Magi Craft Meister 559
16 Resolution With The Demons Arc
17-08 Ether Stampede
“All of them…?”
Hearing the news that all 20 demons were dead, Jin couldn’t believe his ears.
On the other hand, Jalardos and Bafrosk had taken in the medicine administered by Ann and both had seemingly managed to restore their heart rates to normal, just like Belials.
In other words, the three survivors were Belials, Jalardos, and Bafrosk. All three of them were still unconscious.
Jin, Elsa, Anne, Reiko, and Laojun were racking their brains trying to figure out what had actually happened.
“It was a tremendous flash, but it wasn’t an explosion.”
“Correct, there are no collapsed structures, and no fire.”
One thing was certain; the silver ball had cast some kind of offensive spell.
But the question was which actual spell it had been.
“My Lord, judging from the situation, I can come up with only one possibility.”
Laojun began his report.
“It was an Ether Stampede.”
The “Ether Stampede”.
300 years ago, during the Great Magic War against the demons, it single-handedly brought humanity –which had been put at a disadvantage– back from the brink of total annihilation.
But while destroying most of the demons, the Ether Stampede had been a vicious spell that also caused great damage to humankind.
It was a lost spell that Jin had been seeking in order to devise a means to counter it.
“If Nega-Doll 001 has used something like that, then…”
“My Lord, it is possible that the Ether Stampede of old was also caused by Nega-Doll 001.”
The Ether Stampede that happened 300 years ago has caused humans and demons to keep fighting against one another while also claiming a large number of lives. It made sense.
“If that is the case, it is also understandable why there is no data on the detailed materials required to recreate an Ether Stampede.”
“Yeah. But even if we were to be able to recreate it so we can study it, I don’t think we can do it here…”
Jin dropped his shoulders with a slump.
Reiko quickly called out to him.
“Father, I believe if you had been here when this happened, you would have most likely lost your life. I know how careless you can get sometimes, so I’m really glad you were on Hourai Island instead.”
Laojun also added to that.
“My Lord, I do have to wonder if Reiko would not be capable of destroying the entire world if you had perished here today. I have many reasons to be relieved that that was not the case…”
After hearing all that, Elsa, who had been standing right next to Jin, shivered heavily even though it wasn’t cold.
“So, an Ether Stampede…”
Ann had been the closest to a surviving witness of such a phenomenon.
“Ann, can you explain what happened?”
“Yes, Master. Though I only have a general idea…”
Thus Ann began to explain.
Jin had been looking at the situation through Ann’s eyes before the communication got cut off, so he already had a basic understanding of the events.
“It’s possible that one or several of the radicals had transfer markers on them.”
There was no telling if the markers had been implanted like the “Agujas” or if they had been kept inside their pockets, but in any case, Nega-Doll 001 had attacked via transfer.
This was exactly what Laojun and Jin had imagined a while ago.
The next thing to consider was the Ether Stampede itself.
“I couldn’t get a good grasp of the details pertaining to it since I prioritized trying to put up a barrier.”
Ann explains what happened to her.
“First, the Ether concentration in the area became abnormally low. Then I felt as if my energy had been sucked away, and shortly after I ceased functioning.”
However, since Ann ended up temporarily ceasing functioning, she didn’t know anything past that.
“Ann, how much Mana is there left in your Mana Tank right now?”
Laojun asked a question to which he already seemed to know the answer.
“The current amount of Mana remaining in my Mana Tank is… nearly zero.”
Ether was abundant in these lands. A situation where a Mana Tank would be nearly depleted in this environment was completely unthinkable. And yet it happened. Meaning…
“My Lord, I have come up with an hypothesis about the phenomenon known as Ether Stampede.”
Laojun was the first to derive a hypothesis from this situation.
“Got it. …I’d like everyone to hear it, if possible. Can you call for an emergency meeting?”
Thus Laojun made an emergency call to all of the members of Jin’s “Family”. Upon hearing the reason for the meeting, even the busy Reinhardt decided to delegate some of his work to his secretary and hurried to Hourai Island.
After the call was made, Jin spent the next dozens of minutes while everyone arrived at the meeting getting Capricorn 1 closer to the scene and dispatching Nurses 1 and 2 to search for any survivors.
According to the Nurses’ report, all victims within 500 meters of the silver ball’s detonation were unfortunately beyond saving, but there were some survivors who had been luckily farther away during the incident.
There had been 19 survivors. The Kaigyaku clan had been known for being one of the largest clans, with a little over 100 members, so in fact, about 80% of the entire clan had perished in a single flash of light.
The 19 survivors were gathered in the same place and given restorative medicine.
The results of their physical examinations were also reported, which further supported Laojun’s hypothesis.
＊ ＊ ＊
“The Ether Stampede is a phenomenon that causes all Ether in the environment to behave wildly differently than usual, hence its name.”
Jin, Elsa, Mine, Saki, Toa, Stearleana, Vivian, Reinhardt, and Berthie; the entire “Family” had gathered there. Laojun began to explain his hypothesis.
“Ether is formed by minuscule particles. A mage can use their ‘force of will’, a type of magical power, to collect and absorb these particles. It is through this ‘force of will’ that Ether is transformed into Mana.”
He began with an explanation of the relation between Ether and Mana.
Since Mine and Vivian were unable to use magic, they appeared to be confused by this explanation, so Laojun decided to change into a more straightforward analogy.
“For example, think of Ether as if it were stone powder. By adding water, which we shall call ‘force of will’ here, and kneading it, stone powder can be turned into clay.”
Mine and Vivian seemed to have understood via this approach, so Laojun moved forward.
“This clay –in other words, Mana– can take many forms due to the mage’s force of will. Just as clay can be used to create bowls, plates, teapots, vases, figurines, and other objects of different shapes and uses, Mana can also have various attributes such as fire, wind, water, and earth.”
Saki seemed to like this analogy, as she nodded profusely while listening.
“The difference between Mana and clay, however, is that Mana can be further transformed by force of will into energy.”
From this point onward, it became difficult for Mine and Vivian to follow, as neither of them had been taught anything about science.
Saki and Toa had been studying a lot by reading the introductory book prepared by Laojun and asking questions to Jin, Elsa, and Stearleana when necessary, so they seemed to be able to follow along, albeit roughly.
“I can only think of this Ether Stampede as something that forcibly converts Ether itself directly into energy, while also reverting converted Mana in the environment back into Ether. This is what would make it fatal for life forms that rely heavily on Mana to survive.”
The reasons why Ann had temporarily ceased functioning were that the Ether in the environment disappeared in a flash and her Mana Tank was nearly depleted as if its contents had been sucked away.
“Since this conversion to energy is a gradual process instead of a sudden one, it does not produce an explosion. What is produced instead is a flash of light that diffuses over the course of a few seconds.”
Jin, Elsa, and Reinhardt were able to understand this immediately. Saki, Toa, and Stearleana were frowning, but still seemed to have a general idea. Berthie, Vivian, and Mine seemed somehow convinced with the explanation.
Laojun then finished by saying that this was merely a hypothesis at this point.
“I see. But we still don’t know how Ether Stampedes are triggered.”
It was entirely possible that, when confronted, Nega-Doll 001 could resort to unleashing another Ether Stampede.
The fastest way for devising a countermeasure to it was to learn its basic principles.
“Unfortunately, I do not know that yet.”
“Can we take effective measures with the information that we have right now?”
Laojun’s opinion was that it would be a difficult task.
“Moreover, we cannot forget that an Ether Stampede can nearly deplete a Mana Tank despite it being protected by both a barrier and its own magic shield.”
Even a combination of a barrier and a magic shield structure couldn’t completely block its effects.
“…This is a very difficult problem.”
Though he was able to decompose Mana, it was impossible for Jin to turn Mana back into Ether with his current knowledge and ability.
At this rate, it could be said that a direct hit from the Ether Stampede would render even Reiko unable to move.
“Hey Jin, if there is a force capable of collecting Ether and turning it into Mana, there has to be a way to do the opposite, right?”
Saki, who had been thinking silently, shared her idea with Jin.
The method was yet unknown, but it was possible to make an hypothesis that it used a magical wave with a special wavelength and waveform.
At this time, if you think that its range can be limited depending on the intensity of said special magical wave –which would be the key to the Ether Stampede’s generation– it would explain why those in the courtyard were killed while those who were farther away managed to survive.
At any rate, the Ether Stampede that took place during the Great Magic War 300 years ago was on an entirely different scale. It hadn’t killed dozens, but hundreds of thousands.
“In any case, it’s just a theory…”
At that moment, Jin remembered about No. 700672.
“Back when we asked No. 700672 about Nega-Doll 001’s abilities, he didn’t mention anything about him being able to unleash an Ether Stampede at will.”
“Perhaps No. 700672 didn’t know that?”
It was unlikely that he had avoided sharing that detail on purpose. It was far more probable that he didn’t even know about that to begin with.
“In that case, this is an ability that Nega-Doll 001 developed on his own.”
A doll gone insane, wielding super-ancient technology.
“He is a formidable foe.”
On Hourai Island, Jin was absolutely convinced that the threat of Nega-Doll 001 could not be left unchecked.