Title: A Certain Magical Index, Vol. 2
Author: Kazuma Kamachi
Release Date: Feb 24, 2015
Publisher: Yen Press
Touma Kamijou lost his memories. Well, it’d be more accurate to say his semantic memory was retained, whereas his episodic memory was destroyed, seemingly beyond repair. So, one can view this volume as the first adventure of a new Touma Kamijou, the Touma we’ll be following from here on out.
Following the events involving Touma saving Index, alongside the involvement of Stiyl Magnus and Kaori Kanzaki, he was trying to learn more about his past self. The sensation was peculiar for him, to say the least. The distinct differentiation between his current self and “dead” self made it appear like there were two Touma Kamijous. This was further bolstered by keeping up the act that he was fine, primarily for the sake of not upsetting the girl his past self saved before departing, Index.
It was August 8, and Touma and Index were hanging out in the sweltering heat, discussing whether the former really should buy the latter expensive ice cream. Index was a glutton, to put it mildly. So, Touma needed to know how to manage his measly Level 0 stipend to support both him and her.
Actually, something I should mention before continuing is that there may be a few times I use a term or name that isn’t from the official Yen Press translation purely out of habit, so I apologize for that ahead of time. For instance, one of Touma’s catchphrases, “Rotten Luck,” is better known as “Such Misfortune” by fans. Additionally, two of Touma’s classmates and friends, Aogami Pierce and Motoharu Tsuchimikado, call Touma “Kami” in the official Yen Press translation, whereas fan translations and such have it as “Kami-yan” instead.
Speaking of, this Touma encounters Aogami for the first time while perusing ice cream with Index. He was also in the first volume but wasn’t all that significant. Aogami is a pervert through and through, and despite Touma’s unfamiliarity with the guy, he knows exactly how to respond to him. The two have a pretty wild conversation, remarking upon Aogami’s fake Kansai dialect (one of his comedic bits) and Aogami asking if Index is actually a boy. Aogami, of course, doesn’t know Index, and with him being the way he is, that’s how the conversation panned out.
After Index bites Touma’s head out of irritation (one of her comedic bits), the newly formed trio ends up eating at a nearby fast-food restaurant, where they encounter a mysterious black-haired girl who looks like a picturesque shrine maiden. This deadpan girl, Aisa Himegami, is quite the oddball. She’s stuck at this restaurant after eating too many burgers and doesn’t have enough money to pay for the bus fare back home.
However, we’ll get back to her in a second because we have a brief perspective diversion to make to one Stiyl Magnus. He was within the most secretive area of Academy City, at least to outsiders, the Windowless Building, or rather the Curriculate Fortress. In this structure lay the general board Chairman of Academy City, Aleister Crowley. He was an aberrational human whose voice had no consistently decipherable tone and could be mistaken for a man or woman. He willingly subjected his life to machines, floating upside down with a tube, and has been alive for roughly 1,700 years.
To summarize this meeting between the two sides, a human with Deep Blood, an ability Aleister considers valuable, was imprisoned by a sorcerer in a cult education institution, Misawa Cram School. This ability made the wielder’s blood attractive to vampires, the descendants of Cain, creatures many assumed were a myth. However, it went beyond that, as any vampire who drank this blood would immediately perish and become a pile of ash.
Stiyl was assigned to take care of this sorcerer since, despite this all occurring within the headquarters of the science side, the sorcerer culprit being taken down by one from the same side would avoid needless political ramifications.
The reason for Deep Blood’s capture was rooted in the potentiality of reproducing such a rare ability. Assuming this experiment successfully happened, this would draw in those whose abilities were more common throughout the city in search of uniqueness.
Regardless, that was contradictory, as Aleister notes, since one’s ability, their Personal Reality, can’t be changed once awakened.
Still, Stiyl wouldn’t be alone in this mission. Imagine Breaker, Touma Kamijou, would be aiding him since not only did he not possess any secrets of the science side that could be leaked, but he lacked the intelligence to parse the specifics of Stiyl’s magic. Essentially, he wouldn’t leak secrets to either side.
Stiyl couldn’t help but ponder the apparent recklessness of Aleister’s usage of Touma. Imagine Breaker was immensely valuable, but it was almost as if Aleister was putting it through trials, molding it for a specific purpose. And Aleister then asked:
“If Deep Blood proves the existence of vampires, then I wonder, just what does Imagine Breaker prove?”
Going back to a remark from Index in the first volume, if Imagine Breaker negates Touma’s own fortune, a phenomenon attributed to God, then the answer to that query should be clear, shouldn’t it?
Back in the restaurant, antics ensued for a while. Himegami’s oddball nature contrasted with Index, with the former declaring herself a sorcerer without seemingly understanding the gravity of what such a claim meant. It was also growing evident that Index was showing signs of jealousy over Touma getting along with another girl, even if their conversation comprised him refusing her money for the bus fare. Touma did buy Index a whopping three milkshakes, after all. Man, I haven’t had a milkshake in years, actually. I kind of want one.
Anyway, suspicious men in suits dragged Himegami away, though she showed no concern over the event, so the trio left. Touma and Index were now heading home, and aside from the latter picking up a cat she wanted to adopt, already naming it Sphinx, Touma became increasingly concerned over their living situation. The two shared the same bed, but Touma used common sense and reasoned that this probably shouldn’t be happening. So, he has made the bathtub of his dorm his new bed. Rotten luck, indeed.
After being distracted by a reading of magical Runes, Index runs off, leaving Touma with Stiyl. Those were bait placed by Stiyl to ensure she wouldn’t interfere in this meeting. This is this Touma’s first time meeting the sorcerer, and it doesn’t go well, beginning with a brief fight initiated by Stiyl, meant to establish the tone they should address each other in this partnership. Touma’s facade of not letting his memory loss be discovered here is almost caught due to his lack of questioning the supernatural, yet he managed to save it by imagining how the old Touma would respond to this sort of suspicion; shit-talking Stiyl by calling him a masochist. Sounds about right.
It’s not like this Touma knew how he differed from the old Touma, but he had to take a chance.
Stiyl informs Touma of the mission to rescue Deep Blood, with the perpetrator being more closely identified; an alchemist of the Zurich school, an imitator of Hermeticism. He sought Deep Blood for reasons not yet known.
Vampires are supposedly highly catastrophic creatures, according to belief, at least. No one’s had any reports of seeing them because it’s said that any who does dies. Even in the magic side, vampires are an anomaly of an existence that has never been authenticated.
Stiyl drops a term here worth remembering:
“…The Sephirothic Tree is a hierarchical diagram that displays the spiritual rank of God, angels, and humans. In a few words, it tells you things like where a human can ascend to if one trains hard enough, while anything past that is unattainable.”
But it’s human nature to surpass one’s imposed limits, so Sorcerers attempt such a feat by borrowing the power of that which is not human.
Touma is then informed of his compulsory duty to help Stiyl on this mission because Index will be taken from him if he doesn’t. Touma’s constant task is to act as her leash, a shackle, to prevent her from betraying Necessarius. To be entirely blunt, this was blackmail, a threat Touma had no choice but to abide by.
The identity of Deep Blood is also revealed; Aisa Himegami, the girl Touma met in that fast food restaurant.
This revelation causes Touma immense grief and self-derision. Despite his lack of memories and a grown “self,” he hated how Himegami was being treated as a tool, both by her oppressors and her supposed saviors. He also realized her willingness to leave with those men instead of asking for help prevented Touma and company from getting involved in her conflict. She saved them, in a sense. Touma felt in her debt.
“…The belief that it was okay to be treated as an object by everything around you…The pattern of thinking that said there was genuine happiness in saving others while disregarding your own pain…”
That line of assumption from Touma regarding Himegami’s intentions angered him to no end. Suffering so others can smile. It was an innately contradictory practice that put others on a pedestal.
However, this philosophy also applied to the dead Touma Kamijou and would increasingly apply to this “newborn” Touma Kamijou. The poetry of such a notion being a defining facet of Touma’s life would become almost humorously hypocritical in hindsight.
A flashback of Himegami is shown. A hellish landscape where she’s discovered by “The First Lancers, one of the thirteen knight brigades of English Puritanism.” She’s unharmed and surrounded by countless origins of vampiric ash, all because of her blood—an unwitting yet unavoidable killer.
Before leaving for Misawa Cram, Touma overwhelms Index with a bunch of technical jargon about a made-up place he’s going to, and she’s awful with machines, so it works out. She can’t use a microwave, even. She also snuck in the cat from earlier, Sphinx, and after a bunch of whining, Touma relents and agrees to her adopting it. Then, as Touma was leaving, Stiyl made runic protective measures for the dorm, all for Index’s sake, even putting Innocentius on standby should danger arrive.
On the way to Misawa Cram, Touma learns the alchemist’s name from Stiyl, Aureolus Isard. The name was from legend, but Stiyl wasn’t concerned about this guy’s prowess since his specialization in such a field meant he lacked the skill to be capable of other, more conventionally practical, magical vocations. Alchemy isn’t a magical profession or a completed field of study.
As a derivative, or an imitator rather, of Hermeticism, it was known for classic tropes like turning lead into gold. However, alchemists’ strength is actually rooted in knowledge rather than creation, meaning the actualization of such grandiose concepts was beyond them.
Creating whatever your mind’s eye crafts requires a perfect understanding of the world’s laws constantly, with too many horrific side-effects in place for failure. It simply wasn’t feasible. Further, performing such existentially-defining incantations for alchemy would take considerably longer beyond a human’s lifetime simply due to the scope of what was being involved.
That is why the immortality of vampires is such a threat, and if Aureolus is using Deep Blood as a vampire-taming tool to bolster this process, misery is in store.
Stiyl and Aureolus knew each other actually, though they were under different denominations, with the latter part of the Roman Orthodox. Aureolus is also a Cancellarius, someone who writes instruction manuals to aid sorcerers. This exemplified Stiyl’s lack of fear regarding the alchemist since he only specialized in knowledge and not practical combative applications.
Finally, in Misawa Cram, the residual effects rooted in Touma’s magic and Stiyl’s capacity to disguise himself make sneak attacks worthless. A member of the Roman Orthodox’s Thirteen Knights is also discovered dying. Not only is it perceived as a cleaning robot by the student populace in the vicinity, but Stiyl also pays the death little mind given the context.
The barrier in the school divided its denizens into front and back sides, so to speak, where the front was ignorant of the back. It goes without saying that Misawa’s students were the front in this case. Touma was desperate to save this dying knight, but it was far too late. Still, Stiyl enacted his duties as a priest, praying to the fallen comrade and letting him rest in peace.
To retain his sanity in this perilous scenario, Touma decided to call Index while on the way to Auroleus under the guise of testing whether the rules of the front and back sides applied to phones. And it seemed no because she picked up, so the two conversed about mundane matters.
Stiyl then surprisingly reveals his jealousy over the two’s relationship, but he makes it clear he has no romantic attachments to Index. After all, she had various relationships before Touma Kamijou that she’s just forgotten, like teachers, friends, and brothers. It was quite the internal conundrum for Touma since Index didn’t exactly choose him over the others. He was just all this post-memory loss version of her had.
And that wasn’t even true because who Index thought she was with was the previous Touma Kamijou. So, Touma’s only choice to retain that blissful ignorance was to upkeep this self-inflicting mirage.
Eventually, the back side finally noticed and attacked the front after enough interference, causing Stiyl to abandon Touma as a distraction, relying on Imagine Breaker. The students cast magic, and the severity of this act wasn’t made evident until the body of one of the girls attacking Touma began to explode minutely. It wasn’t that Espers were unable to use magic. They could, but the cost was horrific.
Thinking of the circumstances that could have caused an innocent girl like this to unwittingly join this school that veiled itself as an educational Cram institution, Touma decided to help and protect her to the best of his ability. And along the way, he finally encountered Himegami.
In the meantime, Stiyl encountered Aureolus. Well, a fake. You see, this Aureolus did initially intimidate Stiyl with a thrown knife that collided with and acidified a stray, unfortunate student.
“My Instantaneous Alchemy, Limen Magna, automatically transmutes anyone it harms, even slightly, into pure gold in the blink of an eye.”
However, Stiyl was ultimately unimpressed. This was merely a series of fast-acting results with no variation or distinction to validate itself. The acidification could have been easily accomplished otherwise without any need for magic. Sorcery revolved around experimentation. As for how Stiyl knew this Aureolus was a fake, it was his lack of knowledge concerning his own goals. This revelation eventually maddened the fake Aureolus, birthing a loss of his mental faculties.
A fight ensued, with Stiyl cutting off one of Aureolus’ arms and legs. But he fled using an explosion of golden lava as a guise.
Back to Touma and Himegami, the latter cared for the injured girl Touma was carrying. Her medical expertise came from knowing more about blood flow than the average person, hence “Deep Blood.” Still, despite Touma formulating a plan for them to leave now and call an ambulance, the fake Aureolus arrived at the scene, carrying half a dozen students; materials. Touma was understandably bewildered, but Himegami looked at the fake with pity, noting how avoiding the realization of its falsity could have had him continue to live a lie.
The fake Aureolus melted the students into gold and used that compensation as the basis for attacking Touma. The fake Aureolus had gone mad with ferocious delirium rooted in his insecurities and yearning to become real. He used a golden arrowhead which Touma continually negated the effects of with Imagine Breaker, though it wasn’t like he was handling it all unscathed.
However, The situation became immensely alarming as the girl Touma and Himegami cared for was caught in the crossfire of an arrowhead’s bullet. She chose to protect Himegami, the girl who saved her life and melted into gold in the process.
Touma entered a fury, grabbing onto the golden chain the fake Aureolus used to hook onto his opponents with his left hand, not his right.
Touma pulled the chain as an anchor of momentum to leap across the burning gold forged from the dead girl and chased the alchemist throughout the school. Touma was entirely aware that the alchemist killed countless others, and there were people Touma couldn’t save even aside from them, but seeing someone he managed to help successfully save ruthlessly ruined compelled his mind to rage.
The fake Aureolus tried his best to run away from the manic Touma but was eventually caught in his grip due to his golden chain backfiring far more than he ever thought it would. Still, when it seemed as if Touma would cave into his sudden homicidal urge and kill the fake Aureolus, a pathetic plea prevented that reality. This appeal to Touma’s humanity snapped him out of his anger, and he was relieved by it. Because, for as much as Touma wanted this alchemist gone at that moment, killing was something he could never bring himself to do.
Still, the fake Aureolus was on his last legs with the barrier from before that kept the back and front sides separated no longer present, no longer providing his necessary energy for existence. Stiyl came by and finished the job, initiating his task like a priest for the fallen knight from before, except he ended up burning apart the fake Aureolus’ body in top and lower halves. He did remember his magic name at that moment, though, Honos 628.
Alas, more trouble was brewing. Index noticed the runes Stiyl placed outside Touma’s dorm for protection, causing her to leave the premises and learn what was happening. She tracked the magic, called Telesma, to Misawa Cram. You can think of it as magic veins spread throughout the world that alter in prominence depending on current magical goings-on. And this sensation was only perceptible to those sensitive to it and specialized in the field, so not every magician could detect Telesma.
When entering Misawa Cram, Index saw a… creature crawl toward her. Unbeknownst to her, this was the top half of the fake Aureolus that Stiyl burned apart. Yet, before it could reach her, the real Aureolus finally debuted, putting the fake out of its misery once and for all. And it became clear that he could commandeer reality with words and needles through his neck alone. With a mere “Shatter,” the fake Aureolus’ head did indeed shatter when grabbed. Then, an “Open” opened a nearby doorway.
Interestingly, the real Aureolus greeted Index kindly and appeared to know her well. Of course, Index didn’t, yet this fact did not surprise him.
Touma was in a dark place. Countless students who were being used as tools to chant the Gregorian Choir meant to bolster the capabilities of Aureolus met their end, including the girl Touma personally saved alongside Himegami. The Gregorian Choir could essentially just be seen as a magic power magnifier that amplifies the efficacy of a spell by having several sorcerers chant simultaneously. It used to be the Roman Orthodox Church’s ultimate weapon.
Touma was reacting as any average human would in this situation. He wanted to escape it all and return to his status quo with Index. But this mentality rapidly disgusted him. He treated Index as a conceptual receptacle of convenience for his cowardice and comfort. He yearned to have a heroine for his own sake, which irked him to no end.
Thankfully, Touma managed to avoid sinking further into this mental trap of self-hatred that could’ve led to him committing suicide. He had to focus on the here and now and escape with Himegami in tow.
Yet, she had no desire to leave. After informing Touma of how the Aureolus they just saw was fake because he supposedly wouldn’t kill indiscriminately, she stated she had a goal to pursue here with the real Aureolus. Plus, her leaving without some advised insurance or protection would unwittingly summon forth vampires that would die by her blood.
And she had no desire to kill vampires because she knew from firsthand experience that they were no different from humans. They had emotions no different from humanity. Summatively, both she and Aureolus needed each other. Aurelous needed Deep Blood for his own ends, meaning he posed no threat to Himegami’s life, and Himegami was promised something called a “Walking Church” that would conceal her ability. This is what Index’s nun robes also were.
Himegami’s instances of leaving the barrier outside of Misawa Cram, like when she first met Touma and company at that fast food restaurant, were so she could lure vampires that Aureolus needed for whatever he was doing. Still, Touma didn’t trust this Aureolus.
Touma’s apparent sincerity in wanting to save Himegami from here caused her heart to skip a beat or two. Even if Aureolus had humanity remaining within him, Touma reminded Himegami that Aureolus’ current actions, using the students and vampires for his own ends, would hurl him down a path he couldn’t evade.
It was at this moment that Aureolus appeared, and his control over reality with his words was terrifying. Touma’s fears surrounding the alchemist were confirmed as he referred to Deep Blood as an “it,” but he could do nothing. Even with Imagine Breaker, he could not impede Aureolus’ actions. With only a few words and needles Aureolus injected into his neck, he teleported himself to stand near Himegami and prevented Touma from reaching anywhere close to them. Touma would try his damndest to run, but it was as if he was stuck in place.
Aureolus fully intended to harm Touma here due to his interference, but Himegami finally snapped out of it, choosing to rebel against the alchemist. She did not want to participate in this partnership any longer if Aureolus meant to kill someone innocent and kill additional vampires.
He seemed to think little of it all, though, yet decided to humor her as he vocally and offhandedly acknowledged his acquisition of the Index of Forbidden Books, Index. At this reveal, Touma was shocked, but Aureolus’ following command would ensure he’d take no action.
“Boy, everything that has happened here——Forget it all.”
And just as he said, Touma forgot it all. He awoke in a bus outside Misawa and had no memory of anything regarding Deep Blood and the wielder of Limen Magna. That was short-lived, though, since a touch of his head with Imagine Breaker canceled the effect.
Touma ran back to the school only to find that other members of the Thirteen Knights of the Roman Orthodox Church were present, companions to the fallen knight Touma and Stiyl found before. They were sinister, however. They felt nothing at the loss of their knight ally, and they even intended on blowing up Misawa via Gregorian Choir, all caught up in the crossfire be damned. The ends justified the means in their eyes.
As they initiated this explosion, Touma wasted no time running toward it, determined to save all in there, including Stiyl, Aureolus, Himegami, and Index. Yet this ended up doing nothing. While not visibly present to Touma, Aureolus noticed the attack and completely rewound all its effects, making it all as if it had never happened. The sheer feat of this power terrified Touma. He had no idea how he’d even begin contending with Limen Magna.
When entering Misawa, an immediate peculiarity stood out to Touma. The girl he and Himegami tried to save but was ruthlessly transmuted into gold by the fake Aureolus was completely fine, living as if nothing earlier that day ever happened. Then, Touma ran into Stiyl, who also had his memories wiped. After Touma nullified the effects of Stiyl’s memory loss with a punch from Imagine Breaker (it was payback for abandoning him earlier), the two set off to find Aureolus.
Touma’s listing of Aureolus’ feats confounded Stiyl since it went far, far beyond what the fake performed and what was capable of a human. Negating the effects of a Gregorian Choir, erasing one’s memory, and rewinding time were so absurdly beyond a sorcerer’s level. This was not typical magic. Magic followed strict rules akin to academia. Outlandish spectacles like turning back time in a select locale and bending reality to one’s whim were most abnormal.
This reminded a befuddled Stiyl of Ars Magna, yet such a feat was impossible for a human. As was explained earlier, a human lifetime did not allow one to master the intricacies revolving around such a power. Then there was the matter of the captured Index. Touma had no idea what Aureolus needed from her. Stiyl quickly understood, though.
It was revealed that Aureolus was a partner of Index, akin to Kaori and Stiyl, before the nun lost her memory. He was her teacher. It’s just that Aureolus could be seen as far more tragic. It was all a misunderstanding. You see, Aureolus’ goal was to save Index from her yearly memory erasure, so he betrayed the Roman Orthodox Church and went into hiding, all for the sake of preparing a method that would remedy Index’s mind. Sadly for him, he was simply not aware of the fact that she was already saved.
This came to a head when Touma and Stiyl reached the Misawa principal’s office, where the true Aureolus resided with a sleeping Index and Himegami off to the side. The alchemist revealed his creative yet effective plot, turning Index into a vampire so her newfound immortality would no longer cause her supposed limited memory capacity to threaten her life. Of course, aside from the issue of no conventional Christian ever wanting to become a descendant of Cain, there was a far more obvious dilemma at play here.
Index was already saved by Touma Kamijou.
As a result, everything Aureolus has been doing has been for naught. His betrayal of the church, luring vampires, and utilization of alchemy were pointless. Three years of heartfelt effort wasted.
In a sense, you can view Aureolus as a protagonist of his own story. A righteous hero seeking to save a girl he cared for deeply. There was once a genuine relationship there. However, Touma Kamijou pulled the rug out from under him, even if unwittingly. Aureolus’ role as protagonist was stolen long ago without his knowledge.
Touma could’ve easily become Aureolus. He was self-aware of this fact. Despite the alchemist having gone off the deep end with human sacrifice, there was a noble intention that was unconsciously derided by the mentality of the ends justifying the means. If Touma Kamijou failed to save Index, could he say with utmost certainty that he wouldn’t have turned out like that?
Moreover, this Touma wasn’t even Index’s savior. So, did he even have the right to stand by her side when so many before him, including his dead past self, had stronger attachments and more substantial memories of the nun?
These thoughts ran through Touma’s head as Aureolus lost his mind. He couldn’t bring himself to harm Index in despair, yet Touma and Stiyl weren’t off the table. With his words and a needle through his neck, he forced Touma and Stiyl to grovel, unmoving. If the alchemist didn’t take out his existential frustration on these two who ruined his life, he wouldn’t be able to retain even a shred of sanity.
Himegami chose to stand in the way, understanding its futility since Aureolus no longer needed her ability, Deep Blood. Understanding this newly established reality, Aureolus told her to “Die.”
And with that, Himegami started to fall back first, her life taken. Touma broke out of the first grovel with Imagine Breaker and ran to Himegami as swiftly as she could before she hit the ground. In an uncharacteristically great providence of fortune, Touma’s right hand negated the forcefully instilled death from Aureolus.
As Aureolus stood dumbstruck at the efficacy of Imagine Breaker, it was then that Touma understood the difference between himself and the alchemist. Touma would never harm others to satisfy his inadequacy, no matter how bleak the circumstances were. The two Touma Kamijous came to an understanding at that point. The lost past and the perplexed present. They were united in resolve.
Touma ran toward Aureolus while suffering a barrage of commands from Limen, or rather, Ars Magna. Touma was made to suffocate, only negated by pushing his right hand’s fingers down his throat. Touma was made to be electrocuted, but his Imagine Breaker negated the shocks. Touma was made to be strangled with countless pieces of rope, but Imagine Breaker negated them all.
Thanks to the relative immediacy of Imagine Breaker, Touma could briefly prepare himself for whatever attacks Aureolus conjured once he heard the words. He equated the majesty of Ars Magna to the speed of punches thrown in a back alley brawl.
This comparison eased Touma’s fear, but the one-in-all solution of Imagine Breaker did not last for long. Aureolus realized the obvious weakness in such a simple strategy. He could create attacks that Touma’s right hand could not negate, like bullets. He summoned a gun and shot far past the speed that a human could react to. Thankfully, while harmed, Touma still lived, all because of Aureolus’ sadistic yearning to instill as much pain as possible.
Stiyl spoke, impeding the onslaught, giving Touma time to think of a new strategy. Aureolus then revealed how he managed to achieve Ars Magna despite the obstacle of human lifetimes. The Gregorian Choir he made the students initiate amplified the acquisition far more swiftly than normal, 120 times faster, to be exact.
And in response to Stiyl’s well-founded question about how such a feat was possible with Espers, who would eventually die when using magic, the alchemist announced that these students have, in fact, died multiple times. He simply brought them back with Ars Magna, an inhumane cycle.
Touma ran at Aureolus with renewed fury, and when he summoned more bullets to batter Touma, Stiyl falsely summoned Innocentius, that was still at the dorm, all to bid as much time as possible. Frustrated at this attempt, Aureolus called Stiyl into the air and bluntly exploded him. To be precise, while Stiyl was very much alive, countless layers of flesh and blood were scattered around the room. He was floating in the air with his organs working to keep him alive, like a meat-filled skeleton.
After an interrupted hint from Stiyl, before he was summoned into the air, Touma began to realize that the needles Aureolus used each time he used Ars Magna were to rid himself of doubt and anxiety.
With that being the case, Ars Magna was unimpressive. It could transmit not words into reality, but thoughts. If Aureolus didn’t believe that what he was saying would happen, it wouldn’t successfully take effect.
It made the method of defeating him all the more simple then.
Alas, Aureolus realized that the negation would no longer be an obstacle as long as he could cut off Touma’s right arm. So, with a summoned spinning blade, he did so. Touma’s right arm was cut off, and blood spewed from the stump where it formerly resided.
He did not cry out or scream in pain, however. Instead, he laughed. He laughed and laughed like an invasive hivemind overtook his body.
Touma slowly trudged forward with a constant grin adorning his face, and Aureolus was terrified, unsure of what to do. He kept summoning attacks, like guillotines and bullets, but they either missed or wouldn’t work.
It became increasingly evident that Touma’s erratic behavior struck fear into the alchemist, so he grew uncertain about whether his attacks would have any effect, causing any power they would have to vanish entirely.
“You bastard. You weren’t thinking that you could crush my Imagine Breaker just by cutting off my right arm, did you?”
Touma approached Aureolus, who could do nothing now. His fear canceled out Stiyl’s unskinned state, reverting him to normal.
The stump where Touma’s right arm used to be began to morph into a certain shape. The head of a dragon. A kingly one, at that. As its jaws made their way toward Aureolus, he blacked out.
In the hospital where Touma was cared for by the same doctor as last time, Stiyl stepped in, and the two elucidated on what happened. To sum it up, Touma was acting to make Aureolus feel fear, and the dragon that formed was a manifestation of that same fear.
Oscar-award-winning actor Touma Kamijou.
Stiyl also helped by making mirages as he was in “flesh planetarium” mode, as Touma called it, so those initial attacks from the alchemist wouldn’t hit Touma, ensuring the fear was substantial.
Thankfully, the dragon caused mental damage rather than physical, so Aureolus lived sans his memories. And with Stiyl doing some facial reconstruction thanks to his flame magic, Aureolus Isard was no longer Aureolus Isard. He was a new man, free of these shackles.
Himegami and Index were safe. Aureolus was dealt with. All’s well that ends well. But Touma couldn’t help but think about the dragon. Was that really a manifestation of Aureolus’ fear, or…was there something more to it? What exactly is Imagine Breaker, anyway?
Well, we’ll find out eventually.
I absolutely love this novel, even if I think the pacing is a bit weak. Too much time is spent within Misawa from around the beginning, hurting some of the tension, but not significantly. Touma’s characterization here is stellar, with his identity crisis being excellently handled alongside the core of what makes him, him. Stiyl is another highlight. He’s cold but not unfeeling, as evidenced by his care for Index. He also genuinely respects Touma, even if he’d never admit that to the boy himself.
Aureolus is also great. He’s a fascinating case study of a failed protagonist that makes one genuinely empathetic toward him. Even when considering the taboo acts he performed, you could tell they came from a place of love for a student he cherished.
The standout moment, though, is the dragon. This scene has lived in my head rent-free for over a decade. And don’t worry; we’ll be seeing similar phenomena. It’ll just be a while.
Next time, we’ll dive into arguably the series’ most iconic arc. One that ties directly into A Certain Scientific Railgun. The Sisters arc.
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