The tram carrying Mirepoc and Mattalast gently advanced through the city. As the sun started sinking and the sunset could be seen clearly outside the window.
After a while, the rain reached the station close to its final one. Mattalast got off and Mirepoc followed him.
“You’ll see soon enough.”
Mattalast said. It truly was soon enough. He entered the pub next to the station.
When he opened the door, Mirepoc heard music that made her want to frown.
The place was a standing pub where one couldn’t seat while drinking. At the center was a stage five or six people could perform on. A plump beauty was singing loudly in the center. She was accompanied by a saxophone, a piano, a bass and a mandolin. What’s going on here, Mirepoc was about to ask.
But at that moment, a man approached Mattalast.
“Mattalast. So you’re still alive.”
Mirepoc put herself on guard.
“Unfortunately, I’ve failed to die.”
As Mattalast answered, the man struck his back while laughing.
“This bastard hasn’t shown himself for who knows how long. We thought he died so we started a memorial service for him.”
“That’s too soon. Wait another five years.”
The two smiled at each other. Mattalast reached a table at the back, and Mirepoc followed him.
“Give me some bourbon. And lime juice for the kid.”
Saying this, Mattalast lowered the trombone case from his shoulder.
Mirepoc instinctively leaned over.
Mattalast opened the lid… and a trombone was inside.
Mirepoc stared at the case’s contents for a while. A trombone was inside the trombone case. That was actually to be expected.
“Are you going to play it?”
Mattalast quickly assembled the trombone and got up the stage at the center.
“Mattalast, can you play ‘Oh nostalgic Lumanta’?”
The singing lady spoke to him.
“Leave it to me. I haven’t lost my skill.”
He started with the trombone’s quiet prelude. The bass and piano joined together with the mandolin and the woman started singing. Mirepoc stared at their performance.
After completing one song, Mattalast got off the stage.
“Mattalast-san, what does that mean?”
“People who love music gather here. This pub’s gimmick is that customers can freely perform, so skilled people come here to have fun every day.”
“I see. So why did you come here?”
“I told you. I’m on vacation.”
Mirepoc silently pulled out her purse and left small change on the table.
“We haven’t gotten our order yet.”
“I’ll give you my lime juice, so drink it.”
Mirepoc pushed aside the crowd of customers as she headed for the exit.
She turned around. Mattalast’s expression became that of when in the midst of battle.
“So you can call me if anything happens, keep our thoughts linked together at all times.”
Mirepoc slightly smiled and invoked her Magic Right.
Mattalast waved his hand.
‘And another thing. You should try inquiring the man called Kalon Kay.”
‘Who is he?’
‘A sheriff. He lives in house number 23 of the 5th Avenue. Apartment number 5. He is familiar with Lascall Othello.’
‘Why does he know about Lascall?’
‘You’ll understand if you meet him.’
Since they became suddenly silent, the people around were confused.
‘I’ll call you if anything happens. Until then, please take it easy.’
Mattalast spoke aloud.
During that time, Alme was behind the pub Mattalast and Mirepoc were in. She extended her Sensory Threads into the pub and touched them both. Alme felt Mirepoc leaving the place.
“Why did Mirepoc come here…”
She mumbled. She hesitated on which of them to monitor, but reached a decision in less than a second. Alme began tailing Mirepoc.
The true value of the Sensory Threads was in tailing a person. When it comes to keeping track of someone, even a person of Mattalast’s caliber couldn’t best her. She was confident that the only person she couldn’t tail was the one who possessed the same ability, Hamyuts.
The apartment Mirepoc reached was terribly old and cramped.
The sheriff called Kalon Kay was puzzled at Mirepoc’s words. He was a dull man dressed in a wrinkled shirt and pants with worn-out knees.
“Yes. I came here because he told me to. Do you know him?”
“Yeah, he came here yesterday.”
Saying so, Kalon guided Mirepoc inside the room.
“So you came here to ask about Lascall Othello, right?”
“Yes. But first, shall I introduce myself?”
“Well, there’s no real need for that, but I’m Kalon Kay. I’m a novice sheriff. Nice to meet you.”
“I’m the Armed Librarian Mirepoc Finedell. I came here to investigate Lascall Othello.”
She could tell by his atmosphere – that man had nothing to do with the Indulging God Cult.
She could see him acting surprised when an Armed Librarian came to visit him, but could feel no bloodlust, hostility or caution.
The two talked at the same time.
“About Lascall, how-”
“About Lascall, why-”
“Please go first.”
“Umm… To tell you the truth, I was in charge of the Parney Parlmanta case.”
“Parney was looking for that Lascall, so I thought there was some connection between them.”
Kalon pointed at a bookshelf. Items such as ancient documents, picture books and fairy tales were tightly gathered there.
“It was interesting to gradually examine all of them. It seems like I became obsessed with it.”
Mirepoc admired his considerable lineup. It looked somewhat like the library of a literary researcher. Since he was doing it as a hobby, it was laudable. Kalon then inquired her.
“Do you know about Lascall Othello?”
“Yes. He is a mysterious Book-seller who conveys girls’ Books to their loved ones. That’s the kind of story I’ve heard.”
Mirepoc answered. Kalon pulled off several books from the shelf.
“It’s commonly like that. However, when researching further, it seemed like that rumor wasn’t made up recently.”
He opened an old picture book.
“According to my investigation, the legend of Lascall Othello existed at least five hundred years ago.”
He showed Mirepoc the picture book with its old-fashioned design and decorative print.
“For example, this was written around three hundred years ago. This is a collection of fairy tales passed down during the generations, but Lascall Othello makes an appearance here.”
Mirepoc started flipping through the picture book.
“In a certain kingdom, there were a bad king and a kind-hearted prince. The prince was pained by the king’s doings… Let’s skip a little… This story is about how, after a lot has happened, the king reforms when he saw the prince’s Book. The Magician who gave the king that Book was known as Lascall Othello.”
She found the illustration of a witch who looked like an old woman holding a cane with a three-cornered hat propped up on it. That person, who talked with a man who seemed like a king, was probably Lascall Othello.
“The rumors of Lascall carrying around the Books of maidens in love is a bit different.”
“That’s right. There’s no mention of any maidens in love in the old tradition.
There’s also another story. This time it’s a hero who sets out on a journey in order to defeat a monster, and is bestowed with a Book in which the way of defeating that monster was written inside.”
Mirepoc peeked inside the book. This time, Lascall was in form of a small boy.
She read it. A scene where the monster-slaying hero speaks with Lascall caught her attention.
“Great Magician Lascall. Please lend me your powers.”
“O Hero, that is impossible. If this world is but a story, I will be the one to read it.”
That sentence left a strange impression on her.
“There are other various stories. They come in different forms, but their common point is that they all feature Book-carrying Magicians.”
Mirepoc thought for a while.
“A while ago, Lascall Othello became a rumor in this city.”
“Originally, only a select few have known of it, but now it’s an old legend. I wonder why that is. I think that someone spread the rumor around, but…”
“You don’t know who spread it around?”
Kalon smiled. Well, since he’s investigated something that even us Armed Librarians don’t know, it’s causing us to lose face.
“There’s also a slightly different story.”
He brought yet another picture book.
“In a certain Books mine, there was a bad person who sold those Books for gold. And there was a certain Magician who ended picking up Books from the mine with his Magic. That Magician was Lascall Othello.”
Mirepoc looked at the book. This time, Lascall was an aristocratic-looking young man.
“A strange tale. It is impossible for any kind of Magician to dig out Books.”
“Well, it’s a fairy tale.”
“It’s a little absurd even for a fairytale. A magician that can perform the technique of the Past God…”
“There still more… huh? Where is it?”
Kalon started looking for some book. Mirepoc interrupting him by keeping talking.
“So, do you believe that Lascall Othello is real?”
“If we’re talking about whether he’s real… I’d say he isn’t.”
It was an unexpected answer. Since he was zealously researching Lascall, Mirepoc was sure that he’d answer her that he believes him to be real.
“So what do you think about Lascall?”
Kalon began thinking.
“It’s… all a coincidence.”
It was an interesting answer.
“There was probably some person that, by sheer chance, had his Book read by his loved one. Only by chance.”
“While the first time had been a coincidence, perhaps the person this happened to asked themselves ‘Did someone bring this Book to me?’, and thus the rumor of the Book-carrying Magician was born. The rumor became a legend and finally stood up on its own.
I think that explains Lascall Othello.”
Mirepoc was impressed. It was a truly reasonable and easy-to understand idea.
“And what about Parney Parlmanta’s case?”
“It’s also irrelevant. It’s probably just that during that time the rumors of Lascall Othello were spreading around.”
“I understand. Thank you very much.”
Finally, Mirepoc asked a final question,
“If Lascall Othello was real, what sort of existence would he be?”
“I really can’t say anything. But, if he were to exist, he would probably be above human understanding. Yes, he would be someone close to God.”
Kalon said in a joking tone. Neither he nor Mirepoc thought that something like that could ever exist.
Mirepoc left Kalon’s apartment. She found out a lot more than she had expected. He knew even more than what the Armed Librarians investigated before. He might be the most knowledgeable person on Lascall Othello in present time.
“Haiza wasn’t doing his job properly.”
But still, what about Lascall? The things she heard from Kalon didn’t have anything to do with the Indulging God Cult. And neither with Parney Parlmanta.
Thinking about it, she was the one who thought Lascall existed. She might have been worked up for nothing. Although it was a bit late, she now reconsidered it.
At that time, she received a thought from Mattalast.
‘Did you find out anything?’
‘No, nothing at all.’
‘What are you going to do now?’
‘Since I took a long vacation, I thought about settling down for a while.’
‘…Is that so.’
Mattalast’s thought felt a bit uncomfortable.
‘To tell you the truth, Mirepoc… I’m somewhat angry.’
‘I don’t mind you taking a vacation. You can take a vacation if you want to rest. But that’s not what you want, right?’
‘The problem isn’t you taking a vacation and then doing as you please. Acting on some vague idea is just asking for trouble. Regardless of that idea being correct or not.’
‘I’m not necessarily telling you to stop. You can spend your vacation however you’d like to. But I’ll just let you know that I’m angry.’
Leaving behind these words, Mattalast cut off his thoughts.
Mirepoc stopped in place without thinking. It was her first time being scolded in this fashion.
During that time, Alme followed Mirepoc. She was talking to someone in her thoughts, but the Sensory Threads couldn’t transmit that back.
Alme still went after Mirepoc even as she started walking again after a short while.
She made sure Mirepoc entered her hotel, and then stopped her monitoring. She retracted her Sensory Threads. As soon as she did, she was suddenly flooded by fatigue.
Alme stood quietly in an alley about three hundred meters away from Mirepoc’s hotel.
“I didn’t find out anything.”
Muttering so, Alme left the spot.
Although she was using the same ability as Hamyuts, she couldn’t use it to the same extent. If she was Hamyuts, Alme would monitor Mirepoc from several kilometers away, but it was strictly impossible for her.
The longest her Sensory Threads could be stretched was 500 meters. And she could pull out only less than ten at a time. She couldn’t cover the entire city in her Sensory Threads like Hamyuts could.
Sensory Threads weren’t the strongest ability – it was Hamyuts herself who was the strongest. Alme’s existence was paradoxically a proof of that.
“…But anyway, what are those guys doing?”
She thought they came to this city in order to pursue Lascall Othello, but Mirepoc was looking in the wrong places and Mattalast was just having fun. They didn’t seem aligned at all.
That said, the fact they were fooling around was convenient for her. She could set out on finding Parney’s Book.
Staying wary of her surroundings, Alme went into a back alley.
Deviating just a single road from the city’s center, the atmosphere became radically different. The dim light of the gas lamps illuminated the figures of sleeping vagrants and drunkards here and there on the street. Sporadically passing in front of them were tired manual laborers. This road, where all the rejects of the main street were gathered, was the second face of Fullbeck.
Alme found a dirty tenement in one of the city’s corners. She didn’t enter through the front door. She kicked at the collapsing wall and ran up to the roof.
After hanging a single Sensory Thread down from the roof she peeped inside.
“…Is it here?”
Beneath Alme’s feet was a single room. Several men and women were conversing with one another inside that cluttered room.
“You’ve made the wrong decision.”
She could hear the voice of a person. She only used one Sensory Threads, so hearing voices was the best she could do. Listening to the different voices, Alme counted the number of people in the room.
Just like Alme, they were False Men who belonged to the Indulging God Cult. They were gossiping among themselves. Everyone around will hear you talking with so loud a voice, Alme thought.
“What do you mean?”
“Mattalast isn’t the only one in the city. Even Mirepoc Finedell came here. I could only imagine we’ve been found out.”
“No, there’s no way they found us.”
“But since they’re here it cannot be helped!”
While listening to their conversation, Alme kept counting their numbers. Until now she heard the voices of four people.
“Well, wait. Let’s think about what we’re going to do now.”
She didn’t remember hearing this voice. This was the fifth person then.
“That’s why I’m asking, what are we going to do?”
“The guys at the top are at fault. Why did they have to try killing that Hamyuts Meseta? If Cigal and Ganbanzel hadn’t done anything we could have lived in peace.”
This was the sixth person.
“Are you criticizing the True Men?!”
“…Even if they defeated Hamyuts Meseta we’d still have Ireia, Mokkania, Mattalast and Bonbo, all of them monsters. We can’t beat them in the first place.”
“…Anyways, what are we going to do?”
“We’ll call some warriors from the Main Branch and fight them. We’ve got no other choice.”
Hearing that, Alme retracted her Sensory Thread. Six people were inside the room. All of them were normal people without any combat capabilities. Knowing this was enough for her.
Alme leapt from the roof to the window. She nimbly slipped into the room through the narrow window.
“If you’re asking for warriors, I’m already here.”
The False Men were surprised by her sudden appearance. After a moment of confusion, they gave cries of joy.
The body of the woman who just came running to embrace her collapsed on the floor.
Alme held in her hand a rusty red sword. Its blade was covered in blood.
After piercing her stomach, the red blade severed the hand of the woman trying to cling to Alme and blew it away. The sword, its blade not very keen, made a dull impact sound. The woman’s wrist was sent flying and hit the wall.
She exterminated all of them in less than twenty seconds.
Alme’s blade danced in the cramped room. The sword, made more to crush than to kill, broke through meat and bones. Far from a splendid slaughter play, it was a terribly realistic and gloom scene.
After five of them became lumps of meat, Alme stopped her sword.
“Who, are you…”
The remaining man asked. Alme replied,
Hearing that name, the man’s pale face paled even further.
Interesting, thought Alme. Is this the face of a person who understands they won’t be saved?
“The traitor… Alme…”
“Exactly. So you know well about me, huh.”
“…Why are you here?”
“You can’t tell without asking?”
“I don’t know…”
“To search for Lascall Othello.”
Alme didn’t answer. The man then spoke as if relying on her.
“Save me. I’ll quit the Cult. It’s fine if I won’t go the Heaven. I’ll live normally, so please save me…”
She pierced the man’s chest with her sword.
“Can’t do. You’ve insulted Cigal-sama.”
The dull blade broke his ribs. The broken bones pierced his lungs.
And, swinging the sword in a large motion, she knocked off the man’s collarbone. He had been dissected into two as if she was chopping logs.
Alme overlooked the several corpses strewn on the floor.
“Well then… who of you insulted Cigal-sama earlier?”
She swung down the sword on one of the corpses.
“Was it you?”
She cut another corpse.
“Or perhaps you?”
She crushed a woman’s corpse.
“Probably not you.”
For several dozens of minutes afterwards, Alme kept tormenting the dead bodies.
A skyscraper overlooked Fullbeck City. The figures of two people were on the top. They didn’t even notice the far-away ground. One of the two started talking.
“Well now, seems like the stage is in good order. What do you think, Lascall?”
The other man – Lascall Othello – answered.
“Alme and Mirepoc. The two of them are girls as splendid as gems. Their possibility to reach my true identity is not necessarily zero.”
“Is that so?”
“Overseer of Paradise. You seem to feel the same way, sir.”
The man – the Overseer of Paradise – nodded. Incoming wind blew up the two men’s hair.
“Well then, will you begin your move, Lascall?”
“It seems premature. I will remain a spectator for a while.”
Saying so, Lascall turned his heels. He walked towards the entrance to the roof.
“And what about you, sir?”
“I will also spectate for a while. Seeing how Mattalast is going to act should be fine.”
Lascall’s figure gradually disappeared as he was walking.
“Those who pursue you will die. Mattalast should understand this.”