The students and the residents of Sorakara City live their lives without a single thought about what’s to come. After all, they know the only future open to them is conflict with Red Sahne and her allies.
Many, seeing the destruction around them, hesitated. But it’s no surprise that many of them were terrified.
Normally during such times The Family would coordinate the people, but with the death of its leader, Ijuuin Reika, it had become dysfunctional. They had their hands full trying to collect themselves, nevermind lead the city.
But still, the city needed someone to organize them, someone to guide them. This role naturally ended up falling to Onizaki Reki, who had already been leading the students of Sorakara Farm.
Reki had, of his own volition, decided to continue Sorakara Farm and established its new base at the old Senridou University campus. It had an abundance of real estate and facilities—both necessary to accommodate the students—and the relative modernity of the buildings made the danger of their facility falling apart around them minimal.
Reki ordered a group of students to begin getting the University into a workable state while the rest continue cleaning up bodies around the city.
Once the corpses were mostly cleaned up Reki told the student council functionaries to distribute a message throughout the city.
‘We will hold a meeting to decide the future of Sorakara City.’
This meeting was to be held in the University’s courtyard.
All seven hundred and five of the city’s able-bodied residents were present. Once upon a time, famous singers frequently performed at the university, so it had a suitably spacious courtyard that could host all of the city’s surviving residents.
Under the grey skies, on the simplistic rusted-iron stage two actors were present. Onizaki Reki, the representative of the people of Sorakara City, and Minazuki Takeya, the great criminal.
Takeya, condemned to execution, was strapped to a makeshift wooden cross on the stage. His arms and legs were chained and his mouth was gagged.
He was to be killed.
The hell is this?
The crowd looked on Takeya with bloodshot eyes as they jeered and hurled insults at him. Everyone hated him, despised him.
It’s exactly as I had thought. I caused this, and with no other outlet, their frustrations have turned against me.
“Bastard! Hurry up and die!”
“My mother was taken away because of you! Accept your punishment!”
“Do you know how it feels as a parent to have your five year old daughter killed right in front of you? Do it yourself! Bite your tongue off!
“Atone with your death!”
But there’s something seriously off here…!
Yet still, the anger and bloodlust of the crowd before him was no less real. He felt like his mind was going numb.
“Let’s calm down for a moment.”
Reki, the person responsible for putting him up there in the first place, stepped out in front.
“There have been a great deal of rumours and speculation surrounding Takeya. Some of them are true, some of them are false. Some are absolute absurdity, going as far to as to claim he is a magical girl.”
A trial without defence lawyers and a corrupt judge who has already decided on the guilt of the defendant. Yet Reki spoke as if he represented the voice of the people.
“I know everything. We will stick to the absolute truth.”
The crowd fell silent. He had the them wrapped around his hand.
“First we will cover how Red Sahne’s subordinates broke White Noisette’s 21 Confectionaries. White Noisette, who uses human souls as nourishment, was prevented from eating. This weakened her magic, allowing them to enter.”
That’s different from what Usakoro said. He said the cause of the break was Reki sneaking White Noisette’s magical ring in the classroom.
“Why was White Noisette unable to eat? Because this man, Minazuki Takeya, had confined her and prevented her from doing so.”
How dare he say that! He’s the one that caused this!
“The problem is!“
Reki continued without changing his tone.
“The problem is that Takeya knew Red Sahne would strike when White Noisette’s magic was weakened.”
A barefaced lie, but Takeya’s gag prevented him from raising any objections.
The city’s residents didn’t seem entirely satisfied either. Hard as they may try to paint him as a traitor that sold everyone’s souls off to Red Sahne it was hard to imagine a magical girl cooperating with a human.
But Reki seemed to expect that as well. He continued with his usual unchanging facial expression.
“You must be wondering why he would do something like that. The answer lies in the sacrifice system. His lover was chosen as the next sacrifice. He wanted to protect her and her alone over everything else, even if he had to sacrifice everyone else to do it.”
Someone in the crowd blurted out ‘If it was for this lover, then he might have…’
Reki quickly responded.
“His lover was Ijuuin Reika.”
The crowed fell silent.
Ijuuin Reika was a special name in Sorakara City. It was common knowledge that some in The Family would happily sacrifice everything and everyone for Ijuuin Reika.
With that, what Reki was saying took on a sudden persuasiveness.
“At that time, he came across a blue butterfly. It’s already clear, isn’t it? It was a magical butterfly. Many of you have seen those exploding butterflies with your own eyes, no?”
Some in the crowd started crying. They had probably lost close ones to the butterflies. After all, most of the victims of the attack died to the butterflies.
“Before the magical girls attacked, he saw one of those butterflies, unfathomable in this world, and immediately knew it was magic. He realized magical girls other than White Noisette were lurking nearby. Labouring under the idea that ‘maybe the other magical girls will save her for me’, he made a deal with the devil.”
Reki continued his nonsense.
“I imagine most of you have already pictured it. If the magical girls attacked, the sacrifice would be interrupted. In exchange for sparing him and his lover, they would bring down White Noisette’s 21 Confectionaries. Naturally, the magical girls had no intention of keeping a promise made with humans. As you know, Ijuuin Reika was killed, but that does not change the fact that he handed us over to the magical girls. Through his deal with them, he sacrificed this entire city.”
Takeya started thinking frantically as his execution drew ever closer.
He thought it was odd that everyone despised him. Even if there were rumours floating around about his being the main cause of the disaster, they shouldn’t have been so fast in buying what Reki said.
Someone must have been spreading misinformation behind the scenes. That someone, of course, probably being Reki.
With The Family in its current near-defunct state it would be possible, but it would also require a lot of work.
But why? What would they gain from pulling off such a huge scheme just to corner someone like me?
Takeya hastily sized himself up. He has no special powers or amazing abilities. If Reki sees some value in him, what could it be?
“And you are the closest of all to Ijuuin Reika, your ‘ruler’.”
Ah, yes, Takeya’s value for Reki lies in his closeness to Reika. He had viewed her in a special light. Usakoro had also said that Reki was the one that chose Reika as the next sacrifice.
Reki intended to kill Reika-san. In other words, Reika-san and The Family were a nuisance for Reki.
“I just want to kick off the story.”
“Finally, it begins.”
What if Reika-san was still alive? The person standing here taking charge would probably be her instead of the less experienced Reki… Would that be problematic for him?
Reki said that he wants to fight the magical girls. But the people are weary after the recent disaster. They lack cohesion. If Reki became dictator, he could raise their morale and lead them to war.
“For demons, the wage of sin is death.”
He decided to kill Takeya here.
It was well known that Takeya was the closest to Reika. He used this to build the lie that Reika was the source of Takeya’s mistakes, and that The Family was bad for the city.
If Takeya were to be killed as the crowd cheered here The Family would be unable to regain their authority. Takeya’s execution would, in effect, signify the city’s rejection of Ijuuin Reika. Consequently, all power would fall into Reki’s hands.
“You said you were going to restrain White Noisette, right?”
“Naturally, you will be in charge of this endeavour and assume responsibility of it?”
From the very beginning.
He planned to execute me from the moment he heard my plan, to usurp Reika and fight this war.
“It is hard for me to put into words. I am merely a servant of the universe, following its dictums.”
“I know exactly what I have started.”
“A war with the magical girls.”
He killed Reika, is going to kill Takeya and will make the city’s residents fight and get them killed as well, all based on his nonsense theories.
Reki turned around, his face unchanged as always.
He took a step towards Takeya and put his hand softly on Takeya’s shoulder as he moved his mouth close to Takeya’s ears.
“I apologize. Things would be difficult if there was an authority figure other than me around.”
You mass murdering monster! How dare you…
Takeya’s eyes flew open with rage, glaring at Reki.
How dare you kill Reika-san!
“Stop it! Why are you spouting nothing but lies?!”
A voice of anger rang out from offstage and radiated across the courtyard.
Reki turned his head around again, his expression unchanged.
It was Lilly shouting. Wide-eyed, she was running towards the stage, indifferent of the people in her way.
The bewildered crowd made way for her as she stormed her way through, but she was not allowed to reach the stage.
“Agh…. Wha- Let me go!”
The student council vice-president, Rairen Leila, had tackled her and pinned her down.
Lilly, stop! You know the student council will just kill anyone that opposes them!
But someone in the crowd was waiting to take advantage of this commotion.
Kishinami Zan rushed forward and jumped onto the stage. He shot Takeya a quick glance then glared at Reki.
“President, I don’t know what you’re thinking… but could you please release Takeya?”
He spoke in a low voice that only the three onstage could hear, perhaps out of some consideration for Reki.
“Takeya’s a bit of a dork, but he’s become an important figure for The Family in the wake of Reika’s death. As the person closest to her and the person that knows her wishes the best, he’s the most qualified candidate to become its next leader. If Takeya dies, The Family will fall apart.”
Unusual for the quick-witted Zan, he doesn’t seem to have realized that destroying The Family is Reki’s goal.
“…And what will you do if I say I have no intention of releasing him?”
“I’ll kill you.”
“Oh, you think you can do that?”
“Probably not, eh? I’m no match for you. But if the people see you killing me in cold blood, you’ll come out worse for wear. They don’t see me as an enemy like they do Takeya.”
Zan came to save Takeya at the risk of his own life.
Sweat appeared on Zan’s forehead. He had no idea what Reki would do.
Zan says that Reki can’t kill him because such an act would lack legitimacy. But if Reki were able to invent a reason that granted him such legitimacy, there would be no reason he couldn’t kill Zan. Worse so, if it came to a fight, Zan would have no chance of winning against Reki, the strongest human.
Reki gazed at Zan for a short while then spoke in a voice audible only to those on the stage.
“It has outlived its usefulness, don’t you think?”
“The Family. The Family was a vital organization before White Noisette arrived, but now they’re only a stumbling block for Sorakara City if we are to become a force capable of opposing the magical girls. What use is there in an old fashioned, pre-existing organization when they should become a monolith with me at the centre?”
“Are you… serious…?”
“Yes. After all-“
Reki responded with his usual static face.
“Are you not the people endlessly fussing over a corpse?”
Within an instant Zan had brandished his short swords and charged at Reki.
Ahh, exactly what I’d expect Zan to do in this situation.
“Don’t mock my family!”
He never actually said it, but he respected Reika-san more than anyone else.
But… his anger never reached Reki. His swords had stopped midair.
Reki should have been far slower than Zan on the draw, but Reki’s katana was already at Zan’s neck.
Zan looked like he was doing some kind of pose with both of his arms in the air.
Thinking about Reki’s personality, it wouldn’t be abnormal for him to kill Zan right then and there.
Zan knew that and his breaths were tense and hurried as a result. However, he still managed to put on a cynical grin, perhaps as a bluff.
The crowd began piping up.
“Ha! You’re done for now!”
Indeed, there is no way the crowd would simply overlook the current chain of events.
Another person was anticipating a change in atmosphere.
“It was me! I’m the one who made a deal with the magical girls!”
The crowds’ eyes gathered on Kaira Shuuhei as he shouted those absurd words.
“It wasn’t Takeya! I’m one the one that feared losing Reika and planned White Noisette’s confinement. All he did was act in my place, since I have no leadership skills. Even now he’s keeping quiet and trying to take the blame for me!”
Shuuhei began to cry.
“I’m the one that should be getting executed. Takeya is too important. We can’t lose him.”
His words were lies, but the sentiment behind them was real. He truly believed Takeya’s life was of such vital importance that he was willing to die if it meant he could save him.
“I’m not sure anymore. Who’s telling the truth?”
“Umm… Is this Takeya guy really bad? It’s getting sketchy…”
The atmosphere Reki had cultivated started to break down little by little.
If he were to execute Takeya with things the way they are now he would likely be criticized for doing so under such unclear circumstances. He would be suspected of covering up loose ends. Far from aiding him in his path to becoming dictator, it would delegitimize him from the very start.
Essentially, he could no longer go through with the execution.
Lilly, Zan, Shuuhei, they had all come to save him from his hopeless scenario.
“Do you think I did not anticipate this development?”
Reki uttered those words and walked to the front of the stage.
“Everyone, please remain calm. Do you see what is happening?”
He extended his arm.
“The Family have borne their fangs against you.”
“What are you…!”
Reki ignored Zan’s words and continued.
“The Family want to make Minazuki Takeya, Ijuuin Reika’s former lover, into their next leader. They have decided that they cannot lose him even if he is a criminal. They have even gone as far as to attempt to kill me to stop the execution. The Family have devolved into a collection of scoundrels, concerned only with preserving their own organization. That they protect the felon that betrayed all of us is a testament to this. They have ceased all rational thought, blinded by religion and locked into a mindset of short-term thinking. Do you see?”
Reki spoke with absolute conviction.
“The Family have become an odious influence.”
Truthfully, The Family really are an organization that blindly worships Ijuuin Reika. Even if they were not snared in Reki’s trap, there is a chance that losing her may have driven them off the edge.
The people of the city were well aware of that, something Reki knew fine well. But things did not proceed quite as he had thought.
“Aww, I don’t get it anymore!”
Someone shouted the words that best represented what the people were thinking at the moment. With so many claims and speculations flying around, they had become unable to discern fact from fiction.
Reki let out a small sigh as he lamented how the situation had developed.
“To think the people of this city could be so foolish. In the long term there is no way The Family will do anything but become an obstacle, and it will be too late to do anything about it once they do. Why can they not see that?”
“You don’t understand people’s hearts.”
Zan curled the edge of his lips up.
“The people here have gone through too much lately. There can’t be too many people out there that can handle things of this magnitude. The people still want to believe in The Family, who have protected them up to this point. To think you don’t even understand that.”
Zan gave Reki his trademark smirk.
“Being so out of touch with human feelings, you’re practically a magical girl.”
Something surprising happened after Zan said that.
“I am human.”
Zan collapsed to the ground after Reki kicked him in the ribs with bone-crushing force.
“This was meant to be a last resort, but I have no choice now.”
Reki took his katana and pointed the tip directly at Takeya’s eyes.
“I will have to settle this issue forcefully. I will kill everyone who rose up to make an example of them.”
But Reki didn’t have time to go through with it.
A voice in the crowd spoke out.
Unfortuntely, this part isn’t done yet!