Chapter 7: The Destination of Salvation. GUNGNIR.
I will now explain the contents of the requested investigation.
Centered around western Europe, Norse magic cabals have been attacked one after another. Normally, an anti-magician agency like Necessarius would have no reason to save them, but we cannot deny the possibility that the attacker is stealing technical knowledge or spiritual items from the cabal bases and is planning to cause an even greater incident using them.
Please investigate the identity and goal of the attacker and eliminate this attacker if necessary. As previously stated, we have no duty to protect the magic cabals. If you deem it would be an effective strategy, feel free to use them as shields or as bait.
“I see…” said Kanzaki Kaori as she glanced around.
The air smelled of salt water.
The ocean ran up against thick concrete rather than grainy sand. The wind seemed almost sticky as if it had oil mixed in as it oddly coiled about her black hair.
She was in the Belgian harbor area of Ostend.
The tour guide girl’s duty was to quickly get the combat magicians to the site and supply them hideouts and the like. According to her, the ocean there was comparatively clean. The crude oil constantly leaking from the paths tankers took and offshore oil platforms had dirtied Europe’s oceans.
The area Kanzaki was in was not an industrial area or a fishing harbor.
It was a materials storage area for oil drilling.
It was currently empty, but as new areas were drilled and as other areas dried up, that large area was filled with materials and used as a relay point. However, no other buildings had been built even after that role had ended.
Rusted metal frames and pipes were piled up that were likely remnants from the process of building the oil platform. Also, a prefab office still remained.
Some people had borrowed the area for their own use.
The reason the past tense had to be used was incredibly simple.
“Hyahh. The transportation is complete,” said the tour guide as she jogged over toward Kanzaki. She wiped sweat from her forehead with the expression of someone who had completed a job and flipped through her memo pad. “All 1302 members of the magic cabal Champions from the Sea seem to have been taken out by this attacker. There are piles of bodies. This goes beyond the category of a crime scene. …The witnesses were not very willing to talk about what happened. Well, I don’t think any magician would want to speak of the details of such a crushing defeat.”
“Hhh…” Kanzaki sighed.
A stickier smell struck her nose mixed in with the smell of seawater.
It was the smell of blood.
“How much damage was done?”
“Each arm and leg was broken in two places, five ribs were smashed, the right eye was gouged out, and a quarter of the liver was ruptured. …It was the same for all 1302 of them. The method was very thorough. Someone who could pull this off would have been able to just decapitate them much more easily. I get the feeling whoever it was went to the effort of keeping them alive like this so they would suffer longer.” The tour guide started to sit down on one of the piles of metal beams, but she stopped when she realized it was covered in rust. “Champions from the Sea is a famous Norse cabal. Apparently, plenty of other cabals or magicians would either gain from this or have reason to hold a grudge against them. However, that is a bridge any organization has to cross once they get above a certain size.”
Normally, a magic cabal would form techniques of avoiding that kind of thing.
The cabals that did not think of counter measures tended to get taken out before they got that large.
The tour guide girl bent the edge of a page in her memo pad.
“Did you figure anything out, Kanzaki-san?”
“I was checking the direction of the blood splatter,” she said as she pointed back along the route she had just come along. “The blood flies out in every direction centered on a single line.”
“Um…and that means…?”
“It means the attacker was likely a lone individual rather than a group. It looks as if the magicians of Champions from the Sea all headed out to intercept the attacker who came charging through their base in a straight line…and every last one of them was defeated.”
The tour guide girl looked around seeming to wonder if you could really determine all that from the aftermath, but then she looked confused.
“But…but Champions from the Sea is a fairly famous Norse cabal, right? And they had 1302 magicians here at their base. Could a single person really defeat them?”
Kanzaki fell silent and then noticed the jeans shop owner approaching from the distance. He was lightly shaking the cell phone in his hand.
“Hey, I’ve gotten everything set up.”
The tour guide girl looked confused.
“…I really do not like having to do this.”
“If the ones being attacked were normal people with no connection to magic, I would outright refuse, but it’s been Those Who Prevent the Extermination of the World Tree, the Iron Stake that Carves Knowledge, and Champions from the Sea. Each of those cabals has a nasty history behind it. The magician attacking them could have that reason even if the cabals have never even spoken to this person.” The shop owner scratched at his head in annoyance. “Honestly, this isn’t the job of a jeans shop owner. Over 1000 expert magicians have been easily torn up in the same method and now you’re saying we should take this monster on with just the three of us? I don’t just have to worry about having workers’ comp for this. I need life insurance.”
The tour guide was completely left behind by that conversation. She tried to reason it out on her own, but finally gave up and just asked.
“Um, what are you talking about?”
“We don’t know who it is, but this attacker has been going around destroying large Norse cabals,” replied the shop owner. “So we just need to get to one of those cabals ahead of time and destroy it ourselves. If we lie in wait at their base, the attacker should eventually show up.”
And so Kanzaki and the others headed to the location of the magic cabal the attacker seemed likely to attack next.
The attacker seemed to be targeting Norse cabals all over Western Europe rather than just in Belgium. A map showing the locations of the cabals the attacker had destroyed up to that point made one wonder just how wide a range the person was operating in.
“Can we really figure out what the next cabal is?” asked the tour guide girl from the passenger seat of their rental car.
The jeans shop owner responded from the driver’s seat.
“There are all sorts of Norse cabals. They have different histories, number of members, affluence, strength, magical techniques, types of spiritual items, and amounts of knowledge or books in their possession. Necessarius takes all that information together and computes a level of danger.”
“This attacker has been destroying cabals in order from the highest level of danger on down. Of course, the lower cabals are trembling in fear knowing they can’t handle an enemy that took out even stronger cabals. The attacker could be doing this in order to take out the most dangerous enemies while they still have strength to spare or they might just enjoy making other tremble in fear.”
The tour guide’s face paled.
“U-um…Kanzaki-san said the attacker is most likely a single person rather than a group...“
“So this person is going around destroying Norse cabals starting with the most dangerous ones? All alone!? How strong is this monster!?”
“Nn, well, it could be…”
Just as the shop owner started speaking, Kanzaki leaned forward from the backseat.
“We are almost there.”
“Got it. Hm…this might be what it feels like for the pilot of a bomber,” the shop owner muttered as he parked the small car on the edge of the road.
They were not stupid enough to park their car right in front of the enemy’s base.
“Well, it’s all up to you now, Kanzaki. Just go and kill everyone in Those who Know the Rune of the God’s Sword.”
“…I will only be knocking them unconscious. They are guilty of many things, so we will be taking them in. Make the proper preparations for the recovery team’s arrival.”
Kanzaki opened the back door and got out of the car while muttering what were probably complaints about the strategy they were using.
He body suddenly disappeared into the darkness with a sound like a whistle.
The tour guide looked off after Kanzaki for a bit (despite not knowing which direction she had disappeared into) before removing her seatbelt and pulling a sandwich out of the paper carton on her lap.
“Will she really be okay? Even if she is a Saint, she is up against a magic cabal with thousands of members. Back with the marine prison, you two said 500 prisoners was dangerous…”
“This cabal specializes in large scale spiritual items, so she’ll be fine if she can attack them before they can make any preparations. In fact, ending this without killing them will be more difficult. But given her personality, I doubt she’ll kill any of them,” the shop owner said. “Really, I’m more worried about my own life. I’m being flooded with complaints from around the world about how I’m not shipping anything out.”
“Oh, what ever happened with that Saten girl?”
“I haven’t been able to do my work at all because you two keep dragging me around the world!! What am I supposed to do!? How long ago did she make her order!? And I can’t even explain why I can’t ship anything out!!”
The shop owner tore at his hair and it seemed he was giving no serious thought to the possibility of Kanzaki losing.
The tour guide started eating her sandwich that had cabbage, corned beef, and mayonnaise and looked a bit uncertain.
“Won’t we end up getting wrapped up in some unexpected crisis if you blindly rely on her like this? There is no guarantee that Kanzaki can win in every single situation.”
“True, but I doubt there will be any problems here.”
“If the attacker can do it, then so can our Kanzaki.”
“Eh? What do you mean…?”
“I mean,” the shop owner said as he grabbed a fish paste sandwich from the paper carton on the tour guide’s lap, “that our enemy this time may also be a Saint.”
At that exact moment, a tremendous explosion could be heard. The car rattled, the tour guide panicked, and the shop owner grabbed the carton of sandwiches that almost fell from her lap.
His expression did not change.
“That’s a cabal base for you. That probably neutralized the people clearing field. I hope they can manage to play it off as a gas explosion.”
The tour guide’s face stiffened and she heard Kanzaki’s voice.
It was coming from a communications spiritual item.
“I have completed the negotiations for the ‘eviction’. I held back, but you should send the recovery team here just in case.”
“That was easier than expected, don’t you think?”
“But I guess it really isn’t too surprising,” said the shop owner with a grin. “If this hadn’t happened, a mysterious attacker would have come and mercilessly crushed them. Since you were offering only a moderate defeat, some of them probably happily let you beat them.”
“I asked a few of them if they had any idea who the attacker might be, but I did not get any good answers. However, it did not seem that they truly did not know anything.”
“So I guess we really have no choice but to lie in wait and find out when this attacker actually shows up,” said the shop owner.
However, Kanzaki seemed hesitant to mention something.
“Also…when I first entered their base, they seemed to mistake me for someone else.”
“When they first saw me, they thought that ‘she’ had come. They called me ‘Brunhild, the mixed one’. So who did they mistake me for?”
The magic cabal Those who Know the Rune of the God’s Sword’s base was a giant wooden ship. However, it was not floating in any water. A harbor was located on an artificial waterway that cut deeply into the land. The over 30 meter long sailing ship located in that flat asphalt area was the cabal’s base. The bottom of the boat curved up in a half circle shape, so the gap between it and the ground was filled with dozens of wooden pillars.
“This is the old style of doing things,” muttered the jeans shop owner upon seeing it. “So this is like a fancy castle filled with tradition? With such a showy base, they’ll lose all their assets at once if the place gets searched.”
The tour guide frowned as she followed him.
“You mean as opposed to the modern magic cabals that split their assets up among apartments and RVs in order to minimize the losses if any one place is searched? But that way just has no spectacle.”
Since Kanzaki Kaori had already “eliminated” the magician’s, no one else was in the area.
Kanzaki was in the process of stretching long wires from the center of the giant sailing ship to the surrounding streetlights and small harbor control buildings.
“I would like to set up a people clearing field before the battle starts, but then the attacker…this Brunhild might realize we are lying in wait.”
“Don’t you just need to set it up so it’s too late by the time she notices it?”
The shop owner’s response was rather vague because he did not have a combat role.
The tour guide girl then took a sip of coffee out of a cylindrical bottle that seemed to be from a chain store.
“Norse mythology is fairly well known in name, but modern people have surprisingly little contact with it.”
Kanzaki turned in the girl’s direction.
She went on to say, “You do not hear much about large showy temples being left over like with Christianity or Greek mythology. I get the feeling that not many people would be able to explain how the religion controlled the people like the Pope and priests of other religions. …In fact, normal people would probably have a hard time explaining the stories of the mythology like how the world began and how it would end in the mythology.” The tour guide lightly shook her bottle of coffee. “But normal people will have at least heard of the names of things like rune magic or seier magic even if they do not know the details of their use. People that never open any religious texts will naturally learn the names of at least Odin and Thor.”
It did not have the same sense of being foreign as Mayan or Aztec culture.
Yet it was not so familiar that the symbols of the religion could be easily brought to mind like with Christianity.
“I don’t know quite how to explain it…The general impression of Norse mythology seems somehow inconsistent. It is hard to tell even if it is seen as major or minor.”
In a way, that could possibly be used to describe the current attacker, Brunhild, as well.
A near yet distant magician.
They could imagine some of the broad details which made her seem very real, but they could not see the specifics which made her seem even more ominous.
“Regardless of what it was in the past, Norse mythology is currently one of the highest ranking religions when it comes to slowly permeating cultures with its knowledge rather than directly ruling cultures,” said the shop owner as he leaned up against a street light. “Basically, no one is shouting at people telling them to believe in it. Instead, everyone ends up knowing about it without anyone doing anything in particular. Well, it is easy to use for fantasy settings, so I won’t deny that it has spread through various types of entertainment.”
“Historically, it seems most Norse cultures were overtaken by the spread of Christianity,” said Kanzaki joining in the conversation after having finished laying out the wires.
The tour guide looked over at her.
“Um, he said that this attacker, Brunhild, might be a Saint like you.”
“Yes.” Kanzaki nodded. “If you recall, I investigated the base of Champions from the Sea in that Belgian harbor city. While I did, I naturally ended up thinking that I would cut through an enemy base in the same way.”
“Uehh…” groaned the tour guide.
Since Kanzaki had actually succeeded in an attack using the same method, it seemed likely that Brunhild had a similar level of physical strength.
But that meant…
“We do not know who will win this time!”
“It is not just this time,” Kanzaki replied immediately. “There is never any guarantee of victory. Bringing the fight to a situation you specialize in is more important than who your enemy is. In fact, changing what you are doing to match your enemy will increase the danger. No can perfectly wield their power in a true battle.”
“There doesn’t seem to be all that much I can use,” said the shop owner as he checked on the wires spread out through the area. “I’ve added in some of my sewing to prevent the side effects of the people clearing field from being detected, but that’s all I can do. This is going to be Saint vs. Saint. We can’t do much to provide backup in a battle between two monsters running around faster than the speed of sound.”
“Yes, this will be enough. You two should head back to the car.”
The tour guide girl looked confused and the shop owner waved at her.
“She’s saying we need to leave before Brunhild, this rumored genocidal attacker, gets here. If we stay, we’ll just end up being blow away by the aftereffects of some attack or another.”
That was the logical thing to do, but the tour guide still seemed hesitant.
“Just because this is a fight between two Saints doesn’t mean the odds are at an even 50/50,” the shop owner said lightly.
“Normally, the person making a surprise attack has better odds than the one caught by surprise. Brunhild thinks that she is the one making the surprise attack, but Kanzaki can raise her odds of victory by quite a bit by reversing those roles and attacking while Brunhild is still confused.”
“This is not a sport with set rules. It’s only natural to adjust things to your advantage as much as you can before fighting. You only challenge someone once your preparations are complete. Even if their abilities are the same, Kanzaki will not lose to Brunhild in this environment.”
Just as the shop owner said that with a smile…
“Oh? I don’t know who you are, but you certainly have a poor view of me.”
It was an odd female voice.
Each word and each syllable clearly entered their heads, but they could not tell what direction it was coming from or from how far away.
Some kind of trick was being used.
Why would she be using a trick like that?
The answer was simple.
(…Not good… A long distance attack!?)
“Get down!! Hurry!!”
Kanzaki yelled out, but their opponent did not give them enough time.
The first shot came.
Actually, it was less of a shot and more of a bombardment.
An explosive noise split the air.
Those who Know the Rune of the God’s Sword’s base was an over 30 meter long ship set up on land. A one meter shell struck its wooden side. That one attack smashed the wood and bent the side in like a crater. Splinters flew through the air and the entire ship shook. The amount of destruction was not normal.
That ship was not simply made of wood. The outer wall had been fortified with various defensive spells and barriers and yet it had been smashed with that one attack.
The attacker, Brunhild, had not overlooked the shop owner or the tour guide. She had truly tried to crush her enemies in that attack.
Her measurements had been off due to the wires spread out through the area.
Originally, Kanzaki had been intending to use them for the people clearing field, but she instead forcibly pulled on the bundle of wires in her hand. As a result, the wires sliced straight through the streetlights they were connected to so they would block the trajectory of the shell.
The shell hit one of the streetlights which slightly altered its trajectory. This prevented any of them from being turned into a pile of flesh.
“That,” said the directionless female voice, “will not work again.”
Another giant shell came flying toward Kanzaki and the others. It was likely simply being thrown with brute force.
But Kanzaki’s eyes had grown used to it.
By making it past the first shot, she had gained the important information of which direction Brunhild was firing from. She also knew how quickly the shells flew. With that much information, she could deal with them as long as she focused.
Kanzaki’s right hand naturally reached for the sword hanging at her waist.
The two meter sword was named Shichiten Shichitou.
With her strength as a Saint and her magic skill, it was perfectly possible for her to slice the shells in two as they headed her way.
Just before she pulled the blade from its scabbard, Kanzaki’s body stiffened.
If she had not stopped herself, she might have sliced the shell in two and then guarded against a possible counterattack.
She had seen what the shell actually was.
It was the body of a Those who Know the Rune of the God’s Sword magician who she had defeated and the recovery team had supposedly taken away.
The man had his arms and legs broken, one eye gouged out, and a severely bruised side. The “shell” that came flying toward her was a partially balled up human body. According to the tour guide girl’s reports, all of the past victims had been defeated in the exact same way.
She could not slice that in two.
Kanzaki just barely managed to stop the movement of the hand reaching for her sword and she avoided it by bending backward.
It slightly grazed her as it passed.
That was enough to knock her body back quite a bit and cause an unpleasant groaning sound come from within her body. Having missed its target, the shell once more struck the giant ship. It held just as much destructive power as the previous one.
Kanzaki looked over toward the jeans shop owner and the tour guide girl.
“You two need to get behind the ship!! Take a path that protects you from the bombardment and get away from—!!”
“Should you really be worrying about others right now?” said the female voice drowning her out.
This time, no shell came.
Instead, the attacker herself charged toward Kanzaki with tremendous speed. She just barely remained below the speed of sound, but not because she lacked the strength to exceed it. She was making sure not to create an unnecessary shockwave that would give her enemy extra information.
The theory that the attacker might be one had been more or less proven with that bombardment and overwhelming speed. Brunhild’s capacity was about equal to Kanzaki’s.
If they were both Saints, there was not enough of a gap between their strengths for Kanzaki to defeat her in a single strike.
Just as Kanzaki drew her long sword, a heavy shock ran up the blade. It was due to the blow from Brunhild’s blade that approached silently at high speed.
Brunhild, the attacker, was a girl with long blonde hair and white skin. She seemed to be about the same age as Kanzaki. She wore a hat with decorative feathers in it, a dress that came down to just above her knees, and men’s pants. She also had protectors covering her elbows and knees and bulletproof vest covering her chest.
She gave an odd impression.
Each piece of clothing had nothing in common with the others. Wearing thick men’s pants beneath a women’s dress was strange enough, but the protectors on her joints were likely the type worn while roller skating. And the bulletproof vest was on a level where it seemed unlikely any clothing would match it.
As a whole, it all had an odd sense of unity. It looked as if she had created the same silhouette as Medieval European armor using modern materials.
(A magical symbol…)
Kanzaki pressed her sword as far forward as she could and looked at Brunhild’s sword. It was an exceedingly wide double-edged sword that was about 1.5 meters long. The point was not all that sharp, but that was likely because it was meant to crush an enemy wearing metal armor.
It was a Western sword called a claymore.
The giant sword would have looked out of place in any modern scene, but it seemed appropriate when held by Brunhild with her armor-like silhouette. The claymore may have been the core of the magical symbol Brunhild was using her entire body to display.
Compared to Kanzaki’s Shichiten Shichitou which was developed based on a Japanese katana, the claymore was much wilder. It was so huge that it seemed like an image of the stagnation of military arts.
It so heavy and huge that it could not be controlled finely enough to make precise slices.
On the other hand, it had the destructive power needed to provide a fatal blow to an enemy by simply swinging it down and not thinking about the movement of one’s feet or the usage of one’s muscles.
“Oh?” said Brunhild as she used both hands to hold that weapon that was so large it lost all flavor. “I was wondering who was interfering, but I guess it was another Saint.”
A great scraping noise rang out.
It was the sound of the claymore being pulled back to create a gap of a few centimeters between the two blades and then being swung in a curving arc toward Kanzaki once it was free.
It was not simply being swung down with no real thought being put into it.
It was a refined attack.
The strike was fast, sharp, and heavy enough to be referred to in that way. Kanzaki just barely managed to catch it on her long sword. Even a Saint on Kanzaki’s level just barely managed. Immediately after Kanzaki realized that fact, Brunhild began sending blow after blow with her claymore.
The exchange caused a great din with slight intervals like machinegun fire and sent orange sparks flying.
She was not just fast.
She was not just raining blows down.
Each attack was thought out and tried to slip through Kanzaki’s defenses and the blows against her katana held a murderous intent that wore on one’s mind. Kanzaki’s eyes grew sharp as she felt that intent and swung her blade repeatedly at the same speed.
Brunhild did not just force her way through using her abilities as a Saint.
She could only produce such deadly blows because she had not been content with that and had trained and trained to bring herself beyond that.
In other words…
“So we’re the same.”
When Kanzaki heard Brunhild say that, she lost it.
“Like hell we are!! What happened to Those who Know the Rune of the God’s Sword and the Necessarius recovery team that was taking care of them!?”
“Oh.” Brunhild answered Kanzaki’s question in a tone that showed she did not especially care. “So they were from the Anglican Church. Sorry about that. I thought they were their reinforcements, so I took care of them.”
Kanzaki’s speed increased explosively.
But Brunhild was able to keep up. Being one of the fewer than 20 Saints in the world was no longer much of an advantage in that fight.
Then something changed.
The orange sparks that were produced as they wielded their weapons at supersonic speeds suddenly expanded oddly. The sound of steel clashing with steel also reverberated in a distorted way for an instant.
Brunhild jumped back seeming to have realized something.
Kanzaki glared at her holding her sword out at the ready and Brunhild switched to a one-handed grip on her claymore and looked down at it.
The thick, wide blade was made to slice an enemy in two, armor and all.
The blade had chipped in places. Like a poor-quality comb, it had thin, irregularly spaced gaps a few centimeters deep running along it. During their exchange of blows, Kanzaki’s katana had eaten into the claymore.
“I’ve heard that Japanese katanas have the durability needed to function both as a sword and a shield, but this is something more. You have some kind of spell embedded in the blade. I’m using attack spells in conjunction with my blade, but it looks like I’m at the disadvantage here.”
“Yuisen. It is a spell that theoretically has the ability to slice a monotheistic angel in two. It is not something I like to turn on humans.”
Brunhild’s stance changed.
There was no major visible change, but the murderous intent she had been sending straight forward receded. She had changed to a defensive stance or perhaps one for retreat. She may have been thinking of leaving while the damage was minimal. Brunhild had completely switched out her strategy.
“Are you going to flee?”
“Don’t be mistaken. My objective is not you. I only made contact because I wanted to know who Those who Know the Rune of the God’s Sword’s reinforcements were…but this does not seem to be an issue. I can still continue my plan.”
“Your plan? Why are you attacking Norse cabals?”
“For fun and for profit.”
It held so much malice and hate that it almost did not seem right to refer to it as a “smile”.
“If you want to know what my objective is, you should ask them rather than me. Ask those magicians who pretended to be the victims while you were so kind as to protect them. I’m sure you’ll figure it out if you just focus on the terms Valkyrie and ‘mixed one’.”
As Brunhild started to turn away, Kanzaki lowered her hips slightly and focused on Shichiten Shichitou. She had been on top in the exchange of blows with the claymore. If she pushed forward, she could break the claymore.
“Is that really such a good idea?” asked Brunhild even though she did not seem too interested. “Our rampage had a bit of a side effect. This ridiculous cabal’s base looks like it’s about to collapse.”
A chill ran down Kanzaki’s spine.
Those who Know the Rune of the God’s Sword’s base was a giant sailing ship brought up on land. The space between the ground and the half-circle bottom of the ship was filled with dozens of wooden pillars.
A few of the wooden pillars had been broken by the shockwaves of Kanzaki and Brunhild’s battle.
As the load was focused in one direction, the remaining pillars were breaking one after another. Once it passed a certain point, the over 30 meter long ship would obey the law of gravity with nothing to support it.
In other words, it would roll over.
And the jeans shop owner and the tour guide girl were still hiding behind it.
“Dammit!!” Kanzaki cursed and ran toward her colleagues before the giant ship completely tilted over.
As she made that move, she knew instinctually that Brunhild would now slip through her fingers.
She would use that slight time lag to get the distance needed to flee. A conceited smile appeared on her face.
“I see no reason that we must fight, but I will have no choice if you get in the way of my plan,” she said to Kanzaki before leaving. “If you do…I will see you again upon the completion of Gungnir.”
The attacker, Brunhild, had escaped.
Fortunately, the jeans shop owner and the tour guide girl were safe, but the cabal members who had been used as shells were in critical condition. It seemed the other cabal members and the Necessarius recovery team had been discovered on the roof of a building about 700 meters from the harbor. They had all received heavy wounds leaving them near death.
Kanzaki Kaori headed from the harbor back to the rental car.
She had no intention of getting right back inside the cramped vehicle. She was simply feeling that dispirited. Brunhild’s method of fighting by using human bodies as projectiles could wear down a human mind just by watching.
Kanzaki sat on the hood of the car and heard the shop owner speak to her.
He was holding a cell phone.
He seemed to have been speaking with someone over it.
“She is Brunhild Eiktobel, a Saint from Finland. She has a proper entry in the Anglican Church’s database and the British Library.”
“Well, there are fewer than 20 Saints in the world. It is not that hard to make a list of all of them.”
It may seem surprising, but very few Saints were proper members of a Christian organization like Kanzaki was.
Most of the time, the Saint was simply so strong he or she felt no need to become the member of an organization. To put it bluntly, they held the strength needed to rival an organization all on their own.
Instead of trying to force those Saints into giving in, organizations like the Anglican Church would make sure they knew where they were and what they were doing but leave them alone so long as they posed no threat.
Brunhild must have been one of those Saints.
“Saints are a Christian thing, right?” asked the tour guide sounding confused. “Why can a Norse magician like Brunhild use the power of a Saint?”
“A Saint gains their power from bodily characteristics that they have from birth. There is nothing strange about someone from a Norse culture like Brunhild being one.”
“It seems Brunhild was originally part of a pure Norse cabal. Apparently, she used that kind of spell and did not use her Christian side as a Saint.”
“A cabal…” Kanzaki muttered.
The shop owner shrugged.
“It seems it wasn’t that much of a cabal. It only had 20 or 30 people and Brunhild was the only one with any real skill. They did nothing to stand out and it seems their goal was just to continue living in the traditional way.”
“In that case, we should investigate that cabal,” Kanzaki suggested, but she felt an inconsistency between the goal of protecting a traditional life and the actions and battle ability of Brunhild. “An order from that cabal might be behind Brunhild’s actions.”
“I doubt it,” the shop owner immediately replied. “It was destroyed 5 years ago. Brunhild was the only survivor.”
Kanzaki and the others arrived at a nearby church.
It looked like the world famous Roman Catholic style, but the inside was set up in the Anglican style. It was a Necessarius hideout. The victims of Brunhild’s attack were gathered inside. They were not in a condition where they could be treated in a normal hospital.
That many people were able to fit in the church because the space inside had been altered magically.
A nun wearing a nurse cap bowed upon seeing Kanzaki.
“Thank you for all your hard work. Are you here to question them?”
“Yes, if there is one who has relatively light injuries…”
“None of them have injuries any lighter or heavier than any of the others.” The nun shook her head. “They all received the exact same amount of damage. This level of accuracy makes the attacker seem like a human factory or something. It gives me the image of people being carried down a conveyer belt and accurately crushed. I just cannot believe that a human could deal out such even damage in the middle of a fierce battle. Surely it would have been a hundred times easier to just kill them.”
Kanzaki understood the situation, but she could not turn back.
She changed the way she gave her request.
“Then may I speak with one of them who seems like he would have the most information?”
“Yes, but I doubt any of them can tell you anything beyond screaming.”
The nun started slowly walking within the church as if leading Kanzaki and the others. They followed her.
“It seems Brunhild added in a magical trick after crushing her targets’ bodies with simple physical force.”
“Their wounds will not heal.” The nun sighed. “Something has been set up which is interfering with their natural healing abilities and with any recovery magic. In other words, their broken arms will remain broken until we either remove Brunhild’s spell or defeat her directly.”
“Since she uses Norse magic, did she carve runes to do it? You might be able to eliminate the effects by eliminating them,” said the shop owner, but the nun’s expression did not change.
They must have already thought of that.
“How are we supposed to eliminate runes that are carved inside their lungs? It might be possible to switch out the entire organ with someone else’s, but…”
“Uehh…” said the tour guide girl with an unpleasant expression.
The nun in the nurse cap arrived before a door and moved to the side to let Kanzaki in.
“Go right in. Call me if you need anything else.”
Kanzaki nodded and opened the door without knocking.
She did not give even the slightest courtesy to the people within.
It was unclear what the original purpose of the room was. The square room was large, but it had no furniture whatsoever. Mattresses were placed directly on the stone floor and the magicians Brunhild had attacked were lying atop them. About 10 such magicians were in that large room.
Multiple eyes glared in Kanzaki’s direction.
However, those 10 magicians all had their arms, legs, one eye, and a portion of an organ crushed, so none of them actually drew back or charged at her.
Kanzaki glanced around and settled her gaze on a young man.
“I’ll be blunt. Tell me everything you know about Brunhild Eiktobel.”
As expected, she received no answer.
Silence continued for a while.
The tour guide girl uneasily moved her gaze between Kanzaki and the young man and the jeans shop owner sighed out of annoyance. The shop owner seemed to be saying they should just give up and use the man as bait for Brunhild.
Kanzaki remained silent.
That silence applied more pressure than any shout could have.
While still lying on the mattress, the young man spoke to Kanzaki as if the words were being forced out of him.
“…Do you…really think…I have any…obligation to tell you…anything?”
His will alone was strong.
His were words of refusal, but if he truly felt that way, he would not have needed to speak at all.
Kanzaki noted that and continued the conversation.
“I am simply saying that taking you to the Tower of London to be tortured would be a lot of effort I would rather not be forced to take. Actually, it might be faster to just take you to the next cabal Brunhild will attack.”
“Tch,” the young man clicked his tongue. “You’ve got…quite a way of putting things. Cough. I take it…you understand the situation…to a certain extent.”
“Yes, we know that, as a group, you drove Brunhild Eiktobel’s small cabal to destruction five years ago.”
Kanzaki’s manner of speaking was slightly different from before due to that information.
The young man sighed.
“So I guess…you’ve also investigated…into the whole Hel thing…”
“No.” Kanzaki shook her head. “That is why I want you to tell me everything you know.”
“…If you don’t know…it’s better that it stays that way.” The young man did not look too good, but he managed a smile. “I’d rather die…than speak of that.”
“So you really have no intention of speaking… But is that really a good idea?” responded Kanzaki. “Brunhild said she would see me again when she had completed Gungnir.”
The young man’s body stiffened, but Kanzaki continued regardless.
“That is Odin’s spear in Norse mythology. I do not know to what Brunhild was referring with that name, but it does not seem that her revenge will end with just a few broken bones. You may remain silent if you wish, but you will likely meet a much more painful fate if Brunhild’s plan continues.”
“How many times am I going to have to tell you? Tell me everything you know. Of course, you may remain silent if you do not mind having every Norse cabal in western Europe slaughtered.”
The young man remained silent, but only for a few seconds.
“She is Hel, a mixed one,” the young man finally said.
His tone held a bit of scorn toward Brunhild.
“That means…exactly what you think it would… Brunhild Eiktobel is…not a mere Saint.”
“She is not…a mere Saint?” muttered Kanzaki and the young man nodded slightly.
“…She is…a Valkyrie.” His wounds must have been painful because he groaned as he spoke. “The Christian Church has people…with special characteristics…who are known as Saints. Cough. In the same way…there are special existences…in Norse mythology…known as Valkyries.”
That term appeared in various places in the mythology.
There were various theories as to the identity and origin of them, but one of those theories said a Valkyrie was not a pure god like Odin or Thor. If a human girl desired battle more than anything else and Odin answered that prayer, that girl would become a Valkyrie. In other words, an existence known as a Valkyrie that exceeded human knowledge existed at the extremes of humanity.
As a being that connected human to god, a Valkyrie could possibly be seen as analogous to an angel or a Saint. Due to this, there was plenty of magic dealing with Valkyries.
There were methods of accurately calling in a Valkyrie and methods of having a Valkyrie take warriors’ souls to Valhalla, the hall of the gods.
There were methods of obtaining a portion of their power by creating the weapons and tools of a Valkyrie.
And there were also methods of creating a Valkyrie by human means.
In fact, rune magic was the representative magic of Norse mythology and several methods of using runes were said to have been given to humanity by Valkyries. That was just how deeply related Norse magic was to the concept of Valkyries.
“Many different methods…cough…of creating a Valkyrie have been conceived of… But a process added on afterwards…can only do so much. In the end…you need the proper bodily characteristics…from the moment you were born. Similar to the proper skeletal structure needed to be a Chinese Xian…you need the proper characteristics on the skeletal and organic level…”
“And Brunhild matches those characteristics…?”
So was the Brunhild she had fought at Those who Know the Rune of the God’s Sword’s base a Valkyrie rather than a Saint?
Or had she been using the powers of both at the same time?
The meaning of the term “mixed one” slowly grew clear to Kanzaki.
“What does this nature of Brunhild’s have to do with all this?”
“…Five years ago…” the young man said. “Those Who Prevent the Extermination of the World Tree, the Iron Stake that Carves Knowledge, Champions from the Sea, Those who Know the Rune of the God’s Sword, and the Hammer that Tempers Gold within the Earth…attacked Brunhild Eiktobel. …There was a fear…that Hel could destroy the very format…cough…of Norse magic…”
“Destroy the format…?”
“Brunhild…does not use pure Norse magic…” he said. “And…she was just…too powerful. People choose…the most powerful and most efficient things…while creating their knowledge…and techniques. Cough. People would…take Brunhild into account…and aim to be a magician…like her. If everyone headed in that direction…it was possible that…pure Norse magic would go on the decline.”
It was true that Brunhild’s magic would have an indelible tint of Christianity to it if she had the characteristics of both a Saint and a Valkyrie. If everyone looked up to her and followed in her footsteps, the question of what would become of Norse magic was a valid one.
Christian culture would begin to eat into Norse culture.
Those five Norse cabals had refused to let that happen.
They had refused to allow Brunhild to become a person other magicians would look up to.
That was why they had attacked.
It had been a fight to protect their own culture.
Hel, the mixed one.
In Norse mythology, that was the name of the daughter born of Loki, a traitorous god, and a giantess who opposed the gods. Those five cabals had given Brunhild Eiktobel the name of the ruler of the cold underworld and then attacked her.
“In the end…”
Kanzaki Kaori’s voice was even colder than it had been before.
She had naturally clenched her fist and that grip had grown tighter with time.
“In the end, wasn’t that nothing more than jealousy? You could not stand the thought of everyone gathering around Brunhild rather than joining your cabals. Wasn’t that all it was?”
“No… We were…protecting Norse culture. …We were acting out of justice. Just like the family of Loki…she was a monster that would…harm this world itself!!”
“Brunhild Eiktobel was part of a small cabal with only 20 or 30 people!! That cabal was not a group carrying out large magical activities. They just wanted to protect their traditional way of living!! What you did was gather the power of the five largest cabals and attack them!! You brought enough strength to start a true war against people who did not even have proper weapons!!”
“She is…the repulsive Hel!! Cough cough!! It’s her fault…for being a Saint!! If she truly didn’t want to be attacked like that…she should not have been…a Saint in the first place!!”
His words were completely selfish.
One was a Saint due to bodily characteristics one had from birth. It was an issue of having characteristics similar to the Christian Son of God or not. What that young man was saying was on the same level as justifying an attack because his opponent had a certain hair color, skin color, or congenital disease.
How had Brunhild Eiktobel felt?
Because of something she had been forced to possess from birth, she had been completely alienated, hated, and envied by others. She had no plot or grand ambitions. She had simply wanted to protect her peaceful life in one corner of the world, but some complete strangers had decided she was dangerous and had taken that life from her.
The shop owner had said her cabal had been destroyed and that Brunhild had been the sole survivor.
Why had she alone survived?
Had it been because of her natural ability?
If so, how much had that made her curse her own ability?
Kanzaki Kaori had taken an especially heavy shock from the fact that merely being a Saint had been seen as an issue that had destroyed people’s lives.
She was not completely overjoyed at the fact that she was a Saint, but she was still Christian. A Saint held a special position in the Christian Church, so she had still viewed it as a blessing somewhere in her heart.
What if someone from a religion completely different from Christianity was given the qualities of a Saint?
That power would be nothing more than a foreign substance.
No matter how much she said she was on their side, Brunhild would never truly be a part of them due to that foreign substance. Because those bodily characteristics had been a part of her from birth, she could not eliminate them easily. No matter how much she hated being Hel and no matter what danger it brought the few people who would accept her, she could not get rid of what made her a Saint.
As a result, what Brunhild had was…
“We…did nothing…wrong!! We fought…to protect…our history…our culture…our way of life!! Brunhild Eiktobel’s mere existence…distorted Norse mythology!! It is wrong…to let her name be known! It isn’t right…for her to belong to a cabal! If that Hel rises up from the shadows of history again…we will strike her down…as many times as it takes!! We will destroy it all…and shove her back…into the depths of history!! That is…out duty! This fight is necessary…to protect Norse mythology!!”
The young man’s shouts echoed vainly.
None of his words got through to Kanzaki.
In fact, the way he spoke made one think it was better to not have his words get through.
“Is that all? Isn’t there something you haven’t told them yet, Setrua?”
They suddenly heard a female voice.
At the same time, the young man’s mouth was suddenly blocked. The female voice was coming from his mouth. The man’s mouth was being used to produce that female voice.
“It did not end with the attack 5 years ago. What happened afterwards? What about when you dug up the graves I made for those children and fed their bodies to wolves? What about when you attacked small Norse cabal after small Norse cabal to make sure they all felt so threatened that they would not help me? What about when you killed those children with no connection to magic just because they spoke to me as I lay collapsed on the ground?”
“Brunhild Eiktobel!!” Kanzaki cried out.
Each word she spoke must have put a great burden on the young man’s body because his body convulsed and his eyes opened as wide as they could.
(Brunhild carved runes within their lungs to prevent the damage from being healed.)
A whistle-like sound leaked out and the young man’s mouth was moved even more forcibly.
“You attacked that cabal in order to eliminate me, but I was the sole survivor. You did not achieve your goal, so of course the attacks did not end there! Right?”
Brunhild continued to ask him questions, but the man had no way of responding.
Or perhaps they were in a situation where the two of them could exchange information within their brains.
“You hid these facts, Setrua. You hid the fact that you continually chased after me even after destroying that cabal and the fact that you captured me half a year ago. And let’s not forget what happened then.”
The young man then greatly resisted the control Brunhild had over his vocal organs. However, he only managed to cause his body to tremble unnaturally. He was unable to utter even a single word.
Kanzaki turned around toward the shop owner and the tour guide.
“Dammit. Call one of the healing nuns!! I am going to pass my wires into his body and try to cut off this interference from Brunhild!!”
“It won’t work. Unless you perform a lung transplant, you can’t take control of him from me. Or do you plan on attacking me from a far?”
Brunhild’s words held great scorn.
Her tone held no hesitation toward harming another human being.
That Valkyrie had wished for nothing beyond living a peaceful life in a small village. Just how far had she been twisted?
“Setrua, I just finished destroying the Hammer that Tempers Gold within the Earth. I have now crushed all five cabals. My true purpose begins now. Like the hands of a clock, I am now inexorably approaching you as you lie their unmoving. Once I arrive, I will act true to the name of Hel that you forced upon me by sending each and every one of you to the underworld.”
Hatred, hatred, hatred, and more hatred.
Brunhild’s words tore into those they were directed at with nothing but their hatred.
That female voice continued to send scorn upon them like the queen of the underworld.
“Yes, I will soon complete Gungnir. And that is no metaphor. I will literally have the spear of Gungnir. I’m sure you know what a weapon of the gods signifies in Norse mythology.”
The lightning god Thor had the hammer Mj?lnir that represented the destructive power of lightning.
The weapon of a Norse god was the power of that god itself. The gods could wield their power because they possessed their weapons. There were stories of gods temporarily losing their powers due to losing their weapon or having it stolen.
In other words…
A human who created a weapon of the gods and could properly wield its power would theoretically be able to control the very power of that god.
“It would be difficult for a normal human,” Brunhild continued.
And this was Gungnir.
That spear belonged to Odin, the greatest of the Norse gods.
“But I am not a normal human.”
If she had created that…
If Brunhild Eiktobel held that…
“I am the mix of Valkyrie and Saint that you detest so much. Since I am mixed like this, I hold possibilities that would be unthinkable for a normal human.”
What she referred to would likely be more difficult for the pure Norse magician that young man was than for a Christian magician like Kanzaki. In fact, his face paled to an unbelievable extent upon hearing the words that came from his own mouth.
“Magicians these days cower in fear at just an angel or two. There is no way they can oppose the greatest god of a worldwide polytheistic religion. …I will change everything. This does not affect only Norse mythology. I will carry out my objectives even if I have to utterly destroy the magic side to do it.”
The young man’s mouthed flapped opened and closed.
He seemed to be trying to say something.
Kanzaki Kaori’s expression grew even grimmer as she read his lips.
“Setrua, I will let you choose.” Brunhild’s words grew even louder. “I did not simply kill you all because I want to give you the kind of truly hellish pain that does not yet exist in this world once I complete Gungnir. However, I am merciful. Just this once, I will give you the chance to bite your own tongue.”
The young man’s head tilted backwards.
Just before he tried to bite down as hard as he could on his tongue, Kanzaki stuck the side of her hand into his mouth. Immediately afterwards, dark red blood flowed from his mouth.
He had not bitten through his tongue.
He had bitten into Kanzaki’s hand with terrible strength.
Just as Kanzaki’s expression was about to distort in pain, the shop owner started moving.
As the young man lay on his back convulsing, the shop owner kicked the side of his jaw hard.
His jaw must have dislocated. Strength left his mouth and Kanzaki pulled her hand out.
But her expression was not one of relief.
“He’s seriously injured!! How could you do that to someone who was only being controlled!?”
“Don’t force this to look nicer than it is!! I’m sure you noticed too! Brunhild wasn’t controlling him at the end there. She purposely removed her control over him to let him choose! She did it because that way holds more despair and therefore is more ‘fun’!!”
Just then, the tour guide showed up with a nun. They immediately started treating him, but it was unclear how much it would help him. He was so completely overcome with fear that he had unhesitatingly tried to bite through his own tongue. His body was greatly injured but his mind was in tatters.
“Kanzaki!” shouted the shop owner. “Use your wires on his body! Do a trace on the construction of the spell!! We might still be able to find Brunhild’s location!!”
“That will get in the way of his treatment!! I can’t do tha—!”
“So you would rather see her create even more victims!?”
Kanzaki clenched her fist so tightly blood came from her wound.
She had no choice but to use someone’s body as they were on the verge of death for her own reasons.
That was how vital it was to head after Brunhild Eiktobel.
If she lost her there, Brunhild would likely create even more victims.
She had no time for hesitation.
Her seven wires sliced through the air. Those narrow wires accurately bound the young man’s body in an instant.
A portion of the flow of magic power that had controlled his body from within flowed into the wires. From that, Kanzaki grasped Brunhild’s general distance and direction.
“20 kilometers northwest!! She is travelling at high speed even now. She is interfering on her end, so I will lose the trace in a few seconds!!”
“At that distance, it would probably be faster for you to run their rather than use the car,” the shop owner muttered. “Go, Kanzaki!! Either way, we can’t help much in a battle between Saints. Get this over with and then come back!!”
She did not have to be told twice.
Kanzaki jumped straight out the window rather than leaving through the door. The instant her low trajectory jump brought her outside, she unleashed her leg strength all at once sending her after Brunhild faster than the speed of sound.
An explosive noise rang out far behind her.
As Kanzaki ran, she recalled what the young man had been desperately trying to get across with just the movements of his tongue after his jaw had been dislocated.
(…The Final Rune.)
The Norse god Odin was also known as a magician. Via a few ceremonies, he had acquired the magical knowledge that became the source of his great strength.
The most famous of those were the means of using the 18 varieties of runes.
Most of them had clear effects such as stopping the motion of a flying arrow or checking to see if a cup had poison in it, but there was one that no one knew the purpose of.
The Final Rune.
Only Odin knew the purpose of or the method of using that legendary piece of magic.
However, it was based on runes which could be used by humans and gods alike, so Brunhild would be able to use it if she learned how. She would be able to use the magic that became the mysterious source of power for the god who held the greatest power and knowledge even among the Norse gods.
Most likely, completing that rune would give true power to Gungnir.
And Brunhild would complete her revenge once she had that spear. She would wield that god-like power and send those magicians of Norse cabals to a hell humans could normally never experience.
(Is that really it…?)
As she pursued her enemy at high speed, Kanzaki realized something did not make sense.
Even without waiting for Gungnir’s completion, Brunhild Eiktobel had easily overpowered those five cabals. If she wanted to kill them, she could have done so when she attacked and there were plenty of other ways to torture them before killing them.
Kanzaki had the feeling Brunhild was hiding something.
What was the true goal of that Valkyrie who was called Hel.
(…At any rate, I cannot allow her to complete Gungnir.)
Kanzaki stared straight forward once more.
She was close to her target.
(If Brunhild is going to cause even more damage, I must destroy that spear directly!!)
A Christian Saint hurried toward a Norse Valkyrie.
The spear that held the greatest destructive power of a certain mythology would soon be completed.
With the Final Rune that only Odin should know, the disaster would begin.
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