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Chapter 13 - The Magician

Montaigne, enrobed in his power, became increasingly maniacal. 'Since obtaining this power, it has been so very hard for me, you know? To hold back this feeling, this lust for death... I can't help it! The joy I find in killing is because you made me this way. The magicians are to blame!'

The dark energy rushed from his body and swept through the cemetery with the fury of a hurricane. It eradicated the tombstones in its path and steered its course toward Agnes. The shout of a young man cut through the gale.

'You're wrong!'

Against all odds, Edwin stood between the attacker and his prey. He held his trusty messenger bag in his outstretched hands.

'It's obvious that the person doing the bad things is the one at fault! Don't go blaming this on weird stuff like magic!'

The scene was dotted with moonbathed confetti that softly floated in the air. Edwin had somehow blocked the black magic with his bag, and the draft within had been eviscerated. Agnes--who had resigned herself to her fate--now wore a baffled expression.

'E-Edwin?! You're safe... How?!'

Edwin gestured at himself with his thumb and grinned. Agnes had so many things she wanted to say, but in that moment, she was simply at a loss for words.

'I'm going to beat you down, Montaigne! I'm sure you'll be willing to do a post-fight interview, won't you?!'

'D-Don't screw with me, kid! What is with that bag? And how are you even alive in the first place?!'

Edwin rushed forward without hesitation. 'Ah, geez!' Agnes thought.

Even now, Edwin didn't completely believe in magic. He hadn't been able to see any of Montaigne's twisted powers, but he couldn't rule out the possibility or simply assume it to be some kind of curse. He would find the truth on his own. One detail at a time, as he always had. He chose to remain as he always had been--reckless.

'Kagemaru!'

The black cat was clinging to the backside of Ed's worn-out bag. It must have been Kagemaru's power that dissipated the dark mage's spell. Edwin would not have survived--were it not for Kagemaru. The cat fixed his jet-black pupils on Agnes.

'Are you sure about this?' emanated from his ebony gaze.

'I am. I don't want to have to lie to Ed anymore. I'll show him the truth: the real me,' Agnes thought back.


She looked up into the night sky. 'It's a full moon tonight...'

There was no wind to move them, but Agnes' cream-blonde curls danced about as her arms erupted, sending forth a blinding blast of light into the night.

第13回 魔法使い

魔力を放ったモンテニューはますます酔っていた。この力を得てからというもの、もう本当に本当に大変なのさ。誰かを苦しめたくて苦しめたくて、殺したくて殺したくて、ああ楽しくて楽しくて仕方がない!「私にそうさせたのはこの力だぞ?

これもすべて、魔法使い(き み た ち)の所業だよ!」―黒き力は疾風の速さで墓地を駆け抜け、墓石を切り裂き、アニエスの体へ向かってきて炸裂した。少年の怒声とともに。

「んなワケないだろッッ!!」エドウィンが立っていた。焼けこげがついたコートを羽織って、手には愛用のボロカバンを持っている。

「悪いことする奴が悪いに決まってるだろ!!魔法なんて得体のしれねー物のせいにしてんじゃねーッ!!」辺り一面には、月光を浴びた紙ふぶきが舞っている。見るとそれは細切れになったエドの原稿で、黒い力を受け止めたらしいズタズタのボロカバンからこぼれ出ている。……これにはもう、観念していたアニエスだって目をまん丸にするしかなかった。

「……エ、エドウィンっ!?どうしてっ……無事だったのっ……!?」

「おいアニエス、忘れたのかよ。俺はいつも言ってるだろ?」困ったらいつでも呼べ! 俺は正義の記者なんだからな!! そういって親指でクイクイと自分を指してみせるエドウィンは、なんだか初めてサマになっているけれど、言いたいことがありすぎてアニエスは言葉が出てこなかった。

「というわけだから、今からお前をぶっ飛ばす!取材はそれからさせて貰うぜ、モンテニュー!!」

「ふ、ふざけるなああっっっ!!そんなボロカバンで…… ……そもそも何故生きているッ!?」

エドウィンは止める間もなく突っ込んでいく。ああもう!! アニエスは思った。でもそれがエドウィンだ。いつも真っ直ぐで、自分の気持ちに正直だ。

エドはきっと、魔法のことを完全に信じてるわけじゃない。今だって絶対、あの禍々しい力はこれっぽっちも見えていない。でも「ありえない」とか「呪われた力だ」なんて決め付けないで、1つ1つゆっくりと納得のいく真実を知っていこうとするのだろう。……エドウィンはそういう男の子だ、いつもむちゃくちゃだけど。

「――カゲマルッ!!」

さっきの黒い力の奔流を実はボロカバンの裏に張り付いて防いでいたカゲマルは、漆黒の瞳を向けて尋ねてくる。ホントにいいの?

いいの、これ以上エドに嘘をつくのはいやだから。自分の本当の姿を見てほしいから。


アニエスは空を見上げた。……今夜は満月だ。

風もないのにクリーム色の髪がくるくると踊って、少女の2つの(かいな)から昭光が放たれた。


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