Minth readied his sword.
“I don’t care whether you’re Zatoh or Enlike. If I kill you it will finish the job.”
“Oho, you’ll kill me? Are everyone in Bantorra Library all bark and no bite?”
“If it’s you, I can do it.”
Minth slowly headed towards Zatoh atop the sand.
The stunned Noloty watched them. It didn’t take her long to understand her actions brought the Monster back.
“…Noloty, that doesn’t matter right now. Just go away.”
Minth coldly rejected her.
“Hey, are you going to let him talk to you like this, Noloty-chan?”
The Monster – Zatoh – smiled with his face full of blood.
Zatoh swung his hand. Minth and Noloty both ducked towards the sand at the same time.
“Let’s play together.”
Water bullets passed above their head.
“You piece of shit!”
Minth shouted and started running with a low posture like a leopard. His protruding sword was then entwined by a sleeve extended to the length of around ten meters.
Noloty also rose up and tried running. Lightning struck just in front of her, stopping her charge.
Minth threw his sword and leapt sideways. However, Zatoh read his movement. The cloth released the sword and entangled Minth’s legs. An unpleasant sound was heard. Minth toppled over and his legs were bent in an unnatural angle.
Noloty ran while clenching her fist. Long before that fist could reach its target, it was intercepted by water bullets and she was sent flying, rolling on the sand.
“Is that all? Let’s play some more, Noloty-chan.”
Zatoh shook his sleeve and smiled towards Noloty while his body emitted sparks.
Enduring the pain in her creaking bones, Noloty stood up.
“…Zatoh-san. No, Zatoh.”
She started talking.
“What about Enlike, the person from before?”
Zatoh answered while slowly walking towards her.
“He’s already finished. He won’t come out ever again.”
“Hey, Noloty-chan. Don’t be so cruel.
I’m grateful. You’re basically my savior.”
Noloty kicked at the sand and ran ahead.
Water bullets shot forward. She charged and repelled the attack with her fist.
“Who would want to save someone like you?!”
Zatoh’s right hand glowed blue and a lightning strike was shot. When Noloty ceased her charge, the cloth on his right hand struck her like a whip and sent her flying.
Even so she rose up. Seeing that, Zatoh smiled with pleasure.
Enlike Bishile watched the fight from within Zatoh. No, it wasn’t a fight. Zatoh simply harassed and toyed with her.
Enlike was watching that while standing inside deep mud.
The interior of Zatoh’s body was a dark cave. Inside it was black, dark, and soggy swamp. The exit of the cave was enclosed by a solid yet transparent wall.
This was Zatoh’s second stomach. It was the stomach not for digesting food but people’s souls, one that only those with the Book-Eating ability possessed.
A stomach that could be seen but did not exist – Imaginary Entrails.
Many people were sunk inside the swamp along with Enlike. Lonkenny, Kayas, Sasari and all the rest of the boys from the island all floated inside as if they were ingredients in a stew.
Enlike crawled outside the swamp while dragging his body that became heavy due to the mud that clung to it.
Then, he drew closer to the wall separating the interior from the outside world. He hit it with his head. He hit it with powerless fists.
It didn’t budge even one bit. Enlike struck the wall several times and then gave up.
He watched Noloty fight on the other side.
Noloty, you’re a real idiot.
This happened only because you tried saving someone like me.
You one you tried to save is trash. Absolutely worthless trash.
Enlike recalled the day he first took control of Zatoh’s body.
The figure of Ganbanzel who rejoiced the completion of a monster. The battle inside Bantorra Library and the subsequent withdrawal.
Enlike watched those scenes from inside the swamp. He thought that nothing mattered anymore. All of his feelings died inside the swamp.
The beat-up Zatoh came back to Ganbanzel’s ship. He directed his anger of having lost at him. Ganbanzel stared at Zatoh loathsomely as he blamed him.
“Don’t worry, Zatoh. This isn’t your full power yet. You need to eat more and get stronger.”
“So what am I supposed to do, old man? Are there any other Books for me to eat?”
“…There’s the man called Luimon.”
Zatoh escaped the pursuers from the Library and went to Toatt Mining Town while concealing himself. There, he waited for Luimon’s Book to be discovered and then attacked the train that carried it. Because he attacked the Library before, the Armed Librarians have spread around and thus security was thin.
Zatoh easily snuck onboard the train, pried the safe open and ate Luimon’s Book. Luimon’s large body fell inside the swamp and sunk next to Enlike.
Zatoh shook in rage and disappointment after he finished eating.
“Goddamn, this shit, he only uses physical strength!”
Luimon’s Book was useless for him. He looked around him like a hungry beast. Wondering if he could still find some ability for him to use, he touched anything he could lay his hands on.
At that time, Zatoh touched a single specific Book.
Enlike became shocked at the oncoming memories.
Why is this here? That’s Qumola’s Book. Her memories came flowing inside Enlike and Zatoh.
Qumola was a Meat. She spent her worthless days inside the same ship as Enlike. The only things her eyes had seen were bread crumbs on the floor. Her life consisted of simply picking up and eating those.
One day, Qumola felt bad. She felt cold and nauseous. It was probably an illness that would be cured in no time if she were in the outside world. However, it was lethal for the Meats, who didn’t live like humans. She understood that she was dying.
It wasn’t sad or painful. She was dying – that’s all. Qumola lay on the floor and quietly awaited death.
However, a hand came in touch with her body. A Meat snuggled close to her and warmed her cold body.
“…Hang on there. Can I get some medicine here?”
Qumola was surprised to hear the boy raise his voice. There shouldn’t have been any Meat who did that sort of thing.
“…What are you…?”
She inquired. The boy snuggling close to her answered.
The boy talked to the caretaker that came in.
He told him he wanted medicine or a warm drink. The caretaker hit him in response. ‘If that’s no good, then at least a blanket or some clothes’, he said.
The caretaker kept beating the boy and took him to the punishment cell. Qumola stared at this happening while lying on the floor.
She thought it was strange. Why did he say that? There’s no point in helping me. I’m a completely worthless Meat. There’s no use helping such a thing.
However, she noticed – at the very least, she wanted to help that person.
She thought to herself – I’ll try surviving a little. She hugged her shaking body and sipped some water from the floor. She stripped the rags from the sleeping Meats around her and wrapped herself.
Qumola endured the cold with all her might and refused the oncoming death. Eventually, her condition became better in a way that disappointed even herself.
That person came back three days later. With his wounded, tattered body, he looked like he needed medicine much more than Qumola who had already recovered.
“…Huh. So you’re better now.”
As Relia looked at Qumola, there was a smile on his swollen face.
Enlike felt nostalgic. It was the first smile he had seen.
“Why are you smiling?”
“…Wouldn’t you be happy if another person was saved?”
She said to Relia and he suddenly grew silent.
“…I was told I was worthless.”
He abruptly murmured.
“We’re all going to die without anyone thinking about us. So we might be worthless.
But… if there’s something important and it can be protected, I think that’s also part of a person’s value. I’m happy. If I at least managed to help you, I’m not worthless.”
And Enlike thought – I see. So that’s how it was.
Not long after that, a caretaker took some Meats from inside the ship. He said that because the number of Meats increased, they made a new place for them. Qumola stayed alone once again.
She spent idle days while thinking back to Relia. She recalled his words and his smile.
Qumola came to possess a single hope. She wanted to be able to smile like Relia. She wanted to get out of the ship and become something of value, no matter how small.
After a while, a man accompanied by a caretaker came to the room.
“What we need is a healthy female Meat that can work well.”
The caretaker said. The man next to him, Boramot, briefly looked around the room and spoke in a disinterested tone.
“Doesn’t seem to be anything of use here.”
Just as Boramot was about to exit, Qumola clung to his feet.
“What are you doing!”
The caretaker kicked her off. Boramot then stopped and asked,
“Meat. What do you want?”
“Won’t you use me?”
It was a gleam of hope. She didn’t want to die as a Meat. It was the chance of a lifetime for Qumola who wished so. She didn’t know what would happen to her afterwards. However, she didn’t think there would be any other chance to leave this boat.
“Well, she seems good enough.”
Her wish was granted. Boramot picked her up and beckoned her to follow him.
After he brought her to the small island, Boramot explained Qumola’s purpose to her. She was to look after those who are training to become monsters. This was the only job handed to her.
At first she was scared.
The boys kept thinking about fighting and polished techniques for killing each other on a daily basis. She spent her time scared of them, as they were far removed from someone like the gentle Relia.
“…Wouldn’t you be happy if another person was saved?”
From time to time, she recalled Relia’s words. However, Qumola had no idea how she could help people. On this island, she was the only one completely powerless.
One day, when she was sleeping on the hammock inside her cavern, her face was suddenly grabbed.
“Don’t make any voice… Come with me.”
One of the boys embraced Qumola and took her outside. She asked him what they were doing.
“…We’re running away. I can’t be here even one more second. I’ll take you as a hostage and steal a boat.”
“…There’s no way you can do that.”
Qumola said in a shaking voice. The boy started crying.
He spoke to her on the dark beach. The boys were going to start killing each other from now on. He didn’t want to fight. He didn’t want to die.
Qumola noticed – those people, whom she thought were scary, were actually very unhappy. She wanted to save them, just as Relia saved her. However, as she only knew how to act as a maid, she couldn’t think of any method to do so.
“…Why are you crying?”
He said. He tried comforting her as he caressed her small head.
That boy was called Kayas. From then on, they became friends.
“Here you go.”
Kayas tore his military ration apart and gave it to Qumola. It was their daily routine ever since they became friends.
While eating, she directed a question to Kayas.
“Why do you do this every day? Is it fine if you won’t eat, Kayas-san?”
“It’s fine. It’s just that you, umm, don’t eat much.”
Her not eating much was Kayas’s misunderstanding. Once a day she ate the same military ration as the rest. Since Qumola’s body was so petite, eating that much was enough for her.
So it wasn’t like she really needed it. However, Kayas would look very sad when she refused him.
Oddly, from then on everyone else also started to leave some of their food to her.
They also gave her small seashells and pretty rocks. They would bring Qumola anything unusual they found on the island. Little by little but assuredly, those boys who were separate became comrades.
One day, Qumola talked with Kayas.
“Kayas-san, why are everyone so good to me?”
Kayas looked slightly abashed and averted his gaze.
“Well, ’cause… stupid, don’t ask things like that.”
Qumola nudged his head.
“But I think it’s unfair. Everyone is so nice to me even when I didn’t do anything.”
“Stupid, that’s not it at all…”
Kayas was smiling, but Qumola looked depressed.
“I’m always thinking about how I can help you guys. I can’t do anything, and it’s really painful for me.”
“…Hey, Qumola. Do you remember the time we came here? We used to never talk with each other and were detached. Did we have any choice? We had to live while someday killing each other. Not even one of us could think of the others as his comrades.”
“When you said you like everyone here, we first became friends.”
“Is that so?”
“We’re now all friends. You can be proud of that. You’ve helped us more than enough.”
At that time, her wish to smile just like Relia was granted.
She lived in order to love everyone. Qumola had sworn to protect them all.
However, their happy times were soon gone.
One day, after Qumola woke up, one of the boys was missing. Everyone looked at the ground and kept silent about that one missing boy.
Qumola asked Kayas.
“Forget about him.”
She understood that the time for them to kill each other had come.
Qumola saw one boy sit on the edge of the circle. He was a boy with gloomy eyes who never spoke with her – Enlike Bishile. Qumola had a hunch – that guy had killed.
Looking at his gloomy eyes frightened her to the extent that she felt a shiver run up her spine.
Qumola forced herself to forget about their dead comrades and days passed along. It was so she could live enjoyably among those who were still living.
However, more and more people were gone. Gradually, Qumola smiled less and less, and finally stopped smiling at all.
Qumola hated him – she hated Enlike for wanting to kill the rest who were so gentle and sad.
She hated him for taking away the things she bet her life on protecting.