The next day, Noloty went to the warehouse Zatoh slept in.
There were still traces of destruction around it and people who looked like related officials talked among themselves. She peeked inside, but there was no sign of Zatoh. Noloty left the place.
He was at the next place she went to. Seeing his face, she felt some sense of relief.
However, Zatoh probably didn’t share her feelings. He clearly looked annoyed when he saw her.
He was at the vacant lot in the back alleys, exactly where Noloty first met him. It was where he conducted his brawl business. When they first met, there was a crowd around, but now he sat all alone next to the signboard.
“…What do you want?”
“The same as yesterday. My mission is to save you. I came thinking that I can still do it somehow.”
He sighed with a genuinely annoyed look on his face.
“Can I sit here?”
Noloty pointed next to Zatoh. He didn’t answer, so she just sat down there.
He didn’t say anything. Did he already give up telling her to kill him?
“You don’t seem to have any customers.”
“Because it’s daytime.”
Saying so, Zatoh looked around the barely crowded streets.
The two of them didn’t speak with each other, and eventually the sun sank and it became night.
“You don’t seem to have any customers.”
The pedestrian traffic began to increase in the dark streets after the sun sank. When the people walking down the road saw Zatoh and Noloty, they talked silently among themselves and went past as if avoiding them. One of them whispered as he pointed at Noloty.
“Hey, that’s an Armed Librarian…”
“Scary. She can probably kill 100 or 200 people like it’s nothing.”
“Don’t make eye contact. We’ll be killed.”
“What kind of monster is she?”
Apparently, the fact that Zatoh endured Noloty’s attack had become a rumor in the city. If he was able to endure that attack which was certainly unlike that of a trainee but of a full-fledged Armed Librarian, no one could dream of beating him.
“You don’t seem to have any customers.”
“Because of you.”
“You’re really annoying me.”
Zatoh said, looking displeased.
“Thinking about it, why do you need money?”
Noloty asked. She thought about this for quite some time.
“…I planned on going to Bantorra Library. If I were to come to a mass of Armed Librarians, they would undoubtedly kill me. But since Bantorra is far, the travel expenses are nothing to sneeze at.”
“Don’t you already have enough?”
Noloty pointed at a bundle of money placed next to Zatoh. He pointed with his chin for her to check it. When she picked it up, it seemed strangely light. Only the top and bottom were real banknotes, and the rest was newspaper.
“I don’t mind. They didn’t beat me. Besides, if the person who can defeat me is in this city I don’t need to go to Bantorra.”
“…But it’s still horrible. It’s so hollow.”
“I’m telling you that’s what I want.”
Noloty sighed. He was such a troubling person.
After a while, she rose on her feet.
“Well, it’s time to go back.”
“What did you come here for?”
Zatoh’s question was natural. For the entire day, she did nothing but sit next to him.
“I’m going to save you, but you didn’t do anything.”
“Do you still want to save me?”
“Honestly, after yesterday, I think it might be impossible to stop you.”
“So, I tried thinking of another way of saving you besides killing.”
Zatoh scratched his head with a truly perplexed expression.
“Does your idiocy have no bounds?”
“We are the same in this regard.”
It seems that Zatoh didn’t intend on staying there, as he prepared to go away.
“Zatoh-san. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Zatoh turned around.
“Noloty, I have a question.”
“What is it?”
“I once killed many people.”
“…Saving me would mean desecrating those people’s lives. Do you understand that?”
That question was a little different than his usual. For the first time, Zatoh didn’t tell her to stop him, but instead asked if what she wanted to do was fine.
“Do you want to atone by dying?”
“There is no other way of atonement.”
“Why do you have to atone by dying? Everyone can die.
It happens naturally to everyone, but it doesn’t mean they atone for anything.”
Zatoh seemed troubled for a while. Then, he spoke with a bitter voice.
“I see. Do as you want.”
It was the first time Zatoh listened to her. Noloty felt a bit happy. She smiled broadly.
Seeing her face, he suddenly said,
“So you can smile as well.”
“No… never mind.”
Zatoh, averting his gaze, ran away from Noloty’s sight. He turned his back to her and quietly disappeared in the night-time city.
Noloty returned to her lodging in the sheriff’s offices. There only seemed to be one person on night shift there. Noloty sat on the couch and sighed in relief.
For now, it seems this day was a success.
But was doing this really fine? I need to recover Luimon-san’s Book.
However, right now it didn’t seem like she could both save Zatoh and retrieve Luimon’s Book. I’ll try the same thing tomorrow. I’ll make Zatoh-san talk.
Suddenly, the sheriff spoke to her.
“It seems you were together with a guy with strange hair today. What were you doing?”
How should I explain this?
“Let’s call him something like a material witness.”
“But I heard you were sitting there doing nothing.”
The sheriff looked at Noloty with suspicious eyes.
“It can’t be that he’s paying you, right?”
“Hey, w-what are you even saying? Stop that.”
Noloty denied while waving her hands.
“Well, I don’t really think so, but what are you really doing?”
“Uuh, just trust me…”
She sighed. The sheriff then said with a serious face,
“It’s just that I heard about something terrible that happened in Bantorra Library.”
Noloty’s face became rigid.
The information about the current incident was strictly controlled so it wouldn’t reach the nations of the world or news agencies. However, it seemed like rumors couldn’t be stopped.
“This doesn’t have anything to do with Luimon-san. The Library is far away from here in the first place.”
“But there was also that incident in Toatt Mining Town…”
“It’s alright. There’s no problem.”
Noloty said forcefully. Since she denied it like that, it might have seemed more suspicious instead.
“…There’s no way the Monster is in this city, right?”
The sheriff said anxiously. Noloty tried calming her heart.
“Don’t say such an absurd thing.”
“So everything’s fine…”
The sheriff stopped the conversation short and went back to his desk. Noloty put a hand on her chest in relief.
Even so, she was still thinking. She didn’t have any guarantee that guy wasn’t the Monster. It’s just that he vaguely didn’t seem to be.
Noloty recalled the face of a certain Armed Librarian. If only Minth-san was here, he could tell with one look.
During the same time, Zatoh was inside the room of a small hotel. He thought about staying there for one more night and then search for a new lodging. Without paying any heed to the soft bed, he lay on the floor. He was unable to sleep well on a bed.
While lying on the floor, he recalled Noloty’s face.
He felt as if he went along with her pace.
“Do you have any wish?”
Zatoh recalled her saying those words. At that time, he could barely stop his mouth from opening.
“I want to smile.”
He almost said. It was truly good he didn’t, as he was already supposed to get rid of that wish.
Zatoh closed his eyes and tried sleeping. He then noticed that his hand started trembling.
While still lying down, Zatoh grabbed his finger and broke it. Clenching his teeth hard to stifle the pain, he bent the joints of his fingers to the opposite side. When he reached his ring finger after starting from his index finger, the tremors finally stopped. His fingers twitched and then regenerated to their previous shape.
The frequency of the tremors became slightly bigger than before. He had to die as soon as possible.
After his fingers finished regenerating, Zatoh closed his eyes and tried to sleep. However, after a short while, he once again jumped up.
His hand was trembling again. Zatoh tried grabbing his short sword. However, as his left hand was also trembling, he couldn’t hold it well.
He bit both of his hands. He sunk his teeth down to the bone and barely started chewing. His hands regenerated, he chewed them, and they regenerated again. However, the tremors didn’t stop. The tremors that were supposed to stop if given enough pain didn’t.
Zatoh’s trembling hands started beating his own face. Both fists powerfully pounded him again and again. The tremors ceased just as he lost his consciousness.
“…Noloty-san! What’re you doing!”
Noloty, who was sleeping on the sofa in the sheriff’s offices, was woken up by this voice. Above her head she could see the sheriff’s mustache.
“This isn’t a time to sleep! The Monster came to this city!”
He clenched a newspaper in his hands. Noloty couldn’t read the contents, but she could see the words “Monster” and “Armed Librarian” on it.
“This isn’t any rumor. We received a report from an eyewitness. There’s a man with a golden helmet on the roofs of the northwest district!”
It was during the same day and same time inside an office in Bantorra Library. Ireia kept glaring at reports summarizing information from various places, while at her side Mirepoc kept her Thought Sharing with Armed Librarians from various places.
Ireia held her head. In addition to them not finding the Monster, there were now rumors that he appeared in various places. Even if they could make national governments and police officials stay silent about this, they couldn’t suppress the news agencies and ordinary citizens who had a thirst for knowledge. At this rate, if they keep concealing information, fear around the world will grow and Armed Librarians will lose the citizens’ trust. In the worst-case scenario, the greatest taboo of Bantorra Library – the existence of the Indulging God Cult – will come to light.
“At this kind of time Hamyuts-san is…”
Ireia mumbled. As heard from the tone of her voice, she was losing her usual calm. At that moment, Mirepoc who was busy with her Thought Sharing had opened her eyes.
“A top priority message from Minth-san.”
“What is it?”
Ireia bent forward.
“He found a person who’s seemingly the Monster in Ismo Republic’s Bujui.”
Ireia knit her brows.
“Yes. This is what he said.”
“That’s strange. With Minth-san’s ability, there shouldn’t be a ‘seemingly’.”
“However, that is what he said. I’ll attempt another Thought Sharing.”
Mirepoc closed her eyes and sent her thoughts.
“My thoughts have reached him, but there is no answer. He is apparently in combat.”