Tuesday, September 19, 2023 @

Volume 3 Chapter 4 The Unreasonable Adult Situation, So to Speak

 In this world, magic exists.

 It arises when negative energies accumulate, crawling forth from the darkness.

 They are called monsters, demons, youkai - various names over the ages, but their essence remains the same.

 Creation and destruction. Good intentions and malevolence. Life and death.

 They are the eternal enemies of humanity.

 Naturally, humans established organizations to combat these creatures. Regardless of the changes in their appearance or names, their essence remained the same.

 That is, to protect humans and defeat evil.

 In modern-day Japan, there exists an organization dedicated to using magic to eradicate demons. They're known as the 'Anti-Demon Special Forces.'

 Most members of this force come from long-established families of onmyoji and magicians. However, relying solely on bloodlines leads to a shortage of talent.

 In the modern era, where artificial light drives away darkness, the presence of magic is diminishing compared to the past. But as long as humans exist, magic will never truly disappear.

 Therefore, increasing the ranks of the Anti-Demon Special Forces was essential with the changing times.

 And, as a result of adding more people, the workload naturally increased.

 "Ehhh? Ehhhh? Haaaah?"

 Staring at the suddenly received email, the woman let out a strange sound, just another person caught up in the waves of these times.

 Kagami Ayaka, despite being only 33, was a frontline Anti-Demon officer.

 The Kagami family was a renowned onmyoji lineage, and Ayaka, by birth, was a magician who used wave-based magic. However, recently, she was given more administrative tasks than combat assignments.

 That's because, out of the blue, during the Christmas and New Year season, all sorts of troublesome incidents occurred. Things like a saint from another world, a demon, a silver knight – they all showed up like an extravagant Happy Meal. So, it was only natural that the workload increased.

 Checking the situation, reporting to higher-ups, restoring conditions, compensating nearby residents – there was a mountain of work to do. But amidst all that, Ayaka received an email.

 The contents of the email were enough to make Ayaka let out a strange sound that went beyond her limits.

 "What's wrong, Ayaka-san?"

 This was the Third Division of the Anti-Demon Special Forces. Despite specializing in the occult, the office looked quite ordinary, and, of course, other staff besides Ayaka were working.

 The guy who was Ayaka's junior, wearing a truly fed-up expression, asked her.

 Not too long ago, when everyone ignored Ayaka in this state, they had to endure her wrath later. So, this junior was chosen as the one to listen to her grievances.

 "Look at this, would you?"

 "What is it? Did they give you another crazy task?"

 The junior reluctantly peered over Ayaka's shoulder at the monitor.

 The email was from the Branch Chief, known for not showing up at the branch very often.

 "Is this for new recruit training? Don't we usually handle that in-house?"

 "No, it's different. The training itself is being managed by headquarters. The problem isn't there."

 "Then what is it... Oh, wait, is this..."

 As the junior read further into the email, he noticed a familiar name.

 "They want the princess to join in too? She's not a newbie, right?"

 "That's right. It doesn't make any sense."

 Ayaka sighed, resting her weight on the backrest.

 "What's going on?"

 "I heard the word 'princess.'"

 Hearing the word 'princess,' colleagues nearby perked up their ears and gathered around.

 The term 'princess' or 'hime-san' referred to Tsukiko Isumi, a member of this branch who was also known by her real name. She was the youngest in the branch but possessed the magical talents of a Second Rank, and she was considered a genius in magic. It was even said that she would reach the First Rank before long, making her famous not only within the branch but in the entire Anti-Demon Special Forces.

 The email's content mentioned conducting training for newly recruited Anti-Demon officers and the desire to have Tsukiko participate.

 "Why would they specifically want Tsukiko for new recruit training? It doesn't make sense. She's way too overpowered. Who are they planning to have her face?"

 "Maybe they just want her to supervise as an instructor?"

 "Huh? Are you telling me that they want Tsukiko to supervise the newbies?"

 In response to Ayaka's incredulous voice, her junior thought for a moment and shook his head.

 "No, I don't think so."

 "That's what I thought."

 Having skill doesn't necessarily make someone an excellent educator. Tsukiko excelled at solo work and had notably poor communication skills, so chaperoning was out of the question.

 "Besides, based on what I see in the email, it seems like they're looking for a supervisor separately."

 "That's mysterious... Tsukiko can handle most monsters by herself."

 The junior crossed his arms, looking puzzled. Most Anti-Demon officer training involved practical exercises. If Tsukiko could handle the kinds of monsters that newbies would face, there was no need for her. Conversely, if Tsukiko faced monsters at her level, the newbies would be a hindrance.

 Either way, Tsukiko's involvement in new recruit training didn't make sense.

 "I wonder who even came up with this. It's so frustrating."

 As Ayaka muttered this and reached for her coffee, an elderly staff member who had been looking at the email from behind spoke up.

 "Maybe, but I think Tsukiko-chan was invited to show off her power."

 "Show off her power?"

 The junior asked, and the elderly staff member nodded while stroking his chin.

 "The Anti-Demon Special Forces aren't always unified. The Isumi family has strong connections with the headquarters. They probably want to demonstrate that Tsukiko-chan follows upper-level directives."

 "To deter the newcomers?"

 "It's likely for the family behind her."

 A family capable of using magic meant they possessed power. Even in this modern era, where everything was under government control, they weren't entirely under control. Therefore, the fact that Tsukiko Isumi, a magician, was obedient to the Anti-Demon Special Forces, could serve as a powerful deterrent against other families. Deterrence only held power when the other side acknowledged it.


 Listening to this conversation, Ayaka looked at the list of newcomers participating in the training. Several well-known family names among magicians were listed.

 "I don't like this at all."

 With a sense of helpless anger in her words, Ayaka squinted. The fact that Tsukiko was being used by the higher-ups and her own inability to stop it frustrated her.

 When the Branch Chief communicated this to Ayaka, it meant the decision had already been approved. At this point, it didn't matter what Ayaka thought personally – the decision couldn't be overturned.

 Despite Ayaka's growing frustration, her junior, though somewhat apprehensive, spoke up.

 "But if you look at it differently, it means they recognize Princess's abilities."

 "But because of Tsukiko, they're also denying us support!"

 Ever since the confirmation of the God-Demon War, Ayaka had repeatedly requested more personnel for the field. She had conveyed the dangers of demons, but the decisions from higher-ups only fueled her frustration.

 Were they dismissing the issue because it was resolved, or were they unaware because they hadn't seen it themselves?

 Certainly, Anti-Demon officers were chronically understaffed. It wasn't unreasonable that they couldn't allocate more resources to a branch where Tsukiko is assigned.

 There was nothing to do but lament the situation.

 "Oh well, when is this training, anyway?"

 If she couldn't refuse, she needed to prepare properly.

 As Ayaka read further into the document, she frowned. The training was set to start around a week before August 10th.

 "August 10th?"

 "What's the matter all of a sudden?"

 Ignoring her junior's irritated tone, Ayaka operated the mouse and opened a file. It was Tsukiko's work schedule. Tsukiko's work schedule differed significantly from regular employees because she attended university while working as an Anti-Demon officer. This schedule was designed to help manage her work.

 "You've got to be kidding me... It's her day off."

 And not just any day off – it was a special day. Tsukiko belonged to a club, and this was the day of their group outing. Although she typically showed a lackluster response to events and activities, she had been looking forward to this outing. She didn't express it in her attitude, but Ayaka, who had known her for a long time, could tell from her behavior.

 Moreover, this year, Tsukiko was dealing with relationship issues with her ex-boyfriend, and she might have hoped that the outing could lead to some change.

 But there was nothing to be done. Being part of an organization sometimes meant facing injustices worse than dealing with supernatural creatures. No matter how skilled she was in magic, there were things she can't resist.

 Because of this, Ayaka was at a loss for how to convey this to Tsukiko. And so, unbeknownst to Tsukiko herself, her absence from the club's outing had been decided.

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