Hariyama-san, Center of the World 1
Magic Girl Number 893 (Genre "young witch")
Lyrical and magical.
Fancy and fantastical.
“She”, who was nothing more than the product of fantasy, really did exist in that town.
A “magical girl”, who should have existed more as delusion than illusion, had truly descended upon present-day Japan.
There were tears in the girl’s eyes, and at her throat was the sharp naked blade of a nagadosu. The magical girl’s right hand was gripping a black bomb like one that would be seen in the movies. 
And – there was not a hint of humor in the eyes of the experienced killer confronting her. Just from seeing the expression in the man’s eyes, it was clear that he was not a respectable person.
Lyrical and magical.
Fancy and fantastical.
Why was a magical girl, who should have had nothing to do with blood and gunpowder, confronting the yakuza?
To find the answer, we’ll turn back the stage to thirty minutes ago. Performed on that stage was–
–The magical girl’s jailbreak act.
Magical girls really did exist.
Within the fairytale land of magic – in prison.
“Come out, Number 893.”
A dignified voice resounded within a space about 4.5 tatami mats wide. The voice was that of a young woman, but it echoed off the surrounding walls, gaining an unspeakable pressure that bore down on the girl.
The girl called “Number 893” slowly raised herself from where she was lying in a corner of the room and shifted her attention to her surroundings. There were many lines of letters, their design geometrical and their font severe. They combined in a complex way to create an ominous, solemn sigil. Surrounded by the dark green walls on which the sigil was drawn, the girl expressionlessly looked in the direction of the voice.
“Kaaaay.” As she spoke, sounding like she was still half-asleep, the girl quietly stood up.
The girl still retained some childishness and was probably around twelve or thirteen years old. She was completely out of place in this environment. Her surroundings contained only a bed and the bare minimum of essentials. On the single door connecting the room and the outside, the same sigil as on the walls gave off a red light, turning smoothly like a shadow picture.
When the girl stood in front of the door, the light of the sigil faded, and the door swung wide open with a sound like that of an eraser being rubbed. Beyond the door were a number of men and women clad in predominantly black vestments.
The young woman in the center faced the girl and spoke in a dignified voice. “…Prisoner Number 893.”
“Yeeeees.” The girl she spoke to answered with a wide smile devoid of nervousness.
The girl was called a prisoner, but her clothing did not look at all like a prison uniform. Her clothes were made in bright colors and looked as though they might be worn by a major supporting character in a musical. She wore glasses with a fashionable frame, and her large eyes blinked in surprise behind the lenses. She looked absolutely nothing like a prisoner, her age included. Most strikingly, the girl’s expression held no trace of guilt or nervousness. Even if she was brought forth under false charges, her bearing was much too calm. To begin with, the prison itself was a rather strange room, and it was unknown which country the letters were from, but–
–the creature that could explain such a thing suddenly showed itself from behind the prison guards.
“Ahh, so it’s finally time to part with you. Congress chose to ‘eliminate’ you. Neither you nor I can remember your name, so I’ll just call you 893-chan for now. This is ‘goodbye’, you know, that’s just how it is.”
The one making those casual comments was a green praying mantis about the size of a puppy. Even just the description of a huge praying mantis that understood human language sounded eerie, but not a single human in that place was disturbed.
However, the imprisoned girl alone let out an innocent laugh at the praying mantis’s words.
This was the so-called land of magic.
That girl’s appearance, save for her lack of a wand, was surely that of a magical girl, often seen in Japan’s manga and anime.
Within this world, where the abnormal was commonplace, the single real abnormality was–
–that the magical girl was a prisoner.
The praying mantis, which for some reason had eyelids, blinked its large eyes with surprise as it continued speaking. “Isn’t this the seventh time you went off to the human world? Even these nice government officials will take action.”
“Why? I didn’t do anything wrong. I was just using my power for the humans’ sake.”
“…you suddenly fell out of the sky, freeloaded off people against their will, and blew up their house when you tried to kill a cockroach. We really have to do something about it this time. That’s why you became the 893rd prisoner in our country’s proud 1,500-year history. Only 893 people in 1,500 years! In other words, there’s nothing else we can do with you. Don’t you think you should reflect on your actions? Think about what that means. Okay?”
Looking slightly dissatisfied, the girl opened her mouth, but her words were drowned out by the prison guards’ cold voices. “Please refrain from speaking.”
Looking at the prisoner, who was looking down with her cheeks puffed out a little, the woman who appeared to be the guards’ leader let out a sigh that the others didn’t notice. The guard was somewhat disappointed by the prisoner’s obviously childish behavior.
‘Is it really this child? This child has the most pure and powerful magic in the country’s history… and is a brutal criminal?’
Rather than the strength of her magic, the guard’s doubts concerned the latter claim. She questioned the girl in front of her about her sins, as if to shake off those doubts. “…Number 893. You opened the door to the human world without authorization, concealed yourself in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, in the country of Japan, and before your concealment, used magic to destroy the dwelling place of Shinkichi Hariyama and his family… is this correct?”
“Um… I didn’t mean to?”
“I am not asking if you meant to. More important is the result: you used your ‘power’ in the human world. In addition, personally inflicting harm upon the other world is the gravest of crimes…”
The prison guard’s words were filled with emotion and were not at all businesslike. The girl listened with disinterest to the charges brought against her without any particular expression on her face.
“…I do pity you, but you will be placed under Hell’s jurisdiction.”
Hell. In reality, the Hell of this country was not a place full of swaggering demons and devils. It was a land universally despised by this country’s inhabitants, a place said to contain illusions more frightening than death itself. That land drained away the magical power of those who lived there and stole away their vitality. It granted the bare minimum of energy needed to survive, and as it drained their magical power, they lost even the will to escape. Most of this country’s “criminals” were sent there.
The incidents involving theft and assault in the human world were almost always resolved by magically erasing memories and forcing the culprits into service work, but they were not deemed “criminals”. This country’s science, in the form of enormous magical power, was devoted to maintenance of the world’s public order. As a result, the ones who were so restrained were usually those “criminals” who committed murder and treason.
Regardless, the fact that the girl would be treated as a criminal meant that the crimes she had committed rivaled those of a murderer.
‘Throwing a child like this into “Hell”…’
Pity for the girl began to swirl beneath the guard’s expressionless façade. Clutching the staff she held in her hand, the wand which acted as a magical amplification device, she quietly handed down judgment upon the girl. “–Therefore, you will now be transferred to ‘Hell’. You are prepared, correct?”
In this country, those words carried the same weight as the death sentence. The girl blinked just once – and with an extremely innocent smile, she faced the prison guards and opened her mouth. “Don’t wanna.”
She did not want to be sent to Hell. It was a perfectly normal reaction, but she had said so with a smile, and so those two words gave rise to a terrible sense of unease. The other guards around her and even the praying mantis that spoke the human language gazed at the girl’s face, wearing mystified expressions. And then, in just one moment.
“I don’t want to go to Hell or anything.” The girl’s endlessly bright voice rang out, breaking her self-imposed silence.
“I said I did nothing wrong!” she announced, without the slightest hint of hesitation and with absolute confidence in her own actions.
‘Nothing, she says…’
The deeds of the girl in front of her were enumerated in the prison guard’s mind. She had not actually been witness to those acts, and in the end they were only written in the official documents, but – even so, that was enough to make clear the sins of the girl in front of her. Property damage, injury, obstructing the work of the magical administrators… all of this was due to her magic.
The girl had escaped the service work to atone for those sins many times. She was always in the human world when she fled. The reason for that was always that she was limited to the island country of Japan.
There were those who questioned suspiciously why she always went to the same country, even though she could speak any language with magic, but the magical barrier erected in the girl’s head would not allow any to read her mind. Her ability protected against even specialized mindreaders with plenty of experience, sparking both interest and fear from the state. There was the option of forcibly altering her memories and spirit, but the state was afraid that would cause both her magical power and ability to disappear. However, that too had reached its limit.
When she set foot in the human world, rather than just stopping there, the girl’s eccentricities escalated – and culminated in blowing up a house with a bomb born from her magic. Naturally, the government did not take the incident lightly, and had decided to name the girl a criminal and cast her into Hell.
‘This is probably another one of their experiments. One to gauge her magical power.’
The prison guard honestly believed that as she looked at the girl’s face. No matter how she looked at her, the girl in front of her did not fit the label of “brutal criminal”.
However, she was about to realize she was mistaken.
The girl continued speaking, surrounded by people who were shocked and at a loss for words. “I messed up a little, right? But it’s okay! I’m a princess! I’ll train really hard in the human world! And I’ll protect the human world from demons!”
“Training in the human world”?
Various words spilled from the girl’s mouth. However, the prison guards did not understand what she meant. There was no precedent for training in the human world, and demons existed only in the imaginations of ancient magic specialists. There should be no reason to protect the human world when cultural exchange was prohibited, and more importantly–
“What are you saying? You are simply an ordinary citizen. You are not a princess. In any case, this country has not been a monarchy–”
Having said that much, she noticed something was odd. The girl in front of her eyes was pulling together a vortex of magical power around her body as she smiled.
“…! Please stop resisting! You don’t have a staff; if you use magic–”
“A staff? You’re wrong.” The girl held out her hand as if ridiculing the nervous guards. “This is a magic wand – it’s called Piriolim. I named it!”
In the next instant, the girl began to gather the “frozen air” eddying around her body in front of her hand – and like a coiled rope, it extended to the staff held by the guards.
‘She’s sending magic to a staff in someone else’s hand!?’
Normally, this country’s so-called “magic users” gave shape to magic by sending power through a magical amplification device, the “staff” in their hands. However, even transmitting magical power through the staff clasped in one’s hands required a considerable amount of concentration. The girl in front of them was sending magical power to someone else’s staff not in her grasp. Furthermore, she did so with an innocent, innocent smile–
The moment she saw the girl’s boundlessly pure smile, the prison guard froze in place and understood, chagrined. The one before their eyes was not simply a girl with strong magical power–
She was a full-fledged monster.
And then – in this “prison”, unbefitting of a magical country, rang out the sound of an explosion, definitely unbefitting of a fairytale.
In that way, the felon who called herself a magical girl successfully escaped into the wild.
The wild – that is, into the world inhabited by non-magical humans.
“As a result of her raw talent, she mistook herself to be a special existence… no, in truth, she really is special. Especially dangerous, that is.”
The man let out a small sigh as he received the report on Number 893’s jailbreak from the prison guard.
The room was narrow and rather plain, save for the spread of marble-like stones. Within, the guard who had previously been in contact with Number 893 and the warden in charge of her faced each other across a desk.
The warden in charge of the government officials administering the law in this “magical country” let out a deeper sigh than before as he skimmed over the report on Number 893.
“To think that the case of the first ‘criminal’ in my term of office would end in jailbreak. If this is how it ends, it really would’ve been better to hand her over to the researchers without a trial.”
“…I believe she would have suffered more in that case than she would by ‘going to Hell’.”
There was no longer any shred of sympathy in the voice of the guard who delivered the report. After experiencing the abnormal power of the “magical girl”, she felt only that even giving her to the researchers who treated people as guinea pigs would not have been too cruel a fate.
“Warden. Number 893… what in the world is she?”
“That’s a vague question.” The warden, whose hair was graying, tried to answer the personal question broached by his subordinate. “Number 893, whose original name has been completely erased from this world. Her parents’ whereabouts have been unknown ever since she was born, and she was raised in a facility until she was ten years old. After that, she began a solitary life due to her childish behavior, but–”
The warden stopped there and placed a number of books and videos atop the desk.
“Though she was forbidden from interacting with the human world, she managed to steal a number of everyday items like these. I don’t know if I should call her cunning or praise her for her determination… In any case, these were discovered in her room.”
The guard picked up one of the materials, but before she could check its contents, the warden opened his mouth.
“Manga and anime. She only collected those with a certain theme. They weren’t produced in this country, but in the human world. And they’re specific to the country in the human world known as Japan.”
“Owowow! Stop it! Don’t squeeze my stomach it’ll come out come out my insides will come out!”
The praying mantis was held tight around its abdomen, and it raised its voice in protest against the owner of the hand that restrained it. However, its voice was lost amidst the roar of the wind.
It wasn’t that wind was blowing through their surroundings. The magical girl – the one called Number 893 – had grabbed hold of the praying mantis and was moving with the ferocity of wind.
Number 893 had detonated a bomb made with magic, and in the ensuing chaos, liberally used the stolen magic staff, grabbed the praying mantis that used to be her partner, and used weather manipulation magic to make her escape.
And at present–
She was in freefall.
The girl and the bug simply fell through the huge sky stretching out above the human world. She used weather manipulation magic, “recalled” the previous coordinates of her contact with the human world next to their own, and forcefully smashed through the barrier. On the other side was the sky far, far above the island country that was her destination.
Number 893 fell headfirst toward the ground. She felt as if the pressure of air resistance would tear apart her body, and that her bodily fluids were being pulled to one side with a horrible force. However, the girl put her strength into the staff in her right hand, and a transparent wall formed around her and nullified the air pressure against her body.
Noticing that the sound of the wind was lessening, the invertebrate took the opportunity and raised its voice. “Ahh, geez! What in the world are you thinking? You’re always like this! You don’t think about other people at all! You always just do what you want!”
“Ah! Look, look, Tis! That’s definitely a baseball stadium! Good, it looks I managed to get close to where I was last time!”
“Listen to me! Breaking out of jail is one thing, but then why’d you have to bring me along too!? Are you taking me hostage!? You felon!”
Gazing straight at the ground, Number 893 responded to the insect, which waved its sickles around with a buzzing noise as it complained. “Ehh? But doesn’t a magical girl who goes to the human world need a magical creature with her? One that’s noisy, and cute, and speaks the human language?”
“In that case, our country–”
“I hope my new master is a nice person.”
“I said, listen to me! And what do you mean by ‘master’ anyway!?”
Tis seemed to be at wit’s end. At his question, the magical girl declared with an innocent smile, “A magical girl has to call the owner of the roof they fall through her master.”
“Where did that rule come from!? And this has been bothering me for a while, but what’s a ‘magical girl’ supposed to be!?”
In response to the praying mantis’s basic question, Number 893 bragged without an ounce of hesitation, “A magical girl is a princess from the land of magic who comes to the human world for training and fights the bad guys from Hell – that’s me, see?”
“Shut up! How are you a princess!? You only ever ditched school and you didn’t train or do anything else! You can only transform and use fire and materialize things! You can’t heal or use normal magic at all!”
“You’re wrong, Tis.” The magical girl shook her head, as if they were simply having a pleasant chat as they fell headlong. “A magical girl should only use flashy magic, you know? Because no one will believe me if I don’t. That’s not the way it is on TV. They can’t make a movie out of it.”
The girl said such incomprehensible things with a far-off gaze, and the arthropod gave up on continuing the conversation.
“…I hope we at least land safely…” The praying mantis rubbed its sickles together, recalling the last time they fell, when they had nearly been dragged into the turbine of a jumbo jet.
“It seems the human world imagines people of the ‘land of magic’ to be even more magnificent than we know,” the warden muttered as he threw the manga he had been flipping through down on the desk. “This world, where magic can only be used to deceive.”
He smiled masochistically. As he gazed at the multitude of manga and light novels, as well as anime series, he continued to speak to the prison guard in a tongue of the human world – that of the country of Japan. “To put it simply, Number 893 is a daydreamer.”
“I don’t know how she got them to start with, but… Number 893 completely fell in love with the numerous Japanese manga and images. She would read the same books over and over and over and over, everything she could get her hands on. She would keep looking, devouring it, only skimming the surface of what was going on–”
He stopped speaking for a moment and then murmured as if seeking agreement to the prison guard, who was standing erect in front of the desk, “A real ‘magical girl’, who can no longer tell the difference between manga and reality… huh. What a joke. Right?”
“By the way… why do you always, always go to Japan?” Tis asked a natural question as they drew closer to the townscape on the ground.
The girl smiled softly and answered the inquiry of her companion, whom she had forcibly dragged along. “Hey, Tis?”
“It’s really gross for a praying mantis to have eyelids, you know?”
“Not only did you avoid the question but you were really blunt just now! You’re terrible! You’re the worst!”
Even as Tis protested, they continued to accelerate and approach the ground. And then–
They fell through the roof of a certain house and she once again descended on the human world.
The “magical girl” literally did descend.
“She thinks of herself as the protagonist of one of these works. The problem is that she really can use magic.”
The warden once again let out a deep sigh as he tidied up the materials on his desk. “She was top of her class in school at pyrokinesis and materialization magic. On the other hand, in healing and mind control – or to put it bluntly, the more subdued magic – her grades are abysmal.”
“It seems she didn’t attend those classes to begin with… she reportedly believes ‘magic has to be flashy’ or something along those lines…”
At his subordinate’s words, the man shook his head quietly. “If it was the other way around, we would still have her in custody. …In the end, the manual we prepared only holds for those with equal or less magical power than us. Someone like her is really without precedent.”
The prison guard nodded slightly at her boss’s words and proposed her next question. “As for what we should do about her now…”
“Just leave her.”
“Most likely, the human world will reject her. Not only does she completely go against their common sense, she is someone who has fully lost sight of herself. All we have to do is observe. Her magical power will run wild again, we’ll be able to identify her exact location, and then we can go collect her.” The man’s expression was of mingled loss and relief, like someone whose unmanageable pet had run away and was willingly adopted by someone else.
“We’ve already decided where she will be sent, the research facility… the place might as well be ‘Hell’.”
The warden muttered that, and as he said, at that moment–
Number 893 really was in Hell. In this hellish situation, the girl was becoming fully aware of “death” for the first time.
She broke through the roof tiles and the ceiling with a crashing noise. And then, with the cloud of smoke as a backdrop, the lone girl twirled around grandly.
“Hello! I’ve come all the way from the land of magic! Magical Girl… umm… I don’t have a name… Anyway, the warrior of love and justice, Magical Girl Something-chan, has arrived! ☆”
Number 893 undid the barrier that had softened her fall and gave an embarrassing introduction to the person listening. However – the one before her was neither a boy confused by this sudden visit from a beautiful girl, nor a girl bewildered by the damage to her house. Moreover, he was not even an ordinary person.
“…What’s with you?”
Number 893 felt a freezing cold gaze at the same time as the calm question reached her ears.
The smoke stirred up by the destruction of the roof cleared and a single man came into view. Tatami flooring, shoji, and fusuma. The man was sitting silently within the typical Japanese room. Upon seeing that man, Number 893’s exuberance ground to a temporary halt.
“You were playing with a cat on the roof… nah, doesn’t look like that at all.”
The ceiling of his room had been destroyed and a strange girl appeared in front of him – and yet the man’s voice was the picture of tranquility. However, that trivial fact was not what had stopped Number 893 in her tracks.
What was important was what the man held in his hand. A sleek, beautiful silver cylinder extended from a simple wooden handle. One side of the gleaming cylinder was slender and sharp, and it looked as if just touching it would cut anything in two.
–In short, it was a nagadosu nearly as large as a katana.
Furthermore, a black gun and several bullets lay to the left of the man, who was sitting in seiza. If they assumed the nagadosu was not a fake sword, most likely the gun was also not some kind of model gun.
“I asked what’s with you… get it? Mm… to begin with, Missy, are you Japanese?”
The man’s voice was not gentle, but it did not contain bloodlust or anger. Just the fact that he was so calm in this kind of situation caused Number 893 to be weighed down by a strong sense of unease.
The man was in his thirties, his age so far removed from Number 893’s that they could have been father and daughter. The glint in his eye was sharper than the long sword in his hand. He was handsome at first glance, but the long slash wound that ran across his face exerted so much pressure on the girl he faced that she was unable to reply.
“Isn’t this kind of bad?” The praying mantis, which had been thrown flat as they fell, spoke as it stepped up behind Number 893. And then, carefully so that the man in front of them wouldn’t realize, it immediately spread its wings as if to fly away.
The praying mantis’s speech center had already switched over to Japanese when they were falling. Like Number 893, who had done the same as she escaped from prison, it could perfectly understand the words of the man before them and the words its partner muttered in Japanese. However, she was not able to respond immediately.
‘I-I’ve seen this before. I’ve seen this before!’
She analyzed the man before her with the information she had gleaned from her collection of manga.
‘This person – is a ‘hoodlum’! They’re scary! They’re bad people!’
The girl’s heart had not been shaken even when the prison guard told her she was going to Hell, but now, a little fear began to spring up within her.
The human world’s manga – one part of her reality, one to which she gave even greater weight than true reality. She had read several things besides the stories of magical girls, but in those, how were people like the man before her depicted?
It might have been different in a heroic manga, but she had only been reading works targeted to young boys and girls. In those stories, those like the man in front of her were shown as frightening people about eighty percent of the time.
In other words, they were “villains”.
As if to support her thoughts, the sound of many footsteps came rushing from outside the room.
“Boss! What was that sound just now?”
The ones who opened the fusuma and came into view were a skinhead and a crewcut man, along with a man with a punch perm, a man wearing a Nehru jacket and a reptile leather belt, and a man wearing a flashy bracelet and a tiepin. They looked much more aggressive than man before her, whom they called “Boss”.
These frightening people, “villains”, were right before her eyes. For the girl who could no longer tell the difference between reality and daydreams, they were scary both in reality and the world of her daydreams, and that was enough to throw her heart into disarray.
“Hey… B-Bro, this is…”
The friends of the man called Boss saw the girl, whose face had gone stiff, and after a moment of silence, started saying whatever they liked.
“Boss… this’s no good. Even if we really need the money, doing something like abducting brats… you’ll be kicked out if the leader finds out.”
“Boss… she your illegitimate kid?”
“What’s Sis gonna say?”
“What’s with that brat? Is she gonna tape us collecting money or something and put it on the ‘net?”
“So you’re into this kinda thing, Boss.”
Before the last man could say anything else, the man next to him struck him and he collapsed.
The girl was not stupid. She understood exactly what the aggressive-looking men were talking about. And perhaps she understood exactly what a dangerous situation she was in.
“…so, what the hell’s up with you?”
Faced with the “Boss”, who spoke as if nothing in particular had happened, the girl was briefly at a loss for words…
“Come forth! Lyrical Hammer!”
Smiling and covered in cold sweat, she hoisted the staff in her hand as high as she could toward the ceiling. The sun peeked out beyond the round hole created when she herself had crashed through the roof and shone warmly upon the girl’s body. Light gathered at the end of the girl’s magic wand, and like a plant maturing when bathed in light – it finally took the shape of a weapon. The iron lump, thickly covered in black, was engraved with the huge white characters “666t”. Of course, it was not actually that heavy, but it was a hammer of such size that it would lightly knock someone out if the girl swung it down from over her head.
The small girl held the wand under her arm and waved the hammer high in the air.
“Okay! I’ll steal your memories–☆” Number 893 swung down the iron weapon with an overly theatrical yell.
Every time she came to the human world, she would erase all the harm she had done with this. When she accidentally fell into the house of a deviant, or when the panicked resident seemed like he would call the police, or as revenge against someone who wouldn’t accept her. After they passed out, she would use her magic and create appropriate false memories. Normally memory fabrication was extraordinarily difficult, but if they were unconscious, it was relatively easy.
Of course, in this case, she had no idea what would happen after one person had passed out, but at present, the girl’s mind was fully occupied with escaping from the villains before her. And so, she smashed the head of the boss with a blow that would be impossible to recover from – or she should have.
Without a single change in expression, the boss stretched his hand out to the hammer, which moved with an abnormal speed born of magic, and halted the advance of the weapon right before it hit his head with a technique one would use to defend against a sword attack.
He did not just stop it but skillfully redirect the momentum, and the hammer was easily thrown from the girl’s hand.
The hammer fell through the tatami with a heavy thunk. It was clearly a weapon. As the aggressive-looking men around them realized without a doubt that it was not a toy, their expressions tensed up and Number 893 was surrounded by their piercing gazes.
“This is really bad.”
The girl stood in front of Tis, who had already begun to flap his wings. She muttered as a single trickle of sweat ran down her face, “I… I have to beat them.”
Tis let out a questioning sound, but it no longer reached Number 893’s ears. She had failed to escape, and so her heart shifted away from being a comedic magical girl. Rather than prioritizing escape from that place, her heart was urging her to act like the protagonist of a story of a magical girl fighting demons.
‘I have to beat them!’
She was a magical girl. The princess of the world of magic. She had come to Earth to train and defend the human world.
‘So – I have to beat them!’
All of the various stories came together in the girl’s mind and charged the staff with strong magical power.
Disregarding Tis’s trembling words, Number 893 manifested a single object. A rope sprang forth from the black sphere reminiscent of a bowling ball, emitting violent sparks.
“I’ll blow you up!”
It was a stereotypical bomb straight out an old anime, like those she had created when exterminating cockroaches and escaping from prison.
In an instant, the attention of the aggressive-looking men gathered at the entrance to the room focused completely on the fuse emitting violent sparks.
“What just happened…”
They did not know whether or not the bomb was real, but before that, they had seen it. The strange “miracle”, when the girl created new matter out of nothing. If it had only been the hammer, they may have believed they were seeing things, but this time, everyone had clearly witnessed the bomb materializing from thin air.
The man called Boss also knitted his eyebrows for just a moment at this turn of events. However, the moment he saw the fuse, his eyes once again grew calm, and his body was already preparing for its next action.
Number 893 tried to erect a barrier to protect her own body from the blast, but she stiffened at the overwhelming force of the man before her.
All the man did was move and wind whirled about the room.
The boss grasped the sword lying on the tatami floor, and at the same time he moved only his legs and took a huge step forward, keeping his head at about the level it was at when seated. In the next instant, his upper body began to move as if following through. The acceleration of his body was transferred to acceleration of his arm, and the tip of the blade in his hand swung so fast it gave off a sharp whistling sound.
The silver blade pressed against the girl’s slender neck the moment she poured magic into her staff.
After a short pause, the fuse of the bomb rolling in front of her plopped onto the ground. The man had aimed for a section where the flame had not yet reached and cut through the fuse with a horizontal slash. And then, without halting, he had brought the blade to a stop right at the girl’s neck.
Sweat of fear and despair ran down the girl’s cheeks. Incidentally, Tis had already fled somewhere, and she knew there was not a single person here who would help her.
“Missy… gunpowder’s not a kid’s toy.”
The staff was already full of magical power. If the girl concentrated just the slightest bit, she could use magic and send the man before her flying. However, right now, she couldn’t carry out that small action. The expression in the eyes of the man in front of her, his blade, and his breathing had frozen her thoughts, movements, and even her nerves.
‘He’ll kill me.’
She was the protagonist of the story. So she would definitely not die. The girl had continued to confuse reality and manga, and so she had unconsciously come to think that.
However, in this moment, she was definitely faced with “death”. A sliver of “reality” returned to her heart in this worst possible situation.
The man kept the blade in his left hand at the girl’s throat as his right hand slowly approached Number 893’s neck.
‘I don’t wanna die.’
As the girl watched his hand draw closer, she knew it was the end.
‘I really don’t wanna die.’
Would he squeeze her neck until he killed her or rip her clothes away from the neck and rape her? Number 893 trembled in fear, her mind full of thoughts unsuited to her outward appearance. However, the approaching hand did not stop. The palm of an experienced killer drew closer, about to tear her own life away.
The girl could not help letting out a cry, and tears began to well up in her eyes.
The man’s hand approached. Color began to drain from the scene in front of her. The shape of the world began to distort wildly, much like the sound of her own ragged breathing.
And the moment she completely lost sight of what was happening before her – the man’s hand reached the girl’s body.
“Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh… aaah… ah?”
However, what the man touched was not the girl’s neck.
The man’s hand rested on the girl’s head, an action that would be drawn in with the sound effect “plop”.
With her tears sticking in her throat, the girl slowly opened eyes she hadn’t realized she had closed.
The world that had disappeared returned to Number 893’s eyes. Her distorted vision gradually cleared and the black shades regained their true colors.
When she looked at the face of the man in front of her, the look in his eyes was as pointed as ever, but the sharp light from before had vanished. The blade had been removed from her throat without her noticing, and the sensation of “death” around her was fading.
The girl slowly sank to her knees and stared back expressionlessly at the man before her eyes. The man turned away wordlessly, lifted the sword he had lowered to his side, and smoothly replaced it in its sheath.
The aggressive-looking men surrounded him at a distance and raised their voices timidly. “B-Boss… what’s with this kid…?”
It was a natural question, and the boss answered indifferently without so much as raising an eyebrow. “Damn… to think those Marubatsu-gumi bastards would send in a brat as cannon fodder like this… Tch, they thought they’d catch me off-guard, but they did a pretty terrible thing.”
Number 893 looked on blankly, not knowing what “cannon fodder” was. She had not yet stopped sobbing, and she continued to listen to the man’s words without saying anything. Not understanding why she had been spared, she tried desperately to calm her heart so that she could make sense of the situation.
Now that Tis had run away, there was no longer anyone around who knew of her – knew of the magical girl. Somehow everything had wrapped up without her dying, but she did not know what to do now.
When she again began to feel uneasy about her fate, the boss suddenly looked back at her.
Number 893 squeaked without thinking, and the boss muttered, shaking his head slightly, “Ah, it’s okay. You’re okay.”
“I dunno what your parents told you, but… a kid like you doesn’t have to be used as a weapon.”
She didn’t understand what he was talking about, but the conversation progressed steadily.
“Missy. What’s your name?”
Number 893 hesitated to answer the question that was suddenly thrown at her. It was not just that she was again seized by fear, but also because she remembered she did not have her own name.
“I… I… don’t have… a name.”
“Hic…! It… it was erased… so I… don’t have one…”
It was an answer that would not make sense to those who did not know the circumstances. If she slipped up, she might be killed. The girl’s mind filled with such thoughts, and she was about to start crying again.
However, the man’s reaction was completely different from what the girl had expected.
“I see… you even threw away your own name to protect your family…”
“But you don’t have to go back to that family anymore.”
The magical girl desperately tried to figure out his intentions, not understanding the meaning of his words.
That was when the expression of the man gazing at her relaxed for the first time. Somehow, it looked to the girl as if he were smiling.
“Don’t worry – there’s no one here who’ll drag you into a fight. I promise.”
At his words, the frightening men behind him looked at each other.
“Boss, what’re you gonna do?”
“Who knows. But we can’t just leave her,” the man answered without turning around, and the men behind him protested even more.
“But what was that… that thing, just now… with the bomb, kinda like a magic trick…”
“Like I know. It’s not important, so just leave it for now.”
“Men don’t chatter on and on in front of brats!”
At the boss’s loud, sharp words, the men said nothing more.
Number 893 also jumped at the man’s words, but seeing that, the boss hurried to speak to her gently. “Whoa, sorry. I’m not mad at you.”
The boss smiled quietly and continued to speak, with his hand once again resting on the girl’s head. “So – let’s think about your name ‘till dinner.”
“Huh? Huh? –Huh?”
And so, the magical girl who had rejected Hell and escaped from prison came to live in the Amida-gumi’s residence as their guest. 
Though no one at all bothered to ask her.
The Amida-gumi’s turf was on the outskirts of the city, and they were an extremely small organization. There was nothing around but fields. The atmosphere was completely different from the urban areas in the same city, and to begin with, it did not seem at all like a place where a yakuza residence would be located. It seemed they had been a large organization in the distant past, but next thing they knew, train stations had been built everywhere except within their territory, and the surrounding area ended up the only one excluded from the city’s growth.
For generations, their bosses had been men who hated conflict. Other organizations thought there was nothing special about their territory and didn’t pay them any mind.
Due to legal changes several years prior, they were no longer able to gather the protection money that had previously been their source of income. Theirs was a small, inconsequential group that just barely managed to make its living through gambling against neighborhood thugs and with the Internet business used as their front.
Thus, they had had only small skirmishes with other organizations. Time passed with no huge conflicts, but–
This past summer, that situation changed. An incident had occurred in which of the members had been attacked by a man with an axe hiding in his room. They immediately captured the axeman, but the man was a drug addict. It seemed that the drug was distributed by the Marubatsu-gumi in the urban area.
Having learned that drugs were being distributed on their turf without their permission, the boss, Ginjima, personally went to protest. Then the Marubatsu-gumi declared war and attacked, and the boss turned the tables on them – but the feud had continued ever since. At present, the leader was laid out sick, so the Amida-gumi was currently centered around Boss Ginjima, who had taken the lead. 
“In the end, once we get started, it won’t end ‘till one of us is gone. There’s no big group that’ll step in and mediate between small groups like ours either. Not around here.”
The skinhead man was talking about the group’s current situation. The magical girl wore a serious expression as she listened to the bloodthirsty story.
It had been four days since the girl had fallen through the roof. In the end, Number 893 had settled in with the Amida-gumi as a freeloader.
“But ya know, Summer-chan, you came at a pretty bad time… if you want papers, someone’ll take you in for sure...”
“No. It’s fine, Masa-san. I’ve decided to do my princess training at this house!”
The gang members already knew that she was not human.
In the beginning, it had taken one day to prove that she was a “magical girl”. Most of what she could do could be rationalized as sleight of hand, and if she conducted large-scale magic, the land of magic could possibly pinpoint her location. Things would have been simple if she showed them Tis, but he had run away during the initial commotion and had not yet returned. They had finally believed her when she flew through the sky on a broom and repelled a thrown rock with a barrier – but the gang members even believed her delusion that “she was a princess of the land of magic come to the human world to train.” Most of the gang members panicked when they suddenly learned of the existence of magic, but the young boss, Ginjima, and the leader’s daughter, who they called “Sis”, somehow calmed them down.
And then – they decided her name would be “Samantha”, on the suggestion of one of the gang members, who loved Bewitched. Sis said, “Samantha sounds like an old woman’s name, so I’m makin’ it shorter,” and so Number 893 came to be called “Summer”. Now, after four days had passed, the group was split between those who called her “Summer” and those who equated “summer” with “natsu” and thus called her “Nacchan”. 
On the second day, they pressed her to prove that she had no connection to the Marubatsu-gumi, and on the third day, she did her best to persuade them to let her stay.
Initially, she had wanted to leave and search for another house, but now, Number 893 – Summer – had overcome her reluctance and wanted to stay at the Amida-gumi residence.
“If I don’t stay at the first house I fall into, my training doesn’t count!” the girl said, desperately pointing out a fact that existed only in her delusions. She herself believed it, and so her eyes did not show any hint of a lie.
And so, on the fourth day, during the daytime–
The girl now felt something like hero-worship towards Ginjima, who had saved her when she was terrified. She intended to use her power to help the people at the residence, no matter what. She fully believed that was the mission given to her.
When she heard the story of the conflict from the skinhead, she opened her mouth reflexively. “Okay, I’ll get them!”
The magical girl sat on the veranda of the residence, bathed in sunlight, her eyes shining. She wore the dazzling outfit of a magical girl, and with the skinhead beside her, she looked completely out of place.
However, the girl paid no mind to such trivialities and started sharing her own words with the skinhead. “I’ll finish off those bad guys with magic!”
Her voice was brimming with confidence, but the skinhead’s reaction was neither joyful nor cold. All he did was narrow his eyes slightly and answer, “We ‘preciate it, but… ya know, if ya say that to Sis or Boss, you’re gonna get spanked. Be careful.”
“Eh… why? You know I can use magic, right? So then I’ll just go whoosh with magic!” The magical girl spoke with dissatisfaction, as if forgetting that she had had the tables turned on her only four days ago, when she had judged Ginjima and the others to be “villains” and tried to finish them off.
The skinhead laughed, troubled, and slowly began to speak to her. “The rest of the world prob’ly thinks we’re just lowlifes, but y’know… if we dragged a kid like you into our business, we wouldn’t even be able to show our faces before God.”
The girl’s expression said that she would not be convinced otherwise, and so the skinhead tried to dodge the question. “Well, to start with, normally you wouldn’t even imagine having a kid in the residence. Boss really does have a soft spot for brats.”
“Y’know, Boss used to be a big shot in one of the bigger groups in the city. One of those guys who always solved things with violence, and so persistent they called ‘im the ‘Apparition’. He took out a group with just a gun and sword, chased ‘em around until he finished ‘em all off, got covered in countless people’s blood… sorry, I shouldn’t tell this to a girl,” the skinhead said to the girl as it suddenly occurred to him. He looked away, wearing an awkward expression. “Anyway, Boss had a kid when he was ‘bout twenty.”
“Nah, it wasn’t his own kid. He took in the kid of his Sis who died… that kid died in the end too.”
She could guess what came next.
“Might’ve been just about your age if she lived, Summer-chan. So it’s pretty complicated for Bro too… nah, sorry. This ain’t somethin’ I should be goin’ on about either. Just forget it.”
The skinhead clicked his tongue, looking awkward, then stood up and left the veranda. He left behind the girl, who threw herself down heavily on the veranda and thought about what she had just heard.
‘Even though magic can do anything. Maybe they still don’t believe in me.’
Pondering over those things, and then feeling uneasy at her own thoughts, the girl quietly fell asleep.
Several days later.
The woman called Sis bought clothes for Number 893. Of course, it wasn’t as if she had worn the same clothes for a week straight. She had borrowed casual clothing while doing laundry with magic, but today, Number 893 was given normal children’s clothes suitable for a girl her age.
“You’ll stick out like a sore thumb if you walk around outside looking like that.”
Sis – Megumi – was a beautiful woman in Japanese clothes who appeared to be in her late twenties. She was dressed primarily in black and purple, and though the hostess at a Japanese inn would be clothed similarly, she gave off a slightly different impression. She looked severe, but she was a brave woman who ended the quarrels of her fellow group members with her precise and logical opinions.
This normally strong-willed woman smiled gently as she presented the clothes. However, the magical girl could not readily accept them. That was because she had heard of the Amida-gumi’s dire financial condition from the skinhead and other group members.
“U-um… everyone in the group’s short on money, so I can’t just take something like this.”
“Hey, it’s nothing a kid should worry about.”
“B-but… ah, that’s right! If I use ma-”
“Even if you pull out money with magic, we won’t take it. Oh, I don’t think anyone will, but if one of the younger guys asks you to, you definitely can’t give ‘em money or anything. I’ll kick you out right away if you do, so be careful.”
Sis had anticipated what she would say, and Number 893 hid her face. If she had been her former self back when she had lived in the land of magic, she would not have been able to understand why they would not accept it.
However, now she was beginning to understand. She couldn’t really put it into words, but something about her own idea made her feel uneasy.
“T-thank you,” the girl murmured quietly as she accepted the clothes.
‘Is it really okay to take these clothes?
‘I haven’t even done anything yet. I’m just a freeloader. Is it really…’
As those small doubts began to swirl within her heart, Megumi gripped Number 893’s shoulder, still smiling. “You don’t need to thank me. By the way, Nacchan.”
“That good-for-nothing who told you our group’s flat broke. Now who was it exactly…?”
Faced with that bright smile, the girl felt more terror than when she had first fallen into this house.
Ten days after that.
Megumi’s words weighed on Number 893’s mind, and she asked the boss in the large, Japanese-style reception room, “Ginjima-san… I really am just a kid, aren’t I?”
“What’s this all of a sudden?”
Number 893 told Ginjima about the exchange ten days ago as he replaced the water at the altar.
Ginjima was quiet for a while, and then he faced the altar, loudly clapped his hands twice, and turned around, letting out a large sigh. “Well, you’re still just a kid if you think we’ll be happy with money you get with magic.”
Ginjima was her current master. That was how she was starting to feel. It felt like he was denying her magic, and so Number 893 was a little saddened.
Though his gaze remained sharp, Ginjima spoke in a gentle voice, as if to comfort the girl. “Sis was thinking of you when she said that. We treat you like a kid and treasure you. You’re lucky.”
When Ginjima talked about Megumi, his voice became really happy. He didn’t at all seem like someone called the “Apparition”, but Number 893 had not asked Ginjima about his past. There wasn’t really anyone stopping her, but for some reason, she felt that it wasn’t something she should bring up. And she had heard the reason why Ginjima seemed happy from the skinhead.
“Ginjima-san, you love Megumi-san, don’t you?”
He did not try to hide it. Number 893 had been hoping he would be embarrassed. Even as she felt disappointed, she also respected his frank acknowledgement.
“Don’t make fun of Sis for it.”
“Does Megumi-san love you back, Ginjima-san?”
Number 893 quietly asked, in response to those evasive words, “Um, then, I’ll–”
‘I’ll use my magic to make her fall in love!’
If she had been the same as she was just a little while ago, she would have yelled that without hesitation. But she could not speak. She felt like something had changed, and she swallowed back her own words.
Perhaps Ginjima-san noticed, because he spoke quietly. “You’re still just a kid if you think of using magic to make people get married or make money.”
‘He saw through me again.’
Everyone could figure out what she was thinking so easily. Number 893 started to suspect that they were also all magic users.
That suspicion subsided quickly, and in its place, a feeling of frustrated powerlessness welled up within her.
“Hey… Ginjima-san. Am I useless?”
“Huh? What’re you talking about? You didn’t do anything in the beginning, but lately you’ve been helping with the cleaning and laundry. Sis is pretty happy.”
“But… I’m a magic user. I can do really, really amazing things…! But I still haven’t done anything for you. I can’t do anything except magic…”
“Can’t do anything except magic, huh.” Ginjima quietly narrowed his eyes, and leaning against a pillar, he turned his gaze to the ceiling. “Then it’s fine. We can do magic too, you know.”
Number 893 didn’t understand Ginjima’s meaning, and without thinking, she asked what, “to her”, was a sensible question. “Um, but don’t people in the human world not have magical power? So it’s impossible.”
“We do,” Ginjima replied without hesitation and turned his gaze to the freeloading magical girl. “Listen, Summer. You didn’t come to train in this world so you could use magic. I dunno anything about this land of magic, but… the reason you came all the way to Earth, where people don’t use magic, is so you could learn something magic can’t do, right?”
“Well, the rest of it is your problem… Sorry. I’m talking about weird things.”
The girl could not respond to his words. A single thought simply continued to swirl within her heart.
‘I’m not really a princess and I didn’t come here for training.
‘I’m not even a magical girl…’
After one month had passed since Number 893 came to the Amida-gumi, her partner suddenly returned.
Number 893 was drying the laundry in the garden and began to wave her magic wand. The clothesline, loaded with a large amount of water-soaked laundry, traced a neat line and fell onto the clothes-drying platform. After she had taken down all the clotheslines and, when she was smoothing out the wrinkles with her own hands–
Suddenly a voice spoke up from behind her.
“I-I’m back~ 893-chan…”
When she realized who the voice belonged to, the girl panicked and picked up the praying mantis at her feet.
“Ah… you’re wearing human clothes, so I didn’t recognize you at first… but you’ve still got your magic staff, so… hehe.”
“Tis! What’s wrong!? Are you okay!?” The girl spoke in a sincerely worried voice to Tis, whose eyes were rolling.
Despite the sense of discomfort the praying mantis felt at the girl’s behavior, for now he gathered his energy and straightened up. “I’m fine… no, not really. I wandered around this world for a while after I ran away, but kids chased me and I was almost eaten by a dog, and when I took human form and tried to have fun in the pleasure district, I got played by the night butterflies even though I’m a praying mantis and they squeezed out all the energy and patience and money from me until I was dizzy and reeling–” 
As he told of the tragedy he had suffered, fully reaping the consequences of his own actions, the praying mantis silently steeled himself.
“Yeah, you must resent me after I left you and ran away, right? Haha, I thought if I was gonna have to deal with all those terrible things, I might as well come back and let you do what you want with me. But, well, to tell the truth, I didn’t think you’d still be ali-”
He did not have the chance to finish speaking. Tis felt drops of something fall on his head – and in the next moment, Number 893 embraced him tightly against her chest.
“Sorry… sorry, Tis… all I ever did was drag you along with me…”
For a while, Tis was befuddled, not understanding the words directed at him. Once he had digested their meaning, he muttered suspiciously, “You… are you really Number 893?”
“So… you know now, right? About yourself… what you are.”
Number 893 nodded silently in response to the words of the praying mantis, who was sitting and resting on the veranda.
“You’re not a princess, and you didn’t come here to train, and you don’t fight demons.”
Despite Number 893’s silent nod, the praying mantis continued to hound her with his words. “You know you escaped from prison and you understand what you did when you came to the human world before?”
Tears spilled from the girl’s eyes, accompanied by her second nod.
“Man oh man, it’s the first time I’ve ever seen you cry, but it looks like you really are serious. You’ve only spent one month in the human world, but now you can clearly tell the difference between reality and daydreams, huh? Or no, maybe it means you’ve finally gotten some of that ‘common sense’ you never had before.”
The praying mantis talked on and on, doing nothing but rubbing salt in her wounds at this critical moment, but even so, the girl continued to hang her head in shame.
“…It really does look like you’re reflecting on it.”
The praying mantis stopped talking for a moment, and a strange silence descended.
When the girl’s tears had subsided, Tis asked quietly, “What are you gonna do? From now on?”
“I don’t know… I just don’t know…” The magical girl shook her head slightly and began to express her feelings to the magical creature who was her companion. “I’ve… done a lot of terrible things… I cast magic on you, a normal praying mantis, and turned you into this, and forced you to be my partner…”
“Don’t worry. I don’t resent you for it anymore.”
“…Thanks, and sorry… but no matter how much I apologize, it won’t be enough… When I came to this world before, I blew away those people’s house… and the ‘government officials’ took me back right after that, so I didn’t know what happened to them…”
At that point, the girl shook her head violently. “…no! It’s not that I didn’t know! I didn’t try to find out and I didn’t care enough to find out! It didn’t bother me! And even then, I didn’t think I was wrong… I acted like I didn’t do anything! I didn’t feel anything…!”
The girl’s eyes began to overflow with tears once again. The praying mantis remained silent and continued to listen to his companion’s words.
“Even I know I’m completely hopeless… I ended up spending my time here, and learned lots of things, and now I know I’m hopeless.”
“–But… I’m scared.”
That was when fear and sadness appeared on the girl’s face.
“Now I know what I did, but still… going back to the land of magic and being sent to Hell scares me. It really scares me… I’m sca… hic…”
Just as she was unable to control her tears any longer, the dam within Number 893 broke and she spoke her mind freely. “Now I’m really, really scared of being punished. I wanna run away. I can’t forgive myself… for that… but I’m, really, scared… I don’t, wanna go… to Hell… hic… I really, don’t, wanna go…”
The girl was unable to speak any further. Only her weeping echoed across the veranda.
After some time had passed, when the girl’s sobbing had abated, Tis opened his small mouth with its mandibles. “…Then, you can’t use any more strong magic… so you don’t get found out by people from the land of magic. Nothing more than what you use to dry laundry. You can’t materialize bombs from nothing and set them off with magic like before. If you do, the government will find you right away.”
The magical girl remained silent at the praying mantis’s words. She was hesitant, unsure whether she could forgive herself for continuing to run away from her punishment.
And just when it seemed that the silence would stretch on forever – a dispassionate voice came from behind the girl and bug.
She knew even without looking back. It was Ginjima.
The girl’s heart constricted tightly.
‘Did he hear? What we were talking about… all of it?’
The girl was unable to turn around, afraid of what would happen if that were the case. She could not look Ginjima in the face or in the eye.
She felt as if time and her heart had both stopped, but Ginjima continued speaking to her disinterestedly. “A while ago, you spilled soy sauce on your clothes and sent ‘em to get cleaned… they just got back.”
‘He didn’t… hear?’
That was impossible. She had not heard the sound of someone entering the room behind them. Most likely he had been in the room since the beginning and had heard everything she and the praying mantis had said.
When she looked back unintentionally, Ginjima’s sword was lying atop the tatami. It seemed as if he was in the middle of carrying out maintenance on it, just as he had been on the day Number 893 had first fallen. If that was the case, it meant he really had heard their entire conversation.
However, she was unable to confirm that. Even though she had now realized her sins, she was afraid of letting go of the “reality” she had gained in this house. Regardless of the fact that she already knew she was not the protagonist of a story, she was still afraid of losing that.
The girl was unable to answer or turn around. Ginjima quietly asked her, “How ‘bout we go for a walk?”
“No, well, you were saying ‘I wanna try riding a bike’ when you saw it on TV before, right? So we took the bike Sis rode when she was a kid out of storage… You can’t ride if you don’t practice.”
She had no reason to refuse him.
Or to be more precise, she simply didn’t have the willpower to refuse him–
Tokorozawa Aviation Memorial Park.
It was located a little ways from their residence and was the largest urban park within the city. The first airfield constructed within Japan, it was reconstructed on-site after its confiscation by the U.S. Armed Forces. It was an enormous park that boasted the largest size in Saitama Prefecture.
There was a magical girl, pushing a small bike, and a yakuza boss walking alongside as if escorting her along the promenade lined with many kinds of trees.
They were the strangest of combinations, but Number 893 was currently wearing normal children’s clothes and there was nothing particularly out of place about her, save for her magic wand. It seemed the people walking down the path assumed the magic wand was a child’s toy, and so they passed through without arousing anyone’s suspicion.
There were a number of youths skateboarding around them, but they did not look at the girl with particular curiosity. There was a praying mantis about the size of a puppy in the bicycle’s basket, but it seemed everyone believed it to be a stuffed animal.
“Okay, try riding.” Ginjima spoke quietly, carrying the bag from the cleaners under one arm.
However, the girl could not just get on and ride. She didn’t understand Ginjima’s intentions, but on the other hand, she did not have the courage to ask about what had happened earlier. More than anything, she was afraid of talking about what Tis had said, and so there was nothing she could do.
And so the girl asked something completely different to distract herself. Though in the end, that gave her the opportunity to learn everything.
“But why’d you suddenly want to go for a walk…? Even though you haven’t even gone shopping with me before, Ginjima-san…”
“Hm? Ah. Well, our fight with Marubatsu kept going ‘till now… but nothing big’s happened in the past month. And – there was something I wanted to tell you.”
At the girl’s troubled inquiry, Ginjima averted his eyes slightly and muttered, “I’m getting married.”
“To Sis… no, Megumi…”
For a moment, Number 893 did not understand his meaning. However, as his words sunk in, the girl smiled slowly, despite her worry. “Really!? Congratulations! Ginjima-san!”
The uneasiness had not disappeared from within her heart, but she absolutely had to smile and be happy now. The girl laughed as she gave them her blessings.
However, her smile was erased by Ginjima’s next words.
“So, hey… do you have a family somewhere in the land of magic?”
In other words, his question meant that her lie had been exposed. Before, he had heard that she was not a princess. But conversely, that only served to calm the girl’s heart. She cast down her eyes as if giving up, and without looking at Ginjima’s face, she murmured faintly, “…so you heard after all.”
“Are you going to kick me out? Or…”
Would she be killed? The girl recalled what had happened when they had first met. However, strangely enough, when she remembered Ginjima’s eyes now, she did not feel the same strong fear as she had back then.
What about Ginjima’s eyes right now, as he stood beside her? She wanted to check, but she could not summon the courage to look into his eyes.
“I’m… not a princess. My mother and father died right after I was born… so I don’t have a family.”
The girl answered the question, preparing herself to be struck at the very least, but she felt the same weight on her head as she had one month ago.
When she timidly raised her head, his face was as expressionless as ever.
Number 893 looked at the hand resting on her head, puzzled, and Ginjima began to speak softly. “Looks like the leader hasn’t got a lot of time left… and maybe he knows it, too, so he told Megumi... I’m not used to that, let’s go with Sis… Yesterday he told Sis we don’t need anyone to succeed him… Our group’s leadership’s always been hereditary, so he was gonna declare we’re dissolving… d’you know what hereditary means?”
The girl nodded silently, and Ginjina removed his hand from the girl’s head and quietly began to walk down the promenade.
“Okay, good… I’ll marry Sis… and I’ll go straight. But when my daughter died, I ended up going down this path again…”
Hearing those words, the girl recalled the story she had heard from the skinhead. “Ginjima-san…”
“Ah, you know, I had a daughter. I took her in after my Sis died… but my daughter died because of me. She got dragged into a fight and got hit in a drive-by shooting. …So the only one who died was my daughter walking with me.”
Number 893 could do nothing but listen to Ginjima’s words as she heard his past for the first time. She could not even think of what to say to him.
“Then I left the group and got away from the city. …but it was useless. In the end, this is the only life I know.”
Ginjima’s eyes narrowed as if regretting something, and he quietly sighed. His white breath swirled smoothly in the winter air.
“This time… this time too, I – I’ll have a family. And that family…”
At that point, Ginjima muttered a single thing to the girl as he continued to look straight ahead. “Hey, Summer. Will you help out too?”
This time she did not understand his meaning, no matter how much she thought about it. However, the girl wore a look of confusion and waited for Ginjima’s next words.
“I’m asking if we can adopt you when Sis and I get married and become husband and wife.”
Ginjima’s sudden proposal left the girl at a total loss for words.
“Well, we’ll do something about your records… Sis likes you too. She won’t be against it.”
“You don’t have anywhere to go back to, right? Ah, just so you know, I’m not saying this ‘cause I feel sorry for you right now. I’ll take full responsibility.”
Even so, Number 893 looked puzzled. Ginjima scratched his head and spoke. “What I’m saying is Sis and I have taken a liking to you. And also–”
He averted his eyes and said as if embarrassed, “A bigger family is better, even if it’s just one more person.”
For a while, Number 893 was speechless.
The girl continued to push the bicycle wordlessly, and when she next opened her mouth, her eyes were slightly red.
“Thank you… thank you, Ginjima-san.” After she muttered that, sounding truly happy, the girl looked extremely sad and shook her head.
“But I can’t, Ginjima-san. If you heard, then you know, right? I’m–”
“Don’t carry your crimes alone.”
“I’ll take up all your crimes for you. …I’m not saying you don’t need to atone for ‘em. But I can help you carry ‘em a bit.”
Ginjima spoke forcefully. In contrast, his next words were muttered as if speaking to himself. “…if I have that right…”
“Nah, it’s nothing. …Right, how ‘bout we start by looking for that house you blew up with a bomb?”
The girl listened to everything he had to say, and this time, she was not able to hold back her tears. “Ginjima-san.”
The girl picked up Tis from the bicycle’s basket, her eyes still overflowing with tears. “Can he come with me?”
Tis looked into Ginjima’s eyes, surprised at suddenly being included in the conversation – and then he looked away unthinkingly at the sharpness of that gaze.
“A praying mantis, huh? Seems like his fod- food’ll be expensive.” It was clear that he was trying to avoid leaving a bad impression by avoiding using the word “fodder”. 
“It’s no problem! Tis is an herbivore!”
“Y-yeah, well, for now I’m vegetarian. Cucumbers and honey tastes like melon. I can live with that.”
Tis averted his gaze as he answered, and Ginjima muttered in response, as expressionless as ever, “I see – if you’re friends with a vegetable-eating mantis, you can brag about it at school, you know.”
School – at that simple word, Number 893 was suddenly filled with hope. For just a moment, she forgot the crimes she had been worrying over.
Divine retribution was to fall upon her, just as if even that short moment could not be forgiven. However, was the punishment meant for her or for Ginjima?
The sound of a skateboard echoed and a light shock ran through Ginjima’s back.
It was a boy wearing a blue knit hat low over his eyes. He bowed his head quickly and leisurely descended down the hilly road.
Ginjima did not seem particularly angry and only glanced at the boy’s back, but–
He noticed a sudden strange feeling in his back, and when he reached over with his right hand – he felt a hot pulse on his hand and back simultaneously.
Number 893 screamed, and the bag from the cleaners that Ginjima had been clutching in his left hand fell to the ground.
When Ginjima looked at his right hand, there was a deep, red liquid clinging to his palm.
At that moment – they once again heard the sound of a skateboard behind them.
“Oh man! It really is Ginjima! Did we really hit the jackpot?”
When Ginjima and Number 893 turned around, there was a youth standing straight atop the skateboard, a boy wearing a red hat of a different color than the one before. He was holding a small black something in his hand and drawing closer to them.
“Left the residence with a brat, just like the info said… yahoo!”
Number 893 realized the object was a gun – and without thinking, she stood in front of Ginjima to cover him.
The boy atop the skateboard looked troubled for just a moment, but he continued to grip the gun barrel tightly.
‘It’s all right, I’ll protect you!’
It was a magic she had not used in a while, but the girl’s body remembered perfectly how to cast it. She meant to use the magical power that enveloped her body to form a wall of air in front of her.
‘I’ll protect you! Ginjima-san, I’ll–’
At that moment, a shadow stood in front of the girl.
The girl thought his back was broad.
Why was she thinking of that in such a tense situation?
However, when she realized that back was stained with red–
And then when Ginjima’s body shook slightly with the impact of the bullet–
The powerless witch let out a loud, loud scream.
“No, no! Ginjima-san! Hold on! You can’t die!”
The girl’s small body was huddled up at the fallen man’s side.
The would-be killers on skateboards were already gone. There was nothing around save for the trees growing thickly at the side of the road.
If she climbed one of the fences, she would find National Highway 465 on the other side. If she went a little farther down the road, she would find one of the park shops. However, there were no pedestrians to be seen, and only the girl’s sobs echoed through the park.
“Why!? Why… even though you knew I really can use magic, even though you knew I could stop that bullet! Why, why!?”
In response to her cries, Ginjima quietly opened his mouth. It seemed they had missed his vitals and his lungs and he could still speak. However, his condition was still quite serious.
Ginjima was badly injured, but he slowly wrung out his words as Number 893 cried. “Yeah… sorry… I remembered when my daughter died, and I moved in front of you without thinking…”
“And I promised… right? That there’s… no one in our group who’ll drag you into a fight… No matter what… kind of amazing magic you can use… you’re still a kid…”
Her tears fell behind her glasses and she could not see clearly.
And then – only Tis, at a loss for words beside her, noticed that Ginjima was smiling faintly.
“Ah, this… is my punishment, huh… I hurt lots of people in the past and still tried to have a normal kinda happiness, to be with you and Sis, so I got punished like this. Haha…”
He was trying to act strong, but Ginjima’s voice was gradually growing weaker.
“Don’t talk! Ginjima-san, you told me! Men don’t chatter on and on in front of kids! So Ginjima-san, you have to stay quiet…”
“Haha… you’re right… I was just complaining pitifully… ‘bout the things I’ve done…”
As he laughed masochistically, Ginjima gazed directly at the girl’s face. “Sorry… looks like I wasn’t worthy of helpin’ you atone after all.”
“That’s not true! So, so! You shouldn’t – you shouldn’t talk anymore! The blood, the blood is…”
The girl was at a loss for words. Ginjima extended his hand and wiped the tears from her face.
“Don’t cry… It was stupid of me to choose this path in the first place… I was ready to die like this… so… you don’t… need… to… cry…”
There, his words came to a stop. He was still breathing faintly, but the bloodstain was spreading endlessly over the front of his clothes.
“893-chan, what’re you going to do?” Tis asked timidly, but the girl did not hear him.
“I’m not ready at all!”
The end of the staff gave off light, which enveloped Ginjima’s body.
“You’re the only one ready for this, Ginjima-san… I’m not ready for you to die like this at all! So, so…”
He was wrapped in more and more light. The gentle light shone on their surroundings, and the miraculous sight expanded.
–However, that was all.
Ginjima was only wrapped in light. His wounds did not heal at all, and his face remained ashen.
“Please… please… please!”
“It’s not impossible! Please, please please please please please please please please please please please, please, please, please…”
“Healing magic isn’t the kind of magic you can use just by wishing. You definitely can’t do it if you don’t know the basics,” Tis said from behind her. Even so, the girl did not stop her input of magical power.
However, as expected, Ginjima did not miraculously recover his strength and stand.
‘Why? Why can’t I use healing magic?’
In answer to her own question, she remembered that it was all her own fault.
She hated it. She hated herself.
If she could use time manipulation magic, she could return to the past right now and hit her old self, when she had wanted to learn every single kind of offensive magic. And then right now, she would–
But there was no magic that could manipulate time. If it really did exist, she would go back to the moment Ginjima was stabbed.
She poured all of her magic into the man in front of her as she dwelled on those thoughts. However, futile effort could only end in futility.
“It’s different… This kind of thing didn’t happen in the manga I read…”
That was when the girl truly realized something she would have been happier not knowing.
That this was truly, truly, reality.
“That’s right, it’s definitely because I’m not wearing magic clothes… that’s why it’s not working…”
And now, even her reality was crumbling. The “reality” she had obtained, the “reality” separate from delusions, was crashing down around her.
In truth, her clothes had no effect, but even so, the girl had no choice but to believe that. She waved her magic wand slightly, and her clothes were immediately swapped with those in the cleaners’ bag.
‘Please. Just this once. Just this once is fine.
‘M-Make me the protagonist of a story. Make me a real magical girl–’
Even she did not know to whom she was praying. She simply continued to pour in power.
However, in the end she proceeded straight down the path of the tragic hero.
The blood did not stop seeping from his suit to the ground, and she knew Ginjima’s breathing was gradually growing weaker.
“Help… someone… someone…”
“Ahhh, we don’t know where a doctor might be around here. R-Right, maybe we should try calling someone…”
The moment Tis spoke, the light in front of her vanished. It was not that the girl was giving up, but rather that she had run out of magical power completely.
She shot to her feet and started running down the path.
‘Please, someone, anyone is fine–’
In any case, the magical girl ran in search of other people.
Even if she met someone, she did not know if they would take her words seriously, dressed as she was. She understood that full well herself.
But still she ran.
Without giving up on a miracle, looking for a person–
She ran in the opposite direction of the store, and there, she finally met a miracle.
She caught sight of someone who seemed to be taking a stroll and called out in a loud voice as she rushed toward them. “Um, please–”
Then Number 893 froze.
The glasses-wearing man had the kind of face that no one would hate or even resent. When it got down to it, it was an “endearing face”, an expression without a hint of disagreeableness. Besides the glasses, there was nothing about his face that stood out in particular. However, the girl clearly remembered that quality of “endearing”.
It was the face of the master of the house she had blown to bits with a bomb one and a half months ago.
Was this her crime?
Was this her punishment?
This time, shadows of despair began to stretch across her heart.
Ever since she had realized her own crimes, he had been the person she had absolutely not wanted to see, the person she absolutely had to make amends to – and of all people, he had appeared, with the worst possible timing.
She felt all the strength immediately escape her body. Everything that had supported her, both reality and delusions, crumbled and vanished. The “magical girl” who gave hope to people. She was clad in those garments and was a real magic-user, but she herself was driven to the brink of despair.
‘It’s no good.’
Until now, her heart had just barely managed to endure, but now it broke completely.
‘This is the end.’
Her knees were shaking, and she leaned forward as if about to sink to her knees. At that moment–
“Hariyama-san” spoke in a clear voice.
Her legs stopped just as she was about to collapse.
“So you were okay! That’s great!”
The girl could not believe her ears, and she stared up at the man before her.
There was not a shred of anger in his expression. He was gazing at Number 893 with nothing but heartfelt relief.
“I’m glad… Well, after that explosion, we couldn’t find you anywhere in the wreckage of the house… We didn’t know if you’d been blown apart by the bomb. My daughter and son were really worried. My wife was sobbing too… No, but it’s really great. It’s great that you’re okay. Yeah.”
It may have been her imagination, but it looked like his eyes were slightly damp. Most likely, he too had been worried about her.
‘I have no right to take advantage of his kindness. But–’
“Hariyama-san… I’m sorry… I…”
The girl faced the man in front of her, cursing her own shameful actions.
“Ah, it’s fine, it’s fine. If you’re talking about my house, we had insurance, and no one in my family was hurt… More importantly, I’m really glad you’re oka…”
That was as far as Hariyama-san got before he stopped speaking. He realized that there was a strange atmosphere about the girl.
‘Right now, I want to depend on his kindness. I want to use him.’
“Please… Ginjima-san… please help Ginjima-san–”
“Wow, it’s a really good thing there was a hospital nearby.”
The university hospital near the park. Hariyama-san laughed quietly in front of the emergency room entrance.
After that, the girl had ridden the ambulance that immediately arrived and had come to this hospital. Dressed like a magical girl, the girl stood out like a sore thumb in the huge, towering hospital, but faced with seriously injured people, the doctors and EMTs paid no mind to her clothes. Therefore, the first time anyone looked at her strangely was after the doctor told her, “His life isn’t in danger.”
It would have been dangerous had he lost a bit more blood, but it seemed he had retained more blood inside his body than she had thought. Her magic had not been able to heal his wound, and so it seemed it had been her telekinesis that had pushed at the mouth of the wound and lessened the blood flow.
“Yeah, anyway, that’s really great,” Hariyama-san said as if truly relieved.
Ginjima was a total stranger to him, but Hariyama-san seemed to be truly overjoyed that Ginjima would not lose his life.
“Right, right, I left your bicycle at the edge of the bike parking lot. Here’s the key.”
After Number 893 had ridden the ambulance, he had picked up the bicycle in his RV and had gone out of his way to bring it to this hospital.
Number 893’s smile was still somewhat awkward. On top of committing the crime of destroying his house, she now owed him a lot for this.
As she thought about repaying him, even if it would take her whole life, one of the doctors stepped out and inquired about Ginjima’s family. When she looked around, there were police officers in the hospital. It was an injury caused by a gun, so most likely they would take statements from each member of the Amida-gumi, starting with Ginjima himself. Naturally, they would ask questions of Number 893 as well.
“Ah, y-yes! I’ll call them!” the girl said, flustered. She went to the pay phone inside the hospital and dialed the number of the Amida-gumi’s residence.
“Yes, who is this?”
The voice on the other end was familiar. It was the crewcut man, Shibazato, who the skinhead called Bro.
“Shibazato-san… It’s me, Summer.”
She hesitated, unsure how to bring up what had happened to Ginjima-san. A bright voice answered on the other end of the line. “Oh, Missy? Good timing.”
“We’ve got visitors for you.”
‘Visitors for me?’
She had absolutely no idea whom they could be. Shibazato casually insulted them, and his words came as a shock to the confused girl. “They’re wearing kinda weird clothes and keep going on and on about stuff I don’t get, like collecting Number 893. But it’s gotta be them, right? Guys from the land of magic?”
Shocked, she slammed down the receiver without thinking.
After only a moment of thought, she easily arrived at the answer.
Right after Ginjima had been shot, she had poured all of her magical power into healing. Though the healing had not worked at all, the magical power released had far exceeded that of the bomb which blew up Hariyama-san’s house. If they had been observing her even now, after one month had passed, it would have been stranger if they hadn’t noticed. However, why had they gone to the residence?
The answer to that question also came to her immediately.
‘That’s right… where’s Tis?’
He should have been with her, watching over Ginjima. But when the girl realized he hadn’t been there when they called the ambulance, she was again seized by a deep, deep despair.
Using the tiny amount of magical power she had recovered, the magical girl – rode a bike.
She was riding a bike for the first time without any assistance. She managed to balance herself by using the same tricks as when she rode a broom and flew through the sky.
It was a solution that used the power of magic rather than the body’s muscles. Unfortunately, she had not recovered enough power to levitate herself and a broom, and so she did her very best to balance the center of gravity of the bike. Moreover, she traveled while clutching her wand in her right hand, and so riding normally would have been extremely dangerous.
Then all she had to do was pedal and she could move just like a person used to riding. Every time she ran over a rock or bump, she was thrown off balance by the sensation she did not experience on a broom. Even so, she did not stop.
When she left the hospital, she quickly bowed her head just once to Hariyama-san, then rode her own bike and pedaled as fast as she could toward the Amida-gumi residence.
Tis had most likely been kidnapped.
Before, she had felt no fear when faced with those government officials. Not when they ordered that she be sent to Hell, and not even when she broke out of prison. However, now she was so scared she couldn’t stand it.
The last time they had brought her back, the government officials who had come from the land of magic had shown absolutely no interest in the house she had blown up nor the people who lived there. And then, their main reason for declaring her a criminal was not because she caused damage to part of the human world. It was because “You used magic strong enough to cause such damage.”
From the very beginning, they had not cared about humans at all. Regardless of whether humans lived or died, all they feared was the human world “interfering” in the land of magic as a result.
That was why – Number 893 was scared. She feared for herself, as well as the people she had interacted with in the course of the last month, each member of the Amida-gumi. What in the world would happen to them if the government officials deemed that they had been “strongly influenced by magic”?
Would their memories be erased? If that was all, it would be fine. It would be extremely sad for her, but it was far from the worst thing that could happen.
If they were not satisfied simply with erasing memories and instead decided to completely erase everything connected to her–
If they erased her existence itself, just like how they had stolen away her name and replaced it with “Number 893”–
As she pedaled the bike, the girl refused to think on it any further.
“How surprising. I didn’t think you’d come back.”
When Number 893 arrived in front of the residence, a man in a black business suit came out to meet her, wearing a surprised expression.
She did not recognize the man, but she did remember the numerous women behind him. They were the guards present when she had broken out of prison. In other words, the man in the suit was most likely also someone connected to the land of magic.
“I thought you’d run far away once you found out we were here… or is it that you’re currently playing the role of a protagonist who ‘can make us understand everything if we just talk it over’?”
The man spoke sarcastically, and the girl immediately felt disgust. It was the first time in her whole life she had felt so repulsed.
The guards behind the man all wore the same clothes as they had in the land of magic. Only the man was clad in a black suit.
“Who… are you?”
At the girl’s question, the man made a surprised gesture and spoke. “I showed up at your trial… Oh, it’s possible you just don’t recognize me in these clothes.”
Hearing that, the girl finally remembered his voice. “Warden…”
She spoke the title of the person who was in charge of the prison guards, and the man muttered in a disappointed tone.
“I’d prefer it if you at least remembered my name, but, well, it won’t be necessary to give it to you again.” He said those loaded words, then adjusted the lapels of his suit as if showing off. “Well? This suit is a top-quality article I bought at a nearby store.”
“Excuse me, but where did you get the money…?” Number 893 spoke politely with some reluctance. She could see through the gate behind them, but no one was coming out. She decided it would be best to listen to what they had to say if she wanted to secure the safety of the Amida-gumi members.
“Hm? How strange. You can make as much money as you need with magic.”
“…but in that case, couldn’t you make the clothes with magic too?”
Number 893 made a sound argument, and in response, the warden laughed and refuted it. “Don’t be ridiculous. It feels better wearing the ‘genuine article’. The material is completely different from that of a fake made with magic. Right, it matters exactly because it’s the natural product.”
For some reason, each and every one of the warden’s words bothered her. Number 893 clutched her wand anxiously and asked something important. “…where is Tis?”
At her inquiry, the warden sent a fleeting look behind him. The guard woman he glanced at nodded expressionlessly and produced Tis from within her sleeve, as if by a conjuring trick.
Tis was thrown to the ground. It was clear from a glance that he had been cruelly treated. Several of his legs were bent in odd places. His exoskeleton was split and his muscles showed through. His wings were completely tattered, and one of his outer wings clearly showed the impression of a footprint.
Perhaps he had completely lost consciousness. He did not respond to Number 893’s cry.
The girl immediately ran to the praying mantis, fell to her knees, and picked him up. The warden looked down at her as he dispassionately told her what had happened to Tis. “We merely asked where you were hiding. He kept silent, so we roughed him up a bit. Even after that he wouldn’t talk. In the end, we used magic to read his mind.”
“What… why!? If you used magic and read his mind to begin with, you wouldn’t have had to do this…!”
“Our magical power is precious, unlike yours.”
A strong anger flared within her at the warden’s words, but at the same time, Number 893 felt an indefinable sense of unease. She felt like this man had been provoking her more than necessary for a while now. Most likely that was because she was a criminal.
However, she couldn’t help but feel that was not the case. To begin with, why was the warden himself coming to take away someone like her? A number of questions arose within her, but now that she had confirmed Tis’s condition, she was worried about the Amida-gumi.
“What happened… to everyone in the house?”
The guards exchanged glances at her timid words, and the warden opened his mouth and spoke as if he found the subject tiresome. “Yeah. Everyone’s sleeping inside. But I felt like there were rather a lot of people for a private house.”
Number 893 felt momentarily relieved at his reply. It seemed everyone was fine for now.
“…Relax. You thought we would erase their memories and your existence, right? I’ll say this now, but erasing memories and existences uses up more magical power than you think. It was a pretty big deal when we erased your name.” He began complaining about his hardships, but finally he pulled a book of matches from his pocket, as if an idea had suddenly struck him. “But, well – if we just want to erase the evidence, all we have to do is burn everyone in this house to death.”
Number 893 felt the blood drain from her face when she heard those dispassionate words. If they were in a magic-induced sleep, it would be impossible to wake them until after a certain amount of time had passed. Even if a single match started a fire–
She raised her voice without thinking and realized she was covered in an unbelievable amount of cold sweat. “…please. I’ll go quietly to Hell or wherever, so, so, please leave everyone alone…!” the girl pled, looking as if she were about to cry.
In response, the warden shook his head with a bright smile. “Ah… it’s fine. There’s no longer any need for you to go to ‘Hell’.”
Number 893 looked suspiciously at the warden after his strange remark. As expected, there was no hint of sympathy in the eyes of the prison guards standing behind the man – but even so, she felt like their gazes were strangely cold. It was like they were looking at a broken-down machine or a spoiled cake rather than a criminal.
Just when her unease began turning into fear, the warden stopped smiling and told her the meaning behind the guards’ expressions. “You are no longer Prisoner Number 893.”
“Two weeks ago, we registered the prisoner formally designated as Number 893. We already sent her to Hell a while ago. Her charges were – well, one was falsifying records… that a couple who had already died had had a child.”
The girl was completely unable to understand the implication of the warden’s words.
Ever since she came here, there had been many times she had been unable to understand other people’s intentions, but it was the first time this had happened with a fellow resident of the land of magic.
“I thought it was strange. That mental predisposition, where you easily confuse reality and manga… there are people like that in the human world, but you’re rather unusual.”
It seemed he was talking about her. But then what was her relationship with the “new Number 893”?
“All you did was read a few books and you started thinking of yourself as one of those protagonists. It shouldn’t have had that much of an effect on you… so then the guys in the research lab did their own investigation.”
“What… are you talking about?”
“We rely on magic for medicine. But we might’ve figured it out right away if we looked at DNA or something like they do in the human world.”
She really didn’t understand what he was saying.
No, she could take a guess. However, it felt as if her body refused to think of the answer, and that uneasiness filled the ex-Number 893’s whole being.
Perhaps satisfied at seeing her turmoil, the warden prompted one of the guards behind him to report on the truth. The guardswoman nodded expressionlessly, faced the girl, and delivered the words that were like a death sentence.
“I’ll begin with the conclusion. Prisoner Number 893… no such citizen existed from the very beginning. Therefore, Prisoner Number 893 was temporarily stripped of a number…”
After a moment’s pause, the woman spoke without a hint of compassion or hesitation.
“In exchange, the magic user who created you – the real 893rd criminal was imprisoned.”
Something invisible had a tight grip on the girl’s heart.
“What… do… you mean?”
That was what her mouth asked, but in truth, she already knew what they meant.
It was just that she did not want to accept it.
She did not want to accept the truth: that she did not physically exist.
And at the same time, she also understood.
She understood the meaning of the unease she had felt for a while now at the warden’s conduct.
Wearing a suit that had not been created with magic – that was not because he was boasting. He had done it to mock the girl.
“It is what it is. The magic user we sent to Hell amused herself in the name of research. She made a child just like you made a bomb, changing magical power into matter, flesh and blood and bones.”
“That magic user picked a couple that happened to die in an accident and made it so they’d actually had a child.” She spoke matter-of-factly, but her words held deep meaning.
“And so she gave you records in our country, you who are nothing more than a fake created with magic.” The man added to the guard’s words and continued to elaborate on the truth at length. “You are actually an existence born from a complicated composition magic. To have stronger magical power than anyone, in exchange for an easily swayed heart particularly susceptible to outside influence.”
“You are nothing more than an existence artificially composed of magic. Just like the bomb you created to blow up a house in the human world, or like a magical flame that disappears in an instant–”
She did not want to accept the truth. She fell to her knees and covered her ears, wanting to escape from reality.
However, the warden spoke directly into the girl’s mind with magic. They would not allow her to run from the reality known as truth. And so – neither would they allow her to transform into the protagonist of her delusions.
“You reading manga from the human world – that was all part of Number 893’s scheme. I don’t mean you, but the current Number 893.”
“No… ooo, ohhhhh…”
The girl broke down crying in wordless grief at the mansion’s gate.
“You are not a ‘magical girl’.”
The reason for her tears was not sorrow, but pure despair.
“You are – nothing more than ‘magic’.”
“Nooooooooooooooooo… ahhh…. ah… ahhhh…”
The girl’s voice was raised, but it was unclear whether she was sobbing or screaming. She herself had not realized, but she could no longer feel the magical power that had been returning to her body.
Seeing that, the warden hid his cold sweat and muttered quietly, “Just as the researchers thought. Its mental state is easily influenced… even just a verbal attack works well.”
The guards looked at each other and smiled in relief, taking care that the girl did not notice.
“The best way to steal magical power from this ‘magic’ is to make it despair… haha, there was a chance it would struggle and resist, but it’s really just bawling its eyes out.” The warden reconfirmed that they held the high ground and smiled again.
“Well then… you won’t be going to Hell, but you’ll be placed under the supervision of the research institute. In any case, our country doesn’t have a way to persecute ‘magic’ itself. On the other hand, there’s no way to defend it either.” As he spoke sarcastically, the warden’s gaze swept across the guards and he gave them a signal.
The guardswomen nodded in response and moved to restrain the girl.
The girl was weeping in despair. The praying mantis was still unconscious and the members of the Amida-gumi were still sleeping within the residence.
‘There’s no one who will save her anymore. That means coming all the way here was worth it. …And I bought some nice clothes.’
The warden smiled from the bottom of his heart as he thought that.
At that moment–
“Stop right there!”
A powerful voice echoed through the residence.
“Bastards… what’re ya doin’ with my daughter? Huh? You… punks!”
The moment that yell rang out, the girl, who had broken down in tears, suddenly stopped weeping.
The guards froze, their expressions uncomprehending, and looked in the direction of the voice’s owner.
And then – the ex-Number 893 also turned to look in the direction of the voice, her eyes full of trust.
And then – the girl’s wish became reality.
“Ginjima… san… Ginjima-san!”
The person before the girl’s eyes was undoubtedly the boss, Ginjima himself.
There were bloodstained bandages wrapped around his stomach. Though there seemed to be no external wounds anywhere else, the man’s face was as ashen as if he was as covered in injuries, but he was definitely standing there.
“What’s with you?”
The warden eyed him suspiciously, but Ginjima completely ignored him.
He walked to the girl’s side and gripped her shoulder tightly. “You okay…?”
In response, the girl’s face crumpled, and she replied, “That’s my line, Ginjima-saaaaan…”
The girl’s expression lit up with happiness, and she hugged Ginjima tightly. However, the smell of the hospital and the smell of blood lingered around Ginjima’s stomach, and that made the girl uneasy once again.
“Ginjima-san… why aren’t you at the hospital?”
“Yeah, I saw the police when I was getting a blood transfusion. Figured there’d be trouble, so I used some dirty tricks and snuck out. …then I ran into this four-eyes guy who said he helped me. He told me the look on your face changed after you called the group, and you ran off… he drove me here right away.”
When he had finished talking about his astounding actions, Ginjima inhaled quietly… and spoke to the girl before him. “Yeah… I heard most of it, walking down the fence.”
The girl flinched at his words. “Ginjima-san, I… I… I’m not human… or a resident of the country of magic…”
The girl was terrified of acknowledging the truth of her own existence, but her trust in Ginjima surpassed that fear. “I’m… just a lump of… magic…”
“Don’t worry. Even I’m just a lump of meat.” Without waiting for her to finish, Ginjima declared with a grin, “Doesn’t matter if you’re a robot or what. You’ve got spirit in you.”
Then, facing the dumbfounded warden and guards, he spat out in a low voice, “But… far as I can see, those guys’ve got no spirit. Not even a bit.”
Not just the girl, but also the warden and guards, were at a loss for words at his unusually blunt proclamation.
“Bastards… didja think you’d just go back to your ‘land of magic’ without a scratch on you?”
The warden and guards stiffened at the sound of his voice. There was definitely power in the man’s voice. He would make his words into reality.
“Don’t worry. I’m not gonna hand you over to this scum.”
Those words were also full of power. The girl’s heart was relieved, as if magic had been cast on her.
“I told you, right? Humans can use magic too… I’ll prove it to you now.”
“Magic? Ha! Don’t be foolish! Humans like you have no magical power! You don’t even have a staff! As if someone like you can use magic!” The warden scoffed at Ginjima’s words.
The warden’s words had been intended to turn the situation in his favor, but Ginjima did not waver in the slightest.
“Maybe I haven’t got any of this magical power shit.”
“Maybe I don’t – but I’ve got spirit.”
His body was completely white, not having completed the blood transfusion, and his steps were shaky.
“’Cause I’m the ‘Apparition’. Spirit’s the only thing I’ve got.”
Even though he looked as if he would fall over at the slightest touch – the warden and guards did not feel as if they could win against the man in front of them. He should have been a man they could easily blow away with magic, but for some reason, they could not imagine themselves invoking that magic.
“Hey… wait, if you heard then you know, right!? That girl isn’t even a living creature!”
“Maybe you’re attached to it now, but that’s because of the properties of that ‘magic’. It’s just influenced and affected by you! Get it? That thing’s a doll. If it leaves you for even a little while, it’ll be influenced by someone else. That’s the way it is!”
Ginjima smiled quietly at the warden’s speech. “I won’t let her leave. At least not ‘till she finds someone who’ll take her as their bride.”
By the time they noticed, Ginjima was already only three steps away from the warden. If they all used magic at the same time, it might still be possible to repel him. However, the first person to use magic would surely be killed. With that thought in mind, they were unable to recklessly use magic.
“Ginjima-san.” The girl spoke up from behind Ginjima as if to topple that balance. “I’ll… help too.”
“How many times have I gotta say it? I’m not gonna use a brat–”
This time, the girl’s voice overrode Ginjima’s forceful words. “Because this is my fight too…!”
They were powerful words.
Up until a little while ago, the girl’s magical power had been disappearing, but as she spoke, it enveloped her in a vortex, having fully recovered.
He could not see the vortex of magical power, but Ginjima caught a glimpse of the girl’s eyes and said only one thing. “Then… use your magic and get my magic wand.”
The warden and guards could not comprehend the meaning of the man’s words.
However – the girl understood.
The ex-Number 893 immediately understood Ginjima’s words, and she poured magic into her own staff faster than anyone else ever could.
The warden’s group simultaneously went on guard, but the light emitted by the girl’s wand did not hit anyone there. It passed through the garden and scored a direct hit on something in the room off the veranda–
In the next moment, a silver cylinder came flying and stopped right above Ginjima. He tightly grasped the hilt of that spinning cylinder, and with a fearless smile, said:
“This – is my magic wand.”
With his nagadosu at the ready, Ginjima grinned broadly and leapt straight at the warden’s group.
The silver lightning flashed, faster than anyone.
Faster than sound, faster than the wind,
Like magic, like magic–
After everything was over, Ginjima and the ex-Number 893 sat on the veranda and waited for the rest of the Amida-gumi to wake up. It seemed that Tis was also slowly recovering from his wounds, and they were able to confirm that his breathing was evening out.
As the girl breathed a sigh of relief, she recalled the events that had occurred a little while ago.
Ginjima immediately cut straight through every one of the guards’ magic staffs with his nagadosu.
Now completely unable to use magic, they fled as fast as they could. However, they were unable to return to the land of magic without their staffs, and they were also unable to use magic to call for backup. If they were caught by the police, they would most likely be treated as illegal immigrants of unknown nationality.
The girl had mixed feelings when she imagined their fate: that they would be in the same situation as herself, whose name they had stolen.
However, now she had a name.
It was a strange name, but she liked it.
More than anyone, more than any name–
As they sat on the veranda, Summer opened her mouth, a bit sadly. “Sorry, Ginjima-san.”
“In the end… I couldn’t do anything with magic. I couldn’t do anything when you got hurt either.”
Ginjima quietly shook his head at Summer’s words. “Magic saved me.”
“After I couldn’t talk anymore – I heard your voice the whole time.”
Summer’s face reddened slightly in embarrassment when she remembered how she had sobbed and cried.
“You told me, right? Magic is something you use to help people.”
“That’s – something I got from manga.”
“Still, your voice saved me back then. See? That’s some pretty useful magic.”
Summer could not respond to his words.
For some reason, her eyes started overflowing with tears, and she looked at Ginjima with a troubled smile.
“Didn’t think you were such a crybaby.” Ginjima laughed and gently wiped away the girl’s tears.
When they began to hear the group members yawning and stretching behind them, Ginjima stood up and told the girl, “Hey, from now on, you don’t have to force yourself to use magic to help people. Just use it for what you want.”
“…okay! Thanks, Ginjima-san! Um, I’ve already decided what I wanna do!”
“Oh… what is it?”
“It’s a secret, a secret! You and Sis will spank me if I tell you, so it’s a secret!”
Night – the Marubatsu-gumi’s office.
“So Ginjima didn’t end up dying…”
“Well, whatever. He’s seriously hurt anyway. If we take this chance–”
The Marubatsu-gumi, composed of young members, was plotting ways to crush the Amida-gumi, when – suddenly, the glass of the office window shattered and a small, colorful shadow tumbled inside.
“This is the fourth floor!”
The members’ gazes converged on a single point as they shoved their hands into their pockets, and a single girl appeared from within the cloud of dust.
“Good evening! Magical Girl Summer-chan, ally of herself, has arrived!”
The thugs, who were not even worthy of being called organized crime, stopped short at the sight of the girl wearing colorful clothing and glasses. While their heads were filled with questions, the girl raised her arms high and flourished the magic staff she was holding.
“Okay, everyone! Blow up in a way that won’t kill you!”
“Okay, everyone! Blow up in a way that won’t kill you!”
Everyone except the girl spoke simultaneously, forming a strange chorus.
At the same time, light shone here and there throughout the room, and fuses appeared on black spheres that looked like cannonballs–
Inside the building, an explosion occurred that was not strong enough to blow up the walls.
A girl rode a bicycle across the sky with that bomb blast as a backdrop. The bicycle flew as the moon shone behind her, just like the scene from E.T..
If there was any difference, it would be the praying mantis the size of a puppy in the bicycle’s basket.
It was only a single magic.
In the government records of the land of magic, it was a research subject listed as a magic, “Girl Number 893”.
It should have been nothing more than “magic” – but today, it obtained its own existence.
She truly obtained her reality as a “magical girl”.
Lyrical and magical.
Fancy and fantastical.
Without a doubt, just like the protagonist of a manga–
“Magic Girl Number 893” – end
長ドス: It’s practically impossible to find information on it in English, but Japanese Wiki would have me know it’s a long wakizashi, upwards of about 58 cm., with no guard.
 The suffix “-gumi” usually refers to a group, in this case the yakuza groups. I couldn’t think of a suitable term in English – “Amida gang” and “Amida group” seemed kind of awkward – so I kept that intact.
 Ginjima is usually referred to as “kashira” or “wakagashira”, which is something like (young) boss. This is in contrast to the “kumichou”, who is the actual leader of the group.
 With the way “Samantha” is written in Japanese, 893 takes the first half, “Sama-”, as her nickname, which is also how the English “summer” is written. It doesn’t carry over very well in translation but is necessary to explain where “Nacchan”, from “natsu”, Japanese for “summer”, comes from.
 night butterflies: term for women who work in nightlife. There doesn’t seem to be an equivalent term that keeps the “mantis being bullied by butterflies” sort of joke.
 Ginjima actually starts to use the word “esa”, which can also mean “bait”, and since mantises can be used as fish bait, well.
[end of story spoiler] “mahou shoujo” is generally translated as “magical girl”, composed of “mahou”, “magic”, and “shoujo”, “girl”. The title, “mahou shoujo 893gou”, is meant to be read at first glance as “Magical Girl Number 893”, though broken into its constituents, it’s “Magic Girl Number 893”. In the last segment, the government calls her "mahou「shoujo 893gou」", or “magic, 'Girl Number 893'”. Due to this difference in handling adjectives, and to preserve the punchline, I chose to go with the less common translation of “Magic Girl Number 893” for the title.