“About the item for appraisal I turned in beforehand…”
Chief Researcher Samantha lifted up a vinyl bag on her black desk. In it was the evidence I submitted at the receptions window of police headquarters.
“First, about this film camera. It’s been mostly destroyed, rendering it impossible to use. If serviced, we may be able to restore it. What do you want to do?”
“No, I’m fine.”
I gave a courteous refusal. It’s not as if I submitted it for appraisal because I wanted the camera serviced.
“Is that so. Then I’ll start with reporting the appraisal results on this film camera.”
“Wait, the appraisal’s already done?”
I was surprised. Not much time had passed since I submitted the evidence to the receptions desk.
“If it’s just a simple test, it doesn’t take much time,” she shoved her hands into the pockets of her lab coat, sending sleepy eyes my way. “If you want more detailed results, you’ll have to wait a week, but… in that case you won’t make it for the trial. Do you mind?”
“No, the fast one, please.”
I gave a bitter smile. While she didn’t look like she thought anything of others at all, it seems she was thinking about her surroundings in her own way.
“I see. Then to get right to it… miniscule as it may be, magic particles were detected from the camera.”
“Yes, miniscule. It’s nothing rare. Whether it be miniscule or small, magic use doesn’t have that large of an influence. And from what I’ve heard, even if it exploded, it was only a small one.”
… That’s not true, it was amazing, cried Jessica, but I ignored her.
“But what bothers me more are the particles left on the film rather than the camera. The arrangement pattern on it did not match the magic particle pattern found on the camera.”
I’m sure both me and Jessica were making incomprehensive faces. Samantha made a single deep sigh. “Meaning,” she continued on.
“When the camera exploded, there are traces a different magic apart from the explosion was used on the camera film, is how it is.”
After leaving her beaker on the desk, she walked up close to the white board, took a blue pen in hand, and began writing something.
“By the way, if you’re studying, I recommend blue pens over red pens. It lets you establish the memories faster.”
Samantha turned her face away from the white board once, suddenly saying something without any coherence to the matter at hand.
… Perhaps that was a joke? Should I laugh.
As I was mulling over something, Samantha wrote a simple, large ‘A + B’ and ‘B + C’ over the white board.
“The actual formulas are much more complicated, but let’s just use this for simple explanations. If A + B is the magic arrangement pattern of explosive magic, the pattern left on the film would be B + C.”
“So we have to solve for unknowns?”
“Take it like that if you want. In this case, B would be the characteristics of the person, or perhaps thing that cast the magic.”
“Ah, um, meaning while the type of magic used was different, the user was the same?”
“As is so. What we can isolate in magic parsing is the type of magic, and the object that used it. However, all we can see of either is just the pattern itself, and we can only make conjecture towards what sort of magic or individual it was.”
“What sort of conjecture?”
Samantha moved from the white board, placing her hand on the only clean thing on her desk, a desktop PC.
“This computer contains all the arrangement samples the police have collected to this point. If we find a match among them, that would likely be the identity of the detected magic particles.”
Interesting, I thought. Jessica was probably confused.
“Among magicians, there are some who intentionally rearrange their codes and use their original magics. But once they go that far, you can say it’s within the realm of god. Any magic a standard magician can use exists within this database.”
“Especially,” she continued on, “the arrangement pattern of magicians and witches who committed crimes in the past; they’re all stored here. You can think we can catch them with almost perfect certainty on their second offense.”
I put my question to words. “So what about the pattern left on the camera?”
“Of course, there was one. First off, the magic that blew up the camera. That one was standard explosion magic. An explosive magic that destroys a specific something if it meets a certain set condition, and it’s even used from time to time today.”
“It can be used even without a caster?”
“If there’s the right magic weapon for the job. But that’s impossible in our country. The laws are regulating it. But in countries with loose regulations, even a civilian can obtain a magic weapon capable of casting it.”
The Dark Forest was no-man’s land. So if someone had set a magic weapon in that house, blowing up the camera would be possible, is how it looks.
“But that can’t be said for the other magic.”
Samantha pinched another vinyl bag, one filled with the film, between her fingers.
“A special magic to interfere with the taking of photographs was used on this film. Regardless of whether or not the camera exploded, it is impossible to take any pictures on this film.”
“Really!? That’s good, then it wasn’t my fault I couldn’t photograph anything, right?”
Jessica looked relieved. So I had to say it.
“That’s right, it was all because of magic. Of course, I do hope you using up all the spare film was because of magic as well.”
“Urk… Processor, I think a sleep magic was cast on me. For a while now, I’ve just been getting sleepier and sleepier and… Zzz.”
I hit her forehead. It made a louder sound than I expected. “Ow! That hurts!”
“A magic on the young lady? By all means, let me dissect her.”
“Um, more importantly, I’d like to hear the rest.”
As Jessica’s face turned pale at the sudden request, I urged Samantha on.
“Eh? Oh, the film, right. When I looked into the magic particle pattern detected on it, it matched a magic that was popular a while ago.”
“Hmm, and how long would that while be?”
“Let’s see. Probably around fifty years?”
… Hm? Is it a coincidence? That’s right when the demon lord died.
“Since the scientific revolution a hundred years ago, the world’s flow turned to emphasize science over magic. Magic was definitely useful and convenient, but only a fraction of people could use it. Science was different. It was mass produced so even the powerless could apply it, with various industrial goods ushering in the decline of magic, while simultaneously contributing to a greater development of humanity.”
… The public demanded greater convenience.
“To people who couldn’t use it, magic was considered unnecessary. More than that, the mass-produced goods anyone could use held more value. But if that’s how it was going to be, there were people who were greatly troubled. Of course, the magicians.”
“If science advances, the magicians are troubled?”
Jessica asked with a blank expression. Samantha answered, “Of course.”
“The reason magicians were revered was because they possessed a special power unknown to the common man. But alongside the development of technology, the value of magic decreased. Things without a demand will eventually be discarded. Around that time, a magic to oppose technology was born.”
… And this is one of the magics born in that process, Samantha pointed at the film.
“The magic used on this film simply emits x-ray radiation to render film unusable, a completely unnecessary magic to our everyday lives. But it was just the right magic to disrupt the development of science. Alongside the start of scientific revolution, many such magics were born en masse.”
… The once symbols of glory resort to such a thing, they weren’t even a shadow of their former selves. They were a selfish bunch, Samantha answered, her words mingled with a sigh.