A Certain Magical Index Vol. 7 Review + Overview — Orsola Aquinas Rescue Arc — Roman Orthodoxy, Nun Army & Amateurism

    Title: A Certain Magical Index, Vol. 7
    Author: Kazuma Kamachi
    Release Date: June 28, 2016
    Publisher: Yen Press

Check out our reviews and overviews of the previous light novel volumes of A Certain Magical Index Old Testament before reading this article.

magical index vol 7

In London, numerous structures were named after Saint George, which made sense given the historical legends surrounding him. But one structure, in particular, shadowed over the rest—the headquarters of Necessarius.

There was irony in naming a St. George’s Cathedral as the headquarters of Necessarius. After all, the group didn’t exactly fit in with the “core” church of English Puritanism, Canterbury Cathedral. However, Necessarius’ continuous successes in accomplishing its collective job of hunting down sorcerers earned them privileges and trust.

It was to such an extent that, for all intents and purposes, Necessarius truly helmed English Puritanism, not the Canterbury Cathedral.

Stiyl Magnus conversed with the archbishop of Necessarius, Laura Stuart, via communication talismans. The lady was an enigma. She looked impressively youthful with unnaturally long hair. And she possessed an air of elegance of refinement.

Well, that was mostly the case anyway. Under the tutelage of the spy/Sorcerer/Esper hybrid Motoharu Tsuchimikado, her Japanese wasn’t quite normal. It was strangely archaic and had other peculiarities, which, when considering the man involved, isn’t too surprising.

The topic of their conversation was the Book of the Law, a grimoire penned by Edward Alexander, otherwise known as Crowley. Perhaps they were the same Crowley from Academy City. Or were they? Stiyl wasn’t aware. The world’s simultaneously greatest yet worst sorcerer, who, according to historical records, perished on December 1, 1947.

In volume five, we briefly delved into his background, yet his significance can’t be understated.

The Book of the Law was supposedly lost from its believed spot at the Roman Orthodox Church’s Vatican Library. Several theories surrounded this text, as no one could decipher it – not even Index or Sherry Cromwell. The methodology needed to understand it was too archaic and unorthodox.

One such theory posited that a guardian angel Crowley summoned, Aiwass, granted him angelic techniques.

However, a nun was recently discovered who could decipher the Book of the Law, Orsola Aquinas. Following the Roman Orthodox Church’s failure regarding the Gregorian Chant being destroyed by Aureolus Izzard, it was believed they were pursuing a new technique as a replacement that could have been featured in this Book.

So, it’s no surprise that both Orsola and the Book of the Law had gone missing.

Laura Stuart had a good guess as to who was responsible: Japan’s Amakusa-Style Crossist Church. She posited that this Japanese group of aberrational Crossism, which once had Kaori Kanzaki as their centerpiece leader, sought the Book of the Law as a replacement.

What made the notion distressingly feasible was that the Book of the Law was not in the Vatican at present and was instead placed at an exhibition in Japan. The Roman Orthodox Church planned to gradually resupply the lost capabilities of the Gregorian Choir via newfound public faith.

Stiyl was assigned a lofty mission that could put him in conflict with Kaori Kanzaki. It was anyone’s guess as to what actions the Saint would take, especially with no one currently able to get ahold of her. Her combative prowess would tip the scales for whatever side she chose. Would she abide by her duties or sentimentalities?

Adding to his chagrin was the requirement to involve Index and Touma Kamijou. Despite the latter not being a sorcerer, he kept dealing with their conundrums. Stiyl had no reason why both Laura Stuart and Aleister Crowley had this sort of fascination with the boy. These thoughts remained as Laura gave Stiyl a certain necklace to hand over to Orsola when they met, a symbol of faith.

September 8.

It was the second semester, one packed with festivals, such as the upcoming Daihasei and eventual Ichihanaran. Maika explained these matters to a vexed Index, who ranted about her lack of bonding time with the wielder of the Imagine Breaker. Index understood the importance of school but was confused by why Maika wasn’t attending, to which the maid replied that she was out on maid fieldwork as an elite. Index thought about either her or Touma becoming maids so they could be around each other more often.

Suddenly, without warning, a certain man appeared and quickly kidnapped Index, alarming the maid-in-training.

Touma Kamijou kept seeing advertisements and messages about the upcoming Daihasei. It was a sports festival, essentially, where schools the city over would participate in competitions. Plus, Esper power usage was encouraged out in the open for several events, making it all quite the spectacle for the visitors who took advantage of one of the few times a year Academy City relaxed its policies.

The Daihasei was all for maintaining and bolstering Academy City’s public image as a locale of educational fascination. It brought a sort of joyous excitement for many students who could finally let loose in this city of shonen protagonists. However, that was expectedly not the case for Touma Kamijou. His incessant misfortune and unnatural right arm didn’t exactly make him fit in with the crowds. Those circumstances made the required prep work he aided his class with more of a chore than the norm.

His thoughts about the Daihasei were forcibly halted on his way home from school, though, when he saw Maika call for him urgently from his floor. She informed him of Index’s kidnapping and gave Touma a note that was left behind.

Much to Touma’s frustration, based on Maika’s description of the guy, this “kidnapper” was just Stiyl Magnus. And the note he left behind for Touma was blunt and to the point. Touma had to make his way to the Hakumeiza theater outside Academy City at 7 PM for reasons he wasn’t told. At the very least, the documentation for leaving the city was provided alongside this characteristically threatening message.

The Hakumeiza theater was not used for roughly three years and was only a kilometer outside Academy City, so transport wasn’t a concern. Stiyl and Index were already there, and the latter was told of the situation at hand. Still, the matter of Touma’s involvement rubbed her the wrong way, as did Stiyl, even if his feelings were more dismissive.

The purpose of the fake kidnapping was to grant Touma sufficient motive for navigating outside Academy City in a way that didn’t depict itself as currying favor from the science side. Of course, the battle against the Amakusa would then occur with both him and Index in the midst of it, meaning they had no choice but to see it through to its end.

Index and Stiyl discussed the uncertainties of the plan, such as the ignorance of Orsola’s current whereabouts. And Index was far more invested in the matter than she otherwise would have been given Touma’s involvement. Stiyl and company didn’t know Touma well enough to know that if they simply asked him, he would’ve jumped into this conflict, no questions asked, but such deceptive precautions were necessary.

In the meantime, Touma Kamijou exited the city a little past 6 PM, which went more swiftly than expected, likely due to the lax security rooted in the Daihesai preparation. He had difficulty finding the Hakumeiza theater since its abandonment made it not labeled on his phone’s GPS maps. Yearning for a nice air-conditioned bus, he considered entering one nearby before spotting a busty nun at the bus stop.

She wore a traditional black habit, contrasting Index’s white attire. And she was a ditzy one. She was seeking passage into Academy City but was left perplexed when Touma informed her that it was cut off from outside transportation. Immediately after hearing this, she tried to enter the bus, though Touma stopped her rather swiftly. This exact exchange actually happened twice.

Touma felt like he couldn’t leave this nun alone. Perhaps in a way that reminded him of Index’s uselessness with technology, this nun seemed to always be off her in her own little world, lacking regard for her surroundings. Then, when he told her that a city-issued passport was required to enter Academy City, which she obviously did not have, she tried to enter anyway.

The nun eventually revealed that she was on the run from the Church, and she had heard that Academy City was a haven of sorts for this kind of situation, but Touma quickly shattered that illusion. After all, he had firsthand experience of sorcerers illegally entering the city for Index and their own ends. The nun was shocked at his knowledge of sorcerers, but he didn’t pay it much mind.

When still faced with the nun’s simultaneous air-headed nature and evident concern over her circumstances alongside the planned meeting with Index and Stiyl, Touma worried over his priorities before he had an epiphany. He could simply bring Orsola with him as he met up with Index. Kill two birds with one stone.

A new figure entered the theater that Stiyl and Index occupied, Agnese Sanctis from the Roman Orthodox Church. She was a young nun whose appearance stood out. While she sported the traditional black habit, her braided red hair shone through, her skirt was abnormally short, and she wore roughly 12-inch tall sandals, which she claimed were for fashion. This made her appearance quite jarring compared to the slightly older Index.

Agnese detailed that despite Roman Orthodoxy having a clear numeric advantage compared to the Amakusa, the latter prevailed in acquiring Orsola. The Amakusa were a clever bunch, and since they were Japanese natives, they could use the terrain proficiently to avoid detection and keep Orosola out of the Roman Orthodoxy’s reach. It was a game of cat and mouse. Agnese’s pride stung at this outcome, but she retained a semblance of professionalism.

(Just as a note, the Yen Press translation spells Agnese as ‘Agnes,’ but the latter just feels really off to me after having used the former for around a decade. Calling magicians sorcerers instead feels more natural for some reason. So, I’ll be sticking with Agnese. It’s minor, regardless).

This was becoming more and more of a drawn-out battle. And the longer this stalemate kept up, the higher the chance was of Kanzaki becoming involved, making this conflict even more strenuous and multi-layered in potential political ramifications.

Other complications made the prospect of combatting the Amakusa challenging, too. Aside from their environmental cognizance, the most substantial was their unorthodox magic usage. Sensing specific traces of mana from their spells was practically impossible for an ordinary sorcerer since the Amakusas melded various avenues of corresponding religious faith for their techniques. As Index sagely pointed out, thanks to her unparalleled magical knowledge from her grimoires, the Amakusas were masterful at stealth.

Adding to that stealth mastery is the fact that the Amakusa tend to disguise their spell activations with ordinary everyday items and behaviors, like silverware and salutations, respectively. Further, their attire blended in with the populace, making them difficult to spot.

The Roman Orthodoxy was between a rock and a hard place, but they still had numbers and the newly acquired aid of Stiyl and Index. While the Roman Orthodoxy used their over 250-person-utilized search, Stiyl and Index would check an unlikely but still probable spot for Orsola’s whereabouts, Academy City.

Getting permission for such a task was a hassle and a half, but with matters being what they were, it needed to be done. Agnese seemed especially enthused to get this underway, but the sight of a certain duo from just outside the theater caught her, Index, and Stiyl all off guard.

Touma Kamijou and Orsola Aquinas were now on the scene.

On the walk to the theater, there was a humorous exchange between Orsola and Touma regarding why the former still wore her habit in extreme heat.

“Well, the agony of the flesh is nothing compared to the agony of the soul.”

“…You’re a nun and a masochist?”

Anyway, the duo met up with the trio, and Touma was understandably vexed at Stiyl’s antics that caused him to walk multiple kilometers. After a timid greeting from Agnese, Stiyl hastily and aggressively explained the necessity of Orsola’s presence. Everything seemed ready to conclude, but the sudden arrival of the Amakusa prevented that eventuality. One member rapidly abducted Orosola via an avenue to the underground while the rest of the party was attacked.

While that was happening, an organization called the Order of the Knights quite literally swam from England to Academy City via magic. They were assigned a mission to support the effort to retrieve the Book of the Law, though the life of Orsola was not of similar importance.

However, plenty of restrained powers made matters such as this task partially contrived. The complexities of the relations in the United Kingdom’s religious followings are as follows:

The Queen Regnant and the Royal Family Faction, headed by Parliament.

The Knight Leader and the Knight Faction, commanding the knights.

The Archbishop and the Puritan Faction, led by the faithful.

Their power relation was as follows.

The Royal Family Faction issued royal commands to the Knight Faction, controlling them.

The Knight Faction used the Puritan Faction as convenient tools.

The Puritan Faction gave direction to the Royal Family Faction under the name of Church advice.

It was a system of three factions and four cultures.

Put in layman’s terms, these knights had little care for the lives surrounding this mission, with there even being an intention to kill every Amakusa. You could call them selfish or vain, but none of it really mattered because Kaori Kanzaki identified and took them out in mere seconds. Even though actively interfering with the aforementioned chain would normally cause more significant conflict, Kaori and the knights both being involved with the English Puritans made this bout an internal affair.

At her trivial efforts, Tsuchimikado appeared, portraying his usual gray slyness. He was only there on a mission to acquire the Book of the Law (probably a lie), though Kaori was forcing herself to prepare to face off against him should that be his task.

Still, the preparation wasn’t out of outward caution but of rumination. Kaori was not someone who participated in battles in which the opposing party would meaninglessly die no matter the outcome. Tsuchimikado’s self-damaging Esper and magic capabilities would tear him asunder if a fight against Kaori ever came to pass, so her resolve for such an encounter was lacking.

But more vitally than that was the notion of what she was even doing in Japan. A question that she lacked the courage to ponder.

Night fell, and Agnese commanded hoards of similarly dressed nuns, which she presided over 250 of, in a collective effort to seemingly identify Orsola’s whereabouts. She did so via penning passages in a notebook that appeared in other books for convenience.

Touma, Stiyl, and Index sat on the sidelines, not wanting to accidentally initiate irreparable harm to the efforts of the surrounding sisters.

The trio discussed the Book of the Law, Orsola’s capabilities, and the one who wrote the book in the first place, primarily for the benefit of Touma, who was in the dark about it all.

While a recap of sorts, we learn precisely what Crowley did to earn the title of being one of the worst humans in history.

“In one experiment during his travels, he used his wife, who had been traveling around the world with him, as a vessel so he could contact the guardian angel Aiwass. And when his daughter Lilith died, he used her to construct a theory of magic without twitching an eyebrow. And he apparently sacrificed girls the same age as his daughter in that experiment…However, his accomplishments did lead to new definitions of other worlds—overlapping planes in different layers than our world, such as the celestial and demonic planes—and revolutionized sorcery at the time.”

As Stiyl aptly puts it, the actual value of the Book of the Law is how it contains the “turning points” of Crowley, the legendary and infamous sorcerer. It apparently had the capability of bringing the world to a new era.

The more Touma thought about this mess, the more he realized he’d have to see it through to its end. Grimoires were not ordinary books. They were intrinsically magical upon their respective inscriptions. So then came the natural question: would Imagine Breaker negate them entirely?

Agnese made her way to the trio after performing her duties, and a fanservice scene later where Touma found himself face to face with Agnese’s crotch, she reported that Orsola was confirmed to be held captive by the Amakusa, and likely the Book of Law by extension.

A plan began to form, though several uncertainties made the process a worrying one. Stiyl noted that torturing Orsola for information on the Book would require more than two days, so the Amakusa didn’t have the luxury of time on that end.

Touma understandably found himself taken aback by the mention of torture, but more than that, the repeated mentions of the Amakusa finally made him remember their connection to Kaori, which he learned during the Angel Fall incident. An inkling of doubt took root in his mind. Would the group Kaori was once part of and held in such high regard really resort to such treachery as this?

Regardless, questioning the basis of the mission at hand wasn’t time they could waste. In the midst of their planning, Index introduced Idol Theory. Put in basic terminology, it’s a system humans use to utilize the powers of God and angels. Objects of faith, such as crucifixes, would receive very meager amounts of the originating powers. Touma associated this with solar panels obtaining energy from the sun.

However, a supposed mutual effect with Idol Theory was once experimented with, proposing that interfering with the idol would affect the source. The cartographer who first made Japan’s map, Tadataka Inou, applied this general philosophy, creating 47 eddies (movement points) throughout Japan.

Concerningly, the Amakusa had access to these eddies. And even though only 23 of the 47 points have been discovered, that was still plenty for fooling one’s enemies.

At these revelations of the Amakusa’s impressive capabilities, alongside the fact that their home base was unknown, Agnese grew increasingly vexed, questioning what they could even do against them. Index, however, was calm and composed, reassuring the surrounding party that of the discovered eddies, there was only one in close proximity and could only be used at midnight, 4.5 hours from then.

The contrast between Index being useless with technology and an absolute treasure trove of magical knowledge stood out to Touma throughout this exchange. It only reinforced the differences between the worlds they came from.

Three hours of preparation took place with Agnese and her team of 74 nuns taking the helm. Touma tried to rest, but the worries of missing out on completing his replaced Summer homework Mikoto helped him with and the awkwardness of lazing around while the nuns outside were hard at work made it impossible.

He stepped out of the tent he and Stiyl were resting in and immediately returned to his tent after a typical misfortunate incident involving a nude Agnese and Index.

Stiyl reaffirmed his desire to keep Index safe at all costs, to a terrifying extent, and coldly advised Touma to rest until the assault on the Amakusa. Another fanservice incident then occurred, with Agnese sleepily navigating to his side, confusing him for her father. Of course, Index arrived soon afterward and bit him, a refreshing shift to the status quo.

At 11 PM, the deputy of the Amakusa, Saiji Tatemiya, alongside his 47 members, was prepared for battle by their eddy point. They were all near a park, doing seemingly mundane activities to pass the time. But the reality was far more calculated than that. Every single facet of themselves was meticulously chosen for magical techniques.

“The gender distribution. Their age variations. The combinations of clothing colors. The act of the four or five of them forming a circle. The details of their casual chat. The religious rites of eating. The ingredients and color of the hamburger and the ritualistic meaning of eating meat. The number of bites. The timing of taking drinks. The directions the men and women were walking. The positions they stopped at. The way they read their books. The total number of characters on each page.”

Touma and company were also at the park, with the final steps taking place. Agnese’s anger at the Amakusa got the better of her as she ranted about how they, and other sorcerers, supposedly resorted to underhanded interpretations of religion to exploit loopholes, while those like her group, who obeyed the rules, were cut in front of the line so to speak. It was really just an ego trip, which Touma immediately saw it as.

Agnese also emphasized the largest church in Japan currently being built, the Church of Orsola, named after the nun we know so well. She was a terrific religious speaker, apparently.

Roughly 30 minutes later, the operation began.

The Amakusa were wise, not falling for the diversion Agnese’s forces planned out. Amid the battle, Stiyl passed Touma a silver cross on a necklace, which the latter didn’t understand the purpose of. Touma was on the run for a while before managing to knock one of the Amakusa unconscious. It was then that a gagged and tied Orsola appeared nearby, whom Touma freed with Imagine Breaker. The duo hid from the Amakusa afterward.

They conversed about the current dangers, and Orsola came to understand Touma’s lack of allegiance to any particular religious group. He managed to get through to her ditziness that he was just a student of Academy City helping out the English Puritans by pure coincidence.

The necklace Stiyl gave him was brought up, and Touma offered to give it to her since he lacked knowledge of anything magic-related. Imagine Breaker would’ve triggered it if appropriate anyway. So, he put it on her.

Touma then mentioned the Book of the Law and questioned why Orsola was bothering with it when considering the danger revolving around that tome. Simply put, she wanted to destroy those kinds of grimoires that generate strife by just existing.

Touma felt relief at that reveal, though it was short-lived, as Stiyl arrived on the scene, struggling against Tatemiya. Touma moved in to protect Orsola, and while Tatemiya immediately took note of his amateurish stance, admired his resolve, even as he moved in to kill him. It was a hard-fought battle that eventually involved both Index and Stiyl, resulting in a victory earned through cooperation between the latter and Touma’s Imagine Breaker.

The battle was over. At least, that was the assumption. A bound Tatemiya informed Touma and Index of the truth; they didn’t steal the Book of the Law, and the Roman Orthodox were going to kill Orsola Aquinas.

Of course, Touma and Index doubted the authenticity of these claims, but Tatemiya was serious. The Amakusa didn’t want the Book of the Law. No matter its capabilities, picking a fight against the entirety of the largest Crossist denomination, the Roman Orthodoxy, comprised of over two billion followers, was obviously not worth it.

The Book of the Law was claimed to contain power able to end Crossism and birth a new era, but why would the Roman Orthodoxy want to ruin the current status quo?

It was all a farce set up by the Roman Orthodoxy in order to gain ownership of the grimoire that could spell an end to their status.

At first, Touma doubted the words coming from Tatemiya and questioned why they would want to save Orsola in the first place. The truth was far more straightforward than anyone could fathom. It was a reason Touma Kamijou could empathize with. They had no reason. They wished to carry on the ideals of their priestess and leader, Kaori Kanzaki, who fought to grant others salvation.

The Amakusa’s inexperience with Kaori as their leader resulted in innumerable deaths, making Kaori believe she was the cause. Touma remembered this topic back during Angel Fall. The Amakusa blamed their own shortcomings for Kaori’s self-admonishment and sought to rectify that fault by crafting a home where she would be proud to stay.

The Amakusa only offered to help Orsola, who turned them away after assuming they were after the Book, solely because they wanted to help her.

Everything clicked for Touma, and it was at that moment that a horrific scream wailed from nearby. It was from Orsola. The goal now was obvious. Rescue Orsola Aquinas, but the arrival of two familiar Sisters impeded those efforts.

Sister Angelene and Sister Lucia. Two close companions of Agnese. (Angelene is spelled Angeline in the Yen Press translation, but I’ll be using the former spelling as I’m far more accustomed to it.)

The former was timid and soft-spoken, while the latter was hardcore religious. At Touma’s insistence on seeing Orsola, Lucia took charge with a strange wheel-like device that exploded while Angelene used swift-moving coin purses from afar. They got the better of Touma and Index, with Touma suffering from several fragments of the wheel embedded in his skin, but a sound signaling an order to retreat caused them nuns to do just that. At that sight, Touma and Index realized the truth of what Tatemiya alluded to.

Stiyl reunited with the group and learned the truth of what occurred, and the futility of the situation struck Touma at his core. While the Roman Orthodoxy would refrain from killing Orsola for a few days due to following the pretenses of subscribing to the “Thou shalt not kill those who believe in the teachings of God” philosophy, that did little to assuage his rage. The Roman Orthodoxy would simply find a way to label Orsola as one not truly aligned with God and then kill her with flimsy justifications.

Touma was determined to save her, but he found himself at a loss against 250 nuns and Stiyl’s calm rationale informing him of the impossibility of it all. The original Book of the Law was apparently safe back at the Vatican since no one stole it, and the rest of the incident was internal strife within the Roman Orthodoxy that the English Puritans couldn’t partake in, lest it initiate a war between the two sides.

This meant that the Amakusa had to go at this rescue attempt alone, which Tatemiya already understood. They were fragmented and scattered, as the Sisters captured some, but they had little choice.

Agnese and the nuns, all 250 of them, could do anything they wanted to harm Orsola as long as she didn’t die. It was a horrific visualization.

Touma, Stiyl, and Index could only flee and scatter now that their part was done. Tatemiya would try his best with the other Amakusa, but the chances of victory were slim. These events battered Touma’s spirit. Still, after answering Stiyl’s seemingly random question regarding the whereabouts of the silver necklace he was given, the one he put on Orsola, the trio left.

On their walk, Touma was dejected. The thought of reverting to one’s usual daily life after such a tumultuous day should have been exciting, but Touma couldn’t stop thinking about Orsola.

Should he have somehow brought her into Academy City? Or would even that outcome prove fruitless in the face of the determined Roman Orthodoxy? Even though this dilemma had nothing to do with Touma Kamijou, he still felt responsible for its progression. Index tried to cheer him up but to no avail.

She then gently lectured him on a matter she had contemplated for a while.

Touma Kamijou had no obligation to help others. He should rely on others more.

She pointed out how countless sorcerers found themselves embroiled in strife the world over, and they managed to prevail without Touma’s assistance, so he should feel no need to stick out his neck where it had no place.

Touma Kamijou was an amateur who did not belong on the battlefield. It was an environment suited for professionals. This was simply his first time witnessing an incident involving sorcerers that went beyond his capabilities as an individual.

So, he gave up and resigned to return home with Index.

But first, he had to grab some groceries for breakfast from a nearby convenience store. So, he told Stiyl to sneak Index back into Academy City, and he did just that, sporting a sardonic grin all the while.

When the duo were out of sight, Touma made a 180-degree turn and headed toward Agnese and Orsola. Perhaps Stiyl knew exactly what Touma was setting off to do. Regardless, the boy, deducing that the in-development Church of Orsola would be the natural fortress given the need to stay concealed from the public eye, returned to the battlefield.

This was just Touma Kamijou’s nature, and he laughed at himself for it.

He was untethered to any magical or religious organization, meaning the only way to save Orsola was through the hands of a naive amateur. He had no personal motive for battle, yet that notion in itself propelled him forward, all for the sake of protecting somebody else’s world.

In the Church of Orsola, the titular Sister was being tortured by the 250 surrounding nuns comprised of Agnese and her forces.

The violence was all physical, and while all the strikes toward Orsola’s body were light, the sheer number was enough to force her to death’s door.

In the midst of her torture, as Agnese gloated over their success and encouraged Orsola to seek the death penalty, the battered nun wondered why circumstances had to be what they were. She wondered why Touma and his allies handed her off to Agnese of all people.

She feared that everything the boy told her was a lie. Yet, in a twist of fate, the maniacal Agnese revealed that it was all deception on their part. The trickery was all too easy to pull off.

Still, Orsola was relieved. The beauty of that pure-hearted effort helmed by Touma and the others shone strikingly. If she died here, she couldn’t curse them, even if their actions led her to this point. She felt blessed to have met people who sought to save her without any obligational allegiances. They only did so of their own will. Orsola was ready to accept her death after witnessing such a miracle.

Agnese was revolted by Orsola’s shift in attitude from distressed to slight delight, but before any more disastrous action could be taken, a familiar boy stormed the scene, destroying the magic barrier encompassing the church with no effort.

He opened the doors leading into the entrance that currently served as a torture chamber. In the face of this army of nuns, who all possessed magical aptitude to varying extents, he moved forward resolutely, without hesitation.

Everyone else in the room was momentarily taken aback, and Agnese, in a fever of fury, asked what in the hell he was intending to do all by himself against this vast group. She scoffed at his obvious answer and gave him one chance to flee. Yet, in response, he ran forward and punched Agnese. He lacked indecision and hesitation.

Touma Kamijou was back in his prime.

Despite the impossible odds stacked against him, Touma stood firm, ready to do battle against the army of nuns before him. But before the clash could occur, the flame magician, Stiyl Magnus, appeared on the scene, much to the bafflement of everyone else in the room.

The query of why the English Puritans would involve themselves in a dispute outside their trajectory was immediately deflated as Stiyl pointed out the silver cross that hung around Orsola’s neck.

The English Puritan cross signaling that upon her wearing that necklace, Orsola had been baptized under their protection. Laura Stuart prepared this item in advance, and it ended up working out splendidly. Regardless of the sophistry this circumstance consisted of; no one could deny that the status of Orsola’s ordained allegiances was in question and required official deliberation.

It was then that the Amakusa and Index appeared on the scene. They had initially intended to deceive Touma to leave the fighting up to them so he wouldn’t get involved, but this was Touma Kamijou. Such efforts were futile.

An enraged Agnese commanded her army to kill these trespassers, and it was with that declaration that the final battle truly began.

Kaori and Tsuchimikado watched the exchange from afar, and the former was glad at the path the Amakusa took. She just wanted to clarify her true intentions, to let the Amakusa know that they would still remain the Amakusa whether she was present.

Touma Kamijou grabbed Orsola and fled as quickly as possible with cooperation from the Amakusa. He aimed to provide first aid to Orsola, though looking at the state of her injuries only enlarged his anger toward the one responsible, Agnese Sanctis.

Stiyl, Tatemiya, and the others had their hands full with the nuns. However, Index used an ace up her sleeve. A spell contained within her grimoires that served to…

“…denounce the contradictions in Crossism and its teachings. The voice of magic’s bane—Sheol Fear. For those working under the Crossist operating system, the contradictions in their faith are like security holes. Sheol Fear, which pierces precisely through them, is truly their bane. It causes the hearer’s personality to fall apart like a jigsaw puzzle.”

It was a technique with heavy constraints, as it only worked on homogenous groups with similar mentalities, but that also meant it was ideal for this moment. Alas, it was short-lived. In a show of monstrous faith, every nun, save for Agnese, Lucia, and Angelene, who were in hiding, struck the tips of ballpoint pens into their ears to tear out their eardrums to cancel out the effects of Sheol Fear.

The core group reunited with Touma and Orsola hiding nearby, pondering their next action.

Touma and Index considered using the Book of the Law, with Orsola decoding it via Index’s perfect memorization of the text. Still, that would put an even bigger target on Index’s back, which Stiyl wasted no time pointing out.

Plus, when Orsola tried to tell Index the method of decoding the Book of the Law, the silver Sister quickly realized that Orsola could not do so. She only knew a dummy answer.

Index elucidated the contrived and incessant dummy answers that littered the text, emphasizing the Book of the Law’s characteristics of impossibility. Orsola’s worldview shattered at this revelation, though a dim light now shone because of it. Perhaps the Agense Forces wouldn’t bother anymore since Orsola lacked the knowledge? Alas, that was naive. They were all too far in and too far gone.

The nuns charged for another attack, leaving Touma’s allies to fend them off as best as they could while he took on the burden of facing off against the commander, Agnese Sanctic, by himself. She was confident, and rightly so, given his inexperience. She also believed he tricked his allies into battling her forces to ensure his own survival. Of course, that wasn’t the case, as Touma pointed out. Her lack of faith in others contrasted with Touma’s belief in his friends.

The duel began, and it was immediately in Agnese’s favor. She utilized a special technique with her staff where, whenever it was struck, its damage would occur elsewhere, somewhat akin to spatial translocation. The severity of the strike, the tool used to perform the strike, and the direction of impact all seemed to matter as well.

Still, her advantage was short-lived. After being struck multiple times, Touma began to understand the minute gap between her staff strikes affecting him directly. At that point, it was just a matter of deciphering where her next attack would land, just in time to counter with Imagine Breaker.

And counter he did, much to the utter bafflement of Agnese. Her attack was negated entirely, and Touma moved forward. Even with a last-ditch counter that struck Touma’s head, she almost fell before his ambition.

Her mind flashed back to her youth, where she, an orphan, scrounged the garbage for leftovers and roaches she could eat for sustenance. Using those memories as fuel, she stood back up, with determination still coating her.

They noticed that the noises of battle outside ceased, making Agnese assume that the Amakusa and English Puritans were defeated. However, that was far from the truth. Touma Kamijou stated her illusion was now broken.

The doors of the chamber behind them burst open. Tatemiya, Stiyl, Index, and several of the Amakusa arrived on the scene. And behind them all was a familiar yet far more menacing figure — Innocentius.

The Witch-Hunter King was far grander than ever before, thanks to the efforts of the Amakusa. They converted the entirety of the Church of Orsola into a gargantuan magic circle utilizing four thousand three hundred cards.

Naturally, this caused Agnese’s forces to hesitate. Yet, there was a clincher here. The nuns were all united under one mental banner with a collective allegiance that made their outweighing numbers against the Amakusa even more threatening. However, it was all dependent on faith. And faith could be swayed. There was doubt in the air.

All of this meant that the encounter was, for all intents and purposes, still one on one. Touma Kamijou and Agnese Sanctis had to defeat the other by themselves to shift the group psychology in their favor. If Touma relied on his allies here, it would showcase inferiority that would push the nuns’ faith toward Agnese. At the same time, if Agnese relied on her forces right here and now, it would emphasize desperation unbefitting of a leader.

In a room of over 300 people, only two had to fight.

Realistically, the ball should’ve been in Agnese’s court, but it was undeniably in Touma Kamijou’s.

Agnese was overthinking her potential moves while Touma stood tall, having complete faith in his right hand and the allies by his side. As he put it, her “illusion of confidence” was long since destroyed.

The bout was decided in one decisive clash where Touma Kamijou punched Agnese, causing the defeated party to sink to the ground. At that outcome, the mentality encompassing the nuns teetered over the edge in the pool of Touma and his allies. With his one punch, over 200 nuns fell.

And it was then that the battle to rescue Orsola Aquinas finally concluded.

In typical Touma Kamijou fashion, he collapsed after the fact and was brought to what was essentially now his personal room in that ever-familiar Academy City hospital.

Kaori Kanzaki was beside him when he awoke, and the two conversed. Silliness aside, she revealed the new status quo for everyone involved. Orsola and the Amakusa main force were now all part of the English Puritan Church to cease potential vengeance plots by the Roman Orthodoxy. And thankfully, Orsola would be safe since her lack of knowledge in decoding the Book of the Law was now public knowledge in the magic world.

Then, after a comedic shouting match with Tsuchimikado and her regarding how in the world she would repay Touma for all he’s done for her when accounting for everything he’s been wrapped up in, he simplified matters.

He told her such repayment was unnecessary because all he wanted to do was help others. Even if Agnese asked for aid, he’d probably help her. There was no rule saying someone had to remain an antagonist.

Kaori smiled, yet was concerned by the absurdly simple philosophy guiding Touma Kamijou’s character that would never change.

At the same time, Stiyl and Laura Stuart conversed in England, and the former grew ever more cautious of the latter.

Laura Stuart was morally gray in the most perfect sense. She dealt good and evil in equal measure, so Stiyl could never gauge her true intentions. He couldn’t figure out why she decided to house Orsola when her inability to decode the Book of the Law meant she would no longer be pursued.

What frightened him, though, was how calculated the Amakusa treatment was. Their joining the English Puritan Church was partially done to tame Kaori, who could’ve betrayed the English Puritans for the Amakusa if she was ever pushed to that edge.

Laura Stuart was a terrific yet terrifying leader. When reflecting on the horrid methods she instilled into Index’s forced memory erasure, it only emphasized her prowess at manipulation.

“No one was more used to tinkering with all of the scales deciding a person’s sense of values—their emotions, their reason, their sense of profits and losses, their ethics—than she. It bolstered the caution Stiyl felt toward her once again, but he was well aware there was nothing he could do about it. If he were careless, Laura wouldn’t flinch to give punishment—not to Stiyl, but to Index. That’s the kind of person she was.”

So this volume is the first full arc covered in the second season of the Magical Index anime adaption, and it’s honestly far better than I remember.

While the build-up to the crux of the conflict takes a while to get going, the outcome is genuinely immaculate. The true darkness of the magic side being clearly illustrated with no filter is emphasized, and it’s all done brilliantly. Plus, the core characterization of Touma is challenged but ceremoniously prevails. In fact, I’d argue that this volume, beyond every other we’ve read, highlights the values guiding Touma as a person most effectively.

Touma Kamijou is, as I’ve said before, a truly terrifying human being. He does not look out for himself in any way, and his self-perception relies on lying to himself and saving others. That clash against Agnese alone in the Chruch of Orsola puts that facet of his character in full view.

And to be entirely candid, that scene of him confronting Agnese and her army of nuns all by himself may very well be my favorite moment in my revisit of the series so far. The sheer degree of build-up just crescendos with overwhelming hype.

Agnese is, I think, one of the more underrated characters of the franchise. This volume does suffer from not delving into her backstory quite enough, but it highlights a tragic cyclical pretense where some only ever use religion as a justification to further one’s ego. And perhaps more saddening is how that cycle is perpetuated by victims pushing along that agenda without consciously realizing it.

Agnese scorned other sorcerers who utilized underhanded religious interpretations to achieve their goals, but she wasn’t much different. Her hypocritical, duplicitous nature was pretty impressive to witness unfold, and her briefly revealed childhood as an orphan instilled humanity within it all.

Then, there’s the matters of Laura Stuart’s true agenda and the history of one Aleister Crowley. These two leaders are key players, so it’s worth always keeping them in the back of your mind. Further, certain terms used to describe Crowley’s past in this volume are particularly vital to remember.

Next time, we’ll be heading back to the science side and to Tokiwadai specifically for an incident where the teleporter friend of a certain electromaster finds herself in over her head.


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Orpheus Joshua

Random gamer equally confused by the mainstream and the unusual.