Volume 10, Stage 04: Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign
“Queen, you still cannot win like this. No matter what.”
(Stage 04 Open 08/25 23:30)
Midnight was fast approaching.
Nevertheless, Toy Dream 35 bustled with activity even in the oppressive heat. After all, summer break had arrived for the amusement park city. Roller coasters rose and fell through the gaps between buildings, the lights on a giant Ferris wheel kept the time like a clock face, and delighted screams echoed from the freefall ride attached to the broadcast tower sticking above the other buildings. A glance directly down would have shown people crowding the bridges as well. A parade of floats was in progress.
Families were out during the day and lovers during the night.
Toy Dream 35’s attractions never slept; they only showed a different side of themselves.
And within all that…
If he was being honest, Shiroyama Kyousuke did not know where his mother Natsuginu or the Colorless Little Girl would attack while under Wisdom’s control.
But knowing that Wisdom was specifically trying to harm him changed his plans considerably. He could not predict when or where a battle would begin or who would be caught in the crossfire, so he could no longer visit the school pool for fun.
He chose as deserted a place as he could find and waited there.
That would reduce the possibility of anyone else being harmed once the battle did begin.
“Not that this will help all that much,” whispered a silver-twintailed girl leaning against the complex arrangement of steel beams supporting the back of a sign. They were on the roof of a relatively tall building in the blind spot behind that giant LCD sign, but the brightly lit attractions were still not far away.
She lightly kicked at a reinforced plastic container sitting next to her (although it was only the size of a cooler needing both hands to carry).
“It is fortunate Azalea Magentarain was more obedient than expected. And that she has access to such an excellent transport system. We have the age of Repliglass to thank for the air delivery to take less than half a day.”
Kyousuke crouched down and performed some kind of work while listening to her.
He was lighting some special incense he had spent a small fortune to buy from Incense Expert Ellie Slide. It had not been packed into a grenade, but that allowed the smoke to last longer. A brass censer might sound fancy, but the basic idea was the same as the old-fashioned porcelain pigs used to keep mosquitos away.
Death wafted up into the air.
The stench of death had been artificially reproduced with a delicate arrangement of incense.
According to Ellie Slide, spraying the correct substance on the burning incense could adjust the number of days after death the stench replicated, but he did not need that kind of precision now.
It smelled like rotting fruit with a hint of sweetness mixed in.
The smell must have attracted the bugs gathered around the light of the giant LCD screen because a few of them approached. They looked powerless, but they must have been the kinds of bugs that gathered around human corpses. The lovers enjoying the thrill rides so close by would have no idea Kyousuke was doing this here in the dark.
The hint had come from the stench that lingered in Meinokawa Renge and Higan’s noses.
The girl lightly clenched her battle costume in both hands, perhaps out of concern the stench would mix with the night’s sweltering air and get on her clothes.
“Honestly… You have no right to criticize my interests after this, brother.”
“This is necessary.”
Wisdom’s goal was to have the White Queen all to herself. The global issues did not matter to her. That was why she was bringing those past deaths to the battlefield to shake and fracture the bonds between Kyousuke and the Queen. The combination of his mother and sister would never happen by pure coincidence.
To repeat, he did not know when or where the attack would happen.
So he would take matters into his own hands.
By emphasizing the elements of death, he could increase the odds of this deathly enemy appearing. The school during the day and the school at night were the same physical location, but which one saw more evil spirits? Instead of just waiting, he wanted to prepare a time and conditions favorable for this enemy to change the encounter rate.
“What if they do not show up?”
“Then we keep doing it until they do. There’s nothing else we can do.”
The death incense was only a booster.
That meant they could not use it as a starter. Ellie Slide had not trusted the American dollar because of something or other about the latest counterfeiting prevention tech it used, so he had paid her in old coins that could be exchanged in ticket shops. She had said the following while counting up those coins:
“Your target is wandering around, right? First, figure out the rules behind that. When they smell an abnormally concentrated death smell, does it draw them in or push them away? Once you know that, the rest is like using the north or south pole of a magnet. You can set up the censers to guide the target magnet wherever you want. That means you can start the battle at the location of your choosing. …Listen, you aren’t getting an immediate effect where burning the incense guarantees the ghost appears. It’s all in how you use it. To be clear, I’m not going to give you any further help if you come crying to me about how it didn’t work right away.”
Basically, the incense could spiritually disturb an empty location to move the “haunted location” where the ghost would appear.
Kyousuke breathed a soft sigh.
“So it’s all about figuring out the statistics. The world isn’t going to end tonight if we don’t settle this and our odds of a hit will increase each time we do it. Just like the odds in a game of Russian roulette change with each shot taken. Eventually is good enough. I just care about starting the battle somewhere that won’t get other people involved.”
Kyousuke had compared it to Russian roulette.
…Which meant the odds of this happening were not zero.
It all vanished.
The amusement park city was flooded with light and sound even in the middle of the night, but all noise, all human presence, and all signs of life vanished. It was like the depths of a secluded cave. The incredible stillness was reminiscent of thick bedrock and they felt a strange pressure that made them want to scream and run around.
They became less aware of the oppressive heat and the bugs drawn in by the death stench had disappeared at some point. It was like the harbinger of a great disaster.
The silver-twintailed girl stepped away from the steel beam.
“Looks like we got it in one.”
This had of course been possible from a probability standpoint.
It would mean a sudden end to your game of Russian roulette, but now that it had happened, they had to respond. Luckily, Kyousuke had done this because he wanted to clash with the strongest assassin being controlled by Wisdom.
He heard footsteps.
But from where?
A single figure stood at the center of the large square rooftop. The boy and girl who had fought so many deadly battles in the past could not even tell when this person had appeared there. But they doubted she had arrived through the door leading to the elevator or emergency stairs.
It was like Shiroyama Natsuginu had been summoned here regardless of coordinate.
She gave the opposite impression of the silver-twintailed girl.
The figure standing with her back to the attractions beyond the railing was a reserved adult woman who would have easily blended into the city.
She was a parent, but she had to still be in her twenties. Her chestnut hair was tied back behind her head and she wore a blouse and a skirt that reached her calves. She also wore a housework apron on top of that. She may have been intentionally restraining her true abilities. She may have wanted to protect something badly enough to do that.
Kyousuke was taller than her now.
The boy silently narrowed his eyes and spoke.
“I am aware my presence here is out of the ordinary.”
She did not directly respond.
…And that may have been for the best.
“But…but now that I am here, I am breathing and my heart is beating. That alone is gradually distorting history. That means I do not need to worry about how little or how much I change. My very presence brings change, so I will do this. …Kyousuke. It is true that man killed me. But the person who killed my daughter is right there.”
If the result had been overturned in the same way as with the Rainy Girl, then his mother was not a ghost; she really was alive. But the circumstances were different for their other family member, his little sister. However, Shiroyama Kyousuke did not think making a plea to emotion was going to change anything here. If the world was that simple and as beautiful as a diamond made only out of carbon, then the tragedy in that small house ruled by Doctor S never would have happened.
Even when you found something you wished to protect even if it meant placing your own wellbeing second, there were times when reality would not allow you to reach out and save them.
“If she tells me to kill her murderer, then that is what I will do.”
She must have been the type to go with the flow. Or maybe she had been afraid of change. In a way, that may have been one requirement for adulthood. At the very least, she had been unable to involve the entire world in a battle for her own powerful emotions and pride like Kyousuke and the Queen had. And that was why Doctor S and Wisdom had been able to take advantage of her soul. Even though she might just have enough power to change the world and protect everything.
“But that isn’t what she longed for. It was always ‘protecting Nii-sama’. Even after she was killed, that’s all she ever asked for. So what else can I do? I was a failure of a mother who couldn’t give her anything, so I can at least do this for her now!!”
Her shouted words were like a thunderclap, but Shiroyama Kyousuke gently shook his head.
He too had tried that and failed.
He had seen that as the only solution to the fundamental mistake the White Queen had made, so he had been unable to elevate himself to the level of trying to correct her instead.
“We didn’t want a father who shouted angrily at us or a mother who praised us unconditionally. We wanted adults who would scold us when we’d done something wrong and guide us in the right direction. If we’d only had that, we never would have lost our way.”
He had to show her.
He had to teach her.
He had to use to use the hands that carried the same blood as her to let her know that choices were not something you left up to someone else; they were something you made yourself. And this was not about the gods and heroes of some distant world. He wanted to let her know that the people breathing the same air in that small house could have done that too.
And it was not too late to change things.
He would show that it could be helped.
He would not let anything throw his one and only little sister into the great pit of the dead because that story was supposedly already over.
He would bring happiness to them all.
He would give this a happy ending.
“That’s nonsense, mom.”
That small house had become a stifling prison, but he would not let anyone put on a pitying smile and claim that meant there had been no hope or possibility there!!
“You’re doing this for my sister? No, you’re just giving up. You’re only thinking about maximizing cost-effectiveness and stepping down at a convenient place. No one will ever get what they really want that way! Doing things half-assed never saves anyone!!”
Shiroyama Kyousuke pulled out a metal cylinder the size of a hairspray can and pulled the pin with his teeth.
He tossed it onto the building rooftop and pulled his commercial Blood-Sign from the back of his hoodie.
This was the world’s smallest battle. It was a family quarrel.
But some days, he was willing to risk his life for something like that.
Now he just had to raise his voice.
“Queen, help me out. Let’s settle this here!!”
“You can try, but I will show you the power of a mother’s convictions after she failed to protect anything, Kyousuke!!”
As expected, Wisdom herself did not make an appearance.
Kyousuke’s mother was only a vessel, so could she summon the Colorless Little Girl inside herself without using the White Thorns and Petals?
A moment later, something happened before the Incense Grenade could detonate, setting up the 20m cube of the Artificial Sacred Ground.
“Yes, brother. As you wish.”
The strongest Unexplored-class dropped straight toward Shiroyama Natsuginu’s head like a white bolt of lightning. Specifically, this was the real Queen who had been waiting on top of the giant LCD sign.
His mother clenched her teeth and gave a shout.
“Wipe that…smug look off your face, murderer!!”
With an explosive noise, gray dust filled the air. The concrete must have been somewhat destroyed.
But since the Queen’s full power was enough to manipulate the sun to turn a portion of the moon to glass just for fun, this was a miniscule change. Although that only proved she had made sure as much of the blow as possible had burst within the target’s body instead of escaping elsewhere.
But then who was the silver-twintailed girl who had been standing next to Kyousuke in the fancy battle costume this whole time?
First of all, Shiroyama Kyousuke was a summoner who wielded a Blood-Sign.
He could not summon a Material without a vessel.
“You get ready too, Aoi. You’re my trump card.”
“Argh, I thought I was just humoring the Queen with one of her pranks, so I never thought I would end up with such a crucial role!!”
The girl loudly complained while removing her hair clips to regain her long straight hair.
The girl next to Kyousuke was Meinokawa Aoi, his contracted vessel.
The Incense Grenade finally detonated and the Artificial Sacred Ground appeared. That was enough for Kyousuke to grimace. The dust had obscured his vision, but the Artificial Sacred Ground itself would capture the enemy and preserve a location for them to fight.
A resentful voice reached him from beyond that filthy veil of dust.
But her true grudge may not have been with Kyousuke or the Queen.
“This is not over yet. I can at least grant her wish to be useful for her ‘Nii-sama’!!”
A gust of wind spiraled around.
The gray dust was blown away and a white glow flew toward them. She did not pathetically roll along the roof or anything like that. She elegantly landed lightly on her feet.
But fully blocking an attack from the White Queen and getting her to fall back was an extraordinary feat.
“It has begun, brother.”
“Yes, I know.”
Shiroyama Natsuginu was plain, reserved, and had tried to protect her family even if it meant restraining herself, but she had failed to draw out her courage in the very end. She was a woman drowning in regret.
But she was nowhere to be seen.
She had transformed.
Into something hopelessly dangerous and psychedelic.
She appeared to be about 10. Her translucent body was covered by something like a one-piece swimsuit or leotard and a clione-like light throbbed rhythmically in the center of her chest. She had long straight hair with bangs that hid her eyes and points on either side of the head that resembled cat ears. Weapons surrounded her hips like a skirt and twelve giant old tomes were arranged around her back like an angel’s wings or a clock face.
She was known as the Colorless Little Girl.
That Queen killer Unexplored-class contained the young life a certain woman had failed to protect.
[When I’m reborn, then I’ll take your side, Nii-sama. I will always, always, always take your side and fight the White Queen for you.>
This power was specifically designed to kill her daughter’s killer.
Summoning her to this world may have been that mother’s form of atonement.
“Yes, if that is what you want, then I will do whatever it takes to give concrete power to your wishes! Even if it means destroying the world or contradicting myself!!”
Two voices mixed together.
The vessel’s own voice forced its way out against the Material’s will.
This may have been a glimpse of the talent that surpassed even Olivia and Sinceria.
If so, it was very sad.
She really had chosen the wrong time to show her courage. Hers may have been a life of constantly failing to reach out a helping hand in time and being crushed by the guilt and regret after the fact.
“But I’ll break that chain here.” The boy spun his long Blood-Sign into a fighting stance. “I too lived a life of failure and disgrace. But my defeats were after I made an attempt! When you lose like that, you can use it to reach your next opportunity. It might be painful, miserable, agonizing, and frustrating, but you can convert all that into the strength to move on!! I’ll teach you that here, mom. You might think you were cleverly backing down before making a serious mistake, but you’re just lying to yourself. You never had to stifle yourself. So I’ll teach you how it’s done! I’ll show you how to reach for what you really want even when you’re battered and bleeding!!”
Shiroyama Kyousuke and the White Queen.
The strongest summoner and Material held hands and faced the symbol of their failure and defeat.
They intently focused their minds on what hung in the balance.
No one was talking about a largescale battle or global stakes.
“Give up, Kyousuke. This is no longer about logic and I don’t care if I contradict myself. You should be standing by her side, not the White Queen’s!!”
This was about something much more important.
If those two lovers could not save his family here, they would never make any progress.
With a pleasant clack, Kyousuke’s White Thorn shattered the three-dimensional Rose. The many red glowing Petals scattered every which way.
They were on the roof of an ordinary building.
In truth, once the White Queen and the Colorless Little Girl were clashing, building up another Material did not really matter. No matter what he summoned from the Regulation, Divine, or Unexplored-classes, the Material’s attacks could not influence the battle.
“If that’s what you’re thinking, then you’re wrong, mom.”
The Colorless Little Girl’s small hand pulled a longish spear from the many weapons spread around her like a skirt. Her aim was difficult to predict since there was no emotion in her gaze, but what Kyousuke’s side had to do remained the same.
“Move out front, Queen! Don’t let the Colorless Little Girl crush you until I’ve finished building up my Material!!”
“You got it, brother!!”
(She is the Queen killer, a special Unexplored-class I built myself.)
The Colorless Little Girl licked her lips.
That translucent Unexplored-class had never done anything like that before.
“Are you bluffing to rattle us? You move out front, Kyousuke. If you don’t, the Queen will die.”
[Don’t let her get to you, boy! Staying calm is the best way to support the Queen!!>
Normally, the Material would be ruled by its fighting instincts and would join the battle even if the vessel tried to stop it. It was only the White Queen’s pressure preventing that now.
He was still only letting her protect him.
He clenched his teeth and moved his Blood-Sign more accurately than ever before.
(That means she might not be able to withstand an attack from an Unexplored-class other than the White Queen. And that would be really useful now that I screwed up and lost control of her! That’s why she can’t completely ignore the other Unexplored-classes even though she’s stronger than the White Queen!!)
That also meant he had no chance if he only relied on the Queen to the end.
That was hardly surprising when he had designed the Colorless Little Girl as a Queen killer. In a simple battle between the White Queen and the Colorless Little Girl, it would end just like a predator devouring its prey in the natural world.
He could not let the apparent stability confuse him.
He needed to deliver the final blow.
There was no winning this if he did not sharpen the scorpion’s tail as the summoner.
The vessel inside the Original Red (b) slime spoke directly in his mind.
[Hurry it up, boy!! We have to at least get past the Divine-class to stand a chance!!>
“I know that! More importantly, restrain its fighting instincts as much as you can, Aoi! Making an attack too early would be suicide!!”
The pleasant clacking sounds continued.
A Blood-Sign hit a White Thorn, which hit the red glowing Petals and knocked them into the Spots open in the air.
However, this did not come from Shiroyama Kyousuke.
The girl of about 10 mechanically opened her lovely lips while sliding her hand along the spear shaft she held.
And a mixture of two voices left those lips.
“Middle #934 (k - nn - td - fh).”
[What!? The Material is using the Blood-Sign itself!?>
“Calm down, Aoi. Whatever might be theoretically possible, this won’t be all that strategically valuable in practice!!”
The Little Girl skillfully manipulated her spear in one hand while the other hand pulled out a hatchet and aimed for the White Queen’s neck. But whether or not it scored a direct hit did not matter. There was a sound like a giant balloon popping and a massive electric attack burst out in a fan shape. It was a lot like a point-blank range shotgun blast that used high-voltage electricity.
Those silver twintails flipped around.
A few pieces of white cloth spread out like wings and fluttered in the wind. The bluish-white electricity caught the edges of those and scorched them black, but the Queen herself was fine. She had perfectly slipped through the gaps of the mesh-shaped attack.
It was the building rooftop that did not survive.
Two or three floors gave out in quick succession and the Artificial Sacred Ground changed location each time.
It was more like being caught several times in a row than it was like falling.
Once they finally came to a stop, they were standing in the toy section of a dark department store. Luckily, it was after hours. In the darkness and with the rubble surrounding them, the Toy Dream mascots looked like creepy monsters instead of products meant to produce smiles.
There was a light in the darkness.
This light was not the Petals or White Thorns floating in the air.
The light calmly flashed at the center of the Colorless Little Girl’s chest.
She did not bother taking care of her hatchet.
Instead of pulling it back, she loosened her grip to throw it while her empty hand returned to her skirt.
Her spinning spear…no, her Blood-Sign struck another White Thorn.
“Now do High #61 (s - st - ag).”
[I will do it repeatedly.>
A blood-red whip sliced through the air and accumulated sound within itself. It was guaranteed to do damage if it hit and a miss would double its force. No matter what happened, it benefited the Colorless Little Girl, so the small girl obeyed the instructions while moving as if dancing with a ribbon.
The shelves and the register counter were knocked over.
But Kyousuke continued building up his Material all the while.
And he observed the situation at the same time.
“They’re focused on a representation of sound and number. Since that usage is specialized for the abbreviated number, the focus is on how many Petals they use, so they should not interfere much in our general gathering of letters. We have to let the Queen bear with it for now, but this will not affect our speed.”
[You seem to be ignoring the key point here. She can fight and build herself up on her own, so no one can control her. This is less like a summoning and more like a god descending to go on a rampage!>
This had not happened when the Colorless Little Girl was fighting as an individual.
Did this show just how powerful Wisdom was?
“Curse my mom. Come to think of it, she would have had a close-up view of Doctor S’s original research when he completed the format back in 1999. But would those observations really be enough to pull this off? If so, does she have specialized summoner skills on top of the ability to fully control the Material like Olivia can?”
[How many levels beyond the rest of us is your mother!? And I thought I was special as a fully artificial vessel!!>
She did not need to let it take control of her.
That vessel could control the Material and fight as a summoner.
That might sound frightening, but this really just meant she was fighting on the same field as Kyousuke. Since she was gathering Petals based on sound and number, it was incredibly easy to predict what she would target with her White Thorns.
She may have had been unbelievable precision as a vessel, but she was still his mother. She had not focused everything on being a summoner like Doctor S or Kyousuke had.
She could not reach the same heights while trying to master both.
“Not good enough.”
[Mother, that is an error.>
She fell out of her tempo.
Kyousuke’s White Thorn bounced off the Artificial Sacred Ground’s wall and knocked the Colorless Little Girl’s White Thorn off course from an acute angle. And this was more than just interference. He also used this hit to knock the Petals he wanted into the Spots.
They were inside an ordinary department store, but he did not need to be in a grand temple or cathedral to deliver a finishing blow to that extraordinary Unexplored-class.
Or more specifically…
“Taboo 3: A White Thorn remaining on the field must not enter a Spot while you have no White Thorns in stock.”
“Which one of you was that? My sister, or my mom pretending to be young again?”
“Oh, now that was mom. If you’re just going to swing that Blood-Sign around blindly, I don’t even need to build up my Material. I can put you in checkmate right here and now!!”
The Queen killer Unexplored-class’s eyes clearly shifted from the twintailed girl to the boy.
He was not talking about whether or not defeating the Colorless Little Girl with the Summoning Ceremony’s penalty was realistic. As long as he highlighted the risk, they would have to respond to it.
He had been given this chance from the moment they used the human rules of the Blood-Sign system.
This was not nonhuman Wisdom or the Colorless Little Girl trampling on the rules with some hopeless divine punishment or calamity. The key person here was Kyousuke’s mother. This was a battle between humans using the human rules.
[Hey, we still haven’t left the Regulation-class. One attack from the Little Girl will obliterate me!!>
“I know that, but the Queen isn’t going to last on her own. Draw their attention and dodge their attacks. We can reach the next stage as long as we keep them from focusing on the Queen!”
[That is easier said than done! The Queen’s presence might be restraining the Material some, but do you have any idea how hard it is to hold the reins of these things!?>
“Here they come.”
The Colorless Little Girl pulled a boomerang from the many weapons spread around her like a skirt.
The mother’s words left the daughter’s mouth.
“I will support you, so do what it is you want to do! Do not hold back!!”
As soon as she threw it, a tornado had already developed.
The giant blender of violent winds and vacuum directly attacked the White Queen while throwing out additional sparks. The color changed in the blink of an eye and it transformed into an orange pillar of fire.
It rose to the higher floors and covered everything from the ceiling to the toy section here.
The tornado’s destructive power tore away the outer walls and pillars that had just barely managed to survive until now.
This floor was essentially the “roof” of the building now.
This was the most violent of methods, like tearing off the roof of a car to make it a convertible.
The stone flung up by the eruption built up plenty of energy in their descent from the sky and struck with more speed than a bullet. It was like the fire arrows raining down upon a castle. There were hundreds of them, thousands of them, or even more. They glowed like heated metal as they fell toward Kyousuke and his Material’s heads.
But Kyousuke actually laughed.
“That’s pretty lazy on the aiming there. They’re attacking over a general area because they don’t have time to aim carefully.”
[That doesn’t make it any easier to dodge!!>
He had no choice but to use his protective circle to defend Aoi.
The Queen and Kyousuke.
The mother and Little Girl could not decide which to attack, so their attacks lost their shine. The edges of the White Queen’s fancy ribbons had torn a bit, but she did not seem harmed herself.
And as long as this situation was allowed to continue, Kyousuke could bring his Material to ever-greater heights.
He now had a sexy woman with long silver hair and brown skin.
Divine-class. Cost: 8. Sound Range: High.
She was an Egyptian goddess whose name began with an N. Her name was the Greek form of Nebtho. As the sister of the victim Osiris and wife of the perpetrator Set, she was the goddess of purification and atonement whose tears had washed away the sin of god-slaying.
“I’ve reached…the gods. This is where it really begins, Aoi!”
[ - - -!?>
He heard some kind of voice, but his mind could not convert it properly.
The Colorless Little Girl held one hand out toward them with the other still holding the Blood-Sign spear.
“Let’s do this.”
[Nii-sama, you are in the way.>
And then it happened.
It sounded like an old cathode ray tube being turned on.
The scenery had already blurred.
They now stood on the decoratively-lit rails supporting the course of a roller coaster that passed between Toy Dream 35’s buildings. They ignored gravity by standing straight out from the side.
It did not matter how far away it was.
As long as he was defended by the protective circle, the Summoning Ceremony battle could continue even if they were touching the sun or a blackhole.
A few centimeters and a hundred light years were essentially the same.
The White Queen clicked her tongue and looked around.
“Is she teleporting around so you miss your shots, brother!?”
She had used this to his advantage when fighting the White Queen before. The terrain had been shifted after the fact to transform even the laziest shot into the perfect shot. But this used it against him. Even when he carefully calculated out the course and focused on every little thing, she would shake the table and ruin it all.
“Not a problem.” Kyousuke did not look worried. “I came up with this strategy and I was the one instructing her. Colorless Little Girl, I perfectly understand your idiosyncrasies This tugging at the tablecloth doesn’t matter when I can predict the magnitude of the effect in advance!”
His sister fell silent and his mother continued speaking through her mouth.
“Honestly, a brilliant son is a real pain when he makes himself your enemy!!”
“Was that a compliment? Why?”
“I am saying the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. You are a lot like that man!”
“I see. Thanks for history’s most effective psychological attack. I’m seriously about to puke!!”
The young hand extended toward him again.
There was a hint of anger in her eyes and her puffed-out cheeks, but did that emotion belong to his sister or to his mother who could not keep up as a summoner?
Vessel and summoner.
It was the same as how the lyricist and composer would use slightly but definitely different parts of their brains when writing the same song.
Now they were on a twisting waterslide that connected a building rooftop to an illuminated night pool. Specifically, they were standing on the underside. Having them hanging there like bats may have been meant to disturb Kyousuke’s senses and get him to miss a shot.
But it changed nothing.
The more effort the Colorless Little Girl or Kyousuke’s mother spent on these tricks, the more he could build up his Material in peace. He had already explained the logic behind that.
“Is it that surprising? Training is built on a foundation of dissatisfaction and longing. Someone as multitalented as you by default wouldn’t understand the fear of having nothing left if this is taken from you!! Only after feeling that fear and insufficiency can you train your body to the point of destroying yourself!!”
You had to focus on a single thing to truly shine.
You could not master two things at once.
And given Kyousuke’s accuracy as a summoner, his shots would not lose their edge even if he was moved to a freefall gondola or the edge of a bungee jump platform.
Now it was one of the complexly structured supports for a Ferris wheel.
Shiroyama Kyousuke and the Colorless Little Girl jumped down and readied their Blood-Signs like normal.
“Cost: 19. Sound Range: Middle.”
Given time, this was bound to happen.
This was not a true battle where the White Thorns crashed together to interfere with each other in the fight over the Petals. Kyousuke effectively had control of where almost all the Petals went, so he built up his Material in no time.
With 10 minutes to work with, he could just barely reach it.
“Come forth, member of the Unexplored-class - Lady of ‘Purple Lightning’ that Separates Good from Evil (iu - ao - eu - ei - kub - miq - a - ci - pl).”
A light sound followed.
A sickly woman with only some purple cloth to cover her nudity was seated in a rickety old wheelchair. The sound came from the center of her chest.
She had been pierced through by a dart casually tossed by the Colorless Little Girl.
She really was the Queen killer.
Shiroyama Kyousuke had overcome countless difficulties to create this bizarre Unexplored-class from the ground up.
His mother’s words rang cold while she stood upside-down on the underside of the waterslide like a bat.
From the tip of the needle to the fletching, that dull-colored weapon was made from a heavy metal even denser than tungsten steel. The Lady of Purple Lightning specialized in long-distance beam attacks, so this attack challenged her in her own field. It was like an armor-piercing round from a tank’s gun. Even the smallest hole would have been fatal, but the dark red damage spread as if the wound was peeling back.
The Unexplored-classes were all shaped much like human girls and their Silhouette weak point tended to be located in their heart.
A gasping and dumbfounded noise reached Kyousuke from his vessel, Meinokawa Aoi.
Their defeat was guaranteed now.
Once Kyousuke and Aoi were rendered motionless, it would become a pure battle between the White Queen and the Colorless Little Girl. Then it was no more than predator vs. prey in the natural world. Even if the White Queen was the strongest, she was no match for the Colorless Little Girl who had been specifically designed as a Queen killer.
“Is that how you thought this would work, mom?”
Kyousuke shouted a single word just before his supposedly guaranteed defeat arrived.
Hadn’t Shigara Masami said those two had hacked the Summoning Ceremony?
This was never going to end as a normal battle. And nothing said the Colorless Little Girl was the only one who could cheat like that. Freedom Award 3000 had said it was both of them. And since the Colorless Little Girl had in fact been created by Kyousuke, it was best to think of all the cheating as coming back to him.
He would win this battle.
He would win so everyone could survive with a smile on their face.
And there was one rule he had to break in order to do that.
Time felt like it had stopped as Kyousuke blatantly clenched his teeth on the underside of the waterslide leading to an illuminated rooftop night pool.
Yes. He had always expected Meinokawa Aoi to be defeated.
(I can only just barely reach the Unexplored-class in 10 minutes, so that isn’t enough. The only way to win this is to reach that point and then start switching between Materials so I can challenge the Colorless Little Girl with everything I’ve got!!)
So he would break that rule.
He would not let the match end in ten minutes. And without receiving a penalty. If his Material was fatally wounded, he would break free of them instead of accepting the loss. He would switch to a different vessel and continue the battle right where he had left off, with all the Petals he had earned intact.
It was unprecedented, but it was not impossible.
Shigara Masami, who had taken one step into the Divine-class, had brushed off “the shock of seeing the death of the god she believed in” after her Material was destroyed. She had said the shock was not that much when she too was at the level of a god.
Kyousuke was still human, so he could not take it that far.
He could not do it by brute force, so some trickery was called for.
In other words…
“Aoi, do it nowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!”
A pleasant bursting sound rang out.
The Lady of Purple Lightning vanished into thin air. She had had a fist-sized hole in her chest, but this was not how a defeated Material would disappear. Vessel Meinokawa Aoi had used her clockwork arms to pull off her own head.
Shiroyama Natsuginu may not have ever seen anything like this before.
But it had happened in Houbi Village.
When Aoi had been targeted, she had removed her head from her body to sidestep the rules of the Summoning Ceremony. At the time, the Blood-Sign system as a whole had failed to find an answer for whether the center of the vessel’s body (and thus where the Material should reside) was the brain or the heart, so it had crashed and the Artificial Sacred Ground had burst.
Her voice reached Kyousuke physically now.
Aoi’s body was flung from the Artificial Sacred Ground for breaking the rules. But the outcome was still undecided for a brief moment here. Kyousuke puled a small knife from his pocket, shallowly cut his thumb, and swung his arm horizontally to scatter drops of blood outwards.
It really did only take the span of a breath.
The special vocalization method he used was a technique of an age before the Blood-Sign system back when the gods were left in charge of the paranormal.
“I bind this covenant of blood in the name of The Spirit of Fluttering ‘Yellow’ Gills that Rules the Heavens (s - a - so - v o z - t i x - e i - y w - z a), one of the Three which manage and guide the summoning ceremony. You are of human flesh with a proper heart and soul, yet from this moment onward, you shall be a limited vessel that can hold all things. You shall be a lord of emptiness that uses the power filling you to at times bend the laws of this world. So I shall prepare this vessel. I am a summoner, unable to leave the world of man, yet a symbol of haughty intellect that uses power from beyond the world of man to guide the world of man to the next age!!”
This had not been coordinated in advance.
Kyousuke was not alone. He had simply had vessels waiting at suspicious points around Toy Dream 35. Vessels without a contract could not remember him any more than ordinary people, but that was not the case when they had a professional summoner within eyeshot.
So in this case…
“Murasame Kuina!! You’re up!!”
[God, really!? But now I don’t owe you anything for saving Sayuri!!>
She had been waiting in one of the cars of the Ferris wheel located right alongside the water slide.
She had stuck her tongue out of the open window and caught Kyousuke’s blood in her mouth.
That passed the baton to her.
The nearly-dead Lady of Purple Lightning moved to the stable human vessel and Kyousuke used his Blood-Sign to acquire many more Petals. This Material might be fatally wounded, but he could cancel that out by switching to another Unexplored-class.
Unexplored-class. Cost: 18. Sound Range: Low.
The Bizarre Gray Mollusk Who Swims the Starry Ocean (en - a - hf - ei - ja - o - cd - to - jok).
Her upper body was that of a shamelessly nude girl, but from the hips down, she was a giant octopus with 8 legs glowing a dull gray. Those legs extended, struck, tangled, and constricted. She was an expert in punches, strangleholds, pins, and all forms of close-quarters combat.
Kyousuke’s mother clicked her tongue just as the Little Girl let fly a few hatchets.
She may have been trying to kill the Material instantly like with the dart before, but the same technique would not work again.
An ordinary vessel like Murasame Kuina had far less precise control over the Material’s movements than Sinceria or Olivia. Even with the Queen’s pressure keeping it from moving out ahead, Kyousuke would have to get in the way with his protective circle if it came to it.
The hatchets missed and sliced through the water slide they were standing on.
Their next footing was the support pillars for the entire Ferris wheel, which were a mountain of steel beams arranged something like a jungle gym or bicycle spokes.
Meinokawa Aoi fell limply from the Ferris wheel support and into the ocean below, but all Kyousuke could do for her was break off one of the glow-in-the-dark lights, get it flashing, and toss it after her to mark her location. Aika and Lu Niang Lan had snuck Government and Illegal troops around the city, so he could only pray they would collect her.
[The Unexplored-class and your vessels are disposable to you? You’re so damn wasteful!>
“Sorry, Kuina, but our enemy isn’t going to wait around!!”
Kyousuke had only heard of this in a different history, but the Illegal summoner contracted with Benikomichi Fuuki had apparently switched between partners to fit the needs of the battle, like he was using a golf set.
Kuina probably would not last long either.
And he already had a countermeasure ready for that.
[No fair, Nii-sama.>
“Don’t pout your lips over something so trivial, my bratty little sister.”
The 10 minute limit had been reset.
“And as powerful as the Colorless Little Girl is, she’s only designed to kill the White Queen.”
“Kh!! Are you suggesting she can’t ignore the damage if the other ordinary Unexplored-classes get a hit in on her!?”
The Little Girl was an abnormal being that did not exist in the natural world.
The Unexplored-classes were the very laws of the other world and their power was meant to be wielded to maintain balance, so their attacks would likely affect her.
He no longer had to hang back while the White Queen fought.
He no longer had to let her protect him.
With bestial roars, the White Queen and the Gray Mollusk crossed paths from the right and left while charging in toward the Colorless Little Girl. And they did so while jumping between the jungle gym arrangement of pillars supporting the Ferris wheel.
The Artificial Sacred Ground was generally a 20m cube.
So with each steel beam destroyed, the entire Artificial Sacred Ground shifted over. The Ferris wheel’s weight was distributed over a great many steel beams that intersected in a complex pattern, so it would not immediately collapse when a few of its supports were cut through.
“Where to? Where to next? Where can I jump to protect her?”
The Little Girl’s side seemed to be realizing the teleportation interference was not working. But they could not shake the temptation of shifting the field to escape the immediate damage.
Natsuginu was desperate to protect her child.
That would be why she caught on so quickly.
In the brightly lit city of Toy Dream 35, a modified China dress beauty and a white liger were waiting on a giant bridge and the roof of a relatively short building.
They were vessels.
Moving to any of those areas would only give Kyousuke more power.
It likely still was not possible for him, but she could not ignore the fact that she had seen Kyousuke’s vessel shift from Meinokawa Aoi to Murasame Kuina.
“In that case!!”
They were somewhere indoors.
It was a hemispherical underwater tunnel made of clear acrylic.
A giant manta slowly passed by over their heads. This was the Poolarium, a combination of a pool and an aquarium.
As soon as his feet contacted the cold floor, a rumbling shook Kyousuke’s eardrums.
The Colorless Little Girl had used the slight shift in position to easily dodge the White Queen’s fingers and land a cross-counter.
[No, mother. Not yet.>
With a click of her tongue, some of the White Queen’s clothing was blasted backwards like she was brushing the powder snow off the fur covering her shoulders. She had gathered the impact there and had the clothing destroy itself in her place. Her soft skin was exposed to the air, but she did not seem to care about how much she had left in stock.
The White Queen’s slender arms were a far greater trump card than any other weapon.
Her right hand flew toward her rude opponent as a slap.
The rumbling attack did not slice whitely through space itself or gather the air around her, so it was meant to stun rather than kill. Whether it hit or was blocked, its point was to hold her opponent in place for a moment. She could deal with them as she pleased afterwards.
The Colorless Little Girl let one of her giant tomes devour the bookmark she held.
The end of the world that burst out of the book consumed the stunning wind. And that attack was not aimed directly at the White Queen. It was a surprise feint, like a soccer player looking the other way before making a pass. It instead crushed the Gray Mollusk who contained Kuina. The attack was green, pink, black, and orange. It was a torrent of killer mold that had gained the ultimate resistance after exposure to so many pesticides.
They were somewhat lucky this was an airtight tunnel made of thick acrylic.
“You idiot!” shouted the White Queen. “As much as I hate it, aren’t you supposed to be using that to fight for brother!?”
But the twintailed-girl may have made a mistake by focusing elsewhere no matter how briefly.
One of the 12 books behind the Colorless Little Girl opened like a great maw and directly bit at the White Queen. It was like a giant shark swallowing its prey whole.
“Mary!? Damn! Kuina, let’s deal with this one thing at a time!! What’s your situation!?”
[Gbh!! Promise me you won’t make Sayuri do anything like this!!>
A mechanical sound burst throughout the entire underwater tunnel.
The Colorless Little Girl pouted her lips.
[Nii-sama is up to something again.>
“He can only have so many tricks. We just have to push through by force!!”
Shiroyama Natsuginu was not exactly wrong.
Murasame Kuina was only human, so she could not pull off her head like Aoi could. But if the logic existed, there was a way of using it.
It was time to show off the skill of Azalea Magentarain, who had stolen the Joruri Text from Houbi Village and tried to create a Queen lookalike out of Repliglass.
That weapon designer, who supported the global arms manufacturer of Quad Motors, had said the following over an online channel while wearing a swimsuit and lounging in a beach chair.
“If what you saw is accurate, the Blood-Sign system rules can be confused by the location and number of primary organs, right? In that case, we should be able to intentionally trigger a malfunction in the rules by introducing some mechanical products.”
And so Murasame Kuina held a fist-sized mass to her stomach.
It was an artificial heart made using silicon stem cells. Activating that was enough to cause some confusion similar to when Meinokawa Aoi had removed her head from her body.
Kyousuke did not have time for any extraneous emotions here.
He was using an oversight in the official rules. It was as crude a method as hacking into a target at the moment the area recovered from a widescale blackout. If he missed this momentary opportunity, this tightrope walk would come to an end.
(This is Coordinate F-93. That means…!!)
“Himekawa Mika, switch!!”
It happened too late.
There was a roar.
They were thrown to the side of the freefall tower as if by teleportation.
But the Little Girl could not keep up.
Kyousuke had already switched to another vessel.
[Please don’t forget that you promised to give me a nice long chat with the real sensei. And not during a crisis like this.>
The vessel who looked identical to the ponytailed researcher took over the contract and summoned a different Unexplored-class.
Unexplored-class. Cost: 18. Sound Range: Middle.
The “Dry Grass Colored” Dancer who Returns Twice the Roaring Flames (zb - ei - sd - wp - e - be - xu - a - kk - pl).
However, she could not just focus on what was in front of her.
A dull thud exploded out.
An attack from the side had struck the Colorless Little Girl in her young temple.
It had come from outside the 20m cube of the Artificial Sacred Ground. Two people were glaring her way from the large balcony sticking out from a building there. No, it was a beer garden after hours.
One was Biondetta.
The other was Shigara Masami, who looked just like Himekawa Mika.
Materials could not leave the Artificial Sacred Ground, but their projectile attacks like javelins or lightning strikes were not bound by that.
If someone else had set up a different Artificial Sacred Ground and fought each other to build up their Materials, they could then make a surprise sniper attack using an Unexplored-class.
In this case, Unexplored-class. Cost: 14. Sound Range: High.
The “Gold” Harlot who Serves the Killer Boxes (hs - a - te - ei - yw - az - a - hq).
She was a blonde woman in a skimpy dress that was adorned with so many jewels it actually looked cheap. She and the treasure chests and moneybags at her feet normally functioned as a single giant trap, but she was not going to just wait around because her opponent did not approach her. The golden woman standing in the beer garden used her bare feet to kick the many dangerous treasures like soccer balls to fire them as projectiles that pierced right through the mobile home style kitchen area like it was made of cardboard.
The corner on the bottom of a heavy treasure chest had struck the Colorless Little Girl in the temple.
“Argh. I’ve been acting as your bait this whole time to build up your Material, so make yourself useful, Freedom Award 3000!!”
[Of course, Detta-chan. That was one clean hit!! Time for some more!!>
But Shigara Masami was not the only one capable of making these long-range attacks. If the Colorless Little Girl pulled a hunting rifle from the weapons surrounding her like a skirt, she might blow that group away along with the very space around them.
But Kyousuke would not allow it.
[That’s Mika-san, you damn kid!!>
Now it was the Dry Grass Colored Dancer from the same Artificial Sacred Ground who stepped forward.
Shiroyama Natsuginu muttered to herself with her daughter residing in her body.
“I can’t let her be under attack from close and long range at the same time. We need to move elsewhere.”
They were on some building’s rooftop again.
But this one appeared to be a launch pad for filming drones.
Special authorization symbols were written on the floor. The design was similar to helipads, but they were a lot smaller and it looked like a honeycomb pattern.
And the battle was still underway. Kyousuke’s mother seemed to fear Shigara Masami’s sniping, but that distracted her from Kyousuke and Mika’s Material right in front of her.
He used this chance to charge forward.
The Colorless Little Girl could kill her enemy with a full-power clean hit, but that would not end the battle. When an Unexplored-class charged forward while canceling out the damage and ignoring the knockback, she could not prevent it from getting close.
She was not about to use ordinary methods at this point.
The Little Girl slashed her large bookmark directly at the Dry Grass Colored Dancer’s neck like it was a sword and swung around a giant old tome like it was a drawing board.
The Dry Grass Colored Dancer dodged that attack just once before being annihilated.
She was all about counterattacks. Every step in her alluring dance sent out dried grass and flowers that ignited from the friction and swallowed up the Colorless Little Girl like a great deluge.
In that moment, his mother rose to the surface over his sister. It was hard to say how they were experiencing this, but it was possible Natsuginu was facing the actual realistic problem more than his sister who was solely focused on protecting her brother.
An internal explosion sent flames bursting from the Little Girl.
But someone else chose exactly that moment to send a slender arm toward her from a different angle. Their fingers slashed rather than struck and the old tome the Little Girl used to shield herself was shredded like soft underwear.
“In that case…”
First the slender arm and then the White Queen herself burst from within.
“I did not even need to build up the power to shred you from the inside out. What a waste of time!!”
When she shook herself like a wet cat, fist-sized balls of pink or green fluff splattered across the rooftop drone launch pad. Those things looked fancy, but this was no laughing matter when you remembered they were masses of world-destroying mold.
The White Queen could apparently take some of the damage done to her and place it on the Sword of Truth battle costume instead, but the chest and hips of that costume were falling apart. It barely looked like actual clothing anymore.
[I’m sorry, but I can’t manage another attack!!>
“Understood. Sekurtiti, switch!!”
Unexplored-class. Cost: 21. Sound Range: Middle.
The “Ashen” Shrine Maiden who Invites Merciful and Dignified Death (em - ao - lev - ck - rol - ei - vb - yu - a - ps).
That petrification expert perfectly combined flowing feminine curves and the cold hardness of rock. She launched harmful curses using countless methods: her nails, her fangs, her gaze, her hair, her scream, etc.
[Do not think about preserving me. I will throw everything into a single attack. Think of me as expendable!!>
“Sorry about this!! You’re up next, Isabelle!! Get ready!!”
Unexplored-class. Cost: 17. Sound Range: High.
The Liquefying Predator who Covers All With “Rainbow Colors” (hb - e - wuz - vc - a - weq - ei - lvz).
A dull but loud thud followed.
She was a liquid woman who glowed like a rainbow.
From head to toe, she was actually a special digestive fluid.
But before Isabelle could launch her first attack, the Colorless Little Girl’s attack pierced the center of her chest. And it seriously was done with a giant drill.
[What!? You promised you would take super-sized good care of me…>
He had to harden his heart.
It pained him so much he felt like he was going to cough up blood as he raised his voice again.
“Meinokawa Higan, switch!!”
There was definite fear and panic coming from the Little Girl.
There was no end to it.
This was starting to rattle even that abnormal Unexplored-class.
It must have been a split-second decision.
The scenery jumped.
They were now on a reverse bungee launch pad in Toy Dream 35.
In other words, they were at the edge of the grounds to a certain high school supported by a giant float.
If the summoner was separated from the waiting vessels, he could no longer cycle through new contracts.
That logic was sound.
But he had efficiently distributed the vessel girls around Toy Dream 35. That meant he had not had enough people to leave more than one in a single location. Once he played the card he had, it was over.
“I was bluffing.”
“Mom, it seems you’re not very good at that side of things. I’m glad I finally found a cute flaw in you. I imagine this is how a guy as awful as dad caught you. Will it be Sinceria next? Or maybe Librarian-chan? I don’t care where you try to run, but don’t forget I have vessels everywhere!!”
Meinokawa Higan had not been there.
If the Little Girl and his mother had not panicked and had stayed on the rooftop drone launch pad, he could not have passed the baton to another vessel.
The Colorless Little Girl had unnecessarily guided him to his next supply.
So he could reach them.
He could pass the baton of possible victory to the next vessel.
“Olivia Highland, switch!!”
[Okay, Onii-chan. It’s the star’s time to shine!!>
Unexplored-class. Cost: 20. Sound Range: Low.
The “Red-Eyed” Lady who Sees Through all Sin and Calamity (fa - ao - ab - ei - fj - cib - b - du - a - eif).
A red female oni had two horns parting the bangs of her long black hair. She was alluringly dressed in a combination of a kimono left open and a one-piece swimsuit, her eyes were gently shut, and she kept a calm and graceful expression on her face. The many gears behind her represented the world’s destiny. She was the ruler of prophesies of unparalleled accuracy and it was rumored the opening of her eyes would not just see the future but determine it.
Kyousuke had pulled off a result beyond what simple skill could have accomplished.
This was a school.
His young sister had never been old enough to attend one of those and she spoke in a frail voice now.
“Then I will not even bother trying to think this out, Kyousuke. If thinking means falling for bluffs, then I will simply crush you by brute force!!”
In order to push away the enemy right in front of her, the Colorless Little Girl had a long bookmark eaten by a book behind her.
But the Red Lady parted her alluring red lips with her eyes still shut.
She whispered in a voice other than Olivia’s.
Her words were an accurate prophecy.
[Queen, swing your left hand horizontally. That will overturn this.>
With the dry sound of bursting air, the giant tome prepared to spew out an end of the world in a muddy torrent, but the prophecy came true before it could.
It was overturned in the air, altering its aim.
The Colorless Little Girl’s jaw dropped.
A gross sound reminiscent of sewage flowing back up the drain reverberated across the nighttime school and that apocalypse attacked its own master. It was the endless mountain of trash that could have piled up and piled up and piled up until it buried everything and brought an end to the human race. It sprayed out like water pressurized to the point of gaining a cutting edge and it slammed into that young body.
Finally, they got a clean hit on her.
“We can win this!” roared the White Queen.
The Little Girl could not get away from the Queen and the Unexplored-class approaching her. She was only a Queen killer, so she would be overwhelmed in a two-against-one rush.
She could not change this without falling back and starting fresh, but she could not fall back until she changed this.
She was trapped in a catch-22.
“Now we can win this!! The scales have tilted in our favor. Even if we can’t get a critical hit in now, the Colorless Little Girl can’t recover from this!!”
It was like a splash of cold water.
The Red Lady’s eyes had cracked open at some point.
[Queen, you still cannot win like this. No matter what.>
A moment later, a dangerous light filled the Colorless Little Girl’s eyes visible through the muddy torrent swallowing her up.
“This is not over yet.”
She spoke with a woman’s voice much too low to come from such a small girl.
After a deep bursting sound, the speargun the Little Girl held pierced the White Queen’s chest.
It was a clean hit.
That muddy torrent had acted as a curtain and the relief of getting a hit in had created a psychological opening.
The speargun was one of the many weapons surrounding her like a dress skirt.
There were many types of spearguns, but this one was a rifle-style weapon made by taking a rubber band gun made with chopsticks, remaking it with a lightweight aluminum frame, and increasing the size and destructive power. But since this was one of the Colorless Little Girl’s weapons, it had to be more than just that. The trident it fired had to carry even more destructive power than that symbol of Poseidon would suggest.
And unlike the ordinary Unexplored-classes that Kyousuke could switch between endlessly, there was just one of the White Queen. Since her strength never changed, she was always the strongest, but there were no surprises there either. Also, the Colorless Little Girl was a Queen killer. She might have some trouble with the other Unexplored-classes, but she could kill the White Queen instantly.
Almost all of the White Queen’s clothing burst away with a sound like a balloon popping.
But it was too little too late.
The girl’s own body was pierced before the clothing could shoulder the damage.
Although the Sword of Truth battle costume’s crazy high specs could be seen in the fact that it prevented the attack from killing her instantly.
She coughed up blood.
A metal spear thicker than her thumb had mercilessly pierced the Queen from front to back. The barb at the tip had sharply caught at her. The center of her chest was her Silhouette. The core supporting her presence in this world had been entirely destroyed.
She could not last.
She could not stay here.
“I am sorry…ghh. Brother. I can’t-…!!”
Shigara Masami’s Box could only do so much to support her.
Her silhouette blurred, she came apart into countless particles, and she vanished from the dark school.
Wisdom had never been interested in the outcome of that battle while she floated in the other world.
She looked white because she had wanted to match the Queen.
Because she did not want any distance between them when they were together.
Instead of tying her long silver hair in twintails on the sides of her head, she tied them at the bottom of her head so they would not get in her way.
She was not wearing any kind of clothing.
Instead, she had cables wrapped around her body again and again like thick belts and those cables dragged around keypads, card readers, padlocks, magnetic lock keyholes, the glass panels for fingerprint reading, and eye-scanning scopes that resembled microscopes.
She created a safety system.
If the innocent baby bird harmed no one, there was no risk of anyone harming the innocent baby bird. If she only hid behind someone’s back and tugged at their skirt while peering out at the outside world, she could live a life free of earned troubles.
That was the entire reason Wisdom existed.
So there was only one answer.
She would once more feed the White Queen the food of words. She would narrow the world she saw. She would free her from all advantage and harm to reset her outlook. Wisdom had caused this. Her overprotectiveness had left the White Queen too na?ve and then she had foolishly let her contact the outside world. So this time, she would lock everything down.
She would keep her where she belonged.
So Wisdom felt no guilt over what she was doing.
Even if she had led the White Queen to kill young Kyousuke’s sister before his eyes and even if she was now killing the White Queen in that world to bring her back to this one.
She wanted to scan all words and letters the White Queen would consume and sing a lullaby that would safely determine even what the White Queen dreamed of.
She wanted to be the overprotective big sister.
Even if it meant having that twintailed-girl temporarily dirty her hands and cry.
She would apply as many locks as there were stars in the sky and thoroughly manage everything herself.
“What a pain.”
She heard an exasperated sigh.
And with those words, the world expanded around her. By placing her feet down, the concept of land came into being and the endlessly expanse of the sky appeared as its opposite.
The “White” Queen who Wields the Sword of Unsullied Truth (iu - nu - fb - a - wuh - ei -kx - eu - pl - vjz).
Everything transformed around this girl whose silver twintails swayed, but this was not a privilege exclusive to the Queen. Unlike the human world, this world looked different to everyone who viewed it. For example, what heaven or hell looked like was not consistent between religions and mythologies. So if 100 people were standing here, 100 different worlds would exist around them. The Red Lady had her version of this world and the Wicked Green Lady had hers. They all wandered within their own viewpoint.
They all existed in the same space, but they could never be connected.
They could have anything they wanted, but they could never share it with anyone.
It was like everyone was wearing VR goggles and playing their own individual games. The players did not care what things were like outside their goggles, so they would not even know they were in the same space unless they bumped into each other.
“Isn’t that the kind of beings we are? The strength of our power isolates us, so when we cannot bare the loneliness any longer, we descend to the human world in search of someone. We long for the voices of all those people. You may not be able to do that, but trying to fulfill that desire in this world is still a problem. I have a world I can lose myself in, so please do not remove the goggles from my face.”
That had happened in the past.
The other Unexplored-classes had so feared her power that they had worked together to attack her. That could be seen as pulling the goggles from her eyes while she played and starting a fistfight in this vast space. Of course, the Queen had been so angry she defeated every last one of them and ended up unifying the rules of the game for better or for worse.
As a safety system, that was the height of folly.
Why would you challenge the omnipotent White Queen using strength?
In this world of isolation, the Queen had the exceptional power to connect each individual’s world and intrude on them.
That was why she could speak with the omniscient Wisdom now.
Wisdom had long silver twintails similar yet different to the White Queen’s.
That exceedingly odd Unexplored-class’s radiant nudity was covered by belt-like cables and a variety of locks including keypads and padlocks, but not everyone could see her like that.
Wisdom’s words compressed their data so much that they sounded like a combination of simple tones to ordinary people, so it would have been reminiscent of Morse code or a fax signal. But if you forcibly replayed the memory in slow motion and broke it down, it became this:
“rx - ht - iu - nu - fb - a - wuh - ei - kx - eu - pl - vjz. qe - i - rx - weq - qo - a - lm - u - rx - iu - wi? weq - a - bh - rg - i - jd - ou - pms - u - eu - lw - vg - mpe - iu.”
But trying to transcribe it all would be an endless task.
At any rate.
Seeing someone else’s silhouette was enough of a miracle in this world.
But the White Queen could see her face and hear her voice.
She could gaze upon the radiant and nearly nude body of Wisdom.
That may have been why she was known as the omnipotence to match Wisdom’s omniscience.
The White Queen herself sounded exasperated.
“Did you hope that killing me and closing me up in this world would allow you to feed me your words once more and get me to rest my head and sleep on your lap like you are my big sister or something?”
“That is nothing to be embarrassed about, but it is annoying. Also, that will not be happening. Brother’s fight is not yet over.”
Wisdom seemed confused by the White Queen’s confident tone.
She tilted her head and her silver twintails shook somewhat.
Wisdom honestly had no interested in the human world.
If Shiroyama Kyousuke seduced the Queen and took her beyond Wisdom’s reach in that world, then she would do everything she could to stop it, but none of it mattered once the Queen was back here. Because no matter how much Kyousuke struggled and no matter what the result of his battle against the Colorless Little Girl, he could never take back the White Queen. Wisdom no longer cared about the Colorless Little Girl or Kyousuke’s mother for the same reason.
Nothing that happened in the human world could reach them here now.
No one could contact the White Queen anymore.
Wisdom would apply as many locks as there were stars in the sky so no one else’s words would ring in her ears again. She would scan and break down all letters and words given to her. Her lullaby would even control the dreams that girl had when she shut her eyes.
The worship of the humans in their world and the fear of the beings in this world were no longer necessary.
Wisdom would interfere with the White Queen and keep away anyone who would harm that ignorant girl.
The White Queen smiled and said more.
“By the way, why do you think I returned to this world?”
“It was not to open my mouth like a baby bird so you could feed me your words. Why would you think that, you imbecile?”
She really was exasperated now.
The White Queen was passionate enough to lose control. And Wisdom had to know that since she felt the need to apply locks to keep her safe. If Wisdom had not known that from the beginning, she never would have used her bluffing skills on her.
“It is true brother and the others in the human world cannot reach this world no matter how hard they try. They can summon things from here, but they cannot come here themselves. The one exception is earning 1000 Awards and becoming a resident of this world, but brother has not reached that level.”
The Red Lady had prophesied that they could never defeat Wisdom.
But so what?
The Queen was not going to back down because of a prophecy made in the miniscule framework of a silly fight in the human world.
She winked and raised a finger.
“But what if someone helps him from this side? Ever heard of someone being ‘spirited away’ by a god? If someone on this side acts as a powerful anchor, it is entirely possible for a human to intrude on this territory while supported by their own lifeline. Even the sturdiest castle gate is useless if someone opens it from the inside.”
It had to be possible.
Summoning was a technique to travel between worlds.
And who had ever said it only worked in the one direction? If there was a way to summon residents of this world to the human world, it was only logical for there to be a way to summon residents of the human world to this world.
Something fell to the ground with a heavy thud.
It was decorated with something like pure white ribbons or wings.
No, it was long hair much like the White Queen’s but not worn in twintails.
This was an artificial object made of an entirely different substance.
It was the head of the artificial vessel named Meinokawa Aoi.
Aoi had supposedly left the stage after removing her head back in the early stages of the battle. But what if a team made up of Sinceria and Rachel had collected it and passed it around to the different vessels so it was ultimately returned to the Artificial Sacred Ground and secretly given the White Queen?
“I can’t believe this. How did I end up being the first and the last trump card in this fight? Although I suppose this is better than living in a wasteful society of single-use products.”
If the vessel to contain a Material was here…
“You did this yourself, didn’t you? You had the Colorless Little Girl wield a Blood-Sign to gather the Petals.”
With a swishing sound, the White Queen was suddenly holding a long stick just like her beloved always did.
“Shi - Ro - Ya - Ma - Kyo - U - Su - Ke. Hee hee. Looking at it like this, spelling out his name character by character is kind of embarrassing.”
The twintailed girl smiled and dropped something else at her feet.
On that signal, history was forever changed.
It was a metal cylinder the size of a hair spray can, but it did not contain the same substance as Kyousuke’s.
“It was brother who prepared for all this from the beginning☆”
The grenade burst and a certain boy crossed the boundaries between worlds to appear there.
Everything had changed.
Kyousuke had no idea what kind of world it really was, but for a human like him who could not contact it properly, it was a horribly empty space. It was endlessly vast, but had nothing in it. It was a flat surface covered in evenly-spaced intersecting lines like graph paper. A greenscreen studio taking up an entire planet may have been the closest comparison.
The world changed depending on your viewpoint, so daily training was important.
That was a Buddhist philosophy, but this was probably different from what Buddhism meant.
There was a roar of wind.
A slap from an Unexplored-class could easily take off a human head.
But that was no what happened.
In fact, Kyousuke did nothing at all, yet Wisdom’s raised hand was deflected and she staggered back a few steps.
She gnashed her teeth in an expression of rage.
Her anger went full circle and brought tears to her eyes.
Her long silver hair swam through the air. She was no more than a girl with cables wrapped like belts around her radiant nudity. The clattering sound when she moved came from the keypads, padlocks, and other locks that checked the palmprint or iris of the eye. She must have never expected anyone but the White Queen to see her because she belatedly bent over and tried to cover her chest and hips with her hands.
Having her soft skin so casually seen was like having your love letter made public when it was meant for just one person in the whole world.
There was thorough anger and embarrassment on her face.
“-----!! ----!? ----. ----------------. --------. ----! ------------!! ----. --------!! ----. ------------!? ------------!! ------------!!!???”
Wisdom sent out a frightening amount of information.
Direct physical strength was not the only cause of death. A normal person’s brain might have been destroyed.
But Kyousuke did not die.
The White Queen softly wrapped her slender arms around his head, held it to her chest, and eliminated all that excess noise.
He knew what Wisdom was trying to say.
This had always been the final hurdle since Wisdom’s cruelty had become apparent.
“No matter what kind of compromise I make, it won’t change the fact that the Queen killed my sister. So you’re saying I should let you control her as a safety system?”
That was all he said.
She might have used a sea of letters vast enough to drown an entire planet, but Kyousuke had no obligation to worry about Wisdom’s feelings. He just had to quote mine as maliciously as an aggregation site and accept just the crux of the issue.
“That’s why I’m here. To be honest, fighting my sister and mom in my world wasn’t going to solve anything. …Defeating both of them wasn’t going to harm you in any way while you hide in this world. So I’m not going to follow your rules. You set everything up to serve your own ends and even prepared an escape route to avoid any harm if you lost. So tell me this: what do we gain by accepting your cheap cowardly views?”
He was afflicted by a headache so intense he thought his skull was going to split open.
Her twintails floated up like they were filling with static electricity. Ominous sparks flew from the keypads and padlocks covering her nudity.
The White Queen held Kyousuke’s head all the tighter.
She knew doing so would only enrage Wisdom further, so it felt like she was intentionally showing it off.
“I have two demands,” said the summoner with his head held to that soft chest. “First, the utter defeat of you, Wisdom, as the ultimate cause of all this. And second, saving my sister who you defined as unsavable. I will not back down on either of those.”
Wisdom was not even shouting anymore.
His demands were so absurd that her mind may have gone blank.
Even her expression had frozen in place.
Kyousuke grinned as he continued.
Only his voice echoed across that unique world with a graph paper grid.
“This isn’t just a pipe dream. It’s true there is no way of resurrecting someone directly killed by the White Queen even if you alter the laws of the world or travel back in time or to a parallel world. That’s the rule.”
“But that rule only applies to the world I lived in. The rules in this world are different. It might be possible here to perform a ceremony to resurrect my dead sister!!”
Shiroyama Kyousuke alone could never have accomplished it. Nor could the White Queen alone.
But they were not alone now.
The time had come for human and Material to work together.
“This will remove the original grudge. This will save my sister the Queen killed.”
It would not bring back all the dead.
For example, it would not bring back everyone who had died at the Queen’s Miniature Garden.
But they could at least erase the first murder. They could eliminate the murder that the Queen had unintentionally committed as Wisdom whispered in her ear.
“And I have to thank you for one thing, Wisdom. You’re such a godawful Unexplored-class it makes me want to vomit, but you do have my gratitude for resurrecting my mom. Mock me and say I have a juvenile sister complex and Oedipus complex if you like. I have zero intention of ever reconciling with Doctor S, but now I have my whole family back…”
The solid barrier was going to crumble.
Once that wall of guilt was gone, nothing would remain to restrain the White Queen. The entire concept of a safety system and locks would fall apart. As before, the entire world would drown in her charisma or throw stones at her out of a sense of justice. But now Wisdom could no longer intercept all those words, break them down into a convenient form, and provide that to the White Queen.
Various items fell from Kyousuke’s hoodie, pants, and their pockets to reach the ground in that essentially empty world. Theses were impurities created in the human world. They crudely disturbed the precise and orderly image of this grid-covered world.
Then Kyousuke breathed a soft sigh.
“So I really could bring my tools with me. Well, I was guessing as much since the Unexplored-classes don’t appear naked when you summon them.”
“My, my, brother. If that is what you are into, then should I wake you up like that tomorrow morning?”
He could build something if he had tools to work with.
You must not forget. Azalea and Benikomichi Fuuki were not the only ones to break down the Blood-Sign system and construct a master plan. The person who had found success with the world’s greatest experiment was Shiroyama Kyousuke who carried Doctor S’s blood and had studied under Shigara Masami.
Plus, no experiment had ever been on a larger scale than the creation of the Colorless Little Girl.
It was not Pandemonium or the Founder’s Gallery that mattered. Shiroyama Kyousuke’s presence was all that was needed to create a fearsome laboratory.
But what was this?
Wisdom was filled with questions.
She silently tilted her head.
The apple spoken of in Norse mythology, the philosopher’s stone used for alchemy, the ambrosia of Greek mythology, the trip to the underworld attempted by Orpheus, the mummification process taken from Egyptian mythology, etc. She used every piece of knowledge she had before her intellectual work came to a sudden halt.
“Since you go by that name, surely you really do understand there is a loophole in the rules governing death. That’s why you so desperately wanted to hide it. To keep Mary from escaping you.”
And a miracle occurred.
It was likely already over at that point.
The Colorless Little Girl would have vanished back in the human world. That unique Unexplored-class’s core part had been removed.
Because that girl no longer existed as a dead ghost.
Shiroyama Natsuginu could not continue the fight all on her own.
She may have been able to break the rules like the Rainy Girl, but this was a more fundamental issue. Now that her daughter had been saved, she had lost her justification to maintain her anger and grudge as a mother.
She could only return from being an avenger to being an ordinary mother.
Wisdom could not act as a safety system for the White Queen. She could not act as a contact point for all words and she could not unilaterally narrow the Queen’s view of the world. She had no interest in the world at large, so all her despair was probably focused on that one point.
Her shoulders trembled in that world lined as accurately as graph paper.
The keypads and palmprint pads clattered unnaturally as she shook.
Omniscient Wisdom did not seem to have any direct power to fight.
One instruction to the omnipotent White Queen would bring this to a swift end.
The girl’s shoulders jumped at Kyousuke’s voice.
She must have known that backing away now would accomplish nothing. When it came to pure physical strength, she was not just weaker than the other Unexplored-classes but weaker than the weakest Regulation-class. If Kyousuke threw a slap, it would be her who was knocked back.
She could only accept his words.
“I promise you I will not let this end with the Fourth Summoning Ceremony. I only created that to settle things between the Queen and me, so it isn’t necessary anymore.”
Those words actually brought Wisdom to a stop. The look on her face said that even a collection of knowledge like her had not expected this.
Kyousuke continued regardless.
“I will create the Fifth Summoning Ceremony…no, I will destroy the very framework of summoning and create a new age. Just like the age of the dinosaurs ended because the power of individuals was not enough to build up a civilization.”
It would take a single stab.
That would end it all.
He had to settle this. There was no changing that.
“I swear I will pass you the baton in the next age. I will tear down the boundary between the two worlds and eliminate the need for the inconvenient Blood-Sign system. So I won’t doom you to an eternity of loneliness. That’s what I’m trying to say.”
“I won’t let you act as a safety device or an addition to the White Queen. You don’t have to define yourself as no more than her pair. Wisdom, create your own life. You can meet the Queen again once you do that.”
The White Queen held out the object in her hands: a Blood-Sign.
It was a powerless club against an Unexplored-class who could shrug off bullets and bombs, but things were different for Wisdom who lacked the direct ability to fight.
Everyone made mistakes.
If people were never given a second chance, then Kyousuke and the Queen would not been worthy of reaching for happiness. Wisdom had maliciously attacked young Kyousuke and his sister, but without that, he would have been killed without ever escaping Doctor S’s clutches.
It was thanks to her that they had finally found victory here.
So there was one more thing that needed saying.
He did not expect an answer.
That was fine.
He would hear an answer someday even if he did not force one here.
He was sure of it.
So Shiroyama Kyousuke spoke while readying his Blood-Sign to end it all.
“No one needs to be the strongest. Let’s meet again once the playing field has been leveled.”
- Shiroyama Kyousuke defeated Wisdom.
- But he stayed true to the ideals of Alice (with) Rabbit to the end.
- If he had stayed with the Fourth Summoning Ceremony, he could have acquired everything in both worlds, but he refused to settle things by abandoning a life and is instead advancing to an even higher stage.
Kssshh ksh ksh ksssssshhhh!! Beeeeeeeeeeeeeep
- An unexpected error has occurred.
- The Fourth Summoning Ceremony will soon come to an end.
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