquisition's self-defense are the "Spriggan".
And those who are allowed to perform investigations by themselves and arbitrarily enter combat were the "Dullahan".
There were diverse occupations since inquisitor's work was not limited to hunting witches. Their work was to resolve all issues in which magic is involved.
It's been 150 years since the Witch-Hunt War ended. Those who made use of magic, namely witches and sorcerers are few in number, which was the current status. Since the law forbid the witches remaining in this world to have offspring, other than mutations there were hardly any people born with magical power.
However, witches aside, there were other threats existing.
A substance harboring magic inside, "Magical Heritage" was one of them.
There are various types of Magical Heritage in existence, swords, books, guns, vases, various pottery, paint brushes, leaves, tobacco, even cigarette butts. Magic dwelling in inorganic objects is not uncommon in modern times, but from time to time a tremendous weapon appears.
Confirmed to exist for a long time already, the lost-type Magical Heritages are mentioned in legends and folklore, they are also referred to as irregular substances having traces of magical power in them. Their value lied not only in being a weapon, they also had a high historical value. Since there were collectors gathering them, they were traded in the black market for high prices.
Other than that, they arrested people that did not have magical power yet belonged to cults and worshiped evil gods, dealing with supernatural disaster called Akashic Hazard and researching and protection of fantastic organisms. Their work spread very widely.
"Well, you don't have endure it until your graduation, don't let it weight on you so much. When it looks like you show signs of remorse, I think it would be all right for you to return to your original position. Learn from this experience and don't make a mistake like that aga——"!
"Excuse me, but I believe I did not take any improper actions in respect to matter from the other day."
The girl who had remained silent spoke as if to interrupt Sougetsu.
Normally, it would be outrageous for an inquisitor to speak in such manner towards the chairman. Sougetsu didn't mind it at all, he put his elbows on the desk and rested his chin on his hands, smiling.
"Ouka, I'll ask you one question. What do you think is an inquisitor's mission?"
Hearing Sougetsu's question, the girl named Ouka narrowed her eyes sharply.
"Protecting people from magical threats as well as extermination of witches and sorcerers."
"Extermination, huh. That's why comrades gave you a disgraceful nickname like 《Calamity》."
"Inquisitor's are fulfilling missions given by the Inquisition. That is to arrest witches and seizing Magical Heritage. Killing and destroying isn't one of the goals."
"...I have that in mind."
"The age where we killed and destroyed indiscriminately is already over. That way of acting caused false accusations to go rampant. Not all witches are villains, there are people who don't want to be one, we have to protect witches who are like that."
Ouka clenched her fist, hearing Sougetsu's pretty words unbearable anger has welled up in her.
"There's an old Japanese saying, for rice cakes go to the rice cake maker, isn't there. The Inquisition does not have a role for killing witches."
"...I understand what you want to say. I am aware of my own shortcomings. However, there was no other way than to kill the witch. Or maybe, should the child taken hostage be forsaken and the witch's arrest be prioritized instead?"
"You put a bullet in the witch's forehead despite the fact that there was a hostage, is that prioritizing human lives? Did you not consider a possibility of the hostage being killed?"
"For me, there is no such possibility."
Ouka said sharply, her pupils displayed complete self-confidence.
"...anyway, from now on you're back to being a student. The procedures are already complete. From today onward do your best studying."
Sougetsu opened his desk's drawer that contained documents.
"Obediently accept your punishment and come back later. With your skills you'll be back in no time."
"...I was in the middle of investigating the case of corpse collectors... I have clues on their trading partner, a little bit longer and I'll catch them. Please, let me continue for a litt——"
"I've said it before; that matter is within jurisdiction of the police, that's the agreement between Inquisition and the police's HQ."
"But we don't know when the living will become victims... the police's investigation is very lax."
"Since no traces of magic have been found Inquisition cannot intervene, you know that."
"In the first place, you're no longer an inquisitor, you no longer have the right to interfere with the investigation."
Ouka's face clearly displayed her frustration.
"That always-discontent expression is wasting away your beauty, you know? Think of it as of great opportunity. I've thought for a long time that you should polish your social abilities. Even among 'Dullahan', your reputation is terrible. They say you're unfriendly and won't listen to anyone."
"...that can't be helped, that's how my personality is."
"See, that's exactly the problem. I think you joining the Inquisition at age of thirteen was premature... you joined before your humanity could develop in school."
Sougetsu sighed appalled, then threw the documents towards Ouka.
She gathered the documents scattered on the desk and still dissatisfied she looked through them.
"Platoon roster. Although you were in middle school before, high school requires students to be part of a test platoon, you know that right."
"You've been incorporated into the 35th Test Platoon, it's nicknamed Small Fry Platoon."
An easy to understand nickname, Ouka was stupefied.
Seeing her reaction Sougetsu laughed happily.
"A set of oddballs, it's my favorite platoon."
"Why do I have to be assigned to such unit?"
"Because, well, see?"
Sougetsu pointed his finger at Ouka and broadly grinned.
"Yes yes, don't get so angry. You've always had such an explosive personality. It would be good if you fixed that as well, during your school life that is."
"I would like to change the assignment. Ideally, I want to be in a platoon all alone. That way I won't bother others and it's convenient for me as well."
"That would make no sense, would it. Also, it's already been decided and can no longer be changed. Members changing platoons is something prohibited by school rules."
Nishishi, Sougetsu laughed mischievously. Ouka couldn't help but feel regret.
"Well, don't be so pessimistic. Cooperation aside, their individual abilities are outstanding. More than anything, there's a candidate for the Relic Eater in there."
Relic Eater. That term made Ouka open her eyes wide in shock.
"N-no way... Are you saying that one of those guys is a candidate?"
"Yes. Since the last of the series... the Twilight Type left over after the Witch-Hunt War hasn't decided on its owner yet."
"That can't be! Why are you choosing from the students?! Only Dullahans should have been allowed to use Relic Eaters!"
"Even though you say that, you were a special case as well. You became a Dullahan at the age of thirteen, then soon after you were chosen as 《Vlad》's contractor."
"That's true but...! Why of all things, a Twilight Type Relic Eater."
"It's a shame, but even with your skill you were rejected by it. Other Dullahans tried as well, but it has rejected everyone. In that case, there's no choice but to choose from the students. Or maybe you want us to choose an amateur from among the civilians?"
Hearing Sougetsu's comment, Ouka lowered her head.
Relic Eaters were weapons only 'Dullahans" are allowed to use. They are completely different from modern firearms that used mithril and adamantium to produce anti-magic effects, having someone else other than Dullahan touch them would be breaking the law.
Relic Eaters are unquestionably Magical Heritage.
A product born from magical power, to humanity they are an abominable existence.
Relic Eater series' main form is that of a gun. Although it's a secret in what circumstances they were born as it's kept a secret and hasn't been revealed, they are all treated like a powerful Magical Heritage.
Fighting poison with poison. It's the forbidden weapon of those who wish to destroy magic.
In order to fill itself with dread and self-discipline, Inquisition named those Magical Heritages after historical tyrants, the devils.
"Of course, it wasn't our intention. We aren't choosing the candidates. Relic Eater is choosing its own contractor. You went through that yourself... so you know it, right?"
Sougetsu said as to remind her, Ouka replied shortly.
Embracing emotions she still couldn't understand, she looked through the documents she held in hands, checking their photos for the candidate.
"Just to make sure, one of those three is the candidate right?"
"Which student is it?"
When Ouka asked, Sougetsu meekly put his hand on his chin, then stared sharply at her.
Without saying anything, Ouka turned around on her heel, with her shoulders trembling in anger she was going to leave the chairman's room.
"Fuhaha! It's confidential so I can't tell you!
"I was stupid to ask you seriously...!"
"Ah—wait, wait a second, one more thing to report to you. While you're a student, you're not to use your 《Vlad》, so that's that. Even if it's an emergency, I'll still get angry."
"I know without you telling me!"
*bang*! Ouka opened the door and left.
Sougetsu looked at her back seeing her off, smiling for a while longer afterwards.
"Good grief, teenagers sure are difficult..."
He leaned heavily on his chair, resting his chin in his hands.
Suddenly, when Sougetsu looked into a corner of the room, a mysterious shadow was sitting there.
"Lapis, since when were you there?"
"That's no good, you still don't have a contractor. Producing magic power meaninglessly is bad. Didn't I tell you that walking around alone is a big no?"
As if to respond to Sougetsu's call, the shadow wriggled in the darkness. The thing that looked like darkness itself took a human shape and quietly emerged from the shadows.
What appeared, was a girl that had everything from hair color to clothing dyed azure. Her skin was so pale it looked sickly and was supple beyond comparison to that of a human.
The girl didn't blink, breathe, nor even sound a heartbeat, she just stood there expressionless.
"Your maintenance is hard; aren't you going to contract yet?"
"Are you still hesitating... or..."
The girl didn't answer Sougetsu.
She just stood there breathlessly.
Still, with her eyes that looked as if they concealed a pitch black abyss, she watched Sougetsu.
He sensed something from the wordless girl and narrowed his eyes.
He had a smile on his face like the Cheshire Cat from a fairy tale.
"...I see. I'll consider it."
"Mistletoe you really act shamelessly just like your name states... what an eerie child you are."
Sougetsu closed his eyes as if he fell asleep and a ominous laughter sounded from his throat.
The girl's expression didn't budge.
However, faint azure lights floated in the darkness around the girl like fireflies.
Kusanagi Takeru is hopeless at everything other than swordsmanship.
He isn't clumsy or bad with them, he's just hopeless.
The Kusanagi family he was born into, was a famous military household 300 years ago. During an era when the sword was strongest, Kusanagi household's name resounded on many battlefields.
One and only swordsmanship, Peerless Kusanagi style. Kusanagi style was feared to the point where enemies raised a white flag the moment they were seen on the battlefield..
But that's a story of old.
In the modern times, swordsmanship is only useful as a martial art.
The fact is, that the pen is stronger than the sword and the gun is stronger than the pen.
This means of course, that the gun is stronger than the sword.
Swords are the worst, it's outdated scrap iron.
"Hey, it's the Small Fry's swordsmanship nut."
One of two students standing by the wall drank from his carton juice and pointed at Takeru walking down the corridor, smiling sarcastically.
"Oh, that idiot came to assault training with a plastic knife before."
"He must be joking, to come to assault without a gun. Also, look at that. Isn't that a real sword?"
Just as the student said, there was a sheathed sword hanging at Takeru's waist.
Almond eyes with visible white between iris and lower eyelid, tightly shut mouth long bangs that could be called jet black. His fierce appearance could be called like that of a samurai. On top of that there was a rattling sound when his sword hit the uniform's belt, making him extra noticeable.
"That's a Japanese sword, it was a main weapon long time before the war."
"Isn't that the sword that becomes useless after cutting down two, three people? Why would he hang such a thing there? Is he an idiot?"
"He IS an idiot, that's why he's been assigned to Small Fry Platoon."
Mockery echoed in the hallway.
Even as a raspy laughter reached him from behind, Takeru just stretched his back and advanced forward.
From behind he looked dignified
However, from the front, he wasn't far from looking like a demon.
His originally fierce eyes stood out as he made an expression of a furious murderer.
Surrounding students escaped from Takeru's path towards the walls because he was too scary.
Takeru noticed their reactions and changed his demonic expression.
"No good, no good. ...bear with it... bear it... Kusanagi Takeru...! You can't get angry just because they're mocking the sword...!"
He stretched his face grimacing, then sighed deeply.
"I'm no longer like my past self."
He put his hand on the sword hanging by the waist. It was the only weapon for Kusanagi Takeru. Out of necessity, it was the only method left for Kusanagi Takeru.
He studied just the basics of basics since his childhood. Other than his dexterity, he was more clumsy than anything. He had no literary talent, no talent for painting. His motor skills were excellent, but he has no sports sense, his field intuition is a minus as well.
Above all, when it came to handling firearms, he was hopeless.
His lack of knack for it is referred to as "curse". It's not only that he can't hit the target he aims for, it's on a completely different level. The bullets actually avoid their target. Even if he aims his muzzle straight at the target or fires from a very short distance, the bullet won't even graze the target. Even if he squeezes the trigger at point blank range, by some twist of fate a gun's failure and explosion of the gun's barrel awaits him.
Therefore, for Kusanagi Takeru his swordsmanship was his only talent remaining. His sword arm alone was good enough it could be said there was no one better than he is, but there was no use for such a thing in this day and age.
Takeru calmed himself down and took his hand off the sword.
"It can't be helped... I'll be abused and called incompetent, but this is the only thing for me."
If you were incompetent, you wouldn't enter a high level AntiMagic Academy and wouldn't aim to become a high-rank inquisitor. Takeru himself didn't think so.
However, he aimed for this profession for a very compelling reason.
Inquisitors are paid well.
To pay off the debt I inherited... on top of that my parents are no longer in this world... also for my beloved sister, no other job offers a salary big enough!
Takeru clenched his fist, even as tears flowed from his eyes as he stared at the sky outside, there was something like an earnest shine in them.
Forgive me, my ancestors... I need money to survive.
Now just to make money.
Unlike two years ago, that's all Takeru wanted at the moment.
To become an inquisitor it wasn't enough to enroll in AntiMagic Academy. The admission to school was essential, but just as there was a promotion test from middle school to high school, high school students had to earn points doing a harsh quota in order to finally become an inquisitor.
And that quota was the biggest problem.
Takeru stood outside of the room, holding his abdomen discouraged.
On the door's plate there was a "35th Test Platoon" label.
Feeling a stomach pain he knocked on the door.
"You can enter〜."
A blunt voice sounded from the other side of the door..
"Ah, wait a mo——"
Takeru heard a rushed, shrill voice, but he was already unable to stop himself from opening the door.
The instant the door opened, he understood nothing.