‘Mattalast-san, this is from the Director.’
Mattalast was on standby at a distance of about six hours by train from Toatt Mining Town – in the commercial city of Bujui. It was there that he conducted his mission to monitor those who entered and left Toatt Mining Town.
He received Mirepoc’s thoughts while he was smoking his pipe inside a small coffeehouse found in some corner of the city.
‘Please contact Bohilin Company. We don’t know what kind of opponents they are, so be careful not to recklessly attack them.’
‘Bohilin Company? Never heard of them.’
Mattalast sent his thoughts back. If a person was trained to some extent with this sort of special Magic, it was possible to send the thoughts back in this manner and establish a two-way communication.
Hamyuts, who was strangely clumsy despite her high combat capabilities, couldn’t do this.
‘There’s something I heard from Luimon since he was in charge of Toatt Mining Town. This town has several criminal organizations involved in things like trafficking Books and commercial trade in the downtown. That isn’t much, but…’
‘That’s good enough.’
Mattalast slowly brought the slightly cold coffee to his mouth.
‘How is the monitoring of the station going along?’
‘I’m cooperating with the sheriff. Should I leave it to them and head over?’
‘No. Please devote yourself to the work there.’
‘Also, did you perhaps find someone named Fiboro?’
‘No. I checked the records going back and forth to Toatt Mining Town many times. I’ve never seen that name.’
‘If you do, please let me know. It seemed like he’s related to Cigal.’
While making rings of smoke with his pipe, Mattalast sent his thoughts back.
‘By the way, are you slacking off?’
Slight anger was mixed with Mirepoc’s thoughts. She probably felt some laziness from his thoughts.
‘I’m not slacking off. I’m taking a break.’
Mattalast answered shamelessly.
‘…Is that so?’
He could suddenly imagine Mirepoc’s disappointed face on the other side of the mountain.
‘Mirepoc, I can’t exert myself. I must preserve my stamina for the crucial moments.’
‘I’m simply asking.’
This seemed to be common with novice Armed Librarians, but Mirepoc was too serious. Mattalast thought being like that had some drawbacks, but he didn’t realize she also thought the opposite way about him.
‘How’s the Director?’
‘Seems like nothing happened.’
Mattalast seemed bothered by these words.
There were three possibilities to the meaning of those words. Something that was supposed to happen was prevented, nothing happened yet, or she didn’t notice anything happening.
Mattalast thought that saying “nothing happened” wasn’t the same as saying they can relax.
Mirepoc didn’t seem to notice that.
Besides, he was thinking about Hamyuts since yesterday and had a bad feeling. Even Mattalast himself didn’t understand why. He couldn’t calm down at all.
‘What’s wrong, Mattalast-san?’
Mirepoc asked, perhaps having received those feelings.
‘It’s nothing. But even though it’s nothing, I can’t seem to calm down.’
‘I don’t know, I’m just uneasy.’
She probably felt that. Mirepoc transmitted her puzzlement.
‘Did you have some bad premonition?’
Mattalast’s Predictive ability was exceedingly precise. Mirepoc knew this.
‘It can’t be that the Director is going to be defeated?’
‘That’s not it.’
He thought, but then reconsidered.
‘…No, that might be it.’
‘I think so as well, but…’
Mattalast left a bill of ten kirue on the table and rose up. He didn’t receive any change. He placed his black bowler hat on his head and left the place.
‘But, how will the Director lose?’
‘Even the Director’s not invincible.’
‘She seems practically invincible.’
Mirepoc, who has seen Hamyuts in action several times, came to believe in her combat capabilities almost as if worshipping her.
‘If someone around my level were to fight her within a distance of 100 meters they have a chance of winning.’
It was just as he said. If a warrior of a similar caliber to him engaged Hamyuts within that range, it was dangerous even for her. She, who specialized in ultra-long range attacks, was not very good in close combat. Well, even then she would be about evenly matched against a strong warrior like Mattalast.
‘But how will they get near her?’
Mattalast didn’t think about that. If one could only have a chance for victory within the distance of 100 meters, it meant they couldn’t if it was more than that. And Hamyuts’s range was more than 200 times of that. If it was only 100 meters, it would be like fighting unarmed against a gun. No, it would be worse. Normally there would be no chance for victory.
On top of that, Hamyuts had her Sensory Threads. It was nearly impossible approaching her while deceiving her eyes.
‘A typhoon is coming.’
The weakness of Hamyuts who boasted being the strongest was the wind. She would not be able to control her Sensory Threads, and her deadly sniping would have its hit rate plummet.
‘Mattalast-san. Wasn’t it you who said the typhoon wouldn’t come here?’
‘We’re talking about a hypothetical situation. Sometimes even predictions deviate.
Especially during unusual situations like the one right now, someone with a low Predictive caliber like me can easily be fooled. Don’t compare me to the Ever-Laughing Witch.’
‘But, even if the typhoon does come, it’s unlikely the enemy will know to take advantage of it.’
Mirepoc was right.
If the typhoon came by chance, there was a possibility Hamyuts would be in danger. However, it was impossible for the enemy to use that chance deliberately.
‘A typhoon might come, the Director might come to Toatt Mining Town at that time, and thus the enemy might have a chance to win… I would have never bet my life on something so uncertain like this.’
‘It will be fine. Everything is going well. There will be no problems.’
‘Might be so.’
As expected he was just overthinking this, Mattalast thought to himself.
But, even if he reached that conclusion, he still couldn’t calm down.
He felt as if there was something they were overlooking.
A wind blew, and some leaves were caught in the brim of Mattalast’s bowler hat.
The wind started getting stronger, he thought.
“Hmm, I don’t like this at all.”
Hamyuts murmured while walking through the main street in Toatt Mining Town.
After having mostly finished searching inside the inn, she began moving towards the station Luimon used before to look for more clues.
Everything indeed seemed to go well as Mirepoc thought. But perhaps it went too well.
It wasn’t as if the enemy couldn’t attack. And it probably wasn’t that he didn’t arrive yet.
Possibly, the attack had already begun.
Just the fact that the enemy didn’t attack wasn’t dangerous by itself.
But she could feel danger in that lack of danger. Hamyuts thought this contradiction was the essence of this battle.
Suddenly, she found the figure of Colio. He was still crouching down on the roadside. He appeared to not be doing anything, just sitting still.
Hamyuts glanced at him only once and passed to the next street. After she did, she quickly forgot about him.
Mattalast was thinking the same as Hamyuts.
It was possible the enemy had already escaped, but he didn’t think an opponent that went to such lengths by preparing bombs to challenge the Armed Librarians would be one to flee so readily.
If he really was so stupid to think he could kill Hamyuts using bombs, it was truly regrettable that someone like Luimon died in this affair.
Mattalast was in front of the headquarters of Bohilin Company. It wasn’t a hideout, but a very normal three-story stone building. It looked a bit like a bank or a trading company.
Mattalast took the gun from his waist and rang the doorbell while pushing his body against the wall.
There was no answer.
“This is for the use of The Weasel’s Den Inn. Open up.”
He tried using the name of the inn Mirepoc passed on to him. He waited for a while. Nothing happened.
“Excuse me, I lied before, I am the Armed Librarian Mattalast. Open up.”
He tried saying. Once again, there was no answer.
“Are they on break?”
Mattalast shot the hinge of the door. He quickly reloaded another bullet and pulled the broken door, going inside.
As he stepped inside, Mattalast understood why nobody answered. There was the smell of rotten meat and garbage, similar to that of spoilt vinegar. It was a smell even an Armed Librarian would not like despite their job.
He received Mirepoc’s thoughts.
‘Mirepoc. It’s too late. It seems the Bohilin Company people were taken care of.’
‘Taken care of… were they all killed?’
‘…From what I see, probably.’
Mattalast answered while looking around.
He didn’t know the number of corpses. Without the spurts of blood and the putrid smell, it might have looked like an abandoned doll factory. But even if it were, it wouldn’t calm him.
Mattalast saw one corpse. The Rigor Mortis had already passed, so it was cold and soft. A missing section of the body that was cut off already became dark red and was swarming with flies. The blood splattered on the floor was already dry and hard.
It was probably more than a week since their deaths. It was from even before Luimon’s death.
Looking at the office’s desk, he could see a map spread out. It was a map of Toatt Mining Town. Several places were marked by circles. In every circle something like ‘three people’ or ‘four people’ had been written.
One of the circles designated The Weasel’s Den Inn, and it was also marked with an X of a different color.
Mattalast understood that was the place they deployed the bombs from.
They were used by the enemy, Cigal Crukessa, and probably forced to keep those bombs. No, maybe this was managed by Cigal himself.
After he had no use for them, they were all killed. Mattalast thought he was a terrible guy.
But why did he leave the corpses in this place?
It’s as if he was asking to be discovered.
Mattalast looked at the corpses lying here and there. Each and every one of them had been torn apart with no exceptions. There were those that, after their wrists have been carefully cut, were slashed over their elbows, and even those who were cut from the shoulders down. It was too excessive for just killing them. Furthermore, they were all horribly clean cuts.
He wondered what kind of weapon was used.
From then on, the investigation continued without any significant progress for two days. They have found some small clues and unimportant details, but that was it.
Hamyuts left the town and went to the secluded mountain again.
Once again, she searched the entire town. Last time, she only searched for those that could be confirmed as enemies. But now, she looked for all points of interest or suspicious people.
Before looking for Cigal Crukessa, she wanted to find the source of the enemy’s attack.
She emitted about a billion Sensory Threads. A significant amount of them were floating in the corner of the town – the slums area – and sent information from there to Hamyuts. There were ill-bred men, vagrants and escort ladies walking around. She searched among those.
At that time, a Sensory Thread touched a single woman.
The feel of her skin made Hamyuts shudder. It was enough to make all billion Sensory Threads disappear without her meaning to.
It was a strange coldness.
Once again, she extended her Sensory Threads to that woman. She patted the body of the woman… or perhaps she was only a bit above the age of what would be called a girl.
And then, Hamyuts rose up and started running with her full speed.
She knew the girl’s name by touching the nameplate outside her apartment.
She was called Ia Mira.
That’s strange, Ia thought to herself.
She thought that if she slept a little, her cold would be gone.
Because she had no fever, she thought she would be fine.
But, instead of a fever, Ia could feel her body temperature rapidly dropping.
Touching her forehead with her hands, it was cold enough to think that she already died, and yet she felt unbearably hot for some reason.
Her throat was sore. But even though she coughed, she had no phlegm.
When Ia drank water she felt better, but then her cough would become worse.
A while ago, she saw in the mirror that there were strange bruises on her throat.
Ah, I feel like I’ve heard about this illness before, Ia thought.
There was a sudden voice outside the door.
She thought it was one of her colleagues that came for a visit.
As she tried to answer, she held her sore throat and tried standing up.
But the person who was outside the house entered on her own.
It was a woman she didn’t know.
“I know it’s sudden, but I’m Hamyuts Meseta.”
Ia thought it was the same as the name of the famous Armed Librarian.
“Because you don’t have time to mentally prepare, please listen calmly.”
The woman, Hamyuts, briskly walked towards Ia’s bed.
“You caught Dragon Pneumonia.”
“I was infected now as well. Potentially a lot of other people in this town were, too.
Listen to what I have to say if you don’t want to die.”
Ia hurriedly nodded.
Just how long was Colio sitting there? Even his stomach, which didn’t receive anything to eat for a long time, didn’t growl.
People who looked at him with curious or pitying eyes passed by in front.
There were also people who exclaimed things like “So poor at such a young age…” but Colio didn’t even raise his head towards them.
“You’re not a bomb anymore.”
Thus said Hamyuts. Was he a human now?
Hamyuts told him to “carefully think about humans”.
But, Colio couldn’t understand what a human was.
Are those that miserably sit down like this human? Are humans so worthless? He couldn’t understand anymore.
He just kept earnestly worrying.
Gradually, the wind around him became stronger and moist.
Colio thought that perhaps a storm was brewing.
Suddenly, he could see Hamyuts Meseta walking in a fast pace past him.
She should have seen him, but didn’t even give him one glance.
He was already an insignificant existence for her, Colio thought to himself.
Since then, Mattalast kept searching inside that building that stank of death.
He had probably checked each and every document by now. Over the course of several days, he methodically searched for clues.
Apparently, Bohilin Company was joining a cult. But he found one letter addressed to Cigal Crukessa rather than to that cult.
If he could find more details here, they would probably come close to Cigal Crukessa’s identity. Combined with the clues found by Hamyuts, they might be able to find him.
But as expected, he just couldn’t understand why the corpses were left like this.
Also, he had no idea why, but every door and window was sealed by plaster from the inside.
It was as if they tried sealing the building itself.
But for what purpose?
While pondering about this, Mattalast continued his search in the putrid building.
At that time, he received Mirepoc’s thoughts.
‘What is it?’
‘A little while ago, I received a message from Director Hamyuts, though I haven’t been able to confirm it yet.’
‘Tell me the gist of it.’
‘Umm… the enemy spread Dragon Pneumonia around the town.’
As soon as she said those words, all of his questions were answered. At the same time, he understood what kind of trouble he got himself into.
‘I see, so that’s it…’
Corpses were scattered in the building. They were carriers of Dragon Pneumonia. The pathogens were multiplied in the corpses and thus spread into the air.
Any person who would come to search inside Bohilin Company would be infected in the blink of an eye.
The corpses were a trap. Mattalast was tricked by the enemy.
The effects of the disease were already just a matter of time. It won’t be too long until he could no longer move.
‘…What about the Director?’
‘It seems like she was already infected. I’m still fine.’
‘I’m already done for, too. The symptoms will probably start manifesting soon.’
Mirepoc’s gasp was transmitted through the thought sharing.
‘Don’t be so distressed. Immediately return to the headquarters and get some reinforcements. We can prevent the spread of the disease in this town with a barrier.’
‘But Mattalast-san, you and the Director…’
‘We won’t die that easily.’
‘Don’t waste time. Go, quickly.’
For a while, it seemed like Mirepoc hesitated. But she understood that rather than the safety of the Director and Mattalast-san, she should prioritize the safety of the townspeople and prevent the spread of the disease.
‘I will return as soon as possible. Please survive until then.’
Saying this, Mirepoc severed the connection.
Mattalast took a breath and tried to calm himself.
It certainly seemed like the enemy’s plan fell into place. But, this didn’t mean they lost yet.
Before he and Hamyuts would die, they would have to capture Cigal Crukessa.
Their forces exceeded his. He was just as cornered as they were.
And as he thought this, he remembered.
He felt like he was overlooking something.
Mattalast activated his Predictive ability.
He used it to predict the weather from now on.
Mattalast paled at the result of this prediction.
‘Mirepoc, answer. Answer! Answer!’
He tried sharing his thoughts to call Mirepoc. However, while he could receive communication from Mirepoc and reply to it, it didn’t work the other way around.
Mirepoc already ceased the Thought Sharing. Mattalast’s thoughts couldn’t reach her.
Nevertheless, Mattalast kept trying as it was his final ray of hope.
‘Mirepoc, answer! The Director’s going to get killed! The enemy’s aim isn’t Dragon Pneumonia!’
He received no response from Mirepoc.
Mattalast started running. He had to go and save the Director.
As he thought of this, an explosion resounded from his immediate vicinity. From a hole made in the wall, dozens of people came pouring in.
They all carried bombs.
“I’ll kill Mattalast!”
Shouting so, they kept running one after the other towards him.
“Some pawns still remained?!”
Mattalast took his handgun and started shooting the enemies. He shot six times in an instant. Six enemies who got their brains blown out collapsed.
He couldn’t let them draw near. Mattalast started retreating.
However, there were too many enemies.
They were not opponents he would lose to easily, but he wondered if he could do it with his sick body.
Please bear with it, my body– thus Mattalast prayed.
But, he had a hunch his wish was not going to be granted.
Mirepoc rushed to the airplane and turned on the engine. She had to return to the Library as quickly as possible and call reinforcements.
If, at that time, Mirepoc refused the pair’s instructions, the worst case scenario could have been avoided.
However, she flew away on the airplane.
If Mirepoc reinstated the Thought Sharing with Mattalast, the worst case scenario could have been avoided.
However, she didn’t.
If she turned on the radio at that time, the worst case scenario could have been avoided.
However, as she revved up the engine, she didn’t even think of the radio.
If Mirepoc was headed to the west rather than the east, the worst case scenario could have been avoided.
However, the airplane headed straight to east.
When Mirepoc noticed that worst case scenario, it was already too late to turn back because she wouldn’t have made it.
It was inside an Armed Librarian office that was used by Luimon at Toatt Mining Town.
There, when Hamyuts turned the knob of the radio, she began doubting her ears.
The radio’s special news reported the course of the typhoon.
“The large typhoon ‘Captain Choke’, which we reported earlier as heading to the northeast, suddenly changed its direction to the southeast, approaching a direct hit in the Toatt region. A typhoon usually can’t come near the Toatt region, so a great deal of damage is expected to occur due to the delay of the anti-measures. The Science Agency and the Magic Agency assembled a special task force together due to this. They are investigating the sudden change in the course of the typhoon. The typhoon approaching the Toatt region is the first case of such an abnormal weather since 1809.”
A typhoon, Hamyuts’s mightiest enemy, was coming.
Hamyuts knew that she had been completely cornered now.
The enemy was yet to be found.
She also had not much time until the disease surfaces.
Furthermore, the two people who came along would not be able to come to her rescue.
And even her combat ability, which was the most dependable thing she had, was about to be sealed by the incoming typhoon.
Why had everything gone so smoothly?
It felt as if the enemy predicted both Hamyuts and the typhoon coming here in the first place.
But there shouldn’t be any way for that.
Such a powerful Oracular Magician shouldn’t exist. Not even the highest level modern Prediction users should have been able to predict the typhoon that was not supposed to come.
And yet, the enemy still did…
At that moment, everything clicked into place.
The enemy foresaw this day.
It was the history’s strongest Prediction user, Shiron Booyacornish, who had foreseen this day.
The real enemy wasn’t Cigal.
It was the Ever-Laughing Witch, Shiron Booyacornish.
At that time, Colio Tonies was still sitting at the roadside.
He neither knew nor wanted to know about Hamyuts’s predicament or Cigal’s plot.
He didn’t care about anything anymore.
There was a knife in a hidden pocket inside his pants. It never was of any use.
But now, Colio took it out and stared at the blade.
He thought about dying.
Colio was tired of searching for any hope to live.
In spite of him having no hopes, why was he scared? He was afraid of dying.
“Kill Hamyuts Meseta” was engraved on that knife. Just a while ago, those words were everything for him. But now they meant nothing to him.
Thinking about it, only a few days have passed. He came here with Hyoue and Relia to kill Hamyuts Meseta. Relia probably died. Was he killed by Hamyuts? Or did he die in a different way? He couldn’t know.
Colio didn’t think of those two as friends or allies, but he still felt somewhat nostalgic.
At that time, he didn’t think of dying as scary at all. He only thought of his life as a tool to kill Hamyuts and nothing else.
Why was he afraid now?
Did he change? No, that wasn’t it.
He had tried to escape from the fear and pain. By thinking he was a bomb, he subdued his fears.
In fact, Colio couldn’t kill Hamyuts. He couldn’t use the bomb in his chest. He could only tremble.
Living was painful, but dying was scary.
Colio was simply sitting without being able to live or die.
The wind grew stronger. Clouds came out.