Colio knew that the storm became full-fledged.
The sound of something crumbling came from somewhere.
Colio didn’t know if this was due to the storm blowing something off or due to Hamyuts fighting.
She was probably currently battling against the mastermind behind the people like him and Relia. However, both Hamyuts and the mastermind had no connection to him anymore. He was abandoned by the both of them.
“Umm, try looking in the top shelf.”
Ia said while lying on the bed.
“It’s probably there.”
Colio opened the cupboard. It was messier than he imagined. He started looking inside.
While he was searching, Ia talked with a hoarse voice.
“Cartohelo died because of a bomb, right?”
Colio stopped his hand and turned around to see Ia raise her head from the bed.
“…Did you see it?”
She was silent for a while. Colio was staring at her.
“But you didn’t kill him.”
“…It was an accident. We tried helping him.”
Ia’s expression indicated she wasn’t sure what she should do. She seemed to search for some outlet for her overflowing emotions.
“What did he say in his last moments?”
“If you heard him, please tell me. I want to know.”
Colio didn’t answer.
When Hyoue exploded Colio did his best to escape the blast. He couldn’t hear anything.
Also, inside of that explosion, what would he say? He didn’t think anything was said.
“I see. Sorry.”
Ia, who understood the situation from Colio’s silence, apologized in a lonely-sounding voice.
“Why did you ask?”
“We had a promise.”
“That we’d call each other’s names as we die.”
“But it’s fine. If he did say anything, I’m sure that he did it.”
Ia, who probably didn’t want him to see her expression, turned around in bed.
“I’ll definitely say it as well, so that’s fine. But if I’d said such a thing to Hamyuts-san she would be angry.”
She turned around again.
“Oh, right. It’s also somewhat relevant to Tortoiseshell.”
“What do you mean?”
“Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t explain it. You’ll understand when you see the Book. So find it.”
She was right. Colio continued his search.
“Thinking about it, I wonder what the name of that girl is. She must have had a proper name. Do you know it?”
Colio instantly lied.
“I don’t know.”
If he told Ia, she would probably detest Shiron. It made Colio sad. For as long as possible, he didn’t want her to know about Shiron. For as long as possible, he wanted her to like Shiron.
Then, at the topmost shelf, he found a small piece of a Book about the size that would fit inside a spoon. It was probably left there for a long time since it gathered some dust. It was the same kind of ashen dust that drifted from the chimneys of this town.
“Can I read it?”
And Ia answered,
Colio extended his slightly trembling fingertips.
The wind was becoming stronger. The storm was shaking Ia’s small apartment.
His fingertips touched the Book. He felt as if it whispered that it was waiting for him.
While circling the town, Hamyuts was thinking.
Just how much time passed since the start of their battle?
Was it an hour or two?
She could feel her legs, thighs, and calves stiffening with fatigue faster than usual.
Even the weight of her wet clothes felt like it restrained her.
She ran on the roof of a house, jumped on walls, ran on the ground, and danced in the air. While running around, Hamyuts kept attacking.
She couldn’t win from close range. Even a distance where they could see each other by eye wasn’t good enough.
She had to gain as much of a distance as possible.
Feeling the signs of an attack, Hamyuts jumped away. The space she occupied just then was assaulted by Shlamuffen, and she ran away with all of her strength.
How troublesome, Hamyuts thought.
Logically, even when including Shlamuffen, Hamyuts’s battle capabilities exceeded those of Cigal. If she could gain a sufficient distance, spend some time on accelerating the stone bullets and shoot them from ultra-long range at full power, she would probably be able to blow through Shlamuffen’s defenses. Shlamuffen’s range was at most 50 or 60 meters. If she could gain distance, it wasn’t an enemy to fear.
But, she couldn’t gain that distance now.
As long as Shlamuffen’s attacks did not surpass hers, she could easily hit Cigal. In the first place, Hamyuts’s specialty was a long range surprise attack.
However, she just couldn’t buy enough time to do that.
It wasn’t an opponent she couldn’t beat. But right now, and only now, Hamyuts’s chances of victory were slim.
A storm comes to this town only once per century.
Cigal secured this small chance of victory that can only occur once a century.
He’s an opponent worse than crap, but I’ll give him credit only for that part, Hamyuts thought.
She kicked the door of a house open. The couple and their children who were inside nearly fainted. She immediately grabbed them and threw them out of the window. The attack arrived immediately after. Half of the house was chopped apart and collapsed. Hamyuts covered her face in order to shield her eyes from the falling debris.
She could faintly hear Cigal’s voice. Seeing the chance, she shot a stone from within the rain of debris.
However, it was also scattered in vain. Hamyuts instantly ran away through the broken wall.
There was an uproar in town. Hamyuts shouted with a hoarse voice to not go outside. She was reluctant coming to places which had people in them. However, while running around, she had no choice but to come here.
While evading the attacks of Shlamuffen, Hamyuts didn’t have any leeway of going back to the forest.
She was barely able to keep fighting.
Her evasion seemed to be ever so slightly faster than Shlamuffen’s limit. She somehow avoided the attacks. But, while Shlamuffen will never tire, Hamyuts was getting worn out. Before long, her feet will probably stop as if they were rusty wheels screeching to a halt.
To make matters worse, right now she had no way of attacking beyond Shlamuffen’s defense.
Her irritation and impatience hastened her fatigue. She would have to grasp victory before her fighting spirit and her rational judgment would become exhausted.
However, Hamyuts was already tired. Her body wanted to rest.
Her heating body, getting chilled by the rain, wanted some time to calm her heart.
She stopped while trying to gain some distance.
Seeing that, Cigal also stopped walking.
“What are you planning to do?”
Hamyuts said. She tried hiding her rough breaths.
“…What do you mean?”
“Your motive is already clear. Or do you think you can trick me like Shiron?”
That laughter made Hamyuts angry.
“Is there any need to hide it? If you want the cure, you can get on your knees and beg. Maybe I should just get rid of a nuisance like you, though…”
He was a foolish man. He had some talent but was imprudent and superficial. He was a man weak of heart. Since he had time to waste on that useless banter, he should have attacked already.
What was that guy’s plan in the first place? Does he think that by possessing the cure he can make people do his bidding? He only concerned himself with bombs and slaves, so he probably didn’t really understand humans.
Was she going to lose to this sort of opponent? While thinking this, Hamyuts rushed ahead.
“Well then, die already.”
Hamyuts leapt ten meters backwards. With that movement, she barely evaded the attack.
The opponent she needed to defeat wasn’t Shlamuffen. She had to target the one holding it, Cigal.
He said that Hamyuts’s sniping was scary.
When the wielder is completely unaware, Shlamuffen shouldn’t be able to activate its defensive capabilities.
She had to create an opening.
She had to find a chance to disappear from Cigal’s consciousness.
It didn’t matter that he was a third-rate opponent. He was an opponent who carefully prepared to such an extent just to kill her.
Was that even feasible?
While hesitating, Hamyuts ran. Look for it. Think. You have to find an opening.
The rain became lighter.
The sky was quickly covered by clouds.
The Book opened.
Colio’s consciousness was pulled back 250 years in the past.
A girl was crying. With her back against the wall, near a gutter, the girl was crying.
She was probably around ten years old. She seemed to be in the slums area. Obscene words were scribbled in mud on the wall.
There was no one near her. Her surroundings were dim, the sun was setting, the city was bleak, and her hair was striped like the fur of a calico cat.
“Hey, Big Brother. You and Big Sister in the far future.”
She began speaking. There was no answer. But she kept talking to herself.
Shiron seemed to be waiting for a reply. She kept talking as if losing her patience.
“Hey, please answer, Big Brother and Big Sister. I see. So Big Sister is called Ia? And Big Brother is called Cartohelo.”
Shiron talked in a small, conservative voice.
“Please help me.”
Shiron was silent for a while, as if waiting for an answer.
“I have only seen sad and painful things. I don’t know what I should do. Why should I live? Do I have no other choice?”
The girl kept talking to someone who wasn’t there.
“Just why… I will make a lot of people suffer. I don’t want that. But I can’t escape. I can’t escape no matter what I do. Besides, I’m going to be taken by bad people. Because I don’t want to be poor.”
While saying this, Shiron’s eyes became moist again.
“…What am I supposed to do? Since I have no reason to live, what should I do?
Tell me. I’m watching. Yes, show it to me. I can see both Big Brother and Big Sister.”
The young Shiron then waited for a while. Her tortoiseshell colored hair suddenly swayed.
Colio understood she activated her Prediction ability.
“…Thank you, Big Sister, Big Brother. I don’t really know right now. But someday I will.”
The young Shiron was smiling shyly. Once again, her hair moved.
“Yes, it’s like this with that person.
I don’t know his name, but I do know what kind of person he is.
He’s strong. He’s really strong.
There’s a stormy day. I saw a really stormy day.
That person, while covering up for a woman, will carry a small knife and call my name.”
A faint smile appeared on her face wet of tears.
“That person’s going to watch the sunset with me. This is much later, when I’m already an adult. Yes, we will watch it together. Isn’t that amazing? I’m going to watch the sunset with that person.”
Shiron seemed happy.
The Book ended there. It was a terribly short Book.
Colio opened his eyes.
For a short while, he was at a loss for words.
“That girl knew our names. Isn’t that strange?”
“Cartohelo was really worried about that girl. He said he wanted to help her somehow, and when he tried saying something to her, she spoke to the both of us.”
Ia talked in a gentle voice, as if feeling nostalgic.
“We didn’t know why that girl suffered so much, and even if we knew we couldn’t do anything. Maybe she really had no other choice besides bearing that pain.
But because we were thinking that we can’t do anything to help her, she started talking to us.
We couldn’t do anything besides giving her advice.”
“What did you say?”
“We told her that one can’t find a reason to live on their own.”
“No matter how much you’d think about it, it was impossible to do alone. If you’ll live by yourself, it will just pain you.
Even if you think you are living alone, if you have someone being nice to you, you are never truly alone. That’s what we said.”
Ia’s words permeated Colio’s very being.
Along with it a strange feeling rose in his chest.
He felt a strange sense of unity as if Shiron was at his side listening to Ia’s words.
He felt a peace of mind that they shared the same feelings.
He felt a sense of freedom as if the wall of time that separated him from Shiron was demolished.
“It’s not difficult at all. Even I and Cartohelo, who can’t really accomplish much, can do only this.
We are never separate.
Even if it seems like we are far apart, he’s actually always by my side.”
That’s it, Colio thought.
Shiron thought this way too, for sure.
Colio let that name out of his mouth. He called her as if she was next to him. He didn’t think about calling her in this manner before.
He always thought of her as being far away. He always thought of her as unreachable.
No matter what he did, no matter what he said, Colio thought she was truly unreachable.
But that was wrong. She always was right here.
She was looking at Colio.
She was living next to him.
He lost his allies, lost his bomb, but he kept on living because Shiron was there with him.
Thinking that Shiron didn’t exist anywhere was a mistake. Colio always lived with her inside his heart.
What should he be doing from now on? Colio knew the answer.
He now understood the meaning of the words he heard long before.
There was no mistake. Those were Shiron’s words, after all.
Colio said as he returned the Book to the cupboard.
“To a place I must go to no matter what.”
While saying so, he searched his pants. It was there.
The only belonging Colio had left. It was the small knife passed to him when he first came to town.
Feeling its cold surface, Colio thought it would be good enough.
He didn’t need anything else anymore.
“Where are you going?”
“I don’t know. I’m probably going to fight.”
“I don’t know.”
Colio thought for a bit.
“Because Shiron is there.”
It was a puzzling answer for Ia.
However, she didn’t press him any further.
Colio’s feelings were transmitted to Ia far clearer than his words.
“Thank you for bearing with me. I’m really… right. This is all thanks to you.”
Colio started walking.
“…I don’t really understand, but I’d prefer if you said it was thanks to Cartohelo.”
“I see. Right. It was thanks to Cartohelo and you.”
Colio was heading outside, into the unceasing storm. While seeing him off, Ia sent words of parting.
“…Thank you. Take care of yourself.”
“You take care of yourself too. You have to.”
Colio left through the front door. Then, he started running.
At some point, the rain stopped.
Shiron mentioned a place where a precious person was lost.
He understood where it was.
It was the place where the person who led him to the answer, as well as a friend that didn’t become his friend, were lost.