Prologue Part 2
Prologue: Part 2
Now then, it’s all well and good that I’m being very high-school-student-like and going home with all my textbooks, but where exactly should I start?
Tossing my bulged out bag into my room and hearing it thud, I changed out of my uniform and peeked into the living room.
In the living room, all the faces I had become familiar with seeing were assembled.
One girl had chestnut, shoulder-length hair. Her eyes were as large as a cat’s, and she was a saucy masou shoujo.
Another girl had long, black hair tied back in a ponytail and jade colored eyes. Her mouth was shut in a dignified straight line, and she was a vampire ninja.
The last girl had silky, silver hair and was wearing a set of plate armor and a pair of gauntlets that would have stood out even in Europe during the Middle Ages. She had blue eyes and was something of a necromancer.
I’m willing to bet that this was the only place where you could assemble such a shady and strange cast of characters.
The girls surrounding the table were staring at the plasma television as laughter emanated from the screen.
It was a Golden Hour (1) variety show. It was a popular show that I had even often heard my classmates talking about, but it seemed to be getting a pretty poor reception here, and not a single person was smiling.
Yuu looked refreshed, and concentrated on her teacup.
Ahh, that’s good then. Let’s study here.
Yuu the necromancer seemed to have an extensive knowledge of everything, and Sera the vampire ninja seemed to have a pretty good head on her shoulders. Haruna… well, there was that. Masou shoujo… yeah, there was that. There was definitely that…
I went to my room and brought back a collection of the most difficult math problems they had given us on Sunday. Math was… well, for now, it was important to just get through a lot of problems, right?
I quickly opened my pencil box, and after opening the problem book, clicked some lead out the front of my mechanical pencil.
“Ayumu, what exactly are you trying to do?”
Haruna stared at me in puzzlement as she mumbled. The ahoge coming out the top of her head jumped to and fro in curiosity.
“I’m studying. There are tests starting next week.”
“Tests? What kind?”
Haruna cocked her head to the side. Yuu sent more tea streaming down her throat, and tapped twice on the table. On the table was a memo pad with detachable sheets, and put her favorite ballpoint pen on top of a sheet. Just with that, words seemed to float to the surface as she wrote.
The cute, energetic, little-sister version of Yuu in my head spouted out “It’s definitely a test of strength!”
“Oh, a collision test?!”
“Don’t be an idiot. Nobody else would be able to take a test like that, right?”
“It’s a written exam.”
As the only one of the three who came from the same world as I did, Sera easily explained the situation.
As I was bathed with their inquisitive glances, I opened the workbook to the relevant pages (something Orito had told me earlier) and began at the first problem.
Short problem… long problem.
No idea… impossible.
As far as I’m concerned, everything from the first problem was completely impossible. It looked like I was going to have to start from page one and go in order… but, I had already forgotten how to do square roots. I definitely knew how to do these in middle school…
“Sera, could you help-“
I called out to the most intelligent seeming person within this group, but she had already inferred what I wanted to say and stopped me.
“If you needed help on the classics or geography, I think I would be able to lend a hand, but science and mathematics is just a bit…”
I always thought that ninjas were very good at studying too, but oh well. Japanese and social studies were being tested on the second day.
So I’ll save Sera’s help for another day, and for now ask Yuu… no, wait.
“Haruna… you’re supposed to be a genius, right?”
That’s right. Haruna was definitely supposed to be a “genius” masou shoujo.
“Supposed?! Are you making fun of me?!”
She opened her mouth wide, and her ahoge stiffened almost as if she had seen a demon.
“No no, I just wanted to ask for your help. Just take a look at this problem…”
I tried showing Haruna the first problem. And then…
“The answer is the square root of 3 minus the square root of 2, right?”
Instant answer. Wait… was she seriously a genius?
“… And what equations did you use in the middle?”
“Hueh?” She cocked her head to the side.
“I mean, how did you get there?”
Haruna gave a single sigh.
“What’s 1 plus 1?”
“What?” This time, I was the one cocking my head to the side.
“I asked you what 1 plus 1 is! Answer me!”
“And what is 2 times 2?”
“And what equations did you use in the middle?”
Wait, was it that she could only give me answers she had memorized?
“… There are none.”
“Right?” The edges of Haruna’s mouth turned upwards into a smile and she looked triumphant. This is why geniuses are so…
“But if you don’t write down your work, you won’t get points for your answer.”
“Huh? But the answer is right, isn’t it?! Don’t screw with me!”
Even if you tell me that… As if she were trying to squash a bug, Haruna banged the problem book onto the desk.
“But people might think that you’re just guessing the answer right. Also, I want to know how to solve it. So come on, teach me how to do it from the beginning.”
“… A-Alright. This is annoying… but I guess I have to.”
Oh? I thought she was going to still be argumentative, but she was being pretty cooperative.
And at that time, I found out just how much I had underestimated her genius.
“So, with the explosion of the supernova here…”
It was my fault for saying it. “Teach me how to do it from the beginning,” I had said. Haruna had turned a poster inside out and pasted it to the wall, and was making a list in a language I couldn’t make head or tails of. Perhaps because she couldn’t find a proper pointer, she was waving a magic hand (2) back and forth as she lectured.
To think I would end up getting taught in this alien language like this… Would we actually be able to get to math by the test date like this?
While I gave noncommittal responses to her lecture, I worked on the problem workbook alone with my math textbook open.
… Yeah, I have no idea… ah, I’m not talking about Haruna’s lecture, you know? If I were, I would say that I have absolutely no idea… but in any case, math really was a weak point of mine.
And no matter how many times I repeated “I already know that, so just skip it,” she showed no signs of actually getting to the math, so I gave up and decided to just ask for the answers.
“Haruna, what’s the answer to this one?”
“Minus 192 times the square root of 3.”
I see. Where exactly did the square root of 3 come from? Hm…
“So then, around a hundred years ago there was a civil war… well, it’s not like there’s any reason that males would win against the masou shoujo.”
“Haruna, and this one?”
“X is plus or minus the square root of 5.”
Ahh, I see. Was that the answer…? I seem to remember that now…
“Well, certainly, I understand why they would want to rebel in a matriarchy like Virie. But still, everything was going fine, so there really wasn’t any reason for them to stir up trouble with a revolution like that. Ayumu, you agree with me, right?”
“Ahh, yeah. Sorry, Haruna, what about this one?”
“The answer to that one is 4.”
Huh? It was that simple? Was I wrong trying to solve it this way?
“But even then, they did well I think. Even though they were lacking in numbers and strength, they were winning for something like a week. I really couldn’t believe it. So I called the person who led their troops, a demon baron. He’s the only man that I will ever respect. If I had been the one leading that army, I definitely wouldn’t have won. Honestly, what strategy was he using there…? I really want to know.”
“Haruna, could you tell me what this one is?”
“I mean, in the first place, to think that people who can’t even use magic would gather and go for a coup d’état… it’s really just a funny idea.”
At last, it seemed that she had stopped answering me. Dejected, I hung my head.
As I fell into a pit of despair, the one who offered me a hand was Yuu. She had been enjoying her tea while watching the television with Sera, but…
When I sent the problem workbook Yuu’s way, she put her ballpoint pen to the paper.
In the next moment…
All the answers for that page had been written. For all the problems I had done, and all the problems that came after, the answers had been written.
All the equations that came in the middle were shown as well.
I should have just asked Yuu for help in the first place. Our resident necromancer was a woman of many talents.
“So, could you explain this answer here?”
Just knowing the answer wasn’t enough; I had to know how to solve the problem too. Unlike Haruna, Yuu properly explained the process to me through her writing.
In no time at all, we began to work through the problems. Like the notebook of a student cramming for an exam, my problem workbook slowly began to be filled from end to end with notes.
“Ohh.” Clapping for Yuu, I praised her highly. “Thanks. That’s really easy to understand.”
Haruna had broken off of her half-hearted lecture and looked at me with a somewhat sulky expression. Opening and closing her magic hand, she sat by my side.
“… Let me write all the equations in the middle.”
“Ah, no, that’s fine, Yuu already did it.”
“Shut up! I told you I would write them, didn’t I?!”
She forcibly snatched away my mechanical pencil, and raising her voice like a war cry she began scribbling away, almost seeming to release heat from the friction between the lead and the paper.
And then what happened? Through the ideas of a genius, what had once been a stiff problem book had been turned into something much brighter and which resembled a zoo.
In the blank space around the explanations Yuu had so courteously written, Haruna had drawn something that looked like a lion, which was glaring back at me.
What a thing this was. When put in the hands of a genius, a boring, old problem workbook would become like this. At this point, it really just looked like a sketchbook that would be embarrassing to hand in.
… Well, I’m completely convinced. Geniuses are just different creatures from us humans.
The lion began to chase a rabbit, but pulled a muscle… I could tell that much. But how exactly was this supposed to get us to root 2 minus root 3? I guess this only made sense to people that it made sense to.
“Now you understand, right?”
Not at all, but I lowered my head.
“By the way, is this going to show up on the test?”
“… No, the stuff on the test comes after this.”
“Huh? So why are you doing this part of the book? Ayumu, are you that stupid? Do you have termites living in your skull or something?”
“I mean, if I want to do this, I have to start from the beginning.”
“Well then, when is this test?”
“You’re not studying seriously, are you? Let me make a few guesses. Give that here!”
Haruna snatched away the problem book and flipped through it.
“What the hell is with these easy problems? At this level… judging from the season… the test material should be around here, right?”
For some reason I felt a pang of annoyance, but she was absolutely correct.
“Well then… here, and here and here… and then…”
One by one, she began to circle problems. It was a pretty annoying notion to have to do what she said, but what she was proposing was definitely plausible.
Even if I went in order from the beginning, I wasn’t the kind of person who was smart enough to be able to remember it all. And what’s more, math wasn’t the only test I had.
“But, Haruna… I have no idea what’s going on in that section.”
“As if I care! What the hell are you saying if you still haven’t tried?! Just do it!”
Well, I guess that’s true, but… well, I guess Yuu and Sera are both here, so it’ll work out. Let’s try.
“Bring all the textbooks over for the stuff you’re going to be tested on!”
Her usual teasing, boyish grin seemed quite dependable.
On the other hand, Yuu looked very lonely.
It’s not like I could read much from her usual lack of expression, but lately she really seemed to be lonely.
Right, that incident. Ever since I was killed and the culprit, Kyouko, had escaped, Yuu seemed to be frightened of something. And what weighed on my mind the heaviest was what Yuu had said at that time.
According to Yuu, the person behind Kyouko seemed to be a “zombie” just like me. Did Yuu have a past history with this person? This had been on my mind, but I couldn’t bring myself to ask. If I asked, I felt like I would set off sparks around me. And my absurd, irrational worry was holding me back.
But… seeing Yuu like this, it was impossible to ignore it any longer.
“Hey, Yuu… are there zombies out there other than me?”
I thought that there were not.”
“What kind of person was he? Did something happen between you and him? Please tell me.”
“I also have interest in this matter. If you do not mind, please tell us.”
“I couldn’t care less, but whatever, I’ll listen.”
We stared fixedly at Yuu. Yuu shut her eyes once, and after thinking for a bit tapped on the table twice.
In the underworld, there are those with strong abilities like me.
Among those, he was one. He was incredibly strong and dependable.
But, just as Megalo must eventually die, the time of his death arrived.
I turned him into a zombie. But having obtained an immortal body, he was swallowed by evil intentions.
I was the only one who could stop him. So, I spoke to him.
Disappear, I said.
We had thought that we had eliminated him.
However, he had only disappeared from that place.
“Does this person plan to do something to Hellscythe-dono?”
Sera had her index finger placed on her lips, and was nodding in comprehension. Yuu slowly blinked a single time.
He resents me a great deal.
We had vowed to protect each other no matter what.
And I betrayed that. So yes, I’m sure.
“C-Could it be that you were lovers?
Haruna was flushed completely red. She seemed to have an interest in love stories. But, Yuu shook her head.
I unconsciously let out a sigh of relief.
He is scheming something.
With a quiet expression, Yuu gripped the ballpoint pen a bit more strongly. Sera’s eyes filled with a bit of compassion, and for some reason Haruna swelled out her cheeks and seemed to be thinking about something.
The silence stretched on. Everyone had fallen into silence like Yuu, and the world seemed to have frozen over.
Haruna was the first one who couldn’t take that oppressive atmosphere anymore.
“D-Don’t worry at all. Leave it to me! After, all, we definitely, definitely have Dai-sensei!”
With very little basis for her actions, Haruna stuck out her chest. Sera and I chuckled through our noses, and exchanged glances.
“Exactly. I will protect you.”
“If it’s for Yuu’s sake, I’ll also do anything.”
Seeing as it wasn’t just me, but Sera and Haruna both wanted to help Yuu, perhaps a bond had blossomed between us after that Kyouko affair.
There were other things I wanted to ask, but my cell phone began to vibrate at that point, so I took out my phone while leaving the living room. It was a very unique phone number. From the Matelis Magical Academy…?
“Ah, is this Ayumu-san~?”
A gentle and laid-back voice. Just with that, I knew exactly who I was talking to. A resident of the magical world Virie, and Haruna’s homeroom teacher. Nickname, Dai-sensei.
“Should I hand the phone to Haruna?”
“Ah, no no. I had something I wanted to ask Ayumu-san to do~.”
“Did something happen? Your voice sounds a bit strange.”
“Eh? You can tell? Things have gotten a bit troublesome, and I have something I can only ask Ayumu-san~.”
She gradually began to speak faster and faster. She really sounded like she was at her wit’s end.
“If you want my help, I’ll gladly give it.”
“Ah, that’s what I thought you would say~. That’s good to hear. Uhh… well, there’s something I want you to look after for me~. Ah, just until I go to retrieve it.”
Something for me to look after? Why me?
“Ahh… and this isn’t something Haruna can do?”
“Yes. Please keep it a secret from Haruna.”
I couldn’t tell Haruna? What exactly was this? She was giving me something that she didn’t want other masou shoujo to know about? I was also a masou shoujo for the time being, so was that alright?
“What’s the name of this thing?”
At my question, Dai-sensei chuckled.
“Even if I told you, you wouldn’t understand, right~~?” She seemed to almost be mocking me. Granted, that was probably true.
“Ah, I’m hanging up. For now~~, I’ll definitely send it, so don’t let Haruna find out about it, yes~?”
After that, she hurriedly cut off the phone call.
Sure, she’s sending it, but I had no idea about the when, the what, or the how. I didn’t get any room to ask for any of the crucial pieces of information…
I guess this is what dealing with any masou shoujo felt like.
(1) Japanese equivalent of “Primetime” here.
(2) One of those long sticks with a hand at the end that you can open and close with a switch.