Chapter 4: Part 5
As usual, the graveyard was quiet. The shiny polished gravestones almost seemed to suck the heat out of the summer air around them, and the tree branches elegantly waved in the gentle breeze.
Ahhh, this really was a place that could calm me down.
In the shadow of a wooden grave marker, I could see the form of a twin-tailed girl with chest-length hair, even though I couldn’t see her face in the dim light. She looked around the age of a junior high school student? She was taller than Haruna. Crap. I’m really into twin-tails, you know.
Well, it’s not like anybody other than a zombie or a masou shoujo would be here at the graveyard like this, so that was probably Dai-sensei herself, but I should probably check just to make sure.
She chuckled with a hand on her mouth, and responded with a “Yes it iiis~~”… rather, that was what I expected to happen.
Instead, in place of a response, what the girl did instead was…
She ran me right through with a sword.
I had no idea what she was talking about. Did I do something?
Crash. The Kyoudoufu in the plastic bag I was carrying dropped onto the floor.
“Good evening. Aikawa-san.”
The grinning girl was not Dai-sensei.
How did I know that this wasn’t Dai-sensei? Well, because this was someone I knew… it was Kyouko-chan.
“… How many times do I have to kill you for you to die?”
Her eyes thinned. In contrast, my eyes opened wide.
It was you?!
It seriously was you?!
The one who killed me was you?!
“Nomobuyo, woshi, hashitawa, dokeda, gunmiicha, dei, ribura.”
Kyouko sent forth words that I recognized. Before my eyes, her clothes changed into what looked like a cosplay costume. The cast around her left hand also disappeared, and although she grasped a sword in her right hand, she had a wooden sword in her left. A training sword or something?
A masou shoujo. The serial murderer was not a vampire ninja or a Megalo, but rather a masou shoujo.
That’s why nobody remembered what had happened. Everyone in the neighborhood had their memories manipulated, and the incident erased from their minds.
And the reason why I still remembered was probably this:
Even though I was in the memory manipulation range, there was one type of people who were immune from its effects. Those people were precisely the people who could perform the memory manipulation. Namely, masou shoujo.
In other words, memory manipulation wouldn’t work on someone like me who had become a masou shoujo. Well, what about the time I was killed? To perform the memory manipulation, you needed to specify an area of effect. At that time, I was in this graveyard. I was probably outside that area.
Haruna wasn’t supposed to have come to Tokyo. In that case, who was the masou shoujo who was put in charge of Tokyo?
Both Haruna and Kyouko had the appearance of a junior high school student. Did all masou shoujo look like that?
“What’s wrong? Your face is red… don’t tell me you have a fever…”
Now that I think about it, Kyouko was acting pretty suspicious back then. She was probably trying to manipulate my memories by putting a hand to my forehead, right? Just like Haruna had done to Orito. However, because I was a masou shoujo, it had no effect.
In retrospect, her desire to meet me as soon as possible was pretty suspicious in the first place. Dammit, although I had said that I was looking for the criminal, I had completely let down my guard. This is what happened when you took it too easy, wasn’t it? I’m such an unbelievable idiot.
I couldn’t move my body.
Like that time… like the time I was with that dog. Like the time I was killed.
“Do you actually think you can fight with me with that small an amount of magical power? … Laughable. Only one barrier and you can’t move, can you?”
So, this was like that time with Shironaga, when Haruna tried to seal Shironaga’s movements with a barrier…?
Kyouko still was showing me her well-mannered smile. And then…
“Ariel-sensei is not coming. I asked her to do something. Quite unfortunate, isn’t it?”
Her round cat-like eyes thinned.
“… And once I take care of you, everything will be settled.”
Before she could run a sword through my heart, I found myself on the receiving end of a rugby-like tackle. It sent my head spinning. The person clinging to my chest was none other than a frantic looking Haruna.
Was she worried about my not being able to move? I would love to thank you, but I can’t move my tongue.
“Haruna… I see. This is why memory manipulation didn’t work on Aikawa-san.”
Haruna completely ignored Kyouko’s threatening words.
“A barrier, is it? … Hyah.”
Haruna chopped me with her hand, and I could move again.
“Hm? Where did you learn how to dispel barriers? You can’t even keep up in school.”
“I understand the theory behind constructing barriers, so I can figure out the theory behind dispelling them. I’m a genius, after all.”
At those words, Kyouko’s expression stiffened a bit.
“You’re as obnoxious as ever…”
“Hey, Ayumu. Who’s this?”
You don’t know her? She knows your name though.
Kyouko seemed unconcerned, and approached us with her sword-carrying hand casually swaying side to side like a student would swing her bookbag side to side while leaving school.
“The masou shoujo who killed me.”
“Ayumu’s enemy, then? … In that case, she’s my enemy as well, hmm…”
As I readied my fists, Haruna stood in between Kyouko and me. She opened her arms wide and glared at Kyouko.
“Heh, interesting. What happened to Mystletainn? Are you planning to fight unarmed?”
Her angelic smile had yet to change.
Krchh. Kyouko readied her sword.
“Don’t overdo it!” (1)
Thump. I kicked off the gravel floor. Holding Haruna to me, I began to jump away from that place.
“I won’t let you run away.”
Her laid-back voice resounded next to me, and she sent the thin, long sword she carried in her right hand into my flank with amazing speed. The wounds on my body steadily increased. She sent the wooden sword gripped underhand in her left hand pummeling into me and pulverized my ribcage.
I knew how powerful a masou shoujo could be all too well. When it came to speed and power and everything, I wasn’t even nearly a match for them.
I remembered the dog’s words at that time. This was just a guess, but what he probably wanted to say was…
“Please hurry up and run away! With your level of magical energy, this is out of the question! This person…”
”… is not of this world.” (2)
If that’s what he wanted to say, I could agree with him. I could also agree that this was out of the question.
“Please… just die already!”
She rushed me and plunged her sword right through my heart. Of course, before then, I had let go of Haruna.
This was my only chance. This one moment where my opponent thought she had won and let down her guard. I would drive a full-strength attack right into her.
The minute I tried to move my right hand, it was cut off.
What the hell was up with her impossible speed?!
She sent me flying with a kick, and I collided with a gravestone. Haruna ran towards me while calling my name.
“Oh, you can still move? Hmm… what exactly can I do that will kill you? … What if I burned you to cinders?”
The end of the sword glowed red, and a fireball appeared. The fireball steadily grew in size. A fireball made of magical energy.
I heard the sound of an explosion, and the fireball was shot at me with incredible speed. Right in front of me, it seemed to have struck some kind of wall, and vanished, sending ripples along the wall. I recognized that wall. It was Haruna’s barrier.
In order to collect my severed hand, I began to run, flying over the gravestones. Kyouko immediately gave chase. Her two cutely waving pigtails gradually closed in on me.
Having no other choice, I shifted into attack mode.
She dodged my roundhouse kick with a crouch. I firmly grabbed the sword that came up at me, and blood dripped down from the palm of my hand. At that moment, Kyouko stopped moving for just a second. If I still had my right hand right now, I would be able to send a full-powered attack her way. Dammit.
I tried to send a strong kick into her flank, but she guarded against it with her other sword.
But, this can work. With this flow of battle, I think I can get in one satisfactory attack… but it was hopeless. A ball of flame slammed into me, and sent me tumbling right into another gravestone.
Haruna ran over. Kyouko began to give chase, but a ruby light emitted from both Haruna’s hands and Kyouko stopped in her tracks… it looked like another barrier.
“Listen, Ayumu. With how I am now, I can only set up one more barrier, so plan accordingly.”
Only one more barrier. That’s not good. I’m a zombie, so I heal especially slowly when it comes to fire attacks. So I had to rely on Haruna to protect me from the magical attacks.
“Haruna, why are you fighting with me? Aren’t you on her side?”
For some reason, Haruna blushed. It was exceedingly cute, and my jaws slackened in response.
“Pretty much? Aren’t you pushing yourself a bit hard here?”
“Shut up! Look, if you have time to talk to me then go get your arm instead! I’m… definitely not going to touch something as gross as that!”
That’s true. She probably wouldn’t want to touch something like a severed arm. Not just because she’s a girl… anybody would think the same.
While Kyouko was held at a distance, I ran to collect my arm. It seemed I was going to make it in time.
Haruna had her hands thrust out in front of her, readying herself to be able to erect a barrier at any time. I also began to gather my strength, prepared to bet everything on my next attack.
In a moment… and I seriously mean in an instant… Kyouko closed the distance between us.
Her sword danced. I immediately flew backwards, but I was firmly sliced diagonally from my chest to my flank.
The attacks continued. I desperately tried to avoid them while counterattacking. Her movement speed was very fast. But on countless occasions, I had fought with opponents that were fast like this. She was just a bit faster than they were. Once I got used to it, it wasn’t impossible to dodge her attacks.
That’s what I thought, but it was hopeless. The lower half of my body was cut through and fell off.
And then, Kyouko aimed for my neck as my head fell to the ground, and brought her sword down.
This was bad. Very bad. Don’t chop my head off. I won’t be able to do anything anymore.
Clang! The sword didn’t cut through me, but instead I heard the sound of clashing metal.
Finding herself attacked by green swords, Kyouko ran from that place.
Nice timing. I felt like I’ve said the same thing before… but in any case, I gave out a sigh of relief.
Right in front of me stood a crimson-eyed Sera. She was carrying both a sword made of leaves and a chainsaw.
“Hmm… I was told by Hellscythe-dono to come and assist… but the enemy is… a human?”
Sera watched Kyouko with a somewhat uncomfortable expression. Oh right, vampire ninjas couldn’t kill humans.
“Don’t worry. That’s a monster who’s just put on a human disguise.”
“Is that so… things are pretty hard on you, aren’t they? There are more fights to the death in this city than even the village I lived in.”
I reattached my body, and took the chainsaw from Sera. For some reason, I could see a hint of happiness on Sera’s usually stern face.
“Hm? Those eyes…” Kyouko pointed at Sera with her sword. Did she know about vampire ninjas?
“You’re the same as me, aren’t you?”
Along with those words, Kyouko’s child-like large eyes bled crimson. As she turned to one side, I could see a black cloak behind her.
“I don’t know her. I can feel another, different power in her.”
I had asked Sera because I thought she might know this person if she was also a vampire ninja, but Sera immediately responded in the negative.
And then, I saw this “different power” with my own eyes.
Right where Kyouko was standing blew gusts of wind. Yes, it was the same unpleasant, purple wind that signaled a Megalo was preparing to fight.
When I glanced at Haruna, I saw that she had shut her eyes tight, and was shaking in the shadow of a gravestone.
She was a vampire ninja, a masou shoujo, and also a Megalo? What the hell.
“Why… why does she have the same magical power as a Megalo…?”
Haruna mumbled as if possessed by something. It seemed that Haruna had already withdrawn from the battle.
“Here I go.”
Sera brandished her black cloak, and gripped her sword made of leaves. She attacked directly from the front, sending forth what almost looked like a shoulder tackle, and sent up a whirlwind of purple wind.
The two crimson-eyed girls clashed swords. Sera, who was firmly gritting her teeth, and Kyouko, who had a light smile on her face. As the sound of weapons clashing rang through the air, the purple wind whirling behind Sera began to take the form of a long, thin tornado.
Kyouko tried sink the wooden sword she was gripping underhand into Sera’s flank, but Sera jumped backwards. Right then, she was swallowed up by the tornado and sent flying out. I dropped the chainsaw, running to catch Sera.
“Sera! Are you alright?!”
She came flying into my chest, sending me on my back and sliding along the gravel with incredible force. The impact had enough force to almost make me faint. Sera’s hair had been dirtied by sand and pebbles, but the determination had not faded from her eyes. Thankfully, she seemed to be alright.
I supported Sera by the shoulder while glaring at Kyouko.
“Hey, this is something I really wanted to ask, but why are you killing people?”
“Aikawa-san, if you knew you could live forever if you killed people… you surely would do it too, no?”
“Don’t screw with me… I don’t want anything like that.”
“That’s a lie. After all, Aikawa-san has an immortal body, doesn’t he?”
She made another tornado. The tornados flattened out like an empty can being crushed, and then expanded until they looked like volleyball sized spinning tops.
As they revolved at high speeds, the tornadoes orbited Kyouko like a satellite.
“What the hell is that…? I’ve… never seen that before.”
Haruna’s eyes had widened. It seemed that this wasn’t a type of magic… it was probably one of Kyouko’s abilities as a vampire ninja. Just like Sera could summon tree leaves and manipulate them, she seemed to be able to summon tornadoes.
“Now then, I’m going to start being serious, alright?”
Accompanied by the two tornadoes, Kyouko rushed forward and attacked me directly from the front.
Kyouko swung her sword downwards, and I took her attack without dodging. The tornadoes were being a hindrance, so I couldn’t dodge. A spray of blood painted the air red.
As if I was in a carwash, the two tornadoes closed in on me from left and right. The spinning top tornadoes stretched out like a pair of loose socks. If they sandwiched me between them, what would I do? As I thought about the situation, I was hit by something from behind. I pitched forward, headed right for Kyouko, but she suddenly fell back, so I crashed right into the ground. I heard the grinding of the two tornadoes right behind me.
“Sera, what the hell are you doing?!”
“Those tornadoes are dangerous. You were just about to be pulverized by them.”
Even so, you didn’t have to kick me… Sera and I stood side by side, and simultaneously launched our attacks.
I attacked from the front, and Sera the side. The tornadoes weren’t particularly fast, so while dodging them I raised my fist high above my head and brought it down. I was making such an exaggerated motion on purpose, to draw an attack. If you showed such a huge gap in your defense to a fighter, they wouldn’t be able to help wanting to counterattack, right?
As expected, Kyouko launched her wooden sword up at me.
“Hiken, Tsubame Gaeshi!”
Sera’s blow connected. I was certain that the fight was over, but she managed to avoid Sera’s follow-up slice just barely. Scraps of her black cloak and fresh blood danced in the air. Kyouko next went after Sera, brandishing her sword.
Clicking her tongue after seeing that her attack hadn’t connected, Sera now had to deal with the new attack. Kyouko’s sword attack, like the time Sera had killed the anteater, was so fast that I couldn’t even see the flash of the sword.
Once again, blood was sent into the air. This time, it was Sera’s leg that had been cut.
She had probably quickly pulled her leg back to dodge. Her leg hadn’t been sliced off, but a gaping wound had opened up.
This was the timing I was looking for. I brought my heel down on the top of her head.
From midair, like an axe splitting firewood, my kick came flying down. This attack was my strongest attack, filled with the 600% power I had stored up. It would be ridiculous if she didn’t die from this.
My timing was right on the mark. It would definitely hit… I thought, but while Kyouko attacked Sera with her sword, she threw her body to the side.
Yes, she was expecting my attack. Dammit, I probably had jumped too high. My full-powered heel drop managed just to graze one of her pigtails, and otherwise ended in failure. What’s more, after Kyouko fell to the floor, she sent a counterattack my way.
Normally, when you fall onto the ground, you put your hands on the ground, right? Don’t push yourself too hard from that position, dammit!
Her wooden sword slammed into my leg, and I heard the sound of breaking bone.
I took a step back to put some distance between us. I had completely forgotten that the tornadoes were still there.
I felt a sensation, as if my back was being polished by a giant nail file. What the hell, were the tornadoes made of swords or something?
Kyouko came chasing after me, so for now I tried to get away from her… no, here, I should…
As my back continued to be shaved by the tornadoes, I found myself on the receiving end of Kyouko’s attack.
Her sharp, thin sword thrust deep within me. The heavenly smile that she was showing me was actually the smile of a demon.
“I’ll grind your body to pieces like this.”
“That would certainly be a bother.”
I firmly grabbed onto Kyouko’s body. I didn’t try to run, and I didn’t try to struggle. Instead, all I did was take her into a deep lover’s embrace.
To stop her from moving.
Sera thrust a sword right through Kyouko, and straight through me as well. Kyouko opened her mouth wide, letting out a small shriek.
When Sera withdrew her sword, the tornadoes stopped turning, and Kyouko’s body collapsed onto the ground.
I let out a sigh, and stroked my chest in relief.
Was it over?
… She was damn strong. I couldn’t think of any other way we could have won.
“It seems like it’s over.”
Sera offered me a hand, so I took it and stood up. And then, Sera flew into my chest.
“Hey hey, what…”
I felt my face heating up in embarrassment for a moment, but my carefree attitude was soon knocked out of me.
A sword had pierced through Sera’s back.
A twin-tailed girl was gripping the sword. It was the girl we had just killed.
“I seem to have died once… but, too bad.”
“What’s the meaning of this?!”
“I still have around ten lives left in me.”
Huh? What the hell? That’s completely below the belt!
I was rooted to the spot, dumbfounded, but I soon tried to distance myself from her with Sera in my arms, and ran to where Haruna was.
Haruna had the chainsaw, so I had to retrieve it.
Perhaps because of that one attack, Sera was limp and motionless. The leaves that had once filled the air around us were also gone. She didn’t seem to have died… dammit, was it just from how much blood she had lost?
“Haruna, you learned about the Gem of Life, haven’t you? Please go ahead and tell Ayumu-san about it.”
Slowly walking towards us, Kyouko chuckled. Just like how she looked when I first met her, her face was cute. Could it be that it was time for things to be explained?
“The Gem of Life is an artifact that can revive the dead. If you use it on the living, you can render death ineffective just once.”
Sounded like something that I would often see in RPGs, but you could seriously make things like that?
“But, to make one of those, you need an incredible amount of magical energy, so a normal masou shoujo shouldn’t be able to possess ten.”
“I see, so that’s where the sacrifices come in.”
Kyouko seemed shocked at my words.
Haruna’s ahoge waved from side to side, and she asked me with a voice filled with bewilderment.
“In short, if she has a large amount of magical energy, she can make one right? So if she kills humans from this world, and changes them into magical energy, she can make these Gems of Life or whatever. Right?”
At my question, Kyouko grinned.
“But, the humans in this world shouldn’t have that much magical energy!”
Haruna’s ahoge jumped from side to side and she shouted. “Impossible!” her ahoge seemed to be saying.
“But what if you sacrificed them? Then they would become large amounts of magical energy.”
This was something the dog had told me. I didn’t really remember too many of the specifics, though.
“Aikawa-san is surprisingly well-informed, isn’t he? I never thought you would also know about that person.”
That person, huh? He was probably the one who had given Kyouko the power of a vampire ninja and the magical energy of a Megalo. What a bother.
Kschh. Kyouko’s body blurred for a moment, and she was standing right in front of me.
I stepped back in an attempt to dodge, but the point of her sword stopped right in front of my face, and a huge fireball formed.
I kicked the sword up. However, the fireball did not disappear, and fired at me. There wasn’t even a smidgen of time for me to dodge. But, almost as if mocking my worry, the fireball suddenly disappeared.
“Aha, so you’ve finally come. I was waiting for you.”
Kyouko fell back half a step, and once again readied her sword.
I saw a familiar set of plate armor and pair of gauntlets in front of me. Long, straight silver hair that swayed in the wind. She stood there without an expression, staring blankly out into space.
She had never come to watch my battles before. Did she realize that I was in a pinch?
In any case, Yuu was standing right there.
This was a reinforcement I wasn’t expecting. Yuu had the power to turn me into a zombie. If she fought on my side, we should easily be able to beat Kyouko.
Flames arced in a semicircle and attacked Yuu, but she dismissed the flames with just a wave of her hand.
Yeah. As I thought, Yuu was really strong.
At that point, with my confidence in Yuu, I pretty much decided to leave the rest of the fight to her.
Kyouko continued to chuckle, and suicide rushed Yuu while creating more tornadoes. Yuu stood stock still, and just like before, waved her hands.
As Yuu’s silver hair was violently tossed around by the winds, Kyouko brought her sword down on Yuu. Alright, it was a huge attack this time. An ideal opening for a counterattack.
However, Yuu blocked the attack with her gauntlets. Not being able to withstand the force of the attack, her knees gave way.
A puzzled expression came up on Kyouko’s face, and she cocked her head to the side. She kicked Yuu’s plate armor when she stood up, and Yuu wobbled backwards while clutching the place she was kicked.
Hey hey, those were both attacks you could have easily avoided, you know. I mean, Kyouko had probably planned for you to evade them, but you don’t have to deliberately take them straight on.
“… I see. Those gauntlets hold the power to negate magical energy. What an amazing piece of armor. However, the one using them is too weak… how unfortunate. What a waste of such a huge amount of magical energy.”
Kyouko sighed, shaking her head slightly from side to side.
Could it be that Yuu couldn’t fight very well? Could it be that her leaving the fighting to me was not because she didn’t see the need to interfere, but rather that she knew that she was weak?
Yuu snatched the chainsaw away from Haruna, and muttered something.
There’s no way she couldn’t be transforming into a masou shoujo, right?
Completely contrary to my words, Yuu’s clothes changed from the cosplay outfit I was familiar with to a different familiar cosplay outfit. However, her gauntlets and armor remained a constant.
When Haruna wore that outfit it was cute, when I wore that outfit it was disgusting, but when you put a suit of armor over it I admit it looked pretty cool.
At that moment, a number of memories began flowing out into my head.
“… Well, that’s alright, I’m picking up quite a few signals in this area. I’ll go look somewhere else.”
The crayfish had said that he could feel the energy of a masou shoujo somewhere else.
”Who are you? It’s rare to see a male masou shoujo. And also, your magical power is so weak. You, are you really a masou shoujo?”
“Please hurry up and run away! With your level of magical energy, this is out of the question! This person, this world…”
“Do you actually think you can fight with me with that small an amount of magical power? … Laughable. Only one barrier and you can’t move, can you?”
Zarii. The dog. Kyouko. Every single person I’ve met who could sense magical energy had said that my level of magical energy was tiny.
“Who exactly are you? Dai-sensei told me that you’d have to have an impossible amount of magical power to be able to steal the magical power from me, the genius bishoujo demon baroness Haruna-chan!”
That’s what Haruna had said when I was made into a masou shoujo. I had thought beyond a doubt that I was the one who had stolen Haruna’s magical energy. Haruna also thought so. But, that was not true.
The one who had stolen Haruna’s magical energy was Eucliwood Hellscythe.
Yuu was probably also the reason I could become a masou shoujo.
I heard the cling and clang of weapon on weapon, and Yuu was blown in my direction.
“You’re still that weak even after becoming a masou shoujo?”
Kyouko sighed and shook her head, seeming disappointed… as I had suspected, Yuu’s battle ability was low. Even so, there was no questioning that her firepower had increased with the transformation. Should I join the battle here?
“Alright, Yuu. Together-“
Yuu briskly pointed at the floor. Now that I looked at it, there were words carved into the gravel.
Run away. You’re a hindrance.
Her cobalt-blue eyes that almost seemed to suck me in were focused right at me. Just like they were when we had first met.
I can’t run away here. I have to beat her, no matter what.
If we work together… and mix in Sera and Haruna as well, we can win this.
At least, don’t move. Definitely don’t move.
“You have to kill her ten times, you know? Let me join in.”
Yuu slapped me. What the hell. “Look again at what I wrote,” she seemed to be telling me.
Faced with those gleaming, gem-like eyes, I nodded once.
Faced with an almost Sera-like, coolly determined look like that, I found myself at a loss for words.
(1) Literally, “don’t be so conceited.”
(2) Here’s where the vastly different word ordering in English and Japanese comes into play. The dog’s words ended on something like “This world…” and Ayumu completes it as “Was not of this world.” But if you want to follow Japanese word ordering, a better translation would be “this world of which she is not.”