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Ancient City Insurrection Chapter (I) is the 14th volume in the Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei Light Novel series.

Synopsis

The mastermind behind the "Parasite Doll" incident of "Nine Schools Competition", Zhou Gongjin, has fled from Yokohama to the area of the original ancient magic users group centered around Kyoto. This group is also known as the "traditionalists".

Since then, two months have passed - The "National High School Magic Thesis Competition" will soon be held. This year's Thesis Competition is being held in Kyoto. It is sponsored by the Magic Association and will take place in their conference hall. The Kuroba twins visit Tatsuya as representatives and bring Yotsuba Maya's letter to him. The letter is a request from his aunt to cooperate with capturing Zhou Gongjin.

While it was questionable whether this was a "command" rather than a "request", Tatsuya and Miyuki go to Kudou's house because they are in the center as opponents of the "traditionalists". As a result, the two siblings have a fated encounter with the "Genius Augmented Magician”...

The stage was the conspiracy of the ancient city. The fate that has continued to smolder away in the back of the history of magician development, Tatsuya and Miyuki and his companions are challenged.

Chapter 1

Spoiler
Kyuuchou Temple in Fuchuu City, where Kokonoe Yakumo serves as the head priest, sits atop a hill, concealing a sealed World War Three bunker. The temple had been built during the reconstruction efforts after the war. It was given to Yakumo's master for his cooperation with Institute 9 and for the training of Shinobi. As such, it contains extensive underground training facilities for modern magic despite its old fashioned appearance. It was for this reason that Kazama introduced Tatsuya to Yakumo, to make him an extremely powerful magician for frontline combat.

Tatsuya is entering into the lowest level of Kyuuchou Temple's underground training facility into a heavily radiation-shielded training room. The room is flooded up to his shoulders as he stands there with a prototype pistol-shaped CAD with a bayonet-like fitting on the mussel.

Tatsuya pulls the trigger underwater, and two activation sequences are absorbed, one from the attachment and one from the CAD. This causes the bubbles around the CAD and Tatsuya drops it due to being hideously burned. Tatsuya uses Regrowth and restores himself and the CAD. He prepares to try the spell yet again when Yakumo uses magic voice, telling him that it's nearly midnight. The training over the room is drained and Tatsuya leaves the room, inaccessible without magic, and returns to the surface.

◇ ◇ ◇

September 23rd 2096, Sunday. Despite coming home so late the day before, Tatsuya rises early to head out for his morning training, leaving Miyuki, who was checking their messages, a little concerned. She realises that asking him to stop won't work and decides to hold off using tears until her concern becomes serious. While Minami makes breakfast, Miyuki heads to prepare the shower and Tatsuya's clothes in the bathroom for him when he returns.

Minami heads to the entryway to greet Tatsuya when he returns home but Miyuki was already there greeting him. Minami had first been perplexed by how Miyuki could tell where Tatsuya is even when over 50 meters away, but had long given up her disdain.

Following the usual Sunday time table, the Shiba siblings had coffee together while Minami retreats to study and escape the sicky-sweet atmosphere.

Once the pair were settled, Miyuki asks why Tatsuya isn't participating in the Thesis Competition. Tatsuya responds by telling her that he's too busy with a new magic that he has been working on since March, using Free-After-Execution (FAE) Theory, the same magic theory which Lina's weapon Brionac had used.

After explaining FAE Theory, Miyuki questions Tatsuya further. He points out that the entire sequence is the spell, not each individual process, a common misconception. The explanation continues until Miyuki concludes that the pause in which magic can be more readily reapplied, which FAE Theory describes, only applies after the entire spell, not the individual processes.

◇ ◇ ◇

Just how do the Shiba siblings pass time during a holiday?

For the majority of First High students, it was the first time all of them had encountered this question and the speculations were partially correct, in that the siblings were happily spending time together, even going on dates. However, it is not every day and since Minami moved in, Tatsuya has been working more, either at FLT or with the 101st Battalion.

But today, Tatsuya has no appointments nor is Miyuki asking to go out due to the fact that Tatsuya was physically exhausted from training. As such, Miyuki didn't want to entertain guests today, even close relatives. Yet, as the Kuroba twins were there to see Tatsuya and he didn't seem to mind, Miyuki had no reason not to welcome them.

The twins apologise for intruding and given their stiff manner, the Shibas realise that they're here on serious business. Tatsuya thanks Fumiya for helping Minami during the Steeplechase incident and offers to repay the favour to make the situation less awkward for them. Ayako prompts Fumiya and he hands Tatsuya the sealed letter they were sent to deliver.

The letter is from Yotsuba Maya.

Tatsuya reads the letter and confirms that the Kuroba twins are aware of the contents while Miyuki reads it. Maya is requesting Tatsuya's aid in hunting Zhou Gongjin. The Kuroba twins confirm that it's a request, not an order, so he can refuse.

Miyuki is shocked by this as she sees that Maya's authority as absolute, but Tatsuya wasn't as he was aware that both Miyuki and the 101st Brigade have more authority to issue orders to Tatsuya since Maya cannot ignore the Yotsuba and it's agreement with the military.

Tatsuya decides to accept the request.

The Kuroba agree to deliver the response and Fumiya apologises, as it was the Kuroba who were originally supposed to capture Zhou a month ago, but failed, with their father seriously injured. Fumiya is shamed by this failure and Tatsuya takes on a brotherly attitude and reassures him, saying that it's ok to ask for help, and they should have asked him earlier as accomplishing the mission takes priority.

With Fumiya consoles that he goes on to report the situation to Tatsuya. Zhou tries to escape west by sea but is stopped and after disembarking, he flees to Kyoto and is likely being helped by the Traditionalists, a faction of astray ancient magicians which count occultists from the mainland within their numbers. The occultists with the Kudou have also fled and joined that group so the Kudou are not involved.

With business concluded, the Kuroba twins leave and Minami prepares tea while the Shiba siblings see the twins off. Returning with the tea, Tatsuya had Minami make herself some tea and join them, which surprises Minami.

Tatsuya investigates the letter but confirms that there are no hidden messages. It really is just a request, which has made both siblings suspicious. With Minami having returned, Tatsuya explains that though Maya has always issued orders before this, Maya is only third in line of people who can order Tatsuya, with Miyuki's safety the highest priority and the 101st Brigade second, a fact which shocks the two girls.

Tatsuya thinks a moment and then explains this is an unusual situation with a dangerous foe who has been evading the Kuroba, as such this may be a long term task to complete. He states someone else will need to hunt Zhou and Tatsuya's role will be active once the target is located. Because of this, he will be away from home at times and tells Minami to protect Miyuki in his stead at those times. Even though Miyuki is stronger, Minami is one of the few magicians he'd trust with the task. Minami readily accepts.

◇ ◇ ◇

Due to the nature of their work, the Kuroba own hotels throughout Japan. Fumiya and Ayako are staying at one such hotel, meaning that they can make secure calls to the Yotsuba main house from this location. Fumiya calls the main house and informs Hayama that the message was delivered and tells him about Tatsuya's response. Hayama thanks them and says he will liaise with Tatsuya from this point and the call ends.

With their mission complete, Ayako and Fumiya decides to stay the night in the hotel. Ayako notices that Fumiya is upset. Fumiya admits that he's fine with the task itself but he is unhappy about the conditions imposed, that they allow themselves to be shadowed, as ordered by Hanabishi. Fumiya is concerned that they led the enemy to the Shibas' home. Ayako assures him that there is no chance of the Shiba siblings being identified as Yotsuba due to the manipulation of their personal data. Fumiya is more concerned about getting the Shiba siblings targeted by Zhou and his people.

Having enough of this, Ayako pinches Fumiya's cheeks and tells him to relax, pointing out that if Tatsuya is targeted, then they'll have the enemy by the tail.

◇ ◇ ◇

It's a month until this year's National Magic High School Thesis Competition. However, the upcoming student council election is the most discussed topic among the First High students, ranging from the events of the previous year and the speculation on who the officers will, with Miyuki considered more or less guaranteed, to win regardless of any competition.

In the midst of all the chatter, Tatsuya and his classmates are having lunch, with Miyuki, Honoka and Shizuku in the student council room to avoid the maelstrom of gazes. After Leo asks if Tatsuya is running, referring to the events of the previous year, Erika ponders if there will be any drama like the year before but Mikihiko says no one is likely to try to do it again. They ask Tatsuya who the officers will be but he tells them it has not been discussed.

Meanwhile, in the student council room, Miyuki is being pestered by Honoka over the officer appointments too but is rebuked by Shizuku. Miyuki makes a subtle reference to the incident with Pixie to Honoka's lament, with Azusa, Isori, and Kanon all looking on sympathetically, while Izumi and Kasumi looked confused.

Back in the canteen, Minami arrives with her classmates and is noticed by Tatsuya's group. The conversation turns to the Thesis Competition and Erika asks why Tatsuya isn't participating, to which he replies that he's too busy.

The others push for an explanation so Tatsuya tells them that he's been doing an independent study since the Stellar Furnace experiment. Mikihiko and Mizuki then step in to stop Leo and Erika from prying further, pointing out that it would likely be too advanced for the others to really understand regardless.

Changing the topic, Erika asks if Tatsuya's been asked to help at all with the Thesis Competition since he gets on with Isori Kei, the lead presenter. Tatsuya states that he hasn't and Mizuki then points out since it's held in Kyoto.

This year, the theme will be purely theoretical rather than the technical subjects preferred in Yokohama. The others are surprised as Tatsuya is far ahead of most high school students, even in theory. He points out that when the methodologies are different, it can cause complications and Isori's sealing techniques are more in line with ancient magic. The conversation is ended by the bell for afternoon classes.

◊ ◊ ◊

7:30pm. Normally it would be still a time for a get-together after dinner. But for today, Tatsuya goes to his own room and calls Fujibayashi on a secured line. Apologising for the late call, Tatsuya states that he desires Kudou Retsu's cooperation for Yotsuba business and asks her, as a daughter of the Fujibayashi and his granddaughter, to set up a meeting, with an unspoken implication that it's repayment for the favour granted a month earlier. Tatsuya says that he has no demands, and wants them to cooperate willingly. Fujibayashi asks what the business is and Tatsuya states that it's a manhunt for the magician who escaped from Yokohama Chinatown. Fujibayashi states that the JSDF are having a hard time capturing the target too and agrees to set up the meeting.

With the call over, Tatsuya heads to the dining room where he finds Miyuki, though Minami is absent. Confirming that he's thirsty, Miyuki sends him to the living room and makes milk ice tea for the pair.

Once they were settled, Tatsuya tells her the call was regarding the task from Maya. Miyuki asks who he called and he tells her that he called Fujibayashi to act as an intermediary between him and Kudou Retsu, using her private number as it should be more secure. Miyuki is upset that he has Fujibayashi's number, leaving Tatsuya worried about how to pacify her, despite being genuinely innocent.

◊ ◊ ◊

Miyuki remains lightly peeved for several days before they are back to normal. Then on September 28th, the night before the presidential election, he receives a call back from Fujibayashi.

Initially concerned, she calls on the civilian line. She assures him that it's secure and if anyone tries to bug the line, they would be caught. Tatsuya is impressed and realises that she's using a secret magic technique of the Electron Sorceress.

Fujibayashi confirms that Kudou Retsu is willing to meet face to face and the time will be Saturday, October 6th at 18:00. The place is at the Kudou primary residence at Ikoma. Tatsuya confirms that the meeting is convenient, to which Fujibayashi shows an evil expression as she tells him that Retsu is looking forward to the meeting. Tatsuya realises that the meeting is a mixed blessing. Fujibayashi warns him that he's diving into the dark side of Japan's magic world. Fujibayashi states that she will be present that day and will see him then and the two end the call.

Miyuki and Minami are present for the entire call, though they have stayed quiet. Miyuki is concerned by what she had heard. Tatsuya states that making contact with Kudou Retsu was unavoidable so it's fine. Tatsuya also says that Retsu might be interested since he already knew of Tatsuya due to his familiarity with the previous Yotsuba head, the Shibas' grandfather, the leader of the incident which made the Yotsuba globally infamous. Miyuki giggles at the way Tatsuya states this as she points out that if people knew the truth about Scorched Halloween, then they would be too busy to remember what their grandfather did. Tatsuya then reassures Miyuki that Retsu knows the importance of keeping secrets so it's not an issue if he knows about Tatsuya and that they should consider getting Retsu's aid as balancing the books as allies need not always be dependable partners.

Minami did not totally get what the siblings are talking about. However, she is a professional maid and does not intrude on her master and mistresses' business with undue curiosity.

Chapter 2

Spoiler
September 29th, Saturday.

The student council election is completed uneventfully, and Miyuki is elected as the new president. She and their friends celebrate afterschool at Einebrise. Miyuki is asked who the other officers will be, and she states she wants Izumi as Vice President, but hasn’t decided the others yet.

It’s getting dark when the Shibas and Minami get home. The Shibas settle down for tea when Miyuki asks Minami to join the student council as secretary, which she reluctantly agrees to.

After tea, Tatsuya heads to his room and calls Maya to ask for permission to make contact with the Kudou with regards to hunting Zhou. Hayama answers and enquires why them and not the military. Tatsuya explains that he thinks it is better to keep the military out of Yotsuba affairs and wants to call in the favour the Kudou owe them from the month before to balance the scales. Hayama leaves it to Tatsuya’s discretion and agrees to inform Maya.

◊ ◊ ◊

The call over Hayama turns to Maya who was listening and struggling to contain her laughter, amused by his correct, yet twisted viewpoint of wanting to call in the favour to cut ties rather than deepen bonds, which would be the normal approach.

Changing the topic, she asks for an update on the hunt for Zhou, to which Hayama replies that there are no new clues, likely due to the work of the traditionalists.

◊ ◊ ◊

Tatsuya has recently been spending his evenings at Yakumo’s temple to develop a new spell based on F.A.E. Theory. At his lab at home, he had been working on the spell since breakfast to debug the spell. Around noon, he comes upstairs and detects an artificial spirit attached to the house, which he analyses and then quickly destroys.

Heading into the living room, he’s stopped by Miyuki, who wants an explanation as to what happened. Miyuki concludes it might be related to the mission to find Zhou Gongjin, leading Tatsuya to realise the Kuroba twins were followed, and we likely ordered to allow the tail to use Tatsuya as a decoy.

◊ ◊ ◊

At the time Tatsuya analysed and destroyed the shikigami, it’s operator, who is in a park half a kilometre away, is surprised by its destruction. He informs his companion but cannot explain how it happened. The pair are suddenly approached by a man they realise is one of Kokonoe’s monks. They try to flee but are incapacitated by the monk and his two companions with magic.

◊ ◊ ◊

Tatsuya meets with Kokonoe at Kyuuchou Temple. Apologising for causing Kokonoe trouble, Tatsuya explains that it’s likely related to the job he accepted, indirectly saying that it was for the Yotsuba. Upon hearing it’s in Kyoto, Kokonoe mentions the traditionalists, a faction of disgruntled ancient magicians angry at Lab 9, but Tatsuya doesn’t want to involve Kokonoe and cause things to escalate. Tatsuya asks to see the two men but Kokonoe refuses but does confirm they are traditionalists and not under the control of the government or twenty-eight families.

◊ ◊ ◊

October 1st, 2096. The new student council, consisting of Miyuki, Izumi, Honoka, Minami and Tatsuya, causes a stir due to Tatsuya’s role as Secretarial Chief. Objections were raised but Miyuki repelled all opposition with a smile. Between no one being able to make a reasonable objection and the fact many students wanted Tatsuya on the council to keep Miyuki from going out of control, since he was the only one who could stop it. A sentiment shared by all the second and third years, since kicking him of the council will cause just that. Creating something akin to a dictatorship by idol.

With the objections settled within the hour the new head of the Public Morals Committee Mikihiko visit. Tatsuya takes Mikihiko to one side to discuss the shikigami that was spying on the house. Saying that it was for research, Tatsuya shows Mikihiko the activation sequence. Mikihiko recognises it as an illegal shikigami for surveillance.

Next to visit is Igarashi, the new head of the Club Activities Group, comes to introduce himself. Igarashi’s timid nature leaves a bad impression on Izumi and Honoka. Discussing about his appointment, they agree that his type is more of a staff officer than a leader and were surprised that Tomitsuka isn’t the new chairman. The conversation is ended by Miyuki as to stop the gossip.

◊ ◊ ◊

Later in the month, the preparations for the Thesis Competition are in full swing, although the ambience is very different. Tatsuya, while watching Isori work, meets with Mikihiko to discuss security. Hattori is in charge overall. Erika and Leo join the conversation as Tatsuya agrees to be involved with site security. Leo volunteers and Tatsuya states an on-site inspection will be necessary. Erika also wants to go but Mikihiko points out that it’s an overnight trip and Erika panics, scolding him as Miyuki wouldn’t take such a comment as a joke. Their fearful comments earn Tatsuya’s ire.

Taking the conversation back to security, they discuss the individual guards for the participants; Kanon for Isori, Shizuku for Azusa and Kirihara for Minakami.

◊ ◊ ◊

The Shiba siblings, along with Minami are heading home and waiting for a commuter at the station near the school. After two minutes, one arrives and drops a man off before moving suspiciously, putting Tatsuya on guard, which Minami immediately notices. Looking at the car, a wave of psions is released as a smokescreen, and Minami raises a barrier around her and Miyuki in response. Realising their next action, Tatsuya orders Minami to use a spell to pre-emptively counter the fog it created, revealing a man with a crossbow getting out of the commuter. Tatsuya quickly disarms and incapacitates him. The man who got out earlier casts a spell at Miyuki, but Miyuki disables it first. Confirming that they can establish self-defence, when the man attacks again and is blocked by Miyuki’s zone interference. He tries to flee but Miyuki knocks him out.

With the fight over, Tatsuya checks that there won’t be any major side effects and compliments Miyuki, making her blush and making a very surreal scene as they stand over the fallen. The man Tatsuya took down is more injured and was left bound on the road. Minami shows Tatsuya the bolt from the crossbow, which he identifies as a counter for ancient spirit-based magic. Leading the three to think that they have been mistaken for ancient magicians. The police arrive shortly after.

The three are released an hour later and went home. After dinner and packing for the trip to Kyoto, the three discuss what happened. Tatsuya confirms that the men were ancient magicians, most likely under the employ of the traditionalists. The reason they believe the Shiba siblings to be ancient magicians is because of Kokonoe’s intervention the other day as the local area is essentially his territory.

Summarising, Tatsuya states two things. Firstly, they are being targeted by the traditionalists and secondly, they don’t know who the three really are and they are mistaking them for Yotsuba subordinates employed by the Kuroba. Minami realises that this means that others may be targeted. Tatsuya decides to ask Kokonoe for help, protecting their school friends, and heads to the temple.

Chapter 3

Spoiler
After school in the Student Council room, the Shibas are preparing to leave for the Kudou house. Tatsuya calls out to Shizuku and asks for Honoka to stay at her place for the time being, explaining the attack at the station. He lies about not knowing the reason to lead the reluctant Honoka to think that he was targeted for being in the student council. Shizuku makes it clear that Honoka will be staying over. He then moves on to say that it could be due to the Thesis competition, leading Mikihiko to agree to watch over Mizuki and walk her home.

◊ ◊ ◊

Tatsuya, Miyuki and Minami travel to Ikoma by train and arrive five minutes early and are greeted by Fujibayashi Kyouko. Passing through the hedge maze, the three realise that the place is built like a fortress, in part due to the Kudou’s responsibility to monitor Osaka due to the high numbers of foreigners present there.

Kudou Retsu meets them in the reception room. Retsu first apologises for the Parasite Doll incident inconveniencing Tatsuya and then they discuss the mission to capture Zhou Gongjin. Kudou states, as per the rules, he cannot cooperate directly, but they can do personal favours. The meeting lasted less then ten minutes but Kudou agreed to assist.

Afterwards, they are invited to have dinner by Kyouko. Heading to a smaller dinning room, the four are joined by Kudou Minoru, a shy young man with a very striking appearance, with an impact similar to Miyuki’s. The meal proceeds with an awkward air between Minami and Minoru, and the Shibas being too friendly as usual. Minoru reveals that he has few friends due to being sickly. The conversation moves to the Traditionalists and Minoru offers to guide them on their search. Tatsuya accepts the offer.

◊ ◊ ◊

Next day, Tatsuya and company check out early and went to the Kudou residence, in clothing suited for mobility, and meet with Minoru. They quickly departed in one of the Kudou’s limousines.

On route, Miyuki notices that Minoru has two CADs. He explains that 99 sequences just isn’t enough for him, so he uses two, which is difficult, but the new FLT thought-operated CAD really helps manage them.

The conversation returns to the Traditionalists, and Tatsuya explains that they are ancient magicians who worked with Institute 9 and due to a misunderstanding united out of resentment when the Institute closed, though unorthodox, would be a more appropriate name. They go on to discuss the illegal uses ancient magic was put to and why they hid their existence and how this was the foundation of the group’s formation.

The four goes on a walking road called the Katsuragi Kodou to begin their search, using electric two-person scooters to cover the distance. They didn’t find anything, although they did meet Tsukasa Kinoe, now Kamono Kinoe, who had returned to his ancient magician roots after the ‘Blanche’ incident the year before.

They then went to Kashihara shine but that also ended in failure.

The four arrived in Nara Park at 3 p.m. and head down the Kasugayama Boardwalk with the Shiba’s in front and Minami and Minoru talking behind.

◊ ◊ ◊

At the Boardwalk entrance, Tatsuya suddenly stops and goes on guard. There are no tourists present despite it being the weekend due to a spell cast very discreetly, though it being noticed so quickly is in the groups favour.

There’s a flash, and Minami raises a barrier and blocking the first attack, as Minoru and Tatsuya go on the offensive. The enemy try to attack Miyuki and Tatsuya disables it, to which Miyuki tells him that he doesn’t need to worry and expands Zone Interference in a shape like a huge cocktail glass for defence from both above and below, while avoiding hindering Minami. Minoru protects himself with Parade, acting as a decoy, while attacking with Spark and snaking it through the trees to incapacitate the enemy. His skill impresses Miyuki and Tatsuya.

While Minoru is incapacitating the enemy efficiently, a small Kanko, a fox-like familiar, launches itself at Miyuki. It penetrates the shield and Minami responds by pushing Miyuki down and protecting her with her body. Tatsuya shocks Miyuki as Minami looks back to see the animal is frozen as Miyuki asks her to get off. Tatsuya compliments Miyuki’s freezing the Kanko. Minoru finishes the enemy.

After the fight, Tatsuya searches the enemy but finds no clues, while Minami apologises to Miyuki. Tatsuya and Minoru discuss moving on the Traditionalist base, but Miyuki disagrees, saying that it would be better to withdraw and avoid being seen here too long. Minoru suggests going to a hot spring and the four head to a hotel near the Heijōkyō ruins.

There Tatsuya and Minoru discuss the attach while the girls go to the hot spring. Tatsuya asks about the Kanko, which was able to penetrate Minami’s barrier. Minoru explains that it’s a familiar similar to a parasite. Minoru misunderstands and thinks that Tatsuya wants to question him on parasites, though Tatsuya dismisses it.

After they are done, the four then head to the station and part ways.

◊ ◊ ◊

Upon returning home, Tatsuya receives a message from Kyouko and calls her back. She confirms that the ones that attacked were an execution unit from the Traditionalists. She tells Tatsuya that they are involved with a monk from the continent that escaped from the Kudou after working on the development of the Parasite Dolls. Kyouko then goes on to makes an apology as their unit cannot intervene in the situation to offer help. She suggests asking Kokonoe for more assistance but Tatsuya declines for the fear of escalating the situation. She ends with voicing some concerns of the plan but Tatsuya reassures her that he’ll be careful.

Chapter 4

Spoiler
Tatsuya and company return home and take no further action. The next evening, Saegusa Kouichi meets with his subordinate Nakura. Kouichi asks if Nakura recalls Shiba Tatsuya and then tells him that Tatsuya was visited by the Kuroba twins two weeks and visited the Kudou the day before, believing that Tatsuya delivered a message from the Yotsuba to Kudou Retsu.

Fearing that Zhou Gongjin cannot escape both houses working together, a concern due to Kouichi’s relationship with Zhou. He orders Nakura to contact Zhou and takes care of him, and Nakura elects to go alone as more Saegusa personnel will be a hindrance.

◊ ◊ ◊

The trip to Nara yielded no results, but secured Kudou Retsu’s cooperation. Tatsuya’s Saturday has been packed with work for the Thesis Competition, and he is currently working with Isori.

Miyuki and Honoka head back to the Student Council room after watching Tatsuya for a while. On the way, Miyuki asks if Honoka has had any issues. Honoka tells her that she’s got bodyguards from Morisaki’s family business. Honoka asks how much longer she must stay at Shizuku’s house. Miyuki tells her that it’s until the Thesis Competition is over.

Mikihiko is escorting Mizuki home and waiting for a commuter at the station and they are chatting whilst Mikihiko secretly deals with the shikigami, searching the area by finding it’s caster and returning it with a spell.

◊ ◊ ◊

The caster who sent the shikigami’s hand has been injured by Mikihiko’s retaliation and is about to counter attack with a charm when they are stopped by a man with a shaved head, who had breached the pairs' magical defences and incapacitated him and his colleague.

◊ ◊ ◊

The next day, Mikihiko calls Tatsuya to the Public Morals Committee’s headquarters to discuss the attack. Mikihiko states that Mizuki was targeted by a shikigami but unaware of what happened. Mikihiko asks for an explanation as the men weren’t amateurs and is willing to help if he can but can’t do anything if left in the dark. In response, Tatsuya states that he can’t explain the details but states that the foreign magician responsible for the Yokohama Incident is being sheltered by the Traditionalists and that Tatsuya is pursuing him. Hearing that it’s the Traditionalists, Mikihiko asks to meet after school as he may be able to help.

At 7:30pm, Tatsuya catches up on his homework alone, apart from Pixie, in the Student Council room while he waits. Mikihiko arrives and they get straight to the discussion. First, Tatsuya confirms that it is definitely the Traditionalists. Mikihiko tells Tatsuya that ancient magicians are split between sympathisers, who feel constrained by the hierarchies, and those who dislike the Traditionalists, and confirms that the Yoshida are the latter, to the point that Mikihiko could get the clan to support Tatsuya, though Tatsuya declines as it would be an issue.

Mikihiko then suggests using the Thesis Competition security check as cover to investigate in Kyoto, splitting into two teams, Mikihiko’s as a decoy at the conference centre and Tatsuya’s investigation team checking the city. If Mikihiko is attacked, it’s self-defence and the other ancient magician houses won’t sit idly by if things escalate.

Tatsuya thinks that this over and them attacking the Yoshida would be better than a battle between ancient magicians and modern ones. Tatsuya asks what happens if they don’t attack, to which Mikihiko states that he’ll be able to find Tatsuya’s target as his psion waves will be different. Tatsuya states that he’ll arrange protection for Mizuki while this is underway. They agree to lay the groundwork for the plan on Friday with their respective committees.

◊ ◊ ◊

October 11th, Sunday evening, Kyoto. Zhou and Nakura meet in a park by a riverbank. They exchange pleasantries and discuss Zhou’s relocation. Nakura asks if Zhou knows that the Kudou and Yotsuba are cooperating to hunt him, which he didn’t. Zhou asks if the Saegusa intend to hide him now and Nakura says that they cannot let Zhou fall into Yotsuba hands and a fight ensues.

The two kick off the ground simultaneously, and start launching spells immediately, Zhou attacking with magical shadow beasts and Nakura using needles of water from the river. As they exchange spells, Zhou asks about Nakura’s magic as it seems different for a type from Institute 7. Nakura states that he’s an Extra as he focused on making the projectiles on the fly, rather than pre-prepared, but the total number usable failed to meet the desired level.

The two continue exchanging attacks, with Zhou’s beasts and Nakura’s needles until Nakura leaps across the river and is skewered from behind, bringing him down.

Nakura hears Zhou approach and sees that he too is injured, though only slightly. Nakura realises that he was beaten with Kimon Tonkou. Zhou affirms this and comments that he has not bled this much in years, making Nakura more skilled than Kuroba Mitsugu. As Zhou kneels down next to Nakura, Nakura makes a last request and uses a suicide technique to try to take Zhou with him with needles of his own blood. However, Nakura only succeeds in injuring Zhou further, hitting his arm and ears.

With the fight over, Zhou casts a healing spell on himself and used a black handkerchief to conceal himself in shadow and left.

Chapter 5

Spoiler
October 12th, Friday.

The students are busy making preparations for the Thesis Competition. When Mikihiko finally came to the Student Council room, Tatsuya had only got enough done to take a break.

Getting down to business, Mikihiko spreads out a large map of Kyoto. Hattori will handle things on the day, the investigation is being left to Mikihiko. Discussing the plan, the venue, the New International Convention Centre, is pointed out on the outskirts. Mikihiko voices concern that the lack of traffic will make it easier for undesirable elements to set up a base unnoticed so they should investigate a wide area to avoid a repeat of the year before.

Tatsuya agrees and leads the question to who’s going. Mikihiko volunteers, leaving Shizuku in charge at school and asks Tatsuya to come too. Miyuki then volunteers as she wants to view the hotel for the students attending, shooting down Honoka’s attempt to join by pointing out that she’d be too busy whereas Miyuki’s role for the preparations is an overseer, being gone for a day won’t be an issue. She asks Izumi to cover for her, much to Izumi’s delight.

They are to go on the 20th and return on the 21st and she orders Minami to make the reservation for four, herself included, concluding the discussion.

Later, as the school is closing, Tatsuya escorts Honoka to the auditorium where Azusa is being guarded by Shizuku, meeting Mikihiko on the way. While Tatsuya talks to the others, Mikihiko speaks to Shizuku to ask her to cover for him while they are on the trip. She agrees after confirming who’s going.

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On the way home, Tatsuya sees an article in the paper about Nakura’s murder. Miyuki notices that something is wrong, so Tatsuya shows her, and she realises immediately. Minami is confused and they explain that he is Saegusa Mayumi’s bodyguard, and wonder if it’s related to Zhou. Tatsuya doesn’t think it’s a coincidence.

◊ ◊ ◊

The one who was most surprised to see the news that Nakura had been killed was unmistakably Mayumi. She demands an explanation from her father, she found out as she had to identify the body for the police. Her father only says that it was work for the ten master clans but won’t elaborate. Realising that she won’t get anywhere, she leaves.

Mistrusting her father, Mayumi has not given up the quest for the truth. She hadn’t been close to Nakura, but he was someone who accompanied her. Mari, who was having lunch with Mayumi, notices that something is bothering Mayumi.

After some coaxing, Mayumi puts up a soundproofing barrier and opens up, telling Mari that Nakura was murdered, but her father won’t tell her anything. She doesn’t want to avenge him but feels that she can’t let this go.

Mari suggests that she ask Juumonji or Tatsuya for assistance. Mayumi is confused about her suggestion regarding Tatsuya. Mari points out the Thesis Competition is in Kyoto this year and they would investigate the area.

Mayumi says that she would rather not involve the Juumonji in Saegusa affairs. Mari recognises it as an excuse and asks Mayumi if she’s in love with Tatsuya, which flusters Mayumi a great deal as she vehemently denies it.

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October 14th, Sunday. Tatsuya visits the Yokohama branch office of the Magic Association to meet with Hayama.

They discuss the attack in Nara and Tatsuya tells Hayama that his access to the military is being blocked so his ability to confirm intel is limited. Hayama confirms that he and Maya are pleased that Tatsuya was able to secure Kudou Retsu’s aid.

Tatsuya advises that he has not made enough headway to give a report. Hayama affirms that his current progress is sufficient and no more intelligence has been acquired by the Kuroba.

When Hayama asks if he needs reinforcements, Tatsuya brings up the fact that the Kuroba twins were tailed and asks if they were deliberately ordered to ignore the tail. Hayama says that he gave no such order, but Fumiya did speak to one of the other butlers, Hanabishi, who is charge scheduling and providing equipment for the Yotsuba’s black ops.

Using this as justification, Tatsuya asks for guards for his classmates as he’s currently relying on Kokonoe and the Kitayama. Hayama agrees that freeing oneself of burdens is a standard tactic. Tatsuya hints that further interference by Kokonoe would cause problems.

The conversation moves on to Tatsuya’s new magic. Tatsuya is surprised that they knew of it but explains that it’s a close-range physical attack spell based on Lina’s Brionac. He further explains that it’s for opponents who can block Mist Dispersion, such as Tomitsuka’s Range Zero and the Juumonji Phalanx. Tatsuya informs Hayama that it should be ready for the new year’s gathering and its name is Baryon Lance. With that, the meeting concluded.

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October 15th, Monday. Mayumi visits First High to see Tatsuya privately, causing a stir amongst the students.

Gallery

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