The door was closed and Enlike was left by himself.
The expression Relia had when he left was carved into Enlike’s heart.
He could remember it as if he was just in front of him right now.
Why did that guy smile? Enlike thought.
Why can he smile? He thought.
He could only think of his life up till now and from now on as painful. Enlike could withstand it only because he had given up on everything.
However, Relia had smiled. He was supposed to be the same as Enlike, yet he smiled.
He recalled the existence of the thing called a smile. He remembered there was the thing called a smile in this world, and wondered if he could smile as well.
It was more painful than anything. Sometimes, hope was more painful to a man’s heart than despair.
Enlike started sobbing.
“Why can he smile?”
He kept crying and soon fell asleep. He kept sleeping without noticing his hunger.
The day for Enlike to come out of the punishment cell had arrived. The caretaker took him back to his previous room.
He stuffed himself with a few bread crumbs, went to the corner of the room and sat down. He turned his face towards the wall so the other Meats couldn’t see him.
There was one thing he wanted to try out. He simply had to try it.
Enlike put strength into his lips. He strongly pulled his lips and made a trembling small change in their shape. He raised the edges of both of his lips. His eyes twitched as he narrowed them. His eyebrows frowned as if he was withstanding terrible pain, and his lips raised the meat on his cheeks.
That expression didn’t look like a smile at all. There was no sense of unity to speak of; all parts of his face were terribly mismatched. It was just a weird face somehow resembling a smile. It was nothing more than an awkward imitation.
Muttering this, Enlike released the tension in his face. He didn’t have a mirror, but he could still tell – this couldn’t be called a smile. It was only a distorted face.
I’ll try again, he thought.
One again Enlike twisted his face like before. This time he thought he would try making a voice. Maybe if he laughed he would also be able to smile freely.
However, the voice leaking from his mouth was like the call of some bird. It was far away from being laughter, so naturally his face also didn’t make a smile and simply looked weird.
Once again Enlike cursed himself. It didn’t go well.
“Wha, what are you doing?”
A Meat called to him. His expression didn’t seem to indicate any shred of intelligence. It seemed he was mentally broken to the extent he could barely speak words.
“…I’m trying to smile.”
Enlike answered while still facing the wall.
“S…smile? Haha, aaaah. What’s that?”
“I don’t know.”
Enlike didn’t even face the Meat that was questioning him. He could no longer understand his words.
“Heeheehee, hehehehea, haahaahaa.”
The Meat wobbled around the room while raising a voice that sounded like a cross between wailing and laughing.
“…Why can he smile?”
After thinking this, he held and head and began sobbing again.
Some time had passed. Trying to smile became Enlike’s daily routine. Every day he would distort his face and then give up. While doing it his face wore a melancholic expression, completely contrary to his goal.
One day, the door to Enlike’s room opened and several caretakers came inside. It was different than usual. That day they didn’t bring a basket full of bread crumbs, but instead looked around the Meats as if searching for something.
“Pick a good Meat. Cigal-sama and Ganbanzel-sama are coming to visit today.”
One caretaker said.
“Yes, I know. Which one should I choose?”
He briefly looked around the room and,
“Let’s try this one.”
He grabbed Enlike’s hand.
“This one’s a strange Meat. Sometimes he makes a weird face. Like this.”
Saying this, one of the caretakers imitated Enlike’s face to show to the other men. They all laughed. It was unpleasant, but Enlike couldn’t do anything.
The caretakers took him out from the room and into a large room at the top of the deck. It was his first time getting out of the ship’s bottom area. The sunlight and blue sea dazzled Enlike’s eyes.
The room he was taken to wasn’t a room for Meats, but for their caretakers. Unlike the Meats’ room below, this one was clean and pleasant.
Its size was about five times the Meats’ room. In the middle was a large cage of about the same width as the Meats’ room.
Enlike was told to go inside the cage. In addition to him there was another person inside. That person who wore awfully baggy clothes had his entire head covered by a helmet. From the size of his body he seemed to be a man. A smiling face had been carved on the white helmet that he wore.
There were several men outside the cages – the caretakers who brought Enlike here, some men who wore white coats, and at the far back of the room, a man with long hair and an old man were sitting on a couch.
Looking at these last two, one could tell at a glance they were the most important people inside the room.
“Hmph. It seems you also had an amusing idea, but I have no interest in it.
I think there’s another way to defeat Hamyuts Meseta.”
The long-haired man sitting on the sofa said.
“Hmm, Cigal. I’m tired of your bluffs. You keep saying you have a way to defeat her but you won’t do anything.”
The old man replied to him.
“Hahaha, that is because the time isn’t ripe yet. Besides, I have far more obstacles in my way besides just Hamyuts.”
“Hehehe, you always nag on and on about money, money, money, money. I can’t understand you at all.”
“I can’t understand you either. Why would we, True Men who are second only to God, try to create something that exceeds us?”
“I don’t remember telling this to you.”
“Well, it doesn’t really matter. True Men are usually isolated from one another. People like us who get along are the exception.”
“Haha, that’s true.”
Enlike couldn’t understand what they were talking about at all.
“The specimen is male. His age is around sixteen. He has no history, no training in Magic, and…”
“In light of our previous failure, we’ll inject him with 110% of the lethal dose.”
“Won’t he just immediately die like before?”
The men wearing white coats talked amongst themselves.
“By the way, Ganbanzel… What is this experiment?”
“Haven’t you been listening? I told you this was an experiment to test drugs that forcibly insert Magic Rights into people’s brains.”
“I know that, but didn’t it fail just now?”
“Trial and error is important. You can’t succeed by just trying once or twice.”
“I think it’s a waste though.”
It seemed that the old man was Ganbanzel and the long-haired man was Cigal.
For the time being, Enlike could only understand from their conversation that this was an experiment and that he was the guinea pig.
The people around him talked about various things. He could hear them all, but they felt far away for some reason.
Enlike thought that he was going to die.
This was human experimentation. Meats exist for such things. Human bombs, human experimentation… The Meats were only kept alive for those kinds of things.
He didn’t think it was scary.
He only thought about one thing…
If they’ll allow me… I want to try smiling just once, Enlike thought to himself.
He tried distorting his face. As always, he raised the meat of his cheeks and lowered the corners of his eyes. But as always, he didn’t manage to smile.
Even at the very end, he couldn’t smile.
As he thought of this, he became very sad. Tears started leaking from Enlike’s eyes.
“…What’s he doing?”
Muttered the man wearing a white mask.
“What is it, Boramot?”
“I don’t know. He made a strange face and then suddenly started crying.”
The old man on the couch looked at Enlike with great interest.
Let’s try it again. Enlike wiped the tears with his sleeve and tried smiling again. But he couldn’t.
He couldn’t do it no matter what.
Why couldn’t he? Even though he made such an effort… Even though he had been desperately trying to…
Thinking about it, there was a simple answer; he had nothing that would make him smile. But, even if he understood it was useless, he still wanted to smile.
“Quite the strange Meat.”
Someone muttered outside the cage.
The men wearing white coats stopped what they were doing and looked at Enlike. Confusion and hesitation started spreading around them.
This voice once again leaked from the man known as Ganbanzel.
“Hey, Boramot. Bring that youngster over here.”
“Bring him over? What about the drug experiment?”
The masked man asked in a surprised voice.
“It can be done later. I said to bring him over, so do it.”
The masked man – apparently called Boramot – grabbed the hand of Enlike, who was still crying. And he instructed him to open the cage’s door.
When the door was opened, a caretaker rushed towards Enlike all of a sudden.
“What are you doing?!”
And he hit Enlike. He then shouted at him as he collapsed.
“Why would a Meat cry like this! What… what about my passage into Heaven! I won’t be able to ascend to Heaven like this!”
The caretaker shook Enlike’s body. Ganbanzel looked bored as he watched this.
“Hey, Boramot. Take care of that killjoy.”
Ganbanzel pointed at the caretaker with his finger.
At that moment, Boramot’s clothes suddenly began extending as far as a bed sheet. The clothes entangled around the caretaker and wrapped him as if they were living beings.
“Shall I kill him?”
“You didn’t even need to ask, fool.”
There was the sound of squishing. The cloth wrapped around the man distorted. The caretaker’s body must have been inside. In the blink of an eye, the cloth was dyed red.
The extending cloth shrank and returned to its original size. The caretaker’s body, now looking like a squeezed rag, lay on the floor.
“What should we do with this man?”
“Throw away everything, including his soul. We can’t have someone like that ascend to Heaven.”
“Understood. You heard him.”
Boramot pointed to the corpse in front of the men in white coats. While still confused, they took the corpse away.
Enlike had been brought by Boramot to stand before Ganbanzel.
Ganbanzel took a long look at Enlike’s body.
“Hey, what have you been doing now? Don’t bring a smelly Meat in front of me.”
The man called Cigal – the long-haired one – said so.
“Shut up and listen. Isn’t he an amusing Meat?”
“Haah, I won’t play along.”
Cigal shrugged and rose up. He pushed Enlike aside and strolled towards the exit.
“How convenient, you have a spot now. Youngster, come sit here.”
Ganbanzel patted the place next to him on the couch. Enlike became puzzled. He never heard such kind words before.
“Do as he says.”
Boramot pushed Enlike from behind. He sat next to Ganbanzel.
“So, Boramot. Have you ever seen a Meat who cried before dying?”
“I did not.”
“Me neither. How interesting. Interesting, interesting. I must possess such interesting persons.”
The old man spoke while looking at Enlike’s eyes.
“Why are you crying?”
“…I wanted to smile. But I can’t. Not even once.”
“To think there’s a Meat who says such things… the world is truly filled with things that can’t be understood.”
Ganbanzel muttered while stroking his chin.
“But isn’t it simple? You can smile if you enjoy something.”
“I’m a Meat. I don’t have such a thing.”
For a while, Ganbanzel thought of something while staring at Enlike’s face.
“What is your name?”
“So, Enlike. I will ask you a question. What do you think the most enjoyable thing in the world is?”
Enlike shook his head.
“I don’t know.”
“There are plenty of enjoyable things. Eating delicious food, drinking good alcohol, smoking or sleeping with women… But, Enlike… All of those enjoyable things boil down to the joy of living. Do you understand, Enlike?”
“I don’t really understand, but I think I know what you mean.”
“So, Enlike – how does one savor the joys of living?”
“I don’t know.”
Enlike answered. Ganbanzel spoke softly to him, as if he was his patient teacher.
“By killing. You keep living and your opponent dies. Is there any other real feeling?”
“I don’t really understand. Is killing enjoyable?”
“Yes, it’s enjoyable. Truly enjoyable. There is nothing more pleasing in this world other than getting stronger, defeating enemies and killing them.”
Ganbanzel presented his own hands.
“Enlike, look at my hands. See how frail they are. Right now I can’t even kill a child.”
Ganbanzel kept speaking.
“For a long time, I was an ordinary citizen. I simply lived my life as a good man. Thinking back on it, that sort of life was unbearable. I stifled my desires and lied to myself – what kind of life is that? Life is taking what you want. After meeting the Indulging God Cult, I finally noticed that.
However, when I found out the truth of this world, I was already old. I couldn’t kill anybody with my hands, much less dream about becoming the strongest existence.
However, I had a wish. I wanted someone to make that wish come true in my stead.
I wanted to give birth to a monster by my own hands.”
“Right now, only the one known as Hamyuts Meseta can call herself the world’s strongest. She is the strongest amongst the present day Armed Librarians, our longtime rivals. After killing her, the next strongest could reign at the top. I am looking for someone who can show me that. Enlike. Do you understand why I’m telling this to you?”
“…Will I become a monster?”
Enlike murmured. Ganbanzel nodded with satisfaction.
“It is good you understood it quickly, Enlike.”
“If I become a monster, will I be able to smile?”
“Of course, Enlike. No expression will be enough to display the amount of enjoyment you will feel.”
Enlike stared at Ganbanzel.
“I want to smile. I’ll do anything for that.”
Ganbanzel caressed Enlike’s cheek and smiled sweetly.
“Boramot, I have decided. Bring him to my island. He will become a good monster.”