One of Takeya’s classmates opened his mouth. It was Kishinami Zan, a student council member who was a year younger than Takeya, wearing his trademark cynical grin.
“There are two types of people. Those who fight, and those who run. Those who resist the magical girl and try to change their situation, and those who submit to her and try to live out the rest of their lives as best as they can.”
“So, Takeya, which of these are the ones running?”
Takeya understood what he was trying to say. After all, they had been long-time friends, since before they even came to Sorakara Farm.
Takeya grimaced and avoided answering. Zan glared at him with his characteristic narrow eyes and continued.
“Those who operate under the assumption they can defeat the magical girl, those who keep chasing after unattainable hopes. Those idiots are the ones running away. Wouldn’t you find it hilarious if an ant thought it could defeat an elephant and started going to a boxing gym?”
Maintaining his smirk, Zan turned his attention to the girl leaning on the wall next to Takeya.
“I didn’t think you were like that, Lilly. I’ve given up on such fantasies.”
She did not take it well.
“You’re quite annoying, aren’t you, Zan? Call me Lilly-san. Besides, I never thought we could defeat the magical girl.”
“Oh, so you’re just in it for his body? I admire your adaptability, being able to find room for that kind of thing in this world. Seriously!”
“I-I’m not in it for his bod-”
Lilly’s face went red.
“You say that, Zan, but…”
Takeya jumped to Lilly’s defence.
“Why you are you leading us to the student council room if you think it’s a fantasy?”
The student council room is a special area created by White Noisette’s magic. It is the only place on school grounds where magic can be used, and no one can enter unless they are accompanied by a student council member.
Why does the student council room alone have this arrangement? It is because the student council is responsible for communicating White Noisette’s wishes to the rest of the students.
Out of all the students, the student council are the closest to her. They also have the strongest inclinations to obey her. Some of them have not only submitted to her, but also outright pledged their loyalty to her.
As a member of the student council, Zan is no exception.
“Why am I taking you there?”
“I know what you’re like. You’re the kind of guy that’ll never go back on his decisions no matter how much evidence comes up to the contrary. If I didn’t, you’d just find another student council member, so I thought I, as your old friend, would take on the duty so you don’t bother them.
“I will also say that it is partly because I believe that even if you were to discover a way of defeating the magical girl, there is absolutely no way you would be able to actually pull it off.”
“Ah, I see. But thanks anyway.”
Zan said nothing in response and remained silent as he took a step toward the door to the student council room. It looked nothing like the practically-ruined school. It was dark red, almost like a toy.
He grabbed his student council armband and raised it at the door. That is how they open it.
The insignia on the armband started shining a bright white while dazzling light poured out of the door as it opened. It was an intense light, the kind of which would never be seen in the natural world.
The red door did not open. Rather, it disappeared.
What replaced it in front of Takeya’s eyes was not a room, but a magical vortex. It looked like milk and coffee had been swirled together.
Takeya’s chest started pounding. He gulped and tentatively put his hand in the vortex.
The vortex had no feeling, no temperature. But then it began welling up. It felt absolutely horrible. Like he was freezing, like there were needles coursing through his veins.
“When I see something like this, I understand.”
“She really is a monster.”
As long as a magical girl continues to transform, she does not age. Her appearance is fixed anywhere between 10 to 16 years old.
It is said that when transformed, they are seven times stronger than humans and that even if any part of them is destroyed, it will quickly regenerate. There’s even a story of one getting blown to pieces and returning to normal within a minute.
They can only be damaged by magic. Transformed or untransformed, this does not change. There is no way for magic-less humans to kill them. So does that mean they are impossible to kill?
Indeed, it is impossible. Or at least, that is what Zan and Lilly say. But Takeya was focusing on a certain attribute of theirs: even magical girls must eat.
It seems like they simply cannot co-exist with humans, but that is not true. In fact, it is the opposite. They are essential food for a magical girl. There is no way they would drive humans to extinction.
That is why White Noisette came up with the idea of raising them on the farm. Other magical girls also rounded up humans, though their methods differ.
We will not give her food. If we can do that, can we kill her…?
That which does not eat will die. This is a law of nature. There is no telling whether magical girls, who exist outside of normal laws, will die from simply not eating. But they definitely eat meals, so starvation must have some kind of effect. It is definitely worth testing.
“So, that is your theory?”
The student council president, Onizaki Reki, said, then paused for a while.
The student council room is about as big as a gym, but the boundaries are invisible. The white background seems like it goes on forever. The entire place seems like it goes on forever.
Even where Takeya’s feet stood, he could not tell where the floor was. It was like he was standing in the air or on the sea.
There are no rules. Concepts such as left and right, up and down, and front and back are all incomprehensible. Deformed fish and birds happily swim and fly around. They do not abide by their traditional practice of flying through the sky or swimming through the sea, and instead roam freely through the entire area.
“Ah, what a fun atmosphere,” one might say, but the reality was horrible.
If I dared to stay in this room for any extended period of time, I’d lose my mind.
The student council vice president, Rairen Leila, was standing next to Takeya and the rest, wearing four sabres on her body and her arms crossed.
She hides her age from the other students. Her secretarial intelligence and adult face are accentuated by her thin silver glasses. The cold narrow eyes behind those glasses gave off a strong impression that she was ready to cut down Takeya at any time, depending on how the conversation went.
And indeed, Takeya was fully prepared for that. After all, they are student council members, as close to White Noisette as a human can get. There were five of them in the room, six including Zan. They had no interest in Takeya’s fantasizing of methods to defeat White Noisette and offered him suitably bored looks.
In the deepest part of the room, there were desks and chairs scattered about chaotically. The big heavy desk that the president seemed to own looked like it came straight out of a fairy tale. The Japanese sword on top of it even more so. It had a different feel from the others, like it was the desk of the only person the magical girl would allow to exist in this space.
And sitting behind that desk, stretched out in a majestic chair without a care in the world was the man said to be the strongest human around, student council president Onizaki Reki. His eyes were fixed on Takeya.
“Let’s start with why. Why are you telling us, the people loyal to White Noisette, your ideas on how to kill her?”
Reki asked Takeya, his entire body save his mouth remaining still.
Reki is androgynous, with long hair you could easily roll fingers through without getting tangled, a truly beautiful young man. But when he’s sitting there like a work of art not even moving an eyebrow, he looks like a lifeless mannequin.
It’s hard to believe that at 16 years old, he’s younger than Takeya.
Seriously… He has such a weird aura.
There is a fitting story as to why he is called the strongest human.
When he was first locked in Sorakara Farm, he was attacked by a magical girl many times, but he was able to fend them off all by himself using his katana.
The idea that he is able to go up against an enemy that can use magic in addition to being seven times stronger than any human is unbelievable at first glance.
However, in a way it makes sense. Magical girls cannot die, but they can feel pain. Even if they are not killed, even they may be tempted to give in to an enemy that can cause them serious pain. Though there is no one except Onizuka Reki that can even hope to achieve this.
He does not rebel against White Noisette even though he has this power. On the contrary, he cuts down those who oppose her without so much as a change of facial expression.
Takeya had no idea what he is thinking. If he’s that strong, why the hell does he obey her? Or perhaps it is because he is that strong that he understands the sheer difference in power between himself and a magical girl?
In any case, the only thing that is certain is that telling the student council, which serves White Noisette, his plans to kill their master is practically suicide. If it is seen as rebellion, it would be entirely normal for him to be cut down right then and there by Reki or Leila.
But he did it despite that, or indeed, because of that.
“I fully intend to kill White Noisette. In order to do that, everyone in Sorakara Farm must join together. Everyone.”
“I see. You’re thinking that if you don’t convince the student council first, nobody else will follow you. And conversely, if the student council of all people rebel, the rest of the students will wake up and follow, and she will have a total war on her hands.”
“Exactly. I want you to be absolutely dedicated to killing White Noisette as well.”
One of the female council members couldn’t hold herself back anymore and shouted hysterically back at Takeya.
“Stop screwing around! There is no way we would kill White Noisette!”
“I’m not screwing around at all. I intend to cooperate with you as well if possible.”
“An insult! This is an insult!”
The girl unsheathed her sword and charged straight at Takeya.
Takeya did not have time to react to such a sudden attack. He had no chance to take any evasive manoeuvres.
But Takeya remained unharmed.
“Vice president… Why…?”
Leila had also drawn her sword and blocked the girl’s attack.
“Aren’t you disgusted by the crap he’s spouting?!”
“My feelings are irrelevant. As the president has yet to decide what should happen, your attacks are rash and need to stop. That is all. Please reflect on your actions.”
The girl made a sour face and put her sword back in its sheath.
She really was out of control, but nobody here thinks she did anything strange.
Takeya’s surprise was like the kind one would find in a haunted house. The fact she tried to kill him is completely unsurprising. What surprised him was the sheer suddenness of it.
This world is filled with death. Killing and being killed are common. There are also many people who had experienced murdering someone, so Takeya had fully expected to be attacked during such a grave conversation.
Takeya took a moment to reassess the situation. He could lose his life with one stupid mistake. These negotiations were like tight-rope walking, like a battle.
“Well then, let’s continue.”
Not even the recent fight was enough to make Reki raise his eyebrows.
“And how exactly do you intend to stop White Noisette from eating?”
Takeya regained his bearings and started talking again.
“We restrain her. There is at least one case of it being done successfully before. President, with someone as powerful as you and the support of the rest of the students, would it not be possible?”
“We will have to sacrifice a lot of people, but it may be possible.”
“Then let’s do it!”
“That’s easy to say, isn’t? Those sacrifices are human lives. Are you able to shoulder that kind of responsibility?”
Takeya was lost for words for a moment.
“I certainly can’t puff my chest out and say I have the right to decide other people’s fates. But if we just continue doing nothing, we’re just going to end up dead.”
“Won’t we also die if we lose White Noisette’s divine protection?”
Those words sent Takeya, who had initially been unsure of how Reki felt about White Noisette, flying into a rage.
She’s keeping us as cattle but he’s talking like she’s some kind of saviour. I can’t allow that!
“Divine protection?! Don’t stop thinking just because she seems invincible! If you stop thinking you’re no different from an animal! You must know that White Noisette will eat the student council members as well! There will be no exceptions. There will be no special treatment. You’re going to get killed one day. What the hell are you doing? Do you want to fuck her or something?!”
“T-Takeya! You’re going too far! You’re going to get yourself killed!”
Lilly grabbed Takeya and held him back.
“I-I apologize, President. He’s panicking because someone he cares about is scheduled to be eaten next. Forgive him! P-Please forgive him!”
Lilly desperately petitioned for forgiveness.
Reki’s eyebrows moved ever so slightly. For someone whose eyebrows had not moved an inch, even when his comrades were charged at, Takeya thought it was a truly rare sight. And with that rare sight, Takeya finally calmed down.
“Sorry Lilly. Thanks.”
“Never mind me, apologize to the president!”
Takeya shouted “I apologize!” and bowed his head, but he realized…
I’m probably going to get executed.
There is no way out.
The negotiations were going badly, but Takeya had just made it even worse. There is no way that Reki, who treasures order over all else, would forgive such things being spoken of in front of the student council. There is little chance that the rest of the council, who adore Reki, would let it slide either.
Even Leila, who should be maintaining her calm, was unable to hide her anger. If Reki gave the signal, they would execute Takeya without a moment’s hesitation.
But for what seemed like an eternity, Reki signalled nothing.
Takeya raised his head, dripping with sweat.
Reki was holding back the student council, who were ready to cut down Takeya any minute, with a hand gesture.
Takeya took a long, relieved sigh. He had no idea why, but it seemed that for now, Reki had no intention of killing him.
Zan looked stunned at how things had gone.
“Takeya, I was actually sort of hoping that you would be able to move the president’s heart. I know you’re the kind of guy that can occasionally pull that kind of thing off.”
Zan sighed as well.
“But I’m disappointed. All you’re doing is shouting hysterically. Who’s going to want to follow that?”
Takeya had no response to Zan’s grin.
He didn’t think that trying to sort things out with the student council was a mistake, but he knew that it had ended disastrously.
“Give up, Takeya. I feel your pain. What’s going to happen to Reika affects me as well. I don’t want her to be sacrifice with all my heart. But that’s all. I can only understand your feelings. Nobody is going to show an interest in your plans based on feelings alone.”
“No, they’re definitely interested.”
Zan’s eyes opened at Takeya’s statement.
The rest of the student council were surprised as well, even Leila.
“I think I understand now. The reason for that outburst before, is it that girl?”
Reki responded to Takeya’s question.
“Ijuuin Reika-kun, right?”
Even just hearing that name made Takeya’s body go stiff.
“I have a good understanding of the students’ personalities. Probably far more than any of you expect. But I would never have predicted the sheer rage you have shown until now. It is completely unexpected.”
“It was inevitable. Takeya is so lost at the moment.”
Reki nodded at Lilly’s follow-up.
“Indeed. Takeya is very different from his usual self. This emotion, this recklessness, this plan to kill White Noisette – it’s all because of Ijuuin Reika. Am I mistaken?”
He’s… not mistaken. No matter how much I go on about ideals, that is the bottom line.
Takeya bit his lips. He realized how ridiculous he sounded. Risking his life and pressing the student council for one girl. There’s no way anyone would go along with that.
“The problem is…”
Reki picked up his sword and stood up.
The rest of the council looked on in surprise, as if Reki actually wielding his sword was a rare occurrence.
“The problem is that you are not the only person that idolizes Ijuuin Reika.”
“…What do you mean?”
“Actually, the student council has been hectic. There are countless people who, like you, are thinking about rebelling against White Noisette since Reika-kun was chosen as the next sacrifice. They want to save her, just like you.”
“I’m not the only one taking action…?”
Takeya was certain that he loved Reika more than anyone else, but apparently there were plenty of people for which it would be an understatement to describe their opinion of her using “adoration.” That number had only been increasing since Takeya came to Sorakara Farm.
“I’m not sure if she’s aware of it or not, but Reika-kun drives people mad.”
“Drives people mad? I have no idea what you’re on about. She’s just nicer than anyone else.”
“But are you not, at this very moment, being made to risk your own life for her?”
“No. This is my own decision.”
Reki ignored Takeya’s response and continued.
“I had thought that if Reika-kun wasn’t present, her influence would be absent as well… How dangerous. There is an extremely high chance that in losing her, cracks will start forming in the orderly system that is our daily lives. And you are the closest of all to Ijuuin Reika, your ‘ruler.’ Hah.”
Reki shot Takeya a look so sharp it could have actually shot him.
“You said you were going to restrain White Noisette, right?”
Takeya felt pressured, but still gave a slight nod.
“Naturally, you will be in charge of this endeavour and assume responsibility of it?”
“O-Of course. I have it all planned out.”
Reki started walking towards Takeya. The air turned cold and sharp, like it was slicing his skin.
Is he going to kill me?
Everything he saw pointed to “yes”, but Takeya’s legs were stuck to the floor. He was unable to move. Such was the strength of Reki’sthat imposing demeanor.
His body was stiff. His head was covered in sweat and his heartbeat had gone into overdrive, abandoning any sense of rhythm. He was even forgetting to breathe.
“A while ago, you imagined me as some kind of animal, no?”
Reki, who normally never changes his facial expression, gave a faint frown.
Just as Takeya noticed that Reki drew his sword… It was already back in its scabbard.
That is all Takeya saw. The blade did not enter his vision even for a second.
But it was gone. Gone from the neck up. The student council girl who had attacked Takeya earlier had been decapitated.
Lilly screamed, stumbled, and fell to the floor.
“Well, I’m human!”
A moment later blood started spewing from the student council girl’s neck.
“Why did you ki-”
Takeya stopped there. No matter how acquainted with dead bodies Takeya has become, this is the first time he has ever seen someone kill someone else so easily. And it’s clear from how the victim reacted to Reki picking up his sword that the girl looked up to him. But he killed her without a moment’s hesitation anyway. Reki is truly something else.
“Why did I kill her? She was too loyal to White Noisette, a true believer. She would have disrupted your plans. So I disposed of her.”
The body, which had been standing on two legs just like when it was still alive, slowly leaned to the side and finally crumpled over. The head, having rolled far away, showed no signs of awareness of its own beheading.
“I’ll take the chance. From now on, the student council will follow your plans, servant of Ijuiin Reika.”
Reki said in plain words exactly what Takeya wanted to hear, but he was too confused to fully understand the situation. Under normal circumstances, the extraordinary situation unfolding before him was enough to bring his brain to a halt. He had no idea why Reki would suddenly make such a huge decision.
I will tell you something that only Leila and I know. We heard it from Usakoro, so there is no doubt that it is true.”
“P-President! That is…!”
Reki paid no attention to Leila’s words and turned his blood covered face directly to face Takeya.
“White Noisette is in your class.”
Those words were completely unexpected. Takeya’s mind was unable to keep up with the succession of curveballs thrown at him, but he was somehow able to squeeze out a few words.
“T-That’s impossible. I-In Sorakara Farm we live together 24 hours a day. I never lose sight of my classmates. Humans and magical girls have completely different values. There’s no way one would be able to hide amongst us…”
“Facts are facts. Please accept it.”
“But that means…! White Noisette has gone such a long time without transforming! That’s unheard of for a magical girl! P-President, are you trying to screw with me? If you aren’t, please show us some proof!”
Takeya understood that there was no way Reki would simply provide him with proof in a place like this. He blurted those words out because of how difficult it was to swallow what he was saying, but…
Reki responded as such. He took some kind of heavy object out of his uniform’s pocket, placed it in Takeya’s hands, which he then closed around the object.
It fit perfectly in his hands.
Takeya timidly opened his hands and looked at the object. It was a small, square, and pink case with a star pattern on top. It looked a bit like a toy.
It wasn’t too light and it wasn’t too heavy. It looked like it was made of plastic, but it seemed a lot heavier than sturdier than plastic.
It was a ridiculous design, completely inappropriate for the current situation.
(It’s quite gaudy… Is this a ring case?)
And then, he realized.
Takeya stared at Reki with wide open in surprise.
“It’s probably exactly what you are thinking. Did you know? Magical girls transform by putting on magical rings. One of those rings is inside that case. Whatever you do, please be careful not to touch the jewel. If anyone but the owner touches it, it will rip out their soul immediately.”
Takeya gulped and slowly opened the case.
In that moment – the world came into focus. Compressed. Distorted. Shaky. Hazy. Stiff. Changing colours.
Takeya snapped the case shut as fast as he could. It felt like the jewel inside was consuming everything, up to and including his very personality.
He only saw it for a moment, but he had a clear image of in it in the back of his mind.
The ring itself was gold with a small pattern engraved into it, and set onto it was a large, transparent, diamond-like jewel.
Without a doubt, he only saw it for a single moment, but one moment was more than enough for him to understand..
This cannot exist…
It is a truly dangerous thing. It is too alluring. Too maddening.
“Magical rings cannot be destroyed by humans. That said, as long as I have this in my possession White Noisette cannot transform.”
Takeya turned to Reki, his eyes still wide open.
“Why would White Noisette give something so important to a human like you?”
“Do you know how a magical girl increases the potency of her powers?”
Takeya tilted his head to the side. He had never heard of such a thing.
“That’s not surprising. Most people don’t know of it. White Noisette is the only magical girl that practices it. The rest have no need for it.”
Reki put out his arms and took the magical ring back from Takeya.
“It doesn’t matter what kind of risk. The more risks a magical girl takes, the more powerful she can become. Giving her magical ring to me and exposing herself to danger like that, it’s like she’s levelling up in a game. Usakoro said something to that effect when he passed the ring over to me.”
“If it doesn’t matter what kind of risk it is, then the reason she decided to hand it over to you is…?”
“I don’t know. White Noisette is the one who decided to do it so it’s not something I’m privy to.”
Indeed, were one to run with the idea that White Noisette pushed it on him of her own volition, it makes sense he would not know why.
But, he’s definitely lying.
Takeya isn’t naïve enough to believe such a convenient story.
He probably made some sort of deal with White Noisette. Withholding her intent makes it a convenient little story to tell the students.
Takeya thought that far then plucked his head.
But a deal? Between a human and a magical girl? The hell?
It’s unimaginable. Takeya sort of understood that White Noisette was different from other magical girls, but why would a magical girl, who is definitively stronger than a human, work with one?
Reki, who had been ignoring the confused Takeya with the same unreadable facial expression as always, spoke.
“Well then, what are we going to do now?”