Part 144: Journey's Endpoint III
"This is supposed to be an incantation. Are you kidding me...?! Ahhahahahahahaha...!!!"
"Come on, why don't you guys try it too? Uu-uu-uu-."
The black-suits imitated that moaning voice, making fun of it...
"What the hell, how stupid...!! If you could make family relationships better just by saying uu-uu-, the world would always be peaceful. Ahahahahaha!!"
"Uu-uu-uu-! A stupid moaning voice! Too bad that if you do this over and over again, people'll think you're a pathetic, stupid kid! Are you a moron?! Wahhahahahahaha, waaahahahahahahha!!"
'Stop iiiit... At least don't belittle... that magiiiiiiiic...'
It was written that this was one of the top five happiest days of her life. Onee-chan was singing a song she'd just learned from her Mama. Her mother had been delighted. But partway through, Maria forgot the lyrics. But, since she saw that her mother was so happy, she tried to sing until the very end. With 'uu-uu-uu-'. Even though she'd only pretended to know the lyrics, her mother had enjoyed it a lot...
After that, 'uu-' remained as an incantation to remember that day she'd spent in fun and happiness with her mother. Of course, even though she seemed to find it funny at first, Aunt Rosa eventually tired of hearing it, and eventually started scolding Onee-chan when she said it, but to Onee-chan, it was a memory of a fun day that she'd never forget... So among the spells that Maria had created, it was the oldest and the first...
Kasumi stuck her fingernails into that page too...
"...Stop it, don't tear it... At least spare... that page..."
"Hahahahahahahahaha! No waay!!"
"Uu-uu-uu-! Aaaahhahhahhahhahha, aaaaahahahhahahah!! Is this your magic of happiness? Hilarious, hilarious...!!"
"There's no way there could be magic to make you happy, right?! Magic is made out of anger and hatred, right?"
"Happiness is what you call the feeling of release you get only when you've pushed all the hatred you bear onto other people. The happiness you all are talking about is a phantom that doesn't show up outside picture books!!"
As Kasumi laughed her head off, she slammed the grimoire against the ground and stepped on it.
"Can't stand it? Hey, you can't stand it, right?! You white witches of happiness? If you can't stand it that much, why don't you show us?! Show us your magic!!"
"If it exists, then you just have to show us, riiiiight? A witch who can't use magic isn't a witch!! That's why we're the real witches. You're just brats trying to escape reality with a dream!!"
"Huh? Kyahhahahaha, yeah, sure!! I'll believe! If you can use magic and show me, that is!! Let's see it, you stupid braaaaaaaaaaaat!!"
...Silently, slowly, I stood up. Sensations of this cramped world, such as the pain in my body, felt truly trifling...
"Oh, looks like you've still got enough energy to stand up, Miss Great Witch. *giggle*giggle*!"
"Now that you've stood up, what are you going to show us? Show us some magiic...!"
BGM: F Style
"Whaat? What's this kid saying...?! Did you guys hear that?!"
"Silence!!! Heh, isn't that interesting. You people always refuse to show this power of miracles because of the magic-resisting toxin. Disciple of the white witch, MARIA, let's see some magic...!!"
"...Do you have any clue how many humans have believed in that miracle before being betrayed?"
"*giggle* Everyone believes! Everyone is betrayed and despairs! And they learn that true magic can only be gained by the power of black witches, like me...!!"
"...Hitting someone with your hatred is nothing more than a sin. That isn't magic. I'll show you real magic."
The black witch winced slightly. However, Kasumi sneered at me even more.
"Then let's have a look. So, what kind of magic will you show us? Magic to make candy fall from the sky? Or else magic to make cookies multiply?"
"Come, arise, the Seven Sisters of Purgatory."
There was a flash behind me, and in an instant, seven pieces of high-level furniture were gathered there. It was a power that far surpassed the magical strength I'd had in my prime. It was a power that matched even Maria onee-chan and Beatrice.
"You said it once. Because I lacked magical power and resolve, I couldn't use you or your sisters. This isn't some cheap emotion, like wanting to get back at my bullying classmates."
"...In order to protect Maria onee-chan's... Mariage Sorcière's world, I now order you to show me the miracle of magic."
"I-It's impossible... No matter what you try, before such a mass of toxin..."
The Seven Sisters also remembered what had happened in that classroom. If they could have obeyed Ange's order, they would have. However, surrounded by the toxin that runs thick in Humans, they hadn't been able to display the miracle of magic. And they remembered very well how deeply that had hurt Ange...
But Ange spoke very quietly.
"In that case, you all believe too."
"...Mariage Sorcière was created to bring people happiness. And also to fight the black witch."
"In order to show that miracle to the foolish black witch, who denies the world that one of the founders, the Witch of Origins Lady Maria, gave birth to, and in order to protect that world... believe. In magic. In witches. In miracles, right now...!"
When Kasumi gave an order to the black-suits, one of them took out a gun and pointed it at Ange.
"You get one chance. Show us before I count to three, got it? If you can't, then you'd best prepare yourself, okay? Ehheheheheh!"
"What's with this kid? Hehheheh, she's lost it."
The black-suit pointing the gun laughed at Ange's detached attitude.
"Ahhahahahahaha!! Are you serious?! This girl's lost her mind! In that case, get yourself shot! If only you'd just diiiiiiiiiiiiie!"
'Ange...!! I-It's impossible! You can't block bullets with magic...!!'
"No. There's nothing to be afraid of. Compared to my magic, to the Seven Sisters of Purgatory, bullets are nothing."
Mammon was perplexed by Ange's absolute trust. If she could comply, she would have. On that day as well. But, because she had been unable to do anything, she had hurt Ange...
"Hehheheh, you brat. If you can use magic, let us have a look right now."
"What's wrong? We're tellin' you to show us magic, right?!!"
"Come on, no need to hold back, okay? *booom*! Show me some magic!! Hihhehhehheh!"
The black-suits jeered at her. But Ange simply concentrated her mind in silence...
"If only you'd just shoot! She's even telling you to try and shoot, you guys!"
"...This kid's already lost her mind from fear. Bye-bye, Ange-chan. Go and pretend to be a witch as much as you want in heaven. Fire."
"Heheh, you sure?"
"Fire! Die, Ange!!"
"If you can do it, then give this magic of yours a try!!!"
The sound of gunfire rang out, and the world... stopped. A red spray scattered out... and chunks of flesh flew.
BGM: Dive to Emergency
"What are you doing, Mammon? Don't tell me you'd let a boorish pebble of a bullet like this reach Ange-sama."
Lucifer lined up the bullet perfectly, and with a single swing, sliced it... And, in the chest of the black-suit who had apparently fired the gun, was a hole as big as a fist...
Half of Leviathan's body was covered with blood, and a cold smile was on her face. Then, slowly, the pitiful prey that she had brought down... fell over.
"...Y-You pierced... a Human...!!!"
"Idiot! Do you still not believe?! In our master's magic power...?!!"
"Are... you... kidding me...?!?! Y-You materialized... in front of this many Humans?!?!"
"...Wh-What is this? What?!"
Kasumi and the rest were flustered... He certainly seemed to have fired his gun... However, it hadn't hit Ange... and why... was the person who fired... hurt instead...?!
"...This is... magic. Great job, Leviathan."
"I'm most honored...!!"
"You foolish Humans who dare oppose our master! Now is the time of judgement! Prostrate yourselves!!"
"Wh-Why...?!!! You shouldn't be able to bring magic into the world of Humans...!! They shouldn't be able to 'see' magic, and they shouldn't be able to be touched by magic!! Why?!!"
"...Because this... is true magic."
"Wh-What are you people doing?! K-Kill, kill!!!"
One of the black-suits, who had finally come to his senses, took out his gun, readied it,
"Like I'd allow you the disrespect of pointing a gun barrel at our master...! Die."
Thump! With the sound of the second person falling, the black-suits now realized for certain that their lives were in peril...!!
"W-Waaaaaaaah, s-s-save me...!!!"
The instant one of the black suits doubled over in shock... and turned on his heels to escape from that place, the Stake of Sloth...
In his right eye, a hole as big as a walnut opened, and his head split. Belphegor was sprayed with blood, and her face twisted demonically with the joy at being able to use her full power...!
"Ooh, waaaaaaahhh?! Who's that?! Who's there?! Where are you?!"
The black-suits were flustered, pointing their guns in every direction. But they didn't understand what was happening. They knew that something terrifying was coming for them from somewhere, but they didn't know where...!!
"Dumbass! Th-The enemy is right before your eyes! The witch's furniture is after you!!!"
But they couldn't 'see'...!! Because they didn't believe in magic, they could not 'see'...!!
Just as the black witch said, Satan was standing boldly right in front of a black-suit. However, the black-suit couldn't 'see' her at all...!
"Eee, eeeeeeeeeeeekk!!! What is this?! What's going on?!"
"...You can't 'see' it. Because you have no love."
"...Impossible!! Even though there are so many Humans here, even though the magic-resisting toxin is everywhere, why can you manifest your magic?! Who... are you?!?!"
"...A witch. And unlike you, a real one."
"Wh-Whaaaaaaaaaaat, damn iiiiiiit, you biiiiiiiitch!!"
As though announcing his candidacy for becoming the fourth victim, one of the black-suits pointed his gun at Ange. And the trigger was...
Ange glared at him coldly... and simply ordered.
"Next one. Satan."
"Satan of Wrath, already right here!! Blockhead!! You think a simple bullet could hit Ange-sama or us now?!!!"
The Stake of Anger... pierced and smashed the bullet fired by the black-suit... and continued straight on, towards the man's face-
"...Know your foolishness... and regret in hell!! Die!!"
Bathed in scattered flesh and blood, Ange quietly asked one more question.
"...Hey, Aunt Kasumi. Do you still... not feel like believing in magic?"
"Th-There's no way... something so ridiculous... could exist...!! I-I won't accept it...!! There's no way magic exists...!!!"
"Yes, that's right... There's no way magic exists...!! There's no way witches exist!!"
'...M-Magic exists!! Witches exist...!! Uryu-!!'
"...That's right. Magic exists. Witches exist. And, in this world filled with anger and sadness, it can become the key that opens the door to the world of happiness...!! I won't let... someone like you deny that!!"
'The key to a world of happiness lies in every person's hands...! No one... has any right to steal that away...!!'
"You pitiful Human who cannot understand this. If there had been magic in your life, it would probably have turned out differently, becoming much more peaceful."
"When I think that in your entire life, you were never able to meet with a true witch... I pity you."
Kasumi let out a piercing scream. At the same time, two of the black-suits came for me at once, thrusting their guns at my head. Like they were trying to use me as a hostage against something their eyes couldn't 'see'. Against the Seven Sisters of Purgatory, who had now reached the level of weapons, this was completely pointless.
"Damn, where are you?! Keep on attacking, and this bitch is dead!! Show yourself!!"
"Go ahead. Kill him."
"Thank you so much!! I'm so happyyyyyy!!"
The man's chest split, and his guts poured out. This terrible way of dying threw the other man into a total panic. However, Asmodeus's form was already at his back, grasping his neck... and smiling obscenely...
"Certainly, my masteer!! Die!!"
The final black-suit had his head smashed by the Stake of Lust, and as his insides scattered, he twisted and fell. In the gruesome world where six people lay in a sea of blood, witch and Human confronted each other.
"...Sumadera Kasumi. I sympathize with your sad life from the bottom of my soul. I'm willing to grant you magic that can seal up that unfillable hole in your heart. If you can believe, that is."
"D-Don't be... ridiculous...!! I-I... will never accept something like this!!"
As Kasumi, who was scared out of her wits, stepped backwards, she picked up a handgun that someone had dropped. Then, shaking, she pointed it at Ange...
"Eeek, eeek...!! I'll kill you... I'll kill you...!! If I don't kill you, I'll never be paid back for the life I've lived...!!"
"Yes, kill! Pull the trigger!! Take all of the anger and pain from your shabby life until now! Use it all against her!"
"If you don't, you won't be released from your pain and anguish!!"
"...Stop it, Aunt Kasumi. You mustn't listen to the black witch."
"I'll kill you, I'll kill you...! Because of your mother, my entire life... has been a wreck...!!"
"In that case, my magic might be able to turn that life into something bright and peaceful, bit by bit, starting now. If you can believe in magic... and just have a change of heart, I'll be able to open the door to a new world for you."
"There's no such thing!! The salvation she speaks of is obviously just some fairy tale!"
"Your life is gonna be covered with thorns until you die anyway...!! Let her hear that cry of agony!! You can't regain anything that was lost, right? Sumadera Kasumiiiiiiiiii?!?!"
"That's right, you might not be able to regain anything."
"However, I know you'll be able to create something new. So, Aunt Kasumi, throw that gun away. I might be able to teach you too... about a world of happiness."
"Eeek... eeeeeeeeeekk...!! Y... You know, because your mother ran away, I was forced to marry her fiancé in her place...!!"
"There was a man I swore I'd spend my life with! And I was forced to break up with him! You think you understand how I felt when I was forced to be wed in your mother's place... and was held by a man I had barely even talked to?!?!"
"I wanted to kill her!! But Nee-san just went and died on her own! That's why I'll kill you!! Otherwise, my thorn-filled life will never eeeeeeeeeeeeeeend!!"
...From Kasumi's eyes, tears of passion dripped down. So pitiable... This person's tears were so clear and beautiful. But for that very reason, she hadn't been able to fully withstand her sad pain, and had been given no choice but to listen to the black witch's temptation...
"Diiiiiiiiiiiee, Ushiromiya Angeeeeeeeeeee!!!"
"Goodbye, Aunt Kasumi. Take a long rest in a quiet world."
I no longer feel anger or hatred for you. I just want to let your soul rest in peace. Kasumi's handgun spat fire. Slowly, that bullet continued through a world frozen to the utmost limit, aiming for ANGE's forehead.
"...Y-Yeah!! Mammon the Covetous, right here...!!"
"Because I met you and Sakutarou, I was able to understand everything."
"Look away, Sakutarou."
"...Mammon, release that woman. And protect the honor of Mariage Sorcière...!!"
"Y...Yes!! Prepare yourself, Sumadera Kasumi!!"
Even though the world was frozen, the Stake of Greed flashed like lightning...and had already gotten behind Kasumi...
The upper half of Sumadera Kasumi's head was smashed. Her cage of flesh was shattered, and she was finally released...
"...Next is you. The black witch. By now, I think even the fact that you look like Aunt Eva is inexcusable to her."
"Heh, heheheheheh. If my form still looks like Ushiromiya Eva, that means you still haven't been able to forgive 'me' inside yourself. I understand, Ange. Even you want to be released from your thorn-filled life more than anything."
"In that case, I thought of something interesting. I'll show you magic as well. I won't be the one to kill you."
With the worst of smiles on her face, the black witch changed her form into something like a black mist, or else a vast swarm of black flying insects, which began to swirl around me. Then, that black mist began to gather bit by bit, shaping itself into the form of a human.
"...What's this supposed to be...?"
Hehheheheheh! You've got at least a vague idea, don't you?! It's the woman you hated and despised the most! The woman who hated and despised you the most...!
...Her hands... were holding a gun.
"...Aunt Eva... died."
"*giggle* Long time no see, Angeeee. I've come back from hell to kill youu! *cackle*cackle*!!"
Aunt Eva glared at me with a mad laugh.
"But... I'm not that surprised. Aunt Eva was that kind of person."
"I imagine my funeral came as quite a relief to you, right? I feel the same, since I'll never have to see your face again...! But I had just one regret. And this is it!!"
"...Killing me? Was that your last request?"
How pitiful. Even after death, my aunt wasn't released from her pain...
"The black witch's power is itself the source of my magic. Anger and hatred taught me how to work hard and persist. Completely different from this magic to escape reality that you speak of!"
"...The magic you speak of is nothing more than stress reduction through outbursts of anger. Our magic is different. It can remake the entire world. It's in a totally different class than your wicked magic."
"I've surrounded you with the magic-resisting toxin. You can't call the Seven Sisters anymore. That miracle just now won't occur again...!!"
"...Having it occur despite all that is why it's called magic. Okay. Mammon, lend me your power."
...But Mammon didn't respond. She didn't appear. Certainly, as she'd said, the magic-resisting toxin had burned everything up like a wasteland parched by a blazing sun...
...This... might be a little tough.
"And... being able to call them even so is what makes it magic, right?"
"...How pitiful. So long, Ange. The few days we spent together were fun in their own way. This is goodbye. Aren't you glad... that the end of the line for you turned out to be this place?"
"Yeah, seriously. How thoughtful of you."
"Thanks. Then this is farewell."
The barrel of the gun rose slowly, so that you could see all the way down it. Then, the trigger was slowly...
Then, there was a loud bang from the gun.
...You're... kidding me...
...In shock, inside a frozen space, Eva looked at the ruptured gun. When time melted, the fragments would probably smash into her face all at once...
"...You're... kidding me..."
Behind Eva's back, Mammon stood. She had already penetrated the target I had given her. Which was... the gun.
"Is this... enough magic for you, Aunt Eva?"
Then, time melted. The fragments of the burst gun and exploding gunpowder burned her face. Letting out a shrill scream, she covered her face and rolled around...
...It was pitiful.
I signaled to Mammon. So that Eva would be freed quickly from the pain of her burnt face as she writhed around.
"...Thank you, Mammon. This time, I want to apologize again, and from the bottom of my heart, for calling all of you powerless on that day in the classroom. You were excellent furniture for protecting witches."
"...I'm the one that's grateful. I feel truly honored at being able to meet a good witch... a good master in the end, and at being able to fulfill my duty as furniture...!"
Mammon had understood. This would be the final job I'd give her. Mammon quietly walked up to me.
Then, she looked down at Eva.
Then, the light sound of her forehead being bored into rang out. The battle of gunpowder smoke and fury... of white and black magic... ended. I get the feeling it was a long... truly a long journey.
And the world slowly... sank into darkness...
...When I realized that the pearl and ruby made a red and white stream, I noticed that it was a vast nighttime scene spread out below... I was in the sky of that nighttime scene, neither standing nor flying, but simply floating.
...From nowhere in particular, I could hear a *clap*clap*clap*, a truly dull applause. I know. It's the one who ordered me to go on a journey,
"...Yes. I now... understand everything about magic. I am... a witch. The last witch who inherited the magical world created by Mariage Sorcière."
"...No one besides you... can tear Beatrice's world to pieces."
"Because I know witches, I learned how to resist them."
"...Magic is made of love and sadness and anger. No matter how cruel a witch Beatrice might have been, the source of her magic is exactly the same. And that's why I wish I could leave that world of hers alone. After all, in her eyes at least, that world is complete."
"...But then you'd have to give up on your family."
"...That's right. So, I don't like doing it, but I have to fight. The very reason I left on this journey to become a witch... was so I could bet on the faint chance that I'd be able to take my family back someday."
"Unless you kill Beatrice, only worlds of isolation can exist for you. As one who has traveled to billions of Fragments, I guarantee it."
"...I understand. I can't afford to have compassion. I must make my heart a demon... and tear her heart to pieces."
"...It's good that you're steady in that resolve. I was worried that, as another witch like her, you might grow attached and lose your will to continue."
It felt a bit hollow hearing that from a person whose face was almost always expressionless. Bernkastel. The mysterious witch who invited me on this journey...
"...I am the Ange of 1998, so even if I save my family, they will only be saved for the Ange of 1986. They won't be saved for me. So I've sometimes felt like I was being deceived."
"...That is correct. I deceived you."
"...But now I'm grateful. After all, in the end, you did teach me how to get my family back."
"...I didn't teach you anything. If you know something, it's because you've reached that mental state by yourself, as a witch. That mental state is different from my own. I personally cannot understand it, but if that's the truth, then congratulations."
"I'm not a player in this game, but a piece. You said that to me, right?"
"...Yes, I said it."
"Now, I fully understand that role. A piece doesn't need emotions. It just has to give its all for victory's sake."
"...Yes. That is correct. A game requires that you each make the best possible moves, right? If your moves get distorted by hesitation and confusion, your opponent will be confused as well."
...Sorry, Beatrice. But... don't hate me. 'Ushiromiya Ange' still needs her family. So, I have the right to fight you, so that I can take them back. And, you have the responsibility to be challenged by me to a fight. So... don't hate me. In exchange... If you do win in this game, I'll give you my blessing as well.
Come on, let's go. As the piece I am, it's finally time for my true turn.