Toaru Majutsu no Index SS: Kanzaki

Chapter 8: The One who Teaches the Secret Rune. VALKYRIE.
  • Prev Chapter
  • Background
    Font family
    Font size
    Line hieght
    Full frame
    No line breaks

Chapter 8: The One who Teaches the Secret Rune. VALKYRIE.

Part 1

The contents of the requested investigation…have not been established.

Your target…has not been established.

In this emergency situation, everyone involved should use their own judgment.

Half a year ago.

Brunhild Eiktobel’s power had a periodic irregularity similar to the waxing and waning of the moon.

She held both the qualities of a Christian Saint and a Norse Valkyrie. However, she could not wield both powers at the same time. The two powers were in opposition to each other, so they weakened each other rather than multiplying her overall strength.

When her power as a Saint was strongest, her power as a Valkyrie was reduced to zero.

When her power as a Valkyrie was strongest, her power as a Saint was reduced to zero.

Using the moon comparison, those extremes would be like the full moon and new moon.

That was not a real issue.

Either way, Brunhild had quite a bit of power at her disposal. She could use her power as a Saint to run faster than the speed of sound and she could use her power as a Valkyrie to bend a tanker in two with a single punch. Even if she made an enemy of a normal magic cabal, she could annihilate it on her own.

The problem was the time halfway in between.

In the moon illustration, that would be the time of a half moon.

At that time her powers as a Saint and a Valkyrie were exactly equal. When the scales were perfectly level like that, she lost both powers. In other words, Brunhild Eiktobel was no different from a normal person for a few days every three months.

It had been as if they had aimed for that time.

However, she did not think the enemy Norse cabal understood her nature that well. Whether it was a coincidence or intentional, they had still attacked during that weak time.

They had ganged up on her, beaten her until almost her entire body was torn up, dragged her across the ground, and thrown her into a cold cell. Her arms and legs had been bound by thick chains and she was not even allowed to lie down to sleep.

She had guessed the cabal had not killed her right away because they wanted something.

They loathed the fact that she held the qualities of both a Saint and a Valkyrie but they also were unwilling to let a rare specimen like a Valkyrie slip from their fingers.

Brunhild Eiktobel had been a special existence from the moment she had been born.

Without thinking anything of it, she had stocked up a few spells that produced special effects that no normal person would be able to produce.

The people from the cabal wanted those.

Instead of a discussion, they used torture.

They liked primitive methods. They used metal tools to constrict her fingers until the bones were on the verge of being crushed. They tightened ropes around her chest to obstruct her diaphragm and drive her toward suffocation. They cut shallowly into her skin and rubbed salt in the wounds. They forced her to drink giant buckets of water to pain her internal organs. They fixed her in balled up postures that applied such a severe burden to her muscles that they were brought near the point of snapping.

They were not simply trying to gather information. They had a dark joy behind it all.

Their faces had started as nothing but smooth and expressionless, but as time went by, their expressions changed to twisted smiles as if screws holding their faces in place were becoming looser and looser.

Because Brunhild Eiktobel was such a special existence, the people of the cabal did not even see her as a fellow human. And Brunhild could not be killed easily.

There were two set feature to their torture.

They never passed beyond the level where the wounds would never heal such as severing a finger or gouging out an eyeball.

And they never used any sexual torture such as rape.

This was not a decision they made based on Brunhild’s rights as a human. If that was their reason, they would not have tortured her at all.

It was because if they passed the point of no return, Brunhild would “give up”. Someone who had nothing left to lose would not tell them anything. She would no longer care about the pain. To prevent that from happening, the people from the cabal had not gone beyond that final line. It was as if they were continually lightly prodding her with the tip of a knife.

No part of her body was not bruised and discolored.

She had lost the ability to properly distinguish between her emotions.

The torture started in the morning and ended at night.

Her cell had no window, so she had no way of telling if the sun was up or not, but she did not lose her standard daily rhythm. This was because she was brought food at the same two times every day.

Morning and night.

Right before the torture began and right after it ended.

Food was always brought to Brunhild Eiktobel’s cell at those two times. She was given hard bread, bland soup, and a few vegetables. Brunhild had almost laughed at the fact that they had made sure to give her a proper balance of nutrition.

The person who brought her the food was always the same.

It was a boy of about 10.

He wore plain clothes and had bruises on his cheeks. And he had an iron shackle on his right ankle. From that, Brunhild deduced that he must have been someone or someone related to someone in similar circumstances to herself.

She had been cautious at first.

However, that boy had been the only person she could have an actual conversation with. Brunhild had spoken with the boy, but this had not been because she had trusted him. It had mostly been a means of regaining mental stability she had lost while being continually tortured.

It had started as just a few words.

That had eventually led to something that exceeded the bare minimum of what was needed.

Finally, it reached a point where a smile actually formed on her face as she spoke with him. It was a very awkward smile that was nothing more than a slight distortion of her lips that had been hardened with the blood from her wounds, but Brunhild finally smiled of her own will once more.

It was a strange feeling.

The reasoning that it was simply a means of healing her worn down mind may have been nothing but an excuse. She may have simply been thankful that there was someone who would treat her like a normal human being.

But then one day when the boy brought in the food as usual…

“I’m sorry.”

The boy of only about 10 began his confession.

He had been under orders from the people of the magic cabal to become an emotional support for Brunhild. As her mind weakened over the long period of torture, the effects of the physical pain would lessen. By having the boy periodically move Brunhild’s heart, her heart would not grow numb. That way, their torture would be even more effective.

Someone who has grown accustomed to the heat will not feel pain even when touching hot water.

However, if someone sticks their hand into hot water after soaking it in ice water, it will feel even hotter than usual.

The boy had been given the role of the “refreshing ice water”.

His role had been to make sure Brunhild Eiktobel would suffer even more.

“I’m sorry.”

The boy’s confession continued.

He had cursed his powerlessness that left him only able to follow the cabal’s orders, but at the same time, a part of him had felt superior to her as he saw her trust him unconditionally. With each action he took and each thing he said, her heart had opened up as if following a flow chart. That had made him incredibly, incredibly happy.

“…”

She felt no hatred.

In the end, hadn’t that boy simply wanted to get along with Brunhild? Hadn’t he just wanted to laugh with her? The ones at fault were the people from the magic cabal that had trampled on those feelings and made him follow their orders. Why was that boy the one who had to lower his head to her?

She felt as if something deep in her heart moved.

Up until then, she had given up on everything. The cabal that had wished for nothing beyond a peaceful life had been utterly destroyed five years before and she had been constantly pursued afterwards. It was as if the gears of her heart had become oddly blocked obstructing their movement. She felt as if the sand clogging them up had been cleared away.

She would save that boy.

She would fight once more for that reason.

After that, Brunhild changed. Even as she was tortured, she worked to store as much power within her body as she could. She counted the days from the timing of her meals and waited for the power residing within her to reach its peak.

Her power changed like the waxing and waning of the moon.

In numbers, it was about a three month cycle.

Over that time, the power balance between her Saint and Valkyrie powers changed.

Her power would tip to the Valkyrie side in just a few more days. If that power reached its absolute peak, she could break her chains, break out of the cell, and escape. She could reach out a saving hand toward that boy who had been suffering alone for so long and return him to a warm life. That clearly gave her a reason to live for. At that time, Brunhild had to have been stronger than anyone else in the world.

But then the boy did not show up at the usual meal time. Instead, one of the magicians who harmed her day in and day out came. A very bad feeling welled up within her. The magician held a single letter in his hand. The tiny letter was stained with something dark red.

“That damn kid killed himself.”

The words did not properly enter her mind.

She did not understand what he meant. She thought it was a bad joke. She thought they had to have distanced the boy from her and then told her that lie in order to move her heart.

But it seemed the magician had no such plan.

He grinned and started opening the dark red-stained letter.

“It seems conversing with you to get your heart moving again left him with quite a bit of guilt. When we came to check on him this morning, he was collapsed on the floor.”

To make her suffer…

To pain her…

To mock her…

To feel superior to her…

The magician dropped the dark red-stained letter on the floor in front of Brunhild. The letter floated down where she could read it. The messy, shakily-written words made their way into her head.

It said: I’m sorry I couldn’t save you.

Something snapped inside Brunhild at that point. Literally. She had the superhuman power of a Valkyrie. Her rage sent that power erupting to the surface. The muscles of her face moved in distorted ways and ripped her skin in all directions.

It was as if many different mouths were opening on that one face.

It was not because she hated the magicians.

It was not because she loathed the constant torture.

What burned her heart the most was that the boy who had been driven to suicide had been more worried about her rather than himself in the end.

“Ee!”

She heard the magician scream.

Brunhild Eiktobel ignored him.

She moved her arms.

That was all it took to violently tear apart the thick chains that had been binding her body for so long. The metal rings making up the chains flew away as if they had been fired from a gun. Some became embedded in the walls and some slammed mercilessly into the magician’s head. Blood splattered on Brunhild’s hair and cheeks, but her expression remained frozen.

Silence fell over the room.

She then uttered a cry that seemed as if it would continue to the farthest reaches of the world. She blew away the thick door blocking the exit with a single fist and headed out into a passageway of that cabal’s facility.

Everything was blown away.

The power that had been stored up to save a single small life was unleashed for a completely different reason.

Part 2

Brunhild slowly opened her eyes.

She was in a parched area. The area had originally been a mineral water plant, but a dam upstream had greatly changed the flow of water leaving nothing but dry land. The company had completely abandoned the plant so there was nothing but a giant concrete box and the framework remaining.

Wind and rain had destroyed the roof of the building, so the starlight fell within it.

However, the area did not have a cold, dark atmosphere.

It was quite the opposite.

The wild night scenery was hot and humid and it had an odd brightness to it. An orange light as if from a blast furnace leaked out from below. White steam poured from the ground in places and a sulfur-like smell hung over the area.

It would normally have been reminiscent of lava.

However, that made no sense.

There was no active volcano in the vicinity. The area was not one with hot springs and the conditions for lava to erupt directly from the ground had not been met.

Nevertheless, the ground was cracked and a glow as if from molten iron poured from within.

It was as if the master of that space was displaying his anger.

Brunhild stood amid it all.

Religious symbols were not embedded about her. She was not surrounded by clearly strange objects.

Brunhild did not need such things.

She…or rather, Norse mythology was not a religion that took control like Christianity. It was a religion that permeated everything so that everyone knew of it without realizing it.

“…Hm.”

She had bruises on the index and middle fingers of her right hand as if a thin fishing line had been wrapped around them. That was the remains of Kanzaki Kaori’s trace. Brunhild slowly poured power into her hand to control the circulation of blood causing the bruises to gradually vanish.

“I may have played around a bit too much.”

Immediately after she muttered that, she heard the trees around the plant swaying.

No, technically, she was hearing something more like the manmade wind caused in a subway station when the train passed by in the tunnel. Such a large amount of kinetic energy was approaching that the surrounding scenery was shaken by it.

In response to that great presence, Brunhild grabbed the spear that was propped up against a nearby wall.

The weapon was 3 meters long.

However, it was not clear if the weapon should truly be called a “spear”.

Its silhouette was made up of an ash tree’s branch at the center with many pieces of steel complexly intertwined around it. In some ways it was like the tip of a spear, but the characteristics of a sword, an ax, and other weapons could be glimpsed as well. The weapon seemed like some kind of trompe l'oeil. It pulsated like a living being and wrapped around the ash branch like a snake.

The legendary spear was even then growing as it approached completion.

When it was truly complete, someone who could draw out all of its power would be able to carry out things on the level of the greatest god of one mythology.

The quality of the spear and the skill to use it.

With either of those things missing, it would lose all meaning, but Brunhild Eiktobel was sure of her ability. As a Valkyrie, she could…only she could…wield Gungnir.

In Norse mythology, the power of the gods was collected in the weapons and tools they held.

Someone who held the spear of Odin, the greatest god, and could draw out all of the spear’s power would be able to freely use the great power that made Odin a god.

With that, she could destroy and create at her leisure.

With such a great power, she could destroy the power balance of the entire magic side just by existing. Magicians who knew of magic power and created it within their bodies might even have their physical bodies torn to pieces by the massive pressure of Gungnir.

(So what?)

Even if she destroyed all magic cultures or even caused great damage to the planet Earth itself, she had an objective she had to complete.

She had to make her plan one where even saving a certain boy was realistically achievable.

Brunhild smiled thinly as she gripped the tree branch that felt warm like human skin.

(Its maximum output is at about 70%.)

She did not have any time left to think.

The massive presence belonged to another Saint who was mercilessly attacking.

With one strike, the thick concrete wall to the side was smashed to pieces.

It went beyond the level of a hole being blown in the wall.

The wall stretched for 50 meters, but its entire length was knocked into the building like a tsunami had hit. The shock of the blow was so great that the entire plant tilted to the side with its lost support. Luckily, the weathered plant no longer had a roof. Otherwise, the concrete roof would have rained down from above.

No special magic had been activated.

A simple kick from a Saint had caused all that damage to the building.

But the assault did not end there.

Brunhild immediately brought up the spear, but before the dust and concrete could reach her, some glittering objects shot ahead of all the wreckage.

They were seven wires.

Nanasen.

In the instant Brunhild had been distracted, the multiple wires had accurately spread out around her. There were no pulleys or anything set up to string up the wires. It was the same as the ribbon in rhythmic gymnastics. By using the power of one’s wrists to give slight shaking vibrations to the wires, they could be made to stay seemingly stationary in one place.

(She’s sealing my escape…!?)

Brunhild was only given the instant it took to think that.

Immediately afterwards, the seven wires assaulted her from all direction like a three dimensional guillotine. Brunhild gave up on trying to forcibly push back the deadly grid of blades with the spear. She twisted her body through the air, spun around a few times, and slipped through the slight spaces between the wires.

She had not been unsure of the spear’s abilities.

The reason Brunhild had not used the spear was simple.

(She still hasn’t started her true attack.)

Just before her feet landed back on the ground, a chill ran down her spine.

She could see two eyes accurately glaring at her beyond the dust.

(If I use my trump card here, I won’t be able to deal with her true attack when it comes!!)

For the next few seconds, all sound disappeared.

The dust was split down the center. In a straight line from the center, something quickly approached like an arrow. Brunhild realized that it was a human form and stabbed her spear into the cracked ground. Earth’s gravity was just too weak so she could not wait to land naturally. She used her weapon to forcibly stop her motion and then land on the ground as if swinging her body around with the spear at the center.

That was when the attacker’s “true attack” came.

Its form was the sword.

Its meaning was death.

The attacker used the iai technique of slicing with the same motion as drawing the sword. The trajectory of the blade naturally made a horizontal half circle. This trajectory was corrected slightly upwards so that it accurately aimed for Brunhild’s neck.

Brunhild did not hesitate.

She had no reason to hold back any longer.

She grabbed the spear stuck in the ground with both hands and pulled it toward herself like it was a giant lever. The principle of leverage caused the tip of the spear to be lifted up from the ground scattering concrete fragments around as it did. The tip shot up straight for the attacker.

The two weapons crossed paths.

A high pitched clang exploded out.

Brunhild’s spear accurately struck the attacker’s sword. Since the attacker’s sword was making a horizontal half circle, the side of the blade was pointed down. Neither weapon was destroyed and sparks flew out.

It was like a small scale explosion.

Brunhild and the attacker both drew back a few meters.

For those two, that distance might as well have been inches away. They could hit and kill with any attack from that distance.

In that situation, even messing up the timing of ones breathing could lead to death, but Brunhild smiled.

“You certainly seem different from before.”

She adjusted her grip on the spear.

Unlike the claymore from before, Gungnir would not be destroyed. The spell in Kanzaki’s blade, Yuisen, held the destructive power needed to cut down a monotheistic angel, but Brunhild’s spear had been able to match it. That must have been because it held the power of the strongest Norse god due to the Final Rune.

“I guess this was too much for a little lady like you.”

“Your fun has gone too far.” The attacker’s face, Kanzaki Kaori’s face, was expressionless. “I will ensure that you atone for those sins.”

Part 3

Kanzaki Kaori observed Brunhild.

Her most notable characteristic was the spear she held in both hands. Many different types of weapons old, new, east, and west were referred to as “spears”, but Brunhild held one that was about 3 meters long. It was larger than the type used in close quarters combat, but it was a bit too small to be used on horseback or on a ship.

It was most likely made of ash wood and carefully heat treated carbon steel. The metal blades complexly coiled around the wooden handle like snakes and had clearly been made so they could be used to stab or even crush like a hammer using its weight. At first glance, it may have seemed as if it could do anything, but there was a risk of its advantages cancelling each other out.

Simply put, it was not quite suited toward any one use.

However, that also made it difficult to determine what its purpose was or what strategy she would use it for. If you were led astray by the apparent distance to her and the length of the weapon, you would be taken out in a single strike. That danger was hidden within that weapon.

Brunhild had named that spiritual item Gungnir and a battle-hardened magician from Those who Know the Rune of the God’s Sword had tried to bite his own tongue upon hearing that name. It was a mystery what effects it held, but it was clearly bad news.

Kanzaki could not decide if she should continue analyzing it in order to give herself as much of an advantage as possible or if she should not analyze it at all so as not to be led astray. Brunhild spoke to her sounding as if she had not put much thought into her own decision.

“If you had waited just a bit longer, I wouldn’t have had to show you Gungnir in this awkward form. You didn’t have to bother with that trace. I was headed there before long.”

The spear held by Odin, the greatest god of Norse mythology.

The symbol of the power held by Odin, the strongest god of war in the mythology.

Of course, a normal magician would not have been able to create something like that and they would not have been able to completely draw out its power even if it had been dropped into their lap. However, Brunhild had something that completely overturned that expectation.

Was it simply because she held the rare abilities of a Valkyrie?

Or…

“The Final Rune,” muttered Kanzaki and Brunhild’s eyebrows moved slightly. “The most secret of runes that only Odin knows how to write or what it does. Did you bring Gungnir into this world by carving that rune into it?”

“I see. It seems the Anglican Church at least does its homework.” Brunhild brushed her fingers along the ash handle. “But you have that a bit wrong. I did not carve the Final Rune into the spear. That is not the place I needed to carve it.”

“…”

There were a few different processes for rune magic. You decided what effects you wanted, you chose the most suitable rune or runes for that, you chose the location that would best draw out the effects of the runes, you actually carved the runes, you offered a prayer to the gods that ruled over each rune or magic used, you checked on the effects, and you destroyed the runes you had carved in order to end the effects.

As no one knew what the Final Rune did, no one knew where to carve it to have the greatest effect. But according to Brunhild, the Final Rune was not something to be carved on a weapon.

(But then where…?)

Kanzaki started looking around the plant, but she saw nothing. She had a feeling it was nearby, but she doubted Brunhild would start a battle if the rune could be easily destroyed as a result.

“Don’t go all on the defensive like that. This might actually be a good opportunity for you,” said Brunhild lightly to Kanzaki who had taken a wary stance. Brunhild’s expression made it clear she saw no chance of it actually being a good opportunity for her opponent. “The Final Rune is much more complex than I thought it would be. Well, the rune itself is made up of straight lines just like the others, but the dying of the grooves in the carved rune is very complex. I’ve set it up to finish with automatic writing, but it’ll still take a few more hours. Currently, its max output is only at about 70%.”

“…”

“And my nature as a Christian Saint is constantly interrupting. Ha ha, look at this. I’m trying to put together the spiritual item as Gungnir, but the next thing I know, the magical symbols for the Christian Lance of Longinus are mixed in. Thanks to that, the purity has been diminished and wielding the power as I wish is a bit difficult.”

As if in response, the three meter lance pulsated creepily. The complex metal blades twisted around grinding like gears causing the silhouette to be changing even then.

That may have been Gungnir approaching its true form as the Final Rune approached completion.

Or it may have been a sudden unexpected change caused by the influence of the Christian Lance of Longinus.

Either way, it was not normal.

Brunhild saw the Lance of Longinus as an interference that lowered the Norse purity, but that would still be quite a threat were it to evolve further in that direction.

“What will you do? I may still be at a level where I can be killed by a human,” she asked.

Kanzaki responded to her question with a question of her own.

“Did you go to all this effort to obtain the power of Odin because you wished for revenge that greatly?”

“…”

“If you wanted to kill them, you could have done so at any time. If you wanted to make them suffer, you had countless means at your disposal. Did you just want to carry out your revenge using the power of one of the gods they believed in?”

“What ridiculous sentimentality.”

Brunhild slightly moved the tip of the spear.

It was now pointed even more accurately at one of Kanzaki’s vital points.

“I may have lost everything, but there is still one thing I want to carry through to the end.”

The conversation ended there.

But Kanzaki Kaori’s action had been decided from the beginning.

Her body charged forward with a burst of energy.

In that instant, Kanzaki Kaori’s body disappeared from Brunhild’s field of vision. It was not merely an issue of speed. With her weapon held forward, her arms and the weapon blocked a portion of her vision. Kanzaki had accurately used that “blind spot in the front” in order to charge straight toward her enemy.

But Brunhild was not sliced in two.

Her weapon moved as if it had naturally jumped up. Sword and spear. The two weapons clashed, a tremendous shockwave was produced, and the Saint and Valkyrie glared at extreme close range.

“I’m not quite sure how to judge that decision.” said Brunhild as they pushed their weapons together. “Were you aware that Gungnir is actually a throwing spear? I guess that would be why you are trying to bring this into a close range battle.”

Suddenly, Kanzaki’s hands holding the 2 meter Shichiten Shichitou started to shake. No, it was not her hands that were shaking. Gungnir was vibrating as it pressed against the sword.

“Did you know that Balmung, the sword said to be one of the strongest items in human possession, was destroyed in a single strike from Gungnir?”

“…!?”

(Weapon destruction!!)

Kanzaki immediately created a diversion with her seven wires and jumped back in the slight opening it created. Barely an instant after Kanzaki jumped back, Brunhild’s spear pulsated. Steel panels intertwining around the center ash wood handle created the silhouette of the spear. As those steel panels complexly fit together like some strange kind of gears, the surface of the spear moved as if it were made of slithering snakes.

If Shichiten Shichitou had remained in contact with the spear for a bit longer, it would have been caught within the steel panel blades and crushed as if by a vise until it broke.

However, Kanzaki did not have time for a sigh of relief.

She had only put about 5 meters between them. Brunhild continued speaking.

“Did you know that Gungnir is the strongest throwing spear? If it is thrown, it will surly pierce its target, not even the toughest weapon can intercept it, and the thrown spear will surely return to Odin. …Isn’t that just ridiculous? Since people kept adding more and more wonderful abilities to it, it lost its true substance as a spear.”

Brunhild changed her stance.

There was no obvious change. Her center of gravity merely lowered slightly. That small motion completely changed the impression she gave. It looked similar to someone holding a machinegun at their waist.

“So I had a thought. Odin’s spear is not an incomprehensible weapon made up of a jumble of abilities. All its abilities have a unified system behind them.”

A throwing spear.

A projectile weapon.

Kanzaki’s breathing changed to a method used to focus one’s mind to the limit. Should she put some distance between them before the spear was thrown or should she approach and finish things before Brunhild had a chance to throw the spear? As that decision approached Kanzaki, Brunhild spoke calmly.

“Yes. Gungnir is a weapon that can completely control all kinds of weather.”

A flash of light filled the entire plant with the color white.

It was due to a lightning strike.

The storm of light rained down from 3500 meters above and mercilessly pierced through Kanzaki’s body vertically.

It was not the normal color of lightning.

The light was a pure, holy white.

“Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!?”

She had not been able to construct any kind of defensive magic.

It had not been an issue of time. The completely unexpected attack had come from a mental blind spot.

The powerful electrical current expanded and contracted her muscles causing her body to bend unnaturally backwards like a bow. To her credit, that one strike was not enough to knock her unconscious.

Brunhild was not surprised.

She knew just how tough the physical body of a Saint was.

In fact, the Valkyrie did not let up on her attack and began a powerful follow-up attack.

“The number two Norse god, Thor, is said to have originally ruled over all of agriculture rather than just lightning. Lightning is merely one of the weather phenomena that relate to agriculture. …In that case, the number one god, Odin, should have abilities that interfere with earth’s environment at an even greater level.”

She tilted the spear up above her head as she held it down at her waist and spun it lightly around once as if in a military exercise.

Immediately afterwards, molten rock surged up.

The sublime magma glowed a brilliant white that was never seen in the natural world.

The calamity that was her strike was the same as divine punishment.

Brunhild had originally split open the earth to carry out some objective, but now pure white lava erupted from within. That lava followed the motions of her spear and headed for Kanzaki like a giant liquid hammer.

That time, Kanzaki managed to react in time.

Kanzaki greatly evaded the lava hammer in an instant and charged toward Brunhild Eiktobel’s blind spot, swinging her blade for the Valkyrie’s back.

“Surely hitting when thrown, not being stoppable by any weapon, and the rest of the jumble of abilities were nothing more than manifestations of people’s fear of natural disasters. Lightning, tornados, volcanic eruptions, floods, earthquakes… Cultures around the world have interpreted those natural disasters as the wrath or weapons of the gods.”

She did not turn around.

The ground split open and this time a large amount of water erupted from within.

A holy light glowed from within that water of destruction.

Intense water pressure pressed against Kanzaki’s blade which unnaturally distorted its trajectory. Just as it passed above Brunhild’s head, she forcefully spun around and hit Kanzaki with a horizontal swipe of her spear.

Kanzaki could not use her sword for defense.

Kanzaki made that judgment in an instant and actually stepped further forward. In doing so, she made sure that the handle hit her side rather than the tip of the steel blade. With a great noise, her body was blown to the side, but it was not sliced in two.

Kanzaki rolled along in order to put some distance between them and Brunhild made no attempt to fill that gap.

She merely pressed the tip of the spear against the floor.

Immediately afterwards, something like white ice spread across the floor with the tip of the spear at the center. No, it was salt. The huge amount of salt covered the ground in no time at all and altered the soil.

Salt damage.

Kanzaki sensed that her feet would become stuck to the ground at that rate, so she jumped 10 meters straight up into the air. The roof of the plant had been destroyed, but a passageway still existed on the second floor. She quickly landed on that area.

That was 70% output.

Due to the Christian symbols mixed in, the pure Norse power could not be used.

How much power would it have if Gungnir was 100% complete and Brunhild Eiktobel managed to eliminate the impurities and become a perfect Valkyrie?

(The Final Rune…)

That was the key.

The power Brunhild was wielding greatly exceeded the amount a normal magician could. The legend of legends that was the rune only Odin knew had to be supporting that.

Kanzaki had to destroy it.

Once Brunhild completed Gungnir, it was likely that no one would be able to stop her. The massacre that she called revenge would continue eternally.

(If I only knew what form it had…)

“Do you want to see it?” asked Brunhild as if she had read Kanzaki’s mind.

She removed one hand from the spear and pointed the palm toward Kanzaki. Something was there. It was a small wooden board. And something was carved into it. It seemed to be written in dark red blood.

It leapt into Kanzaki Kaori’s vision.

And…

Part 4

Kanzaki heard a sound like the beating of huge drums.

It was the sound of her own footsteps.

She was not within the half-destroyed plant she had been in just before. The night wind caressed her cheek. She had left the building. She was still within the grounds of the mineral water building, but she had made it over 500 meters from where she had been fighting before.

She had a headache.

It was not a normal headache. The intense pain felt like a spike was being driven through her skull from the inside and it simply would not go away.

Kanzaki was supposed to be pursuing Brunhild. Carelessly leaving and allowing Brunhild to escape would be very bad. She knew that, but Kanzaki’s entire body begged for at least a short break if not a retreat. That was how bad the pain was.

“Kh…”

However, it could have been worse.

Her defensive instincts had immediately kicked in. She had not chosen to flee as part of a plan or a strategy. Her flight was simply her instinct as an intelligent life form. If she had not fled, Kanzaki’s mind might have been destroyed back in that plant.

Brunhild Eiktobel had not unleashed any kind of special attack.

It had been the rune.

It had been that single rune displayed in a dark red liquid on the wooden board in the Valkyrie’s palm.

That headache had exploded into her head in the instant the rune had entered her vision.

(This headache…)

She recognized it.

She gritted her teeth, used a mediation breathing method, and otherwise tried to mentally distance herself from the pain.

(This is just like from an Original grimoire…)

Grimoires with knowledge of too great a purity known as Originals could shatter a human’s mind just by being seen. It may have been similar to creating instability over an entire computer system by forcibly running a program meant for a different OS.

But…

“Just one rune…?” Kanzaki muttered as she grimaced at the throbbing pain of the headache. “Just one rune caused this much contamination…?”

Even an Original grimoire would take a few hundred pages to produce information on that level. The Final Rune Brunhild had shown her rivaled an entire Original with just one character. It was not normal. There was no way it was normal. That alone proved just how much magical value was held in that single rune.

“…Kanzaki…”

Suddenly, she heard the jeans shop owner’s voice coming from the cell phone in her pocket.

Technically, it was coming from the communications spiritual item stuck to the cell phone.

“Can you hear me, Kanzaki? Hey, don’t tell me you were taken out by Brunhild.”

“I am still alive.” Kanzaki wiped sweat from her forehead and took long, deep breaths. “I just caught a glimpse of what seems to be Brunhild’s Final Rune and my brain was very nearly contaminated. The Final Rune is carved on a wooden board in Brunhild’s hand. She may be using it to raise her own divinity.”

“That’s different from the information I got.”

“?”

“I used a method you might disapprove of, but I got some of the survivors from Those who Know the Rune of the God’s Sword to speak. They acted oddly to the term Gungnir, right? So I thought they must know something.” The shop owner spoke quickly. “According to them, the Final Rune is not something you put on an object or a person to simply raise their abilities. Apparently, you carve it on the world itself in order to greatly change the world itself.”

“The world…?”

“You carve the rune in a single spot that was worked out by some special equations. Gungnir itself is technically not all that strong. By carving the Final Rune on the world, things are rearranged so that all the spiritual and magical powers in the world are gathered in that spear.”

“Then what was that on the wooden board?”

“Who knows. But according to the cabal, the legendary Final Rune is not something you see visually.”

The shop owner was not making much sense.

Kanzaki frowned as he continued.

“Norse mythology is not a religion that takes over like Christianity. It’s a good example of a religion that permeates a culture until everyone knows about it despite not knowing when or where they heard about it. …The Final Rune is the same way. Simply put, the rune will just blend into the scenery once it is complete. Not even an expert magician would be able to find it. No one will be able to find this rune that is only a few centimeters big but could be anywhere on this huge planet. In other words, no one will be able to destroy it.”

“And this Final Rune rivals an Original grimoire with a single character.” Kanzaki clicked her tongue as she realized the situation was much worse than she had anticipated. “An Original-class grimoire cannot be destroyed by the techniques of humanity. If the Final Rune really does provide power for Gungnir, it will provide Brunhild with an inexhaustible supply of power once it is complete.”

Kanzaki was bothered by the inconsistency between what she had seen and the information the shop owner had received.

According to the shop owner’s information, the Final Rune was to be carved on the earth somewhere. But Kanzaki had seen what seemed to be it on that wooden board in Brunhild’s palm.

“…”

Brunhild had said Gungnir was 70% complete.

If the rune on the board was the Final Rune and its completion was linked to the spear’s completion, Gungnir should have already been at 100%. That meant the rune in her palm may not have been the real one.

“The rune in her palm may be some kind of reference material for an automatic writing spiritual item,” said the shop owner. “The rune was supposed to only be known by Odin and only Odin was supposed to be able to carve it. For all we know, it might normally take weeks for a human to carve it. Even using an automatic writing spiritual item, it would take days. Brunhild is completely focusing on fighting you and has shown no sign of working on carving the rune, right? In that case, it is highly likely that she is using an automatic writing spiritual item.”

“...Understood.”

As Kanzaki tried to force down the headache that had still not gone away, she gripped the handle of her sword once more.

“Either way, there is nothing we can do if the Original-class Final Rune is completed. It should not have blended into the scenery making it impossible to find yet since it has not been completed. …I will fight here with Brunhild while also checking for an automatic writing spiritual item in the vicinity. You perform continuous wide area search in case she has set it up elsewhere.”

“One more thing,” the shop owner added. “I’ve found what seems to be the source of Brunhild Eiktobel’s hatred.”

“…”

“Half a year ago, she was attacked and captured by a union of those five cabals. Officially, they were attempting to prevent the distortion of Norse society due to the ‘Hel’, but it seems they were actually trying to get information out of her on Gungnir and the Final Rune.”

Kanzaki had heard a portion of that from Brunhild as she remote controlled the man from Those who Know the Rune of the God’s Sword.

But…

“There was a boy of 9 at the time who had looked after Brunhild while they tortured her. His name was Ceillier Flatley. I don’t know what happened between them, but…he is currently in a vegetative state in a Belgian hospital. It was caused by blood loss from slit wrists. Apparently, it was attempted suicide.”

(Ah. Could it be…?)

The Final Rune and Gungnir were just too much for simple revenge. She had the ability to kill them at any time if she wished, but she had instead spent a long time preparing those.

“It seems to have become a bit of an urban legend at the hospital. They say a bloody woman showed up in the middle of the night with an emergency patient and that his hospital fees are accurately paid from some unknown bank account.”

A Valkyrie.

A being who freely passed between the world of the gods and the world of men and who acted in accordance to the gods’ orders.

But there was one major difference between a Norse Valkyrie and a Christian Saint or angel.

“Brunhild Eiktobel is using Gungnir and the Final Rune, both of which only Odin is allowed to use.”

“Why are you bringing that up again?”

“Do you know why the head god or strongest god in religions old, new, east, and west has his power?”

“Ahn?”

“It is to save something.”

Suddenly, a bit of strange noise was mixed into the transmission through the spiritual item. Immediately afterwards, the jeans shop owner’s voice disappeared and a female voice cut in.

“Peeping and speaking behind people’s backs. Those are not good habits.”

The half-destroyed plant 500 meters away that Kanzaki and Brunhild had been fighting in a bit before suddenly exploded from the inside. Instead of a pure explosion, it was more like a volcanic eruption. Concrete that had been melted by extreme heat sent orange splitting through the black of the night sky.

Brunhild Eiktobel.

That Valkyrie raised the three meter lance up so it stuck vertically above her head and stared straight at Kanzaki.

“I crushed the five cabals and destroyed their research material so as not to leave behind any unnecessary hints. I decided you would be unable to decipher what was going on, but I suppose I should have been a bit more thorough and destroyed the depths of their minds as well.”

“…”

“But it is still too late for you to do anything. The Finale Rune is not yet complete, but you cannot stop it before it is complete when you cannot even find where it is being carved.”

“You seem to be underestimating the strength of Necessarius. No matter where in the world it is being carved, we can immediately put together a force to deal with it. If not, we could not function as an international anti-magician organization.”

“Oh?” Brunhild’s voice was enough for Kanzaki to envision the smile that must have been on her face. “Even if it is being carved into the core of the planet?”

“…What…?”

Kanzaki’s eyes naturally moved to the orange glow of the lava that seemed to be permeating the entire landscape.

It was not the pure white lava that was produced by the spear. It was the natural lava that had been there since before her attack.

She had found it odd that it was overflowing like that with no active volcano around, but…

“The Final Rune that only Odin knows or can use changes the state of the planet when it is carved into the planet.”

Since Brunhild was not trying to hide that, she must have been confident it could not be destroyed.

“So there is no more suitable place. Why was that rune said to only be usable by Odin? It was not because the rune was extremely complex. It was because the Norse people of the time could not come up with a way of interfering with the area that it had to be carved in.”

The center of the planet.

The core of the earth.

Kanzaki analyzed what that would require, but then she shook her head. She had concluded that Brunhild’s thinking was not normal. She did not think it was that simple.

“That is impossible… It is 35 kilometers from the surface of the earth to the mantle and it is over 6370 kilometers to the center. I doubt that any human can reach that far.”

People simply referred to the “center of the earth” as a whole, but that included many things from the liquid mantle to the iron and nickel that had been hardened by gravity. Even the “core” had a solid mass in the center of melted iron and nickel.

Merely splitting open the surface of the earth and arriving at the surface of the mantle may have been possible.

But the layer after that was simply too large and hot.

Inside were the constantly moving flows of molten rock and the masses of rock that had been condensed down and prevented from melting by the earth’s massive gravity. Those were not something that could be conquered by the humans who lived clinging to the surface of the planet Earth.

“Is that so? Necessarius is surprisingly blind. Do you not even know the effective range of your own spiritual items?”

“…?”

“You have boats called marine prisons that transport magical prisoners, right? Doesn’t the spiritual item called the Cape of Good Hope that controls them externally have an effective range of 9000 kilometers?”

“You don’t mean…!?”

Thinking back, the loss of control of the marine prison had involved a spell using a giant ship from Norse mythology called Naglfar.

Could it be?

Could Brunhild have been involved in that incident behind the scenes? Had she used the loss of control of the marine prison as a chance to analyze the workings of the Cape of Good Hope from a distance?

A range of 9000 kilometers.

With such a large range, she could carry out magical work 6370 kilometers away at the center of the earth.

“But the Cape of Good Hope was protected by some of the strongest of Necessarius’s security! Even if you were involved in the marine prison incident, it would be impossible for you to get the details of the Cape of Good Hope!!”

“Even the strongest security is not absolute. Everything has a way past it. That was why I contacted a restraint craftsman and taught myself the basics of his techniques without him noticing.”

(Ellasone…!?)

That restraint craftsman’s objective had been to truly save a girl from the system of human trafficking. He had also used a Norse spell despite being a craftsman who normally used all kinds of magical restraints.

After Ellasone had disappeared, Necessarius had been worried that information on his techniques could be used by a third party to get through all kinds of Necessarius security including that in the Tower of London.

In that case, the Cape of Good Hope would be no exception.

“With that, I obtained the range I needed,” Brunhild Eiktobel continued. “The means of interfering with the earth’s core was simple. The outer core flowing around the true core is a high temperature liquid made up of molten iron and nickel and its flow is created by the earth’s magnetic field. In other words, by calculating back from the magnetic force leaking out to the surface, affecting that outer core is not too difficult. Of course, magical assistance was essential,” she said. “By creating a certain regularity to the flow of the liquid outer core, I can freely carve into the surface of the solid inner core just like a river wearing away the earth. By repeating that process, I can carve the rune I want.”

That was the Final Rune.

The strongest rune that could be carved only by the god who had complete control over the earth’s weather.

However, something seemed off about that explanation to Kanzaki.

The explanation seemed to have left the realm of magic.

“So something seems off to you? I felt the same way,” said Brunhild seeming to have read Kanzaki’s mind. “I wondered if using the scientific parameters of the geology would cause some kind of rejection reaction despite being used to optimize the use of our magic. I was worried, so I had a magician named Leasic check on it for me. …He ended up succeeding in constructing rune magic using scientific laser technology. Even when science and magic are mixed together, it seems the field of runes still functions properly.”

“…”

Leasic was the name of the magician who had attacked the steelworks in Denmark.

Kanzaki started thinking that the Ymir’s Ocean girl, who had tried to protect the Micronesian Uphill Island, and Orlentz, who had tried to create Original armor using a grimoire, may have played a part in helping Brunhild develop her technique.

The flow of clouds and seawater was related to the rotation of the earth and therefore to the movement of the liquid material inside the planet. It was possible that a global view of that flow could allow one to determine the flow of the fluid within the planet.

“Did you make contact with an artificially created Alfar in Scotland?”

“I didn’t do that, but I did contact a magician who was trying to create an Alfar. Gungnir is not something that was meant to be used by humans, so I thought I might need an existence like Alfar for to use it. …But when I checked on the bodily structure of the Alfar that was under construction, I realized that was not likely.”

Thinking back, the magicians she had fought had all seemed on a level where they could actually fight a Saint like Kanzaki.

Kanzaki Kaori could move at supersonic speeds and use a spell that could slice apart a monotheistic angel. Normally, most magicians would be defeated without even being able to bring forth their own power when faced with someone like that. Their bodies would be pulverized before they could get used to that power…that speed.

Nevertheless, they had done it.

Of course, each of the magicians had been quite skilled in their own right. If not, Necessarius would not have even thought about sending out their treasured Saint.

But what if there was something beyond that?

It was possible Brunhild Eiktobel, a Saint, had given them advice on how to fight another monster like herself. Or she might have shown off her overwhelming battle ability as a Saint to ensure that the “negotiations” with the magicians went quickly.

(In any case…)

That meant the entire string of Norse incidents Kanzaki had been involved in had been connected. Brunhild had been involved in all of them in order to gather the data needed to put together her plan.

No.

Brunhild may have gone even farther than that with her preparations. Kanzaki and the others may have only gotten involved in and resolved a portion of the incidents she had used. It was best to assume that she had gathered 50 or even 100 different pieces of data and had only chosen the most useful ones to use in her plan.

“So what will you do? The Final Rune has not yet been completed. The actual carving of the rune may be occurring in the earth’s core, but the device doing it is located on the surface. If you can find it, you might still be able to stop it.”

Brunhild Eiktobel’s Final Rune was being carved using the same method as the Cape of Good Hope. However, even if Kanzaki contacted Necessarius and got permission to use the original Cape of Good Hope, she would not be able to interfere with the completion of the Final Rune in the core of the earth.

Brunhild was not just using the Cape of Good Hope.

Brunhild had only been able to interfere with the earth’s core by putting together various other things as well. Kanzaki doubted that she and the rest of Necessarius could complete a similar spiritual item before the Final Rune was completed even if they frantically started that very second.

And once the Final Rune was completed, it was all over.

Once that greatest and most powerful rune was carved, no one would be able to destroy it. Kanzaki had seen the “rough copy” of the Final Rune on the board in Brunhild’s palm. That alone had rivaled an Original grimoire. The real one carved on the earth’s core would definitely be a pure Original and no one could destroy an Original grimoire.

“Or you could drop nuclear bombs on every suspicious place in the world. The odds are incredibly low, but you might get lucky and hit the device which would put an end to my plan.”

She was clearly just trying to provoke Kanzaki.

However, Kanzaki Kaori did not respond to Brunhild’s words.

Brunhild was the source of it all.

If it had not been for her, none of it would have happened.

As that truth came to her mind, Kanzaki’s heart was filled with pity rather than anger.

Kanzaki had heard the report from the jeans shop owner, so she knew. Brunhild Eiktobel was yet another who had been cast into tragedy.

Tragedy created more tragedy.

Truly strong people who could create something else out of it did exist, but not all people were that way.

That simple truth squeezed at Kanzaki Kaori’s heart.

“A Norse Valkyrie receives orders from the gods and heads down to the world of men.”

The Saint and the Valkyrie glared at each other from a distance of 500 meters.

To them, that distance was nothing more than a step away from a sure kill.

“But her nature is completely different from that of a Christian angel which is nothing more than a mechanical messenger that obeys its programming. Valkyries are said to occasionally fall in love with people on the earth, despair at being unable to be with them, and take personal revenge for the sake of the one they love.”

Brunhild’s eyebrows twitched ever so slightly.

Kanzaki Kaori’s voice continued like the flowing wind.

“You are one of those Valkyries, aren’t you?”

They had the tips of their weapons pointed at each other and could begin a fight to the death in an instant, but Kanzaki’s words had a melancholic ring to them.

“The center of this hateful revenge does not lie within you yourself. You began to crave even the power of the strongest god in Norse mythology for a reason outside yourself.”

Kanzaki breathed in and breathed out.

After that slight pause, she continued.

“It started out as something simple.”

Brunhild remained silent.

However, she could not lower her spear.

“You wanted to the save the boy in the vegetative state, Ceillier Flatley. To forcibly grant that wish which would normally be impossible, you went as far as attempting to obtain the power of Odin. That was all it was.”

“…A Valkyrie, hm?” Brunhild muttered.

Her mouth loosened weakly, but the expression it showed was definitely not a smile.

“Isn’t that just great? All I am is a loser. I was supposedly chosen by the gods, but I’m just a fucking loser that cannot even protect the smile of a small child.”

A creaking sound could be heard.

It was the sound of the spear being gripped with superhuman strength. The noise did not come through the communications spiritual item. It reached Kanzaki’s ears directly across the 500 meter distance.

“But I am a stubborn loser.”

The target of her hatred was likely at herself.

And Brunhild Eiktobel would continue on as far as it took because she had the strength to not have just stopped there in the first place.

“I will complete Gungnir and use its power to awaken that boy. This is the power of the greatest god. It has to be enough to perform a miracle like that.”

She wished to save that boy who had been on the receiving end of such irrational violence.

Her desire to see his smile just once more was great enough for her to bare her fangs against even the greatest of the gods she believed in.

She was a Valkyrie.

A Valkyrie was given special power by the gods. A Valkyrie wished to carry out that mission, but would also occasionally fight for the sake of humans sometimes to the point of destroying herself.

But…

“…It will not work.”

Kanzaki Kaori slowly shook her head.

It pained her greatly to force out those words, but she had to say them. Kanzaki had her reasons why she had to.

“That method will likely fail. Once he has been put in a vegetative state by having his mind fatally shattered, Ceillier Flatley cannot be completely healed even with Gungnir.”

“How can you know that?”

A murderous aura expanded all at once because Kanzaki had touched on the core of Brunhild’s driving force.

“How can someone like you say that!? How can someone who does not know the irrational suffering that boy had to continually deal with say that!? How can you claim to know that he will never smile again!?”

“Because I understand.”

In that instant, Kanzaki Kaori poured her power to the limit into the hand holding Shichiten Shichitou.

A strange creaking noise reverberated through the plant.

“That is a path we all must go down.”

She resented that saying that was all she could do.

But Kanzaki knew that Brunhild Eiktobel would make a fall she could not recover from if she did not say them, so she continued.

“What you are trying to do is a path that all Saints like us must go down.”

Part 5

Brunhild Eiktobel.

She held the Christian talent of a Saint which fewer than 20 in the world held as well as the rare Norse talent of a Valkyrie.

It was true that she may have been given a more unfortunate life than most anyone else, even most of the other Saints. She had been the target of much jealousy, prejudice, hate, and fear. With all that pointed at her, she had been born into a much more negative life than a normal person.

But what she was currently trying to do, heading down the wrong path to protect and save one she cared for, was not all that rare a thing.

It had nothing to do with her talent as a Valkyrie.

Even a mere Saint had the same thought at least once.

There were fewer than 20 of them.

Since they were born with such rare qualities, Saints were always on the receiving end of negative emotions to a certain extent. Most people revered them on the surface, but many of those people resented them in secret for having such an irregular position and those people tried to eliminate them in various ways.

That was just human nature.

And oftentimes it was not just the Saints themselves who got wrapped up in that ugly nature.

For example, the few people that understood them were often affected.

It could be a friend, a lover, a parent, a sibling, or a companion they fought alongside. Those people had managed to shake free of all the ridiculous prejudices and truly contacted the Saint. In doing so, they proved to be much, much stronger people than the Saints, but their physical bodies were still those of normal people.

What would happen if a trap meant to kill a Saint was sprung on one of those people?

Most of the shallow strategies were not actually sufficient to kill a Saint. If a Saint could be killed by things of that level, they would not be as honored as they were. Saints were seen as such special existences because they could not be harmed by anything on a normal level.

But the people around them were different.

The Saints would manage to just barely slip past the trap and the few who understood them, who they were supposed to protect with their lives, would be dead.

What would the Saints think then?

Would they just say it was “fate” and give up?

Of course not.

How could they give up?

That feeling erupted especially strong within them because they were Saints. They had bodily characteristics similar to the Son of God, so they could draw out and use a portion of his power. Because they had that ability, they would begin seriously thinking about absurd plans that would allow them to miraculously save the people they cared about.

For example, the story of the Son of God raising the dead was well known.

They knew that story.

They knew a portion of that power was contained within their own bodies.

And most importantly, they knew the smile of the few precious people who cared about them.

There was no way they would just give up without trying it.

They were called Saints by the people around them, but their actions opposed the image that word gave. They would store up their power for completely personal reasons, put together all sorts of detailed plans, and faithfully and accurately carry out each and every one. And in the end, they all despaired.

Yes.

They failed.

No matter what theory the plan was based on and no matter what Saint carried it out, the people whose bodies or minds had been utterly destroyed were never brought back to normal.

A human life was not so simple a thing.

They had treated it with such care before for that very reason, but the Saints lost sight of that simple truth at some point as they tried to bring one back.

After trying everything they had, wearing their bodies down, and offering up everything they could, the problem would still remain unresolved. This brought despair to the depths of their hearts and the Saints would finally come to terms with the death of the ones they cared about. Kanzaki Kaori understood all that.

After all, she herself had gone down that path just like everyone else.

That was why it saddened her.

She understood that Brunhild Eiktobel’s lamentation, her yearning that she wished to fulfill no matter what, would surely end in failure. The statistical data from the many similar experiences showed that no slight error of a miracle would occur.

In that case, there was something Kanzaki Kaori had to do.

Nothing could be done about it.

However, the one Brunhild cared about had not left nothing at all behind.

There was something Kanzaki had to do in order to prove that to her.

Part 6

Brunhild Eiktobel stopped moving for only a few seconds.

She then started breathing again and muttered a few words.

“A path…we all go down…?”

“Yes. It is almost to the point of being an established theory. It is a simple matter. It is merely difficult for us to see because of the special things we possess. People whose bodies or minds have been utterly destroyed cannot be revived by anyone. In this, there is no distinction between those with special skills and normal people. It is such a straightforward matter, that there are no exceptions.”

“Fuck that.” Her rebuttal began. Her condescending tone made it clear she did not want to hear anymore. “Fuck that!! So you’re telling me to give up just because everyone has failed in the past? You’re telling me to give up because that means there’s no way I can do it? If I could accept that, I never would have started this in the first place!! Those are your and everyone else’s failures. They have no effect on what I am about to do. I am not just a mere Saint. I can approach this from a different angle than you all by combining the powers of a Valkyrie, Gungnir, and the Final Rune!!!!!”

Kanzaki Kaori slowly shook her head.

She already knew Brunhild’s theory would fail.

“Norse mythology is a religion that affirms death.” She hesitated to cut in, but she had to go through with it. “At the final battle of Ragnarok, Odin and all the other gods die along with their enemies. There is no way a religion like that has a technique to revive others. If it was possible, Ragnarok would not be the end of the mythology.”

Even if she obtained the power of the most powerful god, it meant nothing if that god had no way to save Ceillier Flatley.

“Liar.”

Brunhild’s spear shook slightly.

That shaking spear was a symbol of the shaking of her conviction.

“There is food that gives one eternal life in Norse mythology! The gods are said to live to the end of the world without aging by eating the apples cultivated by the goddess Ieunn!! Norse mythology has to have techniques of interfering with life itself!!”

“That is nothing more than making the cycle of an existing life continue eternally. It is true that recreating that by human means would change history forever, but it would be of no use in this instance. That technique cannot restart a life that has already ended.”

“Thor’s weapon, Mj?lnir, has the power to resurrect the two goats that pull his chariot! He is said to be able to return them to normal even if they have been turned to nothing but bones by merely raising Mj?lnir above his head!!”

“Those goats were given the role of being an eternal food source, they are merely having the lost meat restored to them!! Do you truly think that can save this boy!? If you recreated that, you would only cause the boy’s body to expand never-endingly while he remained in his vegetative state!!”

“Then what do you want me to do?” Brunhild gritted her teeth. “I have to save Ceillier Flatley no matter what!! It was because of me that he met that misfortune!! These detestable abilities of a Saint and a Valkyrie were part of me ever since I was born!! I did not ask for them!! Because of them, that boy was driven to death!! That’s why I have to try to save him no matter what. That is the clear mission that has been given to me!!”

“Do you…” Kanzaki’s words had a slight bit of anger hidden behind them. “Do you truly think this is what that boy would want?”

“Don’t you dare speak for him!!” Brunhild’s anger exploded out on the surface. “No one would want to end up like that! If he had never met me, he would never have been driven to that point!! It’s only natural that he would resent me. And yet he has been stolen even the freedom to hold that grudge!! What is wrong with wanting to give that back to him!?”

“Then…”

Kanzaki inhaled a short breath.

She then spoke.

She spoke the truth of the mistake Brunhild Eiktobel was making.

“Do you intend to sully the bonds you made with him by using them as a reason to kill!?”

Slightly, ever so slightly, Brunhild’s movements stopped.

Kanzaki continued on regardless.

Every Saint had to head down that path. She had to ensure that Valkyrie did not head too far down it.

“Once you use his memory in that way even once, you will never again be able to think back on those memories properly. Does that not matter to you? That boy may never awaken, but some things should never be trampled on!! Do you truly want to continue with this hopeless challenge even though it will sully his memory with the red of blood!?”

Nothing could be done about it, but it was something that had to be said.

“That boy may never open his mouth again, but that is exactly why you must not trample on his feelings. The dead cannot speak for themselves. You are using that fact to come up with your own words for him…ones that are convenient for you. That way, you can be moved by what are actually your own words, allowing you to hurt others and yet feel no guilt. Do you truly intend to transform the feelings that boy left behind into such an unsightly tool!?””

“Are you…?” Brunhild’s question seemed to almost be a groan. “Are you saying that was enough to convince you? You headed down this same path, but that was enough to convince to you give up and accept the death of your comrades?”

“Yes,” Kanzaki nodded. “The few people that understood me were truly strong people. That is why I did not want to twist their memory for my own purposes.”

“…”

Brunhild fell silent.

The tip of her spear shook slightly. Brunhild held the qualities of both a Saint and a Valkyrie, so there was no way she was having difficulty supporting the spear’s weight. The shaking of the tip displayed her mental state.

Kanzaki heard long, thin breaths being transmitted over the communications spiritual item.

That breathing was a technique to calm one’s mind.

Kanzaki felt she might have succeeded in stopping her.

She felt Brunhild Eiktobel might stop there before the battle had to come to a final conclusion.

But…

I’m sorry.

A certain boy’s smile floated up in the back of Brunhild’s mind.

“Aah…”

It was for just an instant.

However, that instant was enough for that face that had been utterly lost to eat into her entire body. Something like a thick liquid filled her from the center of her brain to the tips of her fingers and toes.

She should have been able to save that life.

She should have saved that life.

(Stop.)

As Kanzaki Kaori had said, there was no more point in fighting any longer. It was already over. She truly knew that fact. She simply did not want to accept it. Such a kind boy would not want anyone else to be harmed in order to save him.

But…

Yet…

Some kind of restraint had broken within her. The boy’s voiceless voice seemed to explode from her skull and rip her mind to shreds.

I’m sorry I couldn’t save you.

“Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!”

Brunhild Eiktobel roared.

At the same time, an unknown power was emitted in all directions with her at the center. It was the magic power that was supposed to be kept within her body. The invisible explosion spread out in a dome shape, passed Kanzaki in an instant, and swallowed up everything as it headed farther and farther away.

A prickling pain covered Kanzaki’s skin. It felt like she had been struck by a shockwave. That pain was known only by a magician that could detect magic power. That strange situation caused a strange cold sweat to cover Kanzaki, one of the fewer than 20 Saints in the world.

As if in response, the ground split open even wider than before.

The cracks split the ground open like a spider web and glowing orange lava spewed forth. It was not the pure white lava that had been produced by the spear. The lava had lost its divine light and now had the color of pure rage. The dark of the night was swept away and the distinctive smell of sulfur filled the area. The red burning night looked like the end of the world. During the final battle of Norse mythology, Ragnarok, the world tree which connected the 9 worlds was said to be burned away which would burn away all that had been built up within that culture. The Valkyrie’s rage had reached that level. Kanzaki had no choice but to feel that sorrow of hers that would destroy everything.

“He apologized…” said Brunhild’s voice over the spiritual item.

Fresh blood flowed from her body.

However, it did not come from just one place.

It came from her face, her arms, her legs, her chest, her stomach, and her side. Her skin tore all over her body and dark red liquid flowed out.

A Saint exceeded the upper limits of a normal human’s strength.

By making a mistake in controlling that strength, they would harm their own bodies. It was quite a risk even for someone who was only a Saint. Brunhild was both a Saint and a Valkyrie, so she had to control her mental state even more delicately.

Brunhild Eiktobel was now ignoring all of that.

With her mind overcome with powerful emotion, the restraints protecting her body had been destroyed.

“At the very end, he left a note apologizing. Apologizing for failing to save me! That was what he was thinking up to the moment he slit his wrists!!”

A bloody Valkyrie.

That was who would appear when a warrior died and would bring his soul to Valhalla.

Brunhild Eiktobel’s appearance now matched that role.

“I should have been able to save him. If my power had been perfect, I would have been able to!! If I had not had the characteristics of a Saint and was merely a Valkyrie, I could have!! I should have been able to save him from those cabals!!”

The stench of blood reached Kanzaki from the distance.

The massive amount of magic power and the thick scent of blood transformed the air into a bloodthirsty atmosphere.

It was a Norse stench.

The atmosphere of the battlefield was colored by the religion ruled by Odin, a warrior god who ruled over death and war.

But…

“You idiot…”

Kanzaki Kaori gritted her back teeth.

She gripped Shichiten Shichitou’s handle so tightly she thought she would break it.

“A child who would say that at the very, very end would not want to see you like this!! He must have felt so much self-condemnation because he was unable to save you from becoming like this! Do you intend to trample on his feelings yourself!?”

Kanzaki shouted, but her words did not reach Brunhild.

No, the Valkyrie actually understood. She understood, but she could not stop.

Valkyries were given special power in order to carry out the orders of the gods, but they held such strong emotion that they would fall in love and even turn their backs on the gods. Even if they had to drive a sharp sword through their own chest, they would unhesitatingly give up their life for the one they loved.

That nature of hers would not allow her to stop.

Brunhild Eiktobel could not stop her desire to save a certain boy even as she knew she would be burned by hellfire.

Kanzaki would not let that happen.

This was not a scenario someone had written. Kanzaki Kaori declared war on the terrible flow of events that had allowed a series of coincidences to pile up and give rise to the current situation.

In response to her anger, massive power rose within Kanzaki’s body. It was the power of a Christian Saint. That overwhelming power flowed into her body because she had bodily characteristics similar to the Son of God.

For a brief moment, both of them remained silent.

It only lasted a few seconds. The calm amid the powerful emotions was similar to the strange area of still air created within the complex whirling winds of a storm.

There was no physical sign of when it began.

Because of that complete silence, the two of them could hear a ringing in their ears.

That became the sign.

An explosive noise exploded out.

Kanzaki Kaori and Brunhild Eiktobel exploded out from the asphalt at their feet in order to fill the 500 meters between them at their greatest speed.

It did not take even 2 seconds for them to meet in the middle.

However, Brunhild swung Gungnir through empty air before their blades actually clashed. It influenced the weather that was the symbol of Odin’s power. That spear could control lightning, floods, earthquakes, tornados, volcanic eruptions, and any other natural disaster as a weapon.

The pure white disasters attacked.

Dozens of stones appeared out of thin air.

Each giant mass was over 5 meters and corresponded to the disasters of falling rocks or a landslide.

However, neither Kanzaki nor Brunhild stopped.

As the stones rained down, the two of them accelerated further and further as they darted through the slight gaps between the stones. Finally, they clashed at the center. Kanzaki’s sword and Brunhild’s spear struck, causing sparks to fly through the air.

The two weapons knocked each other back a few centimeters.

Immediately afterwards, their bodies blurred.

The sound of clashing metal continued seemingly infinitely and sparks exploded out. As Gungnir was swung, pure white flames erupted and violent winds blew about like sharp blades. Each strike held a disaster and gave more weight to each of Brunhild’s attacks. Her chain of attacks held the majesty of natural disasters and would leave anyone who saw it paralyzed with fear.

But Kanzaki did not stop.

She unhesitatingly kept up the attack.

Every disaster that Brunhild created originated from the movements of her spear. Norse mythology had no simple four great elements, but she was likely producing the various phenomena by mixing together the magical symbols of fire, ice, and frost. In the world of Norse mythology, winds flowing from the land of fire and the land of ice collided creating frost. That frost gave birth to the frost giant known as Ymir who became the material the current world was created from. Those three things could be seen as the elements from which the world was constructed.

That was a mixture of three symbols.

A trinity.

Once more, a Christian magic symbol had found its way in, likely without Brunhild intending for it to.

Most likely, that symbol was nothing more than an impurity that would reduce her power as a Valkyrie.

In that, Kanzaki Kaori saw her way out.

(…!!)

With a great noise, they locked blades.

With blade biting into blade, Kanzaki and Brunhild glared at each other. A look of doubt found its way onto the Valkyrie’s face. It was caused by the fact that Kanzaki had been the one to initiate that locking of blades.

“Did you forget?” asked the Valkyrie as she adjusted her grip on the spear. “A legend exists where Odin’s spear broke the great sword Balmung in a single strike. Your sword will be easily broken like this and the next strike will surely defeat you.”

“Not necessarily,” responded Kanzaki Kaori with a thin smile. “You are the one that is forgetting something. When your power as a Norse Valkyrie is at its absolute strongest, it weakens your nature as a Christian Saint. So what would happen if I was to forcibly raise your characteristics as a Saint?”

“…!?”

Brunhild seemed to have realized something, but it was too late.

Like the waxing and waning of the moon, her power changed over a three month cycle. Her powers as a Christian Saint and a Norse Valkyrie were in conflict with each other. When one was at its strongest, Brunhild could wield power greater than a normal person, but when they cancelled each other out, she had no more power than a normal person.

“Know this.”

Brunhild had chosen to carry out her plan during the time when she could wield her power as a Valkyrie at its fullest.

However, even while she could keep things balanced on her own, a Saint like Kanzaki could add on another weight and greatly alter Brunhild’s scales.

“When I was a more miserable existence, I had a thought. …There are stories of the Son of God bringing the dead back to life. And the Son of God himself rose from the dead three days after he was executed. A portion of that power flows through me, so I thought I might be able to bring my dead companions back to life if I could construct special recovery magic based on that power rather than on normal magic power.”

Brunhild’s power lessened.

It was caused by the locked blades.

Kanzaki had adjusted the angle at which the sword and spear met to create the symbol of a cross. She sent her power as a Saint through that and into Brunhild.

Most likely, it was in the form of the special recovery magic that had failed in the past.

Even if it could heal the wounds of the living, the spell could not heal the souls of the dead.

She used it in order to truly heal the deep wounds within Brunhild Eiktobel.

“Kh…!!”

Brunhild immediately released the spear’s weapon destroying power in an attempt to break Kanzaki’s sword. However, she could not get the command across properly. She was losing her power as a Valkyrie.

And…

Kanzaki removed one hand from the handle of her sword and reached for the oddly long scabbard at her waist. That black scabbard could deliver a blow that greatly outdid a normal metal bat.

Because she let go of her sword with one hand, the balance of the locked swords was lost.

Brunhild Eiktobel immediately regained control of Gungnir. Half her power had been stolen, but she wielded her spear to the end in an attempt to defeat her enemy.

Scabbard and spear.

The two weapons crossed.

I’m sorry.

Ceillier Flatley’s final words floated up in the back of Brunhild Eiktobel’s mind.

I’m sorry I couldn’t save you.

“Me, too,” Brunhild muttered quietly.

In truth, she had understood it all from the beginning.

A great impact reverberated through the core of her body.

Part 7

“So what are you gonna do?” asked the jeans shop owner.

A great number of Necessarius magicians had gathered at the mineral water plant. They were there to retrieve Brunhild Eiktobel who was unconscious. She was one of the world’s fewer than 20 Saints just like Kanzaki. Retrieving and transporting her had to be carried with as much care as with a nuclear weapon.

Kanzaki Kaori sat at a slight distance from the team carrying that out.

She slowly looked up.

“What do you mean?”

“Before they arrived, you broke and threw away the incomplete Gungnir, right? Well, it’s true that, due to its link with the Final Rune, that succeeded in destroying the rune before it was completed.”

“Yes. To completely rob Brunhild of her power, I had to destroy both of them.”

“But Necessarius isn’t going to stay quiet about that. That was a very powerful spiritual item. I’m betting they wanted it in order to strengthen their armaments.”

“It would do them no good. Only one with the special characteristics of a Valkyrie could use it. And even if it could be customized so anyone could use it, that would just create new seeds of conflict.” Kanzaki sighed. “We can make up for it by doing our job properly.”

“Don’t make it sound so simple. I’m just a virtuous jeans shop owner.” The shop owner scratched at his head. “Dammit. I guess we have no choice but to resolve any troublesome problems as quickly as possible. I want to just get back to London and burn through my backlogged internet orders in order to put middle school Saten-chan back in a good mood…but there’s something we have to do first.”

“?”

“That boy in the vegetative state, Ceillier Flatley was it? Well, something bothered me about the fact that he wouldn’t recover.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s not all that complex. Brunhild Eiktobel put spells on the magicians of the cabals she crushed so recovery magic and their natural healing would not work, remember? In other words, that was Norse magic. I was thinking that it might not have been Brunhild’s magic originally.”

“…You mean someone is intentionally preventing that boy from awakening?”

“It’s really damn likely that it was another kind of harassment they used while torturing Brunhild. And without knowing that magic had been used to make the kid suffer, Brunhild ironically used the same type of magic on the people from the cabals that had come up with it in the first place. But that would mean there is a way of saving him.”

Of course, if Ceillier Flatley was truly in a vegetative state, nothing could be done for him. However, if it was merely due to magical interference, things were different. If the magic was eventually removed, the sleeping boy could possibly be healed.

“It may look like a happy end is coming, but the truly annoying part is yet to come,” said the jeans shop owner with a sigh. “Necessarius is thinking of getting Brunhild to tell them about Gungnir, the Final Rune, the method of interfering with the core of the earth, and the nature of a Valkyrie. But her time in captivity shows that simple methods like torture will not be enough to get information from her.”

“You don’t mean…”

Kanzaki’s expression changed and she stood up.

The shop owner merely shrugged and said, “It seems a group of them want to retrieve the boy from the hospital so they can ‘negotiate’ with her more effectively.”

It must have really pissed him off because the shop owner practically spat out the answer to Kanzaki’s question in a rare moment of seriousness.

“The head of that group is named Richard Brave. He specializes in defensive ocean battles. He’s a suspicious looking guy who uses Norse spells.”

“…”

“That tour guide kid has already searched out the location of the hospital. Given when their mission is set to begin, we might be able to reach the hospital before they do if we head straight there.”

After hearing that, Kanzaki thought.

“What are you gonna do?” asked the shop owner casually. “Are you gonna do it?”

Chapter error report

Use arrow keys (or A / D) to PREV/NEXT chapter