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Published at 16th of January 2016 11:06:36 AM

Chapter 1

Chapter 1 - Problem children, assemble!


Part 1

The Inquisitional Agency formed by the government, also known as 『AntiMagic Academy』.

Fear of witches, sorcerers and Magical Heritage has sprouted a new way of thinking and discrimination. In order to keep the magical threats in check, the country has established the Inquisition Board. People who possessed magical power – witches have rebelled against it.

That unrest was later called 『Witch Hunt War』, an abominable war which consumed the majority of the human race and left a deep scar in minds of people.

After the Witch Hunt War ended, Inquisition Board increased regulation and established laws for punishing witches, they also created AntiMagic Academy.

Inquisition's authority and power became an undeniable fact.

"...am I fired?"

In AntiMagic Academy's chairman's office, a girl with sunset-coloured hair frowned, refusing to accept it.

"To be exact, you've been disqualified, which means you have obtain qualifications once again. Starting today you're no longer a member of Inquisition, just a student of AntiMagic Academy."

Sougetsu Ootori, AntiMagic Academy's and the Inquisition Board's president said with a faint smile. His appearance and motions could be described as neither male nor female, they held unique coerciveness and charm.

"Why you were disposed of... you know right?"

"............"

The girl knew the reason so she remained silent. The chairman was sitting behind an old, luxurious desk and sipped his tea while leaning on the back of his chair.

"Don't tell me you forgot about your recent failure. You're lucky that you've been given another chance to start over; the court hearing's result could've been much worse than that."

"............"

"You've abandoned your mission despite being a Witch Hunter『Dullahan』, this is the punishment for that."

Sougetsu said that while raising both of his hands.

In Inquisition everyone has an appointed role.

Developing and maintaining various anti-magical weapons, the Blacksmiths『Regins』.

Serving as intelligence and infiltration agents, the Coverts『Banshees』.

In charge of all medical treatment, responsible for treating injuries caused by magic are Healers『Seelies』.

An assault forward, possessing defensive equipment for interrogation missions, the Knights『Spprigans』.

The those who are allowed to investigate on their own and to participate in any combat the Witch Hunters『Dullahans』.

Divided into different fields, inquisitors are not only witch hunting; they are addressing any and all events related to magic.

It's been 150 years since the Witch Hunt War ended and those who use magic, witches and sorcerers are few in number, which has resulted in a status quo. People who are classified as 『witches』 are not allowed to have children, so outside of rare mutations, there aren't many people born with magical power.

But witches aside, there are different threats, a substance containing magic power, the『Magical Heritage』 is one of them.

There are many different types of Magical Heritage in existence, swords, books, guns, vases, various pottery, paint brushes, leaves, tobacco, and even cigarette butts. Magic dwelling in inorganic objects is not uncommon in modern times, but very rarely one that's a tremendous weapon appears.

The existence of some Magical Heritages mentioned in legends and myths have been confirmed for a long time, they are classified as irregular types and sporadically appear. It's not only weapons, there are also others that have high historical value, they are desired by collectors and traded on the black market for high prices.

Arresting people who do not possess magic yet are members of religious cults worshiping false gods. Dealing with unimaginable supernatural disasters, protecting and researching fantastical creatures, and many, many more. It's a very wide range of work.

"Well, you don't have to wait until the graduation, as long as you show signs of remorse returning to your original position can be taken into account. Try to learn from this lesson and don't make the same mistakes aga——"!

"So you say. About the incident few days ago, I believe I did not take any wrong actions."

The silent girl's interruption stopped Sougetsu from speaking. Such language from a member of Inquisition towards the chairman who is a superior officer should be prohibited, but chairman did not mind it at all. He put his elbows on the desk and rested his chin on his hands, smiling.

"Ouka, I'll ask you one question, what do you think is an inquisitor's mission?"

Sougetsu asked, the girl named Ouka narrowed her eyes sharply.

"Protecting people from magical threats, also, extermination of witches and sorcerers."

"Extermination huh, that's why your comrades gave you such a dishonourable name - Crimson Princess『Calamity』."

"............"

"As Inquisition, our mission is to arrest witches, as well as to seize Magical Heritage. Killing and destroying is not our purpose."

"...I understand that."

"The age where we killed and destroyed indiscriminately is over; partially because of false accusations running rampant. Also, not every witch is evil, there are many people who didn't want to be one, we have to protect them."

Ouka clenched her fists, boiling with anger after listening to Sougetsu's pretty words.

"There's an old Japanese saying, for rice cakes go to the rice cake maker[1]. The Inquisition does not have a role of killing witches."

"...I want to say that I am aware of my own shortcomings, but at the time there was no other way than to kill the witch, or is arresting witches a higher priority than the safety of children taken hostage?"

"Is putting a bullet in his forehead prioritizing saving lives? Did you not consider the possibility of killing the hostage?"

"For me, there is no such possibility."

Ouka said sharply, her eyes displayed complete self-confidence and conviction.

Sougetsu sighed.

"...anyway, from now on you're a student. All formalities have been completed, from today onwards do your best studying."

Sougetsu opened his desk's drawer that contained documents.

"Obediently accept your punishment, with your skills you'll be back in no time."

"...I was in the middle of investigating the corpse collectors... I have clues on their trading partner, please, at least give some time—"

"I've said it before; those events are within jurisdiction of the police, both Inquisition and the police agreed on it."

"But we don't know when the living will become victims... the police has half-assed investigators."

"In cases that have no traces of magic-, Inquisition is not going to intervene, you know that."

"...Tch"

"In the first place, you're no longer an inquisitor, you no longer have the right to lead the investigation."

Ouka's face displayed her frustration.

"That always discontent expression is wasting away your beautiful face, think of it as of great opportunity to brush up your communication skills. Even among Witch Hunters『Dullahans』, your evaluation is very poor because of your cold attitude and refusal to listen to the opinions of others."

"...that can't be helped, that's how my personality is."

"You know, the problem lies in the fact that you joined Inquisition at the age of 13, before your humanity fully developed in school."

Sougetsu sighed, he was disappointed from the bottom of his heart; then threw the documents towards Ouka.

She looked through the documents scattered on the desk.

"...this is?"

"Platoon roster. Although you were in middle school before, the high school requires students to be part of a test platoon you know."

"Oh well."

"You've been incorporated in the 35th test platoon, commonly called 'Small Fry Platoon'."

"......small fry?"

An easy to understand nickname, Ouka was stupefied.

Seeing her reaction Sougetsu laughed happily.

"A matching set of oddballs, my favourite platoon."

"Why do I have to be assigned to such platoon?"

"Because... well... you know?"

Sougetsu pointed his finger at Ouka, smiling delicately.

"Oddball."

"......!!"

"Yes yes, don't get so angry, you've always had such an explosive personality. It would be good if you fixed that as well during your school life."

"I would like to change platoons; I want to be in a single person platoon. I will not bother others, and it's more convenient to me as well."

"That would make no sense; it's been decided and can no longer be changed. Changing teams is not allowed by school regulations."

Sougetsu laughed mischievously, Ouka was full of regret.

"Well, don't be so pessimistic. Cooperation aside, each of them has outstanding abilities. And above all, there's a Relic Eater candidate in it."

Relic Eater, that term made Ouka open her eyes wide in shock.

"I-Impossible... Are you saying one of them is a candidate?!"

"Yes, for the last of the Twilight SpecTwilight Keeper series left over after the Witch Hunt War, because no one was chosen by it."

"That can't be! Why are you choosing from the students?! Relic Eaters are supposed to be used only by Witch HuntersDullahans!"

"Even though you say that, you were a special case as well. You became a Witch HunterDullahan at the age of 13, and momentarily you were chosen as 『Vlad』's contractor."

"That's true but...! Why of all things, a Twilight SpecTwilight Type Relic Eater."

"It's a shame that even with your talent you were rejected by it. Other Witch HuntersDullahans tried as well, but it has rejected everyone. That's why there's no choice but to choose from the students, or maybe you want us to choose an amateur from the general public?"


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Hearing Sougetsu's explanation, Ouka lowered her head.

Relic Eaters are weapons only Witch Hunters『Dullahans』 are allowed to use. They're completely different from modern firearms that used mithril and adamantium to produce anti-magic effects. Other than Witch HuntersDullahans, nobody is allowed to touch them.

They are unquestionably Magical Heritage, a product of magic. To humanity they are an abominable existence.

Relic Eater series are all in the form of a gun. It's unknown in what circumstances they were born since the truth hasn't been revealed. The existence of these powerful Magical Heritages is top secret.

Fight poison with poison, for people trying to get rid of magic it is the worst problem there is. Inquisition is fearful of itself, because users of Magical Heritage were written in history as devil kings.

"Of course we didn't intend to, but we are not the ones picking the candidates. Relic Eater is choosing its own contractor. You went through that as well... so you know that right?"

"...yes."

Ouka replied after hearing Sougetsu's explanation.

She took the documents in her hands with mixed feelings and confirmed what the candidates looked like.

"Just to make sure, one of those three is the candidate right?"

"Indeed."

"Which student is it?"

"Yeah... that's..."

Ouka asked. Sougetsu silently put his hand on his chin, while glaring sharply at her.

"Not telling."

............

............

Ouka was speechless. She turned on her heels angrily, preparing to leave.

"Mu ha ha! It's confidential so I can't tell you!

"I was stupid to listen to you seriously...!"

"Ah—wait, wait a second, one more thing. While you're a student, you're not to use your 『Vlad』 even if it's an emergency. I'll get angry otherwise."

"I know without you telling me!"

*bang*, Ouka opened the door and left.

Sougetsu looked at her back while smiling happily.

"Good grief, teenagers sure are difficult..."

He leaned heavily on his chair while holding his chin in his hands.

"Oh?"

Sougetsu looked in the corner of the room, realizing there was a shadow sitting there.

"Lapis, how long have you been sitting there?"

"............"

"That's no good, you're not contracted yet. Producing magic power meaninglessly is bad you know. Didn't I tell you that walking around alone is bad?"

In response to Sougetsu's call, the shadow wriggled in the dim room giving an impression as if darkness itself was moving. A human shape slowly appeared from the shadows.

It was a girl. Everything, her clothes, hair, even her pupils were azure-coloured. She had pale white skin more lithe than any human.

The girl wasn't blinking nor breathing, not even sounding a heartbeat, she was just standing there expressionless.

"Your maintenance is hard; aren't you going to perform the contract yet?"

"............"

"Are you still hesitating... or...?"

The girl didn't answer, and just stood there breathlessly. Her pupils concealed a pitch black abyss within.

Sougetsu sensed something from the girl was and narrowed his eyes.

He had a smile on his face like the Cheshire Cat from famous fairy tale.

"...I see, well, think about it."

"............"

"Mistletoe you really act shameless like your name states... Such a dreadful child you are."[2]

Sougetsu closed his eyes as if he was dozing off, horrible laughter sounded from his throat.

The girl's expression didn't change, but azure-coloured lights were floating in the darkness around the girl like fireflies.

Part 2

Kusanagi Takeru was hopeless at everything other than swordsmanship.

Rather than weak or bad, just hopeless.

The Kusanagi family he was born into was a famous military family 300 years ago. During an era when the sword was strongest, Kusanagi family's name resounded on many battlefields.

Kusanagi's Peerless style swordsmanship[3] is unique. When the Kusanagi's were seen on the battlefield, enemies immediately raised the white flag unconditionally.

But that's a story from a long time ago.

In the current era swordsmanship is a useless martial art. In fact, the pen is stronger than the sword, and the gun is stronger than the pen.

This means of course, that the gun is stronger than the sword.

Swords are the worst, It's outdated scrap iron.

"Hey, it's the Small Fry's swordsmanship nut."

One of two students standing by the wall drank from his carton juice and pointed at Takeru walking down the corridor while smiling sarcastically.

"Oh, that idiot came to training with a plastic knife before."

"Look at his waist, is that a sword? Rushing in without a gun, is that a joke?"

It was as the student said, there was a sheathed sword hanging at Takeru's waist.

Long eyebrows, closed mouth, jet-black hair with long bangs. His strong appearance could be described directly samurai-like. He stood out even more because the sword was making clanging noises as he walked.

"That's a Japanese katana; it was a main Japanese weapon before the war."

"A sword that becomes useless after cutting down two, three people? Why would he hang such a thing there? Is he an idiot?"

"He IS an idiot, that's why he's been assigned to a Small Fry Platoon."

Mockery sounded in the hallway, ridiculing laughter reached him from behind his back as he strode past. From behind he looked dignified, from the front he looked like a demon.

His eyes already looked evil by nature, now that he was furious he looks like a murderer.

Surrounding students escaped from Takeru's path because he was too scary.

“...?! Haa...?!”

Takeru noticed their reactions and changed his demonic expression.

"No good, no good... patience Kusanagi Takeru... patience... I can't get angry every single time they badmouth swordsmanship...!"

He sighed deeply, grimacing.

"I'm different from my past self."

He put his hand on the katana hanging on his waist. This is the only thing for him, his only way.

He studied how to use it from the basics ever since he was a child. Apart from that, whether its dexterity or intuition, he's more clumsy than bad at it. He has no literature skills, no talent for painting. His motor skills are excellent, but he has no sports sense, his field intuition is a minus as well.

And when it comes to skill in handling firearms, he's hopeless.

His lack of knack for it is referred to as 'curse', not only can he not hit targets he aims for, it's on a completely different level. Bullets actually avoid their target no matter how he aims his muzzle, for example the bullet Takeru shoots at extreme short range will not even graze the target. If he squeezes the trigger at point blank range, by some twist of fate a terrible explosion of gun's barrel awaits him.

That's why, for Kusanagi Takeru his swordsmanship talent is the only thing left for him. Just his sword skills which no one will ever praise, instead they'll just say there's no use for it in this day and age.

Takeru calmed himself down, and took his hand off the sword.

"It can't be helped... I will be criticized and abused, but this is the only way."

If you were incompetent, you wouldn't enter high level AntiMagic Academy. That means it's fine to aim to become a high level Inquisitor. Takeru didn't think so.

He aimed for this profession for a very serious reason.

Money.

Inquisitors are being paid well.

To pay off the debt left by my ancestors... My parents are no longer in this world... Also for my beloved sister, no other job offers a salary big enough!

Takeru clenched his fists while looking at the sky outside the window.

Please forgive me, my ancestors... I need money to survive.

Now just to make money.

Different from two years ago, that's all Takeru wanted.

To become an inquisitor it wasn't enough to enroll in AntiMagic Academy, just as there was an exam from middle school to high school; high schoolers need to earn points by filling a harsh quota.


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And that quota... is the biggest problem.

"...ugh."

Takeru stood outside of the room, holding his stomach depressed.

He knocked while enduring a stomachache.

"It's okay to enter〜."

From the other side of the door sounded a curt voice.

"W-wait a mo—"

Takeru heard a shrill rushed voice, but he wasn't able to stop himself from opening the door anymore.

The instant the door opened, he understood nothing.

"............"

"............"

For some reason, there was a bunny girl in front of him.

Furthermore, she was in middle of changing, two white bulges that were quite large for her height were almost visible. Her chest aside, he looked at the long inorganic ears that were twitching.

Why is there a bunny girl in the school? Wasn't this school serious before? Or maybe I'm dreaming? Such questions never appeared in Takeru's head.

Takeru didn't try to understand it. He faced away towards the wall, and cried.

There was a girl in a white lab coat laughing "puhahaha" while trying to catch his breath. Takeru understood the situation instantly.

Aah, this again...

"Ki-ki-ki..."

The bunny girl blushed, ready to scream any moment

The next phrase would probably be "Kyaa", he expected that judging from her promising expression.

In such a situation, Takeru was shedding tears for some reason.

"...why the hell, are you crying?!"

Her reaction was beyond Takeru's expectations, she instinctively kicked up.

Takeru was hit in the solar plexus and flew out of the room back into the corridor.

While he was twitching and foaming at the mouth. The bunny girl came after him and grabbed his collar.

"Why are you crying after seeing me as a bunny girl? Thinking normally, it should be me crying right?"

"...no..."

"Is my appearance so sad it makes you cry? Or is it so amusing? Are you saying I'm not attractive!?"

"...Wro...ng... you have a nice body——"

"!!!? You Pervert! Pervert pervert!!"

Strangled Takeru turned blue, and the girl's eyes started watering.

The reason he couldn't explain himself properly is because he was spewing foam out of his mouth, as well as the high speed digital camera's shutter held by the girl in the white coat, and she was laughing while looking at them.

"Ahahaha. I didn't expect you to cry, I took some nice pictures."

"It's your doing again...! I told you to stop playing with Usagi all the time...guah."

"Becaaause she's so weak at old maid, it's a punishment game you know, punishment game. As the name states bunny outfit suits her, and her boobs are big too."

"Don't get me involved with your cosplay hobby..."

"Maybe you let yourself get caught on purpose? You timed your entrance to look at Usagi's body? You pervert; perverted brat."

Even after being ridiculed that much, Takeru wasn't in the mood to get angry. The girl in the white coat was checking the photos on her digital camera.

"What to do I wonder, maybe I'll spread these photographs around school premises. Ufu, ufufu, a bunny girl's and a crying guy's pictures, and for no reason too, ufufufu."

The girl in the white robe made an ominous proclamation, and the half naked girl jumped up.

"Stop that!"

Outside of the noisy room, Takeru was crying in the hallway.

They were the members of 35th Test Platoon also known as "Small Fry Platoon" and the cause of Takeru's stomachache.

Kusanagi Takeru is the captain of the 『Small Fry Platoon』.

After entering high school, there is only one way to get promoted.

General subjects grades aren't enough to let you graduate. The academy's test platoon system, you won't be able to become a second or third year if you don't complete that curriculum.

It's made to make students more competitive, and allow them to gain investigative experience. The test platoon system is the biggest challenge one faces before becoming an inquisitor.

AntiMagic Academy students are organized into platoons from between students that were preselected, and they are to solve incidents in which magic was involved.

From the start of opening ceremony, they don't get any equipment, information, or support except weapon parts. They even have to obtain information themselves, that also includes strategical planning for battles. Everything is up to students themselves.

It's the Inquisition Board that determines the structure of each platoon. Changing the members of platoon is not allowed. It's not a system where the hopeless people could group up together.

For example,

"We should seriously consider what to do, with our group like this.”

*wham* Hitting a office desk, was a platoon member, Saionji Usagi.

Sitting across opposite of Takeru is Suginami Ikaruga.

The last one is Kusanagi Takeru who raised his head.

"It's been half a year since we were admitted to high school! Half a year! Captain, do you know how many points have we earned?"

Usagi asked, and Takeru wore a depressed expression.

"...z-zero, I think."

"Yes! Zero! Half a year and still zero! We need to think how to overcome this terrible situation!"

Takeru shrunk as Usagi's spirit overwhelmed him and gripped his aching stomach.

Ikaruga who was across, looked lethargic.

"That being said, there's only three of us. What can we do? There aren't many cases we can handle just by ourselves."

It was just as Ikaruga said, there was only three members in Small Fry Platoon. Originally test platoons are configurations of six members, so there were three vacant spots in Small Fry Platoon, despite these vacancies, leaving the platoon still resulted with expulsion.

A person who leaves the school had to be mentally ill or was involved in some strange religion.

Also about leaving this striking trio... whether good it was good or bad...
89
"At this rate we will really be forced to drop out! Are you still okay with that?"

Saionji Usagi. Aiming to become a Witch Hunter『Dullahan』, her sniping skills aside, unexpectedly she's an idiot who makes ridiculous blunders during missions due to her stage fright. Her other abilities were all average, she makes an effort but it's nothing special. She is earnest but very prideful, she also appears to have a complex about her name, getting angry at people who called her with it.

"Kusanagi is the only vanguard, it can't be helped."

Suginami Ikaruga, intended to become a Blacksmith『Regin』. Having top scores after admission, she had perfect maintenance skills and was immediately recommended to join the Inquisition, but refused saying "Don't take away my youthful student life". It's not entirely clear whether she was serious or not. She's only interested in weapons development and modification, her maintenance skills are at the top among the first years. From between the platoon members, she knows Takeru from her middle school days.

"...I'm ashamed."

Finally there was the swordsmanship geek, Kusanagi Takeru. Hoping to join Knights『Spriggan』, zero shooting ability, zero maintenance skills, zero intelligence-gathering skills, general studies - nearly zero. He was confident with the sword, but had no opportunities to use it. When his sword is mocked blood rushes to his head resulting in a high chance of going out of control and dying an honourable death due to recklessness. Originally he wasn't the captain, but after two people quit, he was forced to become one. He couldn't influence fighting potential too much because he's unable to use guns. Even now he's no good.

"Don't apologize like that! You're the captain! Please have more self-awareness!"

Usagi hit the desk, *wham*, her face displayed irritation.

Takeru scratched his head with a finger.

"Even if you say that, basically... I'm not cut out for it."

"P-please don't say such things! We're not in a position to say such things! And I have never thought of you as unsuitable for the captain position!"

"——Do you have knotholes for eyes?!"

On the side of the two discussing, Ikaruga let out a happy laugh.

"Usagi-chan."

"Please do not call me by my name! Don't add '-chan' either!"

"To Usagi it looks like Kusanagi overburdened himself, so she wants him to do his best."

"I don't really... but I really think Kusanagi is suited for the captain position."

"Oh? How, come?"

"U-umm like he worries a lot? Or working hard even though there are no results? And where he... how he feels about his comrades like... trusting maybe?"

"Come on, isn't that the same for you?"

Usagi's face turned beet red.


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Seeing her reaction, Ikaruga pushed further.

"A man who can only use a sword, a woman who can only snipe, furthermore both of you are disadvantaged by your own specialization. You are so alike, you fit each other."

My, my, Ikaruga shook her head.

Usagi and Takeru looked towards her at the same time.

"What, why are both of you staring at me."

""You're not the one to talk!!""

"Oh my, really. We're comrades then. So we should be able to work together well."

""Why so positive?""

The two responded with a tsukkomi to Ikaruga's proper attitude, the usual scene was back.

That's how thanks to meaningless chatter the Small Fry Platoon activities are usually ending without them taking any action again.

"Anyway. We're lacking information, do you have anything Kusanagi?"

"I have something... but don't expect too much."

Takeru put his hands in his pocket, taking out a piece of creased and torn paper he handed it to Usagi. It contained valuable information he managed to collect in the past few days. The state of the paper describes just how much effort he put in. It's truly Takeru's blood, sweat, and tears.

Usagi goes "Mmm" as she checks the note.

"Eh... Fifth district's Sakatake-san, is rumoured to have a potted plant that moves like tentacles... Somewhere in the back alley of school district there's a wall marked with runic symbols... Every morning after waking up, there's a smell of an old man on their pillows..."

"The plant is a mimose. The runic words in the back alley are just a graffiti. The pillows are simply old. All of these can be easily written off as misinformation."

Ikaruga cut in after half of it was read out.

"All of this is useless."

"...I'm ashamed, even though I tried hard."

"This is really bad, there's only half a year left... half a year and we need 200 points! By securing insignificant F-Class and E-Class Magical Heritage, even the dirt would pile up and become a mountain, that would be enough. But we no longer have time for that!"

Usagi lamented over their hopeless situation.

Takeru felt similar to some extent.

There was a ranking for Magical Heritage and magical incidents. The more powerful the history of theirs is, the more points you get. F is 5 points, E is 10, D is 20, and C is 30 points. Students are not allowed to take on harder cases.

Certainly, if we dealt with E and F level cases we would have reached the quota. But now it's too late, we don't have enough time for that. If anything, we should go for high level ones.

Even without thinking about it much, that was the only way if they wanted to succeed.

Takeru was as worried as Usagi over the issue.

"...it can't be helped."

Ikaruga brought up a 3d image and opened up one of the folders. There was high quality information written in it, such things that Takeru could never obtain no matter how hard he worked.

"It's an irregular type that was supposed to be disposed of during Witch Hunt War... that's information on a D-ranked Magical Heritage. It's not really my field, but I'll look for you guys. Ikaruga-onee-san will help you with this pinch."

""Oooh!!""

Takeru and Usagi leaned together side by side to look at displayed text.

"Targeted by the witch hunters in the initial war. First edition book of Andolf Jaeger's 『Trackless Psalm』; Only original and the first edition contain magic power, presumably Andolf himself was applying magic to them during the first edition printing. It's a collection of nonsensical poems with no sense of integrity, but when you read the poem from the beginning till the end, the magical technique encrypted in it activates the book's mental pollution magic. Readers go mad, gouging their own eyes out and commit suicide by biting off their tongues."

Takeru and Usagi went pale after hearing such a astringent description from Ikaruga.

It's a Magical Heritage made just for killing people. It was definitely a D-rank case, and certainly an irregular type. Andolf Jaeger's had many fans even these days, it's a very valuable book from the collector's standpoint.

"The original has already been sealed, and four out of five first edition books are in Inquisition's possession. One of the books disappeared from the scene while they were being seized. There's evidence that it was taken by someone, but the culprit hasn't been caught yet. That happened a week ago."

The two on the side leaked voices of admiration, Ikaruga continued further.

"The important part starts from here, just the other day the culprit who got away with the remaining book was found. The trading organization he belonged to was destroyed in a sweep a week ago. The guy is on the run, and is trying to sell it to another organization. The transaction is planned for today at midnight."

"Fufu, how is it?"

Ikaruga said proudly after she finished.

"Amazing, how on earth did you acquire all of that information? How did you pinpoint him so easily? Just when did you investigate this, Suginami."

"I didn't. There's no way I can do that, such thorough investigation. It comes from our year's top, 18th platoon."

"...haa?"

"It's information that comes from 18th platoon's devices I hacked. It was a piece of cake."

"...wait, I just heard something I can't ignore. How could you do that."

"I even shifted the transaction date written in the original file by one day. Their protection against hacking was really poor, information management is part of a Covert'sBanshee's duty as well, hahahaha."

"Don't 'hahaha' me, isn't that a crime?!"

"According to school rules, you can use any means of intelligence gathering."

"Even so, it's dirty to steal something that someone else worked hard for!"

"It's too late to say that, and it's too late to leave the interrogation to others as well."

"Wha... even so, we should go to the 18th platoon, speak with them about this, and leave it to them."

Usually Takeru didn't mind fooling around, but this time he was completely against it.

It was like Ikaruga said, stealing information from other platoons is allowed. But Takeru thought of it as something really bad. When he was small, there was someone because of whose wrongdoings Takeru suffered trauma.

Doing bad things will definitely bite back at you. That's what Takeru had been taught, even now he adhered to that teaching.

Usagi put her hand on his shoulder as he drew closer to Ikaruga.

"Kusanagi... I like that part of you."

"Usagi... you get it right...!"

"Please don't call me by my name! And I meant that I like your sensitive side that's against illegal acts, don't misunderstand."

"Indeed, you should be rewarded for something you accomplish fair and square, that's how it should be."

Takeru advocated a proper way of doing things.

But Usagi looked delighted and closed in on his face, her eyes bloodshot, she held his shoulder as if she wanted to crush it.

"I said I like it, but now it's not the time for that! There's no time to argue whether it's right or wrong! We'll become complete losers at this rate!"

Takeru thought they already are a group of losers, but he did not say it.

Usagi excitedly tried to convince Takeru.

"Are you okay with that!? Didn't you want to make money?"

"Ugh... indeed, I do..."

Takeru's heart was wavering. Indeed, he had to make money. His household had huge financial problems. There's was his little sister too. He had to clear their debt while paying for their living expenses To be honest, he wanted to get rid of those problems even if he had to sell his soul to a devil.

Takeru's stomachache got more intense.

At that time, suddenly the door of the platoon's room was opened with a lot of force.

"Gooood afternoooooonnnn!! Children!"

The team members gazes shifted to door at high speed.

After confirming who the person was, Takeru and Usagi paled.

Standing there, with long flowing white hair, and a pretty face. A person for whom a rosy background would be suitable stood in front and pulled out an odd pose.

AntiMagic Academy's chairman, Sougetsu Ootori.

"Chairman...?!"

"Indeed it is I, the chairman! Surprised? Or did I fire a blank?"

Sougetsu said flatly, and laughed with a "HAHAHA".

Why was the person with the highest authority in the academy in a place like this.

A situation that seemed like a lie, the two were restless wondering about that.

"Hey, it's bad, he came at the perfect time. It's as if he heard us just now."

"Eh, no wait it's still too early to say that, we still can't be sure... calm down."

The two whispered to each other while sweating profusely.

Unlike those two, Ikaruga faced Sougetsu calmly while sitting on her chair humming.

"What is it, do you have so much spare time that you visit a bar-like platoon like this?"

"That's a wonderful expression, Ikaruga-kun! Also, I'm this school's chairman, shouldn't you pay me more respect?"

Sougetsu protested, Ikaruga looked at him with scornful eyes as if she wanted to spit on him.

Takeru broke out in cold sweat.

"I respect only the ones I love. So, what did you come here for."

Ikaruga spit out those words in rapid succession, it was inexcusable now as her attitude was downright rude. And responsibility for that fell on Takeru as her captain.

Takeru panicked and trembled.

The chairman thought of Ikaruga's harsh rebuttal as funky! He had an easygoing smile.

"Hahaha, you're cheeky as ever. Nah, I just came for a little inspection. After all, your 35th platoon has that kind of reputation."

"I see. So you came to adore the faces of the outcasts. Did you come to fire us?"

"No no, what reached my ears are only awful rumours, but I think this is a really nice platoon."

Sougetsu walked around the room with a hand on his chin and looked at each member's face.

First Ikaruga with whom he was already acquainted, through Usagi, and in the end he stood in front of Takeru.

Takeru stood upright, unmoving, stuck solid like the pillars of a house.

Sougetsu leaned so close their noses almost touched and stared at Takeru's face.

"It's been a while Kusanagi-kun, the last time we met was during the middle school entrance ceremony was it not?

"I-indeed, chairman."

Sougetsu spoke to him in friendly manner; he was acquainted with the chairman just like Ikaruga. He was called to chairman's office before, around the time of middle school opening ceremony.

The conversation they had back then... his heart shrank as he remembered it. He had to admit that back then, Takeru was a naive, arrogant brat.

It was certainly, "I'll knock you down from that seat" or something like that.

Now it was unthinkable for him, such a dreadful thing.

Takeru was unable to speak in front of him now. Sougetsu made a questioning look.

"Oh? Were you that kind of character? You used to have an evil look in your eyes, as if you wanted to kill me."

"Ha-hahaha, sorry. That's because I was in puberty back then."

"I don't know what changed your mind, but it's good. I wish my daughter would follow suit."

Sougetsu laughed gently, as if he was watching a child.

And again, because of his looks, one couldn't clearly tell whether he was a woman or a man. To begin with, he never stated that he was a man. No one in the school had any evidence that could help determine his gender. There was nothing more mysterious than him. That's the impression you got from the students.

After examining Takeru with a knowing smile he nodded.

"In any case, as far as your platoon's results go, you never get any compliments. I won't pursue who is responsible for that. The survival of you three outcasts platoon is at stake. I want to avoid that as well, because I really like you guys."

Takeru's stomach started screaming.

"That's why I prepared supplemental personnel for the 35th platoon."

A backup soldier. Just because there's a problem with earning credits, changing members shouldn't be allowed.

Usagi whispered to Takeru.

"What's going on? It's unheard of to have replenishment personnel."

"Even if you ask me... I haven't heard about any of it before."

As Takeru was wondering, Sougetsu turned towards the door and said.

"Come in."

After a few seconds, there was the squeaky sound of the door being opened slowly.

"————"

That moment, Takeru's heart almost stopped.

An unforgettable existence had appeared. Someone who could be called the beginning and the end of all for Takeru. Those eyes from two years ago, the absolute strength seen in the darkness that has shattered Takeru's confidence once, that detestable existence.

The owner of the hair that could be called sunset-coloured, like a sun sinking in the horizon. A beautiful girl that looked like she came out of myths,

"She is an ex-Witch HunterDullahan, Ootori Ouka-kun. She transferred into this high school, please get along well."

"Nice to meet you."

"By the way, she's my daughter! We look alike right? Like for example our cute noses and eyebrows! As you can see, she's my daughter through and through☆"

"I'm his stepdaughter. We're not connected by blood, please do not misunderstand."

The girl named Ootori Ouka pointed out. Sougetsu put on a mysterious smile, no one knew what made his tension rise so much, and no one is ever bothered with him acting like this in front of the students.

Usagi beside Takeru seemed to be familiar with Ouka. She had a morose expression.

"I know of Ouka Ootori, she obtained qualifications for joining the Inquisition in middle school, it took her only a year and a half."

"............"

"Said to be a genius that also has influential family... she got promoted without putting in much effort... you think so too, right?"

"................"

"...Kusanagi?"

After not getting a reply for her question, Usagi looked at Takeru's face beside her.

Takeru's mouth was shut tight. He was looking at Ootori Ouka without blinking.

"You know her?"

"...yes... she's my former classmate."

Takeru replied tersely and softened his expression. Usagi felt that there was something amiss, and faced Ikaruga. If Ouka was in the same class as Takeru, then so was Ikaruga. She was looking at Ouka, and asked Sougetsu blandly.

"Why did Ouka Ootori stop being a Witch HunterDullahan and come to our platoon? You ignored the rules and enlisted her here... is there a reason for that?"

"...hmm, that's because..."

Sougetsu put a finger on his forehead looking troubled. Ouka's platoon members moved a step closer.

"Sorry, I can't tell you the reason."

"We're going to work together as comrades now. Isn't it expected to try to understand each other better?"

Although she was reluctant to achieve that mutual understanding, Ikaruga still said so.

Ouka thought about it for a second.

"That has nothing to do with you."

She closed her eyes and answered clearly.

"You haven't changed at all, have you."

Ikaruga shook her head and didn't say anything else.

It looked like Ouka's and Ikaruga's personalities were incompatible. She was astonished by her bad attitude.

That was when Ouka noticed Takeru staring at her.

He tried to avert his gaze, but Ouka was looking straight at him. He gave in and spoke to her.

"I-it's been a while, Ootori."

"............"

"...how are you?"

Ouka squinted at Takeru who asked the question.

Takeru broke out in sweat remembering that time. His impression back then was the worst, but it could be called a pretty strong one, it was one on one deathmatch and he was beaten until his arms and legs gave out.

They never had a normal conversation, but initial impression should be enough.

"............"

Ouka looked at him with wariness and aversion, like at a beast.

It looked like she hates him after all. Takeru dropped down on his seat.

Right after that,

Ouka opened her mouth and said to him.

"...who are you?"

...*thud*.

Takeru's knees gave out and his shoulders dropped.

Rather than hating him, she didn't even remember him.

Translator's Notes and References

 餅は餅屋 Mochi ha Mochiya - Mochi means rice cake, while mochiya means rice cake store, in original it means the right person for the right job, similar to English saying "Horses for courses"

 In this case 恥 means both shameless and dishonorable, it refers to how Mistletoe is a parasitic plant shamelessly leeching off the others.

 天下無双草薙流 Tenka Musou Kusanagi-ryu - Tenka Musou means peerless, Kusanagi-ryu means Kusanagi-style, it can be also translated in many other ways, but this one is the most accurate one.



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