Colio was wandering around town. He kept walking throughout the entire night.
Where was he walking to up to now? Where was he heading to? His feet were tired and he had nothing. Colio sat down by the roadside.
As he did, a lone man came from the other side of the road and talked to him.
“Good morning, boy. Would you like a Book?”
It was the illegal Book seller.
“You want some Books, don’t you? Got some money?”
The man pulled out a Book from inside his clothes. It seemed like he had it in a hidden pocket.
“This one belongs to that lady with the strange hair. Do you want it? I set it aside for you.”
“Yesterday, some really scary lady with sandals came to me. She asked if I had Books.”
That was probably Hamyuts.
“But, I told her I don’t have any as far as I know. She was pretty insistent, but she ended up losing herself to my enthusiasm and backed off. That’s how I protected this Book. So how about it? It’s cheap.”
“I’ll buy it! Right now!”
Colio passed his wallet. The man took some money out of it and returned it to him.
Without even waiting for the man to leave, Colio opened the Book.
Her form immediately appeared before his eyes. That moment was utter bliss for him.
She appeared to be younger than he ever saw her before. Her body was delicate and she was shorter. She looked to be around Colio’s age right now.
She was sitting on the floor.
Wearing a red dress, she hugged her knees on the carpet while looking ahead.
A wide bed that looked like ten people could sleep in it inside a wide room. A soft carpet decorated by fruits that looked like one could sink into it.
Shiron took a rough breath. Her forehead was sweating and her makeup was running.
She was looking at a glass shard placed on the carpet.
She grabbed it and brought it straight to her throat,
It was stopped on the verge of hurting her. The trembling edge of the glass touched her windpipe.
Shiron took another breath. She stared at the ceiling while starting to bleed from the small wound on her throat. She moved the glass blade to her carotid artery, stroked her windpipe, and then poked the opposite side of her artery.
She stopped cutting, and after she did, she once again brought it to her throat.
“…ah, ah, aah…”
The glass knife fell on the carpet. Shiron’s red-gloved hands held her throat, and she kept taking heavy breaths while stunned like this.
“…I can’t do it.”
“I can’t I can’t I can’t I can’t I can’t I can’t I can’t I can’t I can’t I can’t…”
She kept muttering this while turning her empty stare to the ceiling.
At that moment a man opened the door without knocking, and entered. It was Wyzaf. He also looked considerably younger than in the Book Colio read before. But his arrogant face and the feigned politeness of his tone haven’t changed at all.
“I have good news, Shiron-sama.”
Shiron raised her sweaty and tired face.
“Is something the matter? Your face makes it look like another good thing happened.”
Shiron shook her head. Her face had dried up tears on it.
“I’ve seen the future again. It’s Dragon Pneumonia. Caused by your relic.”
Shiron said in a terribly despairing voice.
Wyzaf stroked his chin in interest.
“Those are good news. It seems that fortune awaits for the both of us.”
Shiron shook her head.
“…Let’s leave the formula for the future. If we don’t, it’s going to be bad. It’s going to be really bad.”
“That is splendid.”
“It’s not splendid at all. Even Big Sister is in danger. My Big Sister…”
“Please, did I do something wrong? Isn’t it fine? Please.”
Shiron prostrated on the floor, holding her head. While looking down at her, Wyzaf said,
“Oh, right. We have found the Memorial Weapon at the place you told us of. As you said, it was a thin sword shaped like a spider.”
Wyzaf opened the bundle he was holding. Inside it was what Colio had already seen countless times, the Ever-Laughing Magic Blade Shlamuffen.
“Wait, Shiron-sama. You said that it was called Ever-Laughing Magic Blade Shlamuffen, right? It is a splendid name.”
He placed it in front of Shiron, but she didn’t look at it.
“I can’t do it anymore.”
“…Oh my, what’s wrong?”
Wyzaf placed his hand around his ear and drew closer to Shiron.
“I can’t do it anymore, it’s too much for me.”
“Do what exactly?”
“I don’t want to see it anymore. People dying. Lots of them. By Dragon Pneumonia. We can actually save them, but they’re dying. Each time I activate my power I see lots of dying faces…”
“What happened to your promise? You said that if I told you about the cure we would save them.”
“We will save them. That’s obvious.”
“Please make the cure. We only have one year.”
“We can’t do that right now. It’s not profitable enough.”
“That’s not the problem…”
“But it is.”
Shiron shook her head. Wyzaf talked while grinning.
“You seem to not understand why you are living like this right now. Everything is thanks to Dragon Pneumonia.”
“No, I don’t want that.”
“So do you hate it? Do you wish to return collecting straws to use against the cold during the winter? Do you want to return eating maggot-ridden dog corpses?”
“You may return if you’d like. We already have plenty of money.”
“I can’t do it. I want to die. I want to die. I want to die…”
“Why is that?”
“This is all wrong. I’m not happy at all!”
Wyzaf shook his head as if saying ‘oh dear’.
“Young lady, listen well. This is happiness. You are simply confused because you did not adapt to it yet. Come on now, let us play together. Today I will give you some extraordinary medicine and prepare some entertainment. With this rarity that we acquired in southern countries, just one sniff will make you feel like you ascended to heaven.”
Wyzaf grabbed Shiron’s hand and helped her get up.
“Here, come with me. You will soon forget everything and feel much better.”
Shiron already lost all of her will for resisting and allowed herself to be led away by Wyzaf.
Don’t take her, don’t take Shiron – Colio thought to himself.
But he couldn’t do anything.
The Book ended there.
At the moment the Book ended and he got pulled back into reality…
“You really are a bad boy.”
In front of his eyes was Hamyuts. The same instant he opened his eyes, the Book was snatched from him.
“I’m confiscating it.”
Of course, he didn’t want to give it up. But he knew he couldn’t do anything against this kind of opponent. Compared to Hamyuts, he was as weak as a flea or a fly.
Colio thought he would rather die while resisting. It seemed like a good idea. He didn’t care about living anyway.
It would be far easier than staying alive like this.
She will surely squash him like a bug.
“No. If you want to die do it by yourself.”
Hamyuts said, seeing through him.
“Why didn’t you kill me?”
Hamyuts lightly answered.
“Did you want to save me?”
“Do you think I’ve saved you?”
“I didn’t think about saving you or about hurting you. I’m no angel or devil.”
Hamyuts stood up.
“Well, see ya.”
Hamyuts walked away in a fast pace. Colio remained alone again.
Colio wondered why he couldn’t enter the Book. He wanted to become a resident of that Book so he could meet her. He wanted to talk with her. He wanted to save her.
Thinking this, Colio kept sitting by the roadside.
There was nothing he could do.
He didn’t even have the energy to stand up.
“Hmm, so she also had some difficulties.”
Hamyuts said while walking, and put Shiron’s Book that she just finished reading inside her pocket.
Hamyuts already stopped thinking about Colio. For her it was simply one insignificant incident during the midst of battle. If Colio had the will and power to live, it would be fine with her if he lived. And if he didn’t, he would just die. It was as simple as that.
More important than that was the upcoming battle.
No matter where she was, it was a battlefield. It might have been peaceful without anything happening yet, but it was already a battlefield.
All the adults were busy with their work. There were the many working miners; mine carts that went to and fro the tracks; whistling steam locomotives; housewives who were washing clothes and attending to their houses; and children who were playing around all of those.
Even while there was some fear due to the recent bombing incidents, life continued on as usual.
Next to Hamyuts, children were playing with a tortoiseshell-colored cat using a stick with a caterpillar on it. Hamyuts carefully passed by them, prepared for any attack. However, for other people she looked like she was walking normally.
Hamyuts let out a single Sensory Thread from her fingertip. It was connected to a woman who stood further ahead in a nearby road.
That woman stopped and looked around her at passersby countless of times. As she passed the same road twice and then thrice, she seemed to be wary of someone tailing her.
If someone was tailing her in a normal way, it would have been enough to shake them off. Unfortunately, it couldn’t help her against Hamyuts.
Hamyuts estimated her destination and went there in a fast pace.
It was an abandoned house in the outskirts of town, after passing through the alleys.
On the roof of that house were four holes that indicated something had fallen through it.
Hamyuts entered that abandoned house and waited for the arrival of the woman.
She arrived outside after about five minutes, looked around her many times, and then entered inside.
“Hamyuts Meseta, I must kill Hamyuts Meseta…”
The woman was muttering this while walking.
And as she opened the rotting door,
She raised such a small cry and covered her mouth.
She stood trembling in the deserted house due to the smell of blood.
The woman took a few steps back while holding her mouth. When she opened the central door leading to the living room, the woman screamed once again.
Inside the room were four corpses of women.
They were the corpses of the bombs Hamyuts shot down from the mountains when she first came to Toatt Mining Town.
The woman collapsed when she saw those corpses.
Hamyuts could even feel her teeth violently clattering from the back of the room.
After waiting in the back of the room, she opened the door and called towards the collapsed and trembling woman.
“I’ve waited for you.”
The woman’s eyes opened wide in astonishment due to Hamyuts’s calm appearance.
“As I thought, you were the one behind this.”
Hamyuts said. That woman was the innkeeper of the place where Colio and the rest lodged.
Ever since she arrived at the inn, Hamyuts had been keeping tabs on her.
That woman, Cigal Crukessa’s subordinate who watched over the bombs, spoke in a trembling voice.
“That’s simple. You see, after I entered Colio’s room, you ran away at full speed.
Well, even without that I would have found out soon. When I came to visit it was like the place practically begged me to find it.”
After Hamyuts’s explanation, the woman resigned. Her trembling stopped.
And she took out a kitchen knife from her chest. Hamyuts didn’t react even though she saw it. An amateur handling cutlery didn’t scare her at all.
The innkeeper didn’t head for Hamyuts with that kitchen knife. She instead led it to the nape of her neck.
At that moment, Hamyuts’ finger moved. There was a dull sound as if she flicked the string of a cello. The woman held her wrist and the kitchen knife fell. It was a pebble Hamyuts flicked with her finger. Even without the sling, she could shoot with a force comparable to an ordinary handgun.
“You can’t selfishly die like that. You will only die after I make you talk about various things.”
The innkeeper muttered.
“I am going to Heaven. I will not go to that cold Library.
I didn’t manage to kill you, but the cult always held some compassion for me.
My Book will be by the side of God, so it serves you right!”
Saying this, the innkeeper bit her tongue.
Hamyuts didn’t try to help her as she convulsed with blood dripped from her mouth. She didn’t even finish her off. She just looked down at her in silence.
“There’s no such thing as Heaven.”
That voice held no anger, sadness, contempt or pity.
It just had a slight emptiness to it.
Hamyuts passed by the still convulsing body of the innkeeper and left the abandoned house.
After that, Hamyuts headed again for the inn Colio was in. He wasn’t there anymore. Since that place had no other customers other than Colio, it felt as if it turned into ruins in the matter of hours.
She opened a file cabinet inside this now ownerless inn. She only found guest books and accounting books inside, but without getting discouraged she checked them page by page.
While turning the pages of the guestbook and looking at the names inside, Hamyuts’s hand suddenly stopped. And she flipped to the previous page to confirm the facts. She noticed the same person had been staying inside the same room three times within two months. The room was next to the room Colio occupied. The name of the man was Fiboro.
Hamyuts headed for that room.
Using her Sensory Threads to poke around, she soon found what she was looking for.
One tile of the floor could be removed. A single piece of paper was hidden inside. Hamyuts took it.
“The death of Relia who was missing had been confirmed
Nothing abnormal with the others
Severance of contact with the Bohilin Company
Had been confirmed”
The handwriting definitely belonged to the innkeeper. It was probably a letter addressed to the man known as Fiboro.
She quickly found two clues.
That Cigal Crukessa guy didn’t seem too much of a problem – was what Hamyuts thought.
And at that moment, Hamyuts heard a voice inside her head.
‘Director, I have some messages.’
The voice she heard in her head was due to Mirepoc’s special skill, the ability of Thought Sharing. It was a Magic that allowed her freely sending her thoughts to other people while transcending the concept of space.
‘First, from me.
I have briefly explored the area around Toatt Mountains, but I can’t see any traces of people from around town having been here. If the enemies have some hideouts, I believe there’s a high chance they are inside the town.’
That’s true, Hamyuts thought. She already found out one such hideout.
He conducted the investigation at the station, but for now hadn’t found any suspicious persons. Since the investigation is still underway, I will contact you as soon as something is found.
From the Headquarters.
They are checking the archives for Books that belong to people from around Toatt Mining Town, but there are no results right now. Over.’
Hearing this much, Hamyuts took out a small disk-shaped stone bullet from the bag at her waist. She scribbled something on paper she found inside the inn and then folded it. The stone bullet had a lid and was hollow inside. It was a bullet meant for conveying messages.
Hamyuts got on the roof, and shot it towards Mirepoc with her sling. The bullet flew high towards the summit of the mountain.
On the paper she had written the following:
“1) Investigate Bohilin Company. It’s connected to Cigal Crukessa. Try using the name of The Weasel’s Den Inn.
2) Find a man called Fiboro.
3) There is nothing out of the ordinary here. I don’t require any help.
4) If a boy named Colio Tonies leaves the town, restrain him just in case. He belonged to the enemy forces, but he holds no value for them anymore. He’s just a boy so there’s no need to worry about him.”
Taking out the bullet from the ground, Mirepoc read the message. She sent her thoughts forward.
‘Bohilin Company… They are an organization smuggling the Books from around here. I will talk to Mattalast-san and also ask him about Fiboro.’
Hamyuts nodded. Mirepoc’s decisions were fine.
The contact was severed and Hamyuts returned to look for documents inside the inn.