Mokkania’s mother was on his back. He could feel her thin fingers and small hands. So as to not let them freeze, he tightly held her hands.
Suddenly, he remembered his childhood. Why did he recall that right now? While creating more and more ants, Mokkania kept walking through the Labyrinth.
Right. It’s all because of that day. The day when he activated his power to its fullest.
That was four years ago. He fought with the Guinbex Imperial Army at the border of the Rona Kingdom. Mokkania recalled the day when he sank 6,500 soldiers in a sea of blood.
His first order was to monitor the ceasefire. Responding to a request by the Present Management Agency, the entire main force of the Armed Librarians confronted the invaders from Guinbex. Both nations’ leaders tried to arrange the end of hostilities together with the Present Management Agency.
The mission that was initially supposed to end in one month extended to two months, and then to three months, and then indefinitely. Both countries claimed to be parallel, leading to a fall in authority of the Present Management Agency which tried to arbitrate between them. The public opinion was swayed against them and the Armed Librarians because of their perceived weakness and believed them to be wasting their time.
When the Guinbex Army ignored orders more than ten times, Mokkania received new instructions.
The strategy had been changed from simply monitoring the ceasefire to a massacre.
Avoiding bombardment from the air and escaping the advancing tank corps, Mokkania released his ants. The power of his ants which were born and released exceeded even their creator’s expectations.
Soldiers were eaten alive. Mokkania was killing them – killing those soldiers who waited for the day they would return to their hometown and reunite with their families.
The base has become dreadfully silent. Clothes-wearing skeletons were scattered all around it. Not even an ounce of their meat was left uneaten.
There were traces of rooms having been sealed in order to defend against the ants. There were traces of people having tried to run away by vehicle.
The base was swarmed by skeletons, and there were clusters of small bones. A violin, a trumpet, a drum and a small conductor’s baton were lying around. On a musical score that fell to the ground the following had been written:
“The Boys’ and Girls’ Consolation Music Corps”
Mokkania started vomiting. The entire contents of his stomach were quickly gone. With his face covered in his own vomit, he kept spitting air and gastric juices.
Hamyuts Meseta greeted Mokkania as he returned to Bantorra Library. Mokkania believed he was going to be punished. He tried imagining what sort of penalty he will incur.
However, Hamyuts Meseta said only two words.
She said this with a wide smile.
The public opinion hasn’t condemned the actions of the Armed Librarians at all. Hamyuts’s decisive judgment, that didn’t allow the Guinbex Empire to oppress them, was highly evaluated.
Thus, Mokkania’s slaughter had been hidden in the shadows of these circumstances.
Ireia said to Mokkania,
“Mokkania-san, you are not at fault. If you hadn’t defeated them, they would have hurt many more people.”
Wrong. That’s not it.
“Mokkania-san. You should certainly feel responsible for having lost restraint. The fact that even you couldn’t control yourself when you went all-out is certainly your fault.
However, you are not a God. If you feel responsible, then try becoming stronger; try making your power more precise. Then, aim to defeat enemies without having unnecessary victims.”
Wrong. That’s not it at all.
Mokkania returned to himself after hearing that voice. He then noticed that he was standing in place. He was lost in thought for some time. His mother on his back looked at him worryingly and sent a cold hand to his check.
“What’s wrong, Mokkania? You stopped suddenly…”
Mokkania gripped the hand that touched his cheek.
“Sorry, Mom. I did some thinking. You don’t need to worry. I’m fine.”
Lifting the body of his mother that slightly slipped down, he started walking again.
“Mokkania, are you scared? Of fighting Hamyuts Meseta, I mean.”
“As your mother I don’t want you to try anything unreasonable. If you’re scared and think you can’t win, then don’t do it. Fight along with your friends. You don’t have to fight by yourself.”
“What’re you talking about, mom? I really was just thinking about things.”
Mokkania’s mother touched his neck.
“Are you really not scared?”
“I’m scared. Scared enough to shiver. I don’t even want to think how you are feeling.”
Mokkania listened to his mother’s words while recalling Hamyuts’s face. He would lie if he said he wasn’t afraid. But what surged inside him wasn’t only fear.
“Fighting is scary. It always was. Even as I am today.”
“But I’m not afraid right now. I can fight for you, Mom. So I’m not scared.”
Mokkania’s mother stroked his neck.
“Why did you become an Armed Librarian even though you were such a coward?”
“Yeah. Whenever I would tell you a story, when the bad guys appeared you would start crying.”
“Was it like that…”
Mokkania smiled wryly. He probably really worried his mother.
“Why did you become an Armed Librarian?”
“There wasn’t any deep reason. If you wanted me to, I would quit it at any time. Armed Librarians are all pieces of shit.”
Mokkania’s mother lightly beat his back.
“You can’t use a word like ‘piece of shit’.”
“…Right. Sorry, Mom.”
But Armed Librarians really are pieces of shit. Especially Hamyuts Meseta.
Thinking this, Mokkania kept walking ahead.
At the Labyrinth’s entrance were Mirepoc, Mattalast and Enlike; only those three people.
Mattalast returned to the surface and brought a trombone case. Opening the case, there was a rifle of a large caliber inside.
“A spare weapon. My usual pistols won’t have enough firepower this time.”
Mirepoc knew that gun. It was the same one that Luimon once used. It had power comparable to a tank gun and was referred to as a “Tenor” based on its distinctive firing sound. If Mattalast had used this gun against the Monster, he probably wouldn’t have fallen behind.
“Stop that. You can’t help us this time.”
Enlike said frankly.
“Your ability and Mokkania’s ants have a bad affinity.”
“I’ll at least provide logistic support.”
Mattalast began assembling the gun.
“Enlike-san is right. Mattalast-san, please wait behind.”
At that time, Ireia came down the spiral stairs. Following behind her was Feekiee. It seemed she went and called him down there.
“Right. You should wait quietly behind once in a while, Mattalast.”
Feekiee said. Mattalast smile wryly.
Next, Ireia spoke to Enlike.
“You should also draw back, Enlike-san.”
“I don’t think our abilities have a bad affinity, though.”
Ireia shook her head to the side.
“Sorry. That’s not what I mean.”
Enlike glanced at Feekiee who stood next to her. Then, he stared at Ireia.
After standing for a short while, Enlike turned around and climbed the spiral staircase. Ireia saw him off with a gloomy expression.
“So that means only Feekiee-san and you are going to fight?”
“Challenging Mokkania-san with great numbers will only increase the number of casualties. The obvious choice is to just send a few people.”
Saying this, Ireia walked towards the Labyrinth’s entrance. She raised her arm in front of the gate. She then snapped her fist.
“We’ll be going. Feekiee-san, I’m counting on you.”
Feekiee nodded. Ireia opened the door and went inside.
Ireia shook her plump body as she lumbered inside the Labyrinth. As soon as she walked in, an enemy stood in her way.
It was a Rhino. Most of the Guardian Beasts were already devoured by ants, but it was one of the only survivors. Even while its body was being eaten by ants, it bravely executed the mission given to it by the Past God.
Ireia kept walking as she had no time to stop. Rhino put out its horn and came rushing at her.
She caught its charge with one hand. The frictional heat created by her shoes on the ground raised smoke. But she didn’t stop.
Her right hand squeezed the horn. Cracks ran on that stout horn.
Ireia raised her left hand while snorting. She didn’t make a fist. She simply slapped Rhino. She hit the base of its neck hard.
Rhino’s large body flew parallel to the floor. It broke through the pale-blue quartz and was slammed inside the wall. Its head was twisted 180 degrees.
All this took less than a second. This didn’t even count as a hindrance for her.
Ireia kept lumbering ahead, her body swaying as if nothing ever happened.
As she went further in, she could see ants. Initially only one or two, but then ten or twenty. Ireia went ahead and crushed those underfoot. She was also bitten by one or two. She kept walking without this even registering in her mind.
Mokkania sensed that his ants were being crushed. These aren’t Guardian Beasts. Who is it? Mattalast? Or Ireia? He turned around.
“Is something the matter?”
His mother asked.
“It’s nothing. Let’s go.”
He deployed a large amount of ants behind him. He didn’t know who was coming, but it would be fine to ignore them. They would withdraw once they know it’s a useless struggle.
His aim was Hamyuts Meseta. He didn’t have the leisure to look behind.
At that time, the figure of a man appeared ahead. Mokkania ordered the ants in front of him to stop their attack.
“Mokkania, Ireia Kitty is coming.”
It was Winkeny of the Indulging God Cult. He was the annoying man that could avoid his attacks. Mokkania’s expression darkened.
“Is that voice Winkeny-san’s?”
His mother asked from his back.
“Mokkania, a pincer attack would be bad. Kill Ireia first.”
Winkeny said while raising his glasses. Mokkania ignored him.
“There’s no problem. I have no other enemy than Hamyuts Meseta.”
“Don’t be so careless. In terms of compatibility to your ability, Ireia will be difficult.”
“You’re annoying, get away.”
“What are you saying, Mokkania?!”
His mother raised an angry voice.
“Winkeny-san is important to us. He got us all the way here, and yet you act like this?”
“The one you need to apologize to is Winkeny-san. I’m sorry, Winkeny-san.”
Winkeny raised the edges of his lips and smiled. Mokkania slightly lowered his head.
“However, I’ll still leave Ireia alone.”
Mokkania passed by him as he said so.
“I must settle everything before Hamyuts gets that.”
Winkeny’s body melted and changed to petroleum. Then it disappeared, sliding away.
As expected I can’t rely on these Indulging God Cult guys, Mokkania thought to himself.
During that time, Hamyuts was in the telegraph room at the back of the Fifth Sealed Labyrinth. She sat down on the bed in silence.
In the control room connected to the telegraph room was a bed, food and water, a stove and such. This room was made in the Labyrinth for the case of emergency evacuation or a need to rest.
In order to prevent the intrusion of Guardian Beasts, the door was made thick and sturdy. However, the ants came in one after another using small gaps.
Hamyuts flicked ant corpses with her fingers and killed the intruding insects. Mokkania probably still hasn’t found out she came there. He should be thinking that Hamyuts went further ahead.
She kept exploring the Labyrinth with her Sensory Threads. She monitored the state of Mokkania, of Ireia, and of Feekiee and the rest who waited outside the Labyrinth.
Hamyuts had already heard about Ireia’s strategy from Mirepoc. She was patiently waiting for the right moment.
“It should be about 70-30.”
Hamyuts analyzed their strategy. They had 70% chance for success and 30% chance of failure. If Mokkania were to take care of Ireia as the man called Winkeny suggested, the odds would become about 50-50.
“Well then, I wonder what’s going to happen.”
Hamyuts kept killing ants.
This was a battle. It was obvious they would do their very best in order to win. Therefore Hamyuts also cooperated with Ireia’s strategy.
However, she had regrets. For this to end so easily was a waste. It was a precious opportunity, after all. A warrior who could kill her made her his target.
“I wonder if I want them to succeed or to fail.”
Hamyuts thought to herself. Her mind swayed between the temptations for victory and for defeat.
However, that contradiction also felt sweet to her.
At the entrance to the Labyrinth, Feekiee, Mirepoc and Mattalast have been waiting patiently. From time to time they would receive a report from Ireia. For now, everything could be said to be going fine.
“Thinking about it, what about Enlike?”
Feekiee, who leaned on the door, asked.
“He’s with Noloty right now.”
Feekiee replied, sounding uninterested.
“If you need to I’ll call him. He’s much more useful than me in the current state.”
The bored Mattalast cracked jokes.
“Stop. I’ll never ask for his help.”
“You really hate him, huh.”
Mattalast sighed, and Mirepoc joined the conversation.
“Mattalast-san. To tell you to truth, even I don’t really…”
Unlike Feekiee who could frankly speak of his dislike without concealing it, she seemed to have a bit of problem doing so.
“You too? But he’s a good person.”
“No, that’s not it…”
“I don’t hate him as a human.
However, speaking frankly, I was disappointed. He wasn’t of much use neither as an information provider nor as a decoy. I just thought he would be a bit more useful.”
“In that sense, I guess you’re right.”
If they couldn’t even use him as bait for the Cult, Enlike had almost no value as a pawn. He was a strong and reliable man, but disappointing on that front.
“There’s no use thinking about him right now.”
“He really doesn’t matter.”
He then made a small laugh.