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T-Toh

5 (part 7)

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(Just cutting up the camphor)

Magic bullets sent blue sparks flying.
The two of them sped along the rolling brick road.
They were surely on a war-zone stretching far beyond the influence of a wobbly rope bridge.
They ran as fast as they could. Without making small talk or eye contact with each other, they just focused on getting to the amusement park's exit.
The chaos was fixed to its territory.
If so, their safety was outside of this place.

However.
There was a strength stat difference between two people versus a hundred.
Or at least, one versus a hundred.
Soujuurou was less than helpful in their situation,
and the ones jumping into the fray were the puppets instead of the two people here.

"You doing OK back there!?
I mean, those giant scissors fell from way up high!"

Aoko yelled to him, clearing out the numbers in a violent storm of bullets.
There was no time to look back, or time to stop running.

"Just, barely!"

Following Aoko's lead, Soujuurou's voice was just as high-pitched as hers.

----Five minutes before this.

They quickly slipped away from the horde gathered in the plaza.
Not all of the amusement park's residents 'stirred awake' at the same time. The bigger the size, the more time they needed to get their bodies moving.

"Lucky us! They're just zombies in the morning, aren't they!?"

Aoko made that quip while smashing her way through the mob of tiny breadmen as they jumped out at the two of them.
Just then.
"Wha--?"
Very suddenly, something unimaginable stretched out from above their heads.



Seated neatly on the roof of the lobster restaurant were those aforementioned scissors, which were attached to an eighteen-meter-long crayfish.

"............!"
Its scissor-claws were ready to decapitate someone................Red King
As soon as the two passed in front of the restaurant, the red crustacean came crawling out after them at a horrifying speed.

"Backpedaaaal! This way's a no-go!"

The main entrance to the amusement park was right past the lobster restaurant. Still, they took the long way round to avoid the giant crayfish.
While standing around waiting to be received before said detour, was an inexhaustible army of supernatural creatures.

"Just, barely!"

Thinking about the closest he came to having his head severed from the rest of his body, Soujuurou yelled that back to Aoko.

"Up ahead! Yikes, have they all just been baked!?"
"Looks like it, they're easy pickings!"

Coming to a halt, Aoko set her Magic Crest to full rotation.
'Approaching at seven, six, five meters......!
Snap'll take care of 'em all......!'

Aoko skated along the brick road while throwing out her right arm.
It was a torrent of magic bullets.
..................Snap
As a single process that was slated for the number of shots rather than the power of its attack, it soundly disposed of the creatures in their way.

"----Aozaki, over there!"
"Roger that......!"



So many blue sparks burgeoned along the footpath full of decorative lights.
A beautiful Starmine spectacle seen from the sky was none other than Aoko herself, who launched a barrage of magic bullets in a fan wave of destruction..........................fancies
The newly-made bread playthings that were these breadmen were mere cinders in the wake of that storm.

'This is going well---- they easily outnumber us, but if I can keep this up, we'll get away from here soon enough----!'

"Shizuki-kun, are they gone!?"
"Yes, all of them! We'll come out on the east side of the main gate from here!"

Shooting so many bullets should be exhausting for her -- provided she was an ordinary magus at all. As she shot several rounds, the greenhorn that was Aoko broke through the tight circle of enemies.

......Meanwhile.
Patiently watching them was a single, feathered creature.
----------------------------------------------------------------
Chirp, chirp-chirp-chirp, chirp!
The shrill tweeting of a blue bird dropped from the sky and into the view of its owner.
The girl listened to its account with a vacant expression.

"......Nevermind, it's just as well.
Even while shooting and destroying are the only set of skills she has, Aoko has a much more extraordinary way of using magical energy, afterall. She's not yet up to the temporary creation of a familiar, is she?"

Chirp-chirp-chirp! The robin shook its feathers.
Did it disapprove of Alice praising Aoko,
or was it jealous of Aoko being praised by Alice?
Even its owner had a hard time understanding its twittering.

Aoko Aozaki was a magus still in the works.
Up until two years ago, the girl spent her life blissfully free and ignorant to magecraft, which made her vastly different both in potential and experience when sized up with Alice, who was meant to become a witch since birth.
That essentially made the two girls unlikely to be paired with each other at all.
A ten-round contest of skill at magecraft would always have Alice be declared the winner.

However, fights and deathmatches portrayed them differently.
Alice Kuonji was a magus suited for something other than combat,
whereas Aoko Aozaki met all the requirements with her penchant for destruction.

Alice herself could tell that a pure contest of magical energy would always have Aoko coming out on top.

Aoko's use of magical energy was far beyond anything anyone else was capable of.
Even though the scale of her Magic Circuits was smaller than Alice's, she had a rare handle on rapid Circuit rotation, her staying power configuration, the quality of her magical energy, and the sufficient management of her resources.
All of these were Aoko Aozaki's unique traits.
Even when she failed at almost every advanced type of magecraft,
it only took two years of practice for her to outperform Alice at magecraft that simply needed magical energy.

......She had a gift for finding her rhythm and possessed quick instincts.
Rather than powerful magecraft at work, hers was an alarmingly 'quick' type.
If not for the fact that she was an Aozaki, she would have gained a lot of recognition as a highly talented gunwoman.

"But, what a waste."

There was no winning against Alice by shooting her directly.
That is, Alice Kuonji's mastery over primitive magecraft such as firing bullets was always way below her skillset.
The girl was a classic puppet user.
Her familiars carried out all of the fights on her behalf.

"......Now you know how small the time window is, Aoko.
You can borrow all the magical energy you want---- but it's only a matter of time before your bullets drop in value."

Chirp-chirp-chirp! The robin tweeted in some form of agreement before taking off to the sky.

It would soon be ten minutes since Alice placed the amusement park under her direct control.
What sort of being was the green-tinted haze going to bring forth?
Running for their lives below -- it was time that they, too, realized how much danger they were really in.
----------------------------------------------------------------
"Shizuki-kun, is it this way!?"
"Yes, the exit is just around the corner of that store!"

They had been running straight for ten minutes focused on nothing else.
The two of them rounded the corner, panting.
In the end, this amusement park was still KitsyLand.
Highschool students could make one circuit of the whole area in twenty minutes if they sprinted as hard as they could.

This local amusement park was, however.


(...What, you're giving them a pumpkin coach ride to Hell? Is Cinderella going to that ball? What is this!?)

"----"
"----"
......Just like so.
The residents and the amusement park itself had been transformed.

"......Aozaki."
"......Yeah?"
"......Is it just me? Or has the park, gotten bigger?"

Indeed. This was not about getting the exit's directions wrong, or the amusement park's layout having changed.

Every single thing here was distorted beyond recognition.

Even now, the amusement park was a living thing that was growing in size.

"----Aozaki."

The horde of magical creatures surrounding them had gotten harder to push back, the two of them realized.

Trusting Soujuurou to guard her back, Aoko was determined to stop herself from letting out anything close to a whimper.
He could be as surprised and as terrified as much as he wanted.
Not Aoko, though.
She was the one who let this happen. She was the one who grabbed his hand.
Letting panic sink into her was the last thing they needed.

'......It's OK. Aoko, calm yourself......
The amusement park has a wall. It's too far away, but we can definitely see the fence from here.
Flat Snark isn't that free to grow as much as it wants. Getting out of here is the right thing to do for sure......
Right now, we should be about a kilometer away from getting outside, so----'

The two of them had been nothing but frantic sprinters this whole time.
They were both out of breath.
With one kilometer between them and freedom, resting for a minute would give them the chance to keep going without falling apart half-way there.

"......Aozaki. Are you feeling alright?"
"Huh?"

His whisper from behind, pulled Aoko back to reality.

"I'm fine......I just, need to take a breather, though."
"......I vouch for that. We should stop and rest first before making our way straight outside."
"----Look at you. Part of the team that wants to get out of here."

A giggle escaped her as she said that.
Her partner, acting as cool as a cucumber, thought of a way to deal with their current situation.

"Why don't we hide in one of the buildings for a while?"
".........I'd rather not, but we don't have a choice."

The bread creatures swarmed them.
Neverminding ordinary people, it would be easy for Aoko to smash her way through them and dive into one of the buildings.
The question was----

'......Where, which store do we go to----'

She deliberated on what made the transformed amusement park what it was.
Which parts of it were dangerous, which parts of it were safe to hide in.
The important thing to note was not the buildings' strength, or their complexity----

'Oh, of course! Making things simple is the right answer......!'

"Shizuki-kun, over there!"

Driving the creatures back, Aoko sprinted for a counter, with Soujuurou following suit.

"Get behind it!"

Then, armed for a Western shoot-out, Aoko used the counter as a shield and made her stand against the creatures.


(Shoot 'em up, Tex!)

"Paydirt......! So much for this spot being Snark'ed!"

Once she was sure their enemies were taken care of, Aoko sat back behind the counter along with Soujuurou.

"Aozaki, where are they......!?"
"Throwing a fit outside. Those things have a reason for it, there's no way they're getting in here."
"??"
Smiling at his curiosity, Aoko waved it off and took a huge breath.
She recovered her breath out of relief, and possibly exhaustion.

"We'll take a break here. Since this shop's got nothing fun to do in it, this is taboo territory for them.
The cashier and the cooking tools are recent things, no mascots either. Anything the Snark takes is whatever's not really in the 'progress zone'."
"S-n-a-r-k?"

"That's the name of those things. I didn't give the name, though. It was Alice......I think. Can't quite picture her naming it like that given what she's like, but yeah, that's the name she's given it."

Perhaps sure that they were safe and had calmed himself down, Soujuurou's ears pricked up with keen interest.
'Ahh, I get it now. He nods like he's weighing it in his head, but he actually doesn't get what it means.' Aoko wound up smiling at it.
On any given day, it would be a source of irritation for her. Right now, though, the bizarre way he took things seriously made her grateful that he did. It felt pleasant for her.

"Other than that. Aozaki, you seem really motivated out there."

Taking that smile for her relaxing, Soujuurou's face also broke out into a smile.
Though it was a sequence of misinterpretations, there was no looking into it right now.

"Oh, hey. You can tell that for yourself, too?
My bullets getting stronger, I mean?"
"I can tell, because of the awfulness of what you put me through at the mirrorhouse. You do the same things as before, but if it's even more risky to get hit by them now, I can see it for myself even if I don't like it."

"Is that OK, though? I'm sure you told me that there was a limit to the number. You've already fired off so many, but that isn't doable with twenty or thirty shots, is it?"
"----Wow. Sometimes, you can think."
"?"
Aoko was also taking a better look at the mistakes she had made.

"Well, anyway.
My bullets being stronger, is just a matter of concentrating more magical energy into them. That green mist earlier? That's all magical energy.
........................................................................................rounds
You can think of it as the juice I need to shoot magic bullets."

There were two principal kinds of magical energy:
................od
the small source that a magus generated inside their body,
and the big source that was omnipresent in the air.
As of now, the amusement park was a glorious wonderland rich with such mana.
While ordinary people would never benefit from this, the amusement park was a magus's paradise, in which they could use all the magic techniques they wanted.

"So you don't have to think about how much magical energy you have left, then?
Do you only have to worry about injuries and your health?"
"......Well, we all have to worry about those for ourselves."

Soujuurou sighed in relief.
In his eyes, Aoko was this amusement park's rowdiest to raise this scope of hell against all these creatures.
Her using up all of her magical energy was worrying for him, but it would certainly be a big help without it, too.

"I'm happy you trust me to take care of you, but it's not gonna last for long. Because those things are just junk that move around.
At least the Snark's main body is something we can rationalize. We'd be screwed if Alice used a different Fairy Tale Specter."
"A different one? ......Are there others like the one that made the amusement park like this?"
......................................................................................................................we
"That's right. Dubbed as Ploy Kickshaw, they're lawbreakers that magi prefer to sidestep. They're a bunch of lies that stuck around in this timeline, bringing back impossible dreams that would never come true."
"??"
The look on his face seemed to suggest something along the lines of, 'As in to pretend to have done nothing wrong?'

"You see, we're magi that stick to the mold of the present times.
There are things we just can't do, and while that's been true since forever, we don't stand a chance against modern-day weaponry. Thanks to the twentieth century---- well, the wars we fought and supported anyway, weapons development got far ahead of us now."

"......Not Alice, though. She's got magic animals that aren't affected by human technology no matter how advanced it gets.
Take those breadmen out there.
Automatic pistols can't touch those things. They probably don't understand how they work."
Aoko jabbed a finger in the direction of said breadmen.

"Her familiars are supernatural mysteries based on making everything make-believe.
Since there's no way to make that true based on the premise alone, they usually don't mesh well with the laws of physics. It's always been the idea that fantasy and reality can't co-exist."
"......I see. So those moving pieces of baked bread are called breadmen."
Into one ear and out the other -- out of all of what Aoko just explained, Soujuurou zeroed in only on what piqued his interest.

"............Let's keep going.
Those things and modern weapons are a horrible mix. Rockets won't even do anything for them. Because neither of the two can understand each other at the core, and they don't share the same way of getting things done."
.....................Ploy Kickshaw
"For the Fairy Tale Specters, our weapons don't exist where they come from, and when the idea goes over their heads, the weapons just disappear without touching them.
They're the kind of nonsense that are said to perfectly understand 'magical energy' sporting the same kind of supernatural mystery as them, and nothing else. You could just simply say it's space occupied by concepts, or even that it's a universe of concepts----"
"----"

"............*cough*.
Bottom line, they have special rules that supposedly use the protection of folklores. They water down the effects of simple nuclear force and powerful magecraft. The only way to beat them back is by using the drawbacks they share with their fairy tale versions.
Let's take the Greek Achilles. He's an easy example......do you know him?"
Soujuurou shook his head.

"Right. Once you're back safe, get Tobimaru to tell it to you.
It's a textbook moral, but a good one."

......Though he was under the impression that he was sort of getting left behind, Soujuurou pushed himself into understanding what exactly was going on for them.
..................Ploy Kickshaw
These 'Fairy Tale Specters', were described to be far more superior to Aoko and the automaton he met at the mirrorhouse.
His experience out there was definitely akin to getting lost inside someone's bad dream.
'But, all things considered,' thought Soujuurou.

"Aozaki? I'm definitely more frightened of the things you do."
"Care to die right now?"

See? Soujuurou quietly fussed about it.

"......Hey, you. FYI, we've got junk left and right trying to rope us into their games.
Those breadmen? That lobster? The sausage shop's meat grinder? None of them mean anything to Alice. In fact, they're worth less than the bullets I'm shooting.
Got that? Those moving mascots are just spare parts. They're like the breath of the 'Fairy Tale Specter' Alice set loose."

"----'Breath'? Those things?"
"......I, for one, hate the thought of it myself.
But that's what's happening right now. Just one 'Fairy Tale Specter' to deal with is enough. Thanks to that, be ready to give up if Alice sends out another one."

"Another one......you mean she won't stop at just this?"
"If she's not going to get stingy, she's still got dozens more in reserve......but there are conditions for them to meet, too.
There's this one that won't wake up unless it's near a river. The amusement park has a fountain, but that's not really a river, right? Her familiars have to stick to their fairy tales no matter what."

"Fairy tales? Is it like serving noodles in hot broth?"
"We should thank our lucky stars the park doesn't have a river in it. If it did, some deranged fantasy geared towards annihilation straight-up would get to come out."

Aoko smoothly ignored Soujuurou's interjection.

"----Let's pick up where we left off.
The cornerstone for Alice's magecraft is Mother Goose......oh, you probably don't know about that one. It's wrapped up in a fairy-tale atmosphere and hopping with lots of fun imagination in the form of songs from England.
Still, Ploy Kickshaw with its unique imaginings isn't scary at all. They all still fall under some kind of definition for magecraft."
"......I don't want to ask, but what about those not uniquely imagined?"

"It's an arrangement of literary works and fairy tales, done by setting up Mother Goose................................We
......Her mom was into it, and the way we see it from here, every single one of them's far from ordinary. Magi prefer to say to just deal with it even if they see those things."

"So, raising this amusement park back from the dead isn't unique at all.
This is definitely Flat Snark's doing. ......I wasn't paying a lot of attention to Alice back then, so the details are lost on me."

"----"

There was a lump in his throat.
He really wished that all this obtuse wording about what was unique and what was not would stop. Still, somewhere in her words was something worth pursuing further.

"Aozaki, wait. You said you weren't paying attention to her, but why weren't you?"
"Oh, uhh, I got that explanation kinda way back......I didn't put that much faith in what she told me.
I just thought that, amateur that I was, she was thinking about pulling a fast one on me by exaggerating the way her magecraft worked and all, make me look stupid or something, you know? A-ha-ha!"

So naturally, it was Aoko who ended up taking Alice for a fool.
Getting her first taste of just 'how real' were the creatures that guarded Alice, was shortly after these two girls met each other.
Aoko was able to understand for herself, how unorthodox the Meinster witches were in a world of magecraft.

"......So, what did she say about it?".........................................................................................................Ploys
"Some kind of Ploy that puts up a powerful barrier against anything. She's got a heap of these toys that were passed down to her, but there's one that stands out from all the rest.
It puts all the things that were thrown away and forgotten into a fairy tale, something that nobody's been able to destroy yet.
Because of that, it got the nickname 'The Untouchable One'."

"? Wasn't it, F-l-a-t S-n-a-r-k?"
"That's also its nickname. Since nobody knows what it's really like, it earned itself so many names.
Flat Snark's one of them, but its mysteriousness is top-ranking hocus-pocus.
----Say, do you know Lewis Carroll's 'The Hunting of the Snark'?"

"I don't. First, who is this Lewis Carroll?"
"......Yeahhh, thought you'd say that......uhhh, what did Professor Dodgeson say about him? Oh yeah. Like he was a gentleman with a wild imagination and a weird set of habits? Well, I guess it makes no difference for us here. It's a waste of time for people."

"But what's important here is what he wrote before he died.
'The Hunting of the Snark' is about a group of explorers who go on a mission to capture a strange creature called the Snark."

"Much like Lewis Carroll writes his stories to be, it's a satirical, illogical, ambiguous, and anticlimactic mess of a book. After all the pain they've
........................................................................................................................................... ............the baker
been put through on that island, they found the Snark in the end when one of the main characters spotted it, and then he just disappeared into thin air. The end.
It may be a parody of the part where people spend their time looking for 'something they don't actually know about'---- but since we've got a
.........baker.................................................. .................................................. .........Snark
main character set inside the amusement park, that means we've got a creature to find, right?"

Aoko made it a point not to mention Flat Snark's other popular names.
'The Inscrutable Island'. 'The Fifth Dimension'.
These were the deranged mutterings of the magi trounced by Meinster in the past.

Graphing out the Snark placed it on a plane diagram that was absolutely infeasible in mathematics, creating a contradiction.
It was a flat surface that was given a name, even when it was proven to "not exist" in this world. It was doomed from the moment it was built on pure inconsistency.
The 'Fairy Tale Specter' that was crowned such a name, was said to have yet to make a proper appearance in front of anyone.

......Also, another thing Aoko left out.
Flat Snark was a 'Fairy Tale Specter' that could grow..............................................breath
After stashing its main body somewhere, it was continuously producing magical energy to complete the transformation of the amusement park into a wonderland.

"......Well, nothing'll happen if I just give it a scare."
"Did you say something?"
"Forget it. To put it simply, Flat Snark's power is 'the reproduction of a fairy tale world'.
It and the amusement park sure are a match made in heaven. Then again, this place was always a playground made up of fairy tales anyway."

......If this were the office street, Flat Snark would never have attained a level as threatening as this.
The most it could have possibly done was make dinosaur shadow pictures appear on the windowpanes of the buildings.

"Oh. So that's why this place is safe---- hm?"

Now that 'the unusual phenomenon' was sinking in for him, Soujuurou---- felt something sticky fall on his back.



"Uh, ah----"
His eyes were on the ceiling. He locked eyes with IT. Before he could think about 'how', Soujuurou sprang up like a rocket----

"Aozaki, we're getting out!"

He immediately got himself away from the counter, leaving her behind.

"You idiot! What're you----"

Aoko got to her feet, ready to pull him back inside before he could get himself killed.
And then. She caught sight of what just came to life.


(Oh yes... they float, Georgie. They float.)

"! *gasp*, holy----!?"


(And when you're down here with me... YOU'LL FLOAT TOO!)

"I-it almost had meeeee......!"

Chomp! Its giant mouth crunched down.
The mascot-less burger shop had been turned into a living monster in its entirety.

"God! Why would you even put a picture of a clown on your ceiling!? Doesn't the point of it just die because of all the work you gotta do to have it up there!? If you like clowns so much, put it at the front where everybody can see it!"

Aoko slung verbal abuse the whole way.
......There were no safe places for them to run to anymore.
What little stayed of the progress zone, was slowly being eaten away by fairy tales with each passing moment.
----------------------------------------------------------------


The Snarkification of the amusement park was reaching its climax.
The mascots were not the only ones being breathed life into.
Just like the burger shop, the buildings were all transforming into living entities.
The roller coaster that wound itself around the whole amusement park became a weaving, twisting Chinese dragon.

"----"

Struck dumb by the sight of it, Aoko and Soujuurou looked up at the Ferris wheel, which had ballooned to an eighty-meter size.
And coming over to deal them tickets to a ride on it, were masses of breadmen launching an attack on them.

"These things! We'll get this line straightened out if it's the last thing we do!"

The knickknacks shuffled in a single mass.
The circle kept reforming itself with every attempt to break it up.
It was a strategy of having unlimited ranks. As the case may be, children's stories with a worry for their resources' depletion was a rare occurrence......!

"Gh, Aozaki! This isn't working!
These things, keep on multiplying!"
"We gotta find the Snark's main body!
A Fairy Tale Specter attaches its main body to something relevant to it! Once we break that, we can get out of the amusement park!"

"What does the main body look like!?"

"It's like I told you before! Fairy Tale Specters don't really exist in our world!
Whatever's weird and wasn't here before all this happened, that's what doesn't belong here! And that's its main body!"
"One of them being weird, by which you mean!?"

"Just take a look around!
These living puppets, the go-carts flying in the sky----"

Aoko's hand paused before it could shoot again.
As soon as she spoke, she saw the end that the two of them had finally reached for themselves.
The amusement park was now crawling with things considered to be 'Fairy Tale Specters'.
Every single transformed piece of art that moved about on its own 'did not exist in this world'.

"......Of course. There's not one thing left, that's still normal."

'Did it get lost among them......?'
Aoko muttered to herself. 'No, that can't be,' she chewed her lip.
...............................................Ploy
Flat Snark was a type of Specter that raised a barrier.
Since it commanded an immense number of familiars, its main body's defense power must be at a low point, or maybe it just had none.

......Furthermore, if it was based on a story labelling it as both 'The Untouchable One' and 'mysterious', getting itself spotted would just as easily ruin the design.

'......On the contrary, finding it is our key to victory.
Did that weak, little thing get lost somewhere in all its minions here? Hiding in the foliage puts it in the forest, though----'



Given the circumstances.
A stray bullet could easily hit it, so it would never place itself right in front of these two.
The Snark's main body was taking care of the amusement park at a much safer location.

'......It's still supposed to be somewhere we can see it.....................on the page
The Snark's on the title of the book. Unless it's always someplace visible, the main characters wouldn't have what it takes to find it----!'

So where was it?
If she made things simple, the Ferris wheel was a safe place, not to mention 'central' to the theme of the amusement park itself----

"Aozaki, what if we apprehend that girl!?"

She was shocked by the suggestion that came out of nowhere.
Soujuurou had just thought of an idea of his own, much like Aoko was racking her brain for a breakthrough solution.

What he suggested was simple.
If the Snark's main body was nowhere for them to find, then maybe they should just target its owner.
Alice was still positioned on the clock tower.
From where they were standing now, they could still make her out as she basked in the moonlight.

"There is no way we're doing that! Flat Snark isn't going to be stopped even if we kill her! This is all happening because it's trying to spill its way out of the park like it's supposed to!
And anyway, Alice was impossible for me to kill! Would've made things easier if I at least got her life down to half from the get-go!"

The breadmen blew their stacks listening to Aoko say such a vile thing about their mistress, burning to a horrible, toasted brown.
......Facing their backs to each other, the two of them caught their breaths.
Neither of them had any solutions. Their spirits were low as the enemy ranks closed off all escapes.

Meanwhile. As if they saw some benefit to letting their prey live, the knickknacks formed a circle around the pair and studied them.
Should they make nicely burnt cadavers out of them at the bakery?
Should they put them to the grinder at the butcher shop?
Should they be skewered and dragged around on one of the go-round rides?
.................................................. ..........................cradle
Should they take them to the splintered pirate ship and set off on a voyage?

After sleeping for two years, they had a colorful arrangement of things they wanted to treat these guests to.

"......Just in case, there's something I need to know."
"What now? I've got brainstorming to do, so make it quick."
"OK. ......These things keep sending out some form of hate at us, asking each other what they want to do. I just wonder, if this is part of that girl's obsession?"

"......That's not really a question. These things hating people is a grudge the amusement park's held onto for ages, and it's also Flat Snark's personality. These are Alice's familiars, there's no actual person controlling them.
Erm, but that said----"

Somehow, it was hard for Aoko to deny the unnerving aspect behind Alice's personality.

"Thank you for telling me. ......Aozaki, what have you come up with? Did you think of a way to stop them?"
"Sorry to let you down, but I'm hanging up my gun and calling it quits here. But you know, they're going to stop once they've killed you, so..."
"I don't want that! Right now, let's run for it!"
"Wha--? Wai--, Shizuki-kun!?"

----She was startled by this sudden development.

Now, it was Aoko's turn to follow after Soujuurou, as he clutched her hand and charged headlong into the sea of bread---- in a self-murdering attempt to break up the circle.

"Wh, what is your deal!?
What's gotten into you all of a sudden----!?"

Aoko scolded him and the aggression he was never dreamed capable of, while following his lead just the same.

Soujuurou's charge into the fray did nothing to dissuade the surrounding creatures.
Immediately regaining her balance, Aoko fired a series of magic bullets ahead of him.

"Gh, *pant*----!"

Breaking away from their enemies, they started to run as hard as they could.
Now all they had to do was focus on getting out of the amusement park, like they planned since the beginning.

......Well, putting their goal aside.

"What was that about!? You didn't have a problem letting yourself get killed before, remember!?"

Aoko was confused by Soujuurou's bizarre attitude.

"This isn't like back at the mirrorhouse! Let's just keep running!"
"As if it's different! It's my job to kill you! Alice wants to kill you! We're out for your blood with the same idea in mind! Either way you're going to die, do you understand!?"

Why was she raising her voice at Soujuurou about this? Despite knowing she was doing so, Aoko let herself fume.
'I'm positive that his insane move to run straight at those breadmen is upsetting me a lot right now.' Something she told herself was true.

"Listen, aren't you making a mistake dragging me along with you!?
Just so you know, I'm still going to go ahead and have you killed if we live to see tomorrow! If you don't want that, why don't you just leave me behind and go!?"

"That's for another time that isn't now! Besides, Aozaki! I can put up with you killing me, but I'm never going to let that girl do the same thing to me!"
"Tell me what the problem is with her killing you!"
"I don't know her face! I've never even talked to her before!"
"----Huh?"

In a blink, Aoko's bristling fury was extinguished................................................... ...................anger
To the point, yet trivial. His reason for running away from certain death, caused her outspokenness to quickly evaporate into thin air.

"Not knowing her face, what......?"

Soujuurou had no qualms about getting killed, as long as he knew the person that was doing it to him?
'Where do I even start with that?' With a grimace, Aoko trailed after him as he lead the way on.
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"Either get busy living or get busy dying." - Stephen King
"A play is a world, with its own inhabitants and its own laws and its values." - Saroyan

A SHOT IN THE PITCH BLACK


The infamous "レイカンファー" (REIKANFAH), is briefly debated to have anything to do with toy bread. As far as root words in other languages are concerned, none of them can pronounce the first syllable as "rey". Whichever word such as reichen, raechen, or even an actual word in Old Norse "leiken" which is related to the word "like[to play]" don't quite reach.

So I switched back to thinking of it as Japanese in katakana form.

"霊感" (reikan) is defined as "inspiration", mainly used in regards to "being struck with inspiration" other than its other meaning ("the third eye/sixth sense"). "ファーwww" (fah) happens to be a used expression when commenting on something amusing or fun. And then there's this on Greps:


(It's actually referring to OP's so-called "sixth sense" at work :P)

We'll just read Nasu's written furigana as "inspiration yeahhh~~". Or maybe it's even "ghost senses, ha-ha!".

It's probably worth noting that running those words through Google Translate yields an interesting and extremely weird result, none of which has ever popped up anywhere.

"れいかんふぁ" alone translates to "Reanimation",
"れいかんふぁー。" gets "Ladies and gentlemen.",
and "れいかんふぁー!" is "Refresh!"

Also: "遊び道具" (asobi dougu), mostly refers to toys and games played on the road. Jacks and card games are good examples. The breadmen are referred to as toys such as this.

"I WAS A BUTTERFLY, BUT THEN I WAS A MAN"


If anyone thinks back to the Tweedle twins' quibbling that Alice would disappear once the Red King wakes up, then the same applies to the Red King who theoretically shares the same dream as Alice. Thereby, she existed because the Red King dreamed her up, and the same goes for the looking-glass world that Alice dreamed up. Then even Ploy Kickshaw may just as much be dreaming up our world the same way they're dreamed to life in it.

CIRQUE DU SPOOK

Why 'Fairy Tale Specter' as Ploy Kickshaw's alternative name?

It was mostly because literally calling the Ploys "monsters" was too blunt and sort of inaccurate in the English language. Robin makes a strong case against it. It's also because they seem like ghostly visitors from another realm given form by Meinster rather than Feudal Era beasts/demons which are a lot more monstrous in proportion than apparitional. The fact that Ploys need objects to attach to like spirits do adds to the impression.

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