Prologue – Those Lined Up Before the Horizon
In Asama’s field of vision, Noriki, running ahead of her, had swung his fist towards Oriotorai.
…Will it work?
I don’t know. In any case, not once do I remember Oriotorai being hit by one of her student’s attacks. It’s been my responsibility to do so for a year, but at the very least, Oriotorai’s never been defeated by her students in PE class, or so the upperclassmen tell me.
…No matter how much I think about it, rather than a teacher, she’s a real Amazoness…! It’s somewhat terrifying…
A breath. Asama regained her composure.
“…It’s my turn. I’ll use my shrine to perform one of Divine Musician’s Technique’s Abilities!”
Ability. The name of a technique that controlled something that existed in this world only: “Fluid”, the particle that allowed contradictions, one of the constituents of space.
It contained several different schools, but the one Asama was using was the Far East’s principal school, Shinto’s Divine Musician’s Technique.
As her voice rang out, by the collar of Asama’s school uniform, the right collar of her light armour opened and a figure flew out from inside it. It was a diminutive girl wrapped with a faint crimson light. Her figure was slightly transparent.
The girl had a sleepy face, but she mounted Asama’s shoulder, dancing lightly by twirling her body and waving her right hand.
The same moment. A torii signframe radiating crimson light appeared by Asama’s face. Words appeared on the display, which was previously blank.
[Link: Asama Shrine – Mouse: Sakuya Type 01: —Confirm]
[Linked to Asama Shrine. Offering – Prayer – Worship: Processes have been completed by Mouse.]
[Asama Tomo – Sama, thank you for using us. Please choose your blessings.]
“I’ll be using this with Asama’s debt of divine melody as a substitution offering! Hanami…I offer up a Divine Prayer for a triple purification of the projectile’s frictional retardation, deviation, and impediment as well as a targeting attachment, for a total of four Abilities! These are the basic Abilities of the shrine, so activate them without modification!”
Hearing Asama’s words, the Mouse who had been called Hanami, the diminutive girl, nodded slightly. Words and a speech bubble appeared by Asama’s face.
[Ability of Divine Melody / Four / Therefore / Substitution / Four / Activate ?]
“Yes”, Asama nodded. Sucking in a breath, she brought the arrow drawn from her waist to the bow.
Other than being able to receive a long-term blessing at the time of contract, included under Shinto’s Divine Musician’s Technique was the technique Debt of Divine Melody, created through charms and words of power. Now, under the condition that Asama had used the Loan of Divine Melody, she offers things that would make the contracted God rejoice as an activation method. In this manner, she is able to gain the effects of her Ability.
As opposed to the four Abilities, the offerings Asama chose were these.
“As two substitutions, I offer up grains at the midday and evening meal! As one substitution, I will dance the kagura for two hours! As one substitution, I will walk and converse with Hanami for two hours! This adds up to a total of four substitutions! Hanami, if this is OK, then grant me my blessings.”
[Yes, yes.] The nodding Hanami looked up for an instant. She clapped her hands together, a smile on her face.
[Yes / Approval granted / Applause / Afterward / Speak / To God / Of the current world]
It came together with the timing of Hanami’s claps. Light resided in Asama’s readied arrow. At first, the light was weak.
However, as Hanami’s applause continued, the amount of light immediately doubled, tripled, and quadrupled, and when the light reached its brightest…
Two vertical Torii appeared at the endpoint of Asama’s gaze, the midpoint between Oriotorai and herself.
It was Divine Musician’s Technique’s marksmanship Ability. The upper opening of the Torii acting as a crosshair, the arrow locked on to the opponent on the other side of the gate, effectively setting a destination for the arrow.
Asama’s green artificial eye began to sychronise with the targeting crosshair. The automatic-tracking crosshair automatically moved towards the direction that the eye was looking.
“Artificial eye, “Konoha” …Has synchronised!”
An instant. The green light projected directly from the green eye pierced the double crosshair.
Tenzou’s shout resounded.
Looking forward, she could see that Noriki had vaulted over the crouching Tenzou. And beyond them, Oriotorai, who had leaped backwards, flipped and grabbed hold of the longsword that had been flying away.
Tenzou and the others had failed.
Therefore, Asama fired.
She let the arrow fly.
Along with a sound like water splashing, a line of light shot forth, bursting outwards.
It was unlike the bullets and arrows and linear Abilities that everyone had been firing up till this point. Because of the purification of deviation, it was imbued with a tracking Ability. Even at the shrine, it was something that was not used unless purging flying or agile monsters.
Oriotorai, who was moving ahead of them, was the target of the arrow, which had been given a temporary blessing through Asama’s use of Ability. In addition, Asama had fired exactly when Oriotorai was crossing from one roof to another.
…Today, I will hit!
I’m a daughter of one of the main pillars of the Musashi shrines, the Asama shrine. My father has a contract with the Shirasago brand, selling Asama goods wholesale to the Academy’s finance department, so he asked me about the shrine’s reputation at the Academy. There aren’t any bad rumours. My grades are fairly good, and I’m also the club-president of the tea club. There’s no need for my family to worry about me influencing the shrine’s reputation for the worse.
But my father had a single problem.
“I wonder if you won’t hit that teacher even once before you graduate…”
That was the kind of situation I was in.
At first, I was told not to use this Ability on a human, but when he noticed that I had challenged her for the fifth time and had not yet come out on top, he asked me: “Eh…? Why not? Isn’t that weird? I mean, normally, if you add Ability, it’ll hit, right?” The reason I hadn’t hit was because Oriotorai’s fighting and athletic prowess exceeded that of an Amazon’s, but making my father understand that a person like that existed was a daunting task.
Because of this, I practiced with my father and formed a high-rank contract at the start of this year. Not only does this arrow tend toward its target due to my purification, it readjusts its firing position and other factors when it’s given the ability to dodge obstacles. I had only reached the level of skill needed to use it in practice a few days ago.
This was the first time that I’d used this in class with my artificial eye synchronised as well.
…How do you like this?
The arrow of light trailed a line of light and clear sound, darting in towards its prey with a trajectory that made it seem as if it was a fist, not an arrow.
In contrast, Oriotorai was currently in the air, having jumped from one roof to another. The large leap she had performed just now was meant to send her flying over the road below. Her air time was long, and during it, she could not dodge.
On the contrary, my arrow has been blessed with high-speed and tracking.
Asama saw. She saw that Oriotorai had readied her longsword at her neck, allowing a slight glimpse of the blade from the sheathe.
…She’s going to try to suddenly slice the arrow out of the air?
Asama raised her eyebrows slightly.
“It’s impossible! Not only does it track, I’ve also given it natural evasiveness by purifying it of impediment, so it will curve around all obstacles!”
Just as Asama had said, the arrow moved such that it twisted around Oriotorai’s longsword.
In response, still keeping the blade in its sheathe, Oriotorai stuck her sword out vertically, using it as a barrier against the arrow.
Yet, it was too late.
The arrow wreathed in light had already avoided the longsword, and with a movement that sent it skidding sideways, it flitted towards Oriotorai. The reason it’s aimed at her face, was because I, a rather tall individual, shot an unstoppable force from Persona-kun’s shoulder. But as might be expected, I felt a slight uneasiness, which stemmed from us both being women.
However, this was not an opponent who would allow me enough composure to choose a place to target. I’ll take care of the healing. Not free, of course.
Anyway, Asama thought to herself. I did it, Father. Today, let us have chirashizushi in celebration of sinking the teacher. Because of the substitution blessing, I have a limit on my meals during the day, but it’s fine if we have some ice cream afterward!
Asama thought as she followed the arrow with her eyes.
She thought of what Oriotorai had been saying before.
Certainly, reports of the disturbances in the earth pulse were coming from shrines everywhere, and the frequency of these reports was also rising. Musashi, which was an aerial cruiser, had a low frequency of Phenomena. But on the surfaces, the vanishing of villages because of earthquakes, the birth of islands because of the rise of the earth in the sea, cases of people being spirited away, and the loss of knowledge through the disappearance of thoughts were common occurrences.
What bothered me the most was that recently, Father had started saying, “Don’t talk about this with anyone.” This was certainly an order that would come from the head of a shrine, but on the other hand, even with the organized power of all the shrines throughout the Far East’s territory…
…They were lost, unable to figure out a clear method of solving the Phenomena that were currently occurring…
The reason she had strengthened her Ability contract was to gain, if only a little, the power necessary to deal with this.
If it’s possible, Asama thought. If it’s possible, please let the rumours of the Apocalypse not become reality, at least not before I graduate. When I graduate, I’ll search through the shrine’s network and investigate the phenomena.
And now, I’ve let loose the power that will lead me onwards, to the future.
Asama, fists clenched in her heart that was filled with fighting spirit, stared at the arrow’s destination.
She saw that the arrow of light that she had released fragment on the other side of Oriotorai’s longsword.
A noise rang out, light burst forth.
“…We did it!”
Seeing the light and noise, everyone around was cheering, but Asama was the only one to keep her eyes open, and she shouted this.
“No!! The response was too light! …It didn’t hit!!”
Asama roared. She shook the fingers of the hand that had released the arrow, confirming the feeling that cut through the air.
“…My ice cream!!”