20. Deciphering

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“Hmm, it’s rather dark.”

It has been around 30 minutes since Julia-kaasan went out to gather information.
When the sun had completely set, I produced a small light at my fingertips using ∩ (light) and sprinted inside the forest, arriving at the river where voice-kun disappeared.

The river was around 5 metres wide. The width was approximately the same as that of the moat at Ranzrack fortress
The water was so clear that when I brought the light at my fingertip towards it, I could see the fish swimming at the bottom of the river.
I’d like to make some grilled fish, but I’ll save it for another time.

I drew ♭ three times and leapt over the river.
I used one of the ♭ the instant I leapt, and another for the moment of landing. The final one was prepared in case of an accident.
I also practiced with it many times in the courtyard at the estate, but using it freely in such a vast space felt good.

I skipped along the riverside, heading upstream, and a fence came within sight after about 10 minutes.
The width of the river narrowed by about half, but contained many bends instead.
On the edge of that river was an unnaturally open space.
It was a round area with a diameter of about 5 metres, and my first impression was that it was like an open court.

Surrounding the centre of that clearing was the wooden fence that the village chief told us about.
Rather than a wooden fence, numerous wooden planks were driven into the ground and tied together with rope.
Through a gap in the wooden fence, I tossed a ∩ into the middle of the fenced area.

“……Heh.”

On the ground, a design that was neither character nor picture was indeed drawn.
The design was quite complex.
The pattern contained approximately 30 small patterns, and they were lined up in order.
I don’t know the significance of the small patterns in detail, but several of the patterns were duplicated.

……Or rather, aren’t these sentences?

“Magic symbols? No, that’s wrong…..”

In Marquekt, there’s a common tongue.
That’s because the magic symbols that are used to invoke magic are utilised as general letters.
Since there is a common skill with the name of magic, at least in regards to characters, it’s easy to use magic symbols.
Thus, even if the spoken language is somewhat accented, in terms of the characters, the magic symbols should be used worldwide.

In short, characters with the exception of magic symbols do not exist in Marquekt.

“Wait….. Other characters……”

In a hurry, I open the 『Abaddon Magic Compilation』 that I was carrying in my arms.

“There it is, Ancient magic symbols.”

Ancient Magic Symbols.
They are the powerful and yet delicate magic symbols used more than a millennium ago, the origins of the current magic symbols.
The current magic symbols were more concise so they were manageable for everyone, but these ancient magic symbols seemed to be vastly superior to the current magic symbols in terms of power.
But then, apparently they had been too hard to control and were passed down in error, and only the magic symbols after simplification were currently circulated.
It seems that Abaddon had also investigated the ancient magic symbols in-depth, but it’s stated that he couldn’t understand very much.

However, Abaddon reproduced fragments of the ancient magic symbols he discovered in historic ruins beside the ancient magic symbols article.

While suppressing my excitement, I compare the patterns before me to the reproduction in the book but――

“Hmm? Is it different, maybe?”

The impression I got was that if the reproduced ancient magic symbols were printed kanji, the patterns before my eyes would be written in a girl’s rounded handwriting.
Decorations were added here and there, and it was hard to specify the original text.

“……For the time being, let’s transcribe it and return.”

I copy down the design within the fence into my notebook and return to the village after confirming there were no mistakes.

◇◆◇◆◇◆◇◆

Midnight――

Taking care not to wake my happily sleeping mother beside me, I got out of bed.
In the shadow of the desk, I use ∩ after lowering its intensity and gaze at the transcribed pattern many times.

However,

“……I don’t get it.”

Due to having no mental fatigue thanks to the effects of [No Fatigue], I was able to continue deliberating for many hours.
But no matter how much I thought, I didn’t understand what I didn’t understand.
Since it’s not like my intelligence improved.

There’s the tale of the US armed forces deciphering the Japanese army’s codes during the Pacific War, but I suppose they were able to decipher them by gathering world-leading mathematicians with brains and newly-built computers.
Something like cryptography might be impossible for me, an amateur.

“Eei”

My not being that smart wasn’t something that started just now.
What was my forte?

Right, it’s simple work!

I spread out my notebook under the desk and tried to write down those transcribed patterns on it over and over.

10 times, 20 times……

My hand did not tire as I don’t tire physically, but my muscles ache when I overdo it.
While taking a break occasionally, 30 times, 40 times……

Somehow I grasped the writing method.

I felt as though I grasped the pen’s natural route and the stroke order.

50 times, 60 times……

Soon I was able to write the characters even without looking at the transcribed pattern.

Afterwards, a further 70 times, 80 times……

Suddenly, I felt the mana inside my body move when writing the characters.
However, the mana dispersed when I directed my attention to it.

90 times.
My mana is moving again.
Somehow it seems like my mana is moving along a specific passage.
Despite this, my mana ends up dispersing as soon as I proceed onto the next character.
Nevertheless, I grasped the sensation.

And then, the 100th time.
The moving mana takes shape.
This is――

*fwoosh*……!

Crap, it’s a fire!

“π!”

Ah, that was dangerous.

The notebook was burned and became sopping wet, but the situation of producing a small fire in someone else’s home was avoided anyhow.

……Ah, there’s a burn on the floor as well.

……It won’t be discovered if I keep quiet, right?

I understood here that this pattern was of magic symbols in any case.

Whilst writing over and over, I remember the character forms, and from the faint movement of mana, I became able to imagine the effects of those characters in my subconscious.

These ancient magic symbol-like characters were more complex than the current magic symbols, and yet they seemed to hold different traits.

These characters were also pictures.

It was easy to understand for me who was a Japanese person, the ancient magic symbols were hieroglyphs derived from pictures like the Egyptian runes and Chinese characters.
They were most likely simplified accordingly through the passage of times and became the current magic symbols that were similar to an alphabet.

Hence, even though I did nothing but tracing the character forms, the image of the spells that could be invoked gradually permeated into my brain.

Well, I never thought that I’d be able to invoke real magic though……

For the moment, I dry the wet notebook using the original magic I secretly practiced, “卜λ――《Dryer 》.”
The pages ended up a little stiff, but it couldn’t be helped.
Fortunately, I had almost reached the end thanks to my transcribing a hundred times.

It was dangerous to do any more experimenting indoors, so I quietly sneaked out of the bedroom and exited out into the village chief’s back yard.

And then, this time I etched the pattern on the ground with a handy twig.

For the time being, I will also do this 100 times.

I use ∃ to dispel the magic before it is invoked, prioritising the comprehension of the complete pattern.

――Now then, it’s straightforward work so let me get to it.

◇◆◇◆◇◆◇◆

When the night started to grow lighter, I finally grasped the full pattern.

It was a considerably interesting result.

Firstly, this pattern has a mix of valid and invalid components.

It’s the same with the current magic symbols but when multiple symbols are invoked, there are characters that can go together and those that can’t.

Even in this pattern, components that form spells when combined, and components that can’t combine are mixed together.

I don’t believe that the person who drew the pattern made a mistake.
Because it doesn’t seem likely for a being who knows the ancient magic symbols to make such a rudimentary mistake.

In other words, there’s a high possibility that these components that don’t form spells have been intentionally inserted.

Secondly, the matter of whether these characters can be read in a sentence, assuming that they are magic symbols.

From the conclusion, it doesn’t seem possible.

I tried invoking the ancient magic symbols in practice, determining the corresponding current magic symbols with the same effects and replacing them.
However, the ‘composition’ formed by doing that was nothing but gibberish.

But, somehow this incomprehensibleness of meanings was ‘fishy’.

That out-of-place miscommunication as though the existing words were replaced with several characters apiece.

From the above facts, a certain conviction of mine was deepened.

That was,

――This is a code.

These valid components and invalid components.

Comprehensible and incomprehensible words.

I recall often solving such cryptograms when I enrolled in primary school.
Cryptograms like the ‘tanuki code’.

Since it is a code, there should be a rule to solving it, just like the ‘tanuki code’.

And the hints for clarifying the rule are all present.
Perhaps, if I remove the invalid components for magic, the remaining components will form words based on some sort of rule.
That should be fine.

There is no doubt that there is a message in here, even if it is in code.
Since there is a message, there is someone who composed it, and there is someone whom the writer intended for to receive.

To put it simply, this is something that someone addressed to someone else.
The writer is someone who possesses knowledge of the ancient magic symbols. For now, it should be fine to assume it’s a faery.

In that case, who was this composed for?
A person who possesses knowledge on the combining of magic symbols and can decipher the ancient magic symbols.
There’s also the possibility of it being a private message to a fellow faery, but if it was just that then there would be no need for such a troublesome code.

Just from my intuition, I think it’s not that.

――This is a written challenge addressed to humans who are well-informed about magic.

Faeries are good-natured beings, but they are also known for being mischievous.
Leaving a code in a noticeable place for a person with too much free time is indeed something that they might do.

“But in that case――”

That means the faeries are unrelated to the spiriting away of Boyce-kun.
It’s true that there is the possibility that they abducted a child to have their code solved, but that would surely exceed the scope of a ‘prank’.

But then, just who abducted Boyce-kun?

 

In order to find out the answer to that, I tackled the cryptography.

――And, I somehow managed to finish solving the code before breakfast was ready.


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28 thoughts on “20. Deciphering

      1. “My lack of intelligence wasn’t something that started just now.”
        or
        “Me not being smart wasn’t something that started just now.”
        might work
        I prefer the first one.

        Like

    1. There are just different standard learning methods in other countries, the CNs say that all children are taught some classic poems to help them with grammar, it’s probably like that, cryptograms for basic grammar or kanji practice.

      Liked by 2 people

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