Chapter 1: The Whereabouts of the Restraints. GLEIPNIR.
I will now explain the contents of the requested investigation.
We have received word that a restraint craftsman named Ellasone has disappeared from his home in a craftsman district of London. Ellasone had a contract with the Anglican Church's anti-magician organization Necessarius, so if his knowledge or techniques are leaked, there is a great risk of highly dangerous magicians being freed from the magical facilities such as the Tower of London that are used to confine such villainous magicians.
Please head in pursuit of the restraint craftsman Ellasone and either put him under your protection or capture him.
Currently, it is unknown whether Ellasone's disappearance was caused by a third party or if he did so of his own free will. If the restraint craftsman Ellasone has gone off on his own based on dangerous ideas, it is possible he may attack us. Make sure to prepare for a fight in case it comes to that.
A manmade city spread out within the darkness of the night.
With only sparse electric lighting in that wide open space, the darkness seemed even more accentuated.
The area was a large bus terminal.
The British capital city of London had a bus line that ran directly from the international airport. In order to service the over 100 buses that went back and forth during a day, a large space had been prepared a bit away from the center of the city. The space must have been a square about 500 meters across.
There were no signs of people in the area most likely because a people clearing field had been set up.
In the middle of that area was Kanzaki Kaori.
She had black hair that reached her waist even when tied back in a ponytail. She was taller than the average Japanese. She was wearing a short sleeve T-shirt that was tied to the side so her navel was visible and jeans that had one leg cut off all the way at the base of her thigh. On her waist, she wore a western belt that had a katana hanging from it. It was Shichiten Shichitou. While it was a Japanese sword, it was over 2 meters long.
She ran across the vast bus terminal.
No, it may not have been right to say she was running.
Kanzaki Kaori was one of the fewer than 20 Saints in the world. A Saint was a person who had similar bodily characteristics to the Son of God which gave them a fragment of the Son of God's power. The cross used to execute the Son of God and the cross on the roof of a church were two different things. However, the latter held the power of the former despite them being two different things. It worked the same as that.
In other words, Kanzaki Kaori was not a normal magician.
She could exhibit her power as a Saint which allowed her to momentarily exceed the speed of sound.
But even though she was using that much power, Kanzaki Kaori was unable to accomplish her goal.
Yes. If she was going out of her way to wield that supernatural power, she had to have a reason making it necessary.
For Kanzaki Kaori, that reason was the man before her.
She called out his name.
The magician Ellasone. That was the name from the mission instruction report. He was a craftsman who specialized in the construction of magical restraints and he was the man who had suddenly disappeared.
He was a large man. At first glance, he gave a savage impression, but an odd delicateness could be sensed in the magician's fingertips. Without speaking, he reached inside his cheap coat and pulled out multiple white charms. They resembled Eastern ones, but they were different. They were not made of paper. They were instead made of thin cowhide that had been bleached to the point of being white. They had a few silver studs on them. The writing on them used the alphabet, but the words were not English or French. Most likely, they were rune characters written out phonetically using the alphabet.
Basically, they used Norse mythology-style spells with power from Christian cultures mixed in. Due to that, the runes were broken down into the alphabet first rather than used in their pure form.
Ellasone swung his right hand and air was absorbed by the white cowhide charms.
A change occurred.
It looked like the charms twisted and in the next instant a giant form of over 5 meters appeared. It was a giant stag beetle made of black leather and silver armor. The pincer portion had thick springs and metal fixtures attached.
It was a spiritual item.
A spiritual item was either a tool prepared in order to use magic or a tool that used magic and autonomously functioned.
"This is one way of using the Mancatcher," Ellasone said quietly.
Normally, the Mancatcher was a restraint where the pincer parts were attached to the end of a long spear-like handle. It was used to lock around a prisoner's waist in order to safely transport them.
With a roar, the giant stag beetle vigorously flapped its wings made of leather so thin it looked transparent. It charged toward Kanzaki at high speed.
But before its pincer could move, Kanzaki's hands moved to the hilt of her sword and mercilessly bisected the stag beetle. The sound of the slicing came a second later similar to with thunder.
That had been a drawn sword technique.
The cutting edge had been frighteningly sharp, but Kanzaki, the one who had carried out the attack, frowned. By slicing the stag beetle, Kanzaki had given Ellasone an instant of extra time. He had used that time to move to the side ever so slightly.
Kanzaki Kaori could travel faster than the speed of sound.
If a normal magician attempted to flee from her on foot, they would be absolutely unable to escape.
But Ellasone charged toward the inside of the sideways curve Kanzaki moved in. Naturally, Kanzaki was forced to correct her trajectory which brought the force of inertia on her body more than would normally have been necessary. Because she was thoughtlessly moving at faster than the speed of sound, she herself suffered the side effects of the power she was producing.
(He's getting away...)
That same thing had happened repeatedly.
She had let her guard down and the next thing she knew, he was about to escape her cordon. She almost felt as if she were being pulled by the strings she gripped in her hand. Kanzaki gritted her teeth and thought.
(But why is Ellasone attacking us and then trying to flee!?)
A high pitched metallic noise rang out.
It was the sound of Kanzaki swinging her sword. However, the sound was not that of flesh being sliced. When she looked, there was a white cowhide charm stuck to the side of the blade. That had forcibly altered the sword's trajectory leaving Ellasone unscathed. In fact, there was a wrenching pain in Kanzaki's wrist.
The sword had flown harmlessly above Ellasone's head and Kanzaki remained motionless.
They were about a meter apart.
After a slight delay, the white charm that was preventing her from using her blade was sliced in two and gently floated down.
Now that she had her sword back, would she get her slash in first? Or would Ellasone bring out some effect using the cowhide charm in his hand first? The thread of tension was spread out to its limit.
"Either way, you cannot escape from me," Kanzaki announced in a low voice while holding her blade fixed in a single place with frightening precision. "My legs can exceed the speed of sound. Even if you gain a bit of a distance, I can fill it in an instant. You are trapped within a surrounding barrier of speed."
"True enough." Ellasone nodded. "That's why I had to set something up on my end. It may have just been a coincidence, but you got close enough that I couldn't just hide behind something and wait for you to leave. To be honest, you are not who I'm after. This is a battle that did not need to happen. I feel sorry for having to do this to you."
Immediately afterwards, Kanzaki felt a chill run down her back.
Ellasone was smiling. At some point, the charm in his hand had disappeared. Kanzaki put together those various pieces of information and deduced what must have happened to her.
(He...put it on my back!?)
Ellasone was a craftsman who specialized in developing magical restraints. He was a professional at making the tools used to prevent villainous magicians from escaping from specialized prisons such as the Tower of London. If one of his truly top class items were directly put on her, even as a Saint there was a danger of her movements being sealed temporarily.
She immediately turned her focus to her own back.
But when she reached a hand there, she did not feel anything.
It had been a bluff.
Ellasone had used a mental trick to make Kanzaki think there was something there. He had likely actually hidden the charm inside his pocket.
Kanzaki frantically turned her attention forward again, but there was no longer anyone there.
He may have been moving from blind spot to blind spot or he may have used some special means of movement in the instant Kanzaki had not been looking. He had disappeared so fully that she could not even determine that.
"Dammit..." Kanzaki muttered.
It was possible a specialist in sealing people's movements was also skilled in escaping from such situations.
"I will now explain the contents of the requested investigation."
Inside a small used clothes shop that specialized in jeans, a man in his twenties who owned the store was resting his elbows on the register counter looking bored. He looked up from the parchment spread out on the counter. The old paper was the type from the Middle Ages that did not even use pulp, but it was emitting some kind of light and had something like a small 3D map on it. However, the shop owner did not seem to care.
The young shop owner had a bored expression on his face and was resting his head in his hands as he spoke to the girl who had brought the parchment.
"Um, well...I am not sure what to say. I am not doing this because I want to. I am just acting as a messenger for a job from the Anglican Church, so it would be a problem if you do not accept it."
"Come on now, Miss Tour Guide."
The jeans shop owner tapped the parchment on the counter with his index finger. The blonde girl of about 15 he had referred to as a tour guide was dressed in a tight skirt, a suit, and a scarf. Her small body started trembling, but the shop owner paid it no heed.
"Do you know what this place is? Do you know what my job is? Stop this. It's true that London may be a city where if you call out to 100 girls one of them's likely to be a magician, but I don't care about all their troubles. And Necessarius is a group that still has witch hunts and an inquisition in the 21st century. I don't want to work with people like that. Don't get a normal person wrapped up in some incident covered in blood and gore."
"Huh? I thought the owner of this shop was a super unofficial agent who worked in combination with the magician Kanzaki Kaori to punish the evils of the world..."
"...What is with that wonderful double life? Please don't speak about me like I'm some kind of assassin from a drama or a movie. That makes it sound like selling jeans is just a dummy occupation I use for camouflage. This is my true occupation. I risk my life on this. Do you understand that? I may be a suspicious hitman by day, but I sell jeans in secret by night."
The tour guide girl sighed and looked around the store.
"...This is your true occupation? It does not look like things are selling very well to me."
"Is that really something you should be saying right in front of the store's owner? But I in fact sell quite well. In fact, I recently opened a site where people can order jeans over the internet. I've even got an order from a Japanese middle school girl. Her English was pretty bad, so it took me quite a while to figure out what she was trying to order. It would've been easier if she had just sent the email in Japanese."
The shop owner seemed to be checking the status of the order on his mobile device and the tour guide glanced over at the screen. It was displaying an order from a "Ruiko Saten" who was likely the middle school girl he had mentioned.
It seemed he really was getting sales.
The tour guide was honestly shocked by that, but she decided the shop owner probably would not be too happy if she stuck with that impression for too long.
Steel pipes ran across that area that was smaller than half a normal school classroom. Hangers on those pipes held various types of jeans. The truly valuable ones were displayed in glass showcases, but the tour guide had no idea on what basis the jeans' values were determined.
Then a different girl who had been looking at the jeans hanging down all that time finally approached the counter in annoyance.
Rare for London, she was a black haired Asian.
Her hair reached her waist despite being in a ponytail. She was dressed in a short sleeved T-shirt tied off at her belly and in jeans that had one of the legs cut off at the base of the thigh. On top of that, she had a belt that looked like something from a Western that had a two meter long Japanese sword hanging from it.
She was the magician Kanzaki Kaori that the tour guide had mentioned earlier.
"I'm reluctant to treat you as a partner, but I have no choice because my superiors decided on it. If you have any complaints, you can take it up directly with them."
"This is a mission on a scale where it needs the involvement of a Saint like you, right? I can tell this is dangerous. Why are you trying to drag a civilian used clothes seller into that?"
"Like I said, take any complaints to my superiors."
"And where are these superiors? I get the feeling I'd be immediately shot for being an outsider if I tried to get into wherever they are even if I was trying to seriously speak with your boss."
"If you understand, then quit complaining and hurry up and help. ...Oh, I know. In addition to the normal compensation, if we succeed in this job, I will buy one of the ridiculously expensive pairs of jeans that does not seem like it is selling."
"No. I've already decided that I'm not selling anything more to you."
"Why not!? And there's a pair that I kind of had my eyes on too!!" yelled out Kanzaki in response to her unfair treatment, but the shop owner pointed toward her bare thigh.
"The second you get a pair of jeans you chop them to pieces like that, so I'm not selling any more to you."
"Uuh, is it really that strange? This design is necessary for the construction of a spell. ...A-and what's wrong with it? I was even thinking of cutting up the side of a pair of jeans to make them a bit like a hakama."
"If you want that, then just wear a hakama!! Don't expect that from jeans!! Stone washing and cut jeans are number one on the list of things I hate most in the world!!"
"How can two things be number one?"
"I also hate when people speak impudently like that!" The shop owner turned his head to the side rudely. "I don't mind jeans having their color fade or getting scraped while being worn over long periods of time. But ruining perfectly good jeans in order to fake that is sacrilege! It's like...let's see...like finding gold decorations in a pyramid and scraping them with a brush because they'll be more valuable if they're scratched up and old looking. What value does that have? The value of jeans comes from the path that pair has walked down in the past. It isn't something you can just add on by dirtying or damaging them."
"Is that so?" Kanzaki muttered sounding downhearted.
Meanwhile, the tour guide still had no idea what gave jeans their value. Her gaze moved from Kanzaki's giant breasts pushing out her T-shirt, then to her small and bare midriff, and finally to her large ass that was wrapped in her jeans.
"So it comes from the path that pair has walked down in the past... I see, so it's something like burusera."
"I'm gonna kill you!!"
A bit of a distance away from the center of London was a craftsman district. Gathered there were stores dealing in hats, coats, shoes, bags, belts, and anything else made of leather. Each of the stores was smaller than a fast food restaurant, but around half of the stores there held royal warrants and were secretly admired by those in the clothing business.
Apparently, the restraint craftsman Ellasone's house was in that district.
In order to track the missing craftsman, Kanzaki and the jeans shop owner were beginning by investigating his home.
The tour guide sat in the passenger seat of a small black and round car that looked like a gentleman's leather shoe. She asked a question of the jeans shop owner who held the steering wheel in the driver seat.
"Do you not admire the shops in this area?"
"I have no interest in leather."
The shop owner glanced at the rearview mirror inside the ecological electric car that looked like a classic car from the start of the 20th century.
Kanzaki looked rather uncomfortable. The reason for this was the lack of the sword that usually hung from her waist. Shichiten Shichitou was over 2 meters long. It could not fit within the small car, so it was stored within a surfboard case that rode on the roof of the car. ...The surfboard did not match the look of the classic car in the slightest, but it was better than having a sword stabbing up into the driver seat from the back seat.
The shop owner spoke to Kanzaki.
"So what's with this missing restraint craftsman? Ellasone, was it? From what you've said, he sounds like he's about my age. Are we seriously investigating a grown man who's decided to run away from home?"
"As it mentioned in the mission instruction report, Ellasone has quite a bit of classified information related to facilities such as the Tower of London that restrain dangerous magicians. Whether he ran off himself or was kidnapped by someone else, we have to avoid having that information leaked out."
"Hey, now," the shop owner said out of exasperation. "You fought with him directly yesterday, right? Doesn't that answer a lot of those questions? I saw the records of your fight. The quality of the spiritual item...the restraint he used was quite something. That goes beyond just restraining someone. That thing could crush a man's skeleton."
Suddenly, the tour guide started flipping through her notepad.
"It seems Ellasone chose a means that would finish things without having to kill anyone. If he does not struggle unnecessarily, we do not need to take his life."
"That's what you call that ridiculous strength? It would sound more convincing to say that even if he had some huge tool used to scrap old cars. ...At any rate, Ellasone disappeared on his own and he's planning something bad. That's how it looks to me."
"That could have been a fake," Kanzaki immediately responded. "It is also possible he is being controlled by someone or someone is blackmailing him with a hostage. We need to cast aside our preconceptions and consider every possibility."
When he saw the serious expression on Kanzaki's face as she spoke, the shop owner couldn't help but smile.
"Is the official position given in the paperwork not good enough for you?" the shop owner said without losing the smile. "It looks to me like you're a little more worried about the wellbeing of this complete stranger who suddenly took a strange action. As usual, you're fighting for someone you know nothing about."
Kanzaki's mood seemed to be thrown out of order as she fell silent and turned to look out the window, but then the tour guide girl cut in apologetically.
"Um, I don't like having to destroy that scene filled with heartwarming volunteerism, but I have some information I would like for you to hear before we arrive."
"What is it?"
"Uhh, it's about this Ellasone. It seems he performed 'experiments' on a civilian girl in order to test the endurance of the restraints he created. It seems that girl was the first one to notice his disappearance because she would go to his house for those experiments..."
"...Well, that certainly doesn't sound heartwarming. To be honest, it makes me want to turn around and go home."
"We're almost there," said Kanzaki while pointing forward from the back seat. "After coming this far, we need to figure something out before heading back."
It was a small house.
As the house was also used as a workshop, the actual living space had to be even more cramped. Or it was possible that the craftsman known as Ellasone was the type of person that did not distinguish between work and home and could not relax unless he was surrounded by his work.
"Dammit, there's nowhere to park."
"Can't you just park in front of the house?"
"The no parking areas these days scare me. They didn't get the raised budget they wanted, so they're cracking down on illegal parking to make up for it."
However, things were pretty much the same all throughout the craftsman district and there did not seem to be any temporary parking areas. The jeans shop owner had no choice but to park on the curb in front of the Ellasone's house.
Kanzaki got out of the car, entered the house through the front door, and immediately started investigating. A few of her colleagues from Necessarius greeted her lightly. Using discernment on the level of the police, they were searching for any remaining traces inside the house.
"They've looked through everything from the chars in the oven to the ashes in the fireplace," the shop owner muttered as if he were fed up with the whole thing. "These excellent people have already worked so hard. Is there anything left for us to do?"
"This way," instructed the tour guide girl.
Ellasone's house was a two story building, but it also seemed to have an attic. The shop owner's expression turned bitter upon seeing a simple ladder leading up to a square hole in the ceiling with darkness on the other side.
"Please don't tell me that girl he used as a test subject was imprisoned up there."
"It's not that grim, but still...prepare yourself."
The three of them headed up the leader and into the attic.
It was a surprisingly large area. While the other rooms were divided up into set spaces by the walls, the attic had no inside walls. However, it was not exactly a nice living space. While the space itself was large, the air was stuffy and uncomfortable.
There was a window allowing light in, so it was not completely dark.
And what that light allowed them to see was...
"God damn it. I thought I smelled something weird. I guess it's the smell of leather."
"That may be the smell of the oil used to maintain leather products."
"It's the same either way. Damn, this is like a treasure trove of bondage gear."
The overall feel of the place may have been similar to the jeans shop the shop owner ran. In order to use a set space to its maximum capacity, metal pipes were laid out near the ceiling and a lot of "clothes" were hanging from them.
However, instead of antique jeans, that attic was filled with restraints that were filled with cutting edge magical symbols and that would physically and magically seal the wearer's movements. There were simple (looking) handcuffs made of short belts that wrapped around, there were some that had two long boots to put on someone, there were some that covered the entire body like a diving suit , and there were many more strange types of restraints.
While looking at the red and black leather items, Kanzaki asked a question to the tour guide girl.
"What were we invited here to do?"
"These seem to be the items not yet used in the experiments on that girl. And there are no order forms from the Anglican Church or any other client for these items."
"...Maybe he just made them for fun."
"Nothing has been proven yet one way or the other, but the restraints here seem to have been clearly separated from the rest. You were called here because we wanted the opinions of specialists in the field of clothing." The tour guide shrugged lightly. "Kanzaki-san, you are an expert at constructing spells by combining the magical symbols in everyday objects, so is there any meaning built into these? If we can find the magical symbols in these restraints, it could serve as a clue."
"Actually, I would think this is more your field than mine," Kanzaki said lightly in the shop owner's direction. "I combine the clothing to coordinate the magical symbols I want, but I am not confident in my ability to analyze the work at the level of the thread and the cloth. ...You mend jeans too, right?"
"...God damn it. These harsh S&M goods are out of my area of expertise," the shop owner spat out, but he also knew that he was qualified for the job.
While continuing to complain, he pulled out a small sewing set that would likely make the owner seem family-oriented and well-liked were that owner a girl.
Leaving the attic to the shop owner, Kanzaki and the tour guide headed back down the ladder.
"What should I do?"
"Let's see... Our staff is inspecting the house, but perhaps you could go over things again from your own viewpoint, Kanzaki-san. You are from the Amakusa Church...Japan's Kakure Kirishitan, correct? In that case, you may be more sensitive to the symbols and traces hidden in the building itself."
While she walked along, Kanzaki almost bumped into a girl.
The girl gave a slight nod in her direction and passed by, but Kanzaki immediately spun around.
"Who is that girl? I didn't see her among the staff before."
"Oh, um..." The tour guide nodded. "That is the girl who acted as a test subject. She is the one that reported Ellasone's disappearance to us."
The girl was around 16 or 17 years old.
Her name seemed to be Seachel.
Her blonde hair was a strong mix of gold and light brown. The blue of her veins could be seen below her white skin. She wore a red dress. She gave an overall delicate impression and she had a distinctive way of swinging her body back and forth while she walked.
Kanzaki felt she walked like a penguin.
The girl currently had her back to Kanzaki. She was leading Kanzaki outside of the house. On either side of the narrow stone path, small stores filled up every gap. Japan's ready-built houses were ridiculed by the world as being cramped, but those shops were not even half their size.
As Kanzaki thought that, Seachel spoke without turning around.
"This place is like a city of dollhouses, so I find it lovely and I quite like it."
Kanzaki looked at the girl's back again as the girl continued to speak.
"The main problem is that the parks and churches are rather far away."
Seachel stopped in a small park. The area was only 30 meters square and it had no playground equipment for children. All it had were flower beds and benches. A dirty soccer ball was lying in one corner, so it seemed the area was used to play in.
Seachel walked over to a bench and brought her slender arms back behind her. It was as if she were showing her palms to Kanzaki.
"Which do you want?"
When she said that, there were suddenly a can of coffee and a can of tea in her hands. The two cans were too big to have been hidden in Seachel's hands and her dress did not appear to have pockets.
She had not used magic.
It had merely been sleight of hand.
"I'll take the tea."
"Then hurry up and take it. I was trying to show off, but these are actually burning my hands."
Kanzaki took the can, but it did not have a normal pull tab. Like a canned good, it was made so the entire top portion opened. She found that to be odd and checked the brand name on the side, but she did not recognize it.
"It's vacuum packed from a privately owned café. They're perfect for souvenirs. The owner of the café said it was a type of heresy though."
While she spoke. Seachel popped open the can of coffee and sat on the bench. However, she had an odd way of sitting. She circled around behind it and sat down on top of the back of the bench.
"You said you wanted to ask me something."
"If it's about where Ellasone is, I don't know. If I did, I would chase after him myself rather than relying on you all. If I wasn't worried about him, I wouldn't have gone out of my way to contact you."
"It's about that," Kanzaki said trying to stop Seachel's words from rushing ahead too far. "I just can't grasp your relationship with the restraint craftsman. Ellasone tested the endurance of the restraints he created on you. I simply don't see how that kind of circumstance would lead to you being worried about him."
"Is that question really necessary for your investigation?"
"Or do you think I couldn't take it anymore and ended up burying him under the floorboards?"
"...I saw him and I do not think that you have the skills necessary to fake that with an illusion."
"I learned how to contact you from Ellasone. Do you really think he didn't tell me anything else about magicians?"
A cold wind blew through.
Kanzaki thought about that possibility for a bit, but finally denied it.
"If that were the case, you would have had no reason to report his disappearance."
"True," the girl smiled very, very thinly and took a sip of coffee. "Well, it doesn't really matter. It isn't something I'm trying to hide. And my relationship with Ellasone is not what you're imagining."
"I'll leave your imaginings to you," Seachel said while swinging her feet as they hung down from the back of the bench.
"How did you come to know Ellasone anyway? From what I can tell, you don't seem to be a magician. I don't see how you would get a chance to meet someone like a restraint craftsman."
"Yeah, I don't even really know," said Seachal vaguely. "It happened when I was around 10. One evening on a holiday, my parents and I went out for a picnic. I found it odd that we were going out in the evening, but I was happy to get to go out and play. I can't remember where we went, but I do know that my parents disappeared leaving me behind."
"And as if it had been arranged beforehand, some strange men approached me. When I think back on it now, it seems clear that it was a type of human trafficking. My parents must have had their reasons. Anyway, I was fortunate enough to not be sold into slavery. I was saved by Ellasone. The men doubled over and were blown away. At the time I was confused as to how I had been saved."
Seachel spoke as if she were bored.
The story must have been that fixed within her heart.
"I had no idea what was going on at the time, but he had used magic to save me. I think anyone would have been confused upon seeing what had happened."
"And then you were taken in by Ellasone?"
"No." Seachel held the coffee can in both hands. "He brought me to a child protection agency...but I just didn't like the place. That man who had left me there had left an odd impression on me. I felt that if I snuck out I might see him again. I felt he might save me again."
"So I escaped. I escaped again and again and every time the people from the agency brought me back. Eventually, word of what I was doing must have reached Ellasone. After that, when I escaped, he would often be the one to catch me. ...For me, that really had the opposite effect than what they were hoping for. I knew then that I truly could see him again if I escaped, so I did so even more."
Why had she been that insistent on trying to find Ellasone?
Kanzaki had a vague idea, but then Seachel spoke for herself.
"What humans need to live properly is a purpose in life," the girl said.
Seachal had once suddenly lost everything and now she smoothly spoke those heavy words.
"Even if you become a billionaire, make one of the great discoveries of the century, or create wonderful pieces of art, none of it matters if you have no purpose in life. ...Well, I've never done any of those things, so I'm just guessing. But I can tell. I wanted a purpose in life. I think that purpose was Ellasone."
"And that led to him testing his restraints on you?"
"Ah ha ha. That didn't come till later. I continued to escape and wander around dangerously late at night and I was eventually left in Ellasone's care. It seems he spoke with the child protection agency and got special permission. And it was all according to the plan I had come up with at such a young age. And so I was taken in by Ellasone. Well, technically I lived with the old couple in a nearby house, but I had made a definite connection to him."
From what she had heard of the story, it sounded like Ellasone had saved the girl by chance and had been troubled as to how to deal with her. At the very least, it did not sound like the actions of someone who would use the girl to test his own restraints...
"It was for the same reason. It was an issue of a purpose in life. And Ellasone had realized it."
The meaning behind Seachel's words was rather unclear.
She seemed to realize that herself and started giving an additional explanation.
"Now, Ellasone tried to hide his restraints...or rather, magic. However, I already knew. I had seen him save me with a strange power. So I offered to help him. Of course, he refused me. After all, I was still 10 at the time. A normal adult does not want to show leather restraints to a child."
"Like I said, Ellasone had realized it. Didn't you find it odd? I escaped the agency again and again and again and again, but the people running the place were not idiots. The first time maybe, but do you really think I could just easily escape that many times? Ellasone is a restraint specialist. In other words, he's an expert at capturing. That was why he realized what even I had not. Simply put...he realized I have a natural disposition for escaping."
"We were opposites. And he knew that I wanted a purpose in life. He also probably knew that if he refused me, I would escape again in search of a purpose in life. ...What was needed to keep me safe was truly quite simple. Ellasone just had to let me help him with his job in order to give me a purpose in life."
But an amateur girl who knew nothing of the foundations of magic could not help in the construction of locks and restraints that were used in specialized facilities such as the Tower of London which imprisoned professional magicians. Having her near the magical work would put her in danger and letting her help could lower the security of the devices to be put in important facilities which could bring about greater problems down the road.
However, he could not have just rejected her. If he had, Seachel would have disappeared in search of a purpose in life. That girl had escaped the child protection agency again and again. Because he had seen that disposition in her, Ellasone could not let his guard down. He had to prevent her from becoming a victim of some crime while she disappeared into the city at night.
"Ellasone seemed to try to distance me from magic and the restraints as much as he could. He may have wanted to give me a proper purpose in life. But no matter what he did, nothing changed. I told you I was living in an old couple's house, right?
"I was not being looked after by Ellasone when it came to just everyday life. But I would periodically head over to his house so I could have him use me to perform the endurance tests."
Kanzaki remained silent for a bit.
Seachel had said "so I could have him use me". She had not been forced to do it. She had volunteered to do it.
"It became a habit. It wasn't something I enjoyed doing. It was something that pained me not to do. My purpose in life has been fixed on magic and restraints. ...Heh heh. And yet I can't create either thing myself."
Kanzaki felt like she could see the suffering the restraint craftsman had gone through.
If Ellasone was the type of person Seachel said he was, then he would not have allowed himself to get a civilian wrapped up in that kind of thing for his own profit. After all, doing so would rob all meaning of having saved Seachel from being sold into slavery in the first place.
Even if doing so was giving Seachel a purpose in life, using her for endurance tests had to have pained him greatly. But at the same time, since he had chased after her time after time when she escaped from the child protection agency, he may have somehow enjoyed being thrown into that unfamiliar situation.
Until the restraint craftsman named Ellasone had disappeared without telling the girl anything.
"I don't know if he disappeared on his own or if he was taken away by someone else," Seachal said as if it had nothing to do with her.
Her blunt words made it sound like she trusted Ellasone.
It seemed as if there was something invisible connecting them and binding them together.
"If he doesn't come back soon and give me my purpose in life, this could be a problem. After all, I'm the kind of person that does not stay in one place. I have a feeling that if I decide to go off in search of him, that I'll never return to this country again."
After her investigation and questioning were over, Kanzaki headed back to the jeans shop owner's car. She was thinking of heading back to central London, but...
"...Why are standing in front of the car like that?"
"Look, Kanzaki. Do you see this irritating scrap of paper stuck in the wiper? I got a damn ticket."
"Can't you just make a claim with the Anglican Church?"
"You idiot. I'm not an official member like you. I'm just a jeans shop owner, so I can't make any claims with them." The shop owner stuffed the ticket in his pocket and sighed. "Really, for all your hard work, you get a salary paid from the British people's taxes and you even get a bonus when you complete a case. Meanwhile, I have orders piling up back at my shop."
"When you put it that way, I do feel a bit sorry for you, but..."
"Then give me something. How about you give me a kiss when we complete this case!!"
"If you keep that up, I'll settle for giving you a kick."
The shop owner opened the driver side door while muttering about being on the losing end of the bargain. Kanzaki started to get in the back seat, but the shop owner stopped her.
"Oh, the back seat is full of the creepy restraint collection I'm borrowing from Ellasone's place. You get in the passenger seat."
"? But what about the tour guide?"
"She left before us. She said she had to go to St. Julian's Cathedral and give a report on the status of the case. It seems the bishop there is worried about Ellasone's disappearance. Well, since magical prisons could be thrown open one after another using Ellasone's knowledge and techniques, I guess that isn't too surprising."
"I see," muttered Kanzaki as she circled around to the passenger seat.
As before, her 2 meter katana was put inside a surfboard case that was stored on top of the car.
The electric car that looked like a classic car smoothly drove off.
"How did things go with the young lady?"
"Well, at the very least it does not seem that she was abused."
"I thought not."
"Yeah, somehow or other," he responded arbitrarily while turning the wheel. "If things had truly been bad, she would have at least had one scar or injury on her. And she didn't walk like someone trying to hide anything like that under her clothes. And when she talked about Ellasone, her eyes did not wander and her speech pattern did not change. People who are truly cornered do not have the attention left over to be careful about things like that."
"Did you find any hint in the house that could be used to find him?"
"If I had, the back seat would not be filled with leather products. I'm gonna have to stay up late into the night investigating the magical structures in those things."
"But it's also strange. If there are no hints at all, that means the investigation turned up no contacts and not even an address for his favorite restaurant or an acquaintance of his. Isn't that strange? Any house is at least going to have the phone number for the electric, water, or gas companies," the shop owner said offhand. "Sounds to me like Ellasone himself got rid of all that stuff before he ran off."
"Or some third party broke in and eliminated it all."
The shop owner suggested stopping for dinner somewhere, but their conversation was cut off by Kanzaki's cell phone ringing.
After speaking for a bit, she finally hung up.
"What is it? Is it something you can tell me about?"
"Yes. We need to take a bit of a detour."
"We have a report from someone who saw him. Shortly before his disappearance, Ellasone came into contact with a certain magic cabal."
"Ehh!? And you let Kanzaki go there all on her own!?" said the tour guide girl over the phone.
The jeans shop owner had parked his car on the shoulder of the road and was eating a hamburger. As the tour guide had said, Kanzaki was not inside the car with him. She had already headed into the magic cabal's headquarters.
The shop owner placed a bottle of iced coffee in the ring-shaped cup holder.
"But she told me not to go with her."
"How can you say that!? Kanzaki is a girl! She's a sexy girl with a nice body!! How could you let her head into the hidden base of a magic cabal all on her own!?"
"Yeah, you're right. Kanzaki is sexy."
"That's not the important part!! What if she gets captured!?"
While the girl's high pitched voice hurt his ears, the jeans shop owner looked out through the windshield. The headquarters of the magic cabal Ellasone had been in contact with shortly before his disappearance was located in the remains of a soccer stadium a bit away from London. That was the fate of facilities that could not find a buyer. Most likely, modern magicians were in the locker rooms secretly calculating the locations of the stars, putting magnets on the end of red colored staffs to create fire Symbolic Weapons, and any number of other things.
"You do know that Kanzaki is a Saint, right?"
"She's one of the fewer than 20 people in the world who have special characteristics, right? They possess the bodily characteristics of the Christian Son of God, so a certain amount of the Son of God's power resides in them in the same way the power of the true cross resides in the crosses on churches that are made to resemble it." The tour guide seemed angry. "But it does not matter if she has that disposition or not! That does not change the fact that Kanzaki is a girl! As an English gentleman, you should do your part and escort her!!"
"Oh, I see," the shop owner replied halfheartedly. "Then do you know that Kanzaki can see a handgun bullet coming for her and dodge it?"
"The same with lightning." The shop owner sighed. "When you fire a handgun, the sparks of the muzzle flash fly from the barrel. The speed of light and the speed of the bullet are not the same. The bullet will always arrive after the light. Due to this, Kanzaki can move her head to the side after seeing the light from the barrel and dodge the coming bullet."
Just as he was making that perhaps exaggerated boast, about half of the soccer stadium in front of him suddenly crumbled.
The curving structure that acted as both the stands and the outer wall was flattened all at once. A thick cloud of dust flew up into the air and the clattering of the scattering building materials could be heard. Also audible were cries of anger and fear that were likely being emitted by the magicians. There was not the slightest hint of worry on the shop owner's face. Kanzaki's surprise attack had clearly been a success.
"Saints are people who can move at the speed of sound and slice a bomber in two," he said sounding bored. "I'm not sure we should count monsters like that as humans, much less girls."
Kanzaki, the tour guide, and the shop owner returned to the jeans shop. It was quite late. In fact, it was around midnight.
“I thought magically investigating the restraints was my job?”
“We will share what work we can,” Kanzaki smoothly replied to the shop owner. “In the end, it seems the magic cabal I attacked did not know any of the details.”
Hearing that, the tour guide looked confused.
“Huh? I thought they had been hired by someone to transport Ellasone somewhere? Doesn’t that mean he was taken by someone else…?”
“We cannot rule out the possibility that Ellasone himself hired them,” Kanzaki said as she took a bite from a rice ball for a late dinner. “Let’s put everything other than definite information aside for now. Right now, we have to see whether there is any information hidden in these restraints that a magical investigation will reveal.”
About half of the shop was the shop owner’s workshop. He used it to mend damaged products, create replicas of famous jeans of bygone years…and to carry out magical analysis work that had been requested of him.
There were about 300 of the restraints both large and small. They were colored the red and black of leather and their form varied from bodysuits that covered someone entirely to gags that plugged someone’s mouth.
On the workshop table, the shop owner spread out a large piece of paper used for patterns. He then grabbed one of the restraints randomly. It was a restraint for the legs that looked like two boots bound together. He placed it on top of the pattern paper.
“First, I need to test out whether the method of analysis I use will even work.”
“How do you analyze them?” asked the tour guide.
The shop owner placed lamps at the four corners of the table and then pulled out a knife which he lightly stabbed into the center of the pattern paper. The four lamps in the corners produced four shadows which created a black cross with the knife at the center.
Seeing that, Kanzaki asked, “You’re going with the toast?”
“It’s the quickest method.”
Ignoring the tour guide who was feeling left behind, the shop owner grabbed a glass from the cupboard and poured a half empty bottle of mineral water in it.
“The toast has its roots in testing for poison. In Europe, it was a process used to prove you hadn’t put any poison in the other person’s glass. After all, if there was poison in his glass, you would end up drinking it yourself.”
The shop owner took the glass filled with mineral water and brought it in close to the handle of the knife standing on the table.
“Here, the toast is given the meaning of seeing through your opponent’s tricks. Also, the glass corresponds to the Christian Holy Grail. It was filled with the Son of God’s blood and it brought those who healed all sorts of wounds closer to the truth. If I perform a toast with that Holy Grail…”
A clear tone rang out.
The shop owner had struck the handle of the knife with the glass.
Immediately afterwards, light was emitted from the pattern paper. A bluish-white light spread from the knife to the entire pattern paper and what looked like the blueprints for something became visible. It was crammed full of writing about 5 mm tall. It was “something like” a magic circle. That restraint that bound the legs with boots that seemed sewn together simply had magical symbols that elaborate in it.
“This is a good general purpose method, but it’s useless when any kind of exclusive obstruction is used. We’re lucky Ellasone didn’t know much about this field.”
The shop owner slightly spun the glass around and, as if in response, the blue-colored blueprint quickly highlighted the especially important text and diagrams in red.
“I see. This really is a special made item. He’s forced security into this thing on the level of what would be used in a cathedral door. This is well beyond what you would use to restrain a person. You could probably do the job of an entire dam with these boots.”
“Ellasone had specially prepared these restraints despite there being no orders for them, right? I hope a hint to his disappearance can be found in them.”
“We have to analyze all of those before we can determine that,” the shop owner said as he pointed to the countless restraints both large and small piled up on the floor. “Now then, did you manage to learn the spell I used? In that case, get to work. If we split up the work, we might be able to finish by morning.”
“Eh? Eh?” said the tour guide girl who seemed to be rather flustered. “Learned it…? You’re saying I’m supposed to try that myself after seeing it once!?”
“What else do you need?” said the shop owner frowning curiously. “Magic is just knowledge and technique. Other than special examples like our Saint over here, it’s something that anyone can do as long as they know how. …Why do you think I revealed what I was doing and didn’t use any dummy actions or conceal any of my actions? It’s a pain in the ass to give lectures on each individual thing, so I just showed it all to you quickly.”
The tour guide’s mouth flapped opened and closed silently, but Kanzaki already had a knife and a glass in her hand. The tour guide decided it was no use. Kanzaki Kaori’s specs were simply so much greater that the tour guide girl could not hope for the other girl to feel the same way.
“…Dammit. People who can do these things act like it’s so easy.”
“Think of it like the multiplication table. Then you can do it.”
“…Once again, that’s the kind of thing people who can do it say.”
The tour guide girl puffed out her cheeks and lost all energy to continue.
A few hours had passed and the workshop was filled with a sluggish atmosphere.
The term “magic work” may have sounded mysterious, but it was basically just careful work with ones hands. With no end in sight and no results of any kind, the hours of work became unbearable.
Analyzing around 300 restraints before dawn was simply too much work.
They would not finish in just one night.
The tour guide had realized that after actually working a bit and she lost all focus as soon as she did.
Kanzaki was continuing the analysis work like a machine with as serious an expression as ever, but the jeans shop owner was clearly in an unmotivated mood just like the tour guide girl.
The shop owner then admitted defeat.
“Ahh, dammit!! We can’t do this with just 3 people!!”
He was giving up for a stupid reason, but that could be taken as proof that magicians were human, too. In fact, Kanzaki was actually scary in how she managed to seriously continue her work with uniform focus from the beginning to then.
“All we know is that each of these restraints is incredibly strong and provides security on the level of a cathedral!! We haven’t found a single piece of information that gives us a clue to Ellasone’s whereabouts and we have no idea what he was planning on restraining with these!!”
“We do know why he put these restraints aside and did not test them on that girl, though.”
“Yes, these restraints rival a dam in strength. Restraining a human in one would crush them under the pressure. He wasn’t planning on restraining an angel or something, was he?”
“These aren’t strong enough for that.”
“It scares me how readily you were able to say that. …Kanzaki, by any chance, have you fought an angel?”
“I wouldn’t say it was a complete one, but I technically can’t answer no,” she said nonchalantly.
The shop owner and the tour guide fell silent.
It was difficult to tell whether she was joking or not.
“Anyway, everything here is cathedral this and cathedral that!! Everything from those handcuffs and these shackles! I guess I should have expected this from someone who worked on the security of the Tower of London. All of his techniques are so unnecessarily wonderful it makes my head spin! I wish he would think about the people who have to analyze this stuff!!”
Hearing the shop owner’s rant, Kanzaki’s hands suddenly froze in place.
She looked back at the analysis diagrams then carefully lined up a few of the restraints.
“I can’t believe this…”
“Ahn? What is it, Kanzaki?”
“These restraints were not created to be used as part of a cathedral.”
After lining up the restraints, Kanzaki performed the analysis toast once more.
The diagrams that appeared did not overlap each other.
As if they were pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, they fit together to an unnatural degree.
“It is the opposite. By combining the security of these restraints, he was creating blueprints identical to an existing cathedral! It is the same as acquiring a map of the layout of a mansion one is about to steal something from!!”
“Hey, wait a second. So you’re saying Ellasone disappeared in order to…”
“In order to attack an Anglican cathedral. He carefully inspected the cathedral under the pretense of delivering restraints, carried out the necessary preparations, and then disappeared once those were complete. He has created an elaborate miniature version with these restraints and has fully analyzed the security. He most likely knows every weakness. He would not have disappeared if he did not think he had a chance of success.”
“S-so where exactly is the cathedral he’s going to attack!?” asked the tour guide bracing herself, but Kanzaki stared directly at her.
“It is the place you went to.”
“St. Julian’s Cathedral in London. …If I recall, the bishop there was oddly worried about Ellasone’s disappearance and asked that you give a report.”
“Hey, Kanzaki. You don’t mean…”
“Yes, it seems those two have some kind of connection.”
The two warrior priests guarding the main entrance to St. Julian’s Cathedral did not let their focus waver. It may have been 3 in the morning, but proper security was more focused at that time than normal.
That was why they quickly noticed the change.
First, they noticed the man wielding a giant axe that was over 2 meters long. Next, they noticed that the axe held the role of a spiritual item, a tool used in magical spells.
The latter observation clinched it. It pushed them past simply acting as guards. In other words, they decided they had to kill the man before he attacked them.
The man, Ellasone, paid no heed to that.
He merely approached straight on and swung down the giant axe.
A heavy sound rang out.
One of the warrior priests thought he was dead, but he was surprised to find that he had not been sliced in two. It was quite the opposite. Despite the axe’s trajectory being one that would have severed his right shoulder and right leg in one blow, it strangely slipped right through him. …And rings made of a silver metal appeared along the areas it had passed through. His arm and leg. The metal rings that had appeared in those two places pulled toward each other like they were powerful magnets. As a result, the warrior priest’s body was bent unnaturally causing him to fall to the ground.
He finally cried out and the other warrior priest tried to bring his staff out at the ready.
But before he could, Ellasone wordlessly swung the giant axe horizontally. Metal rings bound the priest on both arms and his waist causing him to fall to the ground as well.
“Sorry I’m so late,” Ellasone said in a low voice as he looked up above as if he had just remembered something.
Just above the gate was a small statue that would report any intruders.
“You know why I’m going to kill you, right?”
Kanzaki Kaori charged out of the jeans shop and jumped straight up about 20 meters. She then started leaping from building to building. Getting to St. Julian’s Cathedral that way was faster than taking a car.
She could hear the tour guide’s voice coming from her cell phone.
“It seems something has happened at St. Julian’s Cathedral and the Anglican Church has been notified. Reinforcements should be there soon, but…”
“But Ellasone will likely have achieved his objective by then.”
She could already see the roof of the cathedral.
Kanzaki held her 2 meter sword and gritted her teeth as she leaped through the nighttime city.
The restraint craftsman Ellasone had once saved a normal girl’s life in more ways than one even if it had not entirely been his intention. But a certain truth became clear by the fact that he had disappeared of his own free will in order to attack St. Julian’s Cathedral.
(…In the end, was the salvation you gave that girl nothing more than that?)
Something bitter grew within her heart.
The fact that the girl was waiting for Ellasone was just too ridiculous given what was happening.
(Was it nothing more than something you gave up on partway through in order to carry out your own objective?)
“Hey,” said the jeans shop owner. “Don’t you find it odd? Even if it was an irregular incident for him, Ellasone still saved that kid. It just doesn’t seem like something someone who would be attacking a cathedral would do.”
“What if saving her was just something he did on a whim?”
It made her sick to say it, but she still denied the shop owner.
“You’re saying the bastard who prepared all those restraints and carefully analyzed the magical security of his target cathedral did that ‘on a whim’? If his attack plan was truly this important, he wouldn’t have saved that girl. It’s thanks to that that we were able to guess at his plan to attack the cathedral. If he knew it would get in the way of his plan to begin with, he wouldn’t have gotten involved.”
“…? Then what is Ellasone thinking? He’s abandoning the girl right now in order to attack St. Julian’s Cathedral.”
“What I’m saying is,” the shop owner carefully chose his words. “What if there is a connection between him saving that girl and his attack on the cathedral?”
Ellasone walked slowly through St. Julian’s Cathedral.
There was no illumination within the building and the faint light leaking in from outside allowed only silhouettes to be seen. The cathedral would normally have been wrapped in comfortable stillness like cold glass, but it had become a noisy battlefield filled with angry cries.
But there was no one who could stop him.
He had spent years making all the preparations necessary for the realization of his plan. Supplying Necessarius with anti-magician restraints and entering St. Julian’s Cathedral to deliver them had all been a part of those preparations.
He already knew how many guards there were and how they were equipped.
He knew the number, type, and layout of all the magical security items.
He had the ability needed to defeat them.
It was because he had thought everything through that Ellasone was able to say that no one could stop him.
The cathedral had over 500 magical devices and equipment used to stop intruders. They were supposed to cover each other’s weaknesses constructing a system with no blind spots.
Ellasone knew the system so perfectly that he was able to use those devices and equipment against them.
If he was just taking over the system, those in the cathedral would not have been having so much trouble. Basically, they would just have to avoid the traps they had set up themselves.
But Ellasone had disassembled the system set up in St. Julian’s Cathedral and had set up new traps. To those protecting the cathedral, they were unknown traps in unknown locations, so they had no way to avoid them. Their assumptions of where the traps should be were making them suffer even further.
Ellasone glanced around and all the doors locked tightly.
The passageways stretched on infinitely, the stairways looped eternally, and all of Ellasone’s enemies were utterly trapped.
Amid all the confusion, only Ellasone was headed accurately for his destination.
It was all going according to plan.
No irregular problems had occurred in the process of switching over from theory to reality. That was the result of his endlessly repeated simulations of breaking in using the miniature version of the magical security of the cathedral using the combination of those restraints.
Suddenly, all of the candles around him lit up.
The flames vibrated unnaturally and a vibration in the air created a voice.
It was the voice of the cardinal who waited in the deepest part of the cathedral.
“Are you here to kill me?”
“What else would I be here for?”
A young security guard stood before Ellasone. He had not breached the altered security. Instead, he had just happened to not be caught by it. Ellasone swung his giant axe and bound the man before continuing to speak.
“I’m sure you knew.”
“So it’s about that.” There was a slight hesitation in the cardinal’s voice. “But you received the benefits of that as well.”
“Yes, that’s true,” said Ellasone very, very quietly as he walked very, very slowly. “To be honest, I just couldn’t help but enjoy it way, way too much. That is why I was unable to forgive myself.”
Kanzaki broke into St. Julian’s Cathedral.
The cathedral’s door had been solid, but she had forced it open with the strength of a Saint. Kanzaki hurried inside without giving even a glance to the remnants of the gate that had collapsed inside.
“We do not have time to verify anything, so we have no proof, but there are many suspicions regarding him.”
Kanzaki frowned at those words from the tour guide.
“You are saying this cathedral’s bishop did something?”
“How do you think he rose to such a high position?” the tour guide replied to Kanzaki’s question. “The Anglican Church has the special anti-magician unit of Necessarius. It seems that bishop was rewarded for supplying a large number of personnel for Necessarius.”
“How is that suspicious?”
“…What if about 50% of the people he supplied had lost their parents in accidents or other incidents? And what if another 30% had been abandoned due to their parents being in debt?”
“You don’t mean…”
“As I said, these are nothing more than suspicions. There are no connections between each individual incident, but that bishop simply finds children like that too often. It is possible that he carries out some kind of ‘preliminary arrangements’ in order to gain personnel…”
Kanzaki was reminded of the circumstances surrounding that girl.
And she was reminded of Ellasone who she had become unnaturally attached to.
Was it possible that…?
“Ellasone may have known about some kind of trickery that we still do not know of,” continued the tour guide girl.
Kanzaki trailed off because she had noticed something moving within the dim cathedral.
Kanzaki stopped moving.
They did not move along the floor like normal.
They moved along the walls and ceiling.
Something like giant snakes glowing silver wriggled along. The metal snakes were over 15 cm thick and over 5 meters long. There were easily over 30 of the autonomous interception spiritual items and they were mercilessly crushing even the marble pillars after wrapping around them.
Their details were similar to the Mancatcher stag beetle Kanzaki had run into at the bus terminal.
“Gleipnir,” she muttered upon seeing the metal snakes.
With a single glance, Kanzaki determined what magic was being used.
It was a mysterious string from Norse mythology. It was a tool used to bind Fenrir, the beast that would devour Odin. It was normally easily bendable and easily stretchable, but once something was bound by it, it was said that not even the strongest power could break it.
“It is made of the footsteps of a cat, the roots of a mountain, the beard of a woman, the spit of a bird, the tendons of a bear, and the breath of a fish. However, each of those has no real meaning. It is a metaphor saying that it is made of materials that do not exist in this world,” said Kanzaki as if reciting something as she reached for the handle of her sword.
“Is it that much of a legendary item?”
“No. Basically, it was created from a material that they did not have the techniques to make at the time. Ellasone seems to have guessed that it was steel that has undergone complicated heat treatments.”
Other than the metal snakes, there were also giant octopuses and bats. It seemed the important part was for them to be made of magically manufactured steel and so Ellasone was not picky about what shape he made them.
Kanzaki sighed and actually grabbed the handle of her sword.
“C-can you slice through them?”
“If it was something that cannot be broken, then that chief god would not end up being devoured.”
The door opened silently.
The action was similar to that of a driver opening the back door of a high class black car for a rich girl, but the person who entered was clearly an attacker.
It was the restraint craftsman Ellasone.
Upon seeing his face, the old bishop started to stand up from the large chair behind a work desk. But Ellasone did not let him. With a slight movement of his index finger, he manipulated a charm made of pale white cowhide. Thin wires shot through the air and bound the bishop’s arms to the armrests of the chair.
“I would like to make you suffer as long as possible, but it looks like someone would get in my way if I don’t finish this quickly.”
“…Do you really think that bringing me pain will resolve all of this?”
“No. There is something I want to ask you first.”
The bishop started speaking, but his mouth was suddenly blocked. A new cowhide charm had transformed into a restraint. The instant Ellasone flicked his finger, something like a racehorse’s bit filled the bishop’s mouth.
“It’s quite simple. I want a clear answer as to whether you were buying and selling those children.”
“That project was not my idea. The entirety of the Anglican Church wa—gh!?”
An odd noise cut off the bishop’s words.
The bit that was as soft as a sponge had suddenly become as hard as steel and expanded as if trying to scrape out the bishop’s teeth. Ellasone spoke quietly to the bishop who could barely breathe much less speak.
“This is an item used for witch trials. It is a gag that only allows the wearer to speak the truth. …By the way, it grows in size each time you lie. Just like the fairy tale puppet’s growing nose. If you get too carried away, you could end up breaking your own jaw before long.”
The bishop’s jaw was already stretched to its limit. If it grew even 5 mm more, his jaw would likely dislocate. And Ellasone would likely not care even if the man’s jaw did dislocate. If necessary, he could just give the bishop something to write with.
“What? Is that not enough? Then I can use the gloves that constrict your fingers, the boots that apply pressure to your shin bones, the gear breastplate that bends your back, or…well, I have plenty of others. All of them have my guarantee of quality. You can enjoy them as much as you like.”
With the sound of grinding metal, the bishop lost freedom of his body bit by bit. Ellasone’s expression did not change even slightly as he spoke calmly to the bishop.
“Let me ask you again. How much did you have to do with the buying and selling of those children?”
“Th-that was my private project and it was not completed to a level where it could actually be practically used…”
That must have been the truth because the bit became soft like a sponge and allowed the bishop to speak. The restraints on his arms, legs, and back stopped causing him pain.
“Necessarius is an elite unit of those with true ability, but that makes it difficult to obtain the needed amount of personnel. Also, the contents of the missions can cause members to be lost. …As a result, a rapid change in the numbers in the unit could cause a major change to the unit’s overall ability to fight.”
“So you prepared a system to obtain the needed amount of personnel when it was necessary? …You set up children from civilian backgrounds to be magicians knowing full well that most of them would not survive.”
“As long as the main force’s quality and numbers were increasing while the children died, that was all that mattered.”
The restraints did not stop the bishop from speaking.
Most likely, that was the truth. Ellasone frowned.
Without noticing that frown, the bishop continued.
“There were various methods, but all of the children taken in by the Anglican Church had one condition in common. In other words, they had either lost or been abandoned by their parents and had lost anyone to believe in. They naturally desired a purpose in life, so when magic was suggested as a possible answer, they would head in that direction on their own. …You merely came into contact with one of those children. Well, in the end, you presented the option of magic to that girl…Seachel, was it?”
“It was enjoyable, wasn’t it?” It looked like the bishop attempted to twist up the edges of his restrained lips. “Making sure it felt that way was my job. Being seen as a hero by a child gave you pleasure. You enjoyed it and enjoyed it and enjoyed it and enjoyed it while receiving the negative benefits of it…and now you’re coming to judge me? We’re the same. You would not have acted as you have otherwise. You were just that hooked on my services.”
Ellasone did not deny it.
He then poured strength into his hands holding the giant axe that was over 2 meters long.
“Didn’t I tell you? I enjoyed it way, way, way too much. And that is why I cannot forgive myself.”
An odd sound rang out.
All at once, something like a thin wire bound the bishop from the top of his chest to the bottom of his waist. It was not something to merely keep a human from moving. With tremendous power, it was digging deeply into the flesh of the bishop as if to crush the basic shape of his body.
In an instant, a few bones broke, blood vessels burst, and tears ran through internal organs.
The bishop’s mouth flapped open and closed and something red mixed in with the foam inside, but Ellasone’s expression did not change even slightly.
“Ellasone!!” yelled a female voice and the door was thrown open.
Rolling in through the door were the giant snakes Ellasone had left to slow any pursuers down. Their heads were cleanly severed.
Ellasone looked up just in time to see a girl with a ponytail step inside the room.
It was Kanzaki Kaori.
“I have a general understanding of the situation. Necessarius does not wish to acquire personnel in that way and we never authorized its use. The bishop will eventually be properly judged. There is no reason for you to continue doing this!”
“I see,” he muttered, but then he shook his head. “But that is not enough.”
“Are you saying you will not be satisfied unless you kill him with your own hands?”
“No. It’s true that this will be more or less resolved if I hand this bishop over to you. But that would still leave someone who would not be judged.”
Kanzaki frowned at Ellasone’s words.
At first, she thought there must have been someone besides the bishop who was truly behind it, but she realized she was wrong shortly thereafter.
She realized this because Ellasone pointed at his own chest with his thumb.
“Even if that bishop is taken down, that still leaves me.”
“You don’t mean…”
“You said you had a ‘general’ understanding of the situation,” Ellasone said quietly. “Then do you know this? The restraint craftsman Ellasone did not learn of the bishop’s project after ignorantly taking in that child. He knew of the project to begin with and he knew of the circumstances surrounding the child, but he still took her in.”
“I intended to kill this bishop from the beginning. I believed that the people who received the negative benefits of his project were rotten to the core. But when I actually got involved, I realized that I was one of those rotten people.”
“Dammit,” Kanzaki cursed and gritted her teeth.
Ellasone had likely truly intended to save that girl.
When he had managed to save the scared child from the human traffickers, he had likely been truly relieved. When Seachel had escaped from the child protection agency again and again and he had found her in the city at night, he had probably been overcome with relief. As he had attempted to distance the girl from the world of magic and restraints and had been troubled by the fact that she had continued to chase after him, he had likely been glad somewhere in his heart.
He had known from the beginning that all of that was going just as the black-hearted bishop had planned for it to.
He had known and he had tried to stop it, but he had been unable to change anything.
That was why he had come to truly put an end to those negative benefits.
He had come to free Seachel’s life from the curse known as Ellasone.
He had finally taken action.
“Funny, isn’t it?” Ellasone said. “This bishop was the one that made all of the preliminary arrangements, but I was the one that gave her the final push. It had already been inputted into that girl…into Seachel. The script saying that I would protect her no matter what had been completely inputted within her. After that, she would follow that purpose in life and chase after me no matter where I went. No matter where I flee on this planet, she would follow me until I died.”
In other words, Ellasone planned on completely saving Seachel with his own death.
Kanzaki thought for a bit and then gave up trying to find material to deny him with.
She had an idea what had happened.
Ellasone had been determined to fight that bishop from the beginning. Afterwards, he had come into contact with Seachel and had known just how twisted it was. That man had struggled to delete the “purpose in life” that had been inputted in the girl for dark reasons. If he could not do so, he would just be playing right into the bishop’s hands.
“It may be true that your relationship with Seachel was twisted in some way. Every human has a full range of emotions and things they like and dislike, but when Seachel spoke of you, she was oddly lacking in those things. It was like someone from a cheap drama or movie.”
“But if you truly want to correct that and if you truly want to bring back Seachel’s humanity including the dirty or unsightly parts, then you cannot simply run away here!! No matter how difficult a situation this is, you should not be doing anything that would make Seachel cry!!”
Ellasone fell silent.
While gazing at the movements of his fingertips, Kanzaki truly felt that she did not want to cross blades with that man.
Finally Ellasone spoke.
“Even if those tears were inputted by a third party?”
“In that case, you need to make those tears real.”
For an instant, just an instant, the strength left Ellasone’s grip on his giant axe.
Immediately afterwards, a tremendous noise rang out. The thin wires binding the bishop’s body dug in even further. They reached the bone and the man’s eyes rolled around in his head. The whites of his eyes became died red and red tears flowed from his eyelids.
“If you do not kill me here, the source here will soon be killed.”
As he spoke, Ellasone slowly held his giant axe up in both hands. It was the medium for the spiritual item Gleipnir. If he swung it down, Kanzaki’s body would immediately be bound by the most suitable restraints for those parts of the body. Depending on the situation, it could be with such force that her flesh and joints were torn apart.
That was not enough. Kanzaki swung her head to the side just slightly. She was one of the fewer than 20 Saints in the world. No matter how strong and detailed a spiritual item he held and no matter how complex a spell he put together, it would not work on her. She could see a fired bullet and then evade it, so she could not be stopped by handcuffs or shackles.
In a battle of chasing or fleeing, he might be able to manage, but in a battle of defeat or be defeated, Ellasone could not defeat Kanzaki Kaori no matter what.
It was possible that Ellasone had realized that fact.
That may have been why his expression did not change even as he saw the grave expression on Kanzaki’s face.
“My disappearance, got rid of all the problems. I doubt Seachel’s life changed much.”
“True,” Kanzaki admitted. “But it is not an issue of efficiency. No matter what you or those around her try to say, that girl is still waiting for the man known as Ellasone.”
The sound of creaking metal came from Ellasone’s hands.
He followed his own conviction and did not stop to the end.
Two shadows crossed and a single roar exploded out.
The result of that battle is not something that needs to be explained.
When Kanzaki left through the broken main entrance, the jeans shop owner was waiting in a car for her. The tour guide girl was in the passenger seat, so Kanzaki circled around to the back seat.
“How about you get a license?”
“…When I think about the fact that I can run faster, I lose all motivation to actually try.”
They must have bought a late night snack because the smell of oily foods like hamburgers and fries hung in the car. The tour guide girl was even then tossing a chicken nugget in her mouth.
As she licked ketchup from her fingers, the tour guide spoke a bit anxiously.
“What is going to happen to Ellasone now?”
“I don’t know. No matter how you try to smooth this over, he still attacked St. Julian’s cathedral, defeated all of the guards, and bared his fangs against the bishop in charge. Normally, I would think there would be no way of avoiding an Anglican trial.”
As he spoke, the shop owner looked back at Kanzaki through the rearview mirror.
His expression looked somehow cheerful.
Kanzaki realized he was reading her actions and averted her gaze before speaking.
“It is true he cannot avoid that, but if I write a report saying he performed an undercover investigation of the bishop’s illicit means of acquiring personnel, his situation might end up not being so bad after all.”
The tour guide girl’s face lit up at that, but Kanzaki’s face retained a bit of weariness.
“What is salvation?” she muttered while looking out the window.
“Why would I know? We aren’t the ones that can know that. Seachel is the only one that can determine whether she was truly saved or not,” the shop owner responded to that troublesome question while adding in a sigh or two.
He operated the steering wheel as he continued.
“There are only two things we can know. We know that shitty means of gathering personnel by manipulating the misfortune of children will no longer be used and we know that Seachel will smile once more if Ellasone returns.”
Suddenly, the tour guide’s cell phone rang.
She frantically wiped her slender fingers on a napkin and pulled out her phone.
After exchanging only a few words, she covered the phone with her hand and looked over at Kanzaki.
“It seems we have our next orders from Necessarius.”
“You heard the lady,” the jeans shop owner said while moving his fingers across the car’s steering wheel. “We may not know what salvation is, but it looks like someone else is asking us for it.”
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