Darkness covered the entire area.
Not only could one not see an inch in front of their face, but the darkness seemed to pass through their eyeballs and bear down on their mind.
However, the people drifting through that darkness showed no concern. They implicitly said that this was the natural state of the world or that someone had yet to whisper “let there be light”.
Direction and depth were indistinguishable in that black space, but three distinct presences existed there.
“So have we managed to finish in time, Nephthys?”
An old man’s voice spoke in the darkness. More than simply “wrinkled”, the voice was better described as “dried-up”.
The responding voice sounded like a young and bewitching beauty.
“Yes. That zombie girl is useful at times like this. Thanks to her background of actively drawing in a great number of cultures, she has an affinity for most anything.”
“But, High Priest,” cut in a girl’s voice that sounded even younger and also childish. “Miss Zombie’s theory is essentially the same as holding up opposing mirrors, right? By splitting up our power infinitely, we can intentionally weaken ourselves and avoid destroying the world whenever we move an arm or leg.”
“What about it, Niang-Niang?”
“I’m just wondering if the symbol ∞ will really grow weaker when you split it up. I don’t want to smash the world up like stained glass the first step I take. We’re not like Othinus.”
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a mere deception as long as it works. Just like a Moebius strip or a Klein bottle, some concepts are allowed to exist even if they can’t be properly defined, Niang-Niang.”
“Yeah, but I prefer practical ideas over theories. You could say I’m the inventor type instead of the scientist type. I have a hard time believing it’ll actually work just because the theories all add up. I can’t rest easy until I try it out for myself and see that it works.”
“Then how about we try it?”
“Are you sure we should turn the world into our toy so casually?”
Despite her comment, the girl called Niang-Niang giggled and showed no real sign of hesitation.
The three presences intentionally all looked in the same direction.
That produced directionality in the all-encompassing and heavy darkness.
That directionality took the form of depth and finally defined the entire space.
The woman called Nephthys sang in a sweet voice that seemed to enchant the brain of all who heard it.
A heavy metallic crash burst out.
“Hello, science side.”
A vertical line of thin, thin white light appeared in the surface of darkness.
“Hello, Academy City.”
The three Magic Gods filled their lungs with the air of Academy City.
Academy City did not border the ocean, so the air routes and land routes were crucial. District 11 was a base for the latter. Metal containers were piled up like a mountain there and the Magic Gods took a casual step out from the box at the peak.
One was the High Priest.
His body was as skinny and covered in wrinkles as the dried branches of an ancient tree. He wore a purple Buddhist priest’s robe that covered that skinny frame and gave him a more voluminous outline. Great greed could be sensed in the sword he pressed to the ground like a staff and the glittering gold rakusu worn over his robe. He was the product of Buddhist self-mummification, where one starved themselves so their human form would transcend the six paths and become a Buddha in just one generation.
Another was Niang-Niang.
The girl wore a short white China dress with extremely baggy sleeves, but her utterly pale complexion was even whiter than her clothes. She wore a hat and had a unique charm attached to her forehead. Simply put, she was a Shijie-Xian of ancient China.
The last was Nephthys.
She was a beautiful woman with long silver hair whose chocolate-colored nude body was completely covered by white bandages. Her eye color changed at a whim and she had teardrop tattoos below her eyelids. She was the goddess said in Egyptian mythology to have shed large tears upon the death of Osiris, but strangely enough, no other stories were known about her. For that reason, some speculated her divinity had been built up by human hands based on the “crying woman” hired to attend funerals.
The High Priest spoke with his physical voice while moving fingers that looked like they would break off if he so much as bent them and shaking his head that looked like human skin pasted to a skull.
“It would seem to have worked. There is no sign of a tornado occurring on the other side of the world as with the butterfly effect or a holistic esper.”
“Then I guess it’s about time for us to get started, too.”
Niang-Niang’s carefree comment elicited an exasperated warning from Nephthys whose entire body was bound by bandages.
“Dealing with the primary issue is fine, but that is going to be taking action soon. Now that we’re existing here in the real world, we’ll be detected before long.”
“Yeah, we probably do need to do keep things in check. In a way, that is even more of a troublemaker than Othinus.”
“What a pain,” said the High Priest while massaging his shoulders.
Niang-Niang pouted her lips as she continued.
“Honestly, why did Aleister have to thoughtlessly destroy our hidden world? Maybe we really should’ve killed him.”
“We are not like Othinus,” replied the High Priest. “You yourself said so, Niang-Niang. Not that we can shamelessly call ourselves harmless.”
His gentle and soothing voice led Niang-Niang to raise both hands.
But she was not saying she had been persuaded by his virtuous sermon.
“Don’t act so high and mighty, old man. You’re the one that got pissed and tried to kill him first.”
“I have no idea what you are talking about.”
“That’s the problem right there. You completely rewrite your definition of what’s right based on how you feel at the moment. What could be more dangerous than a god that makes a complete 180 between what he said five seconds ago and what he says five seconds later? The worst part is that you’re not even aware of it, so you really do believe it’s all connected by a continuous thread of logic.”
Rather than dodging the issue, the High Priest truly did change the subject completely naturally.
“We have lost our hidden world, so we have no choice but to stand on the game board here in the real world. Aleister, Gemstones, and Kamijou Touma. We have a lot of work to do. Or rather, a lot of unnecessary work has piled up. …But now that we are standing on this board, we cannot just passively watch on. Once our turn arrives, we will be forced to act. We can no longer stand still and entrust ourselves to the flow of time, so we need to pay some attention to where we stand.”
“This may be similar to experts working to hinder each other. Part of the blame lies in the fact that we are much too powerful to act as game pieces, but there is a possibility that each seemingly meaningless move will completely alter the situation on the board.”
However, he did not say they should not move across the board.
He was not a man of such great character.
“So if at all possible, I would like to lend our help whenever someone is going to make a move, but will that be willing to accept that condition and abandon the role of troublemaker?”
As she listened, Nephthys placed a hand on her hip and looked down on the cityscape that stretched into the distance.
The mountain of containers at her feet was reminiscent of the somehow nostalgic graves of the pharaohs. That is, the pyramids.
Her captivating lips moved and formed words.
If she wanted, a Magic God could mold the world like clay and create a perfect paradise, so it was rare for the concept of an enemy to apply. Before even considering whether someone was strong or weak, the very categories of enemy and ally as well as the entire reason for fighting were kindly and coldly eliminated. It may have been that the only possible enemy for a Magic God was another Magic God. That other Magic God could join the struggle for the resource that was the one and only world to bend to one’s will.
Nevertheless, Nephthys uttered a name and a related legend. Instead of grouping it in with the many others, she clearly singled it out.
Now, what meaning would she attach to that?
The god continued speaking.
“So King Arthur had a twin sister and a shield to match his sword.”