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Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei SS is the 13.5th volume in the Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei Light Novel series. It contains four short stories previously released in Dengeki Bunko Magazine as well as a new short story, Temptation of a Rose.

The events of all five short stories in this volume coincide with the events of the 13th volume of the light novels, Steeplechase.

Synopsis

During the Nine Schools Competition of 2096AD, during the Shiba's second year of high school, Tatsuya is fighting against a conspiracy involving humanoid weapons. Meanwhile, the other students are fighting and struggling to accumulate points to win the competition for First High.

Prisoner of The Dragon God

This short story follows Yoshida Mikihiko as he competes in the competition and reflects on his past actions that lead to his accident before he enrolled at First High.

Spoiler
In 2096, the Shiba siblings became second years. In that year’s 9SC, a conspiracy swirled also occurred. This is, not a story of such ‘secret’, originally, this was a story that should be ‘presented’ on the table.

2nd of July in 2096, a ground-shaking news arrived to the First High School Student Council. It was the announcement of changes in 9SC, ‘The National Magic High School Magic Competition’. It specified high-risk games to the players, which carried a strong military flavour, as the magicians were affected by the recent Yokohama Incident. However, it was a behind-the-scene conspiracy to develop a new magic weapon. Tatsuya who had been given the information via unidentified email that a forbidden humanoid weapon, ‘Parasite Doll’, which used parasites, was going to be tested in 9SC, at the stage of ‘Steeple Chase Cross Country’.

The test plan was dangerous and inhumane, especially with making the Magic High School students to be the guinea-pig in the ‘Steeple Chase Cross Country’ for the sake of the new weapon. Tatsuya who was participating in the 9SC as a technical staff of First High, took action in order to prevent this.

In that interlaced of conspiracies, the ‘Steeple Chase Cross Country’ was carried out at the Fuji Base, while Tatsuya confronted the 16 Parasite Dolls. He defeated all of them, regardless of the wounds suffered on his body.

Nevertheless, in August 2096, that was not the only battle which was waged in the foot of Mt. Fuji. On the front side of those plots, were the Magic High School students who aimed the crown of victory of 9SC, exciting game unfolded with the use of magic, this year too. Moreover, …. Here, I want to introduce one of the records of the battle among the Magic High School students.

13th of August in 2096. The 9th night of the 9SC, at First High’s dinner venue, the sense of urgency which had lingered up to the previous day was replaced with a high spirited atmosphere.

“Mitsui-san, congratulation on your victory”

“Satomi-san, too, congratulation on getting the runner up”

“You girls managed to snatch the top 2 places. An exact reproduction of last year’s freshmen game!”

Honoka and Subaru were surrounded by the girls from 3rd year who were congratulating them.

“Nakajou-san, thanks for your hard work. As expected, you did a stunning adjustment which takes advantage of Satomi’s speciality”

“Thank you, Isori-kun. In the end, I’m still loss to Shiba-kun though”

“It’s alright, isn’t it? Since we’re in the same team. Beside, his case is a little different” Azusa was encouraged by Isori with flowers.

“Shiba, good job”

“As usual, what a stunning adjustment” Beside Hattori who congratulated Tatsuya with a somewhat stiff attitude, was Kirihara who greeted Tatsuya with a laughter (probably, due to his friend’s attitude). Their table was not the only one who was talking about today’s game, most of the other tables were, too. This slightly hilarious atmosphere was not unreasonable with regards of the background.

Up to the 4th day, First High only seated at 2nd place with 390 points. There was a difference of 60 points to the first place, which belonged to Third High. Yesterday, Third High stood at 580 points, while First High was still behind at 575 points.

And today, the end of the 9th day of the tournament, First High had successfully turned the table, Third High gathered 600 points, while First High had 655 points. They finally stood on the top after trailing behind the much worshiped Third High since the 2nd day of the tournament.

Before the previous generation, ‘the strongest generation’ graduated, First High had never expected to struggle. The current generation suffered a much uphill battle. It might be natural that it came to tight position.

“Hattori, it’s still too early to be relieved. We still have another competition tomorrow”

A third year, Minakami Carey, spoke from Hattori’s behind. Tatsuya who sat next to Hattori, gave him the seat while carrying a tray, Carey said ‘thanks’ before taking the seat.

“Yoshida-kun, take a seat”

Next to Carey, opposite to Hattori, Sawaki took a seat, appreciating the freshman who participated in the freshmen competition. Mikihiko was called by Carey, he decided to calmly follow Carey’s request (order).

“If we’re defeated, the girls’ effort in reversing the situation would be wasted”

“I know. I intend to win tomorrow’s competition just as today’s. Then, the overall victory will go to First High by our hand”

If they win tomorrow’s Monolith Code, the overall gap to the Third High which hold the 2nd place would be 95 points. By this year’s rule, this amount could easily be overthrown depending on the Steeple Chase Cross Country’s result, but it still contribute to overall win.

There were overall 10 rounds for Monolith Code were done in half for each group, meeting up at their 5th round, both First High and Third High had 4 wins and 0 losses. They couldn’t afford to lose one round. They were evenly matched.

“Ah. Finally, tomorrow we will directly confront Third High and win over no matter what”

In response of Hattori’s strong words, Carey also declared victory. Then, he looked aside toward Mikihiko.

“Yoshida, I’ll be counting on you like today”

“Ganbarimasu ”

However, Mikihiko replied firmly despite being asked so suddenly without stammering. He reflected the enthusiasm for victory on his face, as his other 2 senpais.

Pouring in Psions to CAD. In the central part of CAD was the Eidos of sensitive stone which converted Psion signals in correspond to the electrical signal which passed through the body. This way, the actuate outputs were sent to the magic calculation area from the body.

“..Yeah, it’s alright. It’s a stunning adjustment as always, Tatsuya”

“That’s my job after all.”

Tatsuya answered Mikihiko’s praise dismissively.

Mikihiko also knew that Tatsuya’s attitude was not just an act. He took pride in his work, without being uselessly proud of his work. This was one of the feats he had. Tatsuya’s adjustment focused more on the construction of the system of the fundamental magic in the CAD, not just one of the technique.

“Actually, it would have been much better if I can use the same interface and auxiliary tools that Mikihiko always uses. Please bear with the somewhat different usability”

“No, this is enough. I’m considered lucky compared to other schools’ students which have to use much inferior CAD than what they’re used to”

This wasn’t a put up front. It was the auxiliary tools which he began to use since last winter. The tools who were summarized as a form of metal charms, extended from the main part to be connected to his forearm, a Psion wave oscillator, made from sensitive alloy with engraved magic. It was a hybrid of charms and CAD to aid magical procedure per say.

The magic actuation via traditional charms started with assembly of command in accordance of the symbol drawn in the charms equal magic sequence for spirits, which cause the spirits to project the magic via the charms.

On the other hand, this auxiliary tool fed the start-up magic sequence to the oscillator, which was pre-complemented with engraved pattern of the charm, and took the Psion wave through the skin via the oscillator from magic calculation area It built a semi-automatic command to the spirit, from there onward, the processes were the same as the charms projection. This magic was almost in no way inferior in speed and by using this CAD, he was able to use magic from the charms he was familiar with.

Unfortunately, 9SC regulation banned Psion signal from charms. There was an idea to use a card-type single-activation specialized CAD, but it was against the regulation to use such a thin-shaped CAD. After exhausting other alternatives, in the end, he could only rewritten and adjust the system to be programmed in commercially available CAD.

Tatsuya was not satisfied with this result. However, Mikihiko seemed to feel that it was enough. Last year, he was also using a device that was hurriedly adjusted by Tatsuya in the pinch hitter of last year freshmen game, but he understood about the unpleasantness since it was a make shift after all. Last year, he was concerned if he could use the engineer-adjusted aid at ease, but it was different for this year. He was able to activate magic without stress, a lot more fluid.

“I would be punished if I still complain after all these. From this point onwards, it’s the players’ responsibilities, not the engineer anymore, it’s time for me to work hard”

“Ah. Miki, you just say such a high spirited line”

Tatsuya and Mikihiko turned their eyes to the entrance of the adjustment centre vehicle, after hearing the sudden voice. Erika’s face was seen from the vehicle’s entrance, under the camper.

“Erika, what is it?”

“I thought you have finished your work since the release of psion wave has stopped. Do you want to have a tea? Everyone is waiting”

“You come here to call us”

“It’s nothing much. We’re next to this car after all” After hearing Erika’s words, Tatsuya turned his face to Mikihiko.

“Mikihiko, how about you? Since the necessary adjustment is done, don’t you need to go back to your room for some rest?”

“No, I’m going to sit with everyone. I should be able to sleep better after”

“Roger”

Erika retracted her face from the vehicle. Tatsuya and Mikihiko followed behind. The prefabricated tables were spread just beside the vehicle. Above them was the awning tent which was extended from the roof of the vehicle. It was a little camp-like landscape.

Both of their seats had been prepared. Tatsuya was seated between Mikihiko and Miyuki, while next to Mikihiko was Mizuki.

“Onii-sama, thank you very much for your hard work” Miyuki handed over Tatsuya’s cup of coffee,

“Umm, Yoshida-kun. Here you go” Mizuki poured green tea to Mikihiko’s cup.

“Ah, you even troubled yourself to prepared this separately. Thank you, Shibata-san”

As Mikihiko said, the only one who was served a green tea was him.

“The one who prepared the tea specially was Pixie though”

“Yoshida-kun can only see Mizuki after all”

The 2 of them were out of the table. Since their number was greater than the table’s capacity, they couldn’t seat at one table. Their voice came from the adjacent table.

“Subaru! Eimi! Don’t tease him!”

“Honoka. You’re just envious of them right?”

“No, no way! I’m not envious at all!” (this is in somewhat mixed dialect with Kansai-ben)

“Eimi, calm down… I don’t even know where she come from anymore”

“More like, where do you get that dialect?”

“Is it really a dialect?”

Hearing the chaotic conversation from the next table, Mikihiko was smiling while blushing.

“Mikihiko, you’re able to relax properly after all. I thought you’d be more under the pressure”

Leo said so from across the table, Mikihiko shook his head with a laugh.

“I’m not relaxed at all. How should I put it, the fighting spirit come up naturally. Even if I don’t think about it, I have the ‘must win’ feeling”

“Hee… Miki, you seem to be in a very good condition”

Erika shot such a serious proclamation after hearing Mikihiko’s words.

“It’s a little rare to see you having such conviction. Even if it’s out of your character, if that’s the truth, seems like we don’t need to worry about tomorrow”

“Yes, I’ll surely win”

The pressure was catching up with him after he said so. However, if he recalled the day where he couldn’t even participate in the game, he was fairly pleased. (That’s right. I thought I will never be able to feel such a fulfilling feeling anymore. Were it not for that day… I really thought so for the longest time…) Now I’m sure, that was not an accident. That incident happened to prepare me for these encounters, I thought I need to go through the whole ordeal on my own, by now, I can see what it was all about.

The incident which happened 6 months before the entrance exam to the Magic High School, which made me not to be able to use magic as I had been. Although I was not rejected, I was deemed unsuitable to obtain the eight-petals-emblem, and settled as the weed. The opportunity came to me while I was there.

However, that was the will of heaven. Precisely because I was a 2nd Course student, I obtained my friends, and I was able to connect with him as a friend.It was a blessing in disguise. I had much more valuable encounters than that emblem. These all became available to from that day, I believe that firmly now. 17th August AD 2094. Lunar day 7 July, the night of Tanabata. Mikihiko was stiffened while reminiscing the feeling of that day.


17th of August in AD 2094. Lunar day 7 of July, the night of Tanabata, an yearly important ritual was performed at Yoshida-ke.

The name of the ritual is ‘Hoshi Oroshi no Gi ’. It didn’t come from the orthodox religion, which the traditional religious people might call ‘evil cult’ and combining it with the Shinto teaching from Yoshida-ke ‘Koushin’, it was possible to operate a large-scale weather control in ‘country’ level via Divine Spirit, a large-scale independent information body (also called isolated information form) which was a ritual that arouse the feeling of skill competition. The one referred as the ‘country’ was the previous prefecture system with the ‘decree system country’.

This old technique was one that could display one’s excellency, and was selected as the base of choosing the family heir. However, the ritual had been deemed as bloody, and now Yoshida-ke decided to define their eldest son as the one who would inherit the family head title.

However, even after it had been separated from the means of selection of the next family head in modern era, the ceremony still carries an important meaning which determines the best magician of the clan. Also, if any of the brother or cousin could continually perform ‘Hoshi Oroshi no Gi’ better than the eldest son, the unwritten rule was that the eldest son would relinquish the inheritance to such person. In fact, now in the main family, namely Mikihiko’s father, who was the second son of 4 siblings.

For now, Yoshida-ke’s original next family head was Mikihiko’s older brother. Mikihiko is his only sibling, he has no sister. However, he has 9 male cousins. The fact that they were only 2 children in the main family was considered exceptionally small, since the ancient magician’s pedigree generally lies on the number of siblings. Especially, the current family head’s brothers whose sons were participating fiercely in the ritual with hidden fighting spirit each year.

In the first place, at their age, until last year only Mikihiko showed such fluidity of magic development which likely to replace Motohiko’s position, Mikihiko is the only younger brother of Motohiko. Mikihiko who was referred as ‘the child prodigy of Yoshida-ke’ had surpassed his brother in the evocation magic of Jingi Magic (the so called Spirit Magic, the base of Yoshida-ke), rumoured had him closed in to be the next family head.

In fact, in last year’s performance, Mikihiko’s had shown a workmanship that second only to the current family head.

Mikihiko never desired to be the family head to replace his brother. He was a boy of modest personality, and was not suitable to be a leader. He, himself, aware of such fact, and thought that his brother should become the next family head. His desire, his ambition, was in different place.

The Divine Spirit ‘Dragon God’ who stand at the pinnacle of all nature spirits. He intended to complete this art with his own hands.

That was Mikihiko’s ambition. It was a long cherished wish of the founder of Yoshida-ke.

Yoshida-ke ancestry was told to be originated from a rain-shaman. He was not the famous Mr. Yoshida of Shinto, but just a humble shaman in the middle of a village. However, the one difference was that Yoshida-ke’s ancestors had a real power. A person who was sharper than he beasts, not only in reading the wind and clouds, but also had the power to call upon the clouds which brought the rain. However, it was a small power. The extent of his power was to gather the clouds which were usually scattered in the sky through the flow of wind, as long as it was a rain-clouds. When there was a long-term drought, the air was dry, there was nothing to do against it. The village where he lived was eventually destroyed by drought. The villagers forgot the one who helped them, so the ancestors casted out flow to scatter the clouds in resentment.

Since then, the descendant of shaman from Mt. Fuji continued to explore a way to counter the drought with a force that inherited in the blood. Damming the river, to create a pond.

Changing the flow of underground water, to make a well in the place where there was no natural well.

Controlling a larger-scale wind movement, to call out clouds from far away. In the midst of those trial and error, Yoshida-ke reached a conclusion.

After all, no matter what kind of magic they used, they were all useless without the water itself.

To overcome the drought, it is necessary to call water. So, where do the water brought from, in the best interest of all?

In the time of drought, where is the one place where you can always find water? If one think that much, the answer was not difficult.

From the sea.

They arrived on the conclusion of ‘the whole circulation of water’

In Japan, when you talk about the god of sea, it was the dragon. It was a concept of Buddhism, but had nothing to do with the Arica origin. The god of the sea, Suijin . The dragon who dominated Ryuuguu in the sea, who ascended to heaven by riding the clouds, and showering the wind and rain, ‘Ryuujin ’. That was the control of rainfall which Yoshida-ke pursued.

Yoshida-ke’s ancestors were a group of dragon worshipers, hermits who were learning the way of Onmyoudou and Shugendou in order to thread on the path of the dragon, they were the guardian priest of the dragon deity. They devoted their religious virtues and wisdom to the dragon, continued to follow the path which led to God. Eventually, the original purpose to overcome the drought became secondary, ever since they found about the dragon, it had become their new purpose. As a result, the current Yoshida-ke came to be referred as a prestigious ancient magician.

The current doctrine of Yoshida-ke, placed the dragon at the top of the incarnation of serving spirits from natural phenomena. The arts of calling other spirit, which served the top Spirit God, were seen as a stepping stone to call the Divine Spirit which led to the dragon.

To devise ‘an art which leads to God’ with his own hands. Such was the hope of Mikihiko, hence the position of family head could be seen as an obstruction to his goal, which requires him to devote all his time in it, instead of clearing the operative management of the house and family estate.

Therefore, this ‘Hoshi Oroshi no Gi’ ceremony was the right place to evoke the rivalry with his brother, to check how much his brother was able to call upon the Divine Spirit. Motohiko was chosen as the 3rd position, right behind Mikihiko. This was the order of the result of last year’s ‘Hoshi Oroshi no Gi’.

Motohiko rose his magic.

Mikihiko stared intently to his performance.

Their relationship as siblings were not bad. Despite the huge age gap between them --- Motohiko was older by 7 years from Mikihiko ---- there was neither siblings quarrel nor were they get along well, Mikihiko honoured his older brother, and Motohiko protected his younger brother from jealousy attacks due to his superior talent.

During his childhood, Mikihiko was taught by Motohiko.

By the time Mikihiko’s talent began to exceed Motohiko’s capabilities, Mikihiko came to prefer to practice by himself. He unconsciously avoided to be compared with his brother’s, in regards of their talents. He hated to hear that his talent surpasses that of his brother’s.

However, he wouldn’t let go of this ritual just like that.

He wanted to show that he, himself, was worthy of ‘The Art which Leads to God’. Therefore, he watched his brother’s performance carefully, as his biggest competitor.

His brother had reached the altar mirror. The mirror on the altar was adjusted to face the South direction, in order to reflect the North Star. (He’s not using any charm?)

His brother seemed to reach out to the mirror, Mikihiko was strucked by a surprising feeling.

The thing which was in Motohiko’s hand was Tamagushi , a branch from Sakaki tree, a sacred tree of Shinto.

Although Yoshida-ke magic had a combination of Shinto structurally, the fundamental arts were strongly influenced by Onmyoudou.

However, the ritual which Motohiko tried to carry out seemed to be originated from Shinto. Rather than a Shintoic ritual itself, he was attempting to stimulate the Divine Spirit with the help of the form.

(Yuushide , is it…?)

The Sakaki branch which was offered, tied with the yuushide, which now almost lost all its use, Mikihiko guessed that it was cotton intuitively. Moreover, this yuushide was not made by folding, it was made by binding them together.

(Making a charm out of cotton, is it possible to bind it with the string---?) Mikihiko seemed to think that it was an appropriate magic instrument which originated from the secret art of the other sect, rather than the one used by Yoshida-ke. The one who felt so was not only him, there were some admiration flowed from the family who watched the ceremony. They were also intrigued whether Mikihiko would use the same method as Motohiko.

While Motohiko dedicated his sacred Shinto tree branch, he did it to the North Star which was reflected in the mirror, rather than dedicating it to the shrine ---- North Star, directly. North Star, is star which also images the god of Dragon.

It was neither a spell nor chant. Nor it was generated from one’s breath. It was ‘power’ --- referred to as a spiritual power of one’s heart, or a magic power of one’s mind, it was referred as ‘force’ in Yoshida-ke ----- he had prepared the magic tool for this day.

(---- it’s connected?)

Mikihiko certainly felt that his brother connected ‘something’. Much bigger than human’s consciousness.

Motohiko’s face went pale due to excessive mental strain. In order to stimulate a huge Divine Spirit which he had never been in contact even once, to desperately keep the connection, and strengthened it. Wind blew.

Motohiko’s tree branch, clothes, and hair were not shaking at all. It was the same as Mikihiko, their father, and everyone who was watching the altar.

Physically, there wasn’t any wind blowing. However, everyone who was there felt the wind. Gradually increasing in force, soon a gusty wind came up, made it similar to a storm.

“Fuujin ?”

Under the torrents of auditory hallucination of wind noises, someone’s voice could be heard.

“This ‘wind’ belongs to Fuujin, doesn’t it?”

Following that voice, Mikihiko looked up to the night sky. Everyone to his right and left was also looking up to the sky.

After looking at the sky for some time, a vortex of huge wind was under its way to form.

“Does he just arise the Fuujin…?”

A string of murmur spread around the altar.

The atmosphere was still. Mikihiko was among those who looked up to the night sky, he felt such a pressure that made his body froze. Before long, the wind ceased.

Motofuru’s back was rocked by a rough breathing, before he bowed toward the family assembly in exhausted appearance.

Applauses rose up. In their suppressed enthusiasm, several of family members praised Motohiko. It was beyond anyone’s expectation, and. As expected of the heir, and.

The best magic performed this year will surely go to Motohiko, and. Mikihiko completely agreed to the first two. However, he rejected the last opinion.

(Certainly, his brother’s magic performance was great. He even devised his own magic tools, he understood well and made thorough preparation for today)

Mikihiko thought so while watching his brother descent from the altar, supported by the young women disciples who helped the procession of the ceremony. His brother used up all his force to successfully called upon Fuujin.

He demonstrated his best in this important ritual. That alone, showed that his brother is worthy of respect, Mikihiko thought obediently. That was why, he ---- Mikihiko sharpened his calm mind before proceeding any further. When he determined that he had sufficient mental concentration, he rose from his seat.

The commotion had subsided. The eyes of the clan gathered to Mikihiko who was walking up to the altar for the ritual.

The rituals were done in the field. It was a special ritual field in secluded mountain, but the night wind blew occasionally mixed with the cries of insect and the rustling of leaves. Yet, at this time, the sound that reached the people’s ear gathered for the ritual was Mikihiko’s footstep in climbing the stairs to the altar.

Mikihiko prepared his breath. He took out a bundle of charms from his sleeve, and spread them in a fan shape. It was not a single charm, but 9 pieces of charms knitted together into one, it took him 3 months to write the charms.

“Wait, Mikihiko”

The one who called out to him was the head of the clan, Mikihiko’s father, Sachihiko. To stop the magician before conducting a ritual. Even if he was the head of the clan, it was inevitably unusual error for him to do that. Mikihiko, without showing any sign of disturbance, turned his attention from his charms to his father.

“What is it, Chichi-ue ?”

However, it was visible that he was not completely calm, to answer his father while remaining at the stage. Given the original courtesy, he should not replied the family head by looking down on him from above.

“What are you trying to do today?”

However, it didn’t bothered Sachihiko. He was visibly upset due to another reason.

After Mikihiko slightly hesitated, he answered resolutely to him.

“I’m planning to call the Ryuujin”

Another commotion spread. Half of the audience was in a surprise saying ‘no way’, and the rest of the congregation expected this and say ‘finally’.

“Stop it”

However, Sachihiko’s answer was out of everyone’s expectation.

“Why do you say so? What I’m going to summon should be left on my discretion”

The one who nodded to Mikihiko’s rebuttal was not only one or two people. The decision was a solitary one. That loneliness and pride, were not to be interfered even by the parents. Sachihiko also understood this in his heart. However, he still stopped his son.

“Mikihiko, do you seriously intent to raise the Ryuujin even without having the ‘Crystal Eye’?”

Another commotion raised up at the words of the family head.

“That… I don’t need such a thing”

“Mikihiko, the amount of information possessed by the dragon cannot be compared to other Divine Spirit”

Mikihiko was visibly shown his reaction after Sachihiko attacked him with ‘the amount of information’ matter.

Yoshida-ke’s magic was not based on a particular religion. They’ve been incorporating the necessary art indiscriminately. They didn’t even hesitate to lay their hand on the Imikirawa and Jahou . (They incorporated the Jahou in their arts after they got rid of the original caster. Therefore, they weren’t living with the rejection of ‘evel cult group’ due to their magic)

However, even this sense of magic had been repelled with the development of modern magic in this century, and even within the clan, many people also think this way. It was a complex story, but the influences of modern magic certainly existed.

Sachihiko was one of the person who actively sought for modern magic’s knowledge, and received emotional backlash in the family. He preached to those who were opposed of his opinion.

‘Isn’t our clan’s magic originally work this way?’.

Nevertheless, there were antipathy left to modern magic. He was trying to restrain his son from using the modern magic theory which would bring discomfort to the clan.

“Dragon is an independent information body of large circulation of water. It consists of water control, wind control, and fire containment, moreover, it composed of information which spanned to a very wide area. That’s why we need the ‘Eyes’ in order to see the information of the Dragon from the ocean”

In other word, to make a contact with Dragon, more than one magician is necessary. One for control and alert, one to summon the core of the Divine Spirit, one for breach containment, the force and the thinnest parts, those were essential role which led the central part to the Divine Spirit, Yoshida-ke had concluded thus far.

“If you would take my opinion, Chichi-ue, those are all hypothesis” However, Mikihiko casted openly his opinion to the research of his predecessors.

“First of all, the Crystal Eyes who showed the way to the Dragon King itself are unidentified, it is only present in legend. Yoshida-ke has existed for more than 200 years, and there wasn’t a single member ever possess the Crystal Eye. I think this is the time for us to take a step further”

None of the disciples disagreed with Mikihiko’s words. Some of the family members also visibly smiling to support his argument. They were tired of waiting. The owner of Crystal Eyes who had never been found, regardless how much they searched.

“This world that has been able to use magic, which was thought to be a legend. We can’t just consider it as non-existent even if we can’t confirm it yet” Sachihiko’s roundabout objection to Mikihiko had received much response from the people.

“That’s because we concealed our knowledge…”

“However, magic is real. We ourselves are the evidences. To the people who doesn’t know about magic, it might be a legend, but it is a widely known fact now. Mikihiko, why do you conclude that Crystal Eyes in the legend doesn’t exist?”

Mikihiko did not have any answer to his father’s question.

“Even if it does exist, it’s still meaningless if we can’t find it. If I can’t find it during my life time, then it has nothing to do with me. The Crystal Eye is not around now, so I think it’s not wrong for me in exploring other path” Instead, Mikihiko swap his story.

“Chichi-ue. What does this ‘Hoshi Oroshi no Gi’ exist for? What is the true meaning behind it to Yoshida-ke?” The pretext of this brandish, crushed his reasoning. Exactly because Sachihiko was the head of the family that he denied Mikihiko’s argument.

“…. Motohiko, say something to Mikihiko too” Sachihiko was not speaking as the family head, but as a father to his oldest son.

“Chichi-ue, I can’t say anything to Mikihiko now” However, Motohiko couldn’t respond to Sachihiko’s request.

“Originally, I was intending to summon the Divine Spirit of the dragon myself. However, I wield no such power in me. Therefore, I’m agree with him on this plight” He said so while smiling, even without being able to support his body properly.

“Moreover, this ‘Hoshi Oroshi no Gi’ is a time where a magician shows his skill to the family. As his brother, I can’t disturb him”

“Ani-ue…” After unexpectedly receiving such cover, Mikihiko lost his words.

“However, Mikihiko, don’t be reckless. Everyone here knows your skill, and we all know it’s a difficult technique which ‘leads to God’. If you think you can’t continue, cease your magic immediately”

“----I’ll keep that in mind” Even Mikihiko knew that his brother didn’t say that because he wanted to be the best performer of ‘Hoshi Oroshi no Gi’ of the year.

His brother was just worried about his body. After listening to those backlash, Mikihiko felt rather upset, it was unacceptable. Mikihiko understood that perfectly. However, in the same time, an awareness that he must be successful at all cost began to grow within him.

Mikihiko moved toward the mirror in the altar. There was no voice to stop him this time. He extended his charms again. He read the drawn characters and patterns on them, as a step to build the magic. In modern magic’s term, psion wave was projected to the charms, to assemble the magic formula, where each part belongs to a sequence which received a return signal from magic calculation area.

Then, superimposing the assembled magic formula to project it onto the charms. By doing so, the charms became a controller for the summoned spirits, that is, the independent information bodies. The scale of independent information body did not extent to full control, but only to communicate the intention of the magician.

In other words, spirit is a psion information body which records the natural phenomena. It didn’t carry any energy in physical sense, since it has no manifestation as a phenomenon due to the lack of information for its action and direction.

This psion information body provides the direction and action of the identified spirit. SB magic’s true form is to cause independent information bodies to modify events based on it, by accessing the psion information body, it draws magic from the input of the possible state of the psion information body.

To arouse spirits, first the magician must catch the interest of the spirit. However, there was no need to look for where the spirit is. ‘Ryuujin’ is an independent information body of the ‘Large Circulation of Water’. There was no way one could lose sight of this huge information body.

The problem lies here onwards. To access information body, it was not as easy as making contact with the cloud. It must be matched with the wave form, such in tuning radio. However, the process is much more complex than radio. The wavelength and frequency regularly change. It might be similar to decrypting the analog curve in cryptography rather than tuning. The more complex the independent information body, the larger the change in the waveform, which must all be considered.

Once you able to decode the wave form, the next ordeal awaiting the magician is the pressure due to large amount of information. The amount of information in living natural phenomenon was much more than what human spirit could sustain, but the amount of information exposed to human’s consciousness is only a small part. Otherwise, human would have been crushed under the amount of information of the natural phenomena. Usually, it would result in losing of consciousness before it’s broken apart. Although, it is not unnatural at all to get such result when a magician come into contact with large independent information body, it still is a failure in respect of magic.

Withstanding the pressure of combined waveform. On top of that, to dominate the opponent and at least get a partial control over it. Of course, the magician still need to provide it with active phenomena information.

With the owner of Crystal Eyes, the tuning of the waveform can be achieved easily. However, the process which gives pressure to the magician, in the end, must be taken by the caster himself. Mikihiko thought that he did not need such Crystal Eye since it was only a mean of tuning. If it were only to tackle such process, he could try to do all the processes on his own. Mikihiko hypothesized so while focusing into the charms which is turned into a controller. He captured the sign of the Ryuujin almost immediately. So far, it goes as expected. However, he couldn’t get a fine tuning. Even when he was reading the frequencies and wavelength, it immediately changed. The pattern of changes was too complicated, and in the end, it only consumed the energy of the caster.

Even so, Mikihiko kept his concentration, as expected of one who bears the name of ‘Child Prodigy’, he was matching his psion wave to Ryuujin bit by bit. The audience probably sensed what he was doing as they were watching him. Occasional clamours arose from the audience surrounding the altar. Eventually there was a clamour,

It’s connected

It’s connected

It’s connected

The clamour changed. Such words came out of the high-level magician. (… I caught it!) The perfect tuning. Mikihiko got such response, suddenly.

Fulfil ….

Mountain echo-like, sea roar-like, such a distant voice arrived to Mikihiko. (Auditory hallucinations?) Clearly, it was not a voice he heard by his ears. Mikihiko disregarding the voice, he fed up more of his psion to the synchronized link to establish stronger connection with the dragon, hauling the psion wave of his target.

Fulfil…… That voice was heard nearer than the first time.

Fulfil……

The stronger Mikihiko haul the psion wave of the dragon, the louder the voice became.

Fulfil……

(Is this, the voice of the Ryuujin?) Impossible, Mikihiko thought so. The dragon he called out on his convenience ought to be an independent information body of ‘large circulation of the water’. However, contrary to his thought, Immediately after Mikihiko thought so, A conspicuously large and bright dragon voice raided his consciousness.

Fulfil Me!

“Uwaaaaaa!”

Mikihiko screamed out his throat.

He was not aware of it.

His consciousness was burnt, it was hot rather than painful.

The magic source, where the magic calculation area referred to in modern magic was forced to operate in a high speed.

As soon as he recognized that, Mikihiko forgot about it.

He couldn’t remember.

A whole lot of psion was taken away from him.

He thought, it was stolen.

He thought, it was eaten.

He couldn’t withstand the pain of the loss, Mikihiko lost his consciousness-----.


[A certain day in January in 2095] Yoshida-ke, on the opposite of the dojo, there was a backyard, a single boy was seen to be working with accustomed mobile terminal shape CAD. There was no pause in the movement of the boy who hit the large terminal with his 2 hands. Only after repeating the same action hundreds and thousands of times, the boy felt natural about wearing the technology in his hands. A torch was placed in front of the boy. His eyes had been staring --- glaring at the fireless torch. Approximately one second after the boy finished manipulating the CAD> The torch lighted up at once.

“Damn!” The boy spat a curse.

“Slow! Too slow! Why do I become a dunce like this!”

The High School entrance exam was getting closer, Mikihiko cursed himself in lamentation. Five months ago, the night of the ceremony. Mikihiko awoke after fainted, he was no longer able to use his magic well.

He can activate the magic sequence. The aim and power were also as expected. However, the speed was unthinkable.

It felt slow no matter how many times he repeated it. He kept feeling that he was supposed to be able to use magic much faster.

His father said ‘it’s your imagination’.

His brother also said ‘it’s your imagination’. Both of them said that he could use his magic at the same unchanging speed as before. His brother, Motohiko, comforted Mikihiko that he was just nervous at the failure of the ritual. However, Mikihiko couldn’t be convinced. He was impatient.

I should have completed the spell much faster.

I should have been able to use magic more freely.

He was impatient, and reckless, he couldn’t obtain the expected result due to his impatience, Mikihiko was really not able to use his magic well during those time.

His father, Sachihiko, ordered Mikihiko to rest from his training. He said that Mikihiko would not let Mikihiko progress to become a reckless magician.

Mikihiko rested from the doujou training, and tried his chance at Magic Cram School. Since he was no longer able to use the magic as he was, he thought he would find an alternative if he learns modern magic science. Even though he was still unable to wield his magic freely, he didn’t tell his distrusts of his father and brother.

However, the Magic Cram School did not give him the result he had expected. In the first place, the Magic Cram School did not teach advance magic. It only taught the single systematic magic to pass Magic High School entrance examination using CAD and the basic theory about imposition of lineage magic.

Mikihiko read all of the magic theory literature on his own. He practiced the single systematic magic that was taught, many times, using an older type of CAD.

Hundreds of times, thousands of times.

Even so, his power did not return to what it was.

Extinguish the fire torch via the spirit of water. He commanded the spirits to add in moisture, Mikihiko returned to his original position to repeat the practice. When he was about to manipulate his CAD, Mikihiko heard the voice of his brother.

“Mikihiko, it’s time for school” Mikihiko stubbornly glared at the torch, but before long, he released all the tension on his shoulder.

“Ani-ue, I’m sorry for making you to come all the way here” Mikihiko did not try to make unnecessary contact with his family. He didn’t throw a tantrum. He just polite, as for the others, he seemed to have make a wall against them.

“Mikihiko, don’t be reckless. Anyone can be in a slump” Motohiko was earnestly worried about his brother, only to be left hanging with a bow from Mikihiko.

“Even with forcing yourself, sometimes the outcome doesn’t go very well”

“I understand” On the appearance, Mikihiko seemed to have received his brother’s advice well. In fact, Motohiko was also been plagued with exhaustion after he rose the Divine Spirit ‘Fuujin’ beyond his limit, but Mikihiko did not seem to realize that. He thought that he was the only one who suffered.

“Don’t mind it. Sometimes we might have a roundabout path instead of the shortcut”

“Thank you for your advice” Mikihiko went to the main house after he bowed to his brother. After he showed up in the living room, he said that he had no time to eat breakfast to his father and mother, Mikihiko briefly headed to school by himself.

[14th of August in 2096]

“Morning, Tatsuya”

“Morning, Mikihiko. Did you get a good sleep?”

“Haha.., I have enough sleep, and my physical condition is good”

“Certainly, you seem alright” As usual, he was behaving awkwardly whenever Tatsuya fixed his eyes on him, after all this time, at the same time, Mikihiko felt a certain of sense of trust.

(That reminds me, last year’s 9SC was the trigger of my escape from my slump)

Last night, he remembered the days of anguish. The memory was not as painful, for some reason. It probably due to the fact that it had become the thing of his past for Mikihiko. Rather, he was ashamed as he recalled his distrust to his family from day by day.

“What is it, Mikihiko? Why do you suddenly laugh?”

“Eh? Am I laughing?”

“Are you laughing in reminiscent? What a weird guy”

“…. Tatsuya. Can you stop sounding so seriously that it is a really unpleasant feeling. I honestly feel dejected”

“Of course, it’s a joke” As the replied did not show a hint of joke, Mikihiko became seriously dejected. With the silly conversation that he had now, Mikihiko seemed to have remembered those valuable days.

Mikihiko was not allowed to participate in ‘Hoshi Oroshi no Gi’ last year. His father said ‘you should see the place where you should have belonged to’, and was forcibly sent to 9SC.

This year, ‘Hoshi Oroshi no Gi’ would be held after 9SC, on 24th August, but it was too close. Mikihiko was going to absent from participating this year as well. He was not ready to participate in the ritual. For now, the important thing was 9SC.

“Let’s stop the joke here, it’s time for final adjustment”

Urged by Tatsuya, Mikihiko consciousness returned to the reality from his own world. He moved forward to the adjusting device, put on the goggles for measurements, and placed his hands on the panel.

“You do seem to be in a good condition. But you are a little too excited”

“Eh, you can figure out that much!?” To Mikihiko’s amazement, Tatsuya laughed lightly.

“Emotions are the area of pushion after all. Mizuki should be able to see it, but it’s

impossible to measure from the machine. However, I can guess from the form of your psion wave. It still wouldn’t escape the impact of emotion.

“Hee… that’s new to me”

“Mikihiko, it’s not the time for such admiration” Mikihiko showed his admiration to the stunning advanced technology earnestly, but he was cut short by Tatsuya.

“It won’t be good for you to be so excited. It’s important to keep your calm, you should now this better as an ancient magician, right?”

Hearing Tatsuya’s words, Mikihiko threw a wry smile.

“Yeah. The ancient magic tends to be affected by psychological state than modern magic for sure”

Mikihiko trimmed his breathing. Come to think of it, he was able to normalize his breathing more than ever when he was at the last 9SC when deploying magic. He never thought he would be hearing such thing from Erika’s mouth, it was quite a good memory.

“How about now?” Mikhiko put his hand on the measuring panel again.

“No problem. As expected, seems like you’re able to adjust it properly this quick” The amazing one is you, though Mikihiko did not voice this out. He was afraid if it would sound like a lie were it came out of his mouth.

Mikihiko was able to get out of the slump because he participated in the Monolith Code in the same team with Tatsuya. To be precise, after he used the CAD adjusted by Tatsuya in Monolith Code.

Now, he knew the cause of his malfunction. It was, after all, as his brother said, that he was in a slump, instead of losing his magic power. At the night of the ceremony, that voice which he heard in the midst of evoking the magic.

Fulfil me!

That voice was indeed, the voice of the ‘Ryuujin’. The huge independent information body that he accessed, it was requesting for more information processing speed, which was insufficient to maintain the connection, hence, causing a reverse flow of magic evocation. At that time, the processing capacity required from the ‘Ryuujin’ exceeded his capability, his magic calculation area had exceeded the normal operation made him unconscious. The depletion of psion he felt was the side effect of continual discharge of magic formula beyond his own intention.

The reason that convinced him that his magic speed had fallen was the sense of forced acceleration that time. Of course, it felt slow. Since he had felt that his magic speed went over, the normal operating speed of the magic calculation area felt slow to him, it was a given. It was the same as if you got off from the highway to a normal public road so to speak, it was the same illusion as to have slower operation of self-propelled vehicle at normal speed limit.

Then, as he was trying in vain to change the behaviour of his magic calculation area which operating normally, his condition worsened, this was also a given. Wrong effort would ruin even achievements of the good effort of the past. What his father said that time was correct, that he needed a rest from the training.

Other student at First High probably didn’t realize ---- the only one who realized must have been ‘Miyuki-san’ ----, the magic sequence that Tatsuya arrange in earnest, can bring out the magician’s ability to his limit. He omitted any unnecessary parts, and tailored it to suit the magical characteristic of the user thoroughly, therefore, Magic calculation area also operates in those state. Unlike modern magician who builds the magic sequences unconsciously, relying on start-up type, Mikihiko noticed it as he was accustomed to build his own magic sequences as ancient magician, despite all of its inefficiency.

Mikihiko was also forced his magic calculation area unintentionally when he used Tatsuya-adjusted-CAD last year in Monolith Code. When he triggered the magic which sequences had been arranged by Tatsuya, it was faster than the construction of magic sequence which was forcibly drawn by the ‘Ryuujin’. At the top of his abilities, Mikihiko had experienced the speed which was higher than that time, and finally was able to escape the illusion given from the

‘Ryuujin’.

“Mikihiko, can you try the result of the fine-tuning?”

“…. Have you finished? Somehow, you’re so fast” At Mikihiko’s words, the engineers in charge of Hattori and Carey smiled wryly. They didn’t even show a single hint of jealousy anymore.

Mikihiko fitted the CAD he received from Tatsuya to his left hand. In order to be fitted in one hand, the CAD had to be fitted in the thumb with a gouged-shape, it was light and thin instead of large. At the back, there was a belt who secured it to the hand, other than the thumb part, as not to drop it in vigorous movements. The 5 buttons were arranged in arc shape, with an enter button on the back of the index finger. It was a type which gives priority to preference of feeling than the number of magic sequences.

The start-up sequence expanded, he stopped the magic before its activation. Although he was never concerned, it felt unrivalled to Mikihiko. It surprised him even more, at this late hour.

“It’s alright. With this, I should be able to compete in my best form” The senior engineers were laughing; they didn’t understand the exact meaning of Mikihiko’s words. Mikihiko was trying to say that ‘I’m likely going to be inevitably do my best today’.

“Be careful with your pace. This can only be adjusted by the magician himself”

“I know. Fortunately, the second round for today is a resting period. The first game is quite a distance of break to the second game, there’s also lunch break between the afternoon games. There’s no worry about stamina”

“That’s right. We’re blessed to have such match order”

“Luck is also a part of ability” Hattori and Carey rode in to Mikihiko’s words. Monolith Code’s final, First High’s team seemed to relax in good condition.

The first game, First High vs Sixth High, was at the meadow stage.

Honestly, Mikihiko was not too pleased with the meadow stage. The defence of the monolith was left to Minakami Carey’s ‘Offset Magic’. At best, Mikihiko could only assist him in preventing the obvious attack of magic. The offense was assigned to Hattori, they managed to sink Six High’s defence with good combination of magic.

The second day, first game, ended in a gaping victory.

Out of the 3 rounds today, the second round would be facing Third High at last. Fortunately, due to the rule of Steeple Chase Cross Country’s rule this year, the dark horses couldn’t be spotted. Ichijou Masaki played in Ice Pillar Break and not Monolith Code.

Neither Ichijou Masaki nor Kichijouji Shinkurou were in Third High’s team. However, they were still the biggest opponent for First High.

The match was held in the Valley. There were elongated cliffs towering to the left and right, but the stage was characterized by large curve pond.

(Water….) The cause of his slump was the highest Divine Spirit of water. However, it was still Mikihiko’s best forte.

“Yoshida, let’s go with that, the one you’re using last year at the freshmen game”

As soon as the stage was decided as the Valley, Carey suggested so with a mischievous smile. Last year’s Monolith Code freshmen game, First High and Ninth High competed in a Valley stage, they won without any combat as Mikihiko completely covered the stage with Fog Barrier.

“Minakami-senpai, won’t Third High be wary of that strategy?” Hattori didn’t cast his opinion.

“I think it’s a valid bet that they are warrying about it, but…. Shiba, what do you think?” Carey asked Tatsuya while considering Mikihiko’s opinion. Tatsuya and Mikihiko put up a wry smile on their face. However, he was their senpai. Mikihiko gave up and left everything to

Tatsuya. Moreover, Mikihiko also wanted to hear Tatsuya’s idea.

“Although, we might need to make some arrangements, it would be effective”

“What change?” Answering Hattori, Tatsuya began to explain his strategy.

Right from the start, a deep fog covered the entire valley.

The seat stands roared. Many of the audience who watched 9SC recalled last year’s freshmen game.

Third High seemed to have expected this. They had erected a barrier within 15 meters radius of the center of the monolith, to prevent fog intrusion.

The monolith key-range of non-systematic magic was 10 meter. The objective barrier did not prevent First High’s player to enter, as it was not set to deplete one’s magic. However, the moment the barrier was erected, the Third High’s player knew that they wouldn’t be able to detect where the opponent come from. The 3 players from Third High surrounded the monolith and took a stance of race of endurance.

The reasoning of Third High was not wrong. Normally, this wide range magic to cover this much was not intended for a long use. This strategy was employed after they studied the match with Ninth High which took about less than 5 minutes.

However, even after 5 minutes, the fog was getting thicker.

Third High players didn’t know the details of the nature of SB magic --- Spirit Magic. Spirit magic is performing event modification through an independent information body, the magician can enhance the collected process as much as the number of independent information bodies overtime.

Once they entered a battle of endurance, it was already First High’s victory. Tatsuya didn’t really read and pinpoint Third High’s strategy. He was making this strategy by considering many factors. He made hypothesis of the counteraction prepared by Third High for the Fog Barrier. He planned the next step by predicting their response.

Tatsuya did nothing special, nor extraordinary, in fact, it was a pretty obvious strategy. He predicted the opponent’s action, and made countermeasures. His prediction was just right on the spot, so the measures were valids.

This made his strategy hit on the spot. The players from Third High were alternatingly erecting the objective barriers, but the exhaustion began to sip in. Moreover, from First High’s team, Mikihiko was not the only one working. Hattori was also closing in steadily to prepare for offense.

Hattori was ensured of visibility by Mikihiko, the controller of the fog, he had reached about 30 meters away from Third High’s position. Then, he aimed the area surrounding Third High’s barrier with dry ice, without touching the barrier itself. Dry ices, which fell to the ground disappeared to wet the stone and moisten sparsely growing grass. The sound of dry ices fell to the ground was covered by Carey as a thunder-like sounds. The distant thunder which reverberated in this valley had also helped in avoiding the Third High’s players suspicion.

Carey caused the cliff stones to gravel, or roaring sound from the crushed rock. The audiences cheered in delight to Carey’s performance, while inviting some suspicion to Third High’s players.

Then, after 15 minutes have elapsed, Third High’s team got impatient and finally moved. They expanded the objective barriers twice as big, and the offensive player went out of the barrier. Immediately, he was bound by blitz of net laid on the ground. The combination magic which Hattori good at, ‘Slithering Thunder’. It was not effective in full length as the opponent’s clothes were not wet enough, but he was prepared and acted correspondingly. Higher power to cover up the inefficiency.

The lightning flashes just outside the barrier, the other players within the barrier got upset. They did not even notice that the opponent had closed in immediate vicinity, and it took their calm.

Their barrier fluctuated. At that instant, a gust of wind engulfed the stone and slammed it. It was a variation of Hattori’s magic, Linear Sandstorm. Even though, it should be called linear-stone-storm, as long as his objective to take down Third High’s barrier.

The stones broke the barrier, it was wet and moisten, with drops of fog dissolved with carbon dioxide. Slithering Thunder found its new path, to trample around Third High’s monolith. It flowed at once, with the fog and carbon dioxide.

In front of Hattori, who squatted to apply insulation on himself, beautiful but cruel illumination of lightning wrapped around Third High’s player.

With the victory against Third High, Hattori, Carey, and Mikihiko lined up in front of First High’s supporter seat.

The team waved their hands in front.

Mikihiko found Mizuki’s figure, clapping in delight, in the midst of the supporter seat.

The girl who possessed Crystal Eye, whom Yoshida-ke had not found in more than 200 years.

Had she been there 2 years ago, the ritual might be successful.

Had she been there, he would have completed ‘The art that leads to God’.

Mikihiko shook his head lightly, driving away the worldly thoughts from his consciousness.

He didn’t consider that now. He had yet to finish the monolith code in 9SC.

After all, those things were not left to him to decide. He needed to explain about ‘Crystal Eye’ and ‘The Art that leads to God’, and asked for her cooperation. It was a matter of the future.

He still didn’t know what would happen in the future between him and Mizuki. He was not even certain that they would still be having this relationship as a good friend.

More importantly, it’s better to live up to her expectation. Mikihiko thought so.

For the sake of Tatsuya who helped him regained the power that he thought was lost, (though he didn’t want to admit) for Erika who worried about him, and for his friends who had cheered for him, now let’s give our best shot for victory.

Mikihiko’s swore in his heart.

Shotgun!

This short story follows Akechi Eimi and Kunisaki Kumiko as they prepare for and compete in the 2096 Nine School Competition's Rowers and Gunners Event. ‎

Spoiler
Akechi Eimi is teamed up with Kunisaki Kumiko, a third year in Class B from the Canoeing Club, to participate in rowers and gunners event, with Tatsuya and Azusa as their engineers. Kumiko volunteers to be the rower and while Eimi volunteers to be the gunner. During practice, the team decides to test kneeling for stability instead of standing and sitting to see if the small boat would capsize.

Kumiko is nervous around Tatsuya, which Eimi notices and asks about. Kumiko admits that she is uncomfortable talking to men because she thinks that males are aggressive. Kumiko is reluctant to participate in the event and originally wanted to help on the sidelines like Azusa, but Eimi reassures her that Tatsuya isn’t a bully. Kumiko agrees and states that if Tatsuya was a bad person, the 2nd years wouldn’t be following him around. Kumiko feels that Tatsuya is not bad guy, despite what happened in Yokohama.

Eimi is depressed because on the first day of practice, they capsized twice before finishing the race. Tatsuya and Eimi discusses what other position they can use before finally deciding on kneeling on both knees. After another round of practice, Eimi and Kumiko felt they had improved because they didn’t capsize.

Because the gunner’s vision is prioritized, the seat of the rower is lowered, impairing the rower’s vision. To remedy this, Tatsuya suggests that Kumiko familiarizes herself with the course during the practice round on the day of the race. While Tatsuya's humility makes him reliable, his mysterious plans make Eimi feel uncomfortable. She remembers the impact of her first time getting tuned by Tatsuya; it felt as though she was totally seen through and the completed CAD brought out her true potential. While she was happy with the result, Eimi overexerted herself because of this and became tired during ice pillar break last year.

At the next practice, Azusa brought a spectacle modelled navigator to record the test run and display the course during the actual race. Eimi asked whether it is within the rules to which Azusa answered that there were only rules against propulsion. Kumiko wonders if the idea was from Azusa. Azusa replies that the idea came from Tatsuya, but she was the one who programmed the navigation system. Instead of some amazing magic, it was an electronic device which anyone can operate being used, leaving Eimi feeling underwhelmed. Eimi was previously worried that Kumiko might be used like a lab rat for new magic. Now Eimi is expecting an amazing new high level magic, but she understands that it takes time to learn new magic. Since it is more reliable to use familiar magic, Eimi decides to improve what she has now. After half a day of practice, Eimi approaches Tatsuya for help with target practice while moving because she was having trouble aiming at so many targets. Her not being able to aim multiple targets was within Tatsuya’s expectations, and the countermeasure was already thought of. However, due to the burden of learning new magic, he would have preferred not to use it if it wasn’t necessary.

Tatsuya went and brought a gun shaped CAD, similar to the one Eimi is currently using, which contained the sequence for invisible bullet. Tatsuya explains that the reason why invisible bullet is not widespread is due to its limited usage; it applies pressure but does not change the state of the object. Eimi asks for the reason of using it and notices that it is modified to a scatter shot version.

First day of the Nine School Competition, First High is the first to race. George sees the navigator and is unhappy that the device is allowed. Masaki consoles George by saying that the boat size, kneeling position, and the height of the rower were conclusions that both he and Tatsuya arrived at, and that their school does not need a device to help them steer. Masaki thinks that they should focus more on what route First High took, so that they could learn from it. They think First High went fast to test out their fastest speed. They also notice that first high prioritized steering skills over magic. Third high was shocked at the speed they were going, and that their magic can hit multiple target with a randomized program; it used loop cast to cast multiple invisible bullets so as to reduce misses. George finds out that it was a modified form of invisible bullet and is angry that his magic was used and modified.

Both Eimi and Kumiko are happy that First High ended with a result that was better than expected. Third High did not get first despite being the favourite. Most people think this is due to the unique strategy of seventh high, while some that think that it was the shock from the first high girls using invisible bullet.

I Can Do It Alone

This short story follows Kitayama Shizuku and Chiyoda Kanon as they prepare for and compete in the Ice Pillars Break Pairs event of the 2096 Nine Schools Competition.

Spoiler
July 2096.

Preparation is being made for the Nine School's Competition, however with the introduction of new events as well as paired events, First High is just starting to practice.

Chiyoda Kanon, who was chosen as one of the representatives for Ice Pillars Break pairs, was in a bad mood. The cause is not because she has to work with someone that isn't her lover/fiance, but because of the results of her practice sessions so far.

On one side of the practice area is Miyuki, and on the other side is Kanon and Shizuku. Miyuki is participating in the solo portion of Ice Pillars Break, while Shizuku is joining Kanon in the pairs event. The outcome of the last four matches have all ended with Miyuki winning.

After each match it was Miyuki who reset the "board" and created the twenty-four columns of ice each time. To Kanon who has now watched this for the fifth time, is still amazed at how Miyuki can accomplish this. But at the same time is in a bad mood because she has also four consecutive times.

Miyuki rushes over to Tatsuya after completing the task of making the ice columns, and he tells them to get into position. Tatsuya doesn't suggest that Miyuki should take a break like Kanon though he might. The fifth match ends with Miyuki winning yet again, with none of her pillars being destroyed.

Tatsuya begins to analyze the fight and says that having Chiyoda attack and Shizuku defend shouldn't be an issue. He is working on Kanon's CAD while mentioning this to them, and this is one of the factor's for Kanon's bad mood.

Due to Tatsuya being in charge of three different groups for Ice Pillars Break, he was assigned to help with training for this event. When it comes to the main event it will be Isori adjusting Kanon's CAD, and Tatsuya is supposed to share his information that he has learned during practice with Isori for the main event.

Kanon realizes what Isori's strengths are when it comes to magic engineering. Kei is good with pure theory and implementing Engraving magic for practical use, while his adjustments with CADs isn't his best skill. However, seeing how Miyuki is acting in front of Tatsuya makes Kanon wish Isori was here more and more.

Tatsuya says that they lost due to their lack of practice as a pair. Once again, this is another reason why Kanon is in a bad mood, she can't stand Tatsuya's indifferent and disinterested attitude. When Tatsuya elaborates he says that while Shizuku was defending the ice pillars some of her magic overlapped with Kanon's magic. He tells Shizuku to reduce the number of pillars she wants to protect because having just one pillar left will still allow them to win.

As far as Miyuki was concerned it was the opposite, what she saw was that Kanon's vibration magic spread not only to her pillars but also to their own pillars. Which led Shizuku to spread her magic out further to protect their own pillars.

However, Shizuku ignores Miyuki's gaze and apologizes to Kanon. Miyuki believes that there is a mutual understanding between Tatsuya and Shizuku that this is the best course of action considering Kanon's mental state.

Shizuku moved in front of Tatsuya with a look of a puppy that wanted to be "petted". But Miyuki jumps in and ask Tatsuya for advice as well about her performance, and Tatsuya tells her that he will give her advice if she loses. And that if she loses on purpose he will scold her, but Miyuki says that would be an insult to Kanon and Shizuku.

Kanon looked on at this warming scene and with a bitter smile decides that she will put up with it.

◇ ◇ ◇

Later that night Kanon is complaining to Isori.

When Isori asks what's wrong, Kanon says that Tatsuya thinks she must be stupid. She explains how during practice that she lost five consecutive matches against Miyuki, and that it was actually her fault that both her's and Shizuku's magic overlapped. Kanon is also unhappy with the fact that Shizuku went along with it. But Isori says that Tatsuya had a different reason for this, and that is probably due to the fact that they don't have much time to prepare for this years Nine School's Competition.

Isori explains that it's not only Tatsuya but all the members of the technical team including himself are feeling the same way. He also says that Tatsuya has taken on a much bigger role this year as a technician and has the most competitors to take care of compared to the others.

Kanon seems to finally understand and says that Tatsuya must be trying to have practice move along as efficiently as possible.

Isori then looks at an electronic document, and shows it to Kanon. It was a detailed report on Kanon's measurements and progress during the practice matches, that was sent to him by Tatsuya.

While they both feel that everyone is being rushed due to the new rules and events for the Nine School's Competition, they seem to notice that Tatsuya is in even more of a rush to accomplish things. With his talent he shouldn't need to push himself that hard to create spare time, but for some reason he seems to have some need for it.

They couldn't guess the reason why.

◇ ◇ ◇

July 15th, Sunday morning.

Practice is still continuing for Ice Pillars Break, and the team of Kanon and Shizuku is still losing to Miyuki.

Kanon is still aware of the cause, due to her vibration magic, Shizuku has to devote unnecessary magical power to not only strengthen information on temperature change but also strengthen information for vibrations. For that reason they can't defend against Miyuki's magic and her interference power.

Originally Kanon is not good at controlling the range of her magic. She has practiced power, speed and stamina, however has difficulty with precision. And normally Kanon would be the better option for Ice Pillars Break solos but with Miyuki's "Inferno" and her superior magic power and speed, they had no choice but to put her in pairs.

Tatsuya proposes that they take a break, and suggests that Kanon change her mindset. He suggests that Kanon switches her mindset from what it right now to was it was last year, when she just went on an all out offensive to win without any regard for defending her own pillars.

Kanon complains and says that she has always had this mindset, but Tatsuya could tell that Kanon was conscious of hitting her own pillars and that it was distracting her. So he wants them to abandon defense for the time being until they lose the first two rows of pillars.

Tatsuya also suggest that it is time to switch up partners and to have them face off against the men's pair for Ice Pillars Break. Since they will be facing against another pair in the official competition they need to prepare effectively.

Tatsuya leaves to go consult the engineer in charge of the men's team, which happens to be Isori. Miyuki tells Kanon this and that they will most likely be switching out engineers with this new practice routine. This makes Kanon very happy.

◇ ◇ ◇

Sunday, July 22nd.

Tatsuya and Miyuki are planning to participate in Ice Pillars Break practice, with Tatsuya observing and coaching, and Miyuki setting up the ice pillars.

Honoka shows up to cheer on Shizuku. Honoka is participating in Mirage Bat this year but Tatsuya is still responsible for her CAD adjustments.

While Honoka is talking to Shizuku, Miyuki is setting up the ice pillars for the match, even though they have seen it many times now, everyone is still amazed at Miyuki's magic power and how easy she makes it look.

Honoka asks Shizuku if she has gotten used to the new tactics that Tatsuya has recommended. With a bitter smile Shizuku says that it has become easier to use her magic with this new tactic but it still bothers her a bit. Honoka guesses that Shizuku must feel uncomfortable not defending her own ice pillars. Shizuku agrees and says that she doesn't care if she wins or loses but that seeing her ice pillars being knocked down bothers her. This explanation makes Honoka laugh.

Isori calls out and asks for everyone to get into position. Honoka wishes Shizuku good luck, and asks where Chiyoda-senpai is. When Shizuku points her out, Honoka can see her clinging to Isori's arm. Honoka speaks her thoughts out loud saying that she is envious of Chiyoda-senpai.

Shizuku heads over to her platform for the match against the men's pair. There is no handicap given to either team for this match, but even so it ends with the women's pair winning consecutive matches. Kanon is very proud of her victories, and proudly shows the "V" sign for victory to Isori, but he quickly scolds her behavior.

Honoka congratulates Shizuku as they head back over to the technical team to get their CADs adjusted. The new strategy that Tatsuya has come up with along with the magic used by Kanon and Shizuku has outmatched the men's team. While the women's team is relaxing, the men's team is rushing about and making adjustments for the next match.

◇ ◇ ◇

August 5th.

It is the first day of the Nine Schools Competition. Ice Pillars Break preliminaries for the men's and women's teams will be held today, along with Row and Gunner pairs.

As Tatsuya was looking over the schedule he tells Isori that it would have troublesome if the matches overlapped. Tatsuya is responsible for Shizuku's Ice Pillars Break match and Eimi's Row and Gunner today. With the Row and Gunner match coming up first, Tatsuya headed out.

After he left, Shizuku breathed a sigh of relief, and Isori laughed when he saw this. He asked her if she felt relieved that Tatsuya would be able to handle both events today, and Shizuku says "no" while shyly looking away. However, Kanon jumps in and says that she is relieved as well that Isori will be able to handle his events as well today.

Shizuku goes on to say that since Tatsuya has adjusted the CADs beforehand that even if fine tuned adjustments needed to be made it would be fine for her and for Eimi. While this could have been interpreted as them being unsatisfied with Isori taking over, he didn't take it that way.

When Tatsuya arrived at the tent for Row and Gunner the preliminary match was already over and Tatsuya complimented the girls on their hard work. In the tent was Azusa, Eimi and Kunisaki Kumiko, who is Eimi's partner for this event.

Azusa says that it was due to the strategy and magic sequence that Tatsuya came up with that helped with their victory. Tatsuya had come up with a modified version of Invisible Bullet and combined it with Loop Cast, to create a weapon similar to a machine gun. Hattori also enters the tent and joins in the conversation just to say that this kind of mischievous tactic is something that Tatsuya would come up with.

After the Row and Gunner event, Tatsuya headed back over to the Ice Pillars Break event area. First High will be facing off against Seventh High today, and Kanon is full of spirit.

Isori asks Kanon if she is really going to be wearing that. Kanon and Shizuku are both wearing yukatas, and since Tatsuya was used to this from the previous year, he tells Shizuku that since it is cooler this year it is acceptable. Shizuku asks if it suits her, and Tatsuya says that while last years yukata looked good, this new reddish yukata looks even better.

After hearing this Isori had a pitiful look on his face, he could tell that Kanon was dissatisfied with her fiancée's initial comment.

As the spectators looked at the competitors, the Seventh High team were wearing sailor uniforms, which included a white short sleeve top and a pleated skirt that was navy blue. First High was wearing yukatas with firework patterns on them. Kanon's was a dark blue color, while Shizuku's was reddish.

As the countdown lights begin, the players prepare themselves. Magic is released instantly with Kanon striking first with Mine Genesis, the first row of ice pillars on Seventh High's side fall. Realizing that with both of their players on defense they were struggling to stop Kanon, they switched to offense and begin to cast magic on First High's pillars. However they were confused, there wasn't any resistance coming from First High on their front pillars.

Kanon continued to launch Mine Genesis against the pillars and was slowly making it through their defenses, while Seventh High kept knocking down pillars without any resistance. But when they came to the last four pillars on First High's side, they could not overcome the Data Fortification of Shizuku.

Seventh High was caught in a predicament, the Chiyoda family's Mine Genesis creates powerful oscillations that can be applied to any material such as dirt, rock, sand or cement as long as the solid matter is recognized as the "Earth's Surface". It is not something that can be completely blocked.

The final buzzer sounds after all of the ice pillars crumble on Seventh High's side. Looking up at Isori, Kanon shows him a "V" sign with a big smile on her face. Next to her Shizuku sneaks a look at Tatsuya and does the same thing.

Back in Third High's tent, Ichijou Masaki and Kichijouji Shinkurou are analyzing the events they just watched. They both agree that even if one pillar of ice is left victory is still possible and that while it is a daring strategy it is much easier to defend. Kichijouji was more surprised in the victory by First High during the Row and Gunner event, which used a modified version of his Invisible Bullet.

Kichijouji is stumbling while trying to figure out what Tatsuya did to modify his magic, along with his new strategy when Masaki begins to go into depth about the strategy. Masaki says that by narrowing down the defensive targets, they can increase the defensive power per pillar. With the risk being that while you can increase the defensive power, there are ways around Data Fortification.

What comes to mind is Miyuki's Inferno and Niflhiem. While defending all twelve pillars shouldn't be a problem for Shizuku, they guess that the issue must be with Kanon's magic and how it would clash with her defense.

Even though Kanon's magic has the risk of clashing with her teammates magic they still see it as a big threat. Kichijouji says that he has thought of a plan and will prepare it for tomorrows match.

While the girls from Third High admire him and show confidence, one of the guys is anxious. Masaki asks if Kichijouji will be okay since he has to participate in the Row and Gunner event tomorrow as well. But Kichijouji tells him not to worry.

◇ ◇ ◇

August 7th.

Today is the day of the women's Ice Pillars Break pairs finals, with First High competing against Third High. Early in the morning the men's pair from Third High won first place in Ice Pillars Break, and First High's men's pair for Shield Down won first place as well.

Isori tells Kanon that they must win this match, and Kanon is especially fired up. Tatsuya is going over the strategy again and not much has changed from what they were previously doing, however this time Tatsuya hands Shizuku a short-type pistol CAD. He tells her to keep it hidden, this is the same device equipped with Phonon Maser that Shizuku used in her first year of the Nine School's Competition.

Tatsuya explains that while he doesn't doubt that Kanon will be able to knock down every pillar, the problem would be if they were delayed for an extended period of time. Tatsuya also says that he believes that Kichijouji will have a counter strategy to their normal tactics. Although Kanon understands this, she is still irritated that he thinks she might not be able to accomplish the offensive on her own.

Kanon and Shizuku appear on stage wearing the same yukatas as in their previous matches, while Third High is wearing military looking costumes. Isori comments that Third High seems pretty confident and wonder if they can exceed the expectations of Tatsuya.

[Illustration Page 163]

As the countdown ends, pillars on both sides begin to fall one after another. However the pillars on Third High's side are falling much faster than on First High's side.

In the Third High tent there are some surprised reactions but Kichijouji says that this was in their range of expectations. Third High is using a combination of Vibration magic, Heating magic, and Weight-type magic to overwhelm Shizuku's Data Fortification.

But even with this strategy going for them, the pillars on Third High's side are still falling faster. They were down to two pillars when their last pillar suddenly floated up in the air, but while it looked like it was floating one corner of the pillar was still touching the ground.

The rules in Ice Pillars Break state that you can't lift your own pillar into the air, but if one point of the pillar is still touching the ground it is allowable.

Kanon's Mine Genesis can't completely effect the pillar in this condition since the face of the pillar is off the ground. Isori says that it looks like Tatsuya was right and that this might be a problem for Kanon. But at that same time Shizuku reaches into sleeve and draws her pistol-type CAD.

The activation sequence stored within this device is for Phonon Maser but it has been improved since last year. It no longer fires from the tip of the gun and can now be fired at any angle that Shizuku wants.

Shizuku aims for the side opposite of the part of the pillar that is touching the ground. If she had hit it from the front it would just fall back into an upright position. After hitting the pillar with Phonon Maser, it crashes down and the buzzer sounds the end of the match.

Kichijouji is standing there watching the screen with a stunned expression on his face, Masaki speaks to him but Kichijouji immediately rushes out of the tent.

Kanon and Shizuku show up in the waiting room with Kanon giving her usual smile and "V" sign to Isori. Shizuku also joins in with her and does the same thing.

At the end of the day, Third High is still leading in overall points, but this Ice Pillars Break confrontation was seen as sign that the tides had turned to favor First High.

Mission to Draw Attention

This short story follows the Kuroba twins as they attempt to draw attention away from the Shiba siblings by performing exceptionally in the 2096 Nine Schools Competition.

Spoiler
Chapter 1

The story starts at July 22, 2096 (Sunday).

Kuroba twins are visiting Maya in order to report about Kudo Retsu's Parasite Doll project because Mitsugu is busy with another mission.

Maya is satisfied with the report and asked them about upcoming 9SC. Kuroba twins tells Maya that they will participate in the newcomers' division (only 1st years). Maya asks them why they are not participating the main division especially when they are from Fourth High school. (Personal Note: Maya may be thinking Fourth High School does not have talented students such as Saegusa, Ichijou, or Juumonji, so Kuroba twins should be able to participate in the official division.) Kuroba twins answer that they are only participating the newcomers' division in order to avoid unnecessary attention. It also means, there were talks about using them at the official division in Fourth High School, but Ayako managed to stop it before it happened.

Maya tells Kuroba twins that they do not have to hold back. They are curious about Maya's intention because it may attract too much attention. Before they ask any questions, Maya also says, once Kuroba twins perform with their full strength, they should gain attention as much as Tatsuya and Miyuki during the last year's 9SC. After they hear Maya's words, they realize Maya's true intention; Maya expects Saegusa twins, the eldest son of Shippo, and Kuroba twins who may be related to Yotsuba to gain attentions that may go to Tatsuya and Miyuki. Ayako worries, this may interfere with their works in the future, but Maya tells them not to worry about such thing and do their best.

◇ ◇ ◇

After the meeting, Maya orders Hayama to connect with Mitsugu. Mitsugu answers the phone right away because he cannot ignore Maya's phone calls. Mitsugu answers Maya dramatically. (Personal Note: just like previous volume, he answers the phone by saying Oh! beautiful cousin). After hearing Mitsugu's flattering, Maya cut to the point and said, she understands, Mitsugu may be unhappy with the order, but she thinks, it may benefit them; she believes, Kuroba twins' talents shouldn't be used only as a spy.

Mitsugu normally does not object (rebel) against Maya's order, but since he knows, this mission is set up for that specific person, he does not wish to accept it. (Personal Note: that specific person is Tatsuya) However, Maya also says, she wishes twins to perform jobs besides spying while Maya is working as the head of Yotsuba clan. Once Maya used the authority as Yotsuba's head, Mitsugu cannot talk back to Maya. Maya finishes the conversation by saying that she expects certain level of disregards, but she hopes for Mitsugu to get this job done. Mitsugu replies by saying that there will not be any regards towards Maya's command, and everything will be done.

Maya and Hayama are continuing the conversation. Maya assumes, Mitsugu may not follow her order. (Personal Note: Hayama uses the words, "sabotaging the mission".) Maya states, she does not believe Mitsugu will rebel against Maya, but she assumes, he may not pursue this mission objective. Maya orders Hayama to observe Mitsugu's progress with mission, and if the rumor regarding Kuroba's relationship with Yotsuba is not spreading as fast as it should be, Maya orders Hayama to report back to her.

Unlike Maya, Hayama supports Kuroba's opinion about spreading rumors. He thinks, it may interfere with Kuroba's work because in many occasions, Kuroba Mitsugu is not using alias during the mission. Maya answers to Hayama by saying that everything is under her calculation. According to her, they have been relying on Mitsugu too much, and she also thinks, other minor families should participate in jobs. Otherwise, they may become dull (or, lose their edge as a magician) In truth, she worries about the power balance of Yotsuba when it only relies on Kuroba family.

◇ ◇ ◇

The scene changes back to Kuroba twins. They are discussing what kind of magic that they should use for 9SC. Fumiya decide to go with mixing phantom blow and direct pain. And, Ayako decides to go with mixing movement magic and inertia neutralization magic. (Personal Note: I skipped the explanation part that explains why they decide to use Phantom blow & direct pain and mock teleportation & inertia neutralization. In short, Fumiya needs to use Phantom blow in order to hide his direct pain. Even if a person gets hit by direct pain, he/she should feel getting hit by phantom blow. For Ayako, she cannot simply use her mock teleportation because if she creates a vacuum to teleport herself or her teammate, it may interfere with other players, so she cannot use it. So, Fumiya advises Ayako not to use diffusion; it may have additional resistance from air unlike when she uses diffusion magic, but Fumiya believes even without Ayako's diffusion magic her movement magic and inertia neutralization magic cannot be compared with any high school students including Miyuki.)

◇ ◇ ◇

Fourth High School was established shortly after Third High School, mainly because they wanted to emphasize high technical skill rather than the battle-orientated style of Third High.

However, this didn't mean that Fourth High School students were inferior to the other schools when it came to combat.

While at school Ayako seeks out Naruse Harumi, who is a 3rd Year student and he is also an engineer for the upcoming Nine Schools Competition. She asks for help on how to modify her mock teleportation so that it can be used in the competition. Harumi was very excited to work with a pretty girl like Ayako.

Naruse Harumi is Shizuku's cousin, his aunt Kitayama Benio was a female combat magician. Harumi's practical scores were ranked among the top in his class so he will be participating in Nine Schools Competition, but he is also very interested and skilled in magic engineering and volunteers to help out First Year students.

Fumiya was also seeking help for his upcoming events but was having much more trouble than Ayako. Fumiya is a boy but can very easily pass for cute girl with the right clothing. He hasn't grown much and his limbs don't grow any thicker regardless of his intense training. Which leads to his female upperclassmen to treat him like a mascot. Fumiya is aiming to be a cool and dependable man like Tatsuya and he is unwillingly to let them treat him like that.

Ayako and Fumiya are slowly starting to raise their "distinctiveness" with Fourth High.

◇ ◇ ◇

As the Nine Schools Competition was drawing closer, there were strange rumors starting to be spread about magicians living in the Tokai region.

The Ten Master Clans's Yotsuba family, one of the most powerful group of magicians in the world. They are also regarded to be one of the most influential families in Japan, headed by Yotsuba Maya. However, their base is unknown and all of it's members are shrouded in mystery other than Yotsuba Maya herself.

Information was beginning to spread of a family that was apart of the Yotsuba family called "Kuroba". Only this name was known, and nobody knew any other details besides that.

"Kuroba-san are you related to the Yotsuba?"

Naruse Harumi who had just begun adjusting Ayako's CAD asked a sudden question. The students around them suddenly stopped working and perked up their ears. Ayako denied Harumi's question, while Maya said that it was okay to draw attention to themselves they are not allowed to reveal their connection to the Yotsuba.

Harumi goes on to say that her magic is comparable to that of the Ten Master Clans already. Ayako says that she is honored to hear such praise, and that it would be wonderful to be a magician like Naruse Benio who was also comparable to the Ten Master Clans.

All the way through her conversation Ayako never let her expression slip or show that anything was out of the ordinary, so Harumi went back to working on her CAD.

Even though Ayako had lowered the suspicion from her classmates, it didn't stop the rumors from spreading that the Kuroba were apart of the Yotsuba family.

As Fumiya and Ayako were walking home, they picked up yet another person following them. After leaving school late due to the Nine Schools Competition practice they immediately noticed the tail, it had happened the past three days in a row. Today they guessed that it was a member of the media due to the sloppy nature of their surveillance.

Fumiya and Ayako begin to run towards the nearest station, but they underestimated the tenacity of the reporters. Even though they were now at the station, the reporters were still closing in on them. With a single glance at each other they knew what to do next, and begin to run again. They act as if they are out of breath, and they rush towards a nearby police station.

This isn't your police station, it is just a small manned station. These stations are slowly being removed due to the increased amount of street cameras. Luckily for Fumiya and Ayako this station was still manned and even had a former OB of Fourth High there as well. While this man is unsure as to why they are running away from anyone since they're magicians, but after taking a look at Ayako's and Fumiya's appearance he understood.

Ayako tells the policeman that an unknown person is following them, and the policeman told them that he will take care of it. Ayako and Fumiya could hear in the distance that the policeman and the reporter were arguing. The reporter tries to state that he has "freedom of press", however the policeman says that the kids are minors, and says that Fumiya is young boy and Ayako is a beautiful girl. With the reporters being middle-aged men and with eye witnesses coming up to the policeman, the reporters knew they were in a disadvantageous position and decide to leave.


Chapter 2

Night of August 2nd.

Fumiya and Ayako were given new orders from Maya. They were told to introduce themselves to Tatsuya at the Nine School's Competition.

While this wasn't considered difficult or hard to understand, but they would need to create a situation that looked natural to bystanders. While Fumiya was thinking about it, Ayako says that she will take care of it. Seeing Ayako's confident attitude, he didn't question her response. Fumiya knows that while on the outside Ayako acts like a carefree girl, she is quite serious, intelligent and responsible.

Fumiya changes the subject and asks Ayako about Mirage Bat and whether or not her magic will be completed. Ayako had a troubled look on her face and said that it hasn't been completed yet. Ayako asks about Fumiya's magic and whether or not he has found a magic that will work with Direct Pain, to which he responds yes. The two of them continue to talk about what they should bring tomorrow to the Nine School's Competition.

◇ ◇ ◇

The day before the Nine School's Competition, the students from Fourth High were gathering at the hotel.

Among the group of the students, Ayako was quite conspicuous, which cannot be helped. Magicians tend to have better looks than most people but Ayako's appearance is drawing the attention of everyone that passes by. Students from other schools are also looking for opportunity to speak with her.

Ayako is not looking to stand out any more than she already is and starts to walk towards Harumi. Harumi was surprised to see Ayako approach him and asks if he can help her with anything. Ayako apologizes and with a smile says that she found out that he has relatives in First High. Harumi says that his cousin goes to First High.

Harumi is starting to get looks from both the boys and girls. He isn't very popular, he is a promising magician and is related to a very wealthy family. However, his character and personality tended to make girls shy away from him. Most of the girls were wondering why Ayako is interacting with him.

Ayako mentions that there is someone from First High that she would like to meet. When Harumi asked she said that it was Shiba Tatsuya. Harumi knew of Tatsuya, especially after the his performance last year with his engineering skills. Harumi asked if Ayako was a fan of Tatsuya's and he didn't ask her in a way that made it seem like he was jealous, he naturally thought that it is inevitable for some people to admire Tatsuya.

Ayako says that she isn't a fan of Tatsuya but that Fumiya is. Harumi says that he will go speak with Shizuku, and as he walked over towards her, he noticed that Tatsuya was talking to the "Prince" and "Cardinal".

Harumi greets Shizuku and tells her that his juniors would like to meet Shiba Tatsuya. He looks back towards Ayako and Fumiya as they slowly bow towards her. Shizuku is a little confused and confirms that they want to meet Tatsuya and not Miyuki. Harumi says that Fourth High is known for their magic engineering after all.

Shizuku heads over to Miyuki, and they quickly bring Tatsuya over. Harumi introduces himself and apologizes for interrupting his conversation but Tatsuya says that he was already wrapping up the conversation with Masaki. When Tatsuya said this Harumi felt the tension relax and his opinion of Tatsuya had changed quickly. He could see why the Kuroba siblings would be interested in him.

Harumi leads them over to Ayako and Miyuki.

◇ ◇ ◇

Later that night, Fumiya and Ayako met up with each other at the hotel's garden outside. They were each wearing dark clothes, and after greeting each other they started walking.

Ayako activated Perfect Diffusion and their figures blended into the darkness of the night.

The orders that were given to Fumiya and Ayako from Maya was to "stand out" at the Nine School's Competition, and to make contact with Tatsuya. They didn't have orders to investigate the parasite situation while at the Nine School's Competition, but since they had been involved with this mission since the beginning, they had no intention of stopping just because of their school event.

They were here to survey the site of the Steeplechase event, where the parasite test was to be conducted. They don't know exactly how many parasites will be participating in this test or if there are plans to stop the test, but they guess that this will be left to Tatsuya.

As they were about to enter the Steeplechase area, they came to a stop. Fumiya asks Ayako what she thinks and she says that the placement of the active sensors is too dense and there is no way for her to get through.

Ayako's Perfect Diffusion is a magic that diffuses and levels electromagnetic waves, sound waves, and air currents. Because of its characteristics, Ayako is sensitive to the bias of electromagnetic waves and sound waves emitted in the air. There is no sensitivity to perceive up to the fluctuation of the light waves before fruition as faint visible light, but already existing distribution can be felt in a very wide range. The Steeplechase course is a four kilometre square but this is still within her detection range. (However, immovable solids can not be perceived)

Ayako says that if it was only the passive sensors that she wouldn't have an issue. Passive sensors only sense electromagnetic waves and sound waves emitted by intruders. The active sensors however would recognize that the levelling out of infrared rays and ultrasonic waves as abnormal.

While they discuss the possibilities of forcing there way onto the course, they decide against it.

Just then someone called out their names from the darkness. Ayako panicked as Fumiya greeted Tatsuya as he approached, and she was very upset that Tatsuya scared her.

They discuss the course and the security, Tatsuya asks if Ayako could break through but she lowers her head slightly ashamed of herself. Fumiya changes the subject and asks if they should try together to go view the course, but Yakumo shows up next and agrees with Tatsuya that they shouldn't force their way onto the course.

When Yakumo mentions that there isn't anything "special" on the course, everyone was surprised especially Ayako that he was able to get onto the course.

After Yakumo left, Tatsuya turned to face Fumiya and Ayako. He tells them that this mission will be handled by him and that they should concentrate on the Nine School's Competition. While their stance as a Kuroba magician believes that this is an unacceptable request, but since it's Tatsuya they accept it.


Chapter 3

August 11th, it is the seventh day of the Nine School's Competition, and the third day of the Newcomers battle. Today's competitions include the men's Monolith Code and the women's Mirage Bat, so it is finally Fumiya and Ayako's turn.

The twins meet up first thing in the morning, and discuss the upcoming matches for today. Ayako really wanted to face off against the Saegusa twins, but Fumiya reminded her that they are in Row and Gunner, and Ice Pillars Break. Fumiya questions if she really wanted to go against them that bad, but Ayako says that she could have really made a statement by beating them (since it was now part of her mission).

This year it wasn't out of place to not bring your teams ace to compete in Mirage Bat because of the new events involving pairs were worth more points than Mirage Bat. Fumiya guesses that Tatsuya is behind this and didn't want the Saegusa twins to face off against Ayako in Mirage Bat.

Fumiya continued to explain that her Mock Teleportation would easily be faster than flight magic, and Ayako agreed to this. Ayako believes that Tatsuya is the smartest person in Japan, she also feels that Fumiya is also one of the smartest magicians here.

The twins feel the need to meet Tatsuya's expectations and to win in an overwhelming manner in order to show how correct he is.

◇ ◇ ◇

Ayako ended up winning the preliminary round of Mirage Bat with an overwhelming difference between the person in second place. Ayako was now moving onto the finals of the Mirage Bat event, as the final round started Ayako was running up the score.

Tatsuya looked on at Ayako and knew that this was going to happen, the participant from First High was likely to finish in second place.

A little away from Tatsuya, a conversion is being held between Izumi and Kasumi. Kasumi asks what Izumi thinks of Ayako and Izumi says that she would not be able to beat her. Kasumi also says that she wouldn't be able to beat her as well.

Kasumi was a little shaken up by this, and Izumi asks her what's wrong, and she says that it seemed that Shiba-senpai knew it would be like this. Kasumi wonders how exactly he knew about Ayako's skills, and Izumi questions if she believes that Tatsuya knew that girl before the Nine School's Competition.

Izumi tries to deny it and says that it is unlikely that Tatsuya knew of her until arriving her at the Nine School's Competition. Kasumi throws out a hypothesis and asks what if it wasn't a coincidence that Tatsuya knew about Ayako's abilities. Izumi asks if Kasumi is referring to the rumor surrounding the Kuroba and how they are related to the Yotsuba.

While they are watching Ayako, they notice that she is using Mock Teleportation, but are surprised at the control she has over it. Normally this pseudo instantaneous movement would be a violation of the rules since it would hinder the other players movements. They both believe that Ayako's magic is just as powerful as those from the Hundred Families and the Saegusa family, which leads them to believe they might really be related to the Yotsuba family.

Izumi was deep in thought.

(Magic that is comparable to those from the Ten Master Clans)

(Similar to Miyuki-senpai)

(Miyuki-senpai's magic is obviously above us)

(Someone who's magic power exceeds that of the Saegusa family.... that is only the Yotsuba family)

(No..... such a thing, it cannot be that Miyuki-senpai is a magician from the Yotsuba family...)

Kasumi asks Izumi what's wrong, and she says it's nothing. Kasumi mentions that she has noticed another auspicious guy and when Izumi asks, she says that there is a male student from Fourth High with the name Kuroba as well and that he will be in Monolith Code.

"If that man is also related to the Yotsuba...."

"There will be trouble for us in tomorrow's Monolith Code event...."

The Saegusa twins faced each other and seemed to arrive at the same conclusion.

◇ ◇ ◇

Sunday, August 12th. The eighth day of the Nine School's Competition, and the fourth day of the Newcomers Battle.

Despite everyone's prediction it's First High and Fourth High with six wins and zero losses. It was expected that Third High would be the ones to make it to the final round, but they had an unexpected defeat against Fourth High.

Takuma Shippo is sitting down with his teammates Senkawa and Kajiwara. They decide to not change their formation and continue with what they have done with the past rounds. Shippo has been the main reason for their success so far by playing the defending role, he has successfully taken out every opponent that has approached.

There were bad rumors going on about Shippo before the Nine School's Competition, due to his arrogance and impatience, but he had a change of attitude at the end of April.

They begin to talk about their upcoming opponents and Shippo says that the issue with Fourth High is their vanguard (aka Fumiya). He says that it will be difficult for him to win against such an opponent. When Shippo says this they all immediately think about the rumor that the Kuroba are related to the Yotsuba.

Shippo's strategy is to have himself face off against Fumiya. He tells his teammates to avoid facing him and to go for the other two players from Fourth High, and if Fumiya does go after them they should retreat back to him.

The setting for the final match of Monolith Code is the rock stage. When the buzzer sounded for the start of the match, a player from Fourth High rushed forth like a gale of wind. He was using the rocks as cover as he quickly jumped from one to the other. And before they knew it Senkawa was knocked out by the enemy attack.

Shippo was startled by the magic used by Fumiya, while on the surface it looked like Phantom Blow, it was much too powerful and seemed to give it's opponent pain through hallucinations. Shippo told Kajiwara to fall back, however a shower of stone gravel falls between him and Kajiwara.

While Shippo told Kajiwara to fall back he decided to endure the oncoming shower of stones. Kajiwara has the ability to shield himself from such an attack but suddenly the attack using stones stopped, and Kajiwara was hit with a hallucination of pain. A small person was approaching him, and he tried to release some counter-magic against Fumiya. But another wave of pain hit him, and he lost consciousness.

Shippo's analysis of the fight was correct, but given the stage and ability of Fumiya his plan completely failed.

As Fumiya approached him Shippo prepared sixteen air bullets right in front of him and launched them towards Fumiya. Fumiya didn't defend himself with a barrier and instead just evaded the attack. Next Takuma prepared eight thin disk shaped air bullets and sent them towards Fumiya, but Fumiya once again jumps out of the way and hides behind a rock. While he was jumping towards the rock he had a specialized CAD out and Shippo was hit the hallucination of pain in his right arm.

Fumiya once again jumped from one boulder to another and this time Shippo felt pain in his right thigh. Shippo tries again to attack with another air bullet attack, but Fumiya evades it again. Shippo can't believe what's happening, the way Fumiya is evading the attacks is not something that he has seen before.

[Illustration Page 238]

Pain once again runs through Shippo's body, pain with scratches. Shippo tries to prepare a barrier to withstand the painful hallucination but it is ineffective, and he wonders how powerful his Phantom Blow magic really is. Shippo once again endures the pain and prepares a barrage of air bullets but Fumiya is ready for him. Pain strikes at Shippo's stomach this time, and at the same time Shippo prepares a magic attack called Stone Shower. But before he could complete the spell his mind goes blank from the pain, and he falls backwards as the stones all fall back down to the ground as well.

The buzzer sounds and Fourth High is the winner of the Newcomers Battle Monolith Code match.

◇ ◇ ◇

Fourth High won both the Newcomers Monolith Code event as well as the Mirage Bat event. With Kuroba Fumiya and Kuroba Ayako as the two leading figures, they left a deep impression for the audience members who watched their events. The overwhelming scores they produced were recorded.

Temptation of a Rose

This short stort follows Chiba Erika and Saijou Leonhard after a death of one of Erika's distant relatives has unexpected consequences. ‎

Spoiler
June 2096.

A certain man's death sent waves to the international business world.

Although the market size is relatively small, magic engineering products have become the utmost importance to the military. Bastian Rozen, the former president of Germany's Rosen Magicraft took his last breath.

He was 96 years old and died from natural causes.

◇ ◇ ◇

Rosen Magicraft is currently competing in sales for the top position in the world with the USNA's Maximilien Device company. In the newly established Japan branch of Rosen Magicraft, Ernst Rosen is watching some recorded videos from the previous years Nine School's Competition.

Ernst is watching the Monolith Code competition and is closely watching a certain boy wearing a mantle, who swings around a weapon that looks like a sword. While this weapon would normally be the center of attention to most viewers, he is still closely watching the boy. Just then the boy was blown away from a magic attack, and after a short while the boy suddenly stood up.

This would normally be impossible, this boy was blown away nearly one meter, and should have sustained heavy damage. But his current movements suggest otherwise. The boy then throws his cloak, it takes a solid form as it flies through the air. It protects his teammate from the oncoming earth and sand attack, and the boy then attacks with his sword once again and 1st High ends up winning the match.

Ernst comments that no matter how many times he watches it, that it is unmistakable that the grandchild of Georg has inherited the "First Type" ability of Burg Folge. He was also annoyed that this information was only now just given to him since he became the head of the Japan branch.

The "First Type" ability of Burg Folge was genetically added to a few magicians and one of them in particular was called Georg Ostburg, who fled to Japan fifty years ago. However, the German military officials judged that since all the other "First Types" had died prematurely due to Burg Forge, so they decided that there was no reason to pursue him.

Ernst could easily tell that Leo has the features of Burg Folge, which is product of Rosen Magicraft, and believes that it should be recovered. The only question was how to acquire this boy.

He had called for an investigation to be conducted on Saijou Leonhart, and was currently looking over the documents. From what he had read through, it just seemed that Leo was living a normal high school life.

Ernst had thought of forcibly bringing Leo to Germany, but magicians were strictly restricted when it came to leaving the country. The Japanese government would be even more strict when it came to the Rosen Magicraft company moving products or magicians between Germany and Japan. So he would need Leo's cooperation in order to accomplish this.

Ernst Rosen was sent to Japan shortly after the release of Flight-type magic by Japan's FLT company. His goal was to figure out how they realized the impossible and to learn of the identity of Taurus Silver. The identity of Taurus Silver is a well kept secret, and the information surrounding this magic engineer is amazingly powerful and clever. This mission was given top priority from Rosen's management, however with the discovery of Saijou Leonhart, he was forced to change his priorities.

Germany was one of the earliest countries in the world to establish manufacturing technology involving magic engineering. As a pioneer in this field there was a lot of trial and error experimentation, which tended to viewed as inhumane.

While the subjects weren't broken physically, they would often end up mentally broken. With half of the subjects committing suicide, and the other half going insane. And while the "First Type" series was the most powerful, the "Second Type" and "Third Type" of Burg Folge were much more stable.

Therefore, Saijou Leonhart who doesn't show any signs of mental deterioration, and has the "First Type" series is considered a very valuable subject.

Ernst decides that further investigation is needed before he approaches Leo. In his hand is an invitation to the upcoming Nine School's Competition, which would be the perfect opportunity for him.

◇ ◇ ◇

August 4th 2096.

The Nine Schools Competition will be starting tomorrow.

Leo is participating as a practice partner for the new Shield Down event, and is considered part of the staff. With these new events being put into practice, many students are looking to prove themselves as combat magicians. Magic is considered a military power, so this undeniable fact of magicians becoming weapons is well known.

Leo believes that regardless of the change in events, magicians are quick to adapt to the appropriate situation. Leo has decided that he doesn't want to be a soldier, but believes that Erika will want to become one. He doesn't think he is suitable for the military and is interested in joining the Riot Police or the Mountain Corpsman.

Leo isn't afraid of fighting but he also doesn't want fighting to become the only thing he knows. He also knows that a quarter of his genes have been modified to help him become a weapon, but he doesn't want to be tied down by his genetics.

Ernst Rosen was in the lobby of the hotel when Leo entered the hotel. He immediately recognized him from the previous recordings of the Nine School's Competition. Ernst also recognized Shiba Tatsuya, he was also another one that Ernst wanted to scout, especially after the Stellar Furnace experiment in April.

Even though this would be a good opportunity to introduce himself, he held back. Not because of Miyuki, Honoka, or Shizuku but because of Erika.

Anna Rosen Katori. She was Ernst's cousin and the mother of Chiba Erika. Erika is counted as one of the main members of the Rosen family, and is another objective for Ernst. However, he knows that dealing with Erika could be troublesome and will require some delicate handling. Regardless of Leo, he wants to avoid contact with Erika in front of Shiba Tatsuya.

◇ ◇ ◇

August 5th.

Ernst is eating breakfast, and he hands a sealed letter to a female secretary. It is an invitation card for Chiba Erika, and after the secretary leaves the room, Ernst sighs.

Finding out the identity of Taurus Silver and trying to recruit Saijou Leonhard are both jobs that he looks forward to accomplishing. On the other hand the job of trying to approach and convince Chiba Erika to join the Rosen family is a much more troublesome task.

At first Ernst had no intention of approaching Erika, but she does deserve the right to inherit a portion of the legacy of the Rosen's. While Ernst finds it troublesome to have to deal with family matters like this, it is also something that he can't ignore.

◇ ◇ ◇

Ernst was surprised to find out that Erika had accepted his invitation to meet with him. He was expecting her to stubbornly refuse.

Ernst was waiting in the lobby for Erika but he didn't want to give the impression that he was "waiting" on her either. Luckily, Leo happened to be walking through the lobby, so Ernst called out to him.

When Ernst called out Leo, he turned around and immediately knew who it was. Leo had known who is it from the news program that happened after the Stellar Furnace experiment. Leo asks Ernst want he wants and also tells him that he isn't a magic engineer like Tatsuya.

Ernst tells Leo that he would like to recruit him, and Leo says that he has no magic engineering skills to boast about. Leo has a good opinion of Ernst right now, he had helped with the anti-magician moved with his interview of the Stellar Furnace experiment. Rosen Magicraft is one of the leading manufacturers of CAD products, and can't be said to be an enemy of magicians. But they are a German company, and they may have plenty of reasons to have an abrasive attitude towards Japan's magicians.

Ernst goes on to mention Leo's grandfather and that he has some stories to tell him. Leo was pretty happy to hear that, but he couldn't break off his previous appointment with a friend.

Just then Erika arrived and slapped Leo on the back. She was accompanied by the secretary that Ernst had sent to deliver the invitation to Erika. She asks Leo what he is doing here, and had her usual spiky attitude.

Ernst teases Erika a bit and asks if she is dating Leo, to which she says that if he continues with that kind of attitude she will leave right now.

The female secretary gets up to leave followed by Ernst and Erika, and Leo is called to come along as well. Leo isn't coming along because he is worried about Erika but because he is interested in what Ernst knows about his grandfather.

As Leo sits down on a couch in the hotel room, Ernst tells him that he saw last year's Monolith Code match. Leo just answers with a simple yes, due to the fact that Erika is sitting next to him and is still in a terrible mood. She is unconsciously showing slight bits of murderous intent, Leo isn't frightened by this but is uneasy about it considering the current company.

Ernst asks Leo if he is participating in this years Nine School's Competition, but he says he won't be. Ernst goes on to say that it is surprising considering his magic is very practical for Monolith Code. Leo smiled, due to the fact that he could tell why Ernst would say that.

At this time Erika is taken to another room by the female secretary for business negotiations. As she leaves Leo is staring at Ernst, looking for an answer to his question of what her connection is to Rosen. Normally if this was Tatsuya, he wouldn't care, but Leo is different.

Ernst directs the conversation in another direction by saying that the story about his grandfather will be far more interesting. Leo agrees and reminds himself that he shouldn't involve himself in Erika's situation.

Ernst asks Leo how much he knows about his grandfather, along with his magic abilities and physical prowess. Leo says that he knows that he was a magician modified with emphasis on strengthening the body rather than magic skills. Leo also says that this method has a high fail rate with most individuals self-destructing.

Ernst tells him that Burg Folge isn't defective work, and says that the "First Model" was only destroyed in battle and never self-destructed. Leo says that his grandfather told him that they all the "First Models" died except for himself. Ernst also says that his grandfather deserted just before enlistment by the German government.

Ernst explains that Rosen Magicraft was the one that produced Burg Folge. Leo questions whether the military made it, but Ernst says that while the idea came from a military scientist, it was the Rosen company that developed it.

Ernst goes on to say that his grandfather was an usual, cheerful and friendly person and that Lucas had a close relationship with him. Leo asks if he helped him escape to Japan, and Ernst says yes but with the agreement that he would not cooperate with any other country.

Leo understands that Ernst had helped out his grandfather and was grateful but still does not fully trust Ernst. Ernst goes on to say that it is regrettable that all the "First Types" have died except for Georg, and Leo can't see any lies in this statement. Ernst says that his family is deeply involved in the magic community and that there are things that he can't decide on his own. Leo understands this, but on a much smaller scale considering the size of his family.

Ernst says that he would like to recruit Leo, and Leo asks if he means as a "laboratory experiment". Leo is well aware of the way that magicians are treated and used, but Ernst says that they no longer partake in barbaric things such as human experiments. Leo says that they used to, and Ernst doesn't deny it but also says that they weren't the only ones to do that.

Ernst explains that he would like Leo to help train new recruits. When Leo questions this, Ernst explains that it would be similar to how a magic skill development program would work at a Magic High School. Leo says that he isn't an instructor and is still a high school student and a poor one at that.

Ernst says that his progress is slow because the curriculum at First High isn't suited to fit his style, and that Burg Folge is specialized for close combat. He also says that the Rosen company already has a great program in place for this type of fighting style.

Leo is confused at Ernst's proposal, especially since it would be as an instructor and not as a combat magician. Leo isn't dull or stupid but he can't see how he would be useful as an instructor. He thinks that if Tatsuya was here that he would arrive at the conclusion of what Ernst was really trying to get out of this deal.

Ernst promises that he will be treated well, and that he will personally oversee that he is given a good position within the company. But Leo says that while it sounds like a great deal, he can't accept it. Leo says that he isn't dissatisfied with his current life and that he can't see himself abandoning Japan for another country.

Ernst says that while it would be a foreign country to Leo, there are companions there that need his help. Leo questions whether Ernst is still creating magicians similar to his grandfather, and Ernst confirms that they still are and that this project wasn't something that they could abandon.

Ernst explains that they have developed the project to the point where the procedure is no longer life threatening but that they would never surpass the "First Type" this way. Leo's hands were trembling when he heard this, even though he heard that it was reduced performance to increase survival rate, it was still human experimentation to Leo.

Ernst could tell that Leo was angry but wasn't discouraged by this, he then asks Leo if he would like to join the Rosen family. Without waiting for his reply, Ernst goes on to explain his relationship with Erika.

Ernst says that Erika is the grandchild of Lucas Rosen and the great grandchild of Bastian Rosen. Leo was surprised to hear this, it had a greater impact on him than when he was told that Burg Folge was still being produced.

Erika was asked by the Rosen family if she wanted to keep her rights and connections to their family. But Erika has chosen to sign a form of renunciation, which will make it so she has no rights to claim anything that belongs to the Rosen family. However Ernst says that if Leo wants to join the Rosen family that they could arrange for him to marry Erika.

Leo was upset, he thinks of Erika as a close friend and couldn't hold back his anger about using her that way. But Ernst continues to say that he doesn't need to act this way, and that this way he could build blood ties with the Rosen family by having a child with Erika. He says that Erika is beautiful and that this shouldn't be an issue for Leo. (Ernst is purposely trying to anger Leo right now)

Leo kicks the table that is in-between him and Ernst which rolls into the wall. He then moves towards Ernst and throws back his right hand. Ernst acts with a surprisingly fast speed, but it wasn't fast enough to evade the punch coming towards him. However, a barrier forms right in front of Ernst's face, but even with this barrier the force that is dispersed by the punch makes a loud noise.

Leo asks if he is a magician, to which Ernst says that he is a "Third Rate" one.

The female secretary bursts into the room followed by Erika and asks what happened. Ernst says that it's fine and nothing happened, while the secretary knows this isn't true she doesn't say anything else. Erika asks what Leo did, but he says he didn't do anything. Erika could tell what had happened between Leo and Ernst without being told but asked anyway.

Erika says that if they need anymore formal documents signed to send them over to her house and she will sign them, and that they no longer need to come see her in person. Erika turns her back to Ernst and leaves with Leo following behind her.

◇ ◇ ◇

After everyone left the room Ernst left the cleanup to an employee from his Japanese branch office. His interview with Leo was unpleasant but it is something to be expected when it comes to business.

Ernst pours himself some whiskey and begins to think back on the history of this whole situation. His thoughts go back to Erika's grandfather Lucas Rosen.

He considers Lucas a stain on the his family's name, a sneaky fugitive and shallow person. Lucas trampled over the obligations and credibility of the Rosen family when he selfishly eloped with a Japanese women named Katori.

Because Lucas abandoned his fiancee for a Japanese women, the Rosen family had a sense of shame in the social circle of Europe. It even hurt them to the point that the USNA's Maximilian company took a stronger hold of the European market.

It also made it harder for them to enter the Japanese market place, due to the German government wondering if more of them would immigrate to Japan.

The contents of Ernst's story to Leo wasn't completely true. The Rosen company didn't willingly release Georg, and they never forgave his exile to Japan. But it was Lucas Rosen that had helped Georg's asylum.

As Lucas traveled the USNA, Georg was elected as his bodyguard. Although he was a 14 year old boy, he was allowed to travel there and since there were regional conflicts (that would eventually lead up to the Third World War), it was only natural to nominate Burg Folge which was considered the strongest soldier in melee combat.

But this was part of Lucas' strategy and had Georg escape to Japan. It was a year later before they confirmed that Georg was alive and living in Japan. At this time regional warfare had begun in the world, so it was impossible to force Georg to return from Japan with the current procedures required.

When the truth of Georg's escape was revealed, Lucas was removed as an eligible candidate of inheriting the Rosen family. However, this hurt the Rosen family because Lucas was considered the most gifted of the family since Bastian.

Ernst's thoughts now turn to Leo, and he begins to analyze the events that happened. He was able to confirm Leo's power to an extent, the fact that Leo could break through a barrier that neutralizes kinetic energy with arm power alone.

Even though Ernst's magic power is considered "third rate" he was able to block Leo's fist and the answer to his trick is his new CAD. It is a completely thought operated CAD, the newest model that Rosen has begun to commercialize to the world. Due to the speed of the thought operated CAD he was able to bring up a barrier in time.

However, even if the speed is increased, the interference strength can only match the ability of the magician. Ernst had intended to turn Leo's "punch" into a "push" by killing the momentum, but Leo's attack had surpassed his expectations. This power is something beyond human strength, and if Leo really wanted to hurt him, it could have turned out much worse.

He is now sure that the genes of Burg Folge have been passed down to Leo, and is something that he must obtain. Ernst decides to call in his own "Third Type" magicians with Burg Folge, the Wahrheit Sisters from his home country.

◇ ◇ ◇

The venue for the Nine School's Competition is within the premises of the Defense Forces, but it isn't only the Defense Forces keeping an eye on the students. Other intelligence agencies are also at work behind the scenes.

Ono Haruka is a public safety operative, currently working at the Nine School's Competition this year. Her current task is to monitor Ernst Rosen, the branch manager of Rosen Magicraft.

Because the market size of magic engineering products is small, if you look at the sales, Rosen Magicraft isn't a large company. However, considering the value of magic products to the military as weapons, it could be considered to be very valuable. Especially since the "Scorched Halloween" incident last autumn.

Haruka was aware of the meeting with Ernst, Erika and Leo, as well as fact that unauthorized magic was used in hotel room. Leo had attempted to assault Ernst and he had blocked it with barrier magic. Ernst had been justified in his self-defense but was none the less trying to cover it up, which leads her to believe that there are troublesome circumstances lurking in the background.

Haruka also knows that Erika is the great granddaughter of Bastian Rosen the former president of the company, and that there was an ongoing inheritance problem within the company right now.

Haruka thought that this year's Nine School's Competition would be easier on her when she was given this task. But was beginning to think that it could become more difficult than dealing with Tatsuya.

She knows about the specialized fortification body developed by Germany, as well as the latest magical equipment that has yet to be commercialized. She begins to think that this task is going to be very troublesome.

◇ ◇ ◇

August 14th.

First High was basking in the victory of today's Monolith Code victory. While it seemed stressful in the beginning, First High is now leading by 95 points over Third High. First High's victory hasn't been decided yet, the possibility of Third High making a comeback is still very high.

While most of the students were celebrating, there are some that have more important things to attend to. For example Tatsuya is meeting with Fujibayashi Kyoko and Kokonoe Yakumo. And Erika is secretly meeting with Leo, so that their other friends wouldn't find out.

Leo and Erika are exchanging information for their meetings with Ernst Rosen. Erika's deal involved being offered money in order to withdraw from any sort of inheritance into the Rosen family. While Leo says that Ernst was trying to recruit him to and having him come to Germany.

While Leo told Erika about his connection to the Rosen family, he didn't tell her everything because he didn't fully trust everything that Ernst had told him.

Erika says that they should prepare for a confrontation. While they won't be coming after her directly, she does believe that Ernst will come after Leo. They both believe that it won't be easy going up against a company such as Rosen Magicraft. Normally this would be a problem but since they are in Japan, Erika doesn't think it will be as difficult.

Erika and Leo start to form a counter plan, and they both finally start to relax after Erika returns to her usual attitude and teases Leo.

◇ ◇ ◇

Ernst Rosen was forced to act with caution while at the Nine School's Competition. Surveillance was too tight, and he couldn't afford to stick out too much. It became much more difficult after he made contact with Leo and Erika.

But it was now the last day of the Nine School's Competition and Ernst could no longer wait. He decided that it would be best to settle things here on a military base instead of an urban district area.

Rosen Magicraft is a magic engineering product manufacturer, but since magic is mainly used for military purposes, his company has strong ties to the military. So just in case something does go wrong, he would have something to fall back on. Ernst contemplated over whether he should capture Leo, and risk opposing the Japanese authorities.

However, his secretary brought him a report that would prove helpful to his dilemma. The report says that at this moment there is an internal conflict occurring in the Japanese military. He immediately calls for Linda and Emma.

Two women appear before Ernst, both of them look to be in their early twenties. Both of them are tall, nearly 170 centimeters tall, with slender muscular figures. Their eyes are both hazel, and have short silver hair. They look like twins, but couldn't be called identical twins. These two are not sisters born from the same mother, but can be safely assumed to have the same genes. The Wahrheit Sisters.

While these two were called over to be escorts for Ernst Rosen, the actual reason was to help acquire Leo. Ernst tells them that it is time to go after Leo, and the sisters ask about the Japanese military.

Linda and Emma are both eager to fight against Leo, the sisters are both "Third Types" of Burg Folge, while Leo isn't an actual "First Type" but he has inherited the genes of a "First Type" so he is recognized as such. If Linda and Emma were to defeat Leo in combat they could possibly overturn their ranking to show that they are above the "Third Type".

Ernst mentions that the Japanese military has an internal conflict going on right now, which is unlikely to develop into a large dispute. But he feels that it will be harder to make a move after the Nine School's Competition is over.

Ernst tells the sisters to lure Leo to a secluded place after the Nine School's Competition is done and to capture him. He also says that they are allowed to used the Phantom Anzugs (Phantom Suits).

◇ ◇ ◇

August 15th.

The last day of the Nine School's Competition, it was five minutes before the start of the women's Steeplechase Cross Country event.

Mizuki finds Mikihiko sitting in the stands by himself, and he greets her. Erika and Leo followed behind Mizuki, and Erika begins her usual teasing of Mikihiko. They ask about Tatsuya but it's mentioned that after adjusting the CAD's for the female athletes participating in Steeplechase Cross Country.

The men's Steeplechase event will be in the afternoon, and Tatsuya is in charge of Mikihiko's CAD for that event as well.

As the women's event begins, they begin to question what kind of obstacles will be waiting for Miyuki and the others. Erika points out that with no cameras and no way to monitor the students in the forest it will be hard to see what's happening inside. She also says that contestants could go missing without anyone realizing, and Mizuki quickly tells Erika not say such things.

In that next moment, an image of Kanon was displayed on the screen and she was completely covered in mud. But the mud was completely blown away shortly after, and she was seen saying;

"Is this a freaking joke!? What kind of military training is this?!”

As the students in the stands cheered and laughed, none of them knew what was going on behind the scenes.

◇ ◇ ◇

In the women's Steeplechase Cross Country event, Miyuki took 1st place, Kanon took 2nd place, Honoka took 5th place, and Shizuku took 6th place.

In the men's Steeplechase Cross Country event, Masaki took 1st place, Mikihiko took 2nd place, and Hattori too 3rd place. As a result First High wins the Nine School Competition for the fourth consecutive year. Both Leo and Erika who weren't players but training partners would most likely be invited to the celebration party. Leo doesn't dislike festivities but since he didn't make a big contribution like he did last year, he doesn't care to make an appearance.

So Leo left the hotel before the party began, and indulged in one of his hobbies. But rather than call it a hobby he would call it a habit. The habit of wandering, whether it be walking, running, or wandering in the evening.

As midnight draws closer Leo begins to wander towards the artificial forest that was created for the Steeplechase Cross Country event. The security was extremely low due to the Parasite experiment being disrupted and removed quickly to get rid of any evidence.

Leo who knew nothing of it, proceeded deep into the forest.

◇ ◇ ◇

Ernst was quick to know that Leo had left the hotel.

It was planned to lure Leo out to a secluded place, but with this opportunity arising he couldn't pass by this chance. Ernst ordered the Wahrheit sisters to pursue Leo, the sisters who watched Leo enter the forest moved to a Rosen Magicraft container-type lab.

In this mobile lab was the Phantom Anzug (Phantom Suits). These suits were high mobility equipment for the infantry. This is very similar to the mobile suits that Tatsuya used during the Yokohama incident. However, to emphasize mobility and higher power in hand to hand combat it has some differences.

Linda and Emma check on the functionality of the suits, due to the risk of hacking they limit the amount of wireless functions down to only voice communication.

[Illustration Page 309]

After confirming that there are no irregularities, Linda and Emma activate the stealth functions of the Phantom Anzug and chase after Leo into the forest.

◇ ◇ ◇

It wasn't just Ernst that noticed that Leo had left the hotel. Erika who had noticed that Leo had left was upset by this because she knew that Leo understood that he could become a target for Rosen.

Mizuki could tell that Erika was concerned about something and asked her about it, but she denied it. She tells Mizuki that she has errands to run and that she should go meet up with Mikihiko. Mizuki could tell that this wasn't the case, and last time Erika had work to do as a waitress but this year she had no obligations.

Erika couldn't afford to worry about Mizuki right now, Erika ran away from Mizuki who was looking very embarrassed because she would have to hang out with Mikihiko alone.

Erika grabbed her armored integrated CAD baton and headed towards Leo's direction. While attempting to leave the hotel she noticed patrol guards and hid herself in a corner of the building.

Erika was thinking of excuses to say to the guards to get through, but at that moment someone called out to her from a blind spot. It was Ono Haruka, Erika was very surprised at how she hadn't noticed Haruka until she called out to her.

Haruka could tell what Erika was thinking and says that she has no way of winning against her, but that her concealment magic is special. Haruka offers to bring Erika's device into the training forest for her so that she can get past the guards.

Erika thinks back to the Blanche incident, when Haruka was able to provide information on the whereabouts of the terrorist group to Tatsuya. Erika asks if Haruka could hide her as well so that they could both slip by the guards, but Haruka says that she isn't capable of that.

Haruka asks Erika if she can't trust her, to which Erika says that she has no basis to trust her. Erika asks for an explanation to help with this predicament but all Haruka can say is that if something happens to Leo, than her part-time job manager will be angry at her.

Erika eventually gives in to this explanation, and hands over her weapon to Haruka so that she could reach Leo sooner rather than later.

◇ ◇ ◇

The Wahrheit sisters were chasing after Leo, and just before they reach him they decide to try and use persuasion against Leo first. Although they both believe it will be pointless.

Leo who was wandering through the forest, stopped and immediately turned around. He could hear the sound of footsteps in the distance, and could tell that they were human. Even as he was roaming around he didn't forget that there was a chance that he might be attacked, so he had brought along his CAD.

However, it didn't seem like his potential enemies were going to launch a surprise attack against him. Two figures emerged from the darkness, they were wearing combat suits but judging from their looks Leo guessed that they were both women.

The visors of their helmets raised up and exposed their faces, and it confirmed to Leo that they were women. To Leo they looked to be in their early twenties.

They call out to him and ask him to come with them, and he asks if they work for Rosen. Linda asks if Leo purposely meant to lead them out to this location, but Leo never meant for such a thing to happen and was just wandering around. Leo asks what they have planned for him if he actually did go along with them, and Linda says that this was already explained to him by Ernst.

Leo asks if he is allowed to refuse, and after hearing this Emma was about to attack but Linda stopped her. Linda continues to say that a quarter of his genes were made by Rosen Magicraft and that they has certain rights to him.

Linda and Emma slowly close in on Leo until he is backed up against a tree. They tell Leo that he is one of the only samples that didn't self-destruct and that his genes have great value. Leo questions whether or not it will be through human experimentation or dissection, and they say that Leo would provide genes naturally through fertilization with superior individuals (In other words have sex with multiple women to create stronger soldiers).

Leo was disgusted by this, and the sisters even taunt him by saying that Chiba Erika could be his first if he wants it. Leo overreacts and the sisters pull down the visors on their helmets preparing for a fight. Leo launches an attack against Emma but she doesn't try to avoid it and the sound of a metallic collision could be heard.

Leo asks if that was Fortification Magic, to which Emma says that he shouldn't be surprised since they have similar genes. She goes on to say that they are superior to him and that they plan to prove it. Emma attacks this time and once again they collide to a deadlock, the mobile suite that the sisters are wearing are equipped with the completely thought operated CAD.

Linda asks Emma if she should help her out, and Emma says that he is better than what she expected. Linda then launches an attack of her own with Emma following up with a kick herself. Just as it seemed that Leo was at a disadvantage a silver light flashes out of no where. Suddenly a voice calls out to Leo asking if he is still alive, and it was Erika who came into view.

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Erika who had left Haruka at the entrance of the training forest was headed towards Leo. She honed her senses and could tell that Leo was straight ahead along with two others that were steadily approaching him.

There is certain training in her swordsmanship in which one would be able to grasp the position of an enemy and the surrounding situation depending on the psions. In order to master Yamatsunami vision and hearing alone was sufficient.

Erika had decided to keenly practice this technique now, especially after the Parasite Incident. This technique uses three aspects; "Shape", "Shade", and "Shadow", and Erika had already mastered "Shape" and "Shade" but needed to master the "Shadow" aspect. She had been unable to detect where a parasite was when it was outside of it's host because she hadn't mastered the "Shadow" aspect.

After mastering all three aspects she had developed an awareness to detect psion light using those aspect and by fusing her senses as a swordsman with her senses as a magician.

She didn't have special "eyes" like Mizuki and Tatsuya, but this was only an excuse. She was now able to detect psion light up to 800 meters ahead if she narrowing her field of vision.

As Erika chased after Leo and his pursuers she heard a sound similar to metal clashing together. She saw that Leo was fighting against the Wahrheit sisters, and she intrudes on the fight by calling out to Leo and asking if he is still alive.

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Linda and Emma both stopped their attack when Erika called out to Leo. Erika asks if they would mind if she joined in on the fight since it is two against one.

When Linda calls out her name, Erika isn't surprised since she knew she must be apart of the Rosen company. Linda says that she hasn't been given permission to hurt Erika, but Erika says that she will not charge Rosen for the treatment costs. Both Linda and Emma could tell that Erika wasn't worried about that and that she was instigating the fight.

The sisters decide to capture Erika as well. Linda headed straight for Erika, while Emma attacked Leo. When Linda approached Erika a blade immediately approached her neck, but Linda managed to block it. The blade did not hurt Linda due to the blade blocking capabilities of the Phantom Suit as well as the effect of her Fortification magic.

However, Linda felt uncomfortable about the feeling when she blocked the attack, it was almost as if it felt too light. She doesn't know if Erika had actually planned this from the start, but she was struck from the side. Linda used the attack to draw some distance between her and Erika, and activated the Flight-type magic to put some distance between her.

Erika rushes forward but Linda jumps vertically not to escape but to counterattack and aimed a kick at Erika's head. Erika was surprised at this and took the blow, she endured the pain and fixed her posture as Linda landed on a tree with Flight-type magic.

Linda put her hand on the side of the tree and lowered her right leg on the branch, and fortunately for her there wasn't any abnormality with her leg.

Erika comments and says that the suit is strong, but apparently Linda can't absorb the impact unless she uses a certain amount of magic. Linda was surprised at how Erika saw through that detail, but regained her composure.

Linda covered the entire suite with Fortification magic and jumped towards Erika. Leo was fighting Emma one on one, and his real feelings on the matter was that Emma's fighting skills were superior to his own.

Even though Emma is only a "Third Type", she is equipped with the Phantom Suit which gives her superior abilities compared to Leo. Leo's voice activated CAD is outmatched by Emma's thought controlled CAD. Leo is just barely able to keep up with her speed in order prevent critical damage to himself. In order to overcome this situation, it is necessary to have a special technique.

Leo has that kind of magic, but magic that is good for both attack and defense has another weakness. But he can't afford to waste time thinking about it.

Erika keeps pressing the attack against Linda with overwhelming speed, but hasn't done any damage to her yet due to the Phantom Suit and her Fortification magic. Erika on the other hand is not wearing any armor, she hasn't received any damage yet but even if one of Linda's attacks were to make contact it could be a decisive factor in this battle.

Linda is baffled at how fast Erika is, even with the mobility of the Phantom Suit with Flight-type magic she can't match Erika's speed. Not only is she fast, but her movements are incomprehensible for Linda, especially at night.

Linda's strategy is to be patient and wait for Erika to run out of stamina. Her Phantom Suit and Fortification magic should be able to outlast Erika but she is growing impatient since it is taking much longer than expected. Especially since her Flight-type magic requires a large amount of psions to maintain over an extended period of time.

In the past psion count was part of the rating criteria of magicians but has since been obsolete since modern magic was introduced. The thought-type CAD doesn't help in this aspect due to the degree of modification required, and it creates a larger strain on the mind for more complicated magics.

With the Eidos in effect trying to correct the events that were written onto the world by magic, it has an even stronger effect on magic that lasts for a long period of time. Flying-type magic reduces this issue by reactivating itself with Loop Cast.

Leo remembers the trick to reducing the burden of using magic for an extended period of time, by occasionally releasing magic when it's not in use. However the Wahrheit sisters have never fought in these type of conditions before, since they have always held superiority with their CADs.

Linda is already showing signs of exhaustion, it was impossible for her to maintain a defense against Erika. However, it is also true that Erika can not break through the Phantom Suit, she decides to use Fortification magic and attack once more.

Emma's punch-kick combo was blocked by Leo, and he delivered a low kick. He aimed at Emma's feet with the purpose of trying to break her formation and posture. However, her body suddenly rose into the air and she landed back on the ground.

Leo prepares his trump card "Siegfried". It is a voice activated command and the event modification works on Leo's entire body. Emma rushes towards Leo and uses Fortification magic on her right hand and forms it into a spear. But her fingertips could only pass through Leo's clothing and couldn't make a depression on his skin.

Leo aims a left hook at Emma's helmet, the Phantom Suit is durable but can't withstand the force of his punch. Emma is blow backwards, she quickly rises to her feet and raises the visor that has now been cracked. She can't help but be surprised at his technique.

Siegfried is Fortification magic that hardens ones own body. Normally Fortification magic is a magic that hardens a specific object and stabilizes the relative coordinates of molecules within a narrow area like his "Panzer". On the other hand Siegfried works directly on the body itself, it doesn't stabilize relative coordinates. It creates a force field that cancels any external force that is inflicted on the body, it protects against piercing, cutting, striking, pressure, and the majority of chemical and electromagnetic attacks that can't permeate the skin and muscle tissue.

Leo presses the attack and gives Emma no chance to escape. She tries to keep her defense up with Panzer but can't hold out against Leo's attack. This technique used by Leo can be disadvantageous for him if used for an extended period of time so he must finish the fight here. After his barrage of attacks, Emma's body collapses like a broken marionette.

Linda takes a defensive stance against Erika, and is preparing for her assault. As Erika is rushing towards her, she prepares a counter attack but Erika disappears from Linda's line of sight and she can't find her. Erika decides to use one of her special moves but is hesitant to do so since she doesn't have the proper equipment.

She doesn't have Orochimaru with her, so she doesn't think she can activate Yamatsunami correctly, but decides that she must do it. She activates Yamatsunami and is able to reverse the inertia control on her attack and it exceeds the limit of impact absorption of the Phantom Suit. Linda being blindsided by this attack crumbles to the ground, Leo and Erika both win their own fights.

[Illustration Page 345]

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Erika stood there for a moment to catch her breath. Although it was a complete victory for them, it was still quite the tightrope.

Yamatsunami was the deciding factor for Erika but since she used it without her usual equipment it had taken a toll on her. If she had messed up the timing on her inertia neutralization and inertia enhancement even a little it would have caused a great deal of damage to herself.

Erika asks if Leo is okay, and he says that he doesn't have any physical injuries. When Erika asks what's wrong again, he says that he is very hungry and that using that magic makes him more hungry than usual.

Since Siegfried is directly applied to the body, it raises his core temperature higher than normal and depletes all the stored nutrients within his body.

Just then about 10 people were approaching Erika and Leo, it was the guards stationed at the hotel. The sensor inhibiting function of the Phantom Suit had stopped working since both Emma and Linda were knocked out.

One of the guards recognizes Erika, since she used to take lessons at the Chiba dojo. When asked what happened Erika says that they fought these two intruders. The other guards detain Emma and Linda, and the female guard asks Erika to hand over her armed device, after looking at it she returns it to Erika. Erika and Leo start to head back towards the hotel.

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Erika went back to the hotel and immediately went to Ernst's room. She barges into room and Ernst says that they don't have a scheduled meeting. He also stops the bodyguard in the room from attacking Erika.

Erika says that she is here because his soldiers attacked Leo and she came to complain about it. Ernst dodges the complaint and asks Erika to listen to him, but what he is trying to do is distract her in order to use his CAD.

Erika's baton is covered in psions, and she swings it in the direction of Ernst and the magic he was trying to cast was disrupted.

Erika says that she has been studying up on the completely thought-type CAD that the Rosen Company had released. Ernst was surprised that she was capable of such a technique. Ernst asks her if she wants to be adopted officially into the Rosen Family and that he would be her guardian. But Erika says that she doesn't wish for that and leaves his hotel room.

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The end of August.

The second semester began at First High. On this day Leo was on his way to Class F and ran into Erika on the stair landing, this path is normally taken by staff members so it is never busy.

Erika asks him if he received a letter from Rosen, and he says that he did. Erika asks if he has guessed the reason why, and he says that he already knows. Leo says this in a slightly troubled tone, due to the fact that it also entailed a certain arrangement with Erika and when she asks what's wrong, he says it's nothing.

Leo is trying to be calm about it but in the letter Rosen mentions the if Leo wanted the potential marriage arrangement between himself and Erika, it could be possible in order to become a son-in-law of the Rosen Family. If Erika found out about such a plan there is no telling what kind of physical abuse is waiting for him.

Leo has no intention of accepting these proposals from Rosen, and fortunately Erika doesn't push him for more details. However, Erika mentions that a women from the Rosen Family said something strange to her, something about making her possibly become a "mother or something". Cold sweat ran downs Leo's back and he wasn't sure how to reply.


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