Winkeny left Toatt Mining Town and prowled around without doing anything. After he couldn’t drink any more alcohol, he finally returned to his hideout. It was the same one that contained all the material on Mokkania.
Winkeny looked at the wall with the photos of Mokkania hanged to it.
“Mokkania, I’m the same.”
He took down one photograph and called to it.
“I also lost my mom. Just like you.”
Suddenly, his mind felt clear. He understood everything as if struck by lightning.
These feeling were the same as Mokkania’s. When he was young, at the day he lost Renas, he felt the same way.
Words came out flowing from Winkeny’s mouth. Both his mouth and mind could now naturally act the part of Mokkania.
“I am Mokkania. When I was young, I thought the same as everyone – my life will continue the same way on and on, forever. The day I will become an adult will never arrive. I was supposed to keep living together with my mother in that town forever.
I believed that no matter what else in the world may change, only the relationship with my mother will stay the same.”
While acting as Mokkania, he saw the landscape of his hometown in the back of his mind. It was his first place of residence.
“The strongest and also most kind person in this world was mom. She also thought she would continue protecting me forever. One day, as I realized that mom is in fact a very weak and sad person, my time began moving.
I wanted to help mom. Oh, an Armed Librarian! If I become that, I will be able to make more money and make it easier for mom. It was a splendid dream. Thus a small wish far removed from reality was born.”
Right – Winkeny joined the Indulging God Cult for his mother’s sake. Mokkania ended up as an Armed Librarian for his mother’s sake. They both possessed the same feelings.
What did this mean? Mokkania’s heart, which was once far from Winkeny, now felt close to him. He felt like he was his best friend – no, as if they were the same person.
“However, the moving future was stopped. One day, as if the thread of her life was cut off, mom passed away. My dream stopped there, and my time did as well.”
Winkeny tore a photo off the wall. It was a picture of Mokkania as a teenager.
“Taken back by my father’s house, I started living a different life than before. I received advanced education and training fitting for a noble. However, my dream was frozen and always stayed inside me. Without being able to make it come true or give up on it, that dream remained frozen inside of me.”
He looked at the teen Mokkania’s photo. Through his noble-like appearance of elegance and innocence, one could take a peek at his loneliness. Winkeny could also understand his feelings at that time. Even if he and his mother were apart, he thought only about her. This was, again, the same as Winkeny.
“I became an Armed Librarian. It was inevitable. First because it was my dream. Also, so I could meet mom. I could read mom’s Book in Bantorra Library.
I was unexpectedly excellent. But I wasn’t happy. Talents are not given to those who wish for them.”
Mokkania was given what he didn’t wish for. Winkeny wished for it but wasn’t given it. They were the same, simply on opposite sides.
“At the beginning it wasn’t a big deal. I only worked at cataloguing the Labyrinth or managing the mines. Bantorra Library was still peaceful then.
However, peace did not last for long. The time for battle appeared. The massacre of the Guinbex Imperial Army.
I killed a lot of people just as ordered. I couldn’t do anything else. No-one in the world would forgive me if I ran away.”
Winkeny picked up a photograph of Renas and looked at it. He started imagining her personality he heard about and Mokkania’s feelings of her.
“However, the mom inside my heart didn’t forgive me for killing them. Mom, who hated violence and the oppression of weak people more than anyone, didn’t forgive me. Even if there was some legitimate reason, using violence was absolutely unforgivable.
I felt it for the first time… the fear of working as an Armed Librarian.
And I regretted becoming an Armed Librarian.
I hoped to be judged! But! Nobody blamed me. On the contrary, I was even thanked. Thank you for killing the bad guys, people said.
I wasn’t even allowed to atone…”
Winkeny took a photo of Mokkania from the time he confined himself in the Labyrinth.
“Since then, I became unable to control myself. I stopped coming outside. I was afraid of meeting people. I was afraid of normal, powerless people. That’s why I dived underground.
I became a laughingstock. I, who abhorred the powers of the Armed Librarians, could only conduct the job of an Armed Librarian. I was completely cornered.”
Winkeny started thinking. What was Mokkania thinking about while inside his room?
“…I ran away. I threw the present away and ran into the past. I wished I could return to that day when my mom was there.
Ever since the day my “I’m home” didn’t receive the answer of “welcome back”, my time had stopped.
I wanted to return. To that day.
To the time my mom was alive…”
Winkeny’s solo performance came to a close. He placed his hand on the chest to sooth his throbbing heart. His whole body was shaking with the excitement of his understanding Mokkania’s heart.
At that moment, he heard the sound of applause. Winkeny looked back in surprise. A single man stood inside the room for who knows how long. He didn’t sneak inside. He simply opened the door and came in. Winkeny just didn’t notice him.
“Wonderful. I was completely captivated, Winkeny.”
The man said. Winkeny then called the name of the applauding man.
“The Overseer of Paradise…”
The Overseer of Paradise kept the applause. Winkeny was confused. As soon as he stopped the applause, the man started talking.
“You can also become an actor.”
Why did he come here? Winkeny wondered. He then saw a gun hanging at his waist. His goal then became clear.
“You might still be useful for a while.”
However, the Overseer of Paradise didn’t touch his gun. Instead, he took a pen in his hand and scribbled a note.
“Please go there. There is something that might be useful for you.”
The note contained an address and a simple map. It was the location of an Indulging God Cult’s laboratory that was a secret even for Winkeny.
Leaving only that behind, the Overseer of Paradise left with a smile on his face.
Shortly thereafter was a battle between the Indulging God Cult and the Armed Librarians. Mokkania didn’t make any appearance there, so of course Winkeny also didn’t.
In the meanwhile Winkeny visited the lab. There were always Meats’ corpses piled inside. The research topics were insane. Even looking in the researchers’ eyes brought one deep nausea.
Winkeny only loaned one technique which was being researched there. Responding to the request for cooperation, the researchers explained it to him.
“This technique had its hints in the very existence of Book-Eater monsters. When a person dies to become a Book which is then eaten by a Book-Eater, he can then be revived through the Book-Eater’s body. This is a study of whether or not we can cause that artificially. Ahahaha.”
Winkeny asked them to omit the full details of the research and only heard the method.
“First, we prepare a single Meat. It doesn’t even have to be a Meat, though. Then, we let them drink the water of Argax and rob all of their memories. No memories must remain. Not even how to eat or breathe. But Meats would soon die like that. Life-sustaining measures are required. Hahahaha. Ehahahaha.”
“Then, you make them read the Book of the person you wish to revive. You make them read it many times. Using drugs and hypnotism, you imprint into them that the memories from the Book are their own memories. The human mind has a function to work around any inconsistencies, so it is a surprisingly easy work.”
“And after that?”
“You make the subject drink from Argax again to erase all their inconvenient memories. And that’s it hahahahaha.”
After Winkeny finished hearing the explanation, he brought a Book fragment out of his pocket. While collecting material on Mokkania, it was something he found after looking all around – the Book of Renas Fleur.
“Is it still fine if I only have a fragment?”
“Absolutely fine. Leave it to us.”
Bursting with laughter, the researcher received the Book.
The plan was simple. By preparing a fake Renas, Mokkania could be persuaded to revolt. The success rate of this persuasion would depend on the performance of the fake Renas. Winkeny might also have to use any possible means to make the persuasion succeed.
He waited until he could complete making various plans. In about one month, the fake Renas was created.
“You’re a False Man from the Cult, right?”
Given Mokkania’s age, he chose a woman in her mid-forties as the fake Renas. When she looked at Winkeny, she grinned.
“We have given her flawless training. Hahaha, no matter what happens, she will not betray the Cult.”
The researcher laughed.
Renas also laughed.
“I understand what I need to do even without you explaining. I will persuade Mokkania.”
Renas said, her face full of confidence.
“So you don’t mind it? Mokkania is fundamentally a very serious man. If he was asked to betray it will pain him.”
The fake Renas looked at him dubiously, not understanding what he said.
“The Cult’s teachings take precedence over anything else. I don’t care about such a trivial thing.”
She really was thoroughly educated. It was troublesome. He couldn’t find any similarities to the gentle Renas no matter how he looked at her.
“Is there a gun somewhere around here?”
Winkeny asked the researchers.
“Yes, here you go.”
Renas handed Winkeny a gun that was used to dispose of useless Meats. Receiving it, he shot and killed her.
After saying this to the researchers, Winkeny left the room.
“…Isn’t she too young?”
The second fake Renas was lying down in front of them. The researcher asked him. This time Winkeny himself chose the Meat.
“She’s good enough.”
“Is it really fine to not subject her to the Cult’s teachings?”
“Absolutely nothing is required.”
Winkeny affirmed again.
“But like this she would be a mere copy. What are you going to do with that?”
“…It doesn’t matter. I’m simply going to give Mokkania a present.”
The researcher looked at Winkeny with unbelieving eyes. He couldn’t possibly understand what Winkeny was thinking about.
Before long the promised time came. Accompanied by Renas, Winkeny headed for Bantorra Library on a boat. He claimed to be Mokkania’s friend and someone who cooperated with the Armed Librarians.
Locolo should have landed earlier. They were going to meet again after the beginning of the operation.
“Winkeny-san. Why is Mokkania inside the Labyrinth?”
Renas asked him during their journey. Winkeny put his finger to her lips and whispered in her ears.
“Please don’t lower your guard. There’s still danger. For the Library, for Mokkania, and for us. Speak of the fact you are Mokkania’s mother only when with him.”
If he would talk of the plan with Renas it will all be for nothing. He didn’t even tell the plan to his ally. He wouldn’t be able to understand even if he told him. Only Winkeny, who continually chased after Mokkania, could understand it.
Infiltrating into the Library was hard. If Noloty Malche hadn’t drank from Argax, or if another person had seen them infiltrating, it would all be over. Almost the entire plan was left for luck, and they succeeded.
Winkeny was convinced luck was on their side.
He brought Renas, and knocked on Mokkania’s door.
Although he met Mokkania for the first time, he felt nostalgic seeing his face. He started talking to him.
“I’m Winkeny, a warrior from the Indulging God Cult. I came here to give you your mother.”
Mokkania’s face was contorted in surprise. Rather than in response to hearing the name of the Indulging God Cult, that facial expression came about by the astonishment of hearing about his mother and seeing the form of Renas standing behind Winkeny.
Winkeny understood Mokkania’s feelings as if they were in his hands. While confused, he was also drawn to her. On the one hand she didn’t have his mother’s features that he could never forget, and on the other hand was the expression of joy on Renas’s face at their reunion. It couldn’t be helped that they both overlapped.
Winkeny waited for Mokkania’s response. It was expected to an unbelievable degree.
“Mom is… supposed to be dead.”
Winkeny immediately said,
“She didn’t die. Until now, she was held captive by the Indulging God Cult.”
“That can’t be.”
Just when Mokkania was trying to say something, Renas dropped her cane and ran up to him.
She put her hand around his stomach. Then, she raised it to his chest, and finally to his face.
“I can’t believe you’ve grown this big…”
“I can’t believe it. You really are Mokkania… Unbelievable. My little Mokkania has…”
Mokkania referred to Renas as “mom”. These were already involuntary words. Winkeny immediately spoke.
“Renas-san lost her memories because of Argax. She only remembers you as a child.”
“…Mokkania. This is just unbelievable. Hey, Mokkania. Do you still think of me as your mother even now?”
While still confused, Mokkania nodded.
“I can’t tell like that, Mokkania. Say it with words.”
Winkeny stopped himself from laughing. He endured the urge to dance around in happiness.
“I’ll wait here for a while. Rena-san, Mokkania, go inside.”
“I don’t want to interrupt the reunion between mother and child.”
He said toward Mokkania.
“Yeah, you can talk to your heart’s content. You’ve been waiting to meet her again since forever, right?”
Mokkania took Renas’s hand and led her inside the room.
Mokkania and Renas conversed for a while.
When he came outside there were tears on his face.
“What are you demands, Indulging God Cult?”
“Before that, I have one question.”
“What is it?”
Winkeny then asked him. It was an astounding question beyond common sense.
“About that fairy tale – the one with the squirrel and the rest in the forest. How does it end?”
How much does this man know? Mokkania was surprised. It was a fairy tale created by Renas, and its ending was lost along with her death. And, in order to check whether she was real, Mokkania asked her about that ending.
Winkeny had expected it all. He was asking to confirm his expectations.
“The fox apologizes to the squirrel and the bear apologizes to the fox. Everyone gathers at the bear’s lair and passes the winter together.”
“What a nice fairy tale.”
Winkeny said and smiled.
“State your demands, Indulging God Cult.”
“I won’t make any demands. Think of it as returning the favor.”
“Hamyuts Meseta’s life and Haiza’s Book should be enough.”
At that moment, Mokkania’s face changed from that of a child reunited with his mother to that of a warrior.
“…Is anything else not good enough?”
He produced ants at his feet. When they tried reaching Winkeny, he transformed his body to petroleum.
Mokkania was surprised at his attack not working.
“There’s no use in anything else. Don’t underestimate the Indulging God Cult, Mokkania.”
Mokkania should understand in an instant that attacking him was useless. Then, he would think about taking Renas, retreating and bringing his allies to defeat him. He was a serious man after all.
“If I refuse, what will you do?”
“Not much. I will simply reveal the secret… tell Renas-san that she is fake.”
Winkeny said while surrounded by ants.
“Even if you defeat me it will be useless, Mokkania. Everyone knows that your mother is dead and therefore that one is an impostor.”
“Don’t forget, Mokkania. She is and isn’t Renas. Does she really have nothing to do with you?”
“…So what. She’s my mom.”
“What will she think when she knows the truth? First of all she would feel hatred. She would hate the ones who took her memory and made her into the person known as Renas. Obviously, she would hate me and the Indulging God Cult.”
Winkeny glided on the floor.
“And who will she hate then?”
Winkeny got around Mokkania and said with a whisper.
“You don’t know, Mokkania? For whom was this done for? Everything was done for your sake.”
“If you don’t believe me it’s fine. Call your comrades and kill me. You will know what happens after that.”
Mokkania hesitated. Winkeny then dealt a final blow.
“If you want to remain with your mother, follow me. If you want to let your mother remain as she is.”
This was Winkeny’s plan. In exchange for Hamyuts’s life, he would give Mokkania time to spend with his mother.
It was an unlikely plan. He got too little in return compared to the demands. However, Winkeny believed in his plan. Only he, who examined Mokkania exhaustively, could understand. Even if no-one else would believe in it, only he would understand. The plan was successful.
Mokkania should have wished for it – to throw everything away.
To retrieve his lost past.
To once again hear “welcome back” in reply to his “I’m home”.
“Do you want to lose your mother again?”
A long silence passed between them.
Eventually, Mokkania spoke in a voice that sounded like he was moaning in agony.
“Where’s Hamyuts Meseta right now?”
Winkeny’s life had bloomed at that instant. He grabbed the black queen in his hands.
Ants were still carrying the Book fragment around. Still afflicted by Ireia’s curse of time, they were walking slowly as if frozen.
Then, the ant walking at the front stopped. In front of its eyes stood a large steel wall. Their master didn’t let them know about the existence of this wall. They touched around it with their small bodies. They wasted their efforts trying to find a path.
This was the partition wall activated by Mattalast to shut in the Labyrinth. There wasn’t any gap for the ants to pass through.
Their feet have stopped in a corner of the Labyrinth no-one knew about.