The floor and walls have collapsed. The central part of the Fourth Labyrinth collapsed in a radius of 200 meters. A huge cavity opened up inside the complex maze. Below it was a swamp made of ant corpses. Rubble could be seen poking around here and there in it. Mokkania’s created ants were almost wiped out by Shlamuffen’s attack and the Labyrinth’s collapse.
However, the clash of the duo who were the world’s strongest didn’t end.
At the center of the cavity, Hamyuts was standing atop a mountain of rubble. At the cavity’s beginning point, Mokkania was standing on the edge of a crumbling corridor.
For the first time since they started fighting, they could see each other.
Hamyuts laughed. They both looked at each other.
Both of them had injuries in spots that would kill any normal person. Mokkania’s entire body was dyed in blood after getting hit by gravel bullets. Caught up in the collapse, Hamyuts wasn’t able to keep the device on her left hand. Shlamuffen was mounted on it but flew around somewhere during the collapse.
Mokkania released his ants. Hamyuts started rotating the sling held in her right hand.
This next round will be the last – thus Mokkania felt. No matter who of them wins, it will be settled with this next attack.
Mokkania lost his greatest shield, which was the Labyrinth itself. Hamyuts could now hit him with a direct attack instead of rebounded shots. He will not be able to defend against a full-powered attack.
And as for Hamyuts, she no longer had Shlamuffen on her hand. She had no way to prevent Mokkania’s attack.
Mokkania gasped. Hamyuts was aiming for an opening when he would attack next. The moment he produces his ants, he won’t be able to evade.
If they were to attack simultaneously, he will lose. Mokkania will lag behind for just one moment.
He had to find something. Something that would divert Hamyuts’s attention, even if for a second.
Will something so convenient appear? If so, it would be a miracle.
Mokkania wished for it.
Stop Hamyuts’s attack. Mom is waiting for me. My mom, who replied “welcome back” to my “I’m home”, is waiting for me.
I just need another miracle like the one that let me reunite with her.
Just one more miracle.
The shaking subsided. However, small vibrations could be felt with one’s feet. Renas endured her urge to return to Mokkania’s side. What could she do? She couldn’t fight. She could only go back as Mokkania told her to.
Renas thought to herself – that boy changed. Though, it is natural he would change, seeing as he was twenty years removed from the Mokkania in my memories.
But she suddenly thought…
Is that boy really my Mokkania?
Renas shook her head. She was deeply ashamed at herself for thinking such a thing. Mokkania certainly changed. He became a stronger and scarier person. But he was also lonely and pampered, so nothing really changed. Besides, Mokkania’s feelings for her were transmitted through his words, actions and skin. He could be no-one other than Mokkania.
Then why did she feel uncomfortable? What was the hollowness in her heart? She felt there was some gap between her and Mokkania that couldn’t be filled.
There’s no way that… a single flash of insight was born inside Renas’s mind.
Then, her cane hit something with a clank.
She moved the cane towards the stairs. Even raising the cane up to her waist, the obstacle was still there. She timidly touched it with her hand and felt a cold metal texture.
Was there such a thing before? No, more importantly, she couldn’t move forward like that.
“…Mokkania. What am I supposed to do?”
The two people’s standoff lasted not even ten seconds. The sling’s trajectory changed. Since Hamyuts was convinced he wouldn’t attack, she shot at Mokkania without waiting for any counter.
Suddenly, the silence was broken by a single intruder. Both of their gazes were directed there.
Mokkania heard Hamyuts’s cry. Something came rushing, sweeping away rubble and ant corpses. Both Mokkania and Hamyuts looked at it at the same time.
Mokkania felt it was the return of a miracle. What appeared was a single Guardian Beast. It wasn’t fully killed by his ants. The Guardian Beast that appeared was the one that, based on its large body and appearance, was known as Elephant Soldier. Shaking the Labyrinth with its violent footsteps, Elephant Soldier rushed at Hamyuts.
Hamyuts’s sling crushed its head. It was a natural action to take. Even Hamyuts would be killed if hit by that large body.
But it was enough. It gave Mokkania time to invoke his Magic Right.
A large amount of ants was created inside the cavity. They poured down on Hamyuts. At the same time Mokkania turned his body to avoid the sling attack.
However, the simultaneous attack he thought would occur didn’t. Hamyuts’s body sank in the sea of ants.
“Did I… win?”
He was suddenly covered in cold sweat. His feet couldn’t move. Sitting on the floor, Mokkania exhaled. He didn’t even have enough power left to raise a cry of victory.
Mokkania weakly muttered. The tension that felt like it would stop his heart melted down, even made him smile, and Mokkania sank down to the floor.
Renas put the cane at her feet. Then, she used both hands to explore the wall. There were no gaps in the metal barrier. There were no hinges on the edges. When she tried banging on it she heard a dull noise. It was a pretty thick wall.
“…We’re blocked, but why…”
Renas muttered while checking the wall.
She got on her knees and checked the floor. There might be something there. She felt ants with the tips of her hands.
“What am I supposed to do…”
She explored further still. Her hand then touched something.
At that moment, a scene that she shouldn’t be able to see was opened in front of her. Memories flowed into her head like surging waves. Renas thought – what I touched was a Book.
But why was there a Book there?
And whose Book was it?
If he were to think calmly, he should have confirmed Hamyuts’s death. However, Mokkania no longer had the energy to do even that. Winkeny will take care of Hamyuts’s death and Haiza’s Book one way or the other. It had nothing to do with him.
He rose up and started walking towards his mother.
He felt strange. Even though he got his hands on everything he lost, he felt a tinge of loneliness.
Mokkania’s mom should have returned to his room. If he’ll go back there, she will be waiting for him.
That room was no longer a replica of that joyous time period. It would now become that time period itself.
It would become a room that would reply “welcome back” to his “I’m home”. Mokkania dragged along his aching body. Just a bit more, just a bit more, he muttered.
He passed through the Fifth Sealed Archive and walked to route 51. On the way, he found something unfamiliar. Part of the Labyrinth was blocked by a copper-colored barrier.
He has heard about it. The Labyrinth could be closed by the Acting Director or anyone receiving the authority from her. He thought it was a rumor, though.
“What about mom?”
His happy feeling was suddenly blown away by anxiety. Encouraging his aching body, he rushed through the part of route 51 that hasn’t been sealed.
Mokkania found yet another barrier. Route 51 was also blocked. Also, his mom was in front of the wall. Her cane was thrown aside and she was lying on the ground.
“What’s wrong, mom?”
He rushed to her and helped her sit up.
She was acting strange. She seemed stunned. Also, she flinched away from Mokkania’s touch.
“Mom, what’s wrong? It’s me…”
His mother raised her pale face towards him. Did something happen? Mokkania looked at her and then surveyed the surroundings.
Then, he found it.
It was a herd of small ants, different from his carnivorous ones. They were the working ants that should have taken the Book away and were now in front of the wall.
“Why are they still here…”
Then, he also noticed the item lying on his mother’s lap.
It was the Book fragment that was carried away because he couldn’t allow his mother to see it.
Mokkania muttered. Why is this still here? All the people who might have uncovered the secret – the Armed Librarians, Locolo and Hamyuts have been eliminated.
Why was the most crucial item still here?
“You call me your mom?”
Still pale, his mother questioned him.
“Wasn’t she your mother?”
She pointed to the Book on her lap.
“Isn’t this your mother’s Book? It’s not mine.”
Even though he came so far, this…
“Hey, who am I supposed to be?”
Mokkania’s body lost all power. His knees buckled and he fell to the floor. His mother’s hands clung to him, shaking him violently.
“Who am I, Mokkania? Where am I, who are you, who am I, Mokkania!!!”
Mokkania fought so he could regain the days he lost.
He sided with his enemies, killed his allies, and kept fighting while throwing everything away.
And now, what he sought to obtain was going to slip away from him: Mokkania’s fictional relationship that he built up and the far-past days that should have returned. All were gone in the blink of an eye.
“…This can’t, be.”
Mokkania looked up above.
However, those were long-past days that became a Book and were included in the Library.
No matter how strongly he would wish for it, no matter what he would offer as sacrifice, and even if a miracle occurred…
Days gone by will not return. Whatever happens, they will not return.
“Why, why is this…”
He asked, and received no answer. Mokkania stared above at empty space while Renas cast down her eyes and cried.
A little while before that…
It was in the sea of ant corpses after Mokkania left the scene. Hamyuts Meseta’s corpse was supposed to be buried inside, but suddenly, Shlamuffen started laughing loudly. Ants that crawled around were killed all at once, and rubble burst away.
And then Hamyuts appeared from within the sea of corpses.
She smiled, her face covered with blood and remains. The conclusion hadn’t been reached yet.
One minute earlier than that, Hamyuts confronted Mokkania. Just when she was going to shoot the gravel bullet and stop any counterattack…
Her attention was suddenly obstructed by an intruder.
She looked away from Mokkania at Elephant Soldier. Hamyuts realized her fatal mistake at that moment. She missed her greatest chance of attacking Mokkania.
She didn’t even need to confirm it by sight. The swarm of ants started covering her head.
Now, it would be a mutual kill if she could shoot Mokkania. But Hamyuts did not choose to do that.
She swung around two gravel bullets in her sling. She hit Elephant Soldier with one of them.
Ants came showering down on her. Amid that, Hamyuts shot again. Using rotational power, she lifted Elephant Soldier from the side.
Its body floated, and then started falling.
Hamyuts ran. Just before Elephant Soldier fell, she slipped under its giant body.
She could hear the bones in her body creaking. Crushed by Elephant Soldier, Hamyuts sunk her own body down the sea of ants.
Running away was part of Hamyuts’s tactics for certain victory. She once again applied that principle here.
That was also Mokkania’s mistake. He had prepared Hamyuts’s last refuge – the sea of ants – by himself.
Hamyuts’s shot used Elephant Soldier’s bulk in order to take refuge.
She was suffocating.
The ants were eating Elephant Soldier’s body to arrive to Hamyuts. At this rate, she would be killed in a minute.
Inside the sea of ants, Hamyuts extended her uninjured right hand. It didn’t hold the sling anymore. Prior to her sinking down, she removed it with her mouth and threw it away. She had never done something like throwing her weapon away in the midst of battle before.
Around her were ant corpses and the weight of Elephant Soldier’s bulk. Even moving a finger wasn’t easy. Hamyuts desperately extended her right hand. She breathed in pain. Her whole body creaked.
Thirty seconds have passed. Elephant Soldier’s body was being devoured overhead.
At that time, her fingertips touched the thing buried within the rubble.
The second shot that hit Elephant Soldier was also a strategic move for her counterattack. Directly below the place she blew it to, the Ever-Laughing Magic Blade Shlamuffen was buried.
Shlamuffen bit into Hamyuts’s fingers. The sea of ants burst apart with loud laughter.
Hamyuts crawled out of it.
Climbing on top of the rubble protruding from the sea, she threw up vomit and blood.
Upon finishing that, she laid down her limp body on top of the rubble.
“This isn’t, over, Mokkania. Our fight to the death will, keep going.”
Hamyuts rested there for a while, and then rose up. Her eyes looked more disarrayed than usual. She already wouldn’t make any distinction between friend and foe. She would probably attack even unrelated persons without hesitating.
“Mokkania. Who am I?”
Renas asked. No, should she even be called Renas? But because no one knew her real name any longer, there was no choice but calling her Renas even now.
There were no longer any mother and child there. They were merely a reckless traitor and an empty doll who didn’t know her own name.
He didn’t want to speak. Even now, Mokkania wanted to keep clinging to his mother’s illusion. However, he couldn’t do anything but speak of it all.
His mother’s death, the Indulging God Cult’s plan, his battle and wish. Without sparing any detail, Mokkania told her of the foolish, foolish plan.
He thought back on Winkeny’s words. She probably hated him now. He wanted to die. He couldn’t bear the agony of being hated by the person he wanted to be loved by the most.
“So that’s how it went…”
Saying only this, Renas went silent. Mokkania couldn’t even guess her feelings. How much has she suffered from the pain of having found out she wasn’t herself and the pain of having so much blood shed for her sake?
Mokkania had to face her properly. Everything was his fault.
“I’m sorry, mom.”
Mokkania apologized. However, it was meaningless.
Hearing his reply, Renas started laughing.
Clenching her fist, she hit Mokkania’s head.
Just as Mokkania’s real mother did long ago.
“Don’t keep secrets from your mother.”
Renas smiled a little, but then spoke with a crying face.
“…But I’m not even your mother.”