Volume 1 — Chapter 3: The Coven of Zero
“She’s a quick learner, slender and tall…her rack is huge too!”
I see. I suddenly wanted to meet her too… not for any particular reason, of course.
“After Soulena’s death, everyone realized that there was no way witches and normal humans were gonna get along without fighting. It was time to stand up for ourselves. People said that if we didn’t show our strength, then we’d just keep getting hunted down for sport.”
From what I’d heard, up until the “Revels of Revenge” a year ago, there were practically no witch hunts at all. Humans had just disinterestedly continued their coexistence with the witches. But disinterested was disinterested. Though humans relied on witches, they came to the silent agreement that getting involved with them was a bad idea and blamed witches for anything and everything bad.
So humans weren’t really treating the witches as they should have. Lots of humans believed that by killing them, it would solve the problems they blamed them for. This belief, too, was internalized.
Is it really surprising that witches would be unhappy with that kind of coexistence?
And so, ten years ago, Vanias’ witches gained the power of magic from the Book of Zero. It took five years to learn to use, so ten years was long enough for it to proliferate throughout the nation.
The embers of conflict had been lit, and now they had means to their motive. If, in such a situation, hostilities broke out, there would be no return to dispassionate and peaceful coexistence.
“That’s why I decided to fight to protect the serenity of our way of life. But war with the kingdom’s already begun, and I need to do something, or else everyone’ll be slaughtered. But I’m still weak…”
“And that is why you desire the head of a fallen beast?” Zero murmured.
Albus let out an embarrassed chuckle.
That ain’t a laughin’ matter. You were gonna bring a bloody end to my life!
“Yep. The head of a fallen beast is the best sacrifice there is, right? If I had that as an offering, I should be able to perform all sorts of high-level magic. You cast ‘Staim’ without saying the spell earlier, right? I hadn’t even imagined that someone could nullify my magic on top of that. You’re amazing!”
Shooting a look of envy at Zero, Albus sighed.
He was acting just like a dreaming, power-hungry kid.
“My affinity for magic isn’t bad, though. I did learn how to use it pretty fast. It’s just that my magical power is kinda low… Even when I follow the Book of Zero’s instructions for higher-level magics to the letter, I still can’t get them to work…”
“Ain’t it the book that’s wrong then?”
What I said was pretty harsh, but Zero didn’t seem bothered.
“Everything is as it should be. There are certain mechanisms implemented into the book as safety measures. They prevent greenhorns with low magical capacity from performing high-level magic.”
“So what’s magical capacity?”
“Well, to put it into words, it would be physical strength. Strength will allow you to perform even magic you are unversed in. And so there have been incidents where witches have performed magic beyond their means with quality offerings and had their magic run out of control.”
“With my head, huh?”
“Yes. With your head. My ‘Rejection’ is also one of the safety measures I created in anticipation of such events. It operates by calling on the power of a high-ranking demon in order to cancel out the magic of a lower-ranking one.”
Just as I was digesting that information, Albus turned toward me, eyes gleaming.
“So what you’re saying is that I’m still weak, but with an amazing offering like a fallen beast’s head, I could use powerful magic when I really need to? If those witch-hunting guys ever come, I could protect everyone! So please! Give me that head!”
“Stop jokin’ around or I’ll kill ya, stupid kid.”
I punched him with my fist.
“Gyah!” cried Albus, tearfully wrapping his arms around his head.
“Aren’t ya fifteen or somethin’? Shouldn’t ya be worryin’ about protectin’ yer family first before talkin’ about savin’ anythin’ else? Aren’t yer parents worried ‘boutcha?”
“That’s got nothing to do with you. When there’s a need to fight, kids’ll help too.”
“Oh, is that right? You’re a stubborn one, aren’t ya? So…what now, Mr. Witch?”
Are you gonna take the book back? was what I was really implying.
But just as Zero had foretold, things weren’t going to be that simple.
“—Where is the ‘Book of Zero’ now, youngster?”
“Well…of course it’s at the academy…”
“Academy?” I asked.
“Hideout.” Albus curtly corrected himself. It seemed to mean the same thing as Zero’s “hole in the ground”.
“May I ask you to guide us? I still have some use for the grimoire.”
“Sure!” Albus grinned. “The Coven of Zero turns away no one but those bearing ill will!”