Toaru Majutsu no Index SS: Kanzaki

Chapter 2: When Will We Outgrow Tropical Countries? YMIR’s_ocean.
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Chapter 2: When Will We Outgrow Tropical Countries? YMIR’s_ocean.

Part 1

I will now explain the contents of the requested investigation.

We have received information that a magic cabal has invaded a solitary island in Micronesia and is preparing a spiritual item that will cause large scale destruction. Head to that island, destroy the spiritual item, stop their plan, and subdue the leader.

If you capture the leader alive, you will receive additional compensation.

However, there is no absolute need for the leader to survive. Resolve the incident in the most suitable way given the situation. The bare minimum requirements are to completely destroy the spiritual item being prepared and to completely remove anyone from the island who has the skills to repair the destroyed spiritual item.

“And so we’ve come to the Pacific Ocean,” muttered the jeans shop owner as if in greeting to the scenery.

They had just finished checking in to the small hotel adjacent to the airport.

Next to him, Kanzaki sighed heavily which did not match the tropical sunlight in the slightest.

“This is a job, so don’t look so displeased,” she said.

“If it’s a job then pay me. How is it right to send me into a battle fierce enough to require a Saint and yet not pay me!?” The shop owner shook his head and pulled out his waterproof mobile device. “How many times do I have to tell you? I sell jeans for a living. While we’re doing this, the work is piling up at my shop in London!! Look at this email. Saten-chan, the middle school girl, is sending all sorts of complaints about her jeans not being sent out. She’s no longer holding back on using emoticons either!!”

It seemed he could manage the order data on his mobile device, but he had to be in London to package and ship the jeans. However, that was the shop owner’s problem. It may sound cold, but as a magician, it was none of Kanzaki’s concern.

She looked over at the airport that was a bit away.

It was an international airport, but it was not a huge facility with countless asphalt runways cutting across complexly and with everything from a large shopping mall to hotels within it.

It had a single runway.

And it was not paved. It was covered only in the white sand characteristic of beaches.

The tallest building was the control tower, but there was not even 10 meters to the top of the antenna.

The lobby only had the bare minimum of an inspection area for those entering the country and devices for inspecting luggage. In fact, the airport put most of its efforts into shipping cargo rather than carrying passengers.

The adjacent hotel was of a similar grade to the airport.

But then, any tourists who were going out of their way to visit that island would probably rather stay in a place that was distanced from being “new” or “comfortable”.

The blue ocean.

The white sand.

“I hate you people from Necessarius because you get your travel expenses and salary paid from British taxes. And you even get a chance at a bonus here. …I can’t help but be jealous since I’m being dragged around everywhere and I have to pay for my own plane tickets.”

It was the kind of tropical island that made it seem like a crime to put any manmade objects on it. Even so, the culture there had developed to the point of having transportation routes to even smaller islands using boats and the like. Apparently, there were even villages on those islands where the system of money was meaningless.

“Don’t you think it was going too far to borrow an Academy City supersonic passenger plane?” asked Kanzaki Kaori.

But the shop owner did not think too deeply about it.

“If they’re willing to let us use it, I don’t see any reason to turn them down. And it would’ve taken half a day to get here on a normal plane. This situation is urgent, right? Well, only Academy City’s planes can fly at 7000 kph.”

“Well, yes, but…”

“And we would’ve been in trouble without a charter plane and use of a special gate. Your ridiculously huge sword would normally get you caught at the airport gate.”

“Uuh…” Kanzaki flinched.

She used a katana called Shichiten Shichitou that was over 2 meters long as a weapon. Both its sharp edge and magical value were truly top class, but its size made it difficult to carry around.

She may have been a bit unwilling to admit defeat because Kanzaki pouted her lips and spoke.

“Anyway, even if we are on a tropical island, aren’t you just a little too cheerful? You’ve opened 2 bottles of champagne since we checked in.”

“What are you, stupid? Or are you just flustered because I just hit you where it hurts?”

The shop owner made no attempt to hide the fact that his face was slightly flushed due to the alcohol.

“I’m getting drunk on purpose. This is Micronesia. We’re right smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean a bit above Australia. And this island isn’t like Hawaii or Guam where a lot of white people live. In order to blend in, I have to look like a rich but easily fooled tourist. As an Asian, you stand out here, too. What would an Amakusa do in a situation like this? As one of the descendants of the Kakure Kirishitan, you should be more knowledgeable in how to hide yourself than me.”

“Kh…”

Not only had she gotten flustered and dug herself even deeper into the ground, but now she was having her specialty field attacked, so Kanzaki was doubly and triply humiliated.

As she no longer had the leeway left to worry about her official position or plans and she was completely unwilling to admit defeat, Kanzaki sent one of her primary complaints at the shop owner.

“But is it really necessary for me to wear a swimsuit?”

Kanzaki twisted her body slightly in an attempt to escape the shop owner’s gaze, but the jeans shop owner showed no sign of caring.

“Why would a tourist come to this island other than for water sports? If you don’t like it, you can always wrap a towel around your head and say you’re the captain of a tuna boat. In that case, you would need to pour strength into your Saintly muscles and keep your arms and legs flexed at all times so you look like someone from a gekiga.”

“What…!? So I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t!?”

“See? I don’t want to turn you into such a mismatched girl who only appeals to a weird niche. Really, due to everything that happened, there just wasn’t time for proper preparations. How were you planning to deal with this if I hadn’t prepared a change of clothes to help you blend in?”

“…Well, I can’t exactly say I’m satisfied with what you chose,” Kanzaki complained while pulling at various parts of her swimsuit with her fingertips.

She was wearing a mostly blue one piece swimsuit. However, that was only if you looked at it head on. There was almost no material on the back. It only had bikini-like strings fastening the important parts to ensure the swimsuit did not fall off. Overall, it was like an escalated version of a racing swimsuit with an open back. In other words, it was sexy.

The 2 meter long Japanese sword was camouflaged inside a waterski case along with the skis themselves. The skis were quite large. Combined with Kanzaki’s calm expression, they gave the impression that she was quite skilled. In fact, her atmosphere made it seem more unnatural for her to be holding something intended for a beginner.

“What is this swimsuit?”

“It’s called a monokini. It’s a variety of bikini. They’re fairly rare, but you can’t properly blend in as a tourist unless you have something that isn’t too plain and doesn’t stand out too much.”

“…I have a feeling there is a subjective reason for this beyond functionality and logic.”

“Ha ha ha. Isn’t it exciting how much like a naked apron it is?”

“Curse you!! So the primary reason was your tastes!!”

Kanzaki reached inside the waterski case and was about to pull her sword from its scabbard. The shop owner started to reach up in preparation to catch the blade in his hands, but then he realized that wouldn’t help if the blade came from the side.

That was when the tour guide came walking over in a pink one piece swimsuit and beach sandals.

“C’mon, we have to go asking around, so don’t make any suspicious actions. Once a rumor starts spreading on a small island like this, the residents’ suspicions will keep them from telling us anything.”

“…”

Kanzaki was not really listening to the girl. Instead, she was focusing on the swimsuit she was wearing.

After a few seconds, she turned hate-filled eyes in the shop owner’s direction.

“So you can prepare normal swimsuits!!”

“You fool!! You’re the sexy onee-san type!! How could I put a cute and frilly one piece like that on your plump body that’s large in all the right places!? That kind of thing is only seen when you make a hot housewife wear buruma in a punishment ga—bghah!?”

There were so many different things that had pissed Kanzaki off in that statement that she had knocked the jeans shop owner away harder than usual.

A Saint was someone who had bodily characteristics similar to the Son of God and could therefore use a portion of his power, but if the Son of God knew that power was being used for something like that, he may have cried out in sorrow.

Part 2

Uphill Island.

That was the name of the island that Kanzaki and the others had come to and the island where the magicians they were after were likely operating in secret.

The tour guide girl flipped through her small notepad.

“The island is about 17 kilometers around and it is only about 2 kilometers across south to north. It seems it was originally just a rock about 3 meters across, but a submarine volcano erupted nearby 50 years ago which caused the earth’s crust to swell up rapidly.”

“Is its name in English rather than in the local language because it is a relatively new island that was originally recorded by European geologists?”

“Incidentally, the surrounding islands do not hold good feelings for this one,” said the tour guide girl as she fidgeted with the edge of a page of the notepad. “This island was created in a short period of time by a rapid change in the earth’s crust. As it was born in an irregular way, it seems to give them an ominous and creepy impression. The airport is on this island because the surrounding islands did not wish to destroy their own nature but they still wished to receive the benefits of airplanes. In the same way, they have shoved all the bothersome things onto Uphill Island.”

“Now that’s an environment that’ll be harsh on outsiders. And the background behind people moving from the surrounding islands to such an ominous place sounds complex.” A cynical smile appeared on the shop owner’s face. “They may put on a smile for tourists, but we may run into trouble if we get too involved.”

“…So this vague ominous and creepy impression has become the core of discord among the surrounding islands. What is the religious situation like here? Or are they the type that are secular but are vaguely afraid of spirit photography?”

“It seems all of the islands in this area originally had an indigenous religion in common. It was a polytheistic religion that believed in the blessings of the ocean. But now a fair bit of Christian culture has been mixed in likely due to the effects of the Age of Exploration. Pieces of art showing a mixture between the oar of their sea god and the cross have been seen.” The tour guide girl sighed there. “However, some kind of sudden change occurred in Uphill Island’s culture. A teaching that those on this island are good and those outside of the island are evil is spreading and no equivalent teaching has been seen on the surrounding islands.”

“This island suddenly rose to the surface 50 years ago. They have likely received discriminatory treatment from the foundation of the village to the present. Is it related to that?”

The tour guide looked around and then nodded slightly in response to Kanzaki’s question.

She knew that was a topic that was best not to let the people of the island hear them discussing.

“Most of the island’s residents are very wary due to the discriminatory treatment they have received. To put it bluntly, I am not sure outsiders like us can actually get any information from them. It seems we would need to live here for over a decade to get them to open up to us.”

She was right, but Kanzaki and the shop owner did not particularly care.

“There are ways of dealing with situations like that.”

“Getting people to open up to you isn’t the only way to get information out of them.”

“?”

Part 3

There was a magician on Uphill Island.

Apparently, that magician was creating a large scale temple or ceremonial grounds in order to carry out some piece of exceedingly dangerous magic.

The magic must have been quite bad indeed for Necessarius to send out Kanzaki Kaori, one of the fewer than 20 Saints in the world.

For example, it could easily be enough to destroy a town or village in a single strike.

If it was not of that level, Kanzaki would not have been sent out. Her strategic cost was set at that level from the beginning.

There were two things she had to do.

She had to find the magician himself or whatever it was he was preparing.

And she had to utterly destroy one or both of them.

The three of them split up and regrouped after about 7 hours.

The scenery was surrounded in the orange of evening.

They were still in their swimsuits and were gathered in a tourist oriented barbecue space prepared on the white beach. It was made so it could be rented for certain periods of time. It stank of the kind of place that the local people did not use but plenty of tourists looking to have some fun gathered at.

The tour guide girl looked down at something roasting on a metal skewer.

“…Are pineapples something you cook before eating?”

“You put them in Chinese sweet and sour pork.”

The jeans shop owner sounded exhausted because he had put a lot of effort into removing the pineapple’s thick skin with a knife.

Meanwhile, Kanzaki stared in shock at those two who were focused solely on the food.

“Shall we report on our progress first?”

“Ugh, it was a huge pain in the ass,” said the shop owner waving his hand back and forth. “When I was speaking with a worker at a souvenir shop, an old woman with a kitchen knife was glaring at me from within the shop while the show girl just stood there smiling. It was like something out of one of Japan’s Yokomizo mysteries.”

“It was more or less the same for me,” Kanzaki said smoothly. “They seemed more hostile than wary. But at the same time, it was not like they were simply trying to randomly pick a fight. It seemed like the atmosphere where a girl like me would get into more trouble than you.”

The tour guide girl looked confused as she ate the hot pineapple.

“Umm, I left this to you two since you are experts at this, but were you able to get any information from them like that?”

“Getting an honest answer back from a straight question is actually rather rare.” Kanzaki reached for a skewer covered in meat and vegetables. “After all, we do not have any official authority like the police. Well, technically we do, but it isn’t something we can just announce to normal people. With normal people, we cannot do anything about it if they evade the questions.”

“The perverts at Necessarius do not trust what people say all that much. After all, there are bitter memories of lots of people being killed due to the ‘confessions’ forced out using torture during the witch hunts. Now, they have established methods of gathering information from silence.”

“There is a difference between information you truly do not know and information you know but are hiding. …We of course cannot see through expert liars, but they were not that skilled.”

The three of them continued that dangerous conversation while eating that food that was covered in only salt and pepper and would likely make a good memory for a trip to a tropical country.

“You mentioned before that the indigenous religion had some Christian culture mixed in, right? Well, from the residents’ manner of speaking, I have detected a hint of a cargo cult as well.”

“?”

The tour guide frowned and the shop owner sighed before answering.

“The term originally comes from an island well south of here. It was a religion created by Pacific islanders that were persecuted by the European countries during the 16th century. Their doctrine said that it was not right for the Europeans to have such wonderful tools and that those tools must have been gifts that the gods had intended to distribute evenly but the Europeans had stolen.”

“They ended up taking back the things the white men were monopolizing because they felt the gifts should be everyone’s and they had to make things even.”

The tour guide started to understand but then she started shaking her head.

“But Uphill Island only rose to the surface due to a change in the earth’s crust 50 years ago. I thought they did not have anything to do with traditions that had ancient roots.”

“The main cargo cult continued even until after the war. And well…this island’s cargo cult has been altered somewhat. They feel that it is not right for only the other islands to get favorable treatment. They feel that the other islands have stolen the gifts that they should have gotten from the god that should bless this newly born island.”

“By the way, the ‘other islands’ refers to everything other than Uphill Island. Everything from Antarctica to Eurasia is treated as an island. Over the course of 50 years of discrimination, their values have become nicely cemented in place.”

It seemed there was a rather powerful complex at the roots of the island.

And…

“A lot of them seem to see this cargo cult as just an abstract idea…but there are also those who look like they want weapons and power with which to carry out that abstract idea using concrete actions.”

“They are avoiding getting into an actual argument despite their hostility because they fear having the plan they are preparing being destroyed if some problem were to occur.”

Kanzaki’s words made the tour guide’s breath catch in her throat.

“The plan they are preparing…?” She seemed reluctant to continue and she chose her words carefully. “Are you saying all of the islanders know about magic?”

“I’m sure only a few understand that kind of mystical phenomenon can actually occur, but they definitely have a vague sense of expectation. Even if they do not know about magic, they know that a powerful weapon is being prepared somewhere.”

“It’s odd,” the shop owner said. “If you stay on this small island, a record will remain in the hotel. The residents are much too hostile to let someone stay at their houses and staying outdoors would stand out in its own way. …And yet there is no sign of the magician who is supposed to be here. There isn’t even a record of him staying at the hotel under a fake name.”

“Well, magic can be used to thoroughly hide one’s presence. Is it still too hard to imagine that not a single person has seen this magician?”

“It’s a waste of effort. Preparing a large scale temple or spiritual item will be taxing enough as it is. If this magician was also using concealing magic 24 hours a day without resting for even a second, would he be able to give his full attention to his work? He would complete his preparations much more quickly if he just created a fake identity and stayed at the hotel.”

“The magician is staying somewhere on this island and carrying out his or her work. It would be best to assume the residents of the island are hiding him. Whether he is actually staying in the hotel or in someone’s house is unknown,” Kanzaki said before taking a sip of orange juice that appeared to be from concentrate and was likely intended for tourists. “What exactly do you think this magician is preparing?”

“Eh? Well…” The tour guide girl thought for a bit. “This person came all the way here to do this, so maybe it has something to do with the cargo cult unique to Uphill Island…”

“Uphill Island’s imitator cargo cult is basically an outlet for the complex caused by the discord with neighboring islands in recent years. Compared to other islands’ cargo cults, it has little history behind it and does not have much magical merit. Necessarius would not send a Saint to the other side of the world for something like that.”

“Then does it have something to do with the indigenous polytheistic religion that has been passed down in this area for ages? I believe it was centered on a prayer to artificially receive the blessing of the sea.”

“It’s not that either. The important items for that indigenous religion are spread across the surrounding islands more than on Uphill Island. As Kanzaki said, the residents of this island are normal people who are safely distanced from magic. That also means that none of the people here are that religion’s equivalent of a priest. …That may be part of the reason why Uphill Island was looked down on by the other islands and ended up supporting themselves with their cargo cult.”

Upon hearing the shop owner’s words, the tour guide looked even more confused.

Kanzaki sighed.

“It is related to the Christianity that entered during the Age of Exploration.”

“?”

“It is not the indigenous religion and it is not the cargo cult, so that just leaves the foundation. …And that makes the higher ups’ actions make more sense. Great destruction is going to be carried out by their own Christian techniques rather than with some magic from a religion they have nothing to do with. I can see why they would send out a Saint in that case.”

“Our selfish predecessors from the Age of Exploration may have left a parting gift…or rather, some kind of immovable relic.”

“B-but...” The tour guide girl sounded forlorn. “Uphill Island only rose to the surface 50 years ago. The Age of Exploration was centuries ago. The island did not exist back then. How were they supposed to leave something here?”

“We can use that fact as a hint,” Kanzaki immediately replied. “Uphill Island was originally a rock about 3 meters across, remember? In that case, whatever our predecessors from the Age of Exploration did here, it had to have been on that rock.”

Part 4

Uphill Island had risen to surface due to a change in the earth’s crust caused by the eruption of a submarine volcano 50 years before. Before that, that area of the sea had been very dangerous with countless rocks sticking up to within a meter of the water’s surface. Those rocks had torn holes in the bottom of ships that had gone out to fish at night and many people had drowned. That may have been an additional reason for Uphill Island to be considered ominous and creepy.

During that time, a small rock only 3 meters across had stuck up within that dangerous area. Their predecessors from the Age of Exploration had left something there. It was possible that something was the treasure from a ship the rocks had torn a hole in and was starting to sink. Or they may have left a sign to show that they had conquered even that dangerous area that had killed so many and that even the local islanders feared.

The orange of twilight was clear in the sky.

Kanzaki looked at the scenery before her.

(There really is nothing here.)

She muttered that honest impression but only in her heart.

That area that had once been filled with seawater had become an expanse of land just like the other parts of the island. It looked more like a dried up lake than it did a land of blessings.

Was it even correct to call that area Uphill Island?

It was probably related to when the island rose to the surface, but the area Kanzaki was in was separated by seawater like a broken cookie. The seawater bisecting the land was only about a meter across and 20 centimeters deep, but the area on the other side could still officially be classified as a different island.

There was no village in that area that could be called a small separate island. There were no paved roads either. The area was nothing but white sand and black rocks. Even the vegetation was sparse. That may have helped add to the dried up lake image.

The jeans shop owner and the tour guide girl were not there.

As the odds were high that she would make contact with the magician, the rest lay solely with Kanzaki. Her companions had their own special skills, but they would likely just get in her way when came down to a straight fight. She had no choice but to fight alongside them when it came to a sudden fight, but it was more efficient to make sure she was in a situation where she could fully wield her powers as a Saint if she was bringing the fight to someone else.

She looked around.

Kanzaki had a long Japanese sword hidden inside a water ski case as well as the skis themselves. She was also wearing the swimsuit meant to help her blend into the background. She spotted her target without much difficulty.

A black rock stuck straight up in the middle of that area that otherwise gave an impression of being completely flat. It was about 3 meters across and 5 meters high. The island was said to have suddenly risen up due to a submarine volcano, but it had likely only risen a few meters.

That black rock had been the only part of the island sticking up from the surface for thousands of years.

Someone was crouched down atop it.

They were likely carrying out some kind of “work”.

Kanzaki felt the person looked like a powerful beast standing silently atop the rock.

The person was a girl of about 10.

She was not a local person. She seemed to have a bit of a tan, but she was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed white girl. Her clothes were also clearly not those of the locals. She was wearing what looked like a short dress, but Kanzaki noticed that the crest of a tailor with a British royal warrant was unassumingly embroidered near the hem of the skirt.

“…A British magician of all things. Just a Christian relic of the Age of Exploration did not seem persuasive enough to me, but this makes more sense. I can truly see why I was dispatched now.”

“Who are you?” asked the girl in a quiet voice.

Kanzaki did not respond and continued from where she had left off.

“Since you’re also a British magician, I assume you know why I was dispatched. And since you are working to reactivate a Christian relic brought here during the Age of Exploration, I cannot just treat you like a mere child.”

“…”

“There is no need for us to fight, but that is really up to you. Once they have been determined to be hostile, Necessarius will work to defeat a magician with any means necessary regardless of the age or gender of said magician.”

That also meant that if the girl showed no clear signs of hostility and obeyed, they would not have to fight…but had the girl understood that much?

Kanzaki naturally reached for the water ski case and the girl narrowed her eyes slightly.

“I see. In that case, I will have to deal with this seriously as well.”

As soon as she heard the girl’s words, Kanzaki felt something unpleasant run by under her skin.

“…”

The five fingers of Kanzaki’s right hand entered the case as smoothly as if they were separate beings. She made preparations to get in at least seven strikes before the girl had time to pull out a spiritual item to use as a weapon, chant a spell, or make a seal with her fingertips.

Theoretically, it should have been enough.

And yet something like a black stain appeared within Kanzaki Kaori’s heart. If Necessarius’s information was correct, that girl was putting together a massively destructive spiritual weapon and it was highly possible that weapon was completely under her control. If that was true, the girl before her eyes would have power greatly exceeding the individual level. She would have the power to blow away a mountain range and turn it into a giant crater with a single command.

No.

It would actually be odd if she didn’t have power on that level.

If she did not, a Saint like Kanzaki would not have been dispatched.

In other words, the girl had that much value and was that dangerous.

Kanzaki naturally strengthened her grip on the handle of the blade as it lay within its scabbard.

She needed to calculate the timing with which the girl would bring out the controller for the massively destructive spiritual item.

And…

In that tense moment as Kanzaki prepared for battle, the girl spoke from atop the rock.

“But that’s only if this piece of junk was really a Christian relic.”

Kanzaki almost let out a questioning voice.

Kanzaki continued to remain prepared for a fight, but the girl remained crouched over and pointed next to her as if indicating a seat next to her.

“C’mere.”

“…”

It could have been a trap.

Just to make sure, Kanzaki used her fingertips to surround the girl with seven wires before using the leg power of a Saint to jump up on the rock. The girl did not react. Kanzaki returned the wires to herself and looked where the girl was pointing.

“This is…?”

“Do these look like Christian symbols?”

The girl was pointing at something carved into the rock. They were special symbols constructed of almost entirely straight lines. They were most likely runes.

And they most likely had no magical meaning.

It was nothing more than a linguistic diagram. It was something like the Japanese A-I-U-E-O diagram. Next to each of the individual characters was a primitive cave painting-like mark resembling a simplified cow, torch, or whatever. Those likely signified what the characters meant.

“It’s Norse.”

“I can’t be! It’s true the Vikings had the sailing technology needed to discover the Americas before Columbus, but they were not at the level needed to get from Europe to Micronesia!!”

“No, not that. This was brought here by sailors during the Age of Exploration,” said the girl as she shook her head. “It was not just the islands on the Pacific that were persecuted during the Age of Exploration. Fleets of ships would arrive at places, utterly destroy their culture, and force the people there to join the Christian Church. Central and South America are the most well known examples… You’re Japanese, right? Well, your country was not one of the ones that ended up completely subjugated.”

“…”

“When the European Christians gained the ability to sail to distant lands, they started to spread very quickly. Yet in the areas known today as Finland and Sweden, Norse mythology was widely believed in.”

The girl was wearing gloves so thin that they were only noticeable up close and she traced her finger across the runes carved into the rock through them.

“This was a method of resistance against that unwanted conversion. When Scandinavia was overrun by Christianity, they lost their right to freely worship their own gods. That was why they secretly joined the crew of a ship and left behind their last piece of defiance by leaving their faith behind in an unknown land that had not yet fallen under control of Christianity. They knew it would fail more often than not, but they still desperately left this behind praying it would leave a deep impression with someone who would sympathize with their culture.”

Kanzaki felt uncomfortable for some reason.

She was reminded of fools entering a graveyard where the deceased rested for no other reason than to test their courage.

The runes carved into the rock and the crude drawings next to them showed just how desperate the people who had carved them had been. And during the Age of Exploration that island had been nothing more than a 3 meter rock. Most likely, the Norse believers who had carved those runes had been afraid the Christians would destroy the carvings if they found them. That was why they had been forced to carve them in a place like that.

Kanzaki looked back at the girl’s face.

“Then you are…?”

“I do not have any special attachment to Norse mythology,” responded the girl. “I am simply investigating the traces of how much of an effect our religion had on cultures during the Age of Exploration. Central America, South America, India after investigating all those places, I have come to understand something.”

“…”

“Western historians write that their cultures came to an end due to invasions, but that is not true. It is true that they lost on a military front, but they did not give in on the cultural front. Even if the people of those cultures appeared to believe in Christianity, many of them hid symbols of their own religions, fused ideas, and made it so only others who knew of it could understand it. In other words, they encrypted their own culture in order to save it.”

The fact that someone would say that might have been a sort of salvation for those who had been overrun at the time.

The girl most likely did not think that she was giving any kind of salvation and she most likely did not think that she could give it so easily. But that was why it seemed there was a different kind of power in the words that naturally came from her mouth rather than being given in some kind of overblown speech.

After a bit of silence, Kanzaki finally relaxed the hand that held her sword’s grip.

There did not seem to be any danger.

“So, what will you do?” asked the girl. “The detailed excavation work for the runes left from the Age of Exploration is only about 50% done. If a long drawn out battle were to occur here, the unexcavated relic might be destroyed.”

“Kh.”

The girl’s words made it sound as if Kanzaki were grave robbing.

She then asked a simple question to Kanzaki.

“Is there still any reason for an Anglican magician to eliminate me?”

“If what you have said is true, there is no reason for us to fight. But…”

As Kanzaki spoke, she quickly moved her fingers.

A wire wrapped around the girl’s neck and a small white charm hung down like it was a necklace. The girl looked down at her own chest.

“?”

“It is something like a tracking device,” Kanzaki explained. “It allows me to monitor your location and your use of magic power. You appear to be innocent, but that means there is a good possibility of another magician being on this island. I would like for you to wear that until I find this other magician. …Essentially, it gives you an alibi. Even if an unnatural phenomenon occurs on this island, I can confirm that you were not related to it using this.”

“I see,” responded the girl simply.

She did not seem very interested in the fact that she was a suspect.

(So this wasn’t it. …But everywhere but this rock was pushed up by the change in the earth’s crust. Was there something like an undersea temple or was a special spiritual item brought over from a different island? I might need to start this investigation over from square one in those cases.)

Just as Kanzaki was sighing over how long the investigation was going to take, the girl suddenly spoke.

“You seem to think there is some kind of massively destructive spiritual item hidden on this island, but do you have any idea what effects it has?”

“…It would be easier to search for it if I knew what it was,” Kanzaki hesitantly admitted.

Without looking at Kanzaki, the girl traced her fingers across the runes.

“It probably has something to do with the ocean.”

“So something to do with the great flood…with Noah’s Ark?”

“You can find similar stories of a great flood damaging the world in religions across the world. And that includes the indigenous religion here.” the girl stared Kanzaki straight in the eye. “It is something that is deeply related to why Uphill Island is seen as ominous by the surrounding islands.”

“What…?”

“However, I’m not saying a magical construction is embedded in the island itself. …This island rose to the surface due to a change in the earth’s crust, right? But the change in the earth’s crust did more than that. All the other islands experienced a large earthquake, the villagers were swallowed up by a tsunami, and many, many people died. A change in the bottom of the ocean would change the ocean currents and cause the fish to leave the usual fishing spots. Amid all that, this one island seemed to be blessed as it rose to the surface. That is why the surrounding people detest this land.”

“In that case…”

“It all started with incidental misfortune, but it caused the people of this island to suffer for decades. That is why some might appear who would try to artificially cause a great flood to wash all the others away.”

If that was true, it was a truly promising lead.

Even if she did not know where the actual magician was, she could pick out the villagers who were cooperating with that magician. The most suspicious would be those who especially hated the surrounding islands and the small ruling class of the island.

(…This gives me an idea of what the cooperative islanders want, but what is the magician after?)

Kanzaki grabbed the water ski case with Shichiten Shichitou hidden within and went back over her own objective.

(I suppose I can ask the magician about that once I defeat him or her. If this is true, the magician is likely preparing the spiritual item to use it rather than to negotiate with someone.)

After thinking through that, Kanzaki spoke to the girl.

“That tracking device can be used to communicate with me. If you run into this magician, just put a drop of blood on the charm. That will connect it to me. But even so, try not to run into this magician alone.”

“…Don’t worry. I will remain here,” the girl said while moving a small brush either to excavate or preserve the runes.

Kanzaki narrowed her eyes slightly.

“True. It is possible the ones who carved that will watch over you if you remain here.”

“Yes. This is not as dangerous as you think it is.” The girl’s brush stopped. “After all, I can create a flood all on my own.”

In that instant, an explosive-sounding shockwave struck Kanzaki Kaori’s ears.

She was a Saint meaning she could freely use a portion of the Son of God’s power due to possessing similar bodily characteristics. Kanzaki could instantaneously enter a battle at speeds greater than the speed of sound, but even she could not deal with the sudden situation.

But that was no too surprising.

After all, a great deluge of water assaulted her ignoring the physical laws. The massive amount of saltwater that struck Kanzaki at the will of the magician swallowed up the deserted third of Uphill Island that was split off like a broken cookie.

The strangely red and viscous seawater sealed off Kanzaki’s movements in an instant and swept her out to sea. She was already beyond the island. The water was hundreds of meters deep making it a hopeless place for a human.

The girl moderately but definitely giggled.

The deluge of water skillfully avoided the area around the girl.

She was up against a professional Necessarius magician.

And at her feet were the magically worthless runes desperately carved by the Norse believers during the Age of Exploration. They could not withstand that ridiculous strength.

That one strike was enough to smash them.

“Do you know how the world was created in Norse mythology?”

She cut her own fingertip and pressed it up against the charm at her neck.

As she had been told, its communication functionality activated, but she had no idea if Kanzaki could actually hear her.

“The material that made up the world was the corpse of a giant named Ymir. But when Odin and his brothers killed Ymir, a great amount of blood flowed from the wound. That flood of blood washed away everything of the old world that had existed before and caused a conflict with the giants who lost many of their brethren.”

By manipulating the salt content and concentration of her blood to match that of seawater, the girl gained magical access to a great amount of seawater. A certain amount of the real power of something resided within an idol with similar form and properties. She accessed that power by using the same idolatry theory that existed between the cross used to execute the Son of God and the crosses atop churches.

Ymir’s blood washed away the world and drowned giants who had power rivaling that of the gods. At that instant, the red liquid flowing within that girl’s body may have become one with the blood of Ymir who had become the material the world was created from.

If that was all it was, it was simple.

However, there were many things preventing that from happening in reality.

If something with the same concentration and salt content as sweater was sent flowing through a human body, that person’s internal organs would definitely be fatally damaged. The defensive spell used to prevent her body from being injured was more of a mystery than the one turning her blood into Ymir’s.

The sound of something straining could be heard from the girl’s right wrist.

The color of her palm changed.

It was now a kind of reddish purple.

The girl had concentrated the transformed blood in her palm and then stopped the flow of the blood so it did not circulate to the rest of her body. Basically, she had tied off her wrist with an invisible rope.

She could not keep that up for long.

Stopping the flow of blood would bring about necrosis in her cells. The concentration and salt content of the Ymir-ized blood would destroy the cells of her palm from the inside.

But many magicians would likely have admired the girl’s achievements and may have even been jealous that she could pull something like that off on her own.

The destruction was overwhelming.

(It’s over…)

Kanzaki was dead.

She had been swept around 3000 meters away.

While she was being swept along the island, her body would have struck sand and rocks countless times. When she was later swallowed up by the great currents in the sea, her arms and legs would have been thrown about randomly destroying all of the joints in her body. And by modifying the salt content and concentration of the seawater being magically controlled, it was given normally impossible viscosity. Even if she was still alive, Kanzaki would just sink unmoving to the depths of the ocean.

Even a Saint still had a normal human body.

As long as she had to inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, she would drown when brought underwater.

“…Ymir’s Ocean.”

The name of the spell that had killed her enemy escaped the girl’s lips.

That was the identity of the large scale magic that had become known both inside and outside the island. Those who did not understand the situation seemed to think there was some kind of giant temple used to control that occult power, but there was not.

That heinous magic that could destroy the very terrain at the user’s wish was a personal spell.

It should not be used against a normal magician much less a normal non-magic user. However, that changed when the magician was a member of the world powerful Necessarius.

“Didn’t I tell you? Stories similar to Noah’s Ark can be seen in religions across the world.”

A noise came from around the girl’s neck.

It was the sound of the wire necklace-like wire there quickly contracting in what may have been some form of final resistance. But before the wire could decapitate the girl, she slipped her own hands between her neck and the wire.

A shockingly large amount of blood sprayed out.

However, the girl’s expression did not change in the slightest. She stretched out her arms to the left and right tearing the wire to pieces.

“…”

She looked down at her palms to see that they were partially torn to pieces. Yet the girl smiled. Against a wire wielded by a Saint, she had gotten off easy. Normally, even a steel framework would have been sliced clean through.

She brought her lips near the charm that was died red with blood and gave her last words to the dead.

“Well done. You just had the terrible luck to meet me on the sea.”

She had said what she had to say.

The girl was about to cast aside the charm she no longer needed, but she froze partway through.

“No. I’m sorry to say that I was not given a life that was normal enough to call that bad luck.”

A voice.

She heard a voice.

“…”

At first, the girl glared at the charm she had been about to cast aside, but then she quickly glanced over at the sea. She stared 3000 meters ahead. She stared off to an area of the sea that could easily hold a large tanker or aircraft carrier, not to mention a normal boat.

Normally, a large tsunami or other large waves would only affect the areas with a shallow coast.

However, the Ymir’s Ocean she had caused was something else entirely. A wave that large had the destructive power to turn even a large ship to scraps.

However, there was no relief on her face.

At her distance, all objects looked like nothing more than dots.

However, that presence kept the girl’s gaze fixed on it.

She could see the girl who should have drowned standing atop the ocean surface.

“Do you know of the Norse god Ullr?”

The voice was calm.

The girl recognized it as Kanzaki Kaori’s voice.

“He is an ancient god who was believed in even before Odin. In Danish, his name is Ollerus. So much has been lost about him that it is not even clear what role he had as a god, but some scholars categorize him as the god of hunting and skiing.”

(It can’t be…!!)

The girl wrinkled her brow and distorted her face as she stared off at the distant sea and then she confirmed it.

Water skis.

Kanzaki was not standing atop the sea. She was unnaturally undulating up and down as she used only two skis to ride a wave big enough to capsize a battleship. Water skis were normally pulled forward by something like a motorboat, but Kanzaki did not need that. She was keeping her balance by using the power of the large wave that would crush a normal human’s body.

“R-ridiculous…!!”

“Is it? Ullr is one of the ?sir just like Odin. He is a member of the race that was not swallowed up by the flood of Ymir’s blood. In that case, the fact that the ski god would not be swallowed up by the flood would have been inputted as a condition from the beginning. You can create as large a flood as you want, but as long as the spell is related to Ymir’s blood, you cannot drown me.”

After saying that, Kanzaki fell silent for a bit.

Finally, she started speaking again.

“Are you trying to save them?”

“…”

“Given your detailed knowledge of the persecution during the Age of Exploration, you must have worked to educate yourself on it. And more persecution is occurring before your very eyes. You cannot change the past, but you can change what is happening on this island right now. …Is that what you thought?”

“It is nothing that convenient.”

The girl laughed scornfully.

It was not clear if the scorn was directed at Kanzaki’s words or at the reason for her own actions.

“A dangerous balance has been kept between Uphill Island and the surrounding islands. Ever since this island rose to the surface fifty years ago, there has been a conflict between the surrounding discrimination and the desire to turn that around. Even as the waves of modernization filled the islands bringing the construction of an international airport and making this a tourist spot, their antagonism continued beneath the surface.” The girl fell silent for a brief moment before continuing. “And I skewed that balance by having this spell and casually coming here for research. I was careless and neglected to use a people clearing spell because no one ever came near the area in which I was working on the excavation. I was seen altering the ocean currents slightly in order to prevent the waves from wearing away the relic carved into the stone.”

Similar to most islands, Uphill Island had a legend related to the ocean and flooding. And Uphill Island had actually been created due to a change in the Earth’s crust. It would have been odd if they did not have a story about the sea and the land.

And then a girl who could manipulate the ocean had appeared.

The islanders had surely known that it was a mystical phenomenon, but they had not known exactly what it was the girl had done. And because they did not understand, they had associated it with their own story. They had decided the girl was a messenger sent to protect the island.

“The residents of Uphill Island believe that they can overturn the power balance if I am here. And the surrounding islands have decided that they will surely be drowned if things remain as they are. …With the situation as it is, the people of Uphill Island would be lynched if I were to leave. Without exaggerating, I can say that all of them would likely be killed.”

“I see.” Kanzaki sighed. “Even so, I have one thing to say to you. Even if it is necessary to solve this problem, you are a truly horrible person if you would use that spell against the normal people of these islands.”

After speaking, Kanzaki’s body explosively accelerated. She headed in a straight line for the island. A massive amount of seawater should have been under the girl’s control, but something else was unnaturally interrupting. The giant wave pushed Kanzaki forward as if the magic itself was raising the white flag and saying it could not oppose a Saint.

“I will be heading for you now,” said Kanzaki Kaori declaring her intentions in an oddly kind voice.

Her gentle voice sent a chill across the girl’s entire body.

“Do not worry. I will make sure to defeat you in a single blow.”

“!!”

The girl held her trembling and bloody hands forward.

She still had a trump card left.

“Don’t underestimate Ymir’s Ocean!!”

In response to the girl’s shout, something shot up from the ocean surface. It was a giant spike about 3 meters across and 20 meters long. It headed in a trajectory straight up from below Kanzaki as if to turn her to mincemeat. But…

“You should not underestimate a Saint.”

“Wha—?”

Just before the spike hit, Kanzaki twisted the trajectory of her water skis and evaded it with the least amount of motion. The girl sent a second and third spike, but Kanzaki moved slightly right and left to evade them. In fact, she even used the momentum of the fired spikes to jump forward a few dozen meters.

“Do you really think you can kill me with something like a pillar of salt?”

“I will kill you with a pillar of salt!!”

As Kanzaki jumped through the air, the girl moved her fingers complexly. Her reddish purple right wrist turned even darker.

More salt spikes fired up from the ocean surface.

And it was not just 2 or 3.

Enough spikes appeared to cover the ocean surface in their white color and they flew toward Kanzaki like surface-to-air missiles.

But…

“This is no different.”

Kanzaki swung her body around in midair and dodged one of the giant spikes at the last second. She continued to spin her body around and around and around and around as if she were performing some kind of trick. In doing so, she avoided the giant spikes one after another.

She then landed back on the water.

She did not lose her balance even for an instant and she used the crater-like surges from the firing of the giant spikes to accelerate more and more toward the island.

“…!!”

The girl’s breathing caught in her throat due to her tension and her fingertips unnaturally trembled in a way that had nothing to do with performing magic.

It was not enough.

It was not an issue of distance. Washing her away in a flood had not been enough. Using giant spikes made of condensed salt crystals had not been enough. She could not defeat her like that. Even if you played 100 rounds of rock paper scissors, you could not win if you could only use rock.

Yet she could not stop.

She knew she could not win, but that was no reason to stop.

“Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!”

The girl cried out and activated Ymir’s Ocean with everything she had.

A great flood washing away everything on that part of the island once more flowed toward Kanzaki Kaori.

But it had the opposite effect.

The great flood crashed atop the island that normally had no seawater covering it. Kanzaki Kaori finally arrived at Uphill Island while heading across that very water.

There was no longer any way to stop Kanzaki.

Atop her skis, Kanzaki headed straight for the girl while moving faster than a low-end sports car.

And then the girl saw Kanzaki Kaori reach for the handle of her sword.

But that was the limit of what the girl could comprehend.

Immediately afterwards, a dull shock assaulted the core of the girl’s body.

In an instant, the girl’s consciousness was knocked away without her even knowing if she had been struck with the back of the sword or by the scabbard.

Part 5

The unnatural tide assaulting Uphill Island disappeared when the girl lost consciousness. The uninhabited third of the island had been temporarily swallowed up by the waves, but the rocks and sand had already lost all moisture returning the island to its natural state. No one would believe the area had been covered in water just before.

“…Have you cooled your head?” asked Kanzaki Kaori. “If you tried to save Uphill Island by attacking the surrounding islands with that spell, that would be wrong. If you actually pulled it off, an even stronger magician would be called in. And that magician could be from an anti-magician organization like me or one hired by the surrounding islands.”

There was bitterness in her tone and it may have been because she was a Saint.

She may have once wielded her powers as a Saint to attempt to accomplish something in a similar way.

“There is no such thing as an absolute trump card. If there was, the person who held it could become a king or even a god. If incomplete magicians such as us tried to obtain one, we would just be starting an arms race that would continue until one side was defeated.”

“I…” The girl moved only her lips as she lay on the ground with somehow emotionless eyes. “I know that. But there are people who do not. There are people who believe they can escape their circumstances if I am here and there are people who think their lives will be utterly destroyed if I am here. Those people will not listen to what I say.”

“Then what will you do?” Kanzaki asked bluntly. “Will you leave this island with us?”

“…”

After thinking for a bit, the girl shook her head.

She knew what she had to do.

She would resolve the misunderstandings and erroneously expanded hopes on her own. She would return the relationship between Uphill Island and the surrounding islands to what it was before she arrived. That was the only way to save them. Washing away the surrounding islands with Ymir’s Ocean was out of the question and leaving Uphill Island without doing anything would just lead to the people of the island being killed.

If she understood that, the girl might be able to actually save the people of Uphill Island.

But not with violence.

She had to find a way to resolve the problem with words.

And then…

“…?”

Kanzaki heard something like a tremor in the earth. The low sound was coming from such a distance that it seemed to be coming from beyond the horizon. It gave her an odd feeling like she was hearing it more through the shaking of the ground under her feet than through a vibration of her eardrums.

But that was not it.

It was not just a tremor.

(It can’t be…)

Kanzaki felt her throat dry up.

The girl looked away from Kanzaki.

(Is this…the sound of people cheering?)

Just as Kanzaki Kaori blankly thought that…

“Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!”

The source of the noise had to be a few kilometers away. It sounded as if it was coming from multiple directions rather than just straight ahead.

Kanzaki’s entire body was shaken by that repulsive cheer that was explosively filled with exaltation but at the same time rooted in nothing but negative feelings. If the soul truly existed that voice would have covered it in mud in an instant. The cry came from the residents of Uphill Island. The supernatural phenomenon of Ymir’s Ocean had finally appeared before them. They cheered as they truly believed that its violent destruction would sweep away their enemies and lead them to happiness.

Both adults and children, both men and women, and likely both babies and the elderly cheered.

And yet there was no need to draw a line between friend and foe.

Every village was likely filled to the brim with unnatural enthusiasm. An uncommon energy was needed to emit a cheer that reached so far and shook the earth like that. Sweat would be flowing from their bodies as they let loose that cry of pleasure and superiority from the depths of their guts to the tops of their throats. When she heard it, Kanzaki Kaori truly thought her body would freeze.

“Do you understand now?” said the defeated girl with a frail smile on her face. “That is what I must now fight.”

[edit]Part 6

Kanzaki and the others sat silently on the airplane home.

The girl was still on the island.

Was it even possible for her to persuade them?

If she succeeded in that, it was possible she would acquire the key needed to peacefully mend the relationship between Uphill Island and the surrounding islands.

However, if the residents of Uphill Island insisted on continuing the conflict…

Most likely, the girl would give up on them. She would give up and quietly leave the island. After that, it was clear what kind of tragedy would befall Uphill Island given the cracks in its relationship with the surrounding islands.

The islanders could not stop that.

Even if there were so many people on Uphill Island and the girl was just an individual, she had the power as a magician to conquer the island in a single strike.

“Was that really okay?” asked the jeans shop owner suddenly. “If you captured the magician, you would have received additional compensation, right? And if that girl can cause a great flood all on her own, then this situation hasn’t even been resolved.”

“No, the incident is over.” Kanzaki shook her head. “At the very least, there is no longer a magician on that island who will use Ymir’s Ocean lightly.”

As Kanzaki gave that response, she silently prayed that the people of the island would not cause any more disasters.

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