What about the fight? Is it still going on or did it end? If it did, what is the result?
There was no way for Mirepoc and Mattalast to know the answer for any of these questions. The two of them were standing with their back to the closed gate. Mattalast seemed to have already run out of leaves for his pipe.
“…The Director probably won, right?”
Mirepoc muttered. She did so for the umpteenth time. Without answering her, Mattalast blew out the lasts of his smoke.
After a while of silence, Mattalast suddenly spoke.
“In my opinion, Mokkania is too virtuous.”
Mattalast put the pipe back in its case. His expression seemed to be resigned.
“He should have been more evil, like the Director, Ireia-san and me.”
Mirepoc couldn’t understand him.
“What do you mean?”
“Eventually you will understand. We have to be evil.”
Thinking about it, it was often discussed – who is stronger, Mokkania or Hamyuts? Hamyuts on ground level and Mokkania in the Labyrinth. Mokkania in Magic and Hamyuts in martial arts. Mokkania in total strength and Hamyuts in tactics.
It was a good conversation topic. Were both of them the world’s strongest?
But it no longer held any meaning. Strength was meaningless. The only important part was who won and stayed alive. Using every possible means, using everything around them, simply killing and thus simply winning. That was all.
Mokkania was thinking to himself.
I threw everything away. My position as an Armed Librarian, my life, my future – everything. I have no regrets. Because I’ve been dead as a person from long ago. Was it since the day he massacred Guinbex’s soldiers? Or since the day he became an Armed Librarian? Or since the day his mother died? He was already stopped in time.
He had no regrets about throwing it all away.
In exchange for that he got a little time to spend with his fake mother. This would seem laughable for any person. If they want to laugh, let them laugh.
It was important for him. Even spending one second with his mother was far more important than everything else combined.
He suddenly thought of Feekiee. He did something bad only to that man. He actually didn’t want to kill anyone. But it was pointless thinking about him. Right now he only had to fight.
When the fight is over, he will return to his room. And he will live there with his mother.
How much time will he be able to spend with her? A few days? A single day? He wouldn’t mind even an hour. As long as he was with his mother, it didn’t matter how short that time would be.
After that’s done, he will die. Together with her.
“Come, Hamyuts Meseta.”
He called for Hamyuts, thinking she probably heard him through her Sensory Threads.
“Looking good there, Mokkania.”
Hamyuts muttered. Despite being stronger than anyone, he was a man who still hated oppression of the weak. He was now coming towards Hamyuts with all of his power.
Shlamuffen was on her left hand and her sling was on her right hand. After having run away all this time, Hamyuts set foot in the ocean of ants for the first time.
Hamyuts casually swung Shlamuffen. Without waiting for its owner’s instructions, it began defensive actions. The ants swarming around were torn to shreds till none were left.
The ever-going laughter of the magical blade resounded in a range of ten meters around Hamyuts. All that were cut were killed without exception. Not even a single ant remained.
Having received its ideal owner, the brutal blade demonstrated more precision in its ability than before. Its killing power became completely different from how it was when wielded by the virtuous Shiron or the inexperienced Cigal. The ants, who dominated the Labyrinth, had their throne taken away by the spider of the Magic Blade.
Mokkania stopped in his tracks. Sensing that his ants were all being killed simultaneously, he started preparing for an ambush. Hamyuts was at about the middle of the Fourth Labyrinth. She was still at quite some distance from Mokkania.
He gritted his teeth. He clasped his mother’s hand.
Mustering the greatest power he could until now, Mokkania began releasing his ants.
The ants scattered around the Labyrinth began a large movement in accordance to Mokkania’s orders. Their target was a single person – Hamyuts Meseta. The self-indulgent ants that were busy devouring the corpses of Guardian Beasts now passed the Fifth Labyrinth and gathered in the Fourth.
The Magic Blade cut through the endless supply of ants.
The floor became stacked with corpses of ants, turning into a black pool. In a minute or so, the amount of corpses almost made it up to Hamyuts’s knees.
The ants were crawling on the walls, flying in the air, or falling from the ceiling as they attacked Hamyuts. They tried defeating Shlamuffen’s slashing attacks by using numbers.
One ant bit Hamyuts’s foot even as its torso was torn apart. She shot it down with a pebble held in her right hand.
“…So it can’t completely defend me, huh?”
Hamyuts muttered. It was natural. She won’t beat Mokkania with just Shlamuffen.
Within the rain of shells and body fluids of ants, she started swinging her sling around.
Hamyuts should still be far enough. He will have to face her while he wasn’t in her range.
Thinking this, Mokkania kept releasing his ants. Their echoing march sounded like the noise of a broken radio. He could also hear the dry sound of stones knocking them down.
Mokkania reflexively twisted his body. A gravel bullet grazed his face. His mother clung to his back and raised a shriek.
The second shot came flying. The gravel bullet rebounded on the walls and floor. As he couldn’t dodge that attack, Mokkania protected against it with his arms. It gouged down to his bones, making him scream in pain.
“Don’t speak, you might bite your tongue!”
Mokkania said while retreating. It was then that one more gravel bullet hit him.
He realized that he couldn’t afford to show his back. If he turned around, he would end up using his mother as a shield. He would do the opposite – become a shield himself.
The fourth shot struck. He heard it rebound more than ten times. Most probably Hamyuts was at an area five corners around. She should be about five hundred meters away. Nevertheless, she was far too close.
The fifth ricocheting sniper shot came. Mokkania evaded it relying on sound. The moment he thought he successfully escaped, he heard a shriek from his back.
Mokkania looked back.
He transferred his mom from his back to his arms. She frowned in pain as she held her right shoulder.
It seemed the evaded bullet rebounded and hit his back. He didn’t know if this was intended or happened by chance.
There was no blood. Her bones probably didn’t break either. It lost its power after rebounding, so it didn’t cause any bloodshed. However, if it didn’t hit the shoulder but her spine or back of her head it would’ve still been dangerous.
She wasn’t like Mokkania, who wouldn’t die from wounds like these. His mom couldn’t use any bodily reinforcement Magic.
Protecting his mother, Mokkania went past the sixth sniper shot. It was a mistake. He put his mother within Hamyuts’s range.
Should he retreat? No, Hamyuts was faster. He wouldn’t be able to protect his mom by running away.
Mokkania called for her. She undoubtedly could hear him. At the same time he commanded the ants to cease their attack on her.
He heard no reply. However, Hamyuts’s attacks stopped.
“I want to face you with my full power. Give mom time to escape.”
No shots came.
The silent reply was agreement.
Mokkania recalled his fight with Ireia. By leaving his mother behind he risked her. He didn’t want a repeat of that. But, if this went on…
“…Mom, I’ll let the ants guide you. Go back to my room in the Fifth Labyrinth.”
She looked at Mokkania with her unseeing eyes.
Feeling as if he was being torn apart from the inside, Mokkania lowered his mom. No, he was literally being torn apart. His mother already became something more important than his bowels.
“Mom, stay safe.”
“…Mokkania. If you can’t win, it’s fine to surrender. Forget about me. Live on. Please. Don’t die before your mom.”
He gently let go of her. Holding her aching shoulder, she used her cane to start walking.
Mokkania clenched his fist so hard it started bleeding. If only he were stronger he wouldn’t expose his mother to danger.
This man, who used to abhor his own power, lamented his powerlessness for the first time.
Hamyuts had seen this all with her Sensory Threads. She realized that she could take a detour towards the place Renas was heading to. Mokkania was slow. If she were to use all of her strength, it wouldn’t be difficult to catch up to Renas.
Now then, I wonder what I should do. Should I just defeat him or should I first kill Renas?
“Which one’s better…?”
At that moment, she noticed a pool of petroleum approaching her. She knew it was the man called Winkeny.
“Can I help you?”
“Hamyuts. If you wish for a battle, you shouldn’t kill Renas. If Mokkania loses his reason to fight, the battle will end.”
“Thanks for the advice. I like you.”
Winkeny left without saying anything.
Mokkania’s mom should have been far enough by now. Hamyuts’s thirst for blood came from further still, changing the air around them.
Thinking about it, Hamyuts was the one who probably wanted this situation more than anyone. She was a woman who wished to fight with strong people and people who had a chance of killing her.
She might have been waiting for the day she could battle Mokkania from long ago.
“In the end everything goes as you wanted, Hamyuts.”
‘That’s right’, was what he felt as if she answered.
“I won’t allow everything to go as you please.”
Mokkania activated his Magic Right. At the same time, he could hear the sounds of the seventh shot rebounding on the walls.
Mokkania repelled the gravel bullet using his own arm. He counted it as the fourteenth shot. Mokkania only had the leeway to block that much.
Since they hit the walls many times, the shots truly lost some of their killing power.
He could protect against them. At the very least, a single shot wouldn’t become a fatal wound.
The fifteenth shot approached. Mokkania created a large number of ants in midair to block it. The gravel bullet scattered the ants about, but they were able to slightly change its trajectory.
Mokkania now understood the timing for avoiding it.
The sixteenth shot hit the floor at Mokkania’s feet. It flew backwards in vain. He didn’t take any evasive action.
“Did you miss, Hamyuts?!”
Although she followed the trajectory aimed by her Sensory Threads, Hamyuts cried in surprise. When was the last time she ever missed?
The walls, ceiling, and air that were all teeming with ants subtly distorted the trajectories. If she tries focusing on aim, the bullets will lose power and won’t be able to be rapid-fired.
Should I get closer? Thought Hamyuts. But it was hard walking around in the Labyrinth now filled with a pool of ants’ corpses.
The ants attacked Hamyuts from the front, from the rear, from left and right. She then realized Mokkania’s aim.
His goal wasn’t to let her be devoured. He wanted to bury her alive in ant corpses.
The mass of ants filling the Labyrinth was already close to that of a castle. Even Hamyuts didn’t know what would happen if she got hit by that kind of mass.
Mokkania fully invoked his Magic Right. The quantity created by him was enough for the ants he produced to be crushed by their own mass. It was no longer an attack. It was a huge disaster aiming to destroy the Labyrinth.
“Drown to death, Hamyuts!!!”
At the exact same time, Hamyuts loaded a bullet into her sling and rotated it. She wasn’t aiming for Mokkania. She shot the walls and ceiling.
Simultaneously she ordered Shlamuffen’s attack. She changed aim from the ants to the wall.
Mokkania and Hamyuts both destroyed the Labyrinth at the same time.
The ants’ mass, the stone-slinging, and Shlamuffen’s slashes running amok, all made the walls of the Labyrinth collapse.
Renas was walking in the Labyrinth. Tracing the walls with her right hand and leaving the tip of her cane to the ants crawling on the ground, she kept walking.
A little while ago they passed a location that wasn’t inside the Labyrinth. She didn’t check the surroundings, but it was probably an Archive. Judging from what Mokkania said, it was probably the place called the Fifth Archive.
Her cane touched a step. Putting her hand to the floor, Renas climbed the stairs as if crawling. Considering the location, she thought those were the stairs they passed earlier.
Why was she here? Why did she have to enter this Labyrinth that allowed no intruders?
Winkeny said it was to protect her. But was that really true? Her shoulder hit by the bullet ached. She couldn’t think of this as the safest place.
The vibrations and sounds coming from behind were probably from the fight between Mokkania and Hamyuts. Is Mokkania safe? She was worried and wanted him to come back. Perhaps he would return if she could see.
Renas muttered. What is my child hiding from me? No, it’s also Winkeny-san and the person who turned out to be really our enemy, Locolo-san. And Feekiee, the person who presented himself as an Armed Librarian. What are they hiding from me?
She didn’t inquire about this. If Mokkania hid things from her, she believed that they were things that must be hidden. He will definitely tell her when the time comes. If Mokkania hid it from her, she will not probe into it.
However, if Mokkania is doing bad things… Renas’s heart ached and quivered thinking about that. Even though she believed him to be a good boy.
I want to believe in Mokkania, Renas thought. No, I have to believe in him. After all, in her memories there was nothing other than Mokkania.
Then, the ground shook.