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Cygnus Maidens Volume 2 (新・魔法科高校の劣等生 キグナスの乙女たち 2) is the second light novel of the second spin-off series for the Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei series. This spin-off continues to follow the story of Juumonji Alisa, the illegitimate daughter of the Juumonji family as she conitnues her high school life at First High.

Synopsis

School magics graffiti part two! The next landmark is a match against Third High.

Alisa and Marika have become accustomed to life at Magic High School. This time Marika wants to get into the same class as Alisa, and to fulfil that dream on the monthly Class Division Test, she is tackling some intensive magic training and studying the school's curriculum.

On the other hand, Alisa joined a club and is putting her strength into her Crowd Ball activities. Even now she has little fighting spirit for victory, but she is enjoying her activities.

Remaining like that until a certain day, when Hatsune, the head of the Crowd Ball Club, informs her that it has been decided they will be having a match against Third High.

In her first external match, Alisa is bewildered by the opponent she is competing against who is from the Isshiki Family of the Twenty Eight Assistant Houses, a distinguished family of magic——.

The troublesome spring time of life for these students of the Magic High School continues to unfold!

Introduction

Spoiler
Saegusa Mayumi’s desire for the Course 1 and 2 discrimination to be abolished has been achieved as of April 2098. But that was not all she wanted to say. But the true core of her message was likely the following:

‘For a student, these three peerless years come only once.’

That is to say, although you are here to become a Magician, you are still high school students and you only get to be high school students for three years, just like any normal non-magical high school student. And although studying and training are important, they are not everything so you should also be enjoying your youths at this time before the time comes you must move on to become independent adults.

Chapter 1

Spoiler
Monthly Examination - Results and Countermeasures

The morning of Thursday the Thirtieth of April, 2099AD. The results have come in and Marika’s wail of dismay filled the classroom. The boy sitting next to her asks Marika what is wrong, but she dismisses his concern as she had not meant to openly reveal her dismay. The boy figures it is related to the exam results which were just published and, reading the room, does press further.

The two-course system has been abolished, with all students how receiving guidance rather than just half, but each student only receives half the time that was allocated to each student on the previous Course 1. To avoid the lower ranking classes stagnating, Principle Momoyama introduced the current competitive system where class compositions are reassessed every month to account for individual growth for the sake of efficiency. There was a concern this would incite rivalries too much but there have been no issues so far with the new system entering its second year.

◇ ◇ ◇

After a month at school, people have fallen into their routines. Marika and Alisa eat lunch in the cafeteria with Isori Mei and Nagatomi Koharu. Alisa and Mei notice that Marika seems down and ask what is going on in Class 1-B, but Koharu utters ‘Class B’, while laughing in a self-deprecating manner. She then reveals she has changed from Class B to Class D, the source of her dismay.

The others try to cheer her up, and Alisa asks if Marika also changed classes, but Marika explains she is just upset because she failed to get into Class A with Alisa. Mei points out that the types of magic on the tests change each month. Marika is on the verge of making a scene, so Alisa calms her down and says everyone is working hard and that effort will pay off so they should work hard together, pointing out they all have their strengths and weaknesses across the systems. This cheers up and motivates Marika.

◇ ◇ ◇

After school, Alisa and Marika head to Marika’s apartment to devise a strategy for Marika to improve her exam scores and get into Class 1-A next month.

While Marika gets changed Alisa dons an apron and makes some Milk Tea. Once done, Marika joins Alisa and takes a homemade cake out of the fridge and cuts some slices for them to eat.

The pair start discussing the situation over tea, and Alisa comments she thinks part of the problem will be that the teachers simply do not have enough time to see every student outside of class, something unavoidable given the shortage of teachers.

Marika comments they should just practice themselves but is unsure of a venue they can use. Alisa hesitantly suggests they practice at the Former Tenth Institute, knowing Marika would be reluctant to ask Katsuto for help.

With the exception of the Fourth Institute, the others are still national property so access is heavily restricted, but the Tenth Institute is managed by the Juumonji so some training areas can be used.

Marika chooses to decline this option.

Alisa figured this would be the case due to the complicated history the Tookami have with the institute, their grandfather being stripped of his number which lead to her father being unable to work as a magician despite having talent, and her elder brother giving up the path entirely.

Alisa points out this means they will need somewhere at school to practice, and so the pair ponder on how to secure somewhere to practice when other students will be in the same situation.

◇ ◇ ◇

On the first Saturday of May, Marika and Alisa are on patrol for the Public Morals Committee. Taking a break outside, the conversation turns to finding somewhere to practice magic. Another pair stop and asks what is wrong. Marika responds to the newcomer, but Alisa is unsure who she is, though she recognises their companion, Urabe Aki, the Public Morals Committee Chairperson.

Noticing Alisa’s confusion Aki prompts her friend to introduce herself. Realising it is the first time they have spoken directly, the other girl introduces herself as Kitahata Chika, President of the Girls Magic Arts Club and Alisa returns her own self introduction.

Alisa is confused by this as she remembers Chika being more boyish than the beautiful girl before her. This amuses Aki who playfully points out that ninety-nine out of one-hundred people will not realise she is the same person either.

(ILLUSTRATION - PAGE 29)

Chika is a little confused by this as she is not wearing much makeup, the only real difference being her wig. Alisa decides not to pry as to why Chika is wearing one today, but it shows on her expression, so Chika simply says it was because she was in the mood because the tea came out well this morning. This further bewilders Alisa who would not associate the usual Chika with tea ceremonies. Aki sympathises with Alisa's plight.

After some banter between the seniors, they return the conversation to what was bothering Alisa and Marika. As Alisa is still recovering, Marika, who is used to the duality, jumps in and explains they need to find somewhere to practice. While Aki is thinking, Chika asks why they do not just use a Juumonji facility and Aki scolds her, as both know Marika’s being an Extra makes it awkward to do so. Chika however is unrepentant, acknowledging that Marika has the right to use the Tenth Institute and even if it would be unpleasant for her father and grandfather, she can still use it as a steppingstone. Realising she may have said too much, Chika takes her leave. As Aki follows her, she suggests they consult the Student Council.

Hearing this, Alisa and Marika head straight to the student council room.

◇ ◇ ◇

Although the Student Council Room is not somewhere one can casually drop by, due to frequent visits, and possibly the influence of Yuuto being the vice-president, Marika and Alisa are already being treated as part of the family by the council members and manage to be seen immediately after knocking.

They discuss how it will not be an issue for the first half of the month, but in the second half it will be difficult to find a room as it is far busier than it was in Shiina and Saburou’s first year. They discuss how the new system causes this issue, but at the same time is better as before you could not advance from Course 2 to Course 1 no matter how much you improved whereas now it is quite competitive and getting more so. They conclude the discussion saying if they want to use a room, they need to do so now.

The question as to why they are not using the facilities at the Juumonji residence is brought up. Marika just says it is because she does not want to use them. Yuuto is absent, meeting with the Club Management Group so Mei suggests Marika use the facilities at the Isori Family’s home. Both Marika and Alisa are surprised, and Mei assures the pair that she has no intention of stealing any secret techniques.

Marika says it is fine, but Alisa states she will need Katsuto’s permission first. Mei understands, saying that she just needs to know by the day before. Marika asks if it is still okay if it is just her and Mei says it is.

Quiet Chat 1

Spoiler
Juumonji Tatsuki, third son of the Juumonji Family of the Ten Master Clans is attending Third High School in Kanazawa, rather than the local First High School due to the family circumstances surrounding his father bringing in his illegitimate daughter into the family. Though he is concerned he is being childish, the situation is one that would be difficult even for an adult, so he is throwing himself into his student life.

Today he is on patrol, having joined the Public Morals Committee as a substitute for Ichijou Akane who could not take the position. It is a role he is taking very seriously. His patrol has taken him near to the area where the Magic Arts Club and Judo club are currently practising. Tatsuki’s classmate and neighbour Ikura Samon is currently training with the Judo Club. Though this is not the first time he has seen them train, Tatsuki is once again reminded of the power they give off.

Tatsuki watches a match between Samon and a senior (no magic is being used). Samon defeats the senior with a throw, and Tatsuki is impressed with the rate of Samon’s growth. After bowing and leaving the opponent, Samon notices Tatsuki and comes over to greet him. Samon asks if Tatsuki has time, and when Tatsuki confirms he does, Samon suggests watching the Women’s Magic Arts match as it is a spectacle.

Two new girls take to the training mat. Tatsuki recognises them as Ichijou Akane and Ichijou Reira. Tatsuki has been keeping an eye on them as part of his duty to the Ten Master Clans because Reira is suspected to be Liú Lìlěi, the apostle of the Great Asian Union. Tatsuki aims to determine what the GAU are aiming for by having her attend a Japanese high school as well as what then Ichijou are up to having their daughter get so close to her. So far, he has yet to get results.

Watching the pair, he sees them take their stances and they are a mirror of one another, and Tatsuki realises they both appear to be using a Wushu stance. The match begins and it is a furious offence orientated match, using a boxing like style to focus on a flurry of attacks rather than looking for an opening for a decisive strike. Akane’s assault is furious, but Reira deflects the attacks skilfully. Reira shows better technique, but Akane is the one pressuring her opponent. Tatsuki realises magic is being used. Samon explains Akane’s punches release electric shocks when she hits Reira, he further explains contact-type offensive magic is not a foul. While this is being explained, the match ends when Reira strikes Akane with a palm strike on the shoulder, but Akane’s counter knocks Reira to the ground.

The match over, Akane offers her hand to her opponent and pulls her up.

Tatsuki heads to the vending machines with Samon for a drink. Samon asks Tatsuki what he thought. Tatsuki tells him it was quite the performance and much more impressive than he was expecting. A voice says it is an honour to hear that, and though Tatsuki isn’t surprised as he had sensed their approach, he looks back to see Akane and Reira. Akane continues speaking, clarifying that the honour was for getting high praise from a member of the Juumonji Family.

(ILLUSTRATION - PAGE 47)

Tatsuki replies their skill deserved the praise. After confirming Tatsuki was serious and not teasing, Akane comments it is the first time they have spoken and apologises for being absent when he visited the Ichijou Mansion on his second Sunday after arriving in Kanazawa. Tatsuki counter-apologises by saying it was his fault for not notifying them in advance.

Once the pair are done with the formal apologies, Reira takes the opportunity to introduce herself as Ichijou Reira from Class 1-A, Akane’s future sister-in-law.

Deciding not to pry, Tatsuki introduces Samon as his classmate Ikura from 1-B and the three exchange greetings. Reira asks Tatsuki to address her by her first name, and Akane asks the same. Samon pipes in and adds his given name is Samon and he is from the Judo club, however, is mortified when Akane mishears and mispronounces Samon as Salmon. (To clarify, his surname Ikura can be spelt 幾ら, meaning 'how many', so Ikura Samon sounds like how many salmon?)

After apologising, Akane asks to see the Kanji, seeing her mistake and Samon asks her not to make the same mistake again.

Akane then gets cups of water for her and Reira before swiftly changing the topic and telling Tatsuki she will be visiting the Magic University in Tokyo with the Magic Arts Club. She then asks Tatsuki to let her know if he wants any messages passing on to her brother. Tatsuki asks her to let Masaki know that he is in good health thanks to his assistance. Akane comments that the men of the Juumonji are so well mannered and proper, a type of person she does not dislike. Tatsuki promptly thanks her and takes his leave at these words, not waiting for a reply, much to Samon’s elation.

Chapter 2

Spoiler
Monthly Practical Skills Examination Countermeasures

Sunday the Third of May. After finishing her club activities with the Crowd Ball Club, Alisa returns to school and meets with Marika, who has also just finished her own club activities, on the café terrace. It is getting a bit late, not so late just going home would be an issue, but the pair are heading to Mei’s house for practice first so decide it is best not to dawdle.

Alisa had gotten permission to go from Katsuto easily despite her selfishness potentially risking a leak of Juumonji secret techniques. However, Alisa was not surprised that Katsuto took her friendship with Marika into account.

The Isori family’s home is located near the border of the Saitama Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo. Alisa explains that the Isori Family are renowned for their engraving magic as she and Marika approach the gate, but before she can use the intercom, Mei opens the gate for them.

Mei greets them at the entrance, and they enter the Isori Family's home. The inside of the entrance is like that of a luxury inn and Alisa notices an engraving on the door, which Mei explains acts as a form of insulating engraving, which should in theory be able to prevent fires throughout the building. Mei goes on to explain the system further and how they hope to incorporate the psion supply methods Shiba Tatsuya used in the stellar furnace experiment. This surprised Alisa as the Stellar Furnace System is a trade secret, so Mei explains that her elder brother was a participant in the original experiment three years prior.

Marika asks a query as to why Mei is using Tatsuya’s full name, and Mei explains that Tatsuya’s fiancée, the former student council president is also a Shiba, so they have to use given names to clarify as she is also a celebrity. Mei’s tone of voice as she says Shiba Miyuki-san is Tatsuya’s fiancée has a noticeably layer of resistance to it. Marika asks if Mei hates Miyuki because she is marrying someone Mei admires. Mei realises she let her feelings towards the engagement slip, and explains it is not because she harbours feelings towards Tatsuya, but because of Miyuki’s unnatural appearance. Marika is just left confused, but Alisa, who is acquainted with Miyuki’s appearance, understands what Mei is trying to say. Ending the conversation, Mei guides the pair to the training room.

The training area was in a smaller single storey building. Seeing the facilities were in no way inferior to those of the Tenth Institute impressed Alisa. Upon arriving, Mei reconfirms their weaknesses, with Marika being weaker with Movement-Type Magic while Alisa is weaker at Oscillation-Type Magic. Marika and Alisa state they both want to practice both systems, and Mei immediately realises they want to practice together. After teasing Marika a little, Mei leads them to the area for practising Movement Type Magic.

Marika asks Mei where they should begin, but Mei only shrugs, having not seen Marika’s skills before. Alisa suggests they start with the basics, using a two-person setup similar to those at school where one student operates the system while the other invokes magic. The initial device they use works by making a target object float in the air for a set interval. Though the device has various difficulty settings, they start at the easiest. Marika goes first, and her first try ends up 3.14 seconds over the target time. Determined, Marika gets ready to try again.

After training for two hours, alternating with Alisa, they end the session. Mei states Marika’s target is to set more accurate variables as this is where she is failing. Tired, Marika agrees with this as it was a weakness which she was aware of. Alisa had not practised as much, having focused more on supporting Marika.

◇ ◇ ◇

After school on Thursday. Alisa and Marika were lucky enough to be able to reserve one of the practical skill units at school. Of the six in the room, five are in use and the sixth is reserved.

After her tenth try, Marika lets out a shout of frustration, causing Alisa to have to apologise to the others and scold Marika while pointing out it has only been a week, so it is too early to be pessimistic.

There is a knock as Izayoi-senpai makes his presence known. Marika greets him in a rather unfriendly manner, and Alisa remains silent throughout the exchange. Izayoi offers some guidance but Marika declines. After some discussion, they agree training alone is inefficient, so Izayoi suggests that they speak to the teachers about being tutored before taking his leave.

◇ ◇ ◇

After their allotted time slot runs out, and with thirty minutes remaining before campus closes, Alisa and Marika head to the staff room to see a teacher for advice. Alisa’s class’s teacher, Chikata Fujino, is in the staff room but Marika’s class’s teacher, Kitou Tomohiko, is in the Magic Geometry Preparation Room so Marika heads there.

Upon arriving, Marika is told to take a seat. While waiting, Marika notices a resemblance between the teacher and her elder brother and wonders if he trains.

When prompted, Marika explains she is struggling with Movement-Type magic, specifically the ‘stationary’ variable. Kitou explains they will be covering this later in the month, but the issue is that ‘stationary’ is not actually Movement Magic and is only included on this month’s curriculum because it is used by Movement-Type Magic a lot. He goes on to explain that ambiguous variables will compromise magic and indicates they needs to be properly visualised to work. Marika falters here and so Kitou explains that although you can move physically based on sensory images alone, magic is the opposite and requires concrete mental images to function and as such you need to be aware of it even if it the magic is being constructed unconsciously. This clicks with Marika who replies that rather than feeling it to do it, she needs be thinking it to do it. Kitou seems dissatisfied and after thinking a moment, asks Marika to follow him.

The pair head into the Magic Geometry Room. When Marika asks, Kitou explains that the faculty use the room for testing, before going on to explain he is going to teach her some practical skills here and passes her a Tablet-Type CAD. The setup is similar to the one she used at the Isori household, though due to time constraints Kitou states they won’t be using the full thing and so places a hollow ball on a metal port on a workstation.

Kitou instructs Marika not to count the time in her head and to ignore anything below a second and tells her to visualise not thirty individual seconds, but thirty seconds as a singular whole. He then triggers the counter after telling her not to use magic yet.

Kitou then does so again, this time having Marika raise her hand to the height the ball will be raised to while watching the timer.

They repeat the exercise without magic over and over until just before time runs out. Kitou then has Marika cast the spell once and she does so with an error of -0.4 seconds, Marika’s best time ever.

Kitou closes the session by telling Marika that even if she cannot train magic at home she can work on this sort of visualisation, recommending analogue timers over digital. Marika thanks him for his tutelage.

◇ ◇ ◇

Because it was too late for a long stay at Einebrise, Alisa and Marika headed home. On the way Alisa asks if Marika found her teacher and is surprised to hear she received a private practical skills lesson. Marika explains there was a room next to the Magic Geometry Preparation room they used which the teachers use for testing. Marika comments that Kitou reminded her of her brother Ryousuke, who went missing in the USNA, and the conversation turns to him.

Chapter 3

Spoiler
After School Friends

Friday the Eighth of May. Alisa is playing Crowd Ball against Hiyori, and over the last month she has managed to stop fouling due to her shield sizes. Although she is getting used to the rules, she has yet to win a match.

The game consists of five three-minute sets, though women only play three sets, so it is two sets to win.

Alisa and Hiyori are in their second set, with Alisa taking an offensive strategy of remaining near the centre to immediately return the balls, while Hiyori is playing defensively and staying at the rear of her side which allows some points but stops the accumulation of lots of them if a ball gets behind her.

Alisa has the greater magical ability and her proximity to the net helps set her spells, but she is vulnerable to opportunistic shots which are getting around her barriers, leaving the balls behind her where she cannot deal with them without looking away from Hiyori, something she cannot do.

It is also important to use the racket where possible to reduce the strain on the Magic Calculation Area as multi-casting for three minutes will take its toll.

Though Alisa still lacks a desire to win, she has taken note of her shortcomings and is compensating with aggressive positioning.

Alisa is currently winning this set, but this is part of Hiyori’s strategy as she is conserving stamina for the final set while Alisa is having to play to win while trying not to overexert herself.

After the set, and as per Hiyori’s strategy, Alisa is so noticeably fatigued that the manager offers to extend the one-minute interval between the matches. However, Alisa turns it down as it would be counterproductive to her training.

Alisa had realised Hiyori’s strategy was to wear Alisa down, but she had no choice but to play to win the second set. Alisa has recognised the issue is between their abilities and felt having an extended break to close the gap would be unforgivable. Though she cares not for winning, she does care about fair play.

The break was soon over, and the pair re-enter the court.

Though mental power can sometimes exceed that of the flesh, Alisa lacks resolve so is constrained to her body’s limits, which are noticeably waning halfway through the third set. Feeling guilty over not giving her all like her opponent is, Alisa decides to at least do her best and use the magic she has been training in as a Juumonji.

Hiyori is shocked by the sudden change as multiple vector inversion barriers are erected, two or three at a time in parallel, and the balls are all suddenly being rebounded back at her. Hiyori’s lead slowly starts to diminish until the last thirty seconds when it is reversed, and Alisa takes the lead.

Alisa is using a variant of the Juumonji Phalanx, which generates barriers and then replaced then from backup when they go down. However, the location variables for the backups can be changed as the process is not fully automated so it is set for the shields to ‘break’ after rebounding a ball so the next can be triggered. However, she cannot maintain this state for long, and the reason she came to Tokyo was to learn how to do this safely. Despite being a Juumonji, Alisa has only been training for two years, which is nothing compared to the thoroughbred children like Juumonji Katsuto who had harsh training from childhood, as such she reached her limit with ten seconds left of the match.

However, despite having to drop her shields, she did not yield and went on the defensive, returning the balls from the back of the court with the racket. Hiyori puts on the pressure and Alisa’s lead shrinks, but due to Alisa’s use of the Phalanx throwing off her pace, Hiyori cannot make up the difference. The set ended with Alisa leading by twelve points, netting Alisa’s first ever victory in the practice matches.

The match over, Alisa all but collapses to her knees in exhaustion.

Hiyori hops the net and congratulates Alisa on her first win, but it takes Alisa a few moments to register the fact she won, and Hiyori is left confused by Alisa’s lack of enthusiasm. Prompting Alisa off the court, Alisa explains she feels guilty for not being as determined to win as the seniors are. Hiyori reassures Alisa that playing to train is a perfectly valid reason to play sports as well, giving her a pat on the back.

◇ ◇ ◇

The next day, Alisa and Marika are patrolling the training forest for the Public Morals Committee. Alisa is enjoying the weather, but Marika is more realistic, and concerned for Alisa’s lack of resistance to UV rays, suggests they walk in the shade.

After a while, the pair stumble upon a clearing where there are twenty people from the Mountaineering Club exercising. The pair are greeted by Alisa’s classmate, Kagari Jyoui, and the pair return the greeting, playfully teasing about the sweaty smell.

After Jyoui takes a moment to clean himself up, Marika asks what he was doing and he tells them he was climbing, before taking the confused pair over to a deep pit he had just climbed out of, which the club were using for training. Jyoui offers to demonstrate, and though the pair are not really interested, they stay to watch.

Jyoui descends to the bottom and then starts to climb the wall, but instead of how you would normally picture it, Jyoui looks like he is sticking to the wall. Marika is confused and Alisa states she thinks he is using magic but neither of the two can see a CAD, nor sense any psions coming from him. Even thought activated CADs are accompanied by another unit but he does not appear to have one at all. Alisa confirms you can use magic without a CAD but is confused as to why he is not using one when he would be allowed to for club activities.

Once Jyoui has finished, Alisa compliments his performance and Marika brings up the use of magic. Jyoui is initially weary as the pair are on the Public Morals Committee and points out they have permission, and Marika quickly clarifies she is just curious.

Once his guard is down, Marika asks why he did not use a CAD, confused due to the inefficiency of doing so. Jyoui explains he tries to use magic as little as possible. Marika asks if he just used psions, and he reluctantly confirms it.

Alisa interjects and upon confirming he has no CAD on him, is concerned for the recklessness but Jyoui points out that there is a safety mat at the bottom and explains they cannot over rely on magic, pointing out the magic they can use is limited. Alisa then asks if they are deliberately making the situation inconvenient and Jyoui points out that CADs break, so over-reliance is dangerous.

◇ ◇ ◇

The second Sunday of May. The Crowd Ball Club. A club meeting has been called for the Crowd Ball Club after practice and all six members are in attendance. The club president, Hattori Hatsune, announces that they will be competing against Third High on the Twenty-Fourth of May at the Magic University. Only the two juniors are surprised by this.

Hatsune then explains that the match will consist of three sets, with a total of three singles matches and two doubles matches, so everyone is competing. This surprises Alisa and Hatsune assures her it is not an official match so she need not worry but will serve as her and Sengoku Hiyori’s debut. Hatsune assigns Alisa to a singles match and Hiyori to one of the more difficult doubles matches.

After the meeting Alisa and Hiyori volunteer to clean up the club room before leaving. As they leave, Hiyori asks if Alisa is meeting Marika and Alisa confirms it and asks if Hiyori would like to join them, mentioning they also intent to study. Hiyori has plans so declines.

The conversation turns to studying practical skills, and the pair agree to meet up to study together as Hiyori has been struggling with her magic practice, settling on after school the next day as Marika has club, with Alisa heading to Class 1-D to meet Hiyori there. The pair then go their separate ways as Hiyori leaves and Alisa heads to meet Marika.

◇ ◇ ◇

After school on Monday. As promised, Alisa comes to see Hiyori in Class 1-D. As the class is in the middle tier, it has been a lot of people moving up or down, but Hiyori is one of those who has remained in this class.

Hiyori is looking at a terminal with a boy Alisa does not know, and when Alisa greets her, Hiyori jumps up in a hurry apologising and introduces the boy as Karatachibana. Before Hiyori can introduce them, Karatachibana Mamoru introduces himself while asking if she is Juumonji-san. Alisa, though not very surprised, asks if he knows her and Karatachibana simply explains she is well known by the boys. Alisa asks what is being said, and he says there are no bad rumours. Alisa tries to pressure him for details, but Hiyori intervenes, feeling sorry for Karatachibana, and point out Alisa is beautiful even from the perspective of a girl so it will mostly be along the lines of her looks and as to whether she has a boyfriend.

Wanting to change the subject, Alisa asks if they were studying and Hiyori confirms they were, with Karatachibana tutoring her on general subjects, commenting he is smart enough to go to a top university were he not a magician. Alisa ponders out loud if he could tutor her as well, as she is struggling with Physics and Maths. Hiyori mediates and Karatachibana brings up the magic skills study session with Hiyori and offers a trade, his tutoring in general studies in exchange for Alisa’s tutoring in magic. Alisa asks if she would really be sufficient when Isori Mei is better than she is at magic. Karatachibana explains he only just started learning magic last spring as his parents are not magicians.

A first-generation magician has two meanings. The first is a naturally born magician, as in this case, and the second being how many generations after gene remodelling. As such natural first-generation magicians are in a less favourable situation where magic education is concerned.

Hearing this, Alisa emphasises and agrees to the deal.

Sitting by the same terminal as before, Alisa tutors the pair for about an hour. At the end both thank Alisa, but Alisa is humble and points out Karatachibana did not need much help, having not been the one asking questions, but he counters by pointing out he had a lot of misconceptions she clarified so it was really helpful.

The conversation turns to career paths and Karatachibana mentions he had planned to be a doctor until he learned of his magic aptitude so is planning to aim to be a doctor that uses magic now. Alisa comments she had planned to be a veterinarian originally and jokes that as there is magic for treatment, Karatachibana should be the first ‘Magic Doctor’.

Watching the pair, Hiyori thinks they have a good atmosphere going but does not say anything for fear of becoming a hindrance.

◇ ◇ ◇

Marika finishes club early and heads to Class 1-D, passing by the other classes. As it is hot due to the strong sun, the windows are open for the occupied classrooms.

As she reaches Class D she sees Alisa, Hiyori and Karatachibana studying together, but upon seeing how well Alisa and Karatachibana are getting along. Seeing this makes Marika quickly leaves before she can vocalise the gloomy feelings the sight caused her.

◇ ◇ ◇

After meeting up and leaving the school gates, Marika asks Alisa to come to Einebrise with her. This was rare since the two lived close by so they could easily go home for tea.

Entering the café, the pair see some familiar faces, Juumonji Yuuto, and Izayoi Souma. Alisa wonders whether so greet them or stay silent, but Souma sees them and invites them over.

(ILLUSTRATION - PAGE 114)

Neither wants to speak to Souma, but it is Marika who declines, saying she wants to speak to Alisa even if they have to sit at the counter. Yuuto surrenders the table to the pair, saying they will not be able to talk as easily at the counter, promptly moving over and Souma quickly follows.

Unable to decline the table any longer the pair sit down and order drinks. Before they arrive, Marika starts talking, asking who the boy Alisa was talking to with Hiyori was. Alisa explains he is a natural first-generation magician so has no one to teach him magic at home or in Class 1-D and seems to have a sincere personality.

Marika presses for more information about their relationship but Alisa simply says he is Hiyori’s classmate, nothing more.

Marika counters that Alisa said he has a sincere personality and Alisa argues that was just a first impression.

Marika then says that they had a nice atmosphere going, completely catching Alisa off guard. Alisa then hastily denies it, saying it was just a misunderstanding. Upon hearing this, Marika finally believes Alisa as their coffee arrives, allowing Marika to wash the gloom away.

◇ ◇ ◇

Alisa and Marika leave Einebrise with Yuuto and Souma before parting ways with Souma at the station.

As the three head home together, and Yuuto clearly wants to ask but decides not to until after they leave the cabinet and have walked part way and separated from Marika.

When alone, Yuuto asks for the name of the boy she was with. Making it clear he does not intend to ban her from talking to boys or anything but noticed Marika’s concern. Alisa coldly asks if he was listening in, and Yuuto denies it, pointing out he did not even hear the boy’s name.

While becoming more suspicious that Yuuto is a sis-con, Alisa tells him the boy is Karatachibana from Class 1-D, that she only knows his family name, and that they only met today.

When Yuuto does not recognise the name, Alisa goes on to say he is a first-generation magician, disliking Yuuto’s use of the term ‘ordinary people’ when he confirms his parents are not magicians.

Alisa dislikes the term because it implies that magicians are superior, though she knows Yuuto has no such sentiments and that she may be overthinking it.

After being prompted out of her thoughts about the term, and Alisa clarifies that is what he said but she does not know how true it is. Yuuto comments that he might simply not know, something not uncommon.

Alisa’s ‘I do not know’ approach appears to work, and Yuuto’s attitude softens. He also doesn’t bring it up again at home.

Quiet Chat 2

Spoiler
Third High School focuses not on making combat magicians, but rather teaches students magic in the context of actual battles, in a similar sense to teaching martial arts to temper the spirit. As a result of this, the school’s clubs perform very well.

Today, however, clubs are all cancelled due to special outdoor training for the third-year students. As a result of having nothing else to do, Tatsuki has been studying all morning. Just as he is thinking it is time for lunch, Samon calls on him and invites Tatsuki out for lunch and to hang out at Kanazawa station (not the local station due to a lack of available activities there). Being a city boy himself, Tatsuki agrees and gets changed into clothing suited to some light exercise.

The pair head out and after eating, the two head to an Amusement Building, but Tatsuki’s expectations are thrown when Samon heads towards the racquet ball venue rather than the bowling alley.

All Juumonji family members are expected to play sports to build up physical strength. Tatsuki chose swimming, but he has played racquet ball as it is the sport his little sister Kazumi chose. However, Alisa is Kazumi’s actual training partner, Tatsuki only plays when Alisa is unavailable.

As the pair are paying and getting ready, they are greeted by Ichijou Akane who is with Reira. Akane once again mispronounced Samon’s name, and Tatsuki quickly changes the subject and assures them it is just a coincidence.

Though by no means an otherworldly beauty, Akane has become a charming beauty that the entertainment industry would be determined to recruit were she not a magician.

Tatsuki explains that they came out due to clubs being cancelled. Akane then indicates they are not alone, pointing out her friend Hiiro Hiromi from 1-C, and the three exchange introductions. Akane then explains Hiromi is in the crowd ball club and has a match against first high next week, so they are training in preparation since clubs are cancelled. Akane comments she is not sure how much help she can be, but Hiromi insists this will be beneficial as just hitting against a wall can mess up your gaming intuition.

Understanding what Hiromi means, Tatsuki suggests they all train together and none of the girls object.


As Tatsuki had expected, this was not light exercise and he and Samon were sweating heavily by the time they finished. Tatsuki was frankly impressed with Hiromi’s stamina after she had played consecutively. Feeling a connection with Hiromi due to her feeling similar to Kazumi, Tatsuki asks if he can ask her about something personal. The connection appears to only be one way however, and Hiromi warily agrees.

Tatsuki asks if Hiromi is related to the Isshiki Family.

Hiromi confirms she is the daughter of the current family head’s younger brother.

Tatsuki asks if Hiiro is her maternal family name, but Hiromi clarifies her father was adopted by the Hiiro family when he was a boy.

Tatsuki does not press further, but realising is a direct descendant of the former Isshiki Family head means she is likely on par with himself and Akane. He reflects on the fact that even if you do not realise it, there are rivals everywhere.

Chapter 4

Spoiler
First Match

Saturday the Twenty-Third of May. As class is ending Jyoui asks Alisa if she is playing in a match tomorrow. Alisa confirms she is, something he should know as a member of the club committee since off campus activities have to have detailed reports be submitted so the participants should have been named. Jyoui then comments he was planning to come to watch but Alisa is reluctant, due to her lack of confidence, so he drops the subject.

Jyoui then asks about the rumour she is getting along well with a boy in Class 1-D. Alisa asks if he means Karatachibana, and Jyoui brings up that they were seen studying together.

Alisa is a little confused by ‘getting along well’ as they had only met up twice to study, including on the Monday when Marika had club, but Alisa did not.

Alisa asks why there is such a rumour, and Mei chimes in, commenting it is unusual for Alisa to be with a boy. Alisa refutes they were in a public place and not alone, but Mei points out that such objectivity matters not to the other boys who saw her spending time one-on-one with a boy.

Alisa comments she does not like feeling like she is under surveillance, but it is pointed out Alisa stands out, so it is bound to worry the boys. Jyoui does not meet Mei’s else as he stands up, muttering something along the lines of ‘well, shall we go to club’.

◇ ◇ ◇

Alisa and Marika complete their patrol and return to the Public Morals Committee’s headquarters to find Izayoi Souma waiting there. Marika is less than friendly with him, and Alisa asks where Aki, the committee head is, whilst reporting there were no issues. Izayoi informs them they can submit the report on Monday morning. The seniors hand in the reports on the following day but the freshmen have been reporting on the day so they could receive guidance in writing the reports. Izayoi hints it was so the seniors could all head home early.

As the pair are about to leave, Izayoi mentions the match tomorrow and says he has business at the University so will come to cheer her on. Alisa is less than enthused but does not want to be rude to a senior so thanks him to be polite.

◇ ◇ ◇

Sunday the Twenty-Fourth of May. It is overcast as Alisa and Marika head to the University, though Alisa is still concerned about getting sun burn.

Marika casually asks what will happen if it rains, mentioning that the courts are not watertight. Alisa comments if the courts are like the ones they hire, then there should be no issues.

The pair arrive at the Magic University and finding they are the first to arrive. Alisa is relieved, but having arrived at 8:20 when they are not due to meet until 9am, Marika suggests they kill some time. Alisa is reluctant, fearing she will miss the others, so Marika heads off to get drinks for the pair while Alisa waits.

While Alisa is waiting, it begins to rain but she cannot see anywhere nearby to take shelter apart from some nearby trees.

There she is greeted by a young man with a CAD who appears to be a university student. While they wait, the man casually asks if Alisa is competing in Crowd Ball, mentioning the match against Third High is today. Alisa is initially startled but recalls the racket in her bag. The man brings up that he cannot help but be interested when the match is bringing students from his alma mater to the University.

The man introduces himself as Hattori from the graduating class of 2096.

Alisa politely returns the greeting just as Marika returns, accompanied by Hatsune with her umbrella. As Marika is soaked, Alisa takes out a towel to dry her off. As she does so, Marika asks who Hattori is, and hearing he is a graduate, she accuses him of hitting on Alisa. Bewildered by Marika’s aggressive attitude, Alisa scolds her for being rude. Alisa then apologises but Hattori just dismisses the whole incident.

Hatsune then joins the conversation and Alisa is surprised by how familiar her tone is with Hattori and asks if they are related. Hatsune says they are distant relatives. Hattori points out that they are legally cousins and Hatsune coldly counters she was adopted by Hattori’s uncle and his wife, but nothing more.

Hatune’s cold attitude continues as she then mentions his unrequited love of five years since high school, commenting he should have been more aggressive back then when he was an honour student and held several important positions in the school. She ends by telling Marika she need not worry about Hattori.

The rain does not last long, and when it ends, Hattori takes his leave. Ten minutes before the scheduled meeting time, everyone has arrived, and a total of ten students enter the University, consisting of six players, and four unofficial supporters.

◇ ◇ ◇

The University’s Crowd Ball court is under a dome suspended on eight supports and without sides. Underneath there are four-sided courts for both singles and doubles, with the two needing separate courts due to a singles court being six meters wide whilst a double is nine meters wide. The length and height are the same for both. The matches will be played one at a time.

The First High group arrive to find the Third High students having a practice match while waiting, having stayed overnight. They were still early so there was no need to feel guilty about arriving later.

Seeing the other students, the seniors recognise one of the Third High freshmen who was the runner up in a national tournament last year while a senior in middle school, a girl called Hiiro Hiromi.

Seeing her practice, Hiyori asks to be matched against her. Hatsune reflects on the situation, noting while Alisa lacks the desire to win and only wants to get stronger, Hiyori has both. However, Hatsune tells her that they can only choose the order and not the opponent so she cannot agree regardless. She instead, suggests that Hiyori play the final match since Hiromi is more likely to be in that match. Hiyori thinks a moment, as this will trouble not just her but also the senior who she has practised with for the past two weeks, but ultimately requests to play in the last match.

As Alisa gets changed, she and Marika briefly discuss what happened and Marika comments on how Alisa is working hard.

◇ ◇ ◇

The list of players is exchanged.

The matches will be singles, doubles, doubles, singles and then singles.

Alisa was in the second singles match.

While Hatsune was originally playing the first and last singles matches, she is now playing in the first singles and last double matches.

And Hiyori is now in the last singles match instead of the last doubles match.

However, Hiiro Hiromi is playing in the second singles match, against Alisa.

Seeing this Hatsune tells Alisa to do her best, neither expecting a victory.

◇ ◇ ◇

Seeing that Alisa is from the Juumonji family causes a stir amongst the students from Third High, with many not realising they had a daughter called Alisa. Hiromi looking to Ichijou Akane, who had stopped by to support Hiromi before heading to her Magical Arts practice later. Akane comments that Alisa was taken in two years earlier.

Akane only knows the details as she if from the Ichijou Family and was given an outline of the situation when Tatsuki went to Third High.

Hiromi asks if Alisa is adopted but Akane only replies with “no comment,” and Hiromi drops the subject. Akane then does add that Alisa might have the magic of the Tens so to be wary of that.

Hiromi reads between the lines, realising Alisa must have a direct lineage, and replies she’ll be careful and adds that under the new rules you cannot win with magic power alone and declares she will win.

◇ ◇ ◇

Third High is also having a recruitment problem, with only seven members in their club, three third year students, one second year student and three first year students.

The first match is between Hatsune and third High’s only second year. The match is fierce, with Third High winning the first round, Hatsune the second. The third match is close and furious, with Hatsune taking the win by just five points.

Alisa is glad Hatsune won but isn’t particularly emotional about it. It’s not that she has absolutely no desire to win at all, she just gets depressed when thinking about the actual competing. This gives her a sense of alienation from the others, like she was watching rather than participating, not realising it was a coping method to escape the pressure of having to play a match.

◇ ◇ ◇

Third High’s loss in the first match has incited Hiromi to the point the club president tells her not to overdo it, pointing out if she plays normally, she should win and that it isn’t an official game, so it doesn’t matter regardless. However, her words are lost on Hiromi who is determined not to allow a losing streak against their rivals from First High.

◇ ◇ ◇

Alisa enters the court and both she and Hiromi get ready. Alisa internally scolds herself for her lack of fighting spirit and tries to lock down the thoughts that she cannot win. Alisa remains in such a half-hearted state as the match begins.

The first set ends quickly, and Alisa comes to the bench to try and recover from the fatigue caused by Hiromi having been completely dominating the first set to the point Alisa could not even follow the match she was playing in. Marika is concerned, and Hatsune asks if Alisa wants to abstain, but Alisa is determined to continue, a light now in her eyes that was not there before. Hatsune does not stop her, instead giving her a single piece of advice, not matter how fast the opponent, the balls do not disappear.

Alisa returns to the court where Hiromi is waiting, and the second set begins.

Hiromi is moving so fast that her movements cannot be seen, and at speeds which should be impossible even with magic due to the sensory information overload. This is what overwhelmed Alisa in the first set.

However, she is not using much magic on the actual balls, preferring to just use her racket. This is where Hatsune’s advice comes in, as even if the opponent’s movements cannot be followed, the ball’s trajectory can.

To counter, Alisa spreads the awareness of her perception to the limit to track the balls. As the Juumonji specialise in barrier magic, they need solid perception abilities to be able to react to incoming attacks and so developed a sort of passive radar for reading ‘changes’ nearby in the information dimension. As she cannot track Hiromi, only the balls are being detected.

One minute of the second set has passed and the scoring has been fairly even. Hiromi notices Alisa is like a different person in this round and becomes even more determined to win the round and the match.

With Hiromi stepping up her game as the number of balls increases to six, Alisa starts falling behind. There are a lot of restrictions on what magic can be used and Hiromi has learned a lot of advanced Crowd Ball techniques, giving her the advantage as Alisa can only replying on her perception and magic power.

However, because Alisa’s perception ability doesn’t reply on her eyes, she can look at other things, such as her watch. This magic is more mentally exhausting than the Phalanx and so Alisa cannot keep it up for long.

As Hiromi pulls further and further ahead, and as her watch reaches sixty seconds, Alisa realises it is now or never or she’ll never close the gap so despite it being a little too early, Alisa uses her thought activated CAD to trigger the Multi-Spot Shield Parallel Generation Magic Defensive Phalanx Variant. ‘Pelta’.

Hiromi is becoming patient because she has not managed to get the desired lead she was aiming for.

Institute One’s research goal was to create magicians who specialise in magic which affects the living body, specifically for combat magicians who can direct harm their opponents.

The Ichijou specialise at interfering with bodily fluids.

The Ichinokura specialise at interfering with body heat.

The Isshiki specialise at interfering with bioelectricity. This specialisation is the source of Hiromi’s speed by sending sensory information directly to the brain and allowing the mind to keep up with the magically enhanced movements as the usual time lag for the information to travel has been removed. This magic is called ‘Lightning’.

Hiromi initially cannot understand why she isn’t getting a bigger lead when Alisa clearly cannot keep up with her, until she realises Alisa is not even trying to, she is tracking the balls instead. Upon realising this, Hiromi uses her enhanced senses to track all the balls and by bouncing them off the walls, times it so all eight balls go into Alisa’s side of the court at once, trying to make Alisa foul by using an oversized shield.

However, all eight balls as well as the new ninth ball all came back at her at once instead. Deprived of her flow, Hiromi couldn’t overcome the eight shields suddenly being created at once to counter each ball.

Coming towards the end of the match, Alisa is reaching her limit for using Pelta. At 2 minutes 48 seconds in, there is still enough time for Hiromi to overturn Alisa’s 17-point lead. Switching from Pelta to normal shields and her racket, Alisa keeps going and manages to win with a 19-point lead, Hiromi having prioritised the next set rather than risking a gambit on the last twelve seconds.

Once the set ends, Hiromi remains stationary on the court for ten seconds before leaving the court, worrying her teammates. As she comes to their bench to swipe down her sweat and rehydrate, Akane asks if she is okay, and Hiromi confirms that she is. Hiromi then tells Akane she is thinking of a possible counter, likely the same one that Akane is thinking of, so she can still win.

On First High’s side, Alisa is praised by Marika for her impressive comeback. Alisa is breathing heavily as she towels down and rehydrates. Hatsune checks she is okay, and Alisa confirms she is, stating she only stopped the spell because it was the limit. Hatsune is convinced but Marika is still concerned. Alisa then returns to the court to avoid further argument.

However, Alisa is not feeling okay. Her Magic Calculation Area is showing signs of fatigue and, given that the Juumonji family are prone to overheating, she is very aware continuing is dangerous. Though forfeiting crosses her mind, she chooses to continue. Just like how stopping the moment you get out of breath won’t strengthen the body, ceasing to use magic at the first signs of fatigue will not strengthen the mind. Strengthening her mind is not the reason she continued, however, and even Alisa was unsure as to why she was trying to keep going.

The third set begins.

Though Alisa’s magic is troublesome, it does not guarantee her victory. Hiromi only fell so far behind in the second set because she panicked. Having reflected, she realised that the balls are only bounced back so even if she cannot score, she can stop Alisa from scoring.

Additionally, Hiromi has noticed that there appears to be a time limit. If Alisa could keep that spell going for the entire set, Hiromi would struggle, but it was only used at the end which implies a limit, though Hiromi is unsure if it is a limit of the spell, or if it is that Alisa is still a novice.

Hiromi resolves to win as she is returning the first balls of the set.

Alisa has been incited by the difference in ability because she does not even feel like she is even an opponent for Hiromi as she can barely compete, and she does not think it is just the difference in experience.

Even though it is too early, Alisa decides to trigger her trump card early using her thought activated CAD to trigger the spell tagged as Code Four.

Code One is a simple single layer shield.

Code Two is the Defensive Phalanx.

Code Three is the Offensive Phalanx.

And Code Four is Phalanx Variant Pelta.

Pelta is unusual for modern magic in that the target of the spell is selected after the magic sequence is created, rather than before as is usually done when using modern magic.

Moving to the centre of her side of the court, Alisa triggers Pelta. But after a few moments, notices that Hiromi’s pace has slowed and she is hitting the balls with less force, which in turn reduced the force of the vector inversion of the shield.

The greater the change to the energy equilibrium of an event, the greater the burden on the magician, so Alisa was using simple inversion barriers to extend Pelta’s duration by reducing said burden.

However, Hiromi was taking advantage of this to make it so neither could score. Realising there was no point in continuing like this, Alisa goes on the offensive, looking to at least end the match with no regrets.

Hiromi quickly notices that Alisa has dropped the Pelta shields when one of her balls breaches Alisa’s side of the court. She then quickly resumes her offensive to offset her frustration at having been forced to slow her pace.

When the pace of the match increases, Alisa considers using Pelta again, but she does not see the point when the same thing will just happen again, so decides not to; especially when the point difference is already past the point of no return.

Hiromi is confused when Alisa does not use Pelta again as surely Alisa must know she cannot compete without it. This quickly turns to irritation at Alisa’s apparent lack of motivation to win. Believing Alisa should abstain if she has already given up, Hiromi decides to go all out.

Alisa cannot compete at all with Hiromi’s onslaught, and the point difference just keeps expanding.

However, with less than one minute remaining, Alisa suddenly starts to turn things around. Having stopped moving, she is hitting the balls with magic only, sending them back with simple Acceleration Magic on each ball.

The spell is ‘Reverse Accelerator’ (リバース・アクセル) and it accelerates an object into the opposite direction, though the precise vector and speed can be adjusted.

Alisa didn’t make any big changes, and although the simplicity makes it easier for Hiromi to hit the incoming balls, it is also easier for Alisa to return them efficiently as she need concentrate on nothing but casting the spell on the incoming balls, allowing her to compete with Hiromi’s speed.

Hiromi could have taken advantage of the simplicity by slowing down, but she went all out, turning the remaining match into a fierce exchange. Alisa slowly closed the gap right until the set timed out.

In the end, Hiromi won the match by only seven points.

◇ ◇ ◇

Alisa returns from the court and is greeted by Marika. Alisa states it was a total defeat, the difference in ability being far greater than the difference in score, though looking like she felt she had given it her all.

Hatsune thanks her for her hard work, and Alisa apologises for losing. Hatsune suggests Alisa take a shower, but she elects to watch the matches instead.

◇ ◇ ◇

On Third High’s side, it’s Akane who greets Hiromi. Hiromi comments she was surprised as she was expecting the match to be more one-sided after the first set because Alisa seems like a novice.

Something seems to be getting at Hiromi. Akane guesses what the issue is but Hiromi neither confirms nor dismisses her theory and heads to the changing room.

◇ ◇ ◇

After Alisa’s match, Marika takes a break. While doing so she sees Hiromi talking to another Third High student who appears to be a supporter like herself, though given the distance from Third High, said student likely has business of her own in Tokyo. Hiromi has her back to Marika so she cannot tell how serious the conversation is. Hiromi leaves for the showers and the supporter turns to look at Marika, having apparently sensed her gaze.

[ILLUSTRATION - PAGE 189]

As Marika’s eyes met the girl’s, Marika gets a jolt down her spine, instinctively recognising her as an opponent who practices Magic Martial Arts whom she could fight.

Alisa notices the scary look on Marika face and asks what going on, and Marika just smiles saying, “it’s nothing,” the momentary fighting spirit fading.

◇ ◇ ◇

Reira notices Akane acting funny and asks what is wrong.

Rei-chan is Akane’s nickname for Reira which she has been using since Reira, formally Liú Lìlěi, came to Japan. Since then, the pair have become extremely close.

Akane points out Marika and explains she recognises her from the Hokkaido Magic Martial Arts Championship. Seeing Marika has gone to First High School, Akane resolves to set up a match with First High upon her return to Third High.

◇ ◇ ◇

Third High go on to win the first doubles match, and First High win the second, leaving the final victory down to Hiyori’s match against one of Third High’s seniors in the final match.

Alisa discusses Hiyori’s techniques with Hatsune. Hatsune explains that what Alisa should do is learn the techniques like Hiyori is currently using. It is impossible to send all the balls back all the time, so she needs to learn things like which balls to return immediately, which to allow to bounce, when to concede a goal, when to use the racket and when to use magic. Hatsune closes by commenting that it is not uncommon for overwhelming power to shatter technique.

The match ends with Hiromi’s victory, two sets to none though each set was only barely won.

The players all shake hands and Hiyori speaks to Hiromi, complimenting her match and saying she would like to play against her, and Hiromi said she would too if there was a chance. Hearing this, Alisa felt a little jealous, though she herself did not realise it.

◇ ◇ ◇

Crowd Ball matches are fairly short so by the time they had all finished, it was not even noon. After collecting themselves, the First High team all headed out together to have lunch at a nearby restaurant.

The third High team were invited (summoned?) by on of Third High’s graduates. Unlike First High, because it is in Tokyo, the other magic high school students tend to have closer ties to their graduated members, likely due to seniors looking after their juniors who are away from home. The is especially true for Third High for whom meals and drinking parties are much more common.

After lunch, Alisa and Marika head back to Marika’s apartment. The pair were supposed to be going to Mei’s house for more practical training but Alisa to too tired after her match, and though Marika had gotten permission to go alone, having permission and actually doing so were two different things. The whole point was to get into Class 1-A to spend more time with Alisa, so going alone went against the primary objective

Upon getting to Marika’s apartment, Marika asks if Alisa is hungry or wants a drink, but despite showering, Alisa is feeling dirty and wants to wash thoroughly. Hearing Alisa’s hesitant request, Marika prepares the bath.

Alisa has washed herself and is relaxing in the bathtub when Marika bursts into the room without warning, quickly washing herself down and joining Alisa in the tub.

[COLOUR ILLUSTRATION 3]

The tub is narrow which makes Alisa uncomfortable, though Marika really does not mind. After Marika makes a remark about skin ship which makes Alisa uncomfortable, Alisa gets out of the bath.

Alisa heads to the dressing room and starts drying her hair. Three minutes later, she is joined by Marika who takes over drying Alisa’s hair. As she does so Marika suddenly thanks Alisa for trying so hard today, saying that Alisa did her best and gave her all despite not caring if she won. Hearing this ok a weight of Alisa’s shoulders, this moment being the true end of today’s match for her.

Chapter 5

Spoiler
Premonition of a Rival

Alisa goes to school the following Monday, but no one asks about the match. Though against a rival school, Crowd Ball is no longer popular, and the match was unofficial, so few knew about it.

Upon reaching class, Alisa is greeted by Kagari Jyoui. Jyoui had known about the game and offered to come to cheer her on, but he doesn’t bring it up. Perhaps he already knew she lost and was avoiding bringing the match up.

◇ ◇ ◇

At the end of the day, Izayoi senpai calls out to Alisa just as leaves her classroom, almost like it was timed. Unable to separate without being rude, the pair walk towards the stairs and Izayoi brings up Alisa’s defeat in the match, the first person to do so all day.

Izayoi compliments Alisa’s choice to switch to a simple magic in the last round, which surprises Alisa. Izayoi comments that Crowd Ball suits Alisa well, since it doesn’t require offensive magic. Alisa brings up the fact she cannot use such magic, and Izayoi says that is fine as every party needs a healer, before having to explain the gaming reference. Upon reaching the ground floor, the pair go their separate ways.

◇ ◇ ◇

The Kenjutsu Club and Magic Martial Arts Clubs have use of the second small gymnasium today.

Chika calls out to Marika just as Marika finishes her warm up with a training dummy. Marika brings up the match with Third High and mentions the girl she saw who caught her interest, explaining she was a supporter for the other team.

Marika then draws a very realistic caricature of the girl and Chika immediately recognises her as Ichijou Akane and tells Marika the name and is shocked when Marika still doesn’t know who that is.

Chika explains she is the eldest daughter of the Ichijou Family and one of the Chubu province’s Best Four in magic martial arts who became a hot topic in women’s magic arts. Marika explains she had to study for entrance exams so didn’t have time to look at other regions. Chika tells Marika she has a recording of Akane’s matches and will bring them tomorrow for a viewing with the others.

◇ ◇ ◇

Alisa heads to the library to study while waiting for Marika to finish club.

The self-study room, unlike the practice rooms, are fairly unpopular due to students having a dedicated desk in the classroom they can use. Alisa likes coming here because she can get a book if she does not feel like studying, since the primary goal being to kill time.

Though there is plenty of space, she decides to set next to the boy who waved at her, Karatachibana.

Alisa casually asks if he likes the library, having bumped into him the week before as well, and he confirms he does, commenting there is a library near his home with actual books. Karatachibana goes on to comment he loves the smell of paper books, which he misses in First High’s library although he does enjoy the ambience. Alisa causally queries where he lives, and he tells her his parent’s home is in Ashikaga City.

Karatachibana returns the question to Alisa, and she says only on Mondays when waiting on Marika and is surprised when Karatachibana knows who she is. He explains that due to getting them onto the Public Morals Committee people know their names, letting slip they would still stand out even if they hadn’t gotten onto the committee.

Alisa queries what he means by standing out, pressuring him when he struggles to answer.

Bright red, Karatachibana tells Alisa it is because she is beautiful, and Marika is cute. Hearing this Alisa apologises, but the atmosphere has become awkward, so Alisa turns the conversation to what Karatachibana is studying, which is explains is a assignment with a humanities theme (magicians get more education in the legal system due to the restrictions on magic). As Alisa is better at the sciences than humanities, the pair end up studying together.

◇ ◇ ◇

Immediately after club, Marika was heading to the Magic Geometry Preparation Room, rather than the library to see her teacher, Kitou Tomohito. To get into the same class as Alisa, Marika needs to score in the top twenty-five students.

Upon arriving, she asks for help with The Theory of Frequency Control, explaining she does not understand why it is needed.

Kitou-sensei explains that this is physics and mathematics, not magic. He goes on to explain the theory in outline. In the end, Marika still doesn’t really understand the theory, but does understand its importance and why it is included in the activation sequence. Kitou states that is all that is needed for magic.

After Marika leaves, Kitou receives a call and activates sound insulating magic before answering. He then has a suspicious conversation which seems to involve Marika. Once it is over, the magic is cancelled and Kitou returns to work.

◇ ◇ ◇

As she is leaving, Marika gets a message from Alisa telling her she is waiting in the library’s lobby. Realising she is keeping Alisa waiting, Marika runs to the library, passing a boy who is leaving but not sparing a moment to look who it is.

Upon arriving Marika apologises, and Alisa makes it clear she isn’t bothered, it’s just that it was time for the study room to close. Deciding to head home, the pair walk whilst holding hands.

As they heading out, Alisa queries why Marika is running late, and Marika explains she went to see a teacher.

◇ ◇ ◇

Alisa, who has eaten and bathed already, is studying when she gets a video call from Marika.

Alisa brings up Marika’s visit to Kitou-sensei and asks if she went for further guidance on ‘Stationary’. Marika says no, explaining she was asking why preserving the swinging of the pendulum is incorporated into the frequency control technique formula.

Alisa gives a casual explanation, eliciting annoyance from Marika.

[ILLUSTRATION - PAGE 223]

Marika goes on to say in the end she only understood the importance of it, not the actual theory behind it.

Alisa says for magic, that is all you need. Marika comments that Kitou-sensei also said that.

Alisa is a little baffled by Marika’s apparent show of approval for the teacher as back in Hokkaido, Marika never had a positive or negative attitude towards them, leading Alisa to wonder whether something changed during their separation, or if Marika it’s just for that one teacher in particular.

Hiding her concerns with a joke, the conversation turns to what Alisa did in the library. Explaining they were looking at humanities assignment on the law, Marika asks for some help with it after the exam. The pair discuss when to meet up to do it, it being due on next Monday.

Alisa asks about meeting up after club tomorrow, but Marika turns her down as they have a club meeting. This surprised Alisa as the First Years have their exam on Wednesday, with each year group being tested on separate days, so even if it is only the first years it is still the day before an exam.

◇ ◇ ◇

After school, on Tuesday the twenty-sixth. Chika is holding the meeting for the Magic Arts Club. All the female first and second years are present, though Chika is the only third year.

The first video is from the quarterfinals of the Chubu Prefecture Tournament.

The girls watch an intense fight between Ichijou Akane and a contestant called Kotani.

The fight ends with Akane’s victory.

Chika asks if the others want to see more, but the air in the room is one of bewilderment. Though seeing the match wouldn’t instil fear, the victory was so overwhelming it would shatter self-confidence and break the spirit. Calling Akane the ‘Queen’ seemed more appropriate than calling her by her ‘Supernova’ epitaph.

However, Marika was not intimidated and asked to see more, her fighting spirit invigored.

The semi-final match ends with Akane giving up.

Seeing Akane is not someone who could never lose relieves some of the tension in the room, but Chika quickly destroys the relaxed attitude by pointing out Akane could have won the match had she thought differently and kept her distance from Ishigami, who went on to win the final.

Chika then calls out to Marika and asks how she would fight, and she replies head-on with her own speciality.

Affirming Marika’s resolve, Chika tells Marika she will work her hard to prepare Marika for the National Tournament in late August, leaving the other members dumbfounded.

◇ ◇ ◇

After the meeting, Marika rushes to meet Mei and Alisa in Class 1-A, apologising for her tardiness. Saying they’ll have to go to Einebrise another time, the three head out to Mei’s house.

Upon arriving, the three head straight to the training room in the Isori household. Mei was excused from her Student Council Duties due to the exam so will be personally helping. Mei is a little disappointed Jyoui and Hiyori could not attend the session today, having invited them at lunch. The three then get down to practising their weak points to prepare for the exam in the morrow.

Chapter 6

Spoiler
One Problem Down, One to Go

Thursday morning. Marika breathes a sigh of relief as she opens her exam results in Class 1-B and learns which class she will be in next month.

◇ ◇ ◇

At lunch, Marika, who is making no effort to hide her elation, is congratulated on getting into Class 1-A.

Next month, Alisa and Mei will remain in Class 1-A, with Jyoui also getting promoted to A class with Marika (though he is not present). Hiyori and Koharu making it up to Class 1-C.

Mei asks if everyone’s club activities are suspended today (since the seniors have exams either today or tomorrow). Alisa, Marika and Hiyori are all free and Koharu states her club is free participation, so she doesn’t have to go. Mei the suggests they all go to Einebrise after school, saying she’ll be finished with her Student Council work within an hour.

Noticing Mei seems a little stressed, Alisa agrees, as do the others.

◇ ◇ ◇

Alisa and Marika arrive first, reserving a table for the others.

Hiyori and Koharu arrive next, bringing Karatachibana with them, who asks if it is okay to join them. Marika asks who he is and when Alisa gives his name, Marika recognises it and gets a sharp look in her eyes. Baffled by the look Marika is giving him when this is their first meeting, Karatachibana thinks maybe he is in the way and tries to use it as an excuse to escape the all-girl gathering. Karatachibana had not intended to crash the gathering and had been dragged along by Hiyori, who foils his escape, saying he is okay to join.

Hiyori then indicates the issue to Alisa, who finally notices the look Marika is giving him. Alisa then prompts Marika to introduce herself, and she does as Alisa’s best friend. Karatachibana then returns the greeting, trying to indicate with his voice he isn’t targeting Alisa, nor is he her boyfriend, though he is not confident the message got across. Trying to resolve the issue, Alisa asks why Hiyori brought him and she explains they were studying together, and he was free.

As Marika cannot object, Karatachibana joins the group, with Koharu sitting opposite Marika, who is next to Alisa. Hiyori puts the table together, sitting next to Alisa and makes Karatachibana sit opposite Alisa.

The five chat away, with Karatachibana seeming to enjoy it the most when talking to Alisa. Hiyoir brought him specifically due to the good atmosphere between him and Alisa. However, Alisa is aware of the issue between Marika, who is overthinking things, and Hiyori who is playing wingwoman without permission. Only Koharu seemed unaware of the complex situation at the table which continued until Mei’s arrival.

Mei arrives fifty-six minutes later. Karatachibana offers his seat, which leaves Mei a little confused. Karatachibana introduces himself, and Mei returns the greeting and hearing he is from Class 1-D, realises he is Hiyori’s friend. Karatachibana confirms this and explains he was brought along by Hiyori. Mei takes his seat, with Karatachibana moving in front of Hiyori. The six then chat away, with Karatachibana’s only real contribution when he replies that he is moving to Class 1-B when asked.

◇ ◇ ◇

On the Friday after the exams, Marika heads to the Magic Geometry Preparation Room after her club activities ended.

Meeting with Kitou sensei, Marika tells him she has gotten into Class 1-A and thanks him for his guidance. Kitou says she is free to consult with him in future as he is still a teacher for the first years.

◇ ◇ ◇

On the last Sunday of May, Izayoi Souma visits a large mansion located in the Tama District of Tokyo.

The owner of the mansion has a lot of authority and financial power so can afford to maintain the old customs, such as having a gatekeeper, in the modern age.

Souma enters the mansion, heading to meet his ‘lord’ who is one of Japan’s masterminds and power-brokers who rule from the shadows. This villa is not the lord’s main house, which is located in Ashiya, this villa is just a convenient one for business in Tokyo.

Upon arriving at his destination, Souma finds the teacher Kitou Tomohito already there waiting, though neither speaks as they cannot do so without the lord’s permission.

The lord arrives exactly on time and greets them and asks for a report. Souma reports first, explaining he has not yet confirmed the strength of Alisa’s Anti-Mental Interference Magic Barrier, explaining he hasn’t gotten her to lower her guard yet and requests more time. When asked about illusions, Souma remarks he discreetly tried but they didn’t work, though he is unsure of why specifically, though Alisa remained unaware.

The lord tells him to continue carefully as the Juumonji must remain unaware.

Kitou then gives his report. Marika has inherited the magic of the Toogami and has a lot of potential, enough to surpass the Juumonji. The lord queries about the flaw of the Toogami, and Kitou states it would be possible for Marika to overcome this issue.

Souma then brings up the pair’s co-dependency which is making them hard to deal with. He suggests manoeuvring things to force them onto the stage and make both more independent. The lord counters by pointing out this will mean more competition for Souma points out that her joining the Juumonji has already made that point moot.

Asked for his suggestion, Souma brings up Alisa being a member of the Crowd Ball Club and suggests returning it to the Nine Schools Competition for the sake of making the two more independent.

The lord says he will make the arrangements.

◇ ◇ ◇

Wednesday the tenth of June. Lunch is coming to an end and Alisa and Marika have returned to Classroom 1-A when Mei excitedly comes up to the pair, having been called by the Student Council at lunch.

Mei informs the pair that Crowd Ball has been reinstated in the Nine Schools Competition. She goes on to say the rookie matches are doubles, so Alisa’s participation is confirmed, and she can no longer say she does not want to participate.

Alisa is not happy about this, but as Mei said, she cannot decline as she and Hiyori are the only freshmen in the club. Everybody starts wishing her luck, and even Marika gives her a smile.

[ILLUSTRATON PAGE - 255]

Looking around the classroom with a bewildered expression, Alisa cannot find a single ally.

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