Chapter 6: A Storm, the Magic Blade, and Tortoiseshell – Part 1

Half-eaten bread had been laid in front of Colio. He picked it up and ate it. It was already dry and hard.

His life had no meaning, but his stomach was still empty. While thinking about meaningless things such as whether it was better dying with a full stomach or not, Colio smiled a little.

Children ran on the road, and Colio looked at them. It wasn’t because they interested them; he just instinctively looked at moving things that came near his eyes.

“There, it went there!”

“No, it’s not here.”

“Where did it go?”

“I dunno.”

“Let’s go back already…”

“The wind is getting really strong.”

“It’s probably going to rain.”

The children were cheerfully playing around. Colio stared apathetically at them.

“Call it one more time.”

“Ok, let’s do it.”

It seemed the children were looking for something. Thinking about it, they always seemed to have a cat with them. They were probably searching for it.

The children gathered together and shouted in unison,

“TOORTOOISESHEELL!”

Colio immediately stood up like a spring.

He remembered. That was one of Shiron’s aliases that she told him of.

“That cat!”

The children were startled by Colio suddenly speaking.

“Who is that cat’s owner? Where is it?”

It might have been a coincidence. But Colio wasn’t calm enough to consider it.

“Huh? We don’t know.”

One child answered.

Another child raised her hand.

“I know who that cat’s owner is.”

“Hmm?”

“It’s mister Carthello!”

It was a familiar name. Colio asked again while thinking that it was unbelievable.

“Cartohelo Mashea?”

The girl nodded.

“Ia Mira’s boyfriend?”

She nodded again.

 

Hamyuts went out of the town to change her location.

She was at an abandoned storehouse far from the mines. There were no people around, and nothing too important to break. It wasn’t bad for a battlefield.

Hamyuts planned on ambushing Cigal here.

She had no way other than fighting and defeating him.

Although most of her power was sealed, Hamyuts didn’t plan on losing.

“…”

She took slow breaths and tried to concentrate.

She understood he was coming.

After all, his preparations were complete.

 

Colio headed towards Ia’s residence while asking people for directions.

The wind gradually grew stronger. Raindrops that fell like rocks began wetting his face. By the time his hair was dripping wet, he found Ia’s place. It was an attic room of a small apartment. It was residence for two people atop the narrow stairs.

“Cartohelo Mashea   Ia Mira”

Their names were written on the door as if snuggling together.

Colio hesitated while standing in front of the door. Maybe he shouldn’t meet her.

But, even if his life had no meaning, he wanted to know more about Shiron. These feelings of his didn’t waver.

Even so, it was a nostalgic name. He met her just a few days ago, but it already felt like the distant past. Colio wondered how much has changed.

“…Hey, don’t go there!”

As he was thinking about this, a voice resounded from the bottom of the stairs. He turned around and saw a man that was probably one of the neighbors.

“You can’t go near that apartment.”

The man said.

“…Why?”

“I don’t know. The Armed Librarian Hamyuts Meseta came here and said this. Anyway, you can’t enter.”

“I see.”

Colio pretended turning back, and when he saw the man wasn’t there anymore, he returned to the door and knocked.

There was no reply.

After hesitating a bit, Colio opened the door and entered.

“…Hamyuts-san?”

The moment he opened the door, he could hear Ia’s voice. Colio was surprised to hear her mention Hamyuts.

Then, there was the voice of a violent cough.

The place was filled with the stagnant smell of body odor characteristic of a place with sick people in it.

“Ia Mira?”

Colio called.

“…Who is it?”

It seemed like Ia didn’t remember his voice. Colio went further inside. When Ia saw his face, she raised an eyebrow. She seemed to recognize him, but she couldn’t understand the reason for his visit.

“…You’re…”

“…Umm…”

Colio was stumped. Even though he suddenly stormed inside, he didn’t think about what to say. He was flustered.

“Why’re you…?”

“…A lot has happened.”

Thinking a bit, Colio said only this. Ia was perplexed.

Colio looked around. It was a narrow room.

There were only one bed and a closet. Next to a single table were two chairs. There was barely enough furniture for one person, and it was apparent that two people have lived here.

Ia was lying in a somewhat wide bed. Her complexion didn’t look bad, but she had dark circles under her eyes and her expression seemed vacant.

At that time, something entered the room, went through Colio’s legs and rubbed against his shin.

“Oh, Tortoiseshell.”

“This cat…”

“It’s my… no, Cartohelo’s cat.”

Ia stretched a hand from the bed and stroked the back of the cat.

“Well then, get out now. I don’t know why you’re here, but I’m sick. Those were the instructions of the Library Director Hamyuts-san.”

“No.”

“You have to.”

Ia coughed.

“…I’m going to die.”

Hearing her talking about death, Colio felt some response in his heart.

“What happened?”

Colio asked.

“Dragon Pneumonia. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true.”

“Dragon Pneumonia…”

“Please don’t tell other people about this. It’ll cause panic. She told me to stay here and let no one come near.”

After saying this, she coughed again.

Colio recalled Shiron’s Book. She said it – that another breakout of Dragon Pneumonia will happen in the distant future.

But, he didn’t think that it would happen right now.

“So just leave. You’ll die.”

“…No, I won’t go.”

Ia looked troubled.

“You really are a strange person.”

Colio also felt troubled hearing that. He certainly was a strange person.

But more importantly, he wanted to breach the main topic.

He came here to ask about the cat. It seems that it was named Tortoiseshell. As he thought about how to breach the subject, Ia started talking with him instead.

“Hey, is it true you had a bomb in your chest?”

“…”

Colio nodded. He was surprised, but it was probably Hamyuts that told her of this when she came over.

“Was it made by bad people?”

Colio wondered how he should answer that.

“But you don’t have it anymore. That’s what Hamyuts-san said.”

Colio nodded.

“So, everything’s good.”

Ia said while smiling. Despite them being almost complete strangers, she seemed to be really happy for him.

But Colio couldn’t feel honestly happy about her feelings. Since he thought he would rather be killed by Hamyuts, not being a bomb anymore wasn’t a good thing.

“I don’t know if that’s really good.”

Ia was surprised.

“Why?”

“I don’t know what I’m going to know from now on.”

“Why?”

“…”

Ia’s question didn’t hold any ill will against him. But it was a question Colio couldn’t answer.

He couldn’t even describe how he was living thus far.

“Sorry, it was a weird question.”

“…Yeah.”

“It’ll be fine.”

“…I don’t know.”

It was a vague answer, but it was the only thing he could answer.

Colio noticed that talking with Ia strangely calmed his heart. Perhaps Ia felt the same way when she wanted him by her side for a little while during their previous meeting. He couldn’t really understand.

“So, why did you come here?”

Colio thought back. He didn’t come here for small talk with the sick.

“That cat…”

When he wanted to point at it, it had already gone off to somewhere else.

“Where is it?”

“Ever since Cartohelo was gone, Tortoiseshell doesn’t stay here a lot. What’s the matter with it?”

“…Why did you name the cat like that?”

“Why do you ask?”

Colio faltered. But he didn’t really need to be secretive. Did he have a reason to hesitate?

“A person I know was called by the name.”

“…You’re talking about Tortoiseshell? That girl with the striped hair?”

Ia was surprised, and so was Colio.

“…How do you know about her? That Book was Cartohelo’s.”

 

Hamyuts felt a single man approaching. He was a well-dressed gentleman.

In his hand he held a small crystal ball.

He appeared to be unarmed.

One person.

The storm was becoming full-fledged. His prestigious suit was wet by the rain and the hair on his back disturbed by the wind. Hamyuts was also similarly wet.

The distance between them was about 200 meters. It was within her range, but Hamyuts didn’t attack.

Hamyuts couldn’t hit anyway because of this wind. Also, she wanted to see the face of the man who managed to corner her like this.

“Hello.”

The one to begin talking was Hamyuts. The man showed his face from behind the storehouse.

“Hey, Hamyuts Meseta.”

Despite the two meeting to kill each other, it was a peaceful, gentle, and normal greeting.

As the two faced each other, Hamyuts talked.

“So you’re Cigal Crukessa.”

Cigal smiled as if she said something that didn’t even need asking.

“I wonder if I should say “nice to meet you”. Your Sensory Threads already touched my body countless of times. It was actually very unpleasant.”

It was as he said. He was one of the people she suspected of being Cigal Crukessa. However, she didn’t manage to find any concrete evidence of that until now.

Hamyuts thought that if she had some more time, she would be able to ascertain it soon.

But she didn’t have any reason to be thinking about that right now.

“Do you have Shiron’s Book?”

“Yes, right here.”

The man said and presented the crystal in his right hand. There was indeed the fragment of a Book sealed inside. With that, he was able to evade Hamyuts’s Sensory Threads.

“I wonder if the cure for Dragon Pneumonia is written inside.”

“That’s obvious.”

Cigal smiled. Without taking into account the current situation, it looked like a charming smile. He seemed to be good at attracting people.

“Hey, can I ask you something?”

An exceptionally strong wind swept in the space between the two. Their clothes fluttered. A nearby pile of timber collapsed and leaves danced in the wind as if they were knives. Cigal seemed to be a bit unsteady, but Hamyuts stood unperturbed as if it was a mere breeze.

“What is it? This rain is horrible. I’d like to wrap this up as quickly as possible.”

“What are you going to do from now on?”

Hamyuts’ question could be interpreted in many different ways.

“Hahaha. You can’t even understand that?”

“It can’t be that you’re only going to kill me.”

“If you knew why did you ask? You sure are foolish as expected.”

The blood rose to Hamyuts’s head a little. But she didn’t lose her composure in that anger. Rather, she was the type of person to clear her mind when she became angry.

“So, you just wanted to kill me?”

“Exactly.”

Cigal spread his arms.

“Do you understand? At least the fact that you’re a hindrance to us.

The only thing dangerous to me in this world is your sniping ability. So I wanted to quickly eliminate you.”

“I see, that way of thinking isn’t too bad. That’s why you lured me here.”

“Right. Since I sealed your sniping and got within this distance, I don’t have anything to fear.”

“So the bombs were simply used to buy time?”

“Bombs? Ah, right, I did prepare such things. But they don’t really mean much.”

“Aah…”

Hamyuts sneezed and rubbed her wet nose.

She lifted her dripping hair and rubbed her face.

“I changed my mind. I originally thought about letting you live if you were to beg for your life while crying and wetting your pants.”

Hamyuts started swinging her sling. The spray of water droplets became a fine mist.

“How vulgar. You’re really disgusting.”

“Die.”

Several pebbles flew in the air. The string of Hamyuts’s sling spun around in speeds that couldn’t be seen with the naked eye. She threw the pebbles immediately as she caught them in midair. They became deadly bullets that assaulted Cigal in a straight line.

“How useless.”

Cigal said. A split second before he was turned into minced meat, the high-speed pebbles were shattered to dust.

“Wha-”

Hamyuts raised a voice. When did it happen? Cigal’s hand now held another thing inside a crystal.

He held an iron sculpture shaped like a spider.

From its rear a silky blade swiftly extended.

Cigal said,

“Defile, Ever-Laughing Magic Blade Shlamuffen.”

The crystal was broken. The spider hilt fell into his hand.

As expected from what was seen inside the Book, and as expected from the name that Shiron gave it, Shlamuffen started laughing.

An invisible line was engraved in the air.

Hamyuts flew to the side.

The space she had been occupying a second ago was ripped to shreds.

“Haha.”

Looking at her, Cigal laughed.

Hamyuts didn’t immediately counterattack. She turned her back and ran. While running, she shot at him.

Pebbles were thrown with a powerful rotation. The air resistance made the trajectory of the gale of bullets rotate.

The line of fire drew a semicircle as it aimed for Shlamuffen in Cigal’s hand from the side.

However, it was once again scattered into fine sand.

The figure of Hamyuts was already out of Cigal’s sight.

Water sprayed around with the sound of her speeding up and running along puddles.

Hamyuts was going around the perimeter to look for an opening.

Cigal couldn’t follow her with his eyes.

He turned around as he felt a presence from directly behind him and an attack came from the opposite side.

Despite Cigal not being able to react, the pebbles became dust and scattered in the air.

“Tch, over there?”

At the moment Cigal swung the Magic Blade, Hamyuts had already switched her location. The attack only served to turn the raw material around them to scraps. A mountain of piled timber became wood splinters.

Hamyuts’s next shot attempted to hit the unguarded enemy.

But once again, it disappeared without any sound.

Hamyuts and Cigal were clicking their tongues at the same time.

The fight kept going relentlessly.

While fighting, Hamyuts evaluated Cigal’s abilities-

His speed and the way he carried his body.

His eye movements.

His competence and judgment in using his weapon.

Putting all of those together, Hamyuts reached the conclusion that Cigal’s capabilities were several levels below hers. He was probably even below Armed Librarians such as Luimon or Mirepoc.

His reflexes did indicate that he received some battle training.

However, he only had the strength of a human that never exerted himself to the point of vomiting blood even once.

His reactions were dull. His defenses were loose. His sense of danger was lacking.

When viewed from the eyes of the battle-able Hamyuts, he had plenty of clear weaknesses.

However, in this situation where the storm sealed Hamyuts’s battle capabilities, close combat was her weak point. And the Magic Blade Shlamuffen filled the gap between their battle strength and began reversing the tide.

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Chapter 6: A Storm, the Magic Blade, and Tortoiseshell – Part 1

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