It was decided immediately after the magical girl assault that the students would have to leave Sorakara Academy, where they had been for at least a year.
So many people had died. There was a risk of disease spreading from the corpses and returning the place to a liveable state would have been a daunting task. But perhaps more than anything else, they simply no longer wanted to be here anymore.
Under student council president Onizaki Reki’s leadership, the students began incinerating the corpses and preforming funerary rites. It was hard work, physically and emotionally.
As if it wasn’t already hard enough, the students were struck with a painful reminder of the upcoming war with the magical girls, and the high likelihood that they too, in the end, would end up nothing more than a mangled corpse every time they faced a body. Some students had already been driven to suicide.
The sky had returned to its original colours after the breakthrough and subsequent collapse of White Noisette’s 21 Confectionaries, but they were not greeted with pleasant weather. Rather, they faced consecutive days of heavy rain barrelling down on them.
The 21 Confectionaries manifested itself as a hemisphere reaching about 1.5km into the sky with the student council room in the centre.
Under normal circumstances, entry is allowed only at White Noisette’s discretion. There was also a second, internal layer. And within that layer finally resided the deepest internals, Sorakara Farm where Takeya and the students had been.
The magical attackers had broken as deep as they could go, all the way to Sorakara Farm. To get to Sorakara Farm, they must have had to come from the city outside.
They had laid waste everything in their path. It resembled nothing but hell on Earth.
The magical girls beheaded people merely for entering their sight as they passed through the city. They slaughtered at random and without a single care in the world, making no distinction between those who had lived upright, honest lives, or those who had lived lives of sin. They had been killed much in the same way one may non-chalantly pick up a shell at the beach.
Many of the bodies had been picked at by feral dogs or become homes to swarms of flies.
When a head-count of the settlement was taken, the inhabitants realized they had been reduced to one third of their number. However, the totalled number of survivors and the number of bodies did not entirely match up. It was assumed that many of those unaccounted for had been taken away by the magical girls, be that for labour purposes, or for entertainment.
Takeya pounded the slightly dirtied mat on his bed.
Hearing that information alone was enough to send an overflowing hatred of magical girls coursing through his veins.
The students who entered the city’s settlement were battling with emotions even stronger than his, yet during these trying, times Takeya couldn’t even get out of bed. He had no choice but to rest after the deep wounds he incurred during his battle with Ice Madeleine.
His abdomen swelled in pain.
All he had received in terms of medical care was some disinfectant and bandages. They were unable to find any anaesthetic or materials for a blood transfusion in the city.
That said, I’m probably going to make it.
Raise the Marshmallows was still active. The healing effect it provided was tremendous, and his bandages had already stopped bleeding. His arm had already regenerated down to the wrist in just under three days.
However, while Takeya was healing up just fine, the city’s hospital was still filled with intermittent cries of anguish.
Raise the Marshmallows strengthens the abilities of magical girls, but it only works on people that are in the same age range as a magical girl. In other words, it only works on teenagers, and people outside of that range will not be strengthened, and of course, will not gain its regenerative abilities.
Takeya understood that this was the reason White Noisette had chosen to confine young students like him in Sorakara Farm.
Takeya watched as dying people were carried in.
Sorakara General Hospital was quite large for what one would expect for a hospital in a city of this size, but as one would expect, it had mostly ceased its function as a medical institution after the Human Yield.
Scores of people had died as a result of the magical girl’s attack.
They attacked because White Noisette’s strength had been weakened.
Because I locked her up in that room and made her unable to eat anyone, unable to replenish her magic.
The screams continued to permeate through the hospital. For Takeya, they served as condemnations of his actions.
…How dare I live?
It would be easy to say that the fault lies not with Takeya, but with the magical girls that had done the killing, but only an outside observer could say that.
Would the people who suffered irreversible damage to their bodies be able to suppress their sadness and anger, or even forgive the person that caused it all?
They’ll probably never forgive me. In my case, I can’t forgive the student council president.
When it’s put like that, Takeya was forced to act by Reki. That’s how Reika was killed. But still, most people would probably say that Takeya was the one that caused all of this, not Reki.
For the umpteenth time, Takeya reflected upon how his machinations had led to the weakening of White Noisette’s magic. His goals and intentions are irrelevant; all that matters is the result. And the result is piles of dead, all thanks to his actions. With no other outlet, people’s emotions would surely be directed towards Takeya.
It wouldn’t be weird if someone tried to kill me at this point… but…
Continuing down that line of thought, there’s no way could be allow himself to be killed. He would never apologize, even if he wanted to. He will not accept his own sins.
Because there’s no way a world that would kill Reika-san can continue as is.
He has to change it, change this mad world.
And to that end…
I’ll slaughter as many magical girls as I can.
He felt an odd foreign sensation in his chest as he thought that.
These feelings were wrong, even if didn’t quite feel like it to him.
Takeya squinted his eyes as a flashlight was pointed in his face. Before he knew it, he was clenching his teeth together so hard it was actually painful.
He took a deep breath and relaxed.
When he was trapped in Sorakara Farm, there was no night. He had forgotten what night was like, but it still awoke a primordial fear within him. Without a single streetlight lit, the city was covered by a pitch-black darkness that seemed like it could swallow him up at any time.
She should have been exhausted after finishing today’s work, but she had made her way through the darkness to him.
Takeya immediately noticed the thing sitting on her shoulders.
Takeya ignored the giddy Usakoro as he jumped up and down and started talking to Lilly.
“You don’t need to come visit me. You should focus on taking care of yourself first.”
Her pale face had an air of exhaustion around it.
“I keep telling you that you’re too informal. Stop dropping honorifics with me.”
Even her usual complaint lacked its distinctive vigour.
Lilly sat down on the bed without saying a word. It was faint, but Takeya could feel her physically shaking.
He couldn’t quite fully make out her expression and complexion due to the darkness, but there was clearly something wrong with her, and it was not a typical form of exhaustion.
Lilly froze up for a few seconds then started speaking in a light voice.
“You know my parents are still alive in Sorakara City, right?”
“…You know how we were able to leave Sorakara Farm after the magical girl’s attack? After I made sure you were still alive I got worried about my parents and headed to my house.”
Takeya stayed silent.
Looking at Lilly’s face gave him a good idea of what was coming next.
“Mum… And Dad… weren’t there.”
It was just as he expected, yet no less horrible.
“I started looking in the area but I couldn’t find them. I tried waiting, but they didn’t come home. I tried looking for them in between the time I was cleaning up the bodies, and even after we were done… but I couldn’t find them.”
“After work… Wouldn’t that make it took dark to really see anything?”
“It doesn’t matter if it was too dark.”
Lilly responded swiftly.
“I had to try.”
He couldn’t see that well in the dark, but he could still clearly see the bags under Lilly’s eyes. She probably hadn’t slept much.
“I looked as hard as I could, but I couldn’t find them anywhere in this city. I didn’t just blindly wander around in the dark. I asked around. My dad’s German, he should stick out like a sore thumb… but nobody knows anything.”
Lilly tightened her fists.
“I… I even looked through the bodies… It was horrible. Of course, I didn’t actually want to end up finding them dead in there… Magical girls really are horrible, aren’t they? It’s put me off eating meat ever again. In the end they weren’t there either. They’re nowhere to be seen.”
Takeya has no idea what he should say to her. There were no words that could console someone facing the horror of their parents going missing.
“Hey, Takeya. I didn’t know anything.”
Lilly put on a strong face, but she still seemed a bit unfocused.
“You fought when Reika was chosen as a sacrifice. When you rose up and spoke out I understood how you felt, but I thought you were going too far. If I was in your position, I wouldn’t have done what you did. I wouldn’t have been able to.”
Lilly took something out of her pocket.
It was her favourite survival knife.
“But I’ve changed. I feel like I’m on your level now. I don’t care about appearances anymore. Whether I actually succeed or not has become a secondary concern.”
Lilly ran her fingers down the blade of her knife.
“I’m going to do it.”
“Lilly… what are you doing to do?”
Lilly peered into Takeya’s eyes.
“If my parents aren’t among the corpses, they might have been taken away by magical girls, right? Of course it’s still possible they’ve already become minced-up corpses or unidentifiably charred bodies, but until I find out the truth, I’m going to believe they’re alive.”
Lilly drove her knife into the wall.
She took a moment of silence as she pulled the knife back out and brandished it.
“I’m going to get my parents back. From them.”
“Get them back? You mean…“
Insanity. Moreso than when Takeya tried to defeat White Noisette.
What Lilly is trying to do is a world away from trying to beat one or two magical girls. They’d have to charge right into the enemy’s home and kill god knows how many of those monsters.
“You’ve been doing nothing but reckless things, so don’t even think about giving me anything about how reckless it is. Fortunately, we can kill magical girls now. We might not be that good, but we’re not powerless anymore. Right, Usakoro?”
Usakoro answered from Lilly’s shoulder.
“I truly understand how you feel, but please hold on for a moment. Can we even actually trust White Noisette? Do we have any proof she isn’t an enemy? She’s still a magical girl, after all. Can we really put our faith in Raise the Marshmallows when we’re still not sure why she’s using it on us?”
Usakoro looked confusedly at Takeya.
“Takeya Do you remember that time?”
For some reason, visions of Takeya’s hometown appeared in his mind, and he remembered the snow-like magical girl he saw there, but he shook his head and drove them out.
Why am I thinking of that crap? It’s nothing but an all-too-convenient dream. There’s no way there’s such a selfless magical girl, nevermind one that’s out to save humanity.
“So you don’t remember I suppose there’s nothing we can do about that but Noi is just a poor soul. Please don’t say things like that anymore.”
“What do you mean ‘poor soul’? If she’s such a poor soul, why is she giving us her magic? If she’s really trying to defeat other magical girls, why doesn’t she fight? Doesn’t she have any magical allies? Surely that would be far more effective than turning us into soldiers. Are we not just dangling from a spider’s web, clinging on for dear life as the spider watches in amusement?”
“Noi can’t fight. She can’t rely on other magical girls either. All she wants is to save everyone.”
“Do you really think that’s believable?”
Usakoro just stared at Takeya dejectedly, offering no response.
“If she wants us to believe her, she could at least show her true form. Is she really among Class 18?”
“It can’t be done… Red Sahne and the others would find out who she is. She’d be killed.”
“If your goal was to protect her identity, why did you reveal to the student council that she was in Class 18 in the first place?”
“So they’d defend her when the magical girls attacked. Class 18 was saved by taking refuge in the student council room. We wouldn’t have been able to give Class 18 refuge if we didn’t say Noi was in that class, right?”
“That’s enough, Takeya. It doesn’t matter what White Noisette was thinking when she gave us this this power. If I have power, I can fight. That doesn’t change. Hey, Usakoro, tell me. Who am I after? ”
Usakoro slowly descended off of Lilly’s shoulder and onto the bed.
He then looked back up at her and spoke.
Takeya instinctively bit his lips upon mention of a magical girl named after a colour.
“That doesn’t mean she’s our only enemy, since Noi is the only magical girl that would ally with humans, but this time it was her. She’s really strong. She’s a Crayon, like Noi.”
Crayons, those magical girls who wield exceptional strength, even compared to others of their kind. Monsters among monsters. They are leaders without exception, rising to lead other magical girls around them. Only they are capable of manifesting their own 21 Confectionaries; in them, they build their own little utopias, hoarding humans with the help of other magical girls.
The amount of magic they can store is on a completely different level from other magical girls, as is the magic they can use. For example, White Noisette’s Raise the Marshmallows is truly exceptional. No normal magical girl could hope to wield magic on such a large scale or magic that affects so many people.
“Red Sahne is the cruellest and most belligerent, even among Crayons. She thinks of humans as nothing more than toys. She doesn’t get along with Noi at all. That’s probably why she came the second Noi’s 21 Confectionaries was weakened.“
“…Usakoro, what kind of magic does Red Sahne use?”
“Fire magic. I wonder, if she felt like it, and only had a few seconds to spare, could she still burn this whole place to the ground?”
Takeya had already heard Red Sahne’s name during the magical girls’ attack, so he was prepared for a conversation like this. But hearing of such power made him lock up with fear. If what Usakoro is saying is true, and she really can reduce whole areas to smoulders in a matter of seconds, then how can he possibly defeat an enemy like that?
But Lilly’s reaction was completely different. She was not overcome with fear, rather, she simply narrowed her eyes.
She glared at Usokoro and spat out her name.
“So that’s her name.”
Unfortunately this part isn’t done yet!