Found this in my email from awhile ago. Probably should check it more often
By the Power of Boredom I present to you:
Chapter 1 – First Shrine Visit of the Year
Legends tell that the amount of money you offer into a saisen-box (TL note: those which you see in shrines) doesn’t seem to correlate with fortune. Although simply throwing a 5-yen coin can bring about good luck, however, tossing in six of those could lead to an ungratified destiny – thus is the meaning behind that myth. The 500-yen coin, having the highest nominal value, is meaningless to offer, carrying an excessive hundredfold of the original value.
(TL explanation: Japanese coins include denominations of ¥ 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500. ¥5 or ご円 is read as “go-en” whereas fate/destiny or ご縁 is also read as “go-en”. These words are known as homophones. With six(六) being read as “roku”, offering six ¥5 coins is hence read as “roku na goen ga nai” which is homophonous to an unsatisfying fate/destiny.)
Well, the impartial gods wouldn’t judge someone based on how much he or she offered, so anyone proffering a ¥10 000 note in exchange for a beneficial omen or prognostication would likewise end up with unfulfilled wishes.
Nevertheless, Shidou, being a senior high school student, hadn’t the slightest notion of putting forth such a huge sum of money. Frankly, he was grateful for the deities’ benevolence and paid his respects by throwing in a 5-yen coin and ringing the bell that resonated a clank sound.
He closed his eyes and made a wish.
Actually, for the almighty divinities situated inside the temple to grant worshippers their aspirations, such a possibility was not to be considered. Although there are 8 million deities that originate from Japan, it assigns people to gather the various wishes of worshippers onto a single deity’s domain, this cruel legend.
However, Shidou did not bother to mull over the significance behind praying.
Aspirations, demands, and aims are things that everyone possesses. Such vivid circumstances also arise in everyday life.
Naturally examinees and girls in love often portray their own wishes, but these kinds of people ought to live in happiness. Very few people who find themselves in turmoil and confronting adversity will ponder over their problems. Healthy people will unlikely be inclined to depend on themselves and those with wealth will not prefer to scrape a meager living with such aspirations.
Even though these are all extreme instances, everyone has their own subconscious bliss, therefore Shidou earnestly hoped.
The joy you feel now can last forever.
“…phew,” Shidou gently exhaled and opened his eyes. Observing either of his sides, Shidou glanced at the girls who were praying in suit. To his right stood Tohka, while Origami, Kaguya and Yuzuru where to his left.
Everyone there attended Raizen High School and all are also Spirits previously sealed by Shidou. Resplendent kimonos which gleamed under the sun decorated the attires of said devotes. They, together with Shidou, prayed for a rather long period of time unknown of what they were actually praying for.
As he wondered about that enigma, beside him Tohka unraveled her dark crystalline eyes. Her bundle of long black hair the color of the night which glistened beneath the sunshine was softly brushed aside her cheeks.
“Oh, have you waited for long, Shidou?”
“It’s alright. What did you wish for?”
“Umu, I wanna eat a lot of delicious food this year!”
“Haha, that’s true,” it was indeed a Tohka-like wish. Faced with such thoughts Shidou couldn’t help but to think over tonight’s menu, however, Tohka continued,
“One more wish.”
“I hope I can stay together with Shidou and everyone else forever,” said Tohka while emanating a sunny smile. Shidou momentarily widened his eyes.
“Aah, that’s right,” he giggled and nodded.
As if in tandem, the Yamai sisters – Kaguya and Yuzuru – shifted towards Shidou after completing their worship.
“Oh, what did you all wish for?” asked Shidou. Kaguya, who wore a kimono with alternating orange and black, made a commanding gesture with her hand.
“Wish? Kuku… and I thought thou implied otherwise. To conquer this miniscule plot of land to the extent of a deity’s prowess was something I sought for long ago. Nevertheless, whosoever remains under my awe forsooth tremble and shudder.”
“Disclosure. Lies, Kaguya undoubtedly whispered, ‘I hope to ascend the stairs of adolescence this year,’ just now.”
“Hush, talk not of such nonsense. I obviously vocalized my desire to impart on a date with Shidou,” without finishing, Kaguya responded with a slight tremor on her shoulders.
Shidou scratched his now blushing cheek, having heard his name being mentioned, and stirred away from their line of sight.
“No uhh… I’ll consider that.”
“ ….. ! “
Seeing Kaguya’s face redden, Yuzuru smirked, “Smile. That’d be great.”
“Ahhh… really..,” the now teary-eyed Kaguya began to playfully pound Yuzuru’s back.
“Withdrawal. It hurts.. Kaguya.”
“Hey now, don’t trouble someone else.” Shidou forced a grin and stopped the pair.
Their current location was a shrine in the vicinity of the Itsuka household. Although it was still the 4th of January, the liveliness and excitement over the last three days had somewhat died down. Several people could still be seen here and there visiting the shrine. Kaguya also noticed her face regaining its color after regulating her breathing.
“…OK. Me thinks my composure hast returned. I need not remind thee that I possess dark magical recoverability.”
“Sure you do. Well then, let’s get going.”
As everyone started to leave the shrine, Shidou noticed that there was still one more girl standing in prayer with palms held together before the shrine.
A girl dressed in a pure white kimono adorned with paper crane motifs – Origami was still piously praying and muttering incantations.
“Time is truly everlasting. What did thou pray for?” Kaguya curiously approached Origami and leaned closer to her ear.
“ ….. ! “
The nearing Kaguya caught wind of Origami’s words and her previously flushed face instantly turned even more flushed with a surge of blood rushing to her cheeks, retreating afterwards at full speed.
“Muuu.. what did Origami say?” Tohka decided to walk over to the person in question with a perplexed expression.
Kaguya panicky rushed over to prevent any loss of innocence, “No! It’s too early for Tohka!”
“What.. what in the world did she wish for?”
Seeing Kaguya all panic-stricken, Shidou took a deep breath and wiped his perspiration. At that time, Origami advanced towards them.
“Are you done, Origami?”
“…..” As if in response to Shidou’s question, Origami remained silent and rubbed her belly before giving Shidou a thumbs up.
“For what?!” Shidou lamented. With a hand on his forehead he exhaled, “Anyway, there are people queuing. Let’s go.”
The Spirits all agreed and Shidou apologized to the other worshippers waiting behind them for the ruckus they created. They turned back and left the saisen-box.
After reaching a sparser area they observed their surroundings.
“Where did Kotori and the others go?”
Not long after, Shidou spotted the figure of his sister Kotori. Although they had originally planned to visit the shrine together, due to the limited size of the saisen-box, the number of people allowed was fixed. As a result they had no other choice but to split up.
“Hey Onii-chan~~~,” a familiar voice called out from behind. And as though his imagination realized, Kotori and the others appeared with something enthralling in hand. Beside him, Tohka shook her head with uncertainty.
“Muu? Kotori? What are you guys doing?” This was also futile, however.
Where Kotori stood lay a long conference table. The Spirits who came to revere, with pens in hands, seemed to be scribbling something.
Currently equipped with her white ribbons, Kotori was wearing a fiery red kimono and picked up the wooden cuboids beside her hands. The topmost punctured part was used to hoist said miniature planks with a knot.
“Ooh what’s this?”
“It’s a wishing plaque. If you write your wishes on it, they will come true.”
(TL explanation: “Ema” consists of two Kanji: 絵馬; the one for “picture” and the one for “horse“. Horses were seen as the “vehicles of gods” (神の乗り物） and during the Nara period (奈良時代) people donated horses to the shrines so that the gods would be more likely to listen to their prayers and fulfill wishes.
However, horses were expensive and thus people who couldn’t afford it used horse figures made of wood, clay or paper instead. Finally the wooden wishing plaques with a picture of a horse on them were born.)
“What! Really?!” Tohka’s eyes emitted a glimmering shine.
“First the star festival, then the prayers just now, and now this – I didn’t know so many methods existed to materialize wishes, life’s good!”
“Ahaha.. well, even though they may not really come true, don’t expect much,” said Shidou with a grin.
“Umu,” nodded Tohka. “I know, Mr. God has his work cut out for him.”
Tohka wriggled with enthusiasm, her eyes fixed on Shidou’s. Looking over to the Yamai sisters, Shidou noticed that their expressions were similar to Tohka’s.
“Since this is a rare opportunity, let’s all give it a try.” Shidou made a wry smile.
“Yay!” cheered the Spirits.
Elated to such a degree, Shidou didn’t want to ruin the mood thus he obtained wooden wishing plaques for everybody.
“Let’s move to a quieter place to write.”
“Umu.” Tohka and the others picked up the pens provided on the table. Shidou too did the same, yet he turned towards the group of Spirits that had already been writing theirs.
“That’s very nice, Yoshino.” Shidou peered into Yoshino’s plaque, and espied a cutely drawn rabbit wearing an eye-patch on the right half of the plaque.
“Thank… you very much,” Yoshino’s cheeks turning a bright shade of red due to her bashfulness. Today, her apparel consisted of a light emerald green kimono, in addition to elegantly tied hair. It looked as if she was a bit more mature than usual.
“Hehehe, rest assured. Shidou-kun would definitely say that, wouldn’t he?” Incidentally, the puppet fixated on Yoshino’s left hand began to move its mouth. Its cotton outfit resembled that of Yoshino’s kimono, and its appearance was no different from the picture drawn on her plaque.
“Such a cute plaque, even the gods would fancy it.” Hearing Shidou’s words, Yoshino couldn’t help but giggle, albeit very softly.
“Ah… but Natsumi-san’s and Nia-san’s wishing plaques are also… wonderful,” said Yoshino as she observed.
“Eh?” Shidou gazed in astonishment.
A short distance away from the group, two girls were composing something on their wishing plaques together. However, the ambience which encircled them was entirely different.
The petite girl in a dark green kimono and the girl covered in a down-filled coat wearing glasses were in the process of applying distinct colors in drawing lovely personifications of schoolgirls. In fact, there was nothing bewildering about this activity alone; however, the pair, rather than being regular visitors to the shrine, resembled more to professional mangakas rushing manuscripts just before an impending deadline.
Moreover, their drawings have superseded even expert standards. Rumors say that one of them is really a professional. They’d unavoidably attract attention.
(TL note: A mangaka (漫画家) is someone who draws manga as a profession.)
“Hey – the both of you,” only after perceiving his voice do Natsumi and Nia finally notice
“ ….. ! “
“Oh, Boy. You’re too slow.”
Natsumi, suddenly shocked, hurriedly brushed her hair up whereas the plain Nia only fixed her eyeglasses’ position, and a smile formed on her face.
“Haha, very impressive. No wonder you’re a mangaka.”
Nia stiffened her chest, “Well for the time being I can only draw like this, it’s simpler.”
Opposite to her, Natsumi only revealed an unwilling expression and concealed her drawing altogether.
“…. I just drew because Nia let me, not because I wanted to ….”
“Hehe, you’ve gone this far and still refuse to admit it? Merely moments ago we were just discussing about the plot advancements for our manga side by side, weren’t we?”
“When did I say that?! And what’s a plot advancement for god’s sake?!” exclaimed Natsumi unbearably. Nia just laughed it off and faced Shidou afresh.
“Well regardless, in practice little Natsumi has a great future. To be honest I even want her to be my own personal assistant. How about it? I’ll pay you a salary of course. If you’re interested I can even introduce you to my editor.”
“No, I’m not too captivated. So what about Natsumi?”
“Eh? You see, when I first befriended little Natsumi here, she didn’t possess an innate artistic talent.”
“Hm, I don’t feel like there’s any connection between those.”
Sweat dripped from Natsumi’s face, and Nia didn’t seem to hear what Shidou had said. Yet she proceeded to embrace her arms in a rueful manner.
“Anyway, talking about Natsumi, if you combine ‘Natsumi’ and ‘nut’, you get the sensation of being protected, don’t you? Just like slightly prying open a crack on a pistachio.”
(TL note: ‘Natsumi’ and ‘nut’ are pronounced similarly.)
As a matter of fact, such an imagery of Natsumi isn’t that difficult to picture, Shidou unconsciously let out a chuckle.
“…..” Natsumi stared at Shidou *jiii~~~*. He surreptitiously coughed a couple of times before turning towards Nia.
“Compared to that, you’re fine the way you are, Nia. Ratatoskr had originally prepared your kimono….” Shidou looked at her ordinary attire, though she waved it away shortly after.
“Ah.. um, I once wore one of those before, it was rather inconvenient to move in. And also I was practically working backstage all the time, so to be able to see everyone in such brilliant dresses satisfies me enough.”
“Is that so? But I think that one suits you very well.”
For some reason after listening to him Nia widened her eyes.
“Heh, heh, heh, already flirting with lovely Nia this early in the year? Fascination deserves to be worldly renowned and fathomed by every man. Could thou be thy legendary ‘Hero that saves the Princess’?”
“Uh, ah, no, this isn’t what you think!”
“So that’s how it is. Boy has a kimono fetish, eh? Does ogling skin exposed between kimono slits arouse you? Alright then, I’ll give you this.”
While speaking explicit stuff Nia reached into her pocket for an already finished wishing plaque and handed it to Shidou.
“Um what’s this, so you’ve already made another one… huh this is?!” The plaque in his sight had obscured Shidou’s words from coherence.
Of course, it had to be this. On the plaque was a picturesque drawing of a very pretty girl wearing a kimono, intertwined with a boy. This illustration was simply unsuitable for children and feigned a mature age warning. Not only that, beside it wrote, ‘I hope to encounter an opportunity to experience such sensations… – Nia.’ What a specific wish.
“N-nia.. what is this?!”
“Oh that? Actually I wanted to hang that one up.. but your bad-tempered imouto-chan said that it would offend public decency and didn’t let me. So I’m giving it to you now.”
“You….” Cold sweat exuded from Shidou’s forehead as everyone intently stared at the item held in his hands. He could do naught but store it in his bag quickly. Nia subtly grinned at his predicament.
“Moving on, I’m serious about Natsumi’s case. Ah, you come too, Boy.”
“Me? I’m not that skilled in drawing.”
“Nono, an assistant’s work doesn’t pertain to only drawing manga. Preparing food, washing clothes, sweeping the floor and what not are also included. Rather than a helper, it’s more of a husband’s job. Oh, that’s not such a bad idea, let’s get married Boy.”
“No thanks..” replied Shidou.
“Well, I could really use an aide. Not only for manga, occasionally, I would be able to hug Natsumi for H-material!”
“Hiiiiiii?!” 《Your fate is sealed, Natsumi.》
Having heard Nia’s indifferent declaration, Shidou and Natsumi were taken aback, halting their breaths. Although it was a habitual joke of hers, the person involved was present right in front of them.
The next second, sounds of footsteps could be heard *tap tap tap*. With a rustle of skirts, a girl in a kimono appeared at the table.
“Darling~, what are you talking about?? I think I heard Natsumi-san’s name being mentioned perversely.” said the girl with a slender stature, her eyes emanating an electrifying sparkle.
“M-miku?!” Her sudden appearance caused Shidou to glare in awe. She was one of the Spirits whose spirit power Shidou had sealed, and simultaneously one of the mere handful of popular idols, Izayoi Miku. However, from her present state it looked as if she had broken away from showbiz and entered a whole new world.
“Ahh, could it be that you were discussing who gets to be Nia-san’s assistant? If Darling and Natsumi-san are going then I’m going too!! With more than three people we can definitely make something good!”
“Really? That’ll be great help. But Miki, you’re an idol.. your wages should be quite expensive..”
(TL note: Miki is Miku’s nickname as called by Nia. I’m not fairly certain whether it’s ‘Miki’ or ‘Micchi’ but they sound similar.)
“No problem! I don’t need any salaries, I’ll even donate some money!” affirmed Miku with a thumbs up.
Abruptly, Miku felt something tug on her body and turned around, only to discover Kotori and Tohka were pulling her legs in hopes of making her fall.
“In any case, you’re still an idol,” said Kotori who had inconspicuously changed to her black ribbons some time ago.
Miku struggled, “Aww.. Kotori-san and Tohka-san are so mean~.”
“Muu.. don’t be so willful Miku.”
“Hey, don’t, it’s dangerous.” The table lost its balance and toppled over, taking with it the three people as well. Shidou extended his hand to support them, but in vain. He too surrendered to the force of gravity and entered the entanglement with the others, collapsing on the ground altogether.
“Ouch… is everyone okay? Huh.. what’s this?” That was bound to happen. Shidou found himself laying atop Tohka, pressing onto her kimono.
“Wh-what are you doing Shidou?!”
“Waa only Darling and Tohka-san get to have fun! Can anyone swap places with me?”
All the commotion attracted Nia, who was sitting nearby, to come over. She picked up a plaque which fell out from Shidou’s pocket and compared the drawing with his state of affairs.
“This shrine really grants your wishes.” Shidou’s and Tohka’s position shared a striking resemblance with her illustration. “This is the stuff! Stand up Tohka.”
“Uuuuu..” Tohka, her face now imitating a bright red cherry, grasped onto Shidou’s hand and up righted herself. After apologizing to nearby worshippers, Shidou returned the desk to its former state.
“Really… be careful.”
“Sorry.. .I’ll fall onto Kotori-san next time.”
“…..” Kotori remained speechless.
Catching sight of the scene, Nia laughed, “Ahaha, I’ll never get tired of watching this.”
“It’s not funny..” said Shidou exhaustively. Nia grabbed her pen and resumed her work.
“Looks like the plaques here are really effective. Alright then, I wish – ‘Boy will be my bride.’”
“Even if it’s just a joke shouldn’t I be the husband?!”
Nia’s pen continued to wander her canvas regardless of Shidou’s protest. “Haha, excuse me. Now where should I hang this…..”
Putting back her pen, Nia stood up. “….eh? What’s with this headache.…?” A sudden dizziness struck her out of nowhere and she lost control of her body.
“Nia! What’s wrong?” Shidou instinctively reached out his arm to assist her. With her body steadily losing strength, Nia managed to let out a weak smile, “Ara.. how prince-like of you.. Boy.”
“Never mind that, are you really fine? We better head back and rest,” Shidou suggested with concern.
“Don’t mind me. How can I let everyone worry about me on this ‘Otome game’-like Valentine’s Day?”
Nia shrugged her shoulders and Kotori’s voice was emitted from behind Shidou.
“What are you saying, up until yesterday you were confined to a wheelchair… one is available at all times for any contingencies. If you’re feeling uncomfortable anywhere you can inform us so we can at least give you a full-body checkup.”
“Kyaaa no way! Imouto-chan worries too much, I’m fine really. Being rightfully embraced by Boy here after pretending to faint has a pretty good effect. You should give it a try too, imouto-chan.”
Kotori furrowed her eyebrows, and Nia proceeded with hanging her wishing plaque. Watching her silhouette, Kotori sighed, “Really… such a solemn subject reverted so quickly…”
Nia never really did ascertain thoroughly, maybe she disliked heavy atmospheres. She always extricated herself from such situations with a jest. That being said, Kotori feeling anxious about Nia was excusable. No matter what, a few days ago Nia was indeed tethering on the very verge of succumbing to death.
Recollecting the events which occurred on the 31st of December, Shidou was still fuming with rage between gritted teeth till this very day. On that day, under DEM industries’ command, Nia was forcibly inversed and deprived of her Sephira crystal. Had Shidou and the others not been there, Nia wouldn’t have been able to sit here today. However, her survival was not grounds for relief. The enemy had acquired inverse Nia’s Demon King – Beelzebub, which would do naught but augment DEM industries’ assaults on Spirits in the future. This was also one of the reasons why Shidou wished for their days to remain peaceful forever.
There was something else on Shidou’s mind.
“Kotori, about that..”
“We carried out a few investigations but were unable to verify it.”
Shidou shut his eyes and answered, “I see.” He couldn’t cease thinking about what Nia had said on New Year’s Day.
“Pure Spirits? But aren’t all Spirits formerly humans?”
In the small hours before the 1st of January, on the rooftop of a building, whilst sitting on a wheelchair Nia said thus.
The surroundings sank into silence. Those who were truly dazed by Nia’s words, those who conjectured the truth behind these utterances, as well as those who solely went with the flow; although their reactions were subtly distinctive, everyone was without a doubt dumbfounded.
Spirits – living existences which critically cause exceptional calamities. Their raisons d’être are unknown; but are confirmed to be the cause of spacequakes, an acknowledged phenomenon in today’s world.
Kotori, Miku, and Origami can serve as examples of humans absorbing Sephira crystals and transforming into Spirits. As far as Shidou knew, Spirits could be distinguished from humans, but examples were just examples.
But Nia’s statement contradicted all that. If it was something worth investigating then Shidou and the others wouldn’t be confused. Pure spirits like Tohka are different from former humans like Kotori; they didn’t have the slightest inkling about this world when they first emerged. Although there are those like Natsumi, Kaguya and Yuzuru who have adapted to living here, they adjusted only after gaining timeless experiences and intellect from traversing between both worlds; hence fitting in with humans.
Shidou couldn’t just ignore Nia’s doubt. Although she was robbed of her Sephira crystal, and thus drastically losing a major part of her power, Nia still possessed her omniscient angel <Rasiel>. More importantly, Nia could gather all the information she wanted, consequently being able to trace Shidou and the other Spirits’ pasts.
Shidou swallowed. If what Nia says is true, then the Spirits he deemed to be pure Spirits until now were —-
“What’s wrong? Sorry, did I startle you?” Nia broke the silence as Shidou was immersed in his thoughts.
“….., hm?” The possibilities left Shidou stupefied. “Oh what is it, Nia?”
“In manga we call this ‘the soulless truth’,” said Nia while pouting and sticking out her tongue
Shidou remained despondent for a few seconds before standing up and releasing and deep breath.
“Ehehe, sorry, sorry. Although I’m just guessing based on my own circumstances, this entire Spirit hypothesis isn’t so amusing, eh?”
Seeing the carefree girl, Shidou once again loosened a breath. Kotori and the other Spirits who were hearing this for the first time also put on a similar expression.
“Time to go home. It’s quite cold out here.”
Kotori shrank back her shoulders and the other spirits all nodded. Everyone went back inside and Shidou pushed Nia’s wheelchair like how he always did.
Then Nia turned back her head and whispered to Shidou, “Boy, come to my room later.”
“Eh?” Hearing her unbecoming somber tone, Shidou suspected that something was out of place.
Nia immediately resumed her unusual disposition, “What’s the matter, Boy? If it’s that cold then quickly enter. Is it possible that you’re expecting someone to warm you up using their body?” While speaking, Nia demonstrated by hugging herself and writhing on the wheelchair.
Shidou rephrased her sentences as if he had misheard, eventually pushing the wheelchair into the indoors.
— Approximately one hour later.
After the Spirits had all returned to their mansion, Shidou walked over to Nia’s ward through Ratatoskr’s underpass alone. Confirming the room number, Shidou knocked on the door.
“Please come in~.”
“Nia, I’m here. What did you–” Shidou stopped his words midway as he entered the room.
Because the room had another person.
“Kotori? What are you doing here?” Sitting on the chair beside the bed was Kotori, with her favorite lollipop in her mouth.
“Ahh, I told imouto-chan to come, since she’s the commander here. I thought it’d be easier to explain to the both of you.”
“What did you want to say?”
Kotori flicked the lollipop in her mouth, “It’s about earlier just now, right?”
“About the topic of Spirits originally being humans? I thought that was a joke.”
“Yeah, I don’t think it’d be appropriate to talk about it in front of them. That was just a cover up I thought of. Consider it a courtesy to previous matters.” Nia poked out her tongue.
“Like the story of the boy who cried wolf.”
“Oh ho, Boy likes to wolf down H-stuff.”
“I see, so that’s how it is.” Shidou felt as if he was already accustomed to Nia’s manner of speech owing to the fact that he heard her tsukkomis nearly every day. On the other hand, this directly conveyed a single fact.
“That means, everything you said just now is true?”
“Yup. Not completely though, because there’s something you need to comprehend. The all-knowing angel <Rasiel> isn’t genuinely omniscient.”
“Let me elaborate in order.”
Just when Nia intended to explain, the door flung open. Shidou thought it was strange that the medical staff would visit this late. He looked up to identify who it was, and astonished himself.
Origami, who was also together with Nia on the roof earlier, appeared together with Mana, who was wearing a patient’s robe similar to that of Nia’s.
“Why are the both of you here? Or did Nia call you too?”
Origami quietly shook her head, “No, I wasn’t summoned here. What Nia said just now felt somewhat dubious, so I came here to seek proof. That’s all.” She looked at Nia who exaggeratedly pressed against her chest with both hands.
“Heee.. This impression of ganging up against Nia-chan is making her heart burst!” said Mana after Origami’s long period of stillness.
“A moment ago when I went to the restroom I recognized Onii-sama’s shadow and I wanted to clear up something… so I decided to follow you. Unexpectedly I met Master Sergeant
Tobiichi along the way.”
Nia then raised her voice, “Wait a minute. What did you just say?”
“Eh? There were some things I wanted to clear up with…”
“No No! Not that! What did you say before that?”
“I saw Onii-sama?”
Nia tranced into absent mindedness akin to a heavenly clergy and put her palms together.
“Excellent! Onii-sama! Such an honorific has only manifested twice in reverie! This is my first time! Ne, neee~, say it again a few more times!”
“So disgusting…” Mana feigned repugnance and retreated a few steps back. Shidou then decided it was a good time to introduce them.
“This is Honjou Nia. She’s a professional mangaka and a Spirit. Although her powers were sealed just yesterday, a lot of things happened and she had to be placed under intensive care.”
“Hello~~,” Nia greeted and waved her hand.
Mana bowed and initiated her self-introduction. “I’m Takamiya Mana, Onii-sama’s sister and presently a wizard. Although I fought for Ratatoskr before, Kotori-san is currently imprisoning me as you can see.”
“Wait a moment. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t like it when people flaunt their superiority!”
Kotori resentfully folded her hands and seemed to mind Nia’s words. “Boy’s sister?”
“Didn’t you shout ‘Onii-sama’ just now?”
“Ah sorry, whenever I hear that phrase I keep getting so flustered that I forgot about it.”
“…..” Shidou had a déjà vu look on his face.
“But that doesn’t match. Isn’t Boy’s surname ‘Itsuka’? Don’t tell me it’s a complicated family relationship? Or perhaps Boy is a siscon and forced you to call him ‘Onii-sama’?”
“How did it come to this?!”
Nia laughed ridiculously at the siblings’ embarrassment. “Don’t you think ‘Onii-sama’ is such an adorable form of addressing him?”
“Eh? Does it sound awkward?”
“Could it be that you’ve always casually greeted him this way?” said Nia conscientiously.
Mana furrowed her eyebrows. If she started to address Shidou differently from then on then Nia would be at fault.
“Well, we’ve spent too much time chatting about our kinship. Let’s continue the previous matter.” Shidou adjusted his breathing and Nia agreed.
“Alright then, although there are two more people, Ori-ori and imouto-chan #2 are fine.”
(TL note: yes, that wasn’t a typo. apparently Nia just created a couple more nicknames right off the bat.)
“Hold on.. what’s with that ‘imouto-chan #2’?” Shortly after Nia started, Mana protested again.
“Well you see, ‘imouto-chan #1’ is already taken,” said Nia while pointing at Kotori, which triggered a fit of anger from Mana.
“Kotori-san is his adoptive sister, I’m his genetically related blood sister. In any case she should be the second!”
“Wh-who are you calling second?!” This time it was Kotori’s turn to scream. Once again, the subject has shifted to this argument.
“Even if you compare our hairstyles, my hair is tied in a single ponytail while Kotori-san’s is tied in twin tails! In combat, I’m technique-oriented whereas Kotori-san is strength-oriented!”
“Don’t make me sound like a brainless brute!”
“Calm down you two. Nia, I can’t go on like this. Can you think of another name for Mana?”
Shidou defused the quarrel and Nia pondered for a little while.
“What about Manacchi?”
“Oh so I’m an aquatic animal now?!” (TL note: reference to ‘manatee’)
Mana still had her qualms but decided to stop pursuing the matter any further. In light of seeing that the discussion was making zero progress, Nia cleared her throat and continued.
“Now about the hypothesis ‘all Spirits are ex-humans’, it’s still uncertain whether that’s true or false.”
“I fail to understand that point. Nia, you regained your memories of being a human before right?”
“Yup,” nodded Nia. “How should I put it, according to Boy I’m not categorized as pure.”
“Eh? Wasn’t it because you remembered being a human?”
“According to Boy, that is.” Nia erected her finger. “Because I was also clueless when I descended upon this world with a spacequake.”
“…..EHHH?” Shidou couldn’t help but expand his gaze. What Nia said did correspond with Tohka and the others’ cases.
“Wait.. what about your memories…?”
“Well, listen. Although I didn’t know who I was when I appeared here, I was aware of one thing. This should be the same with the other Spirits’ cases.”
“– We had powers from our angels.”
“Ahh…” It was just as Nia said. Be it the unaware Tohka, Yoshino, or Origami who was entrusted with spirit power, they could all utilize their angels unrestrainedly. The divine medium must have contained the cognition for its master to freely manipulate its capabilities.
Shidou felt at ease when he thought of Nia’s ability.
“The unknowing me could only rely on my omniscient angel <Rasiel>.”
“Don’t tell me.” Kotori looked attentively at Nia, to which she replied back, “Yeah, at that time
I came to know, what kind of existence I was, how I attained my power, and why I manifested there.”
“Wha…!” Shidou was utterly shocked.
Nia added, “I was once human, but after an incident I lost all hope on my kind….that was when a certain Spirit appeared right before my eyes.”
“…..! Phantom?!” shouted Kotori. It was the same when it happened to Miku, Origami and herself. That infatuated being which could transform humans into Spirits, that furtive Spirit whose body and whereabouts are covered by mosaics, codename <Phantom>.
“Yeah, the Spirit who turned us all into Spirits and has a body hidden in static. Did he or she also appear in front of Nia?”
“Oh so that’s its name. Although it’s unclear whether it was the same Spirit who approached imouto-chan and the others, there’s one thing we know – even if it was me I wouldn’t be able to ascertain its identity.”
“Couldn’t you use <Rasiel> to search for it?” inquired Kotori.
Nia shook her head, “The spoiler-hating Nia-chan that time couldn’t quell her curiosity and tried to investigate, but I couldn’t find anything.”
“How is that possible..?” Kotori couldn’t believe it. <Rasiel>’s omniscience is absolute. There shouldn’t be any information shrouded in its bibliography.
“Hmm how should I say this.. Rasiel could obtain the data, but I’m unable to decipher it.”
“That means something occurred?”
“I don’t know… only <Rasiel>’s referencing was severed, or more precisely its power was forcefully obstructed by some kind of unduly angel using a ‘bug’. Analogous to the manga industry, if the competition is too much, you’d get swamped by the gauged efficacy.”
“Yeah..” Although Kotori understood what Nia meant, she still felt choked.
“Well in short, I was bestowed a Sephira crystal and transformed into a Spirit by that Phantom. My human recollections were also sealed after that and I remained inactive prior to my arrival.”
“…..” Shidou was speechless. If Nia’s testaments turned out to be true, then there’s a possibility that Tohka and the others also harbored a human past. Seeing Shidou in deep thought, Nia continued.
“That’s why I thought everyone was like this. But looking at it attentively, not everyone has the ability to see the past like me. For this reason alone, I avoided discussing it with everyone.”
“I see..” muttered Shidou. It’s true that with Nia’s experience, one would think so.
“Everything I investigated into was about me, sorry it’s quite subjective.”
“No,” interrupted Kotori while autonomously sucking on the lollipop in her mouth. “The information you provided is very useful. Theoretically speaking, if you’re correct, it’ll revolutionize what we think. Looks like we’ll need to check whether there was a lost girl 30 years ago.”
“Sorry about that too. If I hadn’t gotten my <Rasiel> snatched away, I could execute that now,” repented Nia.
“Never mind that, I’m glad you’re safe.”
Origami, having kept her mouth shut until now, suggested, “However with your mere reserve of spirit power left, Shidou shouldn’t have be able to seal you and you could summon your angel and manifest your limited Astral dress.”
“Eh? There’s still some left?” asked Nia in puzzlement. Origami nodded.
“Power sealed by Shidou can flow back during unstable emotions or after controlled training.”
“A restless consciousness, eh?” Nia closed her eyes and began whispering something.
“Hey Nia, you haven’t fully recovered yet so don’t force it.”
“Oh yeah?” As if masking Shidou’s words, Nia’s body emitted a pale radiance which coalesced into a book on her hand.
“Woah!” The sudden materialization of <Rasiel> startled him.
“Ehehe, don’t underestimate a mangaka’s wishful thinking! All it takes is a simple deadline!”
Nia gave a thumbs up.
“…..” Looks like every mangaka in the world can summon angels, Shidou now respected them more.
“Okay, let’s see.. where is it..” Nia licked her lips and kept flipping the pages of the levitating tome. After a few moments, she knitted her brows.
“What is it, Nia?”
“Hm this won’t work. Although <Rasiel>’s ability to scour for information is still functional, it can no longer transmit it to me. I can’t understand anything that is inscribed here anymore.
It’s about the same as when I tried to look up that damned fellow before,” sighed Nia.
“Well then, there’s no other way.”
“I’m sorry.. —Ah but it’s not completely indecipherable. Boy stashes his treasure in..”
“What the hell are you searching for?!” shouted Shidou with an abashed look on his face.
Kotori and Origami continued unaffectedly.
“At the backmost part of his desk drawer.” “There are a few in his encyclopedia case.”
“Ehhhh?” Shidou unpurposely spewed out.
Mana’s perspiration flowed down her cheeks. Staring at the two, “How do you two know that??”
Kotori and Origami just shrugged away, with an expression of guilt and indifference respectively.
On the other hand, Nia was in the course of affirming <Rasiel>’s leftover power and thought of something.
“So that’s how it is.. perhaps..” Nia extending her hand, trying to manifest her Astral dress, and a pen materialized out of thin air. “Oh, very capable I see.”
Nia proficiently manipulated the pen and scribbled onto a page on <Rasiel>. Unrecognizable characters and innumerable lines formed on the page. A fine example of poor handwriting.
“Nia, what are you doing?”
Nia raised the corners of her mouth and answered, “I’m writing the future.”
Shidou was amazed at her words. Future inscription – that was one of Nia’s (godly) abilities which allowed her to realize whatever she wrote on Rasiel.
“This is indeed <Rasiel>’s strongest ability; therefore, in my incomplete condition I can’t use it. And also that head of the organization which stole my Sephira crystal, DEM, can’t utilize it too.”
“I see..” Shidou was relieved after hearing that.
Head of DEM industries, Westcott, having acquired her Sephira crystal after she inversed – or her inverse Sephira crystal – could arbitrarily call forth the Demon King Beelzebub at any
time. Suppose he had the future inscription ability as well, Shidou and the others would find themselves in a rather desperate situation.
“I have an idea — <Rasiel> originally constituted of informative pages and blank ones.
Ordinary future writing employed blank pages.” Nia showed them the pages filled with what resembled children’s drawings.
“Ehehe, <Rasiel> and <Beelzebub> were formerly a single embodiment. The pair couldn’t both exist simultaneously. If <Rasiel>’s database in such a state, then I suspect <Beelzebub>’s wielder is also experiencing exhaustion.”
“Ah…” Shidou realized Nia’s intention. Having witnessed Westcott command Beelzebub,
Kotori and Origami too followed suit.
“True, the all-knowing Demon King Beelzebub falling into enemy hands is a tremendous loss, this way we can hamper our adversary.”
“Well.. only a minor hindrance. It’s just that the search engine is now a chaotic mess.”
“Even if it’s only that, it means quite a lot. Very quick-witted, Nia.”
“Hehe, I got praised by imouto-chan.” Nia complacently puffed out her chest.
“Nevertheless, hindering the enemy doesn’t mean that we’ve disabled them, we must be extremely cautious at all times. For this reason it’s enough that I be the only one to shed blood.”
“…..” Shidou was at a loss for words.
“….Aah, can’t let anyone get injured. That includes you too, Nia,” Shidou finally uttered. Nia faintly blushed and smiled.
“Ehehe, what’s up Boy? Don’t tell me you like older girls? And I thought you were lolicon.”
“But I’m happy. Thanks,” said Nia shyly.
Looking at the scene at hand, Kotori sighed, “However, as Nia mentioned, there’s the most powerful wizard Ellen M. Mathers and the Demon King <Beelzebub> that’s already quite troublesome. Not only that, but a new wizard has appeared.”
“…..” Origami shuddered while listening to Kotori’s words. Seeing her reaction, Shidou thought of the wizard who descended from the sky and incised inverse Nia’s abdomen yesterday. Come to think of it, Origami knew her name.
“Hey Origami, that time..”
“…..” As if she read Shidou’s mind, Origami immediately answered, “Yes. I’m acquainted with that wizard.”
“What?” exclaimed Kotori.
Origami continued with an unchanging expression, “Her name is Artemisia Bell Ashcroft. She’s affiliated with England’s Anti-spirit Team.”
“Artemisia?!” This time it was Mana’s turn to dissent. She gave an unconvinced look and turned to Origami.
“Are you familiar with her, Mana?”
“Yes, she’s very popular among wizards, I met her before. SSS-rank wizard, Adeptus 2, almost as strong as Mathers. If she had enrolled in DEM at that time, my position would have decreased by a rank.”
“She’s that strong….” Cold sweat dripped from Shidou’s forehead. Mana’s level was in the top five wizards and for her to speak like that… Artemisia’s power was unimaginable.
“That’s right… but” Mana looked over to Origami as if asking for authorization. Origami nodded affirmatively.
“The Artemisia I knew didn’t join DEM, maybe something happened.”
“So that’s it. We all know what DEM industries are capable of.” Kotori frowned.
“Anyway, no matter what happened, the truth is that Artemisia is now an enemy. Other than investigating Spirits, we should also be alert against her.”
“…..” Shidou and the others agreed with Kotori’s statements.
“Okay, let’s stop here for today. It would be bad if a certain wounded someone rested too late.”
“Oh? Imouto-chan is worried about me? Don’t worry; I used to work throughout the night before.”
“I said your current condition requires a lot of rest.” Kotori face palmed.
Nia, meaning no ill will, bowed apologetically to Kotori and allowed <Rasiel> to vanish in the air.
“Alright, it’s time for us to leave.”
After everyone left the room, Shidou paused in his tracks, as if remembering something.
“Mana, you wanted to ask me something just now?” Everyone had their attention focused on Nia, forgetting Mana’s intention when she arrived.
“Aah that’s right,” Mana remembered at last. “Onii-sama, didn’t your Spirit power go berserk last month?”
“Yeah, you were a big help back then,” remembered Shidou. Actually, he could only faintly recall his memories of that time. Last month, as result of the spiritual path narrowing, the spirit power overflowed and went amok. Aside from the Spirits, Mana had also lent a hand.
“No, it’s my duty to help Onii-sama when he needs it.”
“Onii-sama would do the same for me right?”
“Eh? Of course.”
“That’s why,” said Mana truthfully. “But there’s one thing I mind.”
“And that is?”
“When you were fighting Ellen, Onii-sama said to me, ‘It’d be great without any problems,’, ‘what’s up with Mio, didn’t she come to help?’”
(TL note: Chinese Character used here is 澪, which is a close equivalent for the katakana ミ オ used for Mio .)
“Mio….?” A confused look formed on everyone else’s face.
“Yes, when I heard that, I inexplicably went dizzy, and a hazy image reminisced in my mind.
Perhaps this has something to do with me and Onii-sama’s past memories?”
“Is that so…? But..” Shidou puzzled. He had heard this name somewhere before, but he didn’t even know if he had actually said those words. “I’m sorry but..–”
Just then. Shidou felt a violent dizziness as if the whole world was spinning in his head.
“Eh…” Shidou’s whole body involuntarily trembled and he collapsed onto the ground. “Onii-sama?!” Mana tried to support him, but Shidou’s vertigo did not halt.
A vast expanse of whiteness filled his vision and a diminished voice spread through the fog.
《—-Mio. That’s… my name.》
《Un. I’m happy, very happy.》
《I love you. Let’s always be together.》
A perfectly clear figure of a long haired girl could be seen within his muddled mind. The next moment, Shidou’s consciousness fell into an abysmal void.
“I was really shocked that time and suddenly fell,” said the kimono-outfitted Kotori at the shrine.
“Sorry for making you worry..”
“No problem, I’m used to it already.” Although she said so care freely, after hearing from Mana, Kotori was the most anxious one back there.
“….What’s wrong with that?”
“Ah.. nothing,” Shidou petted her head. “I wish Mana was here today.”
“Well, even though she said that she detests crowded places, there were no issues with her medical examination. Maybe we should’ve pulled her here..”
Seeing Kotori fiddle around with her hair, Shidou couldn’t help but grin wryly. In response, Kotori shied away timidly.
“Anyway, did anything pop up afterwards…regarding Mio?”
“Nothing at all,” heaved Shidou. He did perceive a sense of familiarity when he heard Mio’s name. However, everything, be it hallucinations or illusions, disappeared without a trace.
“Is that so…” Kotori fished out another lollipop from her sleeve, tore the wrapper, and slipped the treat into her mouth.
“That’s just if.”
“….If it was back then, including Mio’s case, what would you do, Shidou?”
“Kotori…,” whispered Shidou. “Don’t worry, I’ll be your Onii-chan forever. I won’t go anywhere.”
“Wha…I didn’t say that!!”
“Haha, sorry. Anyway let’s write our wishing plaques.” Shidou handed over the pen to Kotori, which she accepted with a ‘teehee’.
《Tch, that Kotori’s association of sugar….》
“The problem with this world was neither war nor drugs; rather, it’s an elevator breakdown.”
— Ellen M. Mathers.
Repeatedly reciting those lines in her mind, Ellen was currently ascending the stairs in DEM industries’ Japan branch.
“Ha….. ha…..” Legs cramped and lungs exhausted, Ellen wailed in agony as her knees were at breaking point. Her whole body quivered as if she was gushing perspiration everywhere, her pale blond hair sticking laboriously to her face and neck.
“Why…. why did it have to stop now of all times…”
“Everything fine, Ellen?” said the young girl in front of her.
She had slightly deeper blond hair with sapphire eyes and hadn’t even broken a sweat –
Artemisia Bell Ashcroft. She had joined DEM a few days ago and is now Ellen’s direct subordinate.
“But you look tired. Do you require any assistance?”
“There’s no need for that.”
“Even though there are still four more floors left?”
“This is merely because we went swimming in the pool just now!” exclaimed Ellen. Before she was convoked, Ellen was indeed exercising in the newly built facility for training.
She exhaled deeply, remembering the previous scene. Wearing a swimsuit which exposed her smooth limbs, Ellen boldly entered the swimming pool. Held in her hand was her beloved weapon Puriduen, named after a goddess. Seeing her posture at the scene, numerous wizards cleared her path.
“Could that be a… buoy in her hand? Is it possible that the chief executive can’t –”
“Idiot don’t say that out loud! Are you tired of living?!”
The wizards who were training began to talk in whispers. Although it was difficult to hear from such a distance, Ellen’s frightening disposition made them shiver in fear.
Ellen then raised her hair, ignorant to what extent the commoners would venerably revere of her. Anything works.
“Well then, let’s begin.” Ellen readied her preparations and approached the poolside.
Without violating propriety and directly diving in, Ellen slowly touched the surface with her toe and plopped into the water. Puriduen in her hand, she started pitter-pattering her legs.
Unaware of how far she advanced, Ellen spotted her colleague Ashcroft in a nearby lane.
A wizard’s main source of capacitance is his CR-unit and isn’t hugely affected by his own body’s stamina. But enhancing basic physical strength is also very important; hence it wasn’t odd that they came here.
Ellen shifted her focus back to the front and tried her best to strike the water with her legs while forwarding her head.
“Ha…. ha….” After reaching the center of the pool, as if she had reached her physical limit, Ellen stopped to gasp for breath, and headed towards Ashcroft. It looked like even Ellen was no match for her.
“Uwaah~.. so fast. How many laps had that swimmer completed?”
“I think it’s around her eighth.”
“What about chief executive?”
“Don’t ask if you don’t want to die!”
The other wizards whispered while observing Ellen and Ashcroft. Although it was unclear, the chief executive proved to be the strongest even out of the battlefield. She was used to being extolled by mortals, but they had begun to gossip and she thought it was time to force them to drop that point.
As Ellen began to vigorously swim towards her destination, a message was broadcasted.
“Second chief executive and vice chief executive, please proceed to the general affairs room on the 30th floor immediately.”
“….? What’s going on?” panted Ellen as she lifted her head after hearing the transmission through the water.
Although she lagged behind Ellen a few seconds, Ashcroft finally arrived at the goal. She then hopped ashore and called Ellen, extending a hand to prop her up.
“Ellen, that’s us. Let’s go.”
“I know.” Ellen had wanted to reject Ashcroft’s offer, but the accumulated fatigue from intense exercise had disordered her body. It was impolite to ignore an act of goodwill too, so Ellen relinquished.
“Under normal conditions, these stairs wouldn’t be a problem for me. But now this is the result of an occasional drill…”
“I also swam you know..”
“I’m different from your extraordinarily sluggish pace!” Ellen disdainfully turned to Ashcroft.
“If this goes on, Sir Westcott will be kept waiting.”
“Kuh… that’s right..” Indeed, Westcott, the Director of DEM lay in waiting on the 30th floor.
“Okay.” With determined resolution, Ashcroft snuck up behind Ellen and carried her princess-style.
“What are you doing?! Put me down this instant!”
“We’ll be at the 30th floor soon.” As soon as she finished speaking, Ashcroft dashed up the stairs at an inhuman velocity, as if Ellen was weightless.
“Waaa?! R-release me!”
“Ackk.. at least change the position! This posture evokes inappropriate thoughts!”
(TL note: she’s probably referring to Volume 12 when Shidou did that to her.)
Ellen struggled to forget that disgraceful event and attempted to bang her head against the wall. Ashcroft sighed as if she was handling an insolent brat.
“Be a good girl and stop messing around. It’ll be over soon.”
With a chorus of countless steps, Ashcroft climbed over the ultimate flight of stairs. When she finally arrived, Ashcroft liberated Ellen and straightened out her uniform.
“Never do that ever again, you’re not my mother!”
“Okay okay. Aren’t you going to knock on the door?”
“You don’t need to tell me that!” Ellen then did so.
“—- Please come in.”
“Forgive me for making you wait.”
Peering inside, they could see a man sitting on a chair in the room. An impaling pair of eyes under a dark ashen hairline – alongside a floating pitch-black book at hand. He was the renowned ruler of this company – Isaac Ray Pelham Westcott, in person.
“Yaa~, I’ve been expecting you, Ellen and Artemisia. You look like you’re exhausted, what have you two been doing?”
“Nothing important. Besides that, you called us for something?” asked Ellen vaguely.
Westcott nodded, and directed their attention towards the book. Demon King <Beelzebub> – the 31st of December’s catastrophe of despair.
“–To tell you that <Beelzebub>’s searching encountered some interference a few days ago.”
“Ehh? Did it originate from <Sister>?”
“It seems so. This heavily restricts its omniscience function, a grave mistake. But I managed to decipher that information just in time.”
“Then that means…” Ellen was momentarily overtaken by Westcott’s words.
“I found it at last – the location of the new Spirit.”
“….. !” Ellen inhaled, and tightened her fist.
“Has it appeared yet?! Where’s the result?”
Westcott raised his index finger and pointed at the sky.
English main translator: Fabio M. Sim
Editor: Vizard Maker
Chinese main translator: sfacg