Toaru Majutsu no Index SS: Kanzaki

Chapter 5: Marine Prison. NAGLFAR.
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Chapter 5: Marine Prison. NAGLFAR.

Part 1

I will now explain the contents of the requested investigation.

The marine prison sailing through the Indian Ocean is experiencing trouble of unknown cause. The marine prison is currently headed on its own for the southern portion of India.

Around 500 enemy magicians that Necessarius captured around the world are held within the marine prison and the prison landing or running aground in India would mean those dangerous criminals would be free once more.

In order to prevent the escape of the magicians, please sink the marine prison as quickly as possible. Also, after sinking the marine prison, please kill any magicians attempting to swim to shore. Not even a single one can be allowed to survive. There is no need to put aside time to rescue the jailers, so please give suppressing the magicians top priority.

“…Well, I’m sure you’re just going to ignore this ridiculous genocidal order,” said the jeans shop owner on the coast in the southern Indian city of Nagercoil. “How are you going to deal with this one? If that out of control marine prison lands here, tons of terrible magicians will be free. And these magicians are at the very least at the level of someone who would chop 50 children to pieces and cook them in a giant pot until the pieces fell apart.”

“It does not look like we will be able to find a way of resolving this until we know why the marine prison has gone out of control.”

Kanzaki was fed up with her superiors’ orders to just let her colleagues die and it showed in her displeased voice.

She then turned toward the tour guide girl.

“What kind of craft is the marine prison anyway?”

“Umm…” The tour guide girl opened her memo pad. “Are you familiar with the luxurious Aqua Tunnel ships? …Well, they are technically submarines, not ships.”

“Those are the glass submarines, right?” the shop owner said with a grin on his face. “Aquariums have those clear tunnels heading through the bottom of a giant tank to make it look like you’re heading through the ocean, right? The Aqua Tunnel submarines are just an escalated version of that. By making a submarine out of thick bulletproof resin, they say you can enjoy the ocean in all sorts of ways from seeing colorful tropical fish to deep sea fish who live where the light of the sun never reaches. I’ve heard they occasionally do trips around the world, but apparently the race for tickets is so harsh no normal person can hope to get one. I’ve heard 12 Aqua Tunnel subs have been created.”

“Those are actually the marine prisons,” said the tour guide suddenly before flipping to a different page in her memo pad. “One of the Aqua Tunnels is a real luxurious ship prepared as a dummy and it actually makes trips around the world. However, the other eleven function as prisons.”

“Why did they go to all that effort…?” asked Kanzaki.

The tour guide girl flipped through her memo pad.

“Originally, the marine prisons were created to prevent bad magicians captured around the world from escaping before being brought to England. For that purpose, 11 marine prisons pass through the seven seas at set intervals. However, constantly fooling the science side’s radar and sonar would be too costly and it is not guaranteed to always work.” The tour guide answered Kanzaki’s question while glancing through her detailed notes. “As such, it was easier to create a situation where 12 luxury ships are constantly giving trips around the world but tickets are hard to get so people rarely take part. However, it would seem suspicious if no one ever took part in it. That is why one of them is open to the public as a dummy while the other eleven carry out their role as prisons.”

“I’m sure the prisons are nowhere near as nice to be on as the dummy.”

“Apparently, it is better than being on the galleys that used to transport slaves. It does not seem that anyone aboard is likely to die.”

“Then are you volunteering?” the shop owner said sounding annoyed before glancing around. “So how are the marine prisons controlled?”

“It does not seem that the prisoners took over the control room. In fact, it seems the marine prisons do not have anything like a control room.”

“?”

Kanzaki frowned and the tour guide girl explained.

“In order to prevent the prisoners from taking control, the marine prisons cannot be controlled from the inside. They can only be controlled remotely. Even if the prisoners rioted and took the jailers hostage, the marine prison would arrive at England with no issues.”

With the water pressure in the depths of the ocean acting as a natural barrier and the submarine being controlled externally, there was no way to escape by rioting within the prison.

The security prepared by the Anglican Church was quite strict, but that showed just how cautious they were about those vile magicians.

But…

“Then I know what the most suspicious place is,” said Kanzaki.

A marine prison holding many magical criminals was headed off course toward southern India, but her expression did not change.

“Something must have been done to the magic that remotely controls the prison. Isn’t that the most likely possibility?”

Part 2

The marine prison was about 50 kilometers from reaching Nagercoil in southern India.

“The marine prison is controlled externally by a spiritual item known as the Cape of Good Hope.”

“…So it’s located at the bottom of Africa?” said the jeans shop owner sounding fed up with the situation already, but the tour guide girl frantically shook her head.

She flipped through her memo pad and said, “It is only a spiritual item with that name. As I said before, the marine prisons pass through the seven seas at set intervals. As such, a Cape of Good Hope for each sea is located near that sea. Control of this marine prison was lost in the Indian Ocean, so…”

“So the Cape of Good Hope in this country is most suspicious?”

“What Christian related things are famous in India? Is there a church with Francis Xavier’s tomb or something?”

“That is famous, but the Jesuits are under the Roman Catholic Church’s jurisdiction. That has no connection to the Anglican Church.”

“…Well, I’m just the virtuous owner of a jeans shop,” said the shop owner as he bought a banana drink at a stand seeming not to be very motivated anymore.

The tour guide quickly flipped through her memo pad.

“The main connection between England and India is the East India Company. During the Age of Exploration, England one-sidedly set up trading bases here. Of course, those are long gone, but a few ruins still remain.”

“So one of those had its magical security reactivated and the Cape of Good Hope was set there?”

“Well, to this country, the East India Company is a blot on their history. Even if it was done completely in secret to normal people, it was apparently still quite difficult to get permission to use the place again. …In the end, it was agreed that 30% of British-made satellites would be fired from Indian launch pads while the Cape of Good Hope is kept here.”

“I had wondered why we used Indian ones in this age when most launches are done from Academy City launch pads.”

“The EU launches their satellites from India quite a bit because they want to escape from NASA and Academy City’s monopolization of GPS, but the market race between the top two is apparently quite harsh.”

Russia was also strong in the space industry, but the scale of their systems was different, so they could not receive similar services from surrounding countries. In the near future, it seemed China would be entering the field as well and they feared the same thing would happen to them as to Russia.

“At any rate, we just have to head to these ruins of the East India Company and check on this Cape of Good Hope.”

“But the Cape of Good Hope here has a maintenance staff. Won’t they have been investigating the Cape of Good Hope ever since control of the marine prison was confirmed to be lost?”

“We could leave this to them if it was just some normal issue,” said Kanzaki without her expression changing. “But if a magician is interfering, they may overlook it with their methods. It would be best if anti-magician specialists like us helped check it over.”

Part 3

The three of them got a rental car and headed for the location of the Cape of Good Hope.

The jeans shop owner drove and the tour guide girl navigated from the passenger seat. Kanzaki sat in the back seat. That was their usual arrangement. As usual, Kanzaki’s ridiculously long sword was stored in a surfboard case on the roof of the car.

“Shit! This car has been bumping around like crazy! Does it even have any suspension!? I am glad the cheap cars sell here though!!”

“You’re losing your temper again. What’s the matter?” asked the tour guide from the passenger seat.

The shop owner glared over at her.

“Don’t act like you don’t know. I thought I was finally headed back to England, but then I got dragged out to India without time to deal with any of the work that has piled up back at the shop!! What am I supposed to do about middle school Saten-chan!? Hey, could we swing by Japan on the way back!?”

“Oh, what should we do about dinner? I have checked on where the good Chinese restaurants on the outskirts are, so what about that?”

“I know Chinese food is a safe bet in any country, but let’s get some Indian food while we’re here!!”

“Food does not really matter, so can we please focus on resolving the incident unfolding before our eyes?”

Despite what Kanzaki said, she would surely be disappointed if she was given a hamburger from a worldwide chain. That was not an issue of how it tasted; it was simply due to the fact that they had come all the way to a foreign country.

The sounds and smells of the city entered through the car’s open windows and the pleasant smell of spices from a normal house made their way inside. Their sensors as travelers started going off telling them that was what they wanted to eat rather than food at some unnecessarily expensive restaurant.

“Dammit. Forget all this marine prison crap…”

“There, there. Turn left at that small street and head straight on through there.”

The shop owner drove the car as instructed and a brick wall came into view. However, it was only a wall. The old wall had crumbled in places as if it had been hit by an earthquake. The wall created a square, so it had likely originally been the outer wall of a building or surrounded a large garden. Even that was hard to tell.

Inside the 100 meters square brick wall was a building just a bit smaller. It was a simple square building that had no real design to it. It too was quite old. It looked old enough to make one doubtful as to whether it had any rebar in it.

The three of them got out of the car.

Kanzaki immediately grabbed her sword from the roof. She may have felt helpless without it at her waist.

She then looked up at the building.

“So this is the fortress for the Cape of Good Hope?”

“You’re looking at the building, right? Well, the actual core of the facility is the brick wall.”

As she spoke, the tour guide girl walked ahead of the other two. Kanzaki and the shop owner followed her through the gate and passed beyond the brick wall. It was difficult to tell if they had passed through a proper entrance or if it was just a large gap where the brick wall had crumbled.

As soon as they entered the facility, a dark shadow covered the area.

“?”

Kanzaki looked up and then froze in place.

A giant cube floated in the air a bit above the roof of the small three-story building. I seemed to be about 70 meters across on each side. It was made of a strange dull gray material that was different from simple stone or steel.

Metal panels and pipes created scaffolding like ivy covering a building wall. The scaffolding unnaturally stretched past the roof of the building and up to the height of the floating cube.

All of those things had not been there before.

Kanzaki frowned and asked a blunt question.

“Is that the Cape of Good Hope?”

“Yes, yes. That is the giant spiritual item that controls any marine prisons heading through the Indian Ocean. It has to have an effective range of over 9000 kilometers, so it had to be made quite large. And this one is actually much smaller than the one for the Pacific Ocean,” the tour guide said while flipping through her memo pad.

Then a brown-skinned young man who was likely a local magician came running over. He was wearing unfashionable work clothes likely as camouflage, but they made the various religious accessories he wore stand out even more.

“I have already been notified. You are here about the marine prison, right? We do not have much time, so let’s talk on the way.”

“I hope you do not mind, but one of us is not an official member of Necessarius,” Kanzaki said just to make sure, but the young man shook his head.

“I don’t mind, I don’t mind. Your organization is a gathering of people who only care about skill. Even I am sort of like a temporary worker for you. You take in people from different Christian denominations and even Hindus, so let’s just be flexible about that kind of thing,” said the young man in work clothes with a smile while he walked toward the building.

Kanzaki and the others followed him. It looked like the young man would enter the building, but he instead headed for the metal pipe scaffolding surrounding the walls.

“The building has no real meaning. It’s nothing more than a large framework for the scaffolding.”

“Why is that ridiculously huge dice-like thing floating?” asked the shop owner. “A proper method, materials, and fuel are needed to make something float. You wouldn’t make something that large float for no reason. Or are you using this metal framework to hold back something that floats up on its own?”

“No, no, no. It is nothing like that. It is like a lighthouse. This has to have an effective range of over 9000 kilometers in order to cover the Indian Ocean. It would not be able to cover beyond the horizon if it was placed on the ground.”

“In other words, this Cape of Good Hope floats up higher the farther away the marine prison is?” asked Kanzaki as she walked up the diagonally laid out metal pipes that acted as stairs.

The young man nodded.

“It is rare for it to get this close to the ground. Normally, it is over 1000 or 2000 meters up, so we worry that some airplane that can’t see it is going to hit it. …It is located it in a place with little air traffic, but bad weather could suddenly change an airplane’s route or an unofficial fighter could pass by here.”

“Two thousand meters, hm? It looks like the metal pipe scaffolding is made to automatically expand and contract to the height of the Cape of Good Hope, but the thought of working in an area with great gusts of wind makes me shudder.”

“Yes, well, it is not exactly a pleasant job. …Oh, and the scaffolding is changing bit by bit even now, so make sure you don’t get your fingers caught in a joint.”

As they spoke, the four of them headed up and up and up beyond the height of the roof.

They had probably reached a point about 20 meters above the surface.

They had finally arrived at the Cape of Good Hope.

They were close enough to the side of the cube to reach out and touch it. Kanzaki looked over it again and its heavy stone surface seemed to have narrow grooves carved into it. That may have been why the material it was made from had been hard to identify from a distance.

Due to the slight cross wind, the tour guide was practically embracing Kanzaki in fear. Regardless, Kanzaki began speaking with the young man in the work clothes.

“Has there been anything odd about the functioning of the Cape of Good Hope?”

“That’s the thing,” the young man said as he shook his head with a troubled look on his face. “Thirty of us here have investigated it, but we have not found the slightest trace of anything.”

“Can you really thoroughly investigate a spiritual item this huge so easily?”

“True. It would take three years for 10 expert magicians to carefully check through every little groove.” The young man did not deny that fact. “But it is made so that you can find any abnormalities by checking just a few important points. At the very least, a scan using that method found no problems. Currently, we have split into a group to do that scan again and one to check things over by hand, but we have no idea how many years it will take to find the cause at this rate.”

“Hmm.” Kanzaki thought for a bit before looking back toward the young man. “Wouldn’t it be best to stop this Cape of Good Hope altogether? At the very least, wouldn’t that prevent the out of control marine prison from approaching the land any further?”

“I do not have the authority to do that,” replied the young man with a sigh. “And the seven Cape of Good Hopes create a single system. If we stop this one, the others will not be able to function properly either. Currently, control of only one marine prison has been lost, but it is conceivable that control of all 11 could be lost. If it happens in the middle of a large ocean, that’s fine, but one could drift ashore if it stops near land or an island.”

“At any rate, we need to do something about this thing,” said the shop owner as he stared at the side of the giant cube.

The young man in the work clothes nodded.

“If an expert magician did something, he could have made sure a normal scan would not find it. If we can find that and eliminate it, we might then be able to locate any abnormal areas.”

The young man said that, but he sounded somehow unconfident. He likely did not think such a convenient loophole existed in the spiritual item they had been using for so long.

Kanzaki pulled a looped bundle of wires seemingly from nowhere.

“Well, let’s get started.”

“Go for it, Kanzaki.”

When the shop owner halfheartedly cheered her on, Kanzaki looked coldly at him.

“…Don’t just sit there like you’re only here to have fun. In fact, this is primarily your job.”

“Hm? Oh, are we going with that method?”

Without responding to his question, Kanzaki moved her fingers at high speed. The motions were similar to making a Japanese string figure, but her fingertips moved so quickly that it looked like someone had fused a loom and a sewing machine. In only about 10 seconds, she had created a steel ribbon 5 centimeters thick and 3 meters long.

The tour guide looked confused and the shop owner explained as Kanzaki handed him the ribbon.

“Clothing has held religious meaning both in the east and the west since ancient times. You can see this in everything from ancient shrine maidens and priests to princesses’ dresses and nuns’ habits. But in most cases, purity was stressed with those clothes and the slightest stain was looked down on.”

The shop owner pulled something out of his pocket.

It looked like a thick marker, but it was not. It held business-use stain remover. It was meant to be rubbed on an especially bad stain, but it looked so powerful that it would ruin the clothes if it were put straight into the washing machine.

He then drew a thick line at an arbitrary point along the steel ribbon.

“In other words, most clothes have a process with which they react to their own stains. It’s similar to how it is difficult to see a drop of coffee spilled on the table but it stands out on a piece of white clothing.”

A great noise rang out.

As if the steel ribbon had become a runway, the clear stain remover slid unnaturally along it. It moved beyond the ribbon and into open air where it traveled in a large arc. It moved to the giant cube that was the Cape of Good Hope and traveled at high speed along it. It made a 90 degree turn and moved out of sight in no time at all.

The shop owner put the cap back on the stain removal pen and put it back in his pocket while he scratched at his head in annoyance.

“Now that will find any stains needing to be removed. If we investigate around any areas the chemical sticks to, we should find something.”

“I see. That really is convenient.”

“Yeah, but the situations it can be used in are pretty limited. You saw Kanzaki weaving together that ribbon, right? This only worked because she managed to weave the wires together in a way that corresponded to the patterns on the surface of the Cape of Good Hope.”

Suddenly, the stain remover reappeared around the opposite corner it had disappeared around. The clear chemical passed by Kanzaki and the others and disappeared around the same corner it had the first time. It seemed to be rotating around the center of the Cape of Good Hope like the rings of Saturn.

It showed no sign of landing anywhere.

The shop owner looked confused over the fact that it seemed as if it would rotate forever if left alone.

“Odd.”

“If it is not reacting to anything, does that mean the magician’s concealment techniques were quite high level?”

The shop owner shook his head in response to the young man’s question.

“With as nice a match as we got, this should find something. Even if something was concealed, that would just make this spell fail when I tried to activate it.”

“Then…?”

“No response means that nothing has been done to the Cape of Good Hope.”

Part 4

The marine prisons had many ways that they prevented the prisoners from escaping.

One of those was the lack of a control room within the submarine.

In other words, it could not be moved from within.

As the steering of the ship was carried out by the giant external spiritual item known as the Cape of Good Hope, the prisoners within the submarine could not hijack the submarine and change its course no matter how hard they tried.

“…That is how it works. Is there any way to control the marine prison without using the Cape of Good Hope?” asked the tour guide as she checked through her notes.

They had no more business with the Cape of Good Hope, but they had no other ideas either. As such, Kanzaki and the others were having a strategy meeting within the rental car parked near the Cape of Good Hope. As they did so, the marine prison was approaching southern India. Given the height of the Cape of Good Hope from the ground, it seemed to be about 25 kilometers out. If they did not come up with a counter measure soon, they would truly be in trouble.

“You heard her,” said the jeans shop owner with a sigh as he leaned back in the driver seat. “What do you think? Do you think there is some other way to alter the course of this toy ship in the bath other than going through the proper route and using the Cape of Good Hope?”

“…It is true that there are plenty of legends about ships with mystical abilities and ceremonies or charms to calm storms or prevent shipwrecks. With the level of technology people used to have, the ocean was a frightening thing, so they readily relied on the occult.”

Kanzaki placed her hand on her cheek as she thought in the back seat.

The tour guide fidgeted in the passenger seat and blinked a few times.

“Th-then is some magician causing that submarine to correspond to a boat or charm from a religious context?”

“What magician would that be?” said the shop owner as he leaned back causing his headrest to creak. “You’re only coming up with this supposed magician because the marine prison can’t be controlled from the inside and so someone other than the prisoners has to control the Cape of Good Hope. But there was nothing wrong with the Cape of Good Hope. …Who gains the most from the marine prison running aground? Let’s keep this simple: I would clearly be the prisoners.”

“It’s true they have the most motive, but…” said Kanzaki sounding indecisive, but the shop owner cut in and continued speaking.

“Noah’s Ark, the boat of Kalevala, Skíeblaenir, the Sky Ship…take your pick. The UFOs the science side is researching despite there being doubts about them may be something similar. There are plenty of legends and rules they can use.”

“If they are using some kind of rules to freely control the marine prison,” said Kanzaki taking control of the situation now that her thoughts were in order, “the main issue is whether the marine prison designed by Necessarius would leave them the ability to carry it out. Even if they are using some legend, they would need the proper symbols to do so. …Our superiors are the people who removed the control room from the submarines in order to prevent the prisoners from escaping. I would be willing to bet they would thoroughly eliminate any magical symbols the prisoners could use.”

“Then it would have to be something that wasn’t there when it was designed,” the shop owner said while tuning the car’s radio to a channel with an English broadcast. “That would mean someone had to have brought it in.”

“But they cannot do that so easily…no, wait.”

Kanzaki started to deny that possibility, but she stopped suddenly.

The tour guide girl was still not convinced, so she spoke up with a frown.

“Can they really do that? The jailers in control of the prisoners are expert magicians. I’m sure they at least perform a body search before the prisoners board the marine prison.” The tour guide flipped through her memo pad to check on something. “Ah, here we go. They are not allowed to bring any personal items aboard. They are forced to put on special prisoner uniforms and all of their original clothing including their underwear is confiscated. Those personal items are transported on a different ship, so they would not be able to regain them within the marine prison. There are plenty of other ways they check as well. Even if the prisoners swallowed a piece of a tool, I am pretty sure it would be easily found.”

“No. If it was something that was not recognized as a magical symbol….” Kanzaki muttered. “No, it is not even that. It is possible for the prisoners to hijack the submarine using something that had to be brought aboard given the purpose of the marine prison even if it was known to be a magical symbol.”

“?”

“Do you think they could pull it off if they had a large scale spell that could be activated with a ‘material’ that would make it through the jailers’ body search?”

The shop owner and the tour guide seemed confused as they looked back toward the back seat.

“Have you heard of a ship called Naglfar? It appears in Norse mythology.”

“You don’t mean…”

“It is a giant ship that appears in opposition to Skíeblaenir, the ship Odin and the other gods ride. Riding it are the Muspel, the enemies of the gods, and is controlled by Loki, who betrayed the gods. In other words…”

Kanzaki paused for a second.

When she spoke again, she sounded as if she were checking with herself more than the others.

“A giant ship with criminals aboard it. …That in and of itself is a magical symbol.”

If that were the case, the prisoners would not have to bring anything aboard and the jailers could not eliminate the magical symbol despite knowing its danger. …After all, the marine prison was a ship used to transport prisoners, so eliminating it would accomplish nothing.

“The legend says Naglfar was created from the fingernails and toenails of the dead. The prisoners likely placed their fingernails and toenails in various places on the ship in order to turn the marine prison into Naglfar. …If they succeeded in that, the marine prison would change from being the jailers’ ship to being the prisoners’ ship. It would be completely natural for the right to control of the ship to transfer to them.”

Hearing Kanzaki speak from the back seat, the tour guide started flipping through her memo pad in the passenger seat.

Her memo pad was not an encyclopedia.

However, it seemed to be able to draw the needed information out of a giant database in London. The tour guide watched the cursive writing that appeared automatically on the blank page.

“I have a report here from an experiment related to Naglfar carried out in the harbor town of Tynemouth. Due to a certain process done to a wooden ship only 50 cm long, it was successfully controlled remotely. If the scale was increased, that process could possibly be used on the marine prison.”

“…What’s with that memo pad? If you can always use it like that, how about you stop asking us so many questions about things?”

“I can only call up news-like topics. I cannot just search for the details of a spell.”

“At any rate,” Kanzaki said attempting to bring the conversation back on track. “It seems the prisoners would be able to hijack the marine prison on their own using Naglfar, the ship said to be made from the fingernails and toenails of the dead.”

“That’s easy enough to say, but…”

“Yes, that ‘of the dead’ is a problem.”

Kanzaki gritted her teeth.

The tour guide girl had said the condition aboard the marine prisons was good enough that no one would die aboard it, but that had likely changed. In the process of hijacking the ship, at least a few of the prisoners would have had to die.

It may have been the result of concentrated violence against the weakest of them.

Or some may have willingly ended their lives in order to carry out the plan.

In either case, it was not a pleasant scene to imagine.

But…

“Now that we know how they did it, we can take action,” Kanzaki said. “I will head directly to the marine prison. Basically, I will carry out a simple seajacking. If I defeat the prisoners who have taken a leading role on the ship and eliminate the fingernails and toenails of the dead, the marine prison should return to its original course.”

“You’re talking about going up against a sub. I’m not quite sure how you plan to travel across the ocean, but more importantly…do Saints like you have the ability to withstand that kind of water pressure?”

“Our enemy is not the marine prison. It is Naglfar,” Kanzaki replied calmly to the shop owner. “The ship in the Norse myth could not dive. If the prisoners truly had it imitate Naglfar, the ship had to have come up to the surface. If not, it would not properly function as the needed magical symbol.”

“Then let’s head back to the Nagercoil beach,” the shop owner said while he manipulated the gear stick of the automatic car. His tone was different from before. “I know I have no right to say something this self important after leaving all the fighting to you, but don’t let your guard down. If the marine prison really has been turned into Naglfar, the prisoners aboard may have been turned into the Muspel, the enemies of the gods. …In Norse mythology, the gods were about evenly matched with their enemies. In the climax of the mythology, most of the gods are taken out by their enemies while also defeating those enemies. I don’t know if it will carry over and work on a Christian Saint, but the prisoners may have some ability to weaken any kind of holy power.”

And even if they did not, there were still around 500 prisoners aboard and they were all expert magicians who had carried out heinous crimes across the world. It was clear to anyone that she could not be optimistic about taking on all of them at once aboard the ship.

“I will be fine,” Kanzaki immediately responded.

She was not overestimating her abilities as a Saint. Her words were intended to comfort those that were worried for her safety.

“There is a method for fighting on top of a ship and a method for fighting within a narrow passageway. You cannot win something like this simply by having more people.”

“Tch,” the shop owner clicked his tongue while looking at Kanzaki’s thin smile through the rearview mirror. He then spoke quietly while holding the steering wheel. “The marine prison is 25 kilometers from land. If things start looking bad, contact us. I’ll draw a magic circle on the beach so I can strengthen your abilities remotely.”

“Um, you casually say some amazing things sometimes. Just what level would you be within Necessarius?”

“Shut up. I’m just the owner of a jeans shop,” the shop owner responded to the tour guide’s out of place question.

Suddenly, they heard a great roar. It was an odd sound a bit like bursting electricity but was clearly different in some way. Kanzaki covered her ears and felt a mirage-like distortion in the nearby scenery. The brick wall used to hide the giant Cape of Good Hope spiritual item shook briefly.

The brick wall quickly regained its functionality and the mirage-like illusion disappeared.

But Kanzaki’s expression stiffened.

That had been caused by a barrier of similar strength striking the brick wall’s barrier. In other words, someone who was completely hiding their body and presence with a barrier had passed by nearby at high speed. The fact that the person was using a barrier on the same level as the Cape of Good Hope’s proved that they must have had some powerful spiritual item.

Immediately afterwards, Kanzaki’s cell phone started to vibrate.

No, technically it was the small charm stuck to the phone that vibrated. It was a spiritual item used for communications. Whoever it had been had determined the workings of Kanzaki’s spiritual item in the instant he or she passed by and had precisely cut in.

Kanzaki did not need to put the phone to her ear. A female voice came from the small device in her pocket and filled the car as if the phone was on speakerphone.

“You’re out of time, you fool. You need to take out your target faster than that. I’ll go take out that sturgeon guarding its disgusting caviar.”

“Are you from Necessarius, too?”

Kanzaki’s expression turned bitter.

Kanzaki was pretty sure that was the first time she had met the girl, but her words were enough to tell Kanzaki she was likely a belligerent person.

“There is no need to sink it and kill all of them! Control was lost because the marine prison was turned into Naglfar!! If the fingernails and toenails of the dead are removed from various places within the ship, control will return to the Cape of Good Hope and the jailers and prisoners will not need to be killed!!”

“Hm? Oh, good work, good work. I was wondering why you spent so much time on land, but I guess you were investigating all that boring stuff.”

The girl likely understood the situation to a certain extend (Kanzaki doubted she would have passed by and contacted her otherwise), but she still responded mockingly like that.

“But that doesn’t matter.”

“What…?”

“We already have our orders: kill all of them. So we just have to kill them. What good will giving it so much thought do? Will you get some kind of bonus out of it? If not, it’s pointless. We just have to do what needs to be done and then return to England. We are given all sorts of authority and paid from the people’s tax money because they expect that of us. You may be trying to be a philanthropist, but all you’re doing is betraying your superiors.”

“That marine prison is one of only 11 large transport ships. Surely our superiors would prefer to have this problem resolved with as little loss as possible!!”

“Ha ha. A logical excuse, hm? It’s obvious you came up with that afterwards. Not to mention that it’s meaningless. The higher ups have already calculated out what cost will be needed to resolve this and they still ordered us to sink it. There is no reason to think so hard about this. Your superiors are not expecting to receive a bonus from you. They look down on you when they pay you.”

“The jailers are part of Necessarius, too!! Do you plan on killing your colleagues!?”

“I don’t care,” the girl responded without even pausing for an instant. “Managing the prisoners is their job and yet they carelessly allowed this crisis to occur. They should be prepared for what awaits them.”

“Dammit!!”

The transmission was cut off from the other side.

Kanzaki reached for the rental car’s back door.

“I am going on ahead. At this distance, I can run there faster!!”

“Hey, hey, hey! This seems to have gotten even more troublesome!!”

Without even listening to the rest of the shop owner’s frantic words, Kanzaki left the car, grabbed Shichiten Shichitou from the roof, and jumped using her leg strength.

Due to possessing bodily characteristics similar to the Son of God, Saints could freely use a portion of his power.

By using that power to strengthen her physical abilities, Kanzaki could temporarily move at speeds greater than the speed of sound.

Kanzaki leapt up to a nearby building at a speed slow enough to not produce a shockwave. As she continued to jump from building to building, her speed quickly turned supersonic.

She was heading for the beach of Nagercoil in southern India.

(I need to catch up to and stop that girl before she reaches the ocean!!)

Kanzaki gritted her teeth as she ran and jumped at a speed that caused the edges of the scenery to distort like a sugar sculpture.

She could not see the attacker’s back.

The magician was using a high level concealment spell, but she also had to have been moving at a fairly high speed.

But…

(How na?ve.)

As she left the urban area and approached the beach, Kanzaki kept her breathing even more regular than before. She was not using a simple breathing method used for sports. That breathing method supported the mental activity that went along with high level thoughts.

She stared at a point straight ahead.

She poured more power into her legs.

(I doubt you can lose a Saint like me with nothing more than speed!!)

“Hh!!”

She suddenly accelerated as if shooting straight forward into open space.

She caught up to a strange mass that could only be seen as a slight blur and then slammed her shoulder forward as if tackling someone and spun her arms around.

“!?”

She heard the sound of someone’s breath catching in her throat nearby, but Kanzaki ignored it and slammed the person down into the white sand.

It looked like the scene of an airplane crashing. The fine sand exploded up into the air and the two bodies rolled for a few hundred meters. The cloud of sand spread out in a straight line following them.

At the speed they were travelling, even a grain of sand held the destructive force of a file. The only reason Kanzaki and the girl’s bodies were not ripped to pieces was because they had both activated defensive magic just before striking the ground.

Even so, they were not completely unscathed.

“…Ow…”

When Kanzaki got up, her target magician was no longer in her arms. Her opponent had likely escaped in the instant her focus had been turned toward the defensive spell. She scanned the area with her sharp eyes and spotted another figure getting up a bit away.

It was a girl with brown hair.

Her age seemed to be similar to Kanzaki’s.

The rough looking girl wore a sports brand T-shirt and a miniskirt, but she had two backpacks on her back for some reason. She was carrying both backpacks by only one strap with one on the right shoulder and the other on the left.

They most likely contained spiritual items of some type.

Kanzaki raised her guard and the girl spoke while casually brushing the sand from her hair.

“Well, you’ve really made a mess of things. This isn’t London. We don’t have a system in place to conceal this kind of thing. If you don’t at least activate a people clearing spell, we have no way of preventing any witnesses.”

“Who are you…?”

“We don’t have time for introductions.”

After saying that, the girl suddenly accelerated.

She headed straight for the marine prison as if challenging Kanzaki to a race.

“!!”

Without hesitating, Kanzaki headed for the ocean as if alongside her.

Kanzaki Kaori had no way to walk on water.

However, the ocean off of Nagercoil was not completely lacking in impurities. By using the slight bit of buoyancy of empty cans, bottles, driftwood, scraps of seaweed, and nets, Kanzaki was able to move quickly from one object to the next.

Meanwhile, there was no regularity to the girl’s movements, but her method was similar. She took some small objects from her backpack and scattered them in the water. She moved along those objects. The objects’ details were unknown, but they seemed to be triangles a few centimeters across.

As they both travelled toward the marine prison, Kanzaki had a question in her heart.

Her method of travelling over the water had to be forced to work using the leg strength of a Saint.

How was the other magician able to keep up?

Even if she was strengthening her physical abilities with a spiritual item, she should not have been so easily on par with Kanzaki. A Saint had special qualities and talents that fewer than 20 people in the world had. If the level of a Saint was so easily reached, they would not be praised as they were.

And yet…

“Hh!!”

Kanzaki sharply changed the direction she travelled in and suddenly approached the girl. Before the girl could react, she swung her hips around to perform a flying kick.

With a tremendous noise, the girl’s body was blown away to the side.

Perhaps due to the tremendous speed, the magician’s body skipped like a stone across the water two or three times rather than just sinking down into the water.

However, she did not collapse or sink in the end.

The magician lowered her speed a certain extent partway through, but still started moving quickly across the ocean once more.

(She received an attack from me and got back up…?)

She had not escaped the force of the blow. The shock of the impact had clearly been sent straight into the magician’s body. And Kanzaki’s hand to hand fighting ability was at the level where she could easily destroy a thick concrete wall with one arm.

“Is it really that surprising?” The magician smiled and reached a hand toward the two backpacks on her back. “Saints are not the only ones who can boast of superhuman strength.”

She scattered a lot of something around.

They were the objects with triangular sides.

They were made of leather.

They may have been polished with high quality wax because one surface shined like an ebony desk while the other side seemed to be soft and loose.

Immediately afterwards, the magician disappeared with a roar. She was headed straight for Kanzaki. In the time it took Kanzaki to realize that, the magician’s fist was already headed for her face.

“!?”

Kanzaki was shocked to find herself being knocked straight backwards.

She had thought she had escaped just beyond the range of the magician’s fist.

And yet…

(…Gh…!?)

A dull shock had struck the entire front of her body rather than just her face. Just before the magician had sent her fist forward, she had gathered power by stomping down on the ocean…or more accurately, on the triangular piece of leather floating there. The instant she did, the splash of seawater that shot up around her foot had struck Kanzaki’s body with tremendous speed. The shock felt less like a spray of water and more like a steel wall.

Kanzaki shot across the water, fell, but finally stood up atop a plastic bottle instead of sinking below the surface. Meanwhile, the magician looked down at her fist.

“Tch. I’m just not suited for sea battles.”

“Was that…Víearr’s…?”

“Yes, his shoe.”

The magician jumped high into the air.

After reaching a height of 10 meters, she aimed for Kanzaki on her way down.

Part 5

A god named Víearr existed within Norse mythology.

He ruled over superhuman strength.

In terms of pure strength, he was said to be second only to Thor.

The role given to him was simple. He was to kill Fenrir after it devoured Odin during the final battle of Ragnarok. In the legend, Víearr grabbed Fenrir’s giant upper jaw with both hands, stepped on its lower jaw with his shoe, and ripped its body in two.

Víearr wore a special shoe.

It was made of leather. It was not made of a special sacred material made especially for a weapon of the gods. Instead, it had been made by gathering together the triangular pieces of leather cast aside while human leather shoes were being made.

In other words…

“As long as you know how to make it, no other weapon of the gods is so easy to gather the materials for and to make.”

“!!”

Kanzaki frantically fled to the side away from the magician who shot down from above like a meteor. She sent much more seawater out than before and with much more force, but there was nothing to fear if you knew it was coming. Kanzaki immediately wielded her wires and sliced the wall of water to pieces.

But that had only been the aftereffect.

If she had taken a direct hit, even a Saint like Kanzaki would have been in trouble.

The spiritual item the magician used was clearly not complete as Víearr’s Shoe. It was nothing more than a large amount of the material. But that actually gave her a general strengthening beyond just her legs.

But…

(Is that really all there is…?)

The fists and legs that continually came at Kanzaki held enough force to turn a failed defense into a fatal error. Kanzaki moved in a complex curving path and kept enough of a distance that the magician could not catch up.

(It does make sense that using Víearr’s power and taking an independent interpretation of the triangles of leather could spread the range of the strengthening effect, but is that really all she needs to rival a Saint?)

If not, there had to be something else going on.

Had she prepared some other trick allowing her to outdo a Saint?

Or had she done something to weaken Kanzaki?

Just as Kanzaki got that far in her thoughts, the magician quickly approached her.

A chill ran down Kanzaki’s back, but…

(So…)

She did not evade. Instead, she reached for the grip of her sword.

(…that’s it!!)

A roar exploded out.

The magician swung her fist. With just that motion, Kanzaki’s body was knocked over 10 meters to the side. She had immediately raised the sword hanging at her waist and tried to block, but a shock that threatened the joints ran up her arms.

But that was all.

If she had taken that blow full on, she would likely have taken severe damage on a skeletal level whether she had been defending or not. She would no longer have been able to move at high speed using the empty cans and other objects floating in the ocean.

The magician seemed confused and Kanzaki opened her mouth to speak.

“Víearr’s Shoe was created to trample on the fangs of Fenrir who even swallowed the chief Norse god and to support that god of superhuman strength. Your ‘shoes’ use that theory to simply increase physical strength,” Kanzaki said while still being chased. “However, that effect does not apply only to yourself.”

Hearing that, the magician grinned.

“Oh, so you figured it out?”

“By instantaneously increasing the strength of the wind around you, you increased the strength of your powerful fist even further. I’m guessing you use the repellent force of the waves to increase your leg strength. And just before you attack me, you increase the gravity or something else affecting me in order to lower my speed just a bit.”

Any one of the phenomena would not have been enough to apply decisive damage to a Saint. However, with the positives on the magician’s side and the negatives on Kanzaki’s side, the magician was able to produce more destructive force then a proper attack would.

“But it’s too late.” The magician grinned wider. “We’re too far out to sea. Look, you can already see the marine prison.”

“I won’t let you!!”

The magician tried to move quickly for the marine prison and lose Kanzaki, but her movements suddenly dulled.

She looked and saw that Kanzaki’s wires had sliced apart the triangular pieces of leather scattered about the ocean surface. The slices were curved rather than in straight lines.

“And I thought you wouldn’t be able to withstand my attack even if you had realized the theory behind it.”

“Well, I now know what the source of your power is. If I destroy those triangles of leather, you will return to being a normal magician.”

Even if triangles were sliced with a straight line, at least one half would form another triangle. However, that was not the case when they were sliced apart with curving cuts.

She could destroy the triangles.

“But…” the magicians said and snapped her fingers.

That must have been a sign to strengthen the surrounding wind because the leather remnants Kanzaki’s wires had sliced apart were sliced further. The fan-shapes made of two straight lines and one curve were returned to a triangular shape.

“The triangle is the basis of polygons. Any polygon can be split into multiple triangles using straight lines.”

In that case, their methods of fighting were clear.

Kanzaki would win if she could use her wires to slice the triangles of leather and destroy their triangular shape as quickly as possible.

The magician would win if she used Víearr’s Shoe to manipulate the wind and water to return the sliced pieces to a triangular shape and increase her speed.

It was a simple battle of speed.

The one who created more of their shape would win and the one with fewer would lose.

So…

The two magicians sent slicing attacks out around themselves at extremely high speed.

The wind blew and the waves disappeared.

In an instant, dozens of the pieces of leather were sliced apart with curving lines and in the next instant, they were returned to a pile of triangles. The distribution of what amount Kanzaki and the magician controlled changed from moment to moment like two people trying to paint the same wall different colors.

They did not directly attack each other, but their actions indirectly led to striking a fatal blow to the other.

As that battle of stealing the realm of control back and forth spread, the magician smiled.

She could win.

No matter what shape Kanzaki cut the triangles of leather into, she could always create another triangle by adding on another cut. In other words, the magician’s power would not lessen. In fact, by creating a triangle out of both halves created by the curved slice, she could increase the number of triangles and therefore increase the source of her strength.

As long as she did not make any major mistakes, she could keep up with the speed. And as the number of triangles grew, the magician’s strength grew as well.

Eventually, her speed would outdo Kanzaki’s.

Once that happened, she could take out Kanzaki before the other girl could slice apart the triangles of leather. It was just a matter of time. If the magician could keep things going without making any mistakes, she would be victorious.

But…

“This is not merely an issue of speed,” Kanzaki said quietly as she wielded her seven wires a bit away. “You will realize soon that this is also an issue of accuracy.”

(…?)

Was she saying small mistakes would eventually show up in a protracted battle?

However, that was not it.

An exceedingly simple problem arose just as Kanzaki had predicted.

It was an issue of size.

The triangles of leather constructing Víearr’s Shoe had only been a few centimeters long. Kanzaki was slicing through them with her wires and the magician was returning them to a triangular shape. Two things happened as a result of this.

First, the number increased which increased the magician’s strength.

Second, the size of the triangles of leather got smaller and smaller.

Even the original triangles that were a few centimeters across required a good bit of skill to slice through accurately from a distance. Once the size had gone down to half or even a quarter of that and they were only a few millimeters across, the success rate dropped.

It was similar to firing a gun at a target.

Even at the same distance, one’s accuracy would fall the smaller the target became. Once the target was only a few millimeters across, it was like firing through the eye of a needle.

And…

If the magician lost, she would lose her strength and be defeated by Kanzaki.

“Kh…!!”

The magician felt like her mental vision suddenly narrowed. It was like a game of chicken heading straight for the edge of a cliff. She had to slam on the brakes because she was getting to the point where she was not sure if she could handle it, but her opponent continued heading on and on, so she had no choice but to go on herself.

Meanwhile, their battle had become an even more delicate one where both speed and accuracy had to be used in unison. As the battle escalated from a few millimeters, to a single millimeter, and then to the realm even smaller than that, the magician was made aware of something about her own characteristics.

It was true that her strength increased as the number of triangles increased.

However, an increase in strength was not necessarily a good thing.

It was the same as how a light jab was easier to hit with than a powerful straight.

The more her strength increased…

…the harder it became to aim carefully!?

(No…!!)

In all honesty, the magician wanted to quit.

Her head was warning her that she could not keep up if things advanced any further.

But Kanzaki Kaori was still accurately using her wires to slice the leather further and further and further and further as if she were a piece of accurate machinery. The spiritual items were smaller than a millimeter putting them at about the size of a grain of sand, but she was still swiftly and surely slicing them.

It was not just an issue of superhuman strength and speed.

One also needed the precision to accurately wield one’s power in that realm. Saints were said to have such rare talent because they had the precise control needed to fully wield their power.

(So this is…)

The magician gritted her teeth and felt a sensation escape her.

She had sliced through air.

That showed that she could no longer keep up with the accuracy needed at that scale.

And…

Kanzaki Kaori was still swinging her wires.

The triangles that were smaller than a millimeter were sliced to pieces in an instant.

(So this is a Saint…!)

The magician’s speed suddenly dropped.

She could feel the assistance from Víearr’s Shoe quickly leaving her.

Kanzaki charged straight for the magician.

With a roar, the magician was blown away by a blow from Kanzaki’s scabbard.

The magician flew over 100 meters before landing and she skipped off the surface two or three times when she did. It looked similar to when someone failed in an attempt at water skiing.

The magician flew right past the giant submarine they had been approaching and then finally sank down.

Kanzaki created a magic circle with her wires to activate a communications spell allowing her voice to be heard within the ship.

Kanzaki moved to a point blocking the submarine’s path and spoke.

“I do not know who your leader is, so I will address all of you. …You saw what just occurred, did you not?”

As she made the following announcement, Kanzaki pointed at her own chest with her thumb.

“If you still wish to fight me after seeing that, feel free to come at me.”

Part 6

The marine prison was returned from being Naglfar and control returned to the Cape of Good Hope. The danger of the prisoners escaping to land had been eliminated. Apparently, the prison was back on its normal course and headed for England.

“You’ve convinced me anew that Saints are monsters,” muttered the jeans shop owner. “Stopping 500 heinous criminals with nothing but words is not normal.”

Kanzaki had returned from the ocean and had an awkward look on her face.

“I do not understand why you are treating me like a monster for resolving this peaceably.”

“How can you say that after charging off at over the speed of sound and plowing into the beach like that? How far do you think the panic would have spread if we had not already set up concealment spells?”

“Uuh…”

It had been an emergency, but she still should not have done that.

Meanwhile, the tour guide messed with the edge of a page of her memo pad looking bored.

“What is going to become of the marine prisons? That same method of hijacking can be used on any large ship with prisoners aboard. There’s no way to prevent it from happening again…”

“It required the fingernails and toenails of the dead. If they rip off the prisoners’ nails before they board, there won’t be any more problems,” the shop owner said jokingly.

When Kanzaki glared at him, he explicitly stated he was joking.

“According to Norse mythology, the completion of Naglfar, the ship of the enemies of the gods, would signify the completion of their preparations for the final battle of Ragnarok. Naglfar is made of the fingernails and toenails of the dead, so the dead’s nails are supposed to be cut off before they are buried in order to delay Ragnarok as long as possible.”

“…”

“Tearing off the nails may be going too far, but drawing some kind of symbol on their nails and taking some method so they can’t use them to create Naglfar would work, right? They could use a spell that temporarily keeps them from growing beyond the finger or put some kind of caps on their fingers.”

As she listened to the shop owner, Kanzaki turned back toward the ocean just once.

Due to the distance, she could not see the marine prison. As she thought of the prison that had disappeared beyond the horizon, she spoke.

“…Ideally, we would create a society that does not need those submarines at all.”

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