Chapter 2: Black Ant-Hill – Part 2

Hamyuts sent many more Sensory Threads to monitor Mokkania. The conversation of the two people came directly to her ears.

The reason Mokkania betrayed them had to do with that woman without any doubt. However, who was she? Hamyuts concentrated on listening to them.

“Almost all of our enemies are gone. There is only one person left.”

“…Is that so.”

Mokkania kept walking while holding the woman’s hand.

“You’re strong, Mokkania.”

“Yeah. I’m probably the world’s strongest.”

“…Right.”

The voice of the woman who responded to Mokkania’s words sounded strangely sad.

“What’s wrong?”

“What kind of person is our current enemy?”

“That person’s called Hamyuts Meseta. A terrible villain.”

“Hamyuts…”

“Don’t worry. I’ll definitely win.”

Mokkania seemed to be guiding the woman. So it didn’t look like she gave him any orders.

“What’s wrong? From a while ago you have a bad complexion. Are you feeling bad?”

“No.”

“So are you cold?”

The woman strongly grabbed Mokkania’s hand. They both stopped.

“I’m scared, Mokkania. I don’t know that person, but… That Hamyuts person sounds scary.”

“It’s all right. I’m the strongest in the world. And this isn’t bragging.”

“…No, that’s not it.”

The woman snuggled up to Mokkania.

“Mokkania. As you are my son, it’s scary to think of you fighting another person to the death.”

Hamyuts, who was listening to their conversation, failed to grasp the meaning of her words at that instant.

“No matter how strong you are, I don’t want you to fight. You’re my only son after all.”

Son? What is this woman saying. She’s talking as if she’s Mokkania’s mother.

“However, mom, if I won’t fight, I will get killed.”

He called her ‘mom’. No matter how you look at it, he called a woman around the same age his mom. I don’t understand this.

“I know how you feel. I’m also scared about putting you at risk.”

“I’m sorry, Mokkania. I understand this. I do, but…”

The woman that he called his mom stopped her words there.

“Let’s go, mom.”

His so-called mom nodded. And they kept walking.

Hamyuts couldn’t understand anything. Why would he call a woman not much above twenty years old his mother?

“…What is that supposed to mean…”

After thinking for a short while, Hamyuts headed to the telegraph room.

“Maybe the old lady and the rest will know.”

 

“That’s an interesting idea, Mirepoc.”

Mattalast said.

“However, it’s wrong.”

“Why?!”

Mirepoc asked back.

At that time, mechanical sounds were heard from the direction of the control room. This meant the telegraph machine received contact. Without replying to Mirepoc, Mattalast went there.

He quickly came back holding a single stamp.

“It’s from the Director.”

“What?”

Mattalast showed the stamp to Mirepoc and the rest.

“Mokkania is accompanied by a woman he refers to as his mother

She’s probably the reason for his betrayal

Hamyuts”

Looking at it, Mirepoc nodded approvingly.

“As I thought, his mother made him betray us.”

However, Mattalast shook his head.

“No, that’s wrong, Mirepoc.”

“Why?”

Mattalast rolled up the stamp and threw it to Mirepoc.

“If the one next to Mokkania was his mother, she wouldn’t have written ‘refers to as his mother’.”

“…”

Mattalast sighed and kept talking.

“Mokkania’s mother actually died. It was nearly two decades ago.”

Mirepoc was speechless.

“So who is that woman?”

This time, it was Mattalast to lose his words.

“If we knew it wouldn’t be this hard.”

They both sighed. Why did Mokkania betray them? The discussion couldn’t even move past this first step.

They couldn’t just stand around and do nothing. However, they had no idea what to do.

At that time, a normal librarian came walking down the spiral staircase. He supported Noloty with his arms.

“…Mirepoc-san.”

Noloty frowned in pain.

“What is it?”

“She woke up a little while ago. She seems to have something she must talk with you about.”

The normal librarian answered instead of Noloty.

“Sorry, it’s my fault.”

Noloty said while frowning. Pain and regret oozed out of her voice.

“What do you mean?”

“I was the one to let them in.”

“What do you mean let them in?”

“I had brought the Indulging God Cult to meet Mokkania-san.”

Mirepoc’s face changed colors.

Noloty started explaining – she talked about those two people in the waiting room, about their looks and physiques, and about how she guided them to the Labyrinth.

“…Those two were enemies. If I knew that, I wouldn’t-”

“Wait a minute, Noloty-san.”

Ireia stopped her.

“Why did you let those two inside?”

“Huh? I just explained it now… the adventurer wanted to explore the Labyrinth.”

“Did you break the rules just for that?”

“…What rules?”

Mirepoc tilted her head in confusion.

Everyone was thinking that the story didn’t seem right. At that moment, Enlike who was silent thus far opened his mouth.

“Noloty. Aren’t normal people forbidden from entering the Fifth Labyrinth?”

“Huh?”

“Even I know that.”

“What are you saying? There’s no such rule.”

Everyone stared at Noloty, stunned.

“…Argax.”

Ireia muttered.

“It’s because of the Fiction Obliterating Cup Argax. Noloty’s memories were erased!”

This time, Noloty paled.

 

Fiction Obliterating Cup Argax – one of the seven remaining Memorial Weapons in this world.

It was a silver cup slightly larger than one’s palm. At times it was shaped like a monkey’s head, at other times like a bean pod, at times like a twelve-sided die; it had dozens of different forms.

Its power was erasing people’s memories. You pour water inside, whisper the memories you want to forget inside the goblet, and then drink.

This was used in Bantorra Library when someone accidently read a prohibited Book or to seal a criminal’s memories. It was managed inside the Third Sealed Archive and shouldn’t have had any chance to be brought out.

“We heard a while ago that even the Indulging God Cult have gotten an Argax. For example, Enlike-san’s and all the other Meats’ memories were probably taken away by one.

Until now there was no conclusive evidence, but it seems we have some now.”

Ireia stared at Noloty. Enlike patted her back as if to comfort her.

“But now I understand the enemy’s plan.”

Ireia said.

“What do you mean?”

“They first tricked Noloty and infiltrated the Labyrinth. And then, I don’t know how, but they made Mokkania drink the water of Argax.

They erased two of Mokkania’s memories – his mother’s appearance as well as the fact that she died.

Then, after making him meet an impostor that was prepared in advance, they became freely able to control Mokkania. The Indulging God Cult has achieved quite the elaborate plan.”

Ireia talked to Noloty.

“You don’t have to feel responsible. Having allowed intruders is everyone’s responsibility. You also couldn’t do anything against a Memorial Weapon.”

Ireia next looked at Mirepoc.

“This was quite the anticlimactic strategy. Right, Mirepoc-san?”

“Yes.”

“Once we let him know his mother is a fake it will end.”

Mirepoc nodded. She closed her eyes and sent her thoughts to Mokkania. She told him of Ireia’s reasoning.

“But…”

Noloty muttered.

“Isn’t that woman too young to be posing as his mother…?”

 

At the same time, a single man was going through the Labyrinth. The Guardian Beasts he had eliminated already became ant-food.

His name was Locolo Bobuts. He was a warrior under the command of the Indulging God Cult. He was the man who tricked Noloty, went inside the Labyrinth and delivered Mokkania’s mother to him.

The ants, which were supposed to eat every living being, didn’t prey upon him for some reason. There was a pool of black oil three meters around him. It was petroleum. Each time Locolo moved his feet, the petroleum also moved on the floor accordingly.

Once they were past the middle of the Fifth Archive, there were barely any more ants. As Locolo noticed that, he raised a voice towards the floor.

“Hey, Winkeny. Isn’t it time we separate?”

“That’s right.”

The petroleum at his feet talked. Just as it said, the petroleum left Locolo’s feet.

Then, it started rising up and swelling next to the man.

“Locolo. I’ll only escort you this far.”

The swelling petroleum began changing color and shape. Its upper part became skin-colored and the lower part a dull shade of khaki.

The pool of petroleum disappeared and instead a man was there. He was wearing plain khaki clothes and had no hair on his head. He took a pair of glasses from inside his pockets.

His name was Winkeny Bize.

“You’ll have to protect yourself from now. Defeat the Guardian Beasts by yourself. Just be careful not to get chased by ants.”

“I understand, Winkeny.”

Locolo answered.

The two of them were warriors devoted to the Indulging God Cult. They received the Cult’s teachings ever since their childhood, and polished their Magic and power so they could become of use to it. They didn’t serve under any True Man such as Cigal or Ganbanzel. They were simply warriors who reported to the Cult’s leaders and acted under their own wills and judgment for the Cult’s sake.

The fact that Locolo hasn’t been attacked by ants so far wasn’t by his own power. It was the ability of Winkeny that protected him until now.

Winkeny’s Magic allowed him to turn his body to petroleum. The ants couldn’t eat anything that wasn’t alive. By changing his body to petroleum, Winkeny managed to disable the ants’ attacks.

“But will it really go well, Winkeny?”

Locolo said. Winkeny’s expression seemed to indicate that it was natural.

“Of course. My plan has no holes in it.”

“When I first heard of it, it seemed to have plenty of holes, though.”

Locolo laughed. The one to plan everything was Winkeny. Mokkania’s mother, Argax, tricking Noloty – all of those have been prepared by Winkeny.

Winkeny pushed up his glasses with an unhappy face.

“I’ll say this again, but my plan has no holes. You are to simply do as I say.”

He affirmed. Locolo shrugged as if saying ‘yeah, yeah’.

Even among the warriors of the Indulging God Cult, Winkeny was eccentric. His ability had been acquired only so it could counter Mokkania.

His offensive capabilities were near zero. If he were to fight directly, he couldn’t beat even Noloty. He would become a trump card only when facing against Mokkania.

“But that guy’s weird. He’s still a momma’s boy even at his age.”

“Thinking about this is pointless. The only thing that matters is his value for our mission’s success.”

“But I still have one concern. Or rather, there are a lot of concerns, but that is the most important one.”

“What?”

“Isn’t it bad we haven’t gotten rid of that Mirepoc Finedell?”

Winkeny fixed the position of his glasses.

“It’s unnecessary.”

“Is it really?”

“There’s nothing I don’t understand about Mokkania Fleur. That includes everything until now and even how that guy will act from now on.”

“I’m not so sure.”

“Your worries will not help the plan in any way.”

“Yeah yeah.”

Locolo said and started walking.

 

After seeing Locolo off, Winkeny started walking in the opposite direction.

“Everything is going according to plan.”

Winkeny muttered while walking.

It was about time the Armed Librarians would notice the existence of Argax and Mokkania’s mother. Since Hamyuts and Noloty were alive, they would immediately find this out.

The Armed Librarians probably thought that Mokkania’s memories were taken by Argax which made him forget his mother’s appearance and death. Thus, by preparing an impostor, he could be controlled. That would probably be the extent of their reasoning.

But it was truly worthless. He didn’t even kill Mirepoc despite the danger. The Armed Librarians would never be able to guess even one part of his plan.

“….Huhu.”

The back of his throat slightly trembled.

Winkeny dug inside his breast pocket and took out a chess pawn. It was a terribly worn black queen. He stared at it for a while, and put it back inside his pocket.

 

“But still, he really betrayed us just because his mother told him to…”

Ireia said. Her clenched fist slightly shook with anger.

“It means there are many kinds of people in the world, Ireia-san.”

“That’s not the issue here.”

Ireia chided at Mattalast’s jest.

“Anyway, Mirepoc-san.”

“Yes?”

“Did you contact him?”

Mirepoc nodded. She certainly sent her thoughts to him, and she also felt he received them. She told Mokkania that his mother was an impostor many times.

Already more than ten minutes have passed since she first contacted him. During that time, there were no changes inside the Labyrinth. If Mokkania knew about Cult’s plan, he should have withdrawn his ants immediately.

Mirepoc and the rest started getting impatient. Was their reasoning wrong?

“Did he really receive it?”

“No doubt about it. I’ve explained about his mother countless of times.”

“And what did Mokkania-san reply?”

“He can’t send his thoughts back, just like the Director.”

Ireia sighed. At that time, the telegraph in the control room made a mechanical sound.

Mattalast went there.

“…It’s from Mokkania.”

He had a rigid expression as he came back. This meant the end of this fight was still far away.

“Did he acknowledge that woman as an impostor?”

“…If he did it would be best, but…”

Mattalast said and showed the stamp to Ireia. The following was written inside:

“My mother isn’t real. I know that. You’re annoying, so stop”

Ireia and the rest became speechless. The situation was far more complex than what Ireia reasoned.

“Good grief, I don’t understand this at all.”

Mattalast threw up his hands.

“If Mokkania knows his mother is a fake, does that mean he follows the Cult?”

Mirepoc muttered.

“Maybe he can’t go against her even if she’s a fake?”

“That’s probably it.”

Mattalast said and put out the fire inside his pipe.

“We should probably give up on persuading him, Ireia-san.”

“Naturally.”

Ireia pronounced. Her words asserted the fact that Mokkania was their enemy.

 

Winkeny transformed to petroleum and slipped through the Labyrinth.

The battle will soon begin. From here on was the crucial part of his plan. Winkeny once again sorted the situation inside his head. He kept checking whether the uncertainties in his plan have been eliminated one-by-one.

He thought about Mokkania. About Hamyuts. About the other Armed Librarians. About the mother snuggling close to Mokkania. About Locolo. He was confident none of his plan was leaked.

At that instant, he recalled a small fact.

“…”

Mokkania should have had a Book fragment in his room. Winkeny hadn’t seen it but he wanted to check it.

The Book fragment should have been left in his room. But he might be walking with it.

If Winkeny wasn’t in the form of petroleum, his face would have probably lost all color. It was a small hole, yet enough to collapse his entire plan.

He must not have that Book. If Mokkania’s mother would see that Book, the whole plan will fall apart.

Slipping on the floor, Winkeny rushed towards Mokkania.

 

Mokkania was walking inside the Labyrinth with his mother. He held her hands as they carefully went down a flight of stairs.

“Kya!”

His mother stumbled. Her cane went tumbling down the stairs. Mokkania promptly caught her body with both arms.

“I’m sorry, Mokkania.”

“Mom, are you fine?”

“…I’m fine.”

While being held by him, Mokkania’s mother felt around her legs. However, her cane was at the bottom of the stairs. Mokkania decided – he couldn’t walk with his mother like this. There were also places with worse footings ahead.

“Mom, I’ll carry you.”

Saying this, Mokkania lifted up his mother’s body. Even while she was confused, she wrapped her hand around his neck.

“Mom, I’ll start walking now. Is that fine?”

“Yes.”

Feeling the weight and body temperature of his mother, Mokkania began walking. It was his first time carrying a person, so he couldn’t walk very well. However, it was very enjoyable.

“…I can’t believe this, Mokkania.”

“Huh?”

“I’m being carried on your back. Even though you were once so little…”

Mokkania’s mother giggled while atop his back. He then replied,

“…I also can’t believe this.”

“Huh?”

“I can’t believe that I’m able to carry you like this, mom.”

Both Mokkania and his mother then made a small, joyful laugh together.

When he got off the bottom of the stairway, Mokkania bent over to pick up the cane. At that time, a small Book fragment slipped from his breast pocket and fell to the floor.

“…Did you drop something?”

His mother said.

“It’s just your imagination.”

Mokkania answered while becoming pale. He forgot that he possessed that Book.

That was dangerous. If mom were to touch that Book fragment, everything would be over. I’m glad I noticed this in time, Mokkania thought.

“…What’s wrong, Mokkania?”

“It’s nothing.”

Saying so, Mokkania picked up the cane and gave it to his mother.

“…Let’s go, mom.”

After saying this, Mokkania started walking again.

 

***

 

Mokkania thought to himself – that’s the fragment of an important Book.

He couldn’t just leave it on the floor. Mokkania used his Magic Right and produced ants. Those weren’t the carnivorous ants that filled the Labyrinth; they were smaller worker ants.

Mokkania gave his ants a command. He told them to carry off the Book to some faraway place. Outside the Labyrinth if they could. If possible, it should be a warm place.

The several hundred ants received the orders, swarmed together and began carrying the Book fragment. They started walking in the opposite direction of Mokkania. After seeing them off, he started walking again.

 

“That’s a relief.”

Winkeny muttered after seeing that scene.

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Chapter 2: Black Ant-Hill – Part 2

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