Chapter 1: A Bomb, a Book, and a Grey Town – Part 2

They went out of the main street into an alley.

A variety of shops lined up both sides of the narrow road.

Rye breads were displayed at the front of a bakery and old clothes and wooden shoes for the workers in the mountain were piled in front of a clothing store.

A small tavern offered things like soup and baked potatoes for the men who dug out Books. Many men there raised a commotion, stuffing their bellies while standing.

In front of them, peddlers were walking around with baskets, selling various items.

At the end of the road only beggars who couldn’t work at the mountains and playing children could be seen.

The three were aimlessly walking through this crowd.

“Hyoue, Colio.”

Said Relia who was walking in front.

“Have you ever read a Book?”

Colio didn’t say anything. It was Hyoue who answered.

“No.”

“Me neither.”

Relia said this as he continued walking. Colio and Hyoue followed from behind.

“But, you might have read one long ago.”

“I might have, but I don’t know about it.”

Hyoue shook his head. Colio hadn’t said anything, but he thought the same as Hyoue. He had memories of only the past half year.

He woke up in the dark stone room, found out that he was a bomb, and learned that a bomb cannot gain happiness. Then, he came to this town the day before yesterday so he could kill Hamyuts Meseta.

He would kill Hamyuts in this town. Colio had nothing other than that goal. He met up with Relia and Hyoue on the train headed here.

“Hey, shall we chat for a bit?”

Relia suddenly said.

“…Huh?”

Colio replied.

“If we just shut up while walking, it would seem strange.”

“…That might be true.”

Colio looked around. Right now, he felt no signs of any people walking around town watching them.

But it might be bad for them to appear suspicious.

However, he couldn’t find a conversation topic. Killing Hamyuts Meseta – that was the only thing Colio knew of.

“What should we talk about?”

Colio asked, and Relia answered.

“Let’s talk about the Gods.”

“The Gods?”

“I heard a story about the Gods some time.”

Relia said this with a nostalgic tone.

“When was that?”

Hyoue asked.

“I don’t know. It was probably long ago.”

“Do you have memories which were not erased?”

Colio and Relia were surprised. Relia said while looking back,

“Don’t you have any?”

“…I don’t.”

Hyoue said.

“Me neither.”

Colio answered.

“…I see.”

Relia’s face looked a bit lonely, but he didn’t say anything more about that.

“Anyway, let’s chat. So we can kill Hamyuts.”

Said Colio.

“Right… where should I start from?”

Relia thought for a bit, and then started talking.

“I also forgot almost everything. Like where and when I’ve heard this.

I just still have some of my knowledge.

A long time ago, the Overseer of the Beginning and the End appeared in this world.

First, the Overseer of the Beginning and the End had used the chaos to create the sky, earth, and sea. This took about a million years.

Next, by molding the remaining chaos, he created animals and plants. This took about a hundred thousand years.

Then, by processing the remaining chaos, he created humans. This took ten thousand years.

At last, he cut his own body and created three separate Gods.”

Relia kept talking. Hyoue and Colio listened without saying anything.

“The three Gods were entrusted with roles by the Overseer of the Beginning and the End. They divided the world into three parts, one for each.

The three were the Overseer of Those Yet to Come – Orntorra, the Overseer of Those Who Exist – Toitorra, and the Overseer of Those Who Have Passed – Bantorra.

The Overseer of the Beginning and the End left the world to the three new Overseers, and went into a long, long slumber. This was the birth of our world.”

Relia continued the story.

“Past God Bantorra was left to oversee and record all the doings of humans.

For this purpose, Bantorra created a library. So that people wouldn’t just enter it, he dug out an underground labyrinth and placed the library there.

That library remains even now, and is still active. It is the library known as Bantorra Library.

Then, Bantorra created the Books that would go inside.

Bantorra collected the souls of dead humans, and buried them underground. When souls are buried, they naturally lose their life force. And when their life force is depleted, the souls become fossilized.

The fossilized souls contain the entire memories of their owner. By touching the fossil, one can relive those memories.

Bantorra left the task of excavating Books to his Angel Librarians.”

As Relia told this, a man who carried a basket full of Books passed next to him. It seemed that those were freshly excavated Books, as they were covered in dirt.

“Long ago, that time when Gods ruled men, was the Age of Paradise.

During the Age of Paradise there were no wars, no poverty nor crime – it was peaceful.

But, due to various incidents, the Gods were no longer next to men.

The overseeing of the world was left to the humans, and the Gods left this earth.

Out of the three overseeing Gods, the Past God Bantorra was sealed in the Director Room of the Library and never came out.

Therefore Bantorra entrusted the management of the Library to humans.

Since then, excavating “Books” and managing the Library became the work of humans.

The people Bantorra left the Library for became known as Armed Librarians.”

“…Oh, I know that.”

Hyoue said.

“To enter the Library’s labyrinth you need to defeat the beasts protecting it, so Armed Librarians must possess extraordinary fighting ability besides having historical knowledge.”

The most difficult profession to acquire in the world is an Armed Librarian.

Among the many Armed Librarians, the most powerful one becomes the Acting Director of Bantorra Library.

The both of you know her. It’s Hamyuts Meseta.”

Colio also knew about Hamyuts Meseta.

Throughout history only four women had occupied this world-leading post. Among the world’s strongest warriors, she was the world’s strongest killer.

“I know about this, Relia.”

Hyoue said.

“I wonder why I know. I have no idea.”

“You don’t remember?”

“Yes. Because I’ve lost almost all of my memories.”

“Why do you remember just that?”

“I don’t know.”

Relia tilted his head. Colio who was silent until now opened his mouth.

“It’s fine.”

“…”

“More important than that, let’s kill Hamyuts Meseta.”

“…Right.”

By saying that, chat time was over. After that, nobody said anything.

Colio was slightly envious of Relia who kept a little of his memories.

But, even if he were to remember something, it wouldn’t help him kill Hamyuts. Since they existed only to kill Hamyuts Meseta, Relia was probably defective.

Thinking this, his gloominess cleared up a bit. His feelings were once again focused on killing Hamyuts Meseta.

 

Suddenly…

“You fellows have an interest in Books? You were talking about the Gods now.”

A voice called out to the three while they were walking.

It was a man at the end of the alley who spread out a cloth sheet on the ground. On top of the sheet dusty Books were arranged. Right now, that bearded man was beckoning towards Colio and the rest.

A Book seller.

“Won’t you have a look? It’s cheap.”

Said the Book seller. Colio stopped in his tracks.

It was the first time he had seen a Book.

Its appearance was like a small stone plate that could almost fit in his hand. The entire thing was a rectangle. But the “Books” offered here were missing parts, split apart or in little pieces.

“Come, come and see. These Books were excavated just yesterday. All of them are valuable.

You can enjoy them yourselves, or make a killing by selling them to the Library.

Come, come everyone, these are all first-class sealed goods.”

The buying and selling of Books was prohibited, but it seemed the Book seller didn’t care. He raised his voice towards the three.

“You fellows there who dress the same. Our Book store is for people just like you.”

Colio and the rest tried to move away. The illegal Book seller was probably trying to make some easy money.

The “Book” dealer stood up and came closer. It seemed he had targeted Colio who was walking behind.

“Here, small boy. How about this Book?

It’s a Book of one of the generals of the Imperial Age. I dug it out yesterday by my hands. I pulled out this little guy from the soil. If you think I’m trying to cheat you, have a look.”

Relia turned around and talked to Colio.

“Colio. Ignore him. Let’s go.”

“Okay.”

But the Book seller didn’t give up.

“Don’t say that, c’mon, have a look.

Or aren’t you interested in generals?

Then how about this one?”

The Book seller tugged on Colio’s clothes and showed him a Book. Colio turned to look at this Book held out by the man.

He didn’t know why.

For just a moment, a small moment, he felt his eyes drawn towards that Book.

At first, the Book looked as if it was a plate made of half-transparent glass. Its form was a sharp triangle. It was a small fragment of a Book that could fit in his palm.

“A broken Book can show you only a little, but in exchange it’s really cheap.”

“Colio. What are you doing? Let’s go.”

The half-transparent Book was colored like snow. For some reason, Colio had felt a strange warmness from it. For some reason, he thought of it as a precious thing.

“If you touch it you’ll be surprised. Here, what do you think? It’s a valuable Book of a princess from three hundred years ago.”

“Colio!”

Being told that, Colio turned around. He shook off the Book seller’s hand and ran towards Relia and Hyoue.

“Hey kid, don’t be so cruel to me.”

The man had chased him. Blood rose to Colio’s head.

Colio grabbed the knife inside his pants pocket.

He was a complete amateur in handling a knife, but Colio thought he could kill such an opponent easily.

Don’t hinder me. I must kill Hamyuts Meseta.

And just as he thought so and was about to draw the knife…

“Hey. Do you have a permit from the Library?”

A man who had walked by suddenly grabbed the Book seller’s hand.

It was a man about a head taller than the already somewhat tall Relia, so compared to Colio he didn’t seem like a human. That suited man had a huge gun hanging from his waist. Colio could see some crest engraved on the gun’s handle. The crest had the image of a lock.

“Yes, but I forgot it at home…”

“…Come with me.”

The big man easily lifted the Book seller.

“No, it’s true, really…”

The Book seller was attempting to bluff his way out of it, but the big man wouldn’t even listen. He put the man on his shoulder and walked to the main road.

While watching the big man’s back, Relia said.

“…That guy was an Armed Librarian.”

“Huh?”

“The bronze lock represents the past, and indicates the God’s agents. It’s the emblem of the Armed Librarians.”

“…You know a lot, Relia.”

Hyoue was surprised.

“But, it wasn’t Hamyuts Meseta, right?”

Asked Colio.

“Right. Hamyuts Meseta is a woman.”

“So, he’s irrelevant for us. We don’t any interest in anyone other than Hamyuts Meseta.”

Colio said. Relia still seemed to be thinking about something.

“Let’s go, Relia. We’ll kill Hamyuts Meseta.”

“Right. Let’s kill Hamyuts Meseta.”

“…Oh, fine.”

Once again, the three were lazily walking around.

 

After walking for a while, they passed the alleys.

From here on there we no stores or houses, just vacant lots on the outskirts of town. There was a wooden fence to signify the boundaries of the town. Scrap iron and wood, coals and cinders and all sorts of junk were cluttered around. Beyond this, there were only the grey mountains which continued endlessly.

“There’s nothing here.”

“Yeah.”

Saying this, the three stopped in their tracks, when suddenly a voice called from behind.

“Hahaha, you guys were in danger.”

The three turned around and saw the man talking to them.

It was a young man beaming with a natural smile. He held a wheelbarrow and came from the same direction as Colio and the rest. Inside the wheelbarrow was a mountain of bread, and next to it on a small barrel was a chunk of cheese with a knife stuck inside.

He seemed to be a bread seller. The wheelbarrow screeched as the young man drew closer to Colio’s group.

“You’re lucky. That old man always sells things no matter what. All the people of this neighborhood were his victims. Even though it’s not such a big deal.”

After saying this, the young man indicated the bread in his wheelbarrow.

“By the way, have you eaten lunch? My bread is delicious when freshly baked.”

The three looked at each other.

It certainly might have been the right time to eat their lunch.

The three leaned on the wood fence next to them. The young man pulled out the knife stuck in the cheese.

“Why do you three wear the same clothes?”

The young man said while inserting the knife into the bread.

He appeared to be around Relia’s age. It seemed he was a good-natured youth. He was probably working ever since he was little, since he seemed proficient in handling the bread and cheese.

“There’s no reason really.”

Relia said with a shrug.

One piece of bread with cheese cost one kirue. A glass of ginger ale also cost one kirue. Relia took out a crumpled note of ten Kirue from his wallet, and in turn received four Kirue in coins.

The young man took the knife and with his agile hands cut the bread and cheese.

After a short while he passed the breads to the three, as well as poured them some ale from the barrel despite them not having asked for it.

The three started eating without saying anything.

“Pretty good for the price.”

Relia said. It didn’t seem to be mere flattery.

Colio didn’t care. He just bit the bread and drank the ale.

“…Where’s Hamyuts Meseta?”

Colio murmured. It seemed the bread-selling man didn’t hear him.

“Hmm? Would you like some more ale? That would cost another kirue though.”

Colio stood up and said,

“Tell us where Hamyuts Meseta is.”

He approached him. The bread seller seemed surprised at his sudden strange words.

“Tell us.”

As Colio was about to take out his knife, Relia grabbed his arm from behind.

“Ah, sorry. This guy’s a bit strange.

Can you give me some more ale?”

“…Huh. Sure, thank you.”

The young man put the kirue coin into his pocket and curiously looked at Colio.

“And, can I ask you something?”

“I don’t mind.”

The man seemed puzzled. He was probably thinking they were all strange guys.

“Do you know where Hamyuts Meseta is?”

“Where Hamyuts Meseta is?”

The young man returned Relia’s question.

“Where she is… Since she’s the Director of the Library, isn’t she there?”

“At Bantorra Library?”

“Yes. Don’t you know this?”

Relia scratched his head.

“Ah, I see, that’s right.”

The young man quizzically stared at Relia.

“Umm… excuse me, but what did you guys come here for?”

“Just a little sightseeing.”

“In this sort of place?”

“We’ve been interested in it for a long time.”

“…Hmm.”

The man tilted his head. As Colio thought, he was getting suspicious.

“But, if you wanted to sightsee, you should have bought a Book from that old man. Books really are interesting.”

“Ah, if we feel like it, we’ll do it.”

“Yeah, long ago even I got tricked by that old man and bought a Book. And that Book…”

The man suddenly stopped talking.

“What’s wrong?”

“What do mean, what’s wrong?”

He raised his finger to point at Hyoue who sat next to Relia.

“What’s wrong with him?”

Colio saw that both the bread and cup of ale had fallen to the ground. Hyoue threw his meal away and scratched at his chest.

“Haa, aah, aah, haah…”

He was scratching at the bomb inside his chest. If the vacuum tube would crack, it would be the end of him.

“Hyoue, you…”

“R-R-Relia, I was eating, eating, then…”

Colio’s cup fell to the ground.

“Wait, s-save me, Relia, save me…”

Hyoue stood up and dragged his feet towards Relia.

Relia did not rush over to him. Instead, he turned around.

And he began running away with his back to Hyoue.

“Colio, escape, quickly!”

Relia cried, and Colio finally understood what was happening.

Colio threw away his bread and started running desperately, at full speed.

“You escape too!”

“Huh? Why?”

The bread seller alternated between Hyoue and Relia with a confused look.

Hyoue fell to his knees. He was trying to suppress the outside air from entering his vacuum tube by blocking the cracks with his fingers.

But a cracking sound could be heard from the vacuum tube that was under too much pressure.

“Relia, d-don’t go, R-Relia…”

“What’s wrong? You don’t look good…”

“Colio, run a-”

The voices of Relia, Hyoue and the bread seller were all swallowed by an explosive roar. Colio collapsed as if pushed from behind.

His shoulder hit the ground and he somehow avoided the explosion. He received the hailing hot soil with his back, desperately protecting the bomb in his chest.

“R-Relia…”

“Colio, are you fine?”

As he called for Colio, voice had returned to their surroundings. Relia lay face down on the ground in front of the explosion, so he seemed to avoid the blast.

Looking back, at the center of the blackened earth, some small embers were left. The wood they had been sitting on before was raising smoke.

The corpse lying next to it probably belonged to the bread seller. His head and arms were blown to pieces.

Hyoue couldn’t be seen anywhere. He became dust and vanished without a single trace remaining.

“…”

Colio watched this while absolutely stunned.

The alley started to become noisy. It seemed that people who heard the explosion were coming.

“Let’s run away, Colio.”

Colio and Relia ran in the opposite direction of the oncoming people. Since there were barely any people on this side, nobody had seen them.

After running a little, they started walking while trying to look innocent. Anyone running would appear suspicious, after all.

 

After walking for a while, the two stopped.

Relia turned and looked behind him. They were already far from the site of the explosion. People were walking through the main street as if nothing happened. They probably haven’t found out about the explosion yet.

“I wonder if we can relax here.”

Colio said. Relia didn’t say anything.

“What’s wrong, Relia?”

“Hey, what should we do?”

“About what?”

“What should we do? Should we cry? But I didn’t really know that guy enough to be crying for him. We’ve barely talked since we met.”

It was as Relia said. The three had met on their way to this town. There were only a few times they conversed with each other.

“What should we do, Colio?”

Colio thought for a bit, and then answered.

“Let’s kill Hamyuts Meseta.”

“Why should we do that?”

“Forget that guy. We’ll kill Hamyuts Meseta.”

Relia struck the wall with his fist.

“…You’re right, but…”

“It’s the same whatever we do. We’ll kill Hamyuts Meseta with this bomb in our chests, and die.”

“…That’s right, but!”

Relia struck the wall once more. It shook a little, and his fist became covered in blood.

“But…”

Relia went silent after saying this.

 

For a while, both Colio and Relia stood there without saying anything.

Some time had passed.

When the sky was starting to become red, Relia spoke.

“Hey, Colio. Have you ever wondered?”

“Wondered about what?”

“Don’t you want to know the reason?”

“The reason for what?”

“Why must we kill Hamyuts Meseta no matter what?”

Relia said while touching the bomb in his chest.

“I don’t know.”

Colio answered.

“Who were the ones who gave us this command? Who were the ones who took our memories and put bombs inside of us?”

“I have no idea. I’ll kill Hamyuts Meseta.”

“…But why…”

“I’ll kill Hamyuts Meseta.”

Relia’s face grimaced as he touched his chest.

“I’ll kill…”

“That’s enough.”

Relia finally went silent.

“I’ll kill Hamyuts Meseta.”

Relia didn’t reply.

“Let’s get back.”

Colio said. Relia started walking without saying anything.

 

Colio didn’t know why he needed to kill Hamyuts Meseta.

He also didn’t know who ordered him to kill her.

He also didn’t know whether they belonged to some organization.

But he didn’t wonder about that.

Colio thought it was fine.

He was proud of himself for being like that.

A bomb doesn’t question anything.

A bomb doesn’t have any curiosity.

When he’ll kill Hamyuts Meseta, he’ll die as well.

That was the meaning of being a bomb.

He thought of himself as a proper bomb, an excellent bomb.

I’m not a human.

I’m a bomb.

Colio lived while thinking only this.

 

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Chapter 1: A Bomb, a Book, and a Grey Town – Part 2

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