What is the worst kind of animal?
It is not the lion. Only humans refer to it as king of the jungle.
It is also not the tiger. It isn’t much different from a lion.
The elephant? A raging elephant is certainly scary, but it’s mostly gentle.
What about the wolf? It is certainly strong in groups. But that is still not enough.
Humans? They might be the most frightening. But at the same time, they are also the weakest living beings.
The worst kind of animal, one that devours lions, tiger, elephants, wolves or humans, does exist in the world.
It is the animal employed by Mokkania-
A black shadow appeared at Mokkania’s feet. That black shadow looked as if it was spilled ink. Ants came crawling out of it. Ants were being created as if coming out from the entrance of their nest at Mokkania’s feet.
The ants crawled. The black crawling ants began to fill Mokkania’s feet and the grey floor of the Book Labyrinth.
They numbered more than a hundred million. The white floor became stained in a black, overflowing wave of ants crawling over the walls or ceiling.
Every one of them was at about the size of a human finger. Their head was unusually large, and their mandibles even more so. With their black eyes shining, they charged forward single-mindedly. They had only one goal – to satisfy their hunger.
This was Mokkania’s ability – he could produce an inexhaustible amount of ants who can consume the flesh of any and all living beings.
The black invaders started attacking all living beings inside the Labyrinth. They first had to fight the Guardian Beasts. The ants faced off against Cavalryman, Entwining Serpent, Rhino and Bronze Spitting Crow.
Cavalryman crushed ants under its hooves and mowed them down using its spear. The ants’ bodies were torn into shreds and their body fluids covered the spear. But that wasn’t good enough. What would killing a few hundreds of them change anyway?
The ants’ mandibles pierced Cavalryman’s hooves. They easily ate through them with formidable force. The ants then flocked and crawled all over Cavalryman’s body. It collapsed and was buried in the flood of ants.
Cavalryman’s entire body was eaten without leaving any trace in less than thirty seconds.
They haven’t eaten enough.
As if screaming this fact, the ants kept marching forward.
There was still plenty of bait left. There were other Guardian Beasts and Armed Librarians inside the Labyrinth. Searching for prey, the ants scattered about the Fifth Level of the Book Labyrinth.
Not many Armed Librarian knew what actions to take against the ants’ attack.
Mirepoc stood paralyzed inside the control room.
In front of her eyes, warning lights kept flashing in red – all except those of Mokkania and Hamyuts.
‘A rebellion? Why? What’s going on?’
‘Please respond, Mirepoc-san!’
‘Isn’t there some mistake? Nothing’s happening here.’
‘Who are the enemy forces? Is it just Mokkania?’
‘What’s the Director doing?!’
‘Please respond, Mirepoc-san, my feet are almost done for!’
Mirepoc received one thought after the other.
I must send some aid. I have to issue some orders. But what should I say? Should they fight or run away? Mirepoc was left all alone in the mayhem and bewilderment.
“What are you going, Mirepoc-san?”
The one calling to her was Ireia. Mirepoc barely recomposed herself.
“W-What am I supposed to…”
“Let’s have everyone withdraw. Quickly!”
Mirepoc closed her eyes and sent her thoughts to all Armed Librarians inside the Labyrinth.
‘Everyone, please withdraw. There is no need for any counterattack, everyone withdraw immediately!’
After hearing the alarm, Mattalast started running around Bantorra Library. He called out towards the fleeing people in the Sixth Archive, in the lobby and in the reading room.
Panic will just cause death. Like a domino effect, it would cause many people to lose their lives. In particular, if people were to tumble down the spiral staircase of the Sixth Archive, he had no idea how much damage would be caused.
“Don’t run! The attack will not reach here!”
Mattalast ran on top of the spiral staircase’s handrail. The stairs were full of people who strived to be the first ones to get outside. The number of people who listened to Mattalast was small, but he still had to keep yelling.
“Leave the Library by walking without any rush! Once you get outside, go to the courtyard and don’t move from there!”
Mattalast shot his gun towards the ceiling. All of the people looked at him at once.
“No reason to panic. Trust us Armed Librarians.”
The panic slightly subsided. The people started climbing the stairs a bit more calmly than before.
Mattalast looked for people who were late in escaping and jumped down.
A woman ran and her feet stumbled. She slipped on the stairs and fell behind. Mattalast, after having predicted this, sled underneath her with his bowler hat flying.
“Everything’s fine. Relax.”
Mattalast whispered as he held the woman’s back. He helped her get up and prompted her to head for the surface.
However, even Mattalast didn’t know if everything would be really fine.
No attack from the Labyrinth came outside. He would have to evacuate everyone as soon as possible.
‘Feekiee-san! Blob is around the portion above the ground of route 41. Can I ask you to help him?’
‘Marlin here. No ants came to route 17 yet.’
‘Roger that. Make all people in routes 16-27 escape through route 17.’
Inside the control room, Mirepoc shared her thoughts with the fleeing Armed Librarians.
“Hold on, that wound is shallow!”
In front of the gate, Ireia was nursing the Armed Librarians who managed to run away.
At the bottom of the Sixth Archive, there were sixteen Armed Librarians and trainees in addition to Ireia. There were almost no people without any injuries, but thankfully none of them were life-threatening.
“Mirepoc-san, who’s still left inside?”
Ireia asked. Mirepoc checked the lamps and then answered.
“The remaining people are Minth, Noloty, and the Director.”
Hearing this, Ireia ripped away her white apron and threw away her glasses. Her skirt waved as she ran towards the Labyrinth.
“Mirepoc-san, I’m leaving this place to you!”
While almost all Armed Librarians have already withdrawn, Minth alone refused to retreat.
Once he heard the news, he headed for route 51 at full speed. There were still almost no ants in his vicinity. While crushing the sparse ants underfoot, he kept running ahead.
‘Minth-san. Please retreat.’
‘Mirepo, where’s Mokkania?!’
‘I told you to retreat, didn’t I?!’
Without minding her, he was still running. As he approached route 51, the number of ants around gradually increased. His shoes were being eaten and the ants’ mandibles ate his feet down to the bones. Yet he kept running.
However, he then stopped. The sounds of crawling ants came from ahead. After turning around the next corner, there would probably be only a deluge of ants. Minth’s legs froze.
He screamed in pain as the fear eroded his fighting spirits. Normally, he would tell himself that the chance for victory was right in front of him.
Minth leapt diagonally with his full strength. He landed on the wall and kept running like that. His speed and the friction created by his shoes shook off the power of gravity.
His body leaned ahead. Minth kicked the wall which was his foothold. He rotated his large build like a cat and landed onto the opposite wall. The floor already became a living hell. The ants, filled with hunger, all looked up towards Minth.
He jumped around from wall to wall and kept running. Then, he could see Mokkania’s figure from a distance.
Minth shouted. The distant figure turned around.
Could be faintly heard. At the very next instant, a number of ants several times more than what was seen until then were unleashed from Mokkania’s body. They colored the walls and ceiling in pitch-black, flooding towards Minth.
Minth’s body fell to the ground.
His body became buried in ants. The only thing he managed to do was guard his eyes with both hands.
Ireia arrived at the nick of time. She violently rushed towards Minth, using her stout body to scatter ants around.
Acknowledging her arrival, Mokkania turned around. The wave of ants pulled back. The bloodied Minth was left behind.
“Don’t even think of it!”
Ireia lifted Minth’s body.
“That bastard… What does it mean…”
Minth muttered with his bitten lips. Carried on Ireia’s back, he was carried outside the Labyrinth.
Mattalast rushed over to Mirepoc who used up all bandages and alcohol for medical first-aid.
“Mattalast-san. How’s outside?”
“They’ve all evacuated. I’ve left them to the trainees. Rather than that, what about here?”
“Ireia-san saved Minth-san. Only Noloty and the Director are left inside.”
Mattalast slightly paled.
At that moment, a man ran past them as if shot from a gun. With his transparent hair fluttering around and sparks scattering from his body, Enlike went inside the Labyrinth.
“Please wait, Enlike-san!”
He was another man who didn’t know of the evacuation.
Enlike paid no heed to the two calling him. He simply ran inside the ant-infested Labyrinth.
The ants started climbing his body. Enlike casually roasted them with lightning. The pale-blue light wrapped around his whole body. The burnt ants fell down.
He then shot a huge lightning strike forwards. The road Enlike was running into was filled with the corpses of ants.
Of course, he wasn’t safe even though he could shoot lightning. His body became covered in blisters and his transparent hair was burning.
However, he was a man used to be in fights to the death while risking himself. If he succumbed to just this, he would have already died twenty times over.
As Enlike kept running, he found the figure of a man.
He was probably the man called Mokkania. At that man’s feet there was a shadow – different than ants – that resembled oil. For some reason, ants couldn’t penetrate that shadow. The man stood calmly in the hell-like Labyrinth.
And Noloty was also there. She was limply carried over the man’s shoulder. Both of her feet were bloody lumps after having been eaten by ants.
“So you’re the guy called Enlike.”
The man said.
“You’re the one called Mokkania?”
Enlike asked while using his lightning to repel ants.
“No. I’m Locolo. A proud warrior of the Indulging God Cult.”
The man – Locolo – identified himself without being asked. Enlike inquired further while examining the other’s behavior.
“Release that girl. I’m your target, aren’t I?”
Locolo smiled mockingly.
“Didn’t you come here to protect the secrets of the Indulging God Cult by killing me?”
“What are you talking about?”
Enlike once again repelled ants with his lightning. Even against Enlike, who was in pain, Locolo stood calmly without being attacked by ants. The black shadow underneath him was probably like some sort of barrier that protected him.
“Don’t be so conceited, you mere Meat. We have nothing to gain by erasing you.”
Once again Locolo smiled in mockery.
“You have no value anymore. Neither to the Cult nor to the Armed Librarians.”
Enlike turned to attack. He fired his lightning such that it would mow through the ants without hitting Noloty and rushed ahead. Then, Locolo threw the girl’s body away. Enlike stopped his lightning strike. Just before she fell on the ant-filled floor, Enlike caught her with one arm.
He put himself on guard against an oncoming attack, but Locolo ran away deeper into the Labyrinth.
Noloty moaned in his arm. She had severe bleeding. Enlike wanted to chase after Locolo, but she wasn’t in any state to walk.
“It will hurt just for a bit more, Noloty. Bear with it.”
Enlike whispered to Noloty while holding her and retreated.
The ants’ amount increased every second. The entire Fifth Labyrinth would probably soon be full of ants to the brim.
Enlike returned while carrying Noloty. Mirepoc immediately received her and started treatment. Her wounds were deep. Her feet were eaten beyond her shoes and her bones became exposed.
“…Can she be healed?”
Enlike asked Mirepoc.
“This isn’t a wound that can’t be treated in the Library. However, restoring her will take some time.”
Enlike appeared slightly relieved. Mirepoc also felt the same.
“So that’s everyone except the Director. Mirepoc-san, is she still alive?”
“Her warning light is still on, so she is. But I don’t know if she’s safe. Are you going to save her?”
Ireia shook her head.
“The Director must have gone way deep. It will be difficult sending help to her. There is a high chance that it will cause double the victims.”
Mattalast spoke to Mirepoc who was obviously anxious.
“The Director will be fine. She’s not the kind of person to die so easily.”
Ireia spoke as she grew closer to them.
“There’s something more important than the Director right now. Why did Mokkania betray us?”
Not a single person there had an answer.
No-one there could understand his goals and motivations.
Around the same time…
Just as Mattalast proclaimed, Hamyuts was still alive. Near the exit of the Fifth Labyrinth, at a place where no ants came to yet, she extended her Sensory Threads.
First, she explored the inside of the Labyrinth. She searched for routes that had insufficient ant forces in them. However, she couldn’t find any. Clearly, Mokkania formed his lineup in order to target Hamyuts. The attacks on other Armed Librarians were probably only made so he could isolate her. She determined it impossible to retreat.
“Hmm… that’s pretty bad.”
Hamyuts mumbled. Inside the Labyrinth, she couldn’t use long-range attacks which were her greatest weapon. The Labyrinth itself became like an invincible barrier that protected Mokkania. At the same time it disabled Hamyuts’s defense of attacking from afar. She was at her strongest when she could fight without any of the opponent’s attacks reaching her.
He took away her range. This meant that Mokkania overcame the very first obstacle of trying to kill Hamyuts without any hitch. She didn’t know if this was by chance or by design, but it was far smarter than what Cigal tried before.
“Great, Mokkania. You’re great. You might be able to kill me.”
Hamyuts sent further Sensory Threads to explore the entire Labyrinth.
There were three other people inside in addition to her.
One was Mokkania. Next to him was a woman walking with a cane. She was a bespectacled beauty.
“Oh my, is she blind?”
Hamyuts said to herself. The two of them were slowly walking through route 51. She checked around them using her Sensory Threads.
“Be careful with your step.”
“Yes. I’m fine, Mokkania.”
“Good. Tell me when you’re tired of walking.”
“I’m fine. You’re such a worrywart.”
The woman faintly smiled.
“What’re you doing, you’re finally trying to kill me but then you’re messing around with a woman instead?”
Hamyuts muttered as she listened in on the pair’s intimate conversation.
Another person was walking at a place far from route 51. He was man dressed like an adventurer. She heard him introduce himself as Locolo earlier with her Sensory Threads. For some reason, he wasn’t attacked by any ants.
“…You will probably hear me soon, Hamyuts Meseta.”
Hamyuts answered, although Locolo couldn’t hear her.
“I have a proposal. If you give me the Book of Haiza Meeken, I’ll spare your life.”
“Oh my, that’s quite the suggestion.”
Hamyuts said to herself.
“Well, I know you’re not a person who will do so obediently.”
Locolo said and began laughing.
“If you understand me, you don’t have to say anything.”
Hamyuts said and looked at the Book inside her luggage. She was carrying that Book towards the Third Labyrinth.
The Book’s owner was Haiza Meeken. He once fought Hamyuts and was defeated. The Book was long missing, but it was found the other day on the island used by the Indulging God Cult. Enlike told them that it was used to document Hamyuts’s battle prowess. She didn’t think it was such an important Book that would require them to start this large-scale attack.
However, the matter with Haiza’s Book will have to come later. Taking care of Mokkania was more important right now.
“Wasn’t Mokkania probably betraying us for a long time?”
Mirepoc said. Ireia shook her head.
“That can’t be. Minth would have noticed it.”
Mirepoc thought about Minth who was already carried to the surface for medical treatment.
With his ability that allowed him to see people’s souls, he could tell at a glance if a man thought of betrayal. Minth visited Mokkania’s place a few hours ago. There was no trace of any betrayal at the time.
“So it means he probably found some reason to revolt.”
“Something like a hostage?”
Enlike inquired. However, Mirepoc shook her head.
“Enlike-san. We Armed Librarians don’t succumb to anything like hostages. If such a situation occurs, we will kill the hostages. It has always been that way.”
“Mokkania isn’t necessarily like that.”
“In the case that there is a person that we must not let die no matter what, we always file in a report first and then act. If one doesn’t do that, it is the same as declaring they gave up on the people in question if they were to become hostages.”
Mirepoc bluntly said and Enlike fell silent. Ireia and Mattalast didn’t say anything. They probably didn’t know what to say.
“I have one hypothesis.”
Mirepoc decided to try suggesting an idea she had been thinking about from awhile back.
“I think that, most likely, Mokkania’s mother is involved in his betrayal.”
“I once heard about it from Minth-san. Mokkania’s soul is very similar to that of a child. He said it especially resembled the soul of a child clinging to his mother.”
“I don’t know how much presence does Mokkania’s mother have in his life, but if she were to join the Indulging God Cult and then order him to switch sides…”