In the basement 500 meters below the First Alchemist Institute, was placed a research plant for Hyakki Yakou.
This place wasn't as robust as Inquisition's underground facility nor its security was strict. For a highest priority facility that confined special fantastical organisms, it was too vulnerable.
It's been known for a few months already just how hazardous Hyakki Yakou was.
Mankind should have learned from that abominable incident that swallowed an entire section of a city. The fantastical organism that was of highest priority when it comes to extermination, "Hyakki Yakou" was too mighty and aberrant for humans to tame it with a collar.
A girl was sleeping behind a thin glass of a water tank.
She had tubes passing through her body and her head up to the eyes was covered by some kind of apparatus.
It made one want to avert eyes from this painful sight. Something like this being done to a young girl was too ghastly.
The girl's mouth arced peacefully.
Even unable to see her eyes, one could tell she had grasped happiness in her hands.
As the girl continued to smile happily, unknown that her happiness isn't real,
"...I don't like this."
Kirigaya Kyouya frowned.
Surrendering to illusion called "dream", he thought Kusanagi Kiseki was pitiful for being used by adults. Despite being aware he wasn't qualified to sympathize with her, he couldn't help but to think so.
He knew she isn't an existence he is able to kill. And it wasn't like he tried to kill her out of sympathy.
But no matter his motivation, he asserted that the only salvation for Kusanagi Kiseki was dying.
The only one who could grant her this salvation was her brother, Kusanagi Takeru.
"It's all because of you that she's suffering... Kusanagi."
Kyouya despised him.
He despised the man who didn't kill 'Hyakki Yakou' and didn't save his little sister, Kiseki.
"——Apologies for my rudeness, but I think that's not for you to decide, is it?"
Hearing a voice adjusted to sound graceful, Kyouya slowly turned around.
Before he realized, a gray-haired woman stood behind him.
Suginami Suzaku. She was the Alchemist corporation's current CEO, normally she would be an alchemist who's ought to be penalized. As if exaggerating the fact her existence is located in the gray zone, her hair was perfectly gray-colored. However, the color of the lab coat she was wearing was black.
"Kirigaya Kyouya-sama, is it not? I am very grateful for your joining our facilities defenses at a time like this. Thank you for making this long journey."
Either she just used polite speech or maybe she spoke like that to tease him. Suzaku stood there, maintaining a distance from him.
They met for the first time, but she was just like he imagined her. The atmosphere surrounding her was close to that of Ootori Sougetsu. Even though she was in front of him, it felt like she's not there. Just like a female ghost.
"I didn't really come to this facility to protect it... don't misunderstand that."
Just as Suzaku said, Kyouya didn't participate in the second Witch Hunt War, and as a member of EXE he had come to defend the Alchemist's first Institute.
He wasn't ordered to, he volunteered.
His reason wasn't killing Kiseki nor seriously defending it.
In this location Yoshimizu Akira was receiving life-prolonging treatment.
"I'm aware, verily aware. Your merciful attachment to your schoolmate... really, I admire it from the bottom of my heart. For the sake of saving your schoolmate, I shall treat her with my utmost efforts.'
"...don't talk as if you know anything, heretic."
Despite her provocations, Kyouya didn't attack her. That choice would end up with his childhood friend, Yoshimizu Akira dying. He was well aware it would be worst outcome for him.
Suzaku made a classy, wry smile and tilted her head.
"The Alchemist owes you a great deal, please be at ease."
Kyouya clenched his teeth. What Alchemist owed him for, was making Hyakki Yakou go berserk which allowed them to learn its power.
"But... there's something else I would like to talk about. It's troubling to have you enter the facility without permission. This area is off-limits to people other than Suginamis."
"...security here's shit. In this state invading in is easy."
"Do not worry. Even without any security, this equipment and the barrier encasing her absolutely won't be torn down. Rather, if you touch any of it you'll go crazy and die, you know?"
Saying a joke in a light tone, Suzaku broadly smiled.
That definitely wasn't a joke. The rumored alchemist Suzaku was said to produce materials out of this world.
Suzaku's footsteps resounded, standing next to Kyouya she stared at Kiseki inside of the water tank.
"Your opinion from earlier isn't wrong at all. Hyakki Yakou... Kusanagi Kiseki-sama's suffering is beyond our comprehension. Death is salvation to her... that train of thought is correct."
"However, does it look to you as if she was suffering at the moment?"
Kyouya once again looked up at Kiseki.
The smile she had on her face was peaceful and far from suffering. Suzaku closed her eyes and put a fingertip on the tank enclosing Kiseki.
*cshrr*, an eerie magical power has sprouted out.
"This device is linked to her body. Therefore, ordinary humans and witches go mad upon touching it and die."
"...ha, since you put it into practice, it seems like yer a heretic yourself."
It's all too late though, Kyouya spat out.
Suzaku closed her eyes and made a light smile.
"I can understand. She's currently feeling happiness she never knew. Even if it's an illusion, I'm fine with it as long as she's happy. Being wronged just because she's alive, suffering, a mismatched body and soul causing her to go mad from incomprehensible fear... she wants to live in eternal peace together with her beloved person."
She slowly opened her eyes and looked towards Kyouya.
Her open eyes were moist with tears.
"Rather than salvation by death, don't you think keeping her asleep in our company's cradle isn't giving her greater happiness?"
Suzaku asked with intoxicated eyes beyond what he could make and in tears.
Kyouya thought so, clicked his tongue and started to walk towards the exist after turning on his heel.
"That ain't convincing at all when you bastards are using her... dreams are just dreams. I wouldn't cling onto stuff like that...!"
Suzaku stuck out her tongue towards Kyouya's back with a "tehe" and threw away eye drops she was hiding behind her back.
And then, with an ecstatic expression she held her hands together looking up at Kiseki.
"——Aww, c'mon, there's no need for such sophistryy. This is a win-win relationship! Kiseki-sama acquired peace and we can get superb results from our researchh. No one's hurt so it's all okay! We can act by calling it voluntary right?! This is voluntary and not mercy! The ones who reached out with helping hand can feel the joy of 'doing a good thing' and a sense of satisfaction, saving people out of charity! It doesn't trouble anyone! That's the ideal equivalent exchange alchemists have reachedd! Aaaaa, wonderfullll!"
With droll hanging from her mouth Suzaku twisted her body.
And then, humming she started to mess around with the apparatus controlling Kiseki.
She already ignored Kyouya's existence completely.
Holding down his irritation, he headed for the exit.
"...damn it all...!"
He felt pathetic having to help people like these.
From the bottom of his heart Kyouya felt like killing himself for being unable to break out from the present state.
Takeru left the hospital room and walked down the school's hallway.
He was told by Nagaru to take it easy for today, other members too have told him to recuperate with an amazingly threatening attitude, but he wanted to understand the current situation as soon as possible.
It seemed like they arrived here soon after Takeru lost consciousness.
The 35th platoon has captured Magnolia, the EXE's vice captain and carrying Takeru aimed for the destination.
Their destination was a small cave. They despaired for a moment thinking the cave was their refuge, but it seemed like the cave was a landmark in which Nagaru hid a transfer instant charm.
Seemingly it was hidden there earlier by Heretic Alliance, apparently there were a number of those hidden in completely desolate and obscure places. The reason they went all this way north was because the charms in other regions were used by active members of the Heretic Alliance.
"Are you all right Usagi?"
While walking down the familiar hallway Takeru showed concern for Usagi's poor condition. She laughed weakly with a pale face.
"I-I'm all right, this much is nothing... I just have a slight headache."
Her complexion aside, her behavior was also pretty suspicious.
Ikaruga and Mari didn't look too well either. They had hard time breathing and even a little bit of walk caused them to breathe roughly.
He could only guess, but the amount of oxygen in here was different from ordinary. The discomfort he felt immediately after waking him made him feel like he was on a very high mountain.
...is this AntiMagic Academy on top of a mountain?
After taking a look around he understood that it was a little bit different from the academy he's been going to. Although the buildings themselves were similar, there were few facilities in here. In fact, the Magical Heritage sealing facilities and forbidden area from the Inquisition's headquarters didn't exist here.
It was just some of the school's buildings.
"Previous top made it resemble AntiMagic Academy apparently〜. It's been done well right〜."
"...made to resemble you say, was the founder a part of Inquisition?"
Ouka asked, as Nagaru guided them through the facility.
"That's how it looks like. The organization exists for nearly 40 years, but it started its activities in the earnest around 20 years ago. It was then that the leader has discovered this place and built these."
Staring at her from the side, Nagaru said it out flat.
"Your father, Mineshiro Kazuma-san was this place's previous leader."
Everyone other than Ouka gasped in surprise.
Possibly guessing it to a degree, she didn't show any agitation.
"...is that the reason you have invited me to the student council, President?"
"Nyaw, that's not it. I never met Mineshiro-san, even if you are his daughter I wouldn't have invited you if I couldn't trust you. I simply wondered if you are the real thing, someone who was doubting Inquisition〜. That was enough a reason to make you a comrade."
Being told that by Nagaru, Ouka downcast her eyes slightly.
Takeru didn't know how she felt. Only Ouka herself could understand does it feel when her gentle father's image collapses.
"...please, if possible don't hate Mineshiro-san for keeping it secret from his family〜."
Nagaru faced forward and said so, placing a hand on her head.
"Certainly, Ouka-chan's family was killed because Mineshiro-san was a dissident. I think you know it, but after he was forced to leave Inquisition he took you in and resigned from the position of the dissidents' leader, staying together with his family. Because he felt sinking in any deeper would endanger his family, he cut his ties with Heretic Alliance."
"Results-wise, it was too late... but the image of Mineshiro-san as a 'gentle father' you have isn't a lie. In the end, he choose to be a father protecting his family rather than be Heretic Alliance's leader. It might sound selfish, but I would like you not to blame Mineshiro-san for the fact you family was killed."
Surely, all of that was just a guess.
But Takeru too, thought that Mineshiro Kazuma was just like Nagaru described him.
"Even if we're not tied by blood, I can understand father's feelings. Right now, not as an Inquisitor and not for revenge, I came here for the sake of my comrades. I do not feel any gratitude nor have any grudge against him. I respect him."
When Ouka said so clearly with a hand on her chest, Nagaru smiled happily.
"——That's that, but could you cut it out and finally tell us where is this?"
As the atmosphere started to calm down, Ouka asked that sharply. It seemed like she tried to dodge the conversation about her father, but Takeru too wanted to know that the most.
"You said this place's absolutely safe, but what's the basis for that? What is here on this ground?"
While making gasping Usagi breathe in from an oxygen canister, Takeru asked Nagaru.
Nagaru told Takeru "I'll show you that now." and took them up the stairs to the rooftop.
After opening heavy iron door, they squinted being exposed to the light.
Chasing after Nagaru who entered the roof with a gait everyone moved under the sun.
"Don't you think there's something strange here?"
Nagaru turned towards them with a twirl and spread her arms.
Strange? Takeru looked around. But despite being told something is strange, it was just a rooftop in broad daylight. The only things there, was a water storage tank and perfectly clear blue sky.
While everyone standing in a line was puzzled, Ikaruga alone narrowed her eyes sharply as she looked up at the sky.
"...there's no sun."
For a moment, everyone thought they misheard her.
However, it was just as Ikaruga said, in the cloudless azure sky there was no sun. Confusion spread all at once.
"N-no way...! Impossible...?!"
"I-isn't this an underground facility? Like Magic Academy, underground facilities with a barrier..."
"Then what is this light? No matter how one looks like it, it's daylight..."
While everyone was upset, Takeru stared at the empty sky.
It was cracked. Like those on a shell of an egg, there were cracks in the sky. In the gaps visible between those cracks there was nothing but pitch black darkness.
Takeru cautiously walked to the edge of the roof. Something inside of him started to throb. The truth from earlier gave him a hunch it all extended far beyond his imagination. His hand grasped the fence's wire net and over-viewing from the rooftop he witnessed the state of the world for the first time.
He was speechless.
"...what the hell... is this..."
Feeling his legs cramp up, he involuntarily leaked out a voice.
The scenery in front of his eyes couldn't be real. In the world there were cracks... the space itself had cracks all over it.
Looking up from the safe rooftop there was only sky. Around the school there was only rubble. Wreckage of old-fashioned buildings like temples, lying around.
On the other side, there was nothing. The world itself was covered in cracks and dyed black.
It was a world with a radius of 5 kilometers at most. Beyond that, everything was broken.
He was dazzled completely by this impossible sight.
As Takeru and the others were stunned, Nagaru leaned her back on the fence and spoke.
"——Do you know the theory which says we live in the wrong world?"
While looking at the cracks in the world, Nagaru said so absent-mindedly.
"It's a theory philosophers from old times and the inventor of the theory of relativity have come up with, those people said "Magical power and magic as well as magical organisms didn't really exist". Of course, that hypothesis was being laughed at for a few hundred years, but recently it's been reviewed and adapted."
"Don't you think the history of the world we live in is unnatural? Magic that always bites into history somewhere... magic we treat as something natural... but don't you think it feels like something that's been forcibly added up?"
What Nagaru was saying didn't go through to Takeru's head at all. Everyone else was the same, they stared at the world, stunned.
Only Ouka and Ikaruga retained their composure.
"I know that hypothesis. Magic didn't initially exist and with certain historical events as a boundary, imperceptibly magic has become a natural presence... is what you mean?"
"Yup. Those certain occurrences are crucial when it comes to explaining about this world."
So Ikaruga was that familiar with it, she shrugged and raised both of her hands.
"...a mythological world has collided with ours."
Ouka said with a heavy tone of voice.
"The world we are in now has appeared as a result of the collision of our world with the mythological world. I have read in a book that originally it had a different form."
Nagaru smiled broadly and nodded.
"People who hypothesized it advocated that magical power and magic didn't exist in this world but they didn't deny the existence of mythological world. Basically, a mythological world is a parallel world. That world has been overflowing with magic that's in our world now and magical organisms as well as organisms we call 'gods' has existed in it."
There was knowledge of the mythological world they have learned in school.
The spirits summoned by necromancy and hero summoning too, were called from a world called 'afterlife', it was something similar to that.
There were records of ancient witches contacting with mythological worlds and summoning angels and demons. Even now there was a few of them, but some of the witches skilled in magic were able to sense the presence of mythological worlds. There were few that doubted mythological world's existence.
"If it's about mythological worlds, I can prove it myself. After all, I can summon fairies. Still, is it really possible to have worlds collide with one another?"
Mari said puzzled and put a hand on her hip.
She seemed slightly irritated by Nagaru's roundabout explanation and was nervously tapping on the ground with her heel.
"I wonder, I don't know that. But you know that the parallel world called 'Norse mythology's world' no longer exists, right?"
Mari was puzzled hearing that question, but Takeru recalled something then.
When he was taken to Magic Academy, he heard about it from Lapis.
"When the Nordic summoners first came into contact with a parallel world named "Norse mythology's world". Valhalla's Dáinsleif, Tyrving that Mephisto passed to Tenmyouji Reima... a number of lost-type Magical Heritages that still remain are said to be made thanks to the contact with the world of Norse mythology. In other words, that world's existence has been known for a long time. But strangely... no one knows when did the world of Norse mythology disappear."
"...it can't be... then, did the world we have lived in before and Norse mythology's world clash, becoming one?"
Nagaru nodded in response to Ouka's question.
"It's not clear when did that happen, but believing the hypothesis it might be a reconstructed world. But, there are a few things that give credibility to this hypothesis."
"...that's, can it be..."
Mari looked towards Takeru and Kanaria.
"That's right. Mistilteinn and Kana-chan's Lævateinn. Those two Magical Heritages called 'Sacred Treasures' were originally something that can't be summoned at any cost. Those two appearing in our current world without any consequences was impossible in the first place."
Something that should have been in mythological world has appeared in possession of humans in this world. What on earth could the circumstances of that be?
Lapis said that she doesn't know that herself. Since she was missing the memories from the time she was in mythological world, she was unable to explain that to Takeru.
While listening to Nagaru's words, Takeru looked at the cracked-up world once again.
...I faintly remember it.
Remnants of something like a temple. World with cracks on it. World that has ended.
There was no doubt. This scenery, this world——it was very similar to what he saw when he turned into god hunting form for the first time to kill Kiseki.
"Also, one more thing. This world is wreckage of the world of Norse mythology."
Nagaru spread her arms, overlooking the world.
"This space was blown away upon the collision of ours and Norse mythology's world, it can be considered a part of the world. People who founded the Heretic Alliance identified its coordinates and were able to navigate in here through transfer magic, using it as a home base."
"Wa-wait sec... then the place we're in now is Norse mythology's world?!"
"Half right, half wrong I guess〜. This world too has been modified by the collision, the environment is similar to our world. Normally, humans wouldn't be able to live in mythological world that's filled with magic. Well, it's up to you whether you believe it or not."
If we are able to summon organisms from parallel worlds, we should be able to travel into parallel worlds, is what everyone thought. There were records of people before and after the war who tried to tried going into a mythological world, but it failed completely.
From those who went, no one has come back.
However, in the world full of debris Takeru and others were in now, it seemed like the environment of the original mythological world was gone, allowing them to live normally.
"Ouka-chan's father, Mineshiro-san seriously believed in this hypothesis and was sniffing around Ootori Sougetsu thinking he was related to it."
"And surely, he got a hold of something. As the current leader of Heretic Alliance, I think I need to know it no matter what. Even if knowing it will end up with getting killed."
Everyone made an expression saying they couldn't believe it. Although the hypothesis of worlds colliding and being rebuilt into a new world has been made a long time ago, they were unable to immediately accept it, even despite seeing the sight right in front of them.
Nagaru had an unusually serious expression, but before long she returned to her usual smile as she looked at everyone and hit her open hand with a fist.
"Oh well, I told you lots of stuff, but you don't have to think about it now. No matter what kind of place is it, it's fine as long as you understand its safe. First I'll introduce comrades that will be working with you, let's go to the student council's room."
Knowing that everyone was upset, Nagaru said so lightly for a mood change.
Somehow, the atmosphere has loosened thanks to that.
Just one person, Takeru was an exception.
"——President, where's Lapis?"
He asked Nagaru who was pressing on everyone's backs as they left the roof. With her back turned to Takeru she stopped on spot.
"Even though we've been exploring this place for a while now, her presence is very weak. She... where did you have her stay?"
"...it's okay, she's here. We took her with us."
"Then please let me meet her. There's something I need to ask her."
He seriously looked at Nagaru, as if glaring.
She responded while still turned with her back to him.
"It seems like that girl doesn't want to meet you. Also, I too want you to refrain from getting in contact with her as much as possible... I guess."
"...why? This is mine and hers problem right?"
"That's true, still..."
"——Please let me meet her. I beg you."
"T-Takeru... a request from me too. Stop using Mistilteinn... using Lapis."
Mari said so with difficulty and a trembling voice.
Takeru didn't hide his surprise.
"Mari... even you, why?"
Looking carefully, it wasn't just Mari. Usagi was looking fearfully downwards, Ikaruga was squinting as she looked away. As for Kanaria, she was glaring at him.
Ouka just closed her eyes in silence and clenched her fist.
They were obviously hiding something concerning Lapis.
Takeru wanted to question everyone but was discouraged on the verge of doing so.
"Fine. I'll ask the person herself... move aside."
Cutting through everyone, Takeru headed towards the roof's exit.
Mari stretched out her hand trying to hold him back but Nagaru stopped her.
Nagaru made a thin smile and spoke towards Takeru's back.
"...Lapis-chan is in this school's basement. If you want to meet her, do as you please."
Although there were voices from surroundings that indicated others tried to stop Nagaru, Takeru ignored that and left the roof.
What he left behind was a word of thanks to Nagaru.
"Why did you let him go! This is where we stop him, right?!"
Mari yelled at Nagaru with a harsh voice.
Everyone else wasn't satisfied either, but they were silent.
While scratching her cheek Nagaru put a hand on Mari's shoulder.
"Even if I tried to stop him, he's already determined to meet Lapis-chan〜. He'll learn it anyways, I just think it's better if he gets to know it in a convincing manner that will be convincing to him〜."
Also, I'm bad at hiding things, Nagaru said insincerely.
Seeing Mari chagrin with her fist clenched Ouka spat out a sigh.
"I understand how you feel, but there's truth in what President says. Even if we stop him, Takeru won't stop."
"Even you're saying such things?! We're comrades right?! Are you going to abandon a comrade that marches towards his own harm?!"
Hearing Mari's desperate words Ouka faced downwards.
"That's not how it is. However, I feel that to Takeru, Mistilteinn is different from 'comrades' like us. Between the two there's a different, unique atmosphere."
It wasn't something to tread upon. Not something to meddle in.
Mari realized it after being told so and chewed her lower lip in chagrin.
"I know that... but I'm still not convinced. 'Cause at this rate Takeru will...!"
"Of course, I have no intention of looking it end like that. We just have to do what we are able to."
Hearing Ouka's calm, admonishing words Mari returned a serious question.
"...other than to stop him, what can we do..."
Persistently calm, Ouka quietly answered.
"We can believe that Takeru won't leave us and goes alone."
These were words of someone who has overcome bitter experiences.
When Kiseki was going berserk, Ouka tried to stop Takeru from going alone in god hunter form.
Don't go, she said.
Takeru shook off her hand and went alone to where Kiseki was.
However, Takeru still came back. He was reminded of his comrades in the last moment and came back.
That's why Ouka believed in Takeru, no matter how many times he ends up in a situation like that.
"...I'm not satisfied with doing just that...!"
With tears in her eyes Mari left the roof.
Ouka tried to chase after her, but then she lowered her outstretched hand.
Being the poor talker she is and unable to properly relay her feelings, she got depressed.
Nagaru who was right beside her laughed.
"It's all right. Mari-chan understands that for sure〜. Also, you can do more than just believe. What I can do is only providing enough forces to allow him avoid using god hunting form, but you are different."
She cast down her eyes slightly.
"It's a fact that his and Lapis-chan's strength is essential to us〜. I don't want him to release his power, but if he does it voluntarily I won't stop him. But... if it's you all, I think you'll be able to stop him."
"But I don't know how'd you do it〜."
Saying so, Nagaru hit Ouka's shoulder twice.
And together with other members she left the roof.
Not following them as the last one, she remained on the roof alone.
After looking upwards at the cracked-up sky, Ouka closed her eyes.
...really, such a shrewd person. People standing on top are inevitably of that type, aren't they.
Ouka guessed what was the reason Nagaru hit her shoulder in the end. She had the power required to protect Takeru.
However, the problem when it comes to using that power didn't lie in her nor in Takeru.
It lied in a different person, one she never tried to converse with.
After he opened the door, there, was something akin to a visiting room.
The genuine AntiMagic Academy had shooting training grounds in the basement, but this seemed like a prison. There was one pipe chair in there, and one more on the other side of the glass.
That's where Lapis was sitting in quietly.
Noticing that Takeru came in Lapis expressionlessly looked towards him only once, then quickly looked away.
Lapis was angry, but not at Takeru. She was angry at Nagaru who let Takeru enter this place despite being told she doesn't want to meet him.
Currently, Takeru was able to tell even that.
He raised one hand and greeted her brightly.
"What's up, locking yourself in like that. Upset again?"
Even when he joked as he sat on the chair, Lapis wouldn't look towards him.
Although it seemed like what happened back in Magic Academy, the rejection now was different from before. She wasn't upset nor angry.
She was probably depressed.
Takeru slowly articulated an apology.
Lapis' pupils lightly shook.
"............why is Host apologizing."
"There are parts I can't recall but... I heard your voice as you tried to stop me yet I didn't stop, that's why. You've been always warning me not to remain in god hunting form for more than ten seconds, time after time again."
"I knew you were afraid of assimilation, yet I didn't stop. Falling into coma this time was my own fault. It's not your fault. You just responded to my request after all."
Without looking away, Takeru said it straight out.
Nagaru and the 35th platoon members misunderstood Lapis. In no way was she a mysterious monster or an emotionless Magical Heritage.
She was a human being possessing a proper heart.
Lapis was just as worried about Takeru's body as his comrades were, she was scared of something.
This time too, just as he told Lapis, was his own fault.
It was a mistake to isolate her like this. If someone had to be admonished, it should be him.
"...Host, did you notice my change?"
Takeru was surprised being told that all of a sudden.
"I myself was the one who requested to be pulled away from the Host. I entered this place out of my own will."
"Why do such...."
"It is because I cannot control myself."
Inside of the iron-box like room, her voice sounded very clear.
Although there was nothing reflected in her eyes, Takeru could feel guilt from the bond connecting him with Lapis.
"You must be aware of the indecipherable error that had appeared inside of me frequently."
"No, that's not really an error... that's, how to say it... it's merely you becoming more human-like and not really a bad thing——"
"——Becoming more human is the problem."
Flatly, Lapis cut in half way through his sentence. Her voice was louder than usual, like a scream.
"...what... is the problem?"
Lapis has never raised her voice before, not even once.
Takeru asked quietly, cautiously.
She dropped her line of sight to her knees and clutched the hem of her skirt.
"I didn't know what the error inside of me was for a long time. I was unable to come up with a conclusion describing my unreasonable actions. But, after returning with the Host to outside world I was finally able to find an answer."
"The starting point was an error that appeared when Host came in contact with people he refers to as 'comrades'. Each time Host time came contact with Ootori Ouka-sama and Nikaido Mari-sama, something has ached inside of me. Every time Host's awareness was directed to someone else, something surged inside of me like a wave. Every time you smiled in someone's direction, something mysterious was swirling in my chest."
"I've seen that something as just an error."
At the beginning, Takeru very seriously listened to what Lapis had to say.
However, he understood when he heard it and his face unwittingly turned red.
When he's in contact with anyone else, error occurs. When his awareness is turned towards directed towards someone else, error occurs.
When he smiles towards someone else other than her, error occurs.
Even thick-headed Takeru understood.
Surely, Lapis was jealous of other comrades.
She suddenly turned restless, she correcter her posture on her chair, brushed her hair with her fingers and covered her mouth with her hand, but when Takeru approached further she moved away dragging the chair with her.
As usual she faced him expressionlessly.
"N-no, wait... that's uhh... I can tell what you feel. Heck, that's not something to be afraid of is it. That's probably jealousy, right."
"I knew a long time ago you're very jealous, see? You get sulky when I try to do a practice swing or use other swords, calling it cheating. You're jealous of the sword I normally use too, right? To say, it's nothing strange, I'm uh... well, as a swordsman... having such a well-made partner possessively nestle against me... being jealous over, makes me happy to say..."
Mumbling embarrassed, Takeru said the truth.
It were his true feelings. As a swordsman, he was tremendously happy to be loved by a sword. Lapis was a first class weapon. It was something that originally was handled only by god-class magical organisms.
Being accepted and inspiring possessiveness in her made him proud as a swordsman.
"As I thought, Host didn't notice."
"I-I said I noticed. I told you I'm happy about it. D-d-don't make me repeat it so many times."
"You are mistaken. I am not jealous as a sword. This error is something I was unable to name until now but... I noticed just recently that it's possible to express it in human language."
Hearing that, Takeru froze with a loose expression on his face.
When he raised his face dumbfounded, before he realized Lapis was staring straight at him.
Takeru was firmly reflected in her eyes.
In them, was a warm firm light that wasn't there before.
Lapis placed a hand on her chest and staring directly at Takeru she said.
"Most likely——I love you. Not as a sword, but as a human."
An error born from getting in contact with Takeru as a human and not as a sword after obtaining emotions.
The conclusion and the description Lapis drew of the error was this.
Takeru froze with his mouth half-opened, it took about thirty seconds before he could finally let out the words.
Of all things, these were the words that came out. Love. Not 'like' but 'love'. 'I love you'.
That answer which went leaps and bounds must have taken a lot from Lapis who is not familiar with expressing human emotions. Surely, Lapis didn't understand such abstract word deeply, even Takeru didn't.
It was clearly clumsy.
But, how heavy the word 'love' was.
"Ah, s-sorry! W-what I'm thanking for here... no no, thank you but, umm... this, I have to give my response right? Umm... ahh..."
Confused Takeru tried to choose the words.
It shouldn't end with just thanks, right.
However, he came up with a conclusion. It might look like indecision, but it was 'I don't know much about love between a man and woman'. That's why he didn't know if he loved Lapis as a person or not.
That's why——I don't know if I love you as a person, as a person I like you very much, and I love the sword you and want you beside me.
Uwahh... what's that, that's super uncool!
That's just being good-for-nothing isn't it. I mean, I wasn't confessed to so clearly before, no matter what excuse I make it'll be uncool. As Takeru fretted troubled, Lapis broke the ice, beginning to talk.
"I do not really desire an answer as to whether Host loves me or not. What's important now, isn't Host's answer."
"Ehh?! Is that so?!"
Still having a bright red face, he was slightly taken aback.
All I thought was about being confessed to. How embarrassing.
"What does loving someone as a human mean is still unknown to me. However, I am acutely aware that this is something very dangerous for a Magical Heritage whose ultimate goal is fusing with the user."
"...? Why liking som... um, eh, why is loving dangerous?"
Takeru could only find goods things in it.
"As a sword, I can be an existence that's your one and only. But I have no confidence of doing that as a person. That is the problem."
Lapis exhaled and squinted.
"If I embrace the affection towards the Host as a person——I will end up trying to erase what's important to Host from his memory."
Hearing the word 'erase' Takeru opened his eyes widely.
"As much as my possessiveness grows, the fusion of mine and Host's soul speeds up. Even if I try to suppress the fusion, the feelings I am unable to control refuse to stop it. Even more so, that Host has a lot of other existences important to him."
"Upon waking up you should have noticed missing memories. The preparation of the Magical Heritage and its user's fusion has reached the first stage. Removing things important to the user... removing hindrances in order to have him depend on Magical Heritage alone is undergoing."
Hindrances. Lapis clearly said so.
"I have come up with two options. First was killing all existences important to Host. That was immediately dismissed. If Host's comrades and Kiseki-sama were to be killed, Host will reject me and will never touch me again. I determined that would clearly make Host hate me."
Lapis clenched her fist on top of her knees.
"However, the other option, "Removing memories of the people important to you" would satisfy my possessiveness. If I removed all that's important to Host from his memory, there would be no reason to reject the fusion."
"If I removed memories of the hindrances——Host would be mine alone."
After she finished saying that, Lapis closed her eyes.
She knew what kind of things were Magical Heritages. Magical Heritages absolutely wouldn't forgive human heart. He had learned in one of Magic Academy required courses that a sense of distance is important when handling Magical Heritages.
The desires of Magical Heritage and people are incompatible. If human side falls behind, Magical Heritage will eat human's soul in form of fusion. Therefore, the user has to control the Magical Heritage.
Especially if it's a Sacred Treasure. A Sacred Treasure is impossible for a human to handle, that was the reason a soul more powerful than a human's is required.
Lapis faintly opened her eyes and looked at Takeru.
From the beginning until the end, not even once Takeru did move his gaze away from her.
"You told me you are all right. I too, thought that as long as I'm by your side as a sword, the fusion will be suppressed. But... it seems like I am unable to go against the nature of a Sacred Treasure. From the very beginning, I was that kind of thing. After attaining human emotions, I am no longer able to restrain myself."
She stood up from the chair.
"I can no longer respond to Host's expectations. I don't want to steal anything else from Host. I am painfully aware that Host doesn't want that. That's why."
And, with tears flowing from her eyes she requested of Takeru in trembling voice.
"That's why I implore you, please let go of me."
Takeru stood up from the chair and discarded Lapis request saying so.
It was an immediate answer. There was no hesitation whatsoever.
He furrowed his eyebrows.
"I've said it right. I promised that I won't let go of you ever again, no matter what happens."
"...but if Host continues to use me, you will forget everything. The one who broke the promise is me. What you requested of me, I was unable to restrain myself."
"The reason my memory is missing is because I didn't adhere to the time limit. It's not your fault."
"It's no longer a matter of time. According to the analysis result of the emotions born inside of me, clearly I will be unable to stop myself again."
"No such thing..! If you really intended to fuse with my soul, you would already have done it long time ago!"
"I want to be your Host forever! Both of you as a sword and as a person!"
In response to what Takeru said, Lapis downcast her face.
He relaxed his shoulders and put a hand on the glass between them.
"I beg you, partner... if you are hurt, then so am I..."
"I won't let you go in exchange for what's important to me... after all, you too are someone important to me."
Seriously, as if spitting blood Takeru said so.
Even as she faintly hesitated, Lapis reached with her hand to Takeru's palm on the glass.
However, on the verge of overlapping with Takeru's hand, her hand was lowered powerlessly.
After Takeru has left the room, Lapis looked up at the ceiling while still sitting in the chair.
The error swirling inside of her was discharged to Takeru as it was, but she was still bewildered.
She came up wit conclusion for the error by herself. Until now she continued to deny her feelings, but she had to admit them now.
She had a heart with same properties as that of a human. She noticed that when she made a contract with Takeru for the second time in Magic Academy. Rather than joy, she rather felt it was mysterious.
During this god hunting form it has changed to fear. Her greed for monopoly was a little strong even compared to that of an average human. But, the problem was that she was a Magical Heritage, a Sacred Treasure.
No matter how much she tries to restrain her emotions, body of magic faithfully responds to her desires.
It was a very similar situation to that of Takeru's little sister, Kusanagi Kiseki. Until now it didn't worry her in the least and she wasn't interested in it, but now she was able to understand her suffering.
For the first time since she was born, she thought she would be happier being born a human and not a Magical Heritage.
No, that was wrong. She just wasn't aware of it before, this was the second time.
"...will... it repeat again...?"
When Lapis questioned herself, the door Takeru went out through has opened again.
The one standing on the other side of opened doors was Ootori Ouka.
Ouka looked at lonely Lapis and then she too sat down in the chair.
"...it's the first time we speak to each other, just two of us isn't it."
"Or rather, isn't this the first time we talk properly at all? I mean, I hated Magical Heritages before."
She gestured as if she was exploring her memory.
"...what do you want?"
"I was concerned, that's all. You told Takeru everything, right? How was it?"
Hearing her say so, meddling in so bluntly Lapis felt haze inside of her chest.
In the world there are people without tact, people who are said to be unable to read the mood, Lapis thought. After coming to this space through transfer magic, she told everyone that she wants to be confined and unable to get in contact with Takeru, as well as explained the reasons for that.
Nagaru and Ouka seemed to expect it to an extent and were unfazed, Usagi looked like she was about to cry, Mari seemed like she would grasp her by the clothes any time. Surprisingly, the one who was most hostile towards Lapis was Ikaruga.
Lapis was well aware that she wasn't accepted by Takeru's comrades. She didn't really feel anything in that respect.
The reason Ouka has come to her too, was probably because she was worried about Takeru. Just as Lapis thought of Ouka as of existence that's in the way, Ouka shouldn't harbor any feelings towards her as well. That's why she didn't mind whether Ouka knew or not.
"I told Host to let go of me. Host's wishes and my desires as a Magical Heritage don't match, if the contract continues as it is, the results will be disastrous."
"Hmm. And, what did he say?"
"He thoroughly refused."
Ouka begun to laugh holding her belly, tears pooled in her eyes.
What is she laughing about. If Takeru's memories are erased, he might cease to be himself, what is this woman laughing so hard at.
One question after another, Lapis felt a strange irritation.
Ouka looked at Lapis with one eye opened and apologized with "sorry about that".
"See, I thought Takeru would answer like that. I couldn't bear it and burst out laughing. Forgive me."
The corners of Lapis mouth moved faintly. Ouka saw it clearly.
"Ohh... seems like what Takeru said was true. I thought you were an expressionless, emotionless woman, but there are proper changes in your expressions. Right now you're very irritated aren't you?"
"...what is it with you. What did you come here for, really."
"I told you. I was concerned and came to check on you."
And once again, she tried to suppress her laughter. It was truly uncomfortable.
"Why are you laughing so cheerfully. The fact that Host doesn't want to let go of me means that one day he will end up fusing with me. He will forget his comrades, forget you and become mine alone. Are you content with it?""
Lapis said it very quickly, restlessly. Ouka strongly leaned with her back on the chair.
"I'm not. Not at all. If I were to lose and have him taken away by someone else I could still accept it, but I wouldn't be able to stand an outcome of him being snatched away by a Magical Heritage like you."
Maybe it's because she wasn't a human that Ouka confessed her feelings without any embarrassment.
If it were in front of platoon members, it probably wouldn't happen like this.
Maybe Ouka was looking down on Lapis, no, that wasn't it. Ouka's eyes indicated she clearly saw her as an enemy.
"Then, why won't you persuade Host to let go of me? Or maybe isolate me, put in effort to destroy me?"
"I refuse. I think Takeru wants to be together with you. I have no intention of betraying those feelings of his. Since Takeru wishes for it, you should stay by his side."
"...I cannot comprehend. You are contradicting yourself. I am a threat to you, I should have been recognized as an enemy."
Just like she sees Ouka and other members, Ouka should have done so.
Lapis thought so.
Suddenly, with abandon Ouka hit the glass with the palm of her hand.
"——Don't run away."
Ouka said so while glaring at Lapis with her blue eyes.
Lapis' shoulders trembled slightly.
"Let go because you can't restrain your emotions? Get away because you can't resist the nature of a Magical Heritage? Are you going to shake off Takeru's hand who reaches out to you despite being well aware of that?"
"How many things do you think Takeru is going against? He's shouldering a number of things of lousy people like me and yet he proceeds forward."
That was something Lapis knew as well. She knew and needn't be told that. She knew just how desperately he confronted the threats since she was the closest one to him.
"I'm telling you to resist, oppose it. If you're the one closest to him, that's what you should do. Resist nature of a Sacred Treasure, your own feelings, show yourself in a satisfactory state."
Lapis looked downwards.
Resist, obtain satisfactory results with her own hands.
She knew it even without being told that by a woman who was at mercy of her revenge.
"Then I, what should I do... how do I oppose it? I don't know how. What else can I do...?"
《"So thou doest not know, Parasite——then I shall teach thou!"》
A voice has sounded abruptly.
Out of nowhere, a voice has come from an empty place.
The moment Lapis looked up, he appeared along with a crimson magical circle.
Two huge handguns. Ouka's partner.
《"Immature, immature, thou're so immature. Sacr'd treasure 'r whatever, as a magical heritage ye are a mere brat. trying to englut thy host, this disqualifies thou to be a mere parasite. "》
《"As thy user Kusanagi Takeru is far below thou as thy user. It's not his art, it's his existence. 'Tis evident that due to lack of moderation he's being devour'd by thou. O' Sacr'd Treasure who chose thy master incorrectly. That is wherefore I say ye are a parasite——"》
Ouka stopped Vlad who started to preach like an old man.
"Stop agitating her, fool. You're an irregular-type Magical Heritage as well aren't you. Stop trying to act important."
《"Hmph. Even if mine history as a Magical Heritage is shallow, it's clear that's she's a parasite. It makes me feel like delivering a sermon. "》
"Shut up, gun... hurry up say what you want, and go back..."
Ouka sighed in response to Vlad's disrespectful attitude.
Since they were transferred to a parallel world, his link with Ootori Sougetsu was probably cut. That's why he was able to manifest normally like this.
But she couldn't understand.
Why would a Magical Heritage like Vlad teach Lapis a method of resisting their nature.
《"You doubt me? I told thou I shall teach thou. The balance between thou and thy master is poor. he can handle thou, but thou're not equal. Argal thou can no longer avoid fusing. "》
"...I know that even without being told that by you. That's why I do this."
《"However——with power of mine 'tis possible to stop thy and thy master's fusion. "》
For a moment, she didn't understand what Vlad meant.
However, after thinking for a few seconds Lapis opened her eyes widely. Seeing that reaction Ouka raised her index finger.
"There is one method to oppose it. It's having me and Vlad help. You know that Vlad's intrinsic performance is penetrating all magic as long as we know its operative procedure, don't you?"
"I was in a state where I was being taken over by Mephistopheles, but I released your Witch Hunter form. If you tell me the operative procedure of your god hunter form, you know that I'll definitely be able to penetrate and cancel it, right?"
Just as Ouka said, it was true that she cancelled Lapis' witch hunter form before.
Still, that was just the witch hunting form. In case of god hunting form it was a completely different story.
However, god hunting form was also magic. It was possible to use only with "Twilight" magical power's property and required a soul beyond that of a human, but magic was still magic.
Although there was a precedent of fusion failing, there was none of it being cancelled.
Just, there was no precedent. It wasn't attempted before.
Lapis knew that Vlad's intrinsic performance was effective against all magic. He was able to penetrate and reverse-build an operative procedure. "Night Blood" magical property was effective against "Twilight" magical property, judging by the fact it has penetrated its witch-hunter form before.
In that case it could be used in case of emergency, couldn't it?"
"However, god hunting form's operative procedure is complex. It's unknown if human can understand it."
"Have no fear. I have memorized majority of magic's operative procedures in this world, you know? It's not impossible."
《"I shall cooperate in deciphering it. No matter how disappointing master's brain is, I'll show thou I can force it into her."》