Noloty was eating her meal inside a break room for Armed Librarians located in the Sixth Archive. She stuffed herself with smoked salmon and onions sandwiched inside rye bread with nothing to drink.
“Are you going inside the Labyrinth again, Noloty-san?”
Ireia talked as she placed freshly baked bread on top of the tray. Since Noloty’s mouth was full, she answered by moving her head.
“You’re working quite enthusiastically. You’re a good girl, Noloty-san. Please work and eat a lot.”
Noloty received the tray. The fourth bread became her dessert. It was soaked in plenty of butter and honey. It made a sweet smell all the way to the finger she used to pinch it.
The break room in the Sixth Archive was also commonly called old Ireia’s room. Ireia was a master at baking and she worked there for the Librarians roaming around.
By the way, I need some water. With her cheeks stuffed full of bread, Noloty looked for water.
She picked up a water bottle. However, it was too light. Her mouth still full, Noloty looked here and there searching for a drink. Suddenly, a cup full of water was placed into her hand.
Without hesitating, Noloty drank the water.
The man who gave her this seemed to be a normal librarian. He didn’t even look at Noloty who thanked him and exited the room.
At that moment, Noloty felt slight discomfort. She stopped her hand and thought for a bit. But she soon gave up.
Noloty hadn’t noticed. That man was the same one who tried to make her drink in the waiting room earlier. It was simply too trivial to notice.
After leaving the room, the man went down the spiral staircase unsteadily. His gait was shaky, as if he was drunk. He then muttered.
“Make Noloty Marche drink water. Make Noloty Marche drink water.”
He kept muttering. He said the same thing over and over like a broken gramophone.
“Make Noloty Marche drink water. Make Noloty Marche drink water.”
Some voice asked him if he was okay. The man didn’t even turn his gaze. While continuing to murmur, he went to the corner of the Archive.
“Make Noloty Marche drink water. Make Noloty Marche drink water… I made… Noloty Marche… Drink water.”
The man’s muttering ended. For a while, he simply stood there silently. Then, he took a small knife from his pocket. Slowly and carefully, he stabbed his own neck.
During that time, Mirepoc had just finished checking the telegraph in the control room. That room was placed next to the entrance to the Fifth Labyrinth. Its interior didn’t look fitting to the old-fashioned Bantorra Library. The telegraph was connected to various placed inside the Labyrinth and was intended to let Armed Librarians inside know about any unusual events.
Fifty years ago this kind of modern facility would be unthinkable. Even Bantorra Library, that prided itself on tradition, made some advancement during the wave of modernization and mechanization.
Just as she confirmed that there was nothing wrong with the device, the buzzer rang.
One of the several hundred lamps gave off a red light. It meant that something abnormal happened in the Sixth Archive. Mirepoc took the handset of the communication device and contacted the Sixth Archive’s security room.
“Control room speaking. Did something happen?”
While trying to calm the upset librarian, Mirepoc listened to their story. When she heard about the incident, she instinctively raised a voice.
“Suicide? Inside the Library?”
Mirepoc became worried. She might need to go there, but she can’t leave this place unattended.
However, not many Armed Librarians were inside the Labyrinth right now. Only the Director ever sets foot in dangerous locations. There were low chances for trouble. It should be fine.
“I’ll come soon, so call Ireia. Don’t touch the scene. Understood.”
Mirepoc cut off the communication, touched the gun hanging on her waist and left the control room.
Noloty’s surroundings seemed busy. Did something happen? She wondered. But rather than that, she thought it would be more important to fetch the Book and ignored the clamor around.
On her way, she peeked into the control room.
“Huh? Mirepoc-san isn’t here.”
She looked around for a short while, but didn’t see her. Noloty left the control room and headed for the Labyrinth entrance.
“Oh, I was waiting for you, Noloty-san.”
Noloty found two figures in front of the Labyrinth gate.
One of them seemed familiar. It was the man with a scar from his right eye to his lips – the adventurer that received the Book earlier. A jute bag was strapped to his shoulders and he held an ice axe made of steel in his hands. It looked as if he was just departing for a new adventure.
The second person she didn’t recognize. It was a young woman in her twenties with long, flaxen hair. She wore a white coat on top of an inconspicuous yet high-quality one piece dress. Noloty honestly thought that she was beautiful.
She wondered if there was something wrong with the woman’s sight. She held a long cane and her eyes didn’t seem focused, meekly gazing at the floor.
“Let’s go immediately. I was tired of waiting.”
The adventurer smiled towards Noloty. She had no clue why he was here and what he was waiting for.
“Did we make some arrangement?”
“You already told us. You’re going to let us into the Labyrinth.”
“Did I really say such a thing?”
Noloty placed a hand on her chin and pondered. She felt as if she could and couldn’t remember that. For some reason, it seemed vague inside her head.
“You did. You thanked me when I said I wanted to accompany you.”
I did say that, Noloty thought. I definitely did. But why can’t I remember what happened before and after? No, wait, there was supposed to be something important before that.
“Time is of essence. Let us go.”
The adventurer put a hand of the Labyrinth’s gate while he prompted the cane wielding woman.
Strange. Something is definitely strange. Noloty kept thinking. She felt something was strange, but she couldn’t understand what.
“Come on, quickly.”
“I understand. Let us go.”
Saying so, Noloty also put her hand to the door connecting to the Book Labyrinth. It felt cold to the touch. The door recognized the shape of Noloty’s soul in order to confirm she was a personnel allowed to enter the Labyrinth. It was then unlocked.
“…Let us go now.”
Noloty pulled the heavy door and set foot inside the cold Labyrinth.
“Noloty-san, which route are you going to take?”
“Because I’m the most accustomed to route 16, we’ll go from there.”
“I see. We’re headed to route 51, so we’re splitting here.”
The adventurer urged the woman and they were both gone inside the Labyrinth.
After seeing them off from behind, Noloty stood there for a short while.
Something’s strange. Something’s wrong. While unable to understand the situation, she kept standing in place.
“…Nobody’s coming after us, Winkeny.”
The adventurer said. It was an especially small voice, so it didn’t reach the young woman walking next to him.
“Yeah, nobody’s coming.”
The one replying wasn’t the woman. Something was wriggling on the adventurer’s back. That thing replied in a small voice as well.
“Our infiltration was a success, adventurer Locolo.”
“Stop that already. I’m no adventurer. That’s so stupid.”
The man – Locolo – said. A cruel smile floated to his lips.
“By the way, that woman just now was the one who stole Ganbanzel’s Monster. She was even less of a threat than I thought.”
Locolo smiled while looking back.
“Let’s stop the idle talk. The Monster is irrelevant right now.”
The voice on his back said. Locolo didn’t listen to it.
“I like that Thought Sharing woman better. She seems tough.”
At that moment, the woman walking next to Locolo talked to him.
“Did you say something, Locolo-san?”
The woman put one hand to her cheek.
“Anyway, it’s really cold in here.”
“That’s true. Well, you’ll get used to it soon.”
The woman murmured in worry.
“Mokkania has been living here for a long time. It’s bad for his health, so it makes me worry.”
“Right, let’s go quickly to Mokkania’s place.”
“Yes, let’s hurry up. I want to meet him. I want to meet my cute Mokkania as soon as possible.”
With the sound of the cane accompanying her steps, the woman kept walking slowly.
In the part of Bantorra Library above ground, Mattalast and Enlike were still talking.
“Will that really go well?”
Enlike questioned the Armed Librarians’ strategy – which was waiting for the enemy to strike under the assumption that their side has an overwhelming advantage. It was obvious that he would question the strength of Bantorra Library after they once allowed the Monster to escape.
“Don’t underestimate us Armed Librarians. Our battle strength’s different than what it was before.”
“Just how many do we have?”
“We have five people on the same class as me or above. The Director, me, Ireia… There’s also a guy called Mokkania, but maybe we shouldn’t count him.”
“And the final one?”
Enlike thought for a short while.
“Does anyone in this world who can defeat all of us exist?”
“That’s somewhat unreasonable. If the Cult had such battle strength, the Library would have been destroyed long ago.”
Mattalast shrugged. The fighting strength of Bantorra Library surpassed an entire country’s military. Even Hamyuts wouldn’t be able to stand up against them.
At that moment, he recalled another person. It wouldn’t be impossible for him to count as the world’s strongest along with Hamyuts.
“But… if we’re talking within certain circumstances, there’s one person that can beat us all together.”
“Who is it?”
“Don’t worry. He’s an ally.”
“Which one was he?”
“You still haven’t met him. I’m talking about Mokkania whom I’ve mentioned just now.”
“What kind of person is he?”
Enlike leaned forward. Mattalast began explaining about his ability and nature.
Enlike listened to him with a facial expression that couldn’t be called calm by any means.
Noloty, who was headed towards the Fifth Archive, stopped and turned around on the way. For some reason, she was worried about the man she met before. She returned to the gate and took route 51.
Noloty remembered. After turning in the middle of this route, one can reach the room Mokkania lives in.
“Is something going on with Mokkania-san?”
Noloty muttered. That monstrous man couldn’t possibly get killed, but her uneasiness grew the more she kept walking.
She arrived in front of Mokkania’s room. There was no-one inside. Neither the two people from before nor Mokkania. Noloty turned back and proceeded towards the Fifth Archive through route 51.
In the middle of the Fifth Archive, there was a telegraph facility that was connected to the control room. She thought she could contact Mirepoc there and ask whether something happened outside.
“Here he is.”
Just as she thought of running to the telegraph room, she saw a person. Mokkania, whom she has been searching for, now made his way out of the room.
He wasn’t someone she wanted to talk with, but it was an emergency. No, it was a situation that might become an emergency now.
“Did two people who aren’t Armed Librarians come here?”
“…Did something happen?”
“They might be enemies.”
Mokkania glanced at Noloty.
“I’m telling you to go away.”
She couldn’t understand him. Where should she go away to? Was he possibly telling her to go out of the Labyrinth?
At that time, another figure appeared from within the telegraph room.
“Is someone there, Mokkania?”
One of the pair, the woman holding a cane, started talking to Mokkania.
Who is that person? Noloty wanted to ask this, but stopped herself. A black shadow lurked at Mokkania’s feet.
The black shadow gradually increased in depth and extent. At that moment, she understood – Mokkania was going to attack her.
Noloty ran away. She didn’t think about fighting for even an instant, and ran away like a scared rabbit.
Overwhelming force came surging from behind.
Noloty screamed. The black shadow touched Noloty’s feet. She felt sharp pain in her heel as if her bones broke.
“…Well, that kind of guy.”
Mattalast finished his explanation.
“In conclusion, if he’s inside the Labyrinth, the man called Mokkania is undoubtedly the world’s strongest.”
Enlike thought for a while, and then suddenly spoke.
“Mattalast. Since a bit earlier, I’ve notice the Library’s weakness.”
Mattalast was slightly surprised.
“Armed Librarians are extremely vulnerable to a certain situation. It’s not like I can bring up any concrete evidence, but this is probably something that all Armed Librarians don’t even try to think about. This is only a hypothesis, but I don’t think you should leave that Mokkania guy alone.”
“…What do you mean?”
“It might be that I only think so because I myself was a traitor, but I believe that the Indulging God Cult is thoroughly prepared for this kind of situation. In that aspect, the Indulging God Cult will completely defeat you.”
“And what is that situation?”
“Betrayal of an ally.”
Enlike pronounced. At the exact same time, Mattalast rose from his seat.
Two seconds later, Bantorra Library’s alarms blared. Mattalast knew that this indicated danger of the highest priority.
After having finished investigating the suicide scene, Mirepoc returned to the control room. At the very least, it was obviously not a murder. She would leave the investigation of the motive and such for other people.
Mirepoc gasped as she returned to the control room. Another red lamp started flashing. The blinking lamp let her know that Noloty was in great danger.
“Noloty? Why is she inside?”
Mirepoc doubted the machine was at fault. She immediately used her Thought Sharing and called to Noloty.
“Noloty… Noloty… Where are you right now?”
The fact that she received no answer was bad news. Mirepoc propped up her sword and grabbed it, intending to run towards the Labyrinth. At that moment, another red lamp had been lit.
Mirepoc muttered the name of that Armed Librarian. He was supposed to have gone into the Fifth Archive to do some shelving, but she couldn’t believe he would face trouble against the Guardian Beasts of that level there.
Then, another lamp lit up. It time it was the lamp of Bloze the trainee. Next came the lamp of Mumool the trainee. And so on, and so on.
Mirepoc then noticed that she had received a telegram.
When she saw its contents she sounded the alarm without any hesitation and shouted into the communicator.
“Rebellion… there’s a rebellion! Mokkania Fleur is revolting in the Fifth Archive!”
The following was written in the telegram:
“Immediately order all Armed Librarian inside the Labyrinth to evacuate. Those who not comply will be attacked