Hamyuts picked up her sling. Holding Shlamuffen in her mouth, she stood up. She looked up the path Mokkania used to leave and leaped ahead – but didn’t jump high enough. Hamyuts fell down and hit the floor. The wounds in her thinking process were deep.
Yet she didn’t stop. She rose and jumped again. She gripped the ceiling using her right arm and both legs to climb up. She understood her opponents’ location using her Sensory Threads.
I’ll punch out Mokkania’s skull with one blow. That would probably satisfy him.
“Wait for me, Mokkania. I’m coming.”
Hamyuts started walking, blood dripping from her entire body.
“Don’t you hate me?”
“What is there to hate about you?”
Renas stroked Mokkania’s body.
“How horrible, you’re so tattered. You fought for my sake and became like this, and yet you say I hate you?”
Renas started smiling. But Mokkania thought to himself – did I really fight for her sake?
No. If he truly was acting for her, he would have told her the truth without betraying the Armed Librarians. Since he didn’t, it was for his own sake. It was to retrieve his lost days, for his own desire.
“You’re wrong, mom.”
“…I didn’t do it for you, mom. In the end everything is for me. I fought for my own selfishness.”
Renas gently extended her hand to Mokkania’s cheek that was wet from blood and tears and stroked it.
“Even so, I don’t mind. You love me, don’t you? If you do, it’s fine.”
Renas kept smiling while shedding tears.
“But, Mokkania. What do you think we should do? I can’t be anyone other than Renas Fleur. Even now when I know it’s a lie, I have nothing else.”
Renas leaned on Mokkania.
“Say it, Mokkania. Call me your mother. I have nothing else.”
Winkeny once said that if Renas knew the truth, she would come to hate Mokkania. His prediction was wrong. The despair she was thrown into was far deeper than either Mokkania or Winkeny imagined.
Even if she knew it was a lie, her despair was deep to the extent she could do nothing else but cling to him.
While walking and holding Shlamuffen in her mouth, Hamyuts ordered it to attack.
The invisible blade cut through the nearby wall. It wasn’t an attack – but a declaration of war. It was a single blow letting Mokkania know the battle wasn’t over.
Thinking calmly about it, she was at a disadvantage. This wasn’t her usual tactic of a surprise attack. But right now, she was anything but calm.
She trembled in joy thinking about their struggle to kill each other which will now resume.
Mokkania felt a vibration while holding Renas’s body.
“So you’re alive… Hamyuts.”
Rather than fear, he somehow felt relieved. For some reason, he felt relief at finding out his superior – the one he could never cooperate with, the one he grew to hate, the one he battled to death with – was still alive.
Hamyuts came to kill him. She would probably also kill Renas who was in his arms.
He will die along with his mother. Thinking about it, this was the exact conclusion he hoped for.
Mokkania suddenly recalled the past.
Why did he want to flee from the present and return to that day?
His father who abused his mother, the old friend who bullied him, the fight against Guinbex… And finally, his escape to the past.
Right. Mokkania both hated and feared the fact that the strong could trample upon the weak at their mercy. It was an important thing his mother taught him.
He felt his mother’s body within his arms. She was cold and trembling.
What a stupid thing I’ve been doing. Once again I only did as I pleased. I was going to repeat my mistakes.
I shouldn’t have thought about having us both die.
And he strongly embraced her.
Hamyuts stopped in her tracks. She felt with her Sensory Threads that Mokkania rose up and started heading in her direction.
He wasn’t producing ants from his body. Hamyuts’s excitement completely chilled down at seeing Mokkania walking defenselessly. She could see that he longer had any intention of fighting.
Hamyuts sighed. Mokkania approached the spot where he became visible.
“Are we already done?”
Hamyuts replied in a terribly pained voice.
The conversation was over with that. For a while, the two merely locked gazes.
“Hey, didn’t you want to die along with her?”
“I’m going to kill you, but I’ll allow you to choose how I do that.”
“Return to that room and die with her. I don’t mind granting you that much. Since you’re not going to fight anymore, I don’t mind allowing you your desires.”
Mokkania shook his head.
“No, I will die here.”
“…Is that your wish?”
Hamyuts said. There was no reply.
“Please, Hamyuts. Let her live.”
Hamyuts instinctively sighed.
“What a foolish man. You can’t even die together with the person you love?”
Mokkania cast down his gaze.
“If you wish so, go ahead. You can do that. You want that, right, Mokkania?”
Mokkania answered her words without hesitating.
“I can’t do such a thing. I can’t just kill people as I please.”
“A fool to the very end.”
Hamyuts sighed. Then, Mokkania created his ants.
“I was attempting a foolish thing. I’m really glad I was able to give it up.”
The ants climbed on Mokkania’s body. And they started gnawing at him.
“Hamyuts. Don’t let her die. She is a person who should not be killed.”
“…Are those your final words?”
Mokkania’s body was blanketed by ants.
“That, and tell everyone I’m sorry.”
Leaving behind his final words, he collapsed. After a moment, the ants disappeared. Not even a droplet of blood was left behind.
If he was just a bit more evil, he would have died together with Renas inside their happy times. Mokkania wanted that but was unable to fulfill it – it couldn’t be helped, because he was virtuous after all.
It was the foolish death of the person who couldn’t kill a single woman even though he possessed the power of the world’s strongest.
“Mokkania. You shouldn’t have become an Armed Librarian.”
Hamyuts left these words and went away.
“A telegram from the Director!”
“It’s our win. Open the seal and all barriers at once. Hamyuts”
Mattalast went to open the barrier. And he made a small sigh.
“So you lived through again, Hammy.”
Having sent the telegram, Hamyuts sat down on the floor. She was bleeding too much. Her pain, that was numbed by excitement, now returned to her.
She leaned on the wall and breathed. She could sense the actions Mattalast took outside the Labyrinth.
At that moment, she noticed that Winkeny came into the room and transformed into petroleum.
“Oh, you’re still here?”
Hamyuts called to him.
“…Before I die, I have one question for you.”
Winkeny said, still in the form of petroleum.
“How was Mokkania?”
“He looked happy.”
The pool of petroleum shook. While he was in that form, she couldn’t guess how he felt.
“Is that all you came to ask me?”
Winkeny tried leaving the telegraph room. He would probably be killed by a Guardian Beast or some Armed Librarian. He had no way to survive.
“Hey, I also have something to ask you.”
The petroleum stopped.
“Why did you prepare a real impostor? Couldn’t you think of a better idea even with such a dangerous method?”
“For example, you could have caused Renas to join the Cult and let her persuade him to betray us.”
Winkeny stayed silent. It was impossible to know what he was thinking about.
“…I wonder why. Now that I think about it, I don’t know.”
That might be because… Hamyuts thought.
“It’s just that, when I brought Renas to visit Mokkania’s room… when he saw her, he looked so happy…”
Winkeny couldn’t continue talking there. After a while of silence, he kept talking with some difficulty.
“I felt very happy. Perhaps it’s because of that.”
Hamyuts took a matchstick from next to the heater.
“I lived so I could manipulate Mokkania. In a sense, I was living for Mokkania.”
Hamyuts rubbed the match, and threw it when she saw it lit up.
“I might have simply wanted to make Mokkania happy.”
Winkeny was ignited by the match. Without leaving any ashes behind, he turned into smoke and disappeared.
Hamyuts rose up and left the telegraph room.
She found Renas standing still in the Labyrinth. There was no longer any one to protect her. Hamyuts walked closer.
“Hello, I’m the Acting Director, Hamyuts. I will ask you to promptly accompany me as it is very dangerous around here.”
“Hamyuts-san… so you were a woman.”
Renas quietly muttered. Hamyuts judged from her facial expression that she might burst in tears if told careless words.
She couldn’t guess Renas’s feelings. How will she, who lost Mokkania and had no-one else to rely on, keep living from now?
Letting her die with Mokkania would be bad, but letting her live would also be.
It would possibly be an act of kindness to let her die here.
“Why are you silent? Let us go outside.”
Her hand that was about to reach a gravel bullet stopped. Hamyuts smiled bitterly at her foolish thoughts.
She reached out for Renas.
“Do you need a hand?”
Renas shook her head to the side. Searching on the floor, she picked up her cane.
“No. I’ll walk alone.”
She rose up, squeezing the cane with her thin fingers. She then started walking.
There was a Book fragment in Renas’s breast pocket. It was the Book of the real Renas Fleur that Mokkania tried keeping away from her. Renas probed her pocket and touched that Book once more.
Engraved inside were the Renas and young Mokkania of days past.
It was a sunny day in a road lined with poplar trees. Mokkania was in a good mood, and Renas was a bit tired.
She pulled at Mokkania’s hand. The boy was surprised and looked at his mother’s face.
She pointed at the ground. There was a line of small ants there.
“You mustn’t step on them.”
Mokkania nodded, and then used his small legs to leap over the line of ants.
“Hey, Mokkania. When you’re grown up, remember what I’ve told you.”
“Never oppress those weaker than yourself. Make a promise with me.”
The young Mokkania didn’t really understand what his mother was saying. Yet Renas continued. Even if he couldn’t understand her now, she believed that he would recall this day when he was older.
“The small and the weak are all the same. These ants, you, and me, are all the same.”
Renas turned around and gazed down at the line of ants.
“Because we’re alive, we’re all the same. Never forget this.”
At that time she was already sick. It was a short while before the real Renas had died.
The fake Renas was thinking as she walked through the Labyrinth. Mokkania protected these words until the very end.
‘Never oppress those who are weaker than yourself’.
Perhaps I was happy… after all, despite being an empty doll, I was able to obtain a son who thought of his mother.