Mirepoc stared at Rully’s pale face in the gloomy morgue.
“You were still here?”
“Don’t stay alone so much. Based on what you told me Lascall Othello can appear wherever he wants to, right?”
Mirepoc didn’t answer. She gently grasped Rully’s cold hand.
What was I doing until now? She triumphantly left Bantorra, just relied on Mattalast’s powers, but hasn’t done anything.
“Let’s call the Director from Bantorra. I feel like it’s too late, but… we have no choice. I never thought Lascall Othello would be such an opponent.”
“You go back to Bantorra. There’s a danger you’ll be attacked by Lascall Othello, but Bantorra should be much safer.”
Will she just fly back again? Without being of any use?
“Mattalast-san, what am I?”
“Am I just a slightly useful telegraph?”
“Mirepoc. You are useful enough. I cannot lose you.”
No, that’s not what I’m asking about.
Mirepoc looked at her own hand. Why did she thrust him away? It was as if she was the one to kill him.
The day she has to kill a person will come. When she became an Armed Librarian she had that resolution. But was that what killing a person felt like?
The sensation of Rully’s hand still remained in her palm.
“Alme… what you said was right. I was a fool.”
It’s been a year and a half since she became an Armed Librarian. And an additional year and a half before that she became a trainee.
Previously, Mirepoc had been an officer cadet in the Guinbex Imperial Army. She will never forget the day of the decisive battle between the Guinbex Imperial Army and the Armed Librarians. Since Mirepoc was young she wasn’t allowed to serve, and kept her studies at the military academy.
A new world order managed not by the intentions of the Overseer of the Present, but by humans – Carrying this idea as their banner, the Guinbex Imperial Army challenged the entire world to a war.
The result was already known. Hamyuts, Mattalast, Ireia, Bonbo, Yukizona, Mokkania. The armies who invested their entire power in modern science were all annihilated by mere six Armed Librarians.
Receiving word that their army had been destroyed, the military academy became something like a lawless zone.
The high ranking officers who realized their loss ran off to other countries in order to avoid being treated as war criminals. The other teachers panicked and the cadets, after losing their chain of command, became like children.
Hamyuts Meseta and Mattalast Ballory were coming. Will they fight them? Will they surrender? The campus became chaotic.
Mirepoc was the only one among them to go to the academic advisor.
“We are helpless.”
The advisor weakly mumbled after Mirepoc spoke to him. She told him to come to the auditorium.
“What are you going to do?”
Mirepoc used her acquired Thought Sharing ability to call everyone who remained in the school building.
‘Everyone, gather in the auditorium!’
Since the officer cadets lost those who would give them commands, they followed Mirepoc’s orders.
“What are you planning on doing, Mirepoc-kun?”
Mirepoc quietly spoke in front of the cadets and instructors that assembled in the auditorium.
“Well then, just as planned we will begin the second semester’s course on operation of modern weapons. Please open your textbooks on page 53.”
After saying so, she got off the podium. She urged the instructor to start the lecture.
Although their army was destroyed and the enemy was approaching, a usual lecture took place.
Or was this possibly an abnormal situation beyond just defeat? Among everyone Mirepoc was calmly listening to the lecture. Among the confused cadets and instructors, she simply took notes with neat handwriting.
In the middle of the lecture the door opened. The Armed Librarian Mattalast Ballory stood there alone. He watched Mirepoc and the others while smoking a pipe, and then opened his mouth to speak.
“Can you please explain what you are doing?”
Mirepoc rose from her seat.
“We are receiving a lecture on the development of modern weapons and the changes in war tactics that accompanied them.”
“No-one. If I must give an answer, it would be the person who created the curriculum.”
Mattalast’s eyes focused on Mirepoc from the entire auditorium.
“Excuse me, but since we’re in the middle of the lecture, could I ask you to leave?”
“…Can’t outsiders attend?”
“Please go through the formal procedures to attend classes through the army headquarters secretariat. Also…”
Mirepoc stretched her hand and took Mattalast’s pipe. Although he should have been able to predict this happening, it was taken without any resistance.
“No smoking allowed.”
She dropped the smoking leaves to the ground and stomped them with her boots. Mattalast held down his hat, shook his shoulders and laughed.
The order to transfer Mirepoc to the Armed Librarians came when the war officially ended. Her instructor said this was requested by Hamyuts Meseta.
She had no mental resistance to the fact that her affiliation changed.
Mirepoc believed in order, functionality and rationality. These were the things needed to lead people.
She was disillusioned. The Guinbex Imperial Army started a foolish war and put its people and itself in danger. She sought a new place for herself amongst the Armed Librarians.
“Hey, Mirepo. Why did you have that lecture during that time?”
Mattalast asked her after a while.
“Since I am an officer cadet, I did what was expected of me.”
“Didn’t you think of fighting? Something like firing one shot for Guinbex’s pride.”
“I didn’t. I believe that acting according to emotions is wrong.”
She did what was expected of her. She thought that was justice.
But she was wrong.
When she hastily recalled what she did until now, Mirepoc thought so.
While she was aiming for justice, what she has done was no justice at all. She was just trying to fit in an organization that carried out justice.
Right. She was just trying to fit in. She was just trying to fit herself and become part of the system. She never even once judged anything using her own will.
She closely looked at the face of the boy she saw die in front of her. If she was Noloty, wouldn’t she have risked her life in order to protect this boy? If she was Alme, she would abandon Rully but wouldn’t she at least try to kill Lascall?
She held neither of those feelings in herself.
Mattalast spoke to Mirepoc.
“Mirepoc. Go back. I’ll take care of the rest.”
Alme was waiting. She didn’t move even one step away from where Olt died.
Lascall Othello. What are you doing? It’s been near a full day since he left her.
She glared at the setting sun. He couldn’t have possibly run away, right? At the exact instant she thought of this, a chill ran through her spine.
It was just a coincidence. Before she knew it, Lascall Othello was standing behind her.
“What have you been doing until now!”
Alme readied her sword while closing the gap between them. In contrast to her, Lascall gripped his stone blade while creating some space.
“Since I have finished one task I took a respite.”
Saying so, Lascall disappeared again.
Will Alme be kept waiting again? Wasn’t she the one chasing him? Why was she the one waiting for the enemy’s attack?
She couldn’t allow him to use a surprise attack against her like he did just now. Alme sent her Sensory Threads fluttering around. The sensations were transmitted to her through them. Alme jumped forward.
While she avoided the attack, she also sent a counter-blow at behind her. However, the figure of Lascall wasn’t behind her but about five meters ahead of her.
“Even though Armed Librarians are also scared of you, your weapon is a single knife?”
“Indeed. Even I will not be able to match people like Hamyuts or Mattalast were I to fight them.”
He disappeared. And simultaneously, the next attack came.
“Meaning, this is no fight.”
And he said it again.
“It is merely a boring job.”
“What will you do from now?”
Mirepoc asked Mattalast.
“Based on what you told me, it seems that the rusty woman and Lascall Othello are hostile towards each other. I will make my move when their score is settled.”
“Rully-kun told me to stop Lascall Othello. I don’t want to pile any more sins.”
Mattalast answered bluntly.
“Is that it?”
Mirepoc kept speaking.
“Lascall Othello was hiding behind the legend… you knew this from before?”
“From a long time ago. I had no proof, so I didn’t say anything.”
“Go already. Your plane is waiting.”
Mirepoc stood up.
A few minutes passed. An airplane flew above Mirepoc’s head. It was the plane Mattalast prepared for her.
I’m doing a foolish thing, Mirepoc thought. But if I go back now that will be the end of me.
She connected to Mattalast in her thoughts.
‘Why have you stayed behind, Mirepoc?’
‘I will be the one to defeat Lascall. And also Alme.’
‘What are you doing?!’
“I’m doing something foolish.”
Mirepoc muttered and severed the connection. She then began her preparations. There was probably only one way for her to defeat Lascall.
For that, she will probably have to pass the verge of death. Readying her resolve, Mirepoc ran.
She once again stood waiting. Such an annoying tactic. It was a slow, sluggish, and boring fight. Was it really fine to fight like this? Alme was tired. Her spirit wore down.
Lascall spoke to her.
“Alme. Have you no intention of forgetting Cigal and devoting yourself to the Indulging God Cult again?”
“Cigal was but a foolish man.”
“Also, he did not love you. Please stop clinging to your memories of him.”
“Not like you can understand, bastard.”
“I truly do. I have read Cigal’s Book.
You will gain nothing from this fight.”
“Nevertheless I will fight.”
“Then have my best regards.”
Alme slashed with her sword. It hit only air. She stumbled forward and Lascall Othello’s attack came from behind. She was barely able to defend against it.
It truly was an annoying fight. She was the only one impatient while he was calm. Also, neither of them was wounded yet.
“If you’re that strong, how come you never did anything until now? With that ability aren’t you like a natural enemy for Hamyuts and Mokkania?”
“I do not kill people. I was not made to do so.”
“…What are you saying?”
At that instant, Lascall disappeared.
“How about we make it easier for ourselves? Do you understand now that you cannot beat me?”
Alme didn’t answer.
There is a way to defeat him.
However, Alme hesitated. Should she really do that?
“You seem to be thinking of something.”
Lascall said as he stopped his attack.
“How scary. I shall run away.”
Then, Alme heard Olt’s door being kicked open. She knew who it was.
Mirepoc Finedell pointed her rapier at Alme. She pondered for a second whether she should turn her sword on Lascall who disappeared or on Mirepoc who was there.
As Mirepoc saw Alme’s hesitation, her sword point swayed. Just before she was stabbed, Alme directed her sword to Mirepoc. Will Lascall come? I don’t know if I can handle an attack from behind right now.
“You’ve fooled me well. It was quite a well-made lie.”
“…What are you talking about?”
Alme asked back. She truly didn’t understand. She had no recollection of deceiving her.
“It won’t work this late in the game. Lascall Othello’s disguise has already fallen apart.”
What do you mean? Just as she was about to ask this…
Mirepoc leapt. The point of her rapier aimed at Alme’s solar plexus in a straight line. She barely managed to repel the attack. The sword grazed Alme’s thighs.
“Wait, now’s not a good time!”
Alme shouted as she fell behind.
“Then it’s good for me!”
Mirepoc chased after the escaping Alme. She charged ahead as if crawling on the ground and targeted her vitals.
While defending herself, Alme was thinking. This is bad. This woman is serious.
Lascall Othello didn’t show himself. He was probably looking for a good opportunity. He will probably aim at striking a finishing blow when his opponent provides the best opening. Alme and Mirepoc… No matter who of them won, the result would be the same.
Even so, Mirepoc’s sword attacks were fast. What the hell happened to this woman? Alme kept concentrating on her desperate efforts to protect herself against Mirepoc’s assault.
She couldn’t see Lascall nor feel his presence. However, she could feel him watching. Alme restrained Mirepoc with her hands and shouted.
“Rather than me defeat Lascall first! He’s somewhere close!”
“Begging for your life is unsightly!”
Lascall was watching. Alme spoke deliberately while knowing this.
“I’m fighting Lascall!”
“Who would believe that?”
“It’s true. Believe me…”
“Don’t be ridiculous. Look at yourself.”
She pointed at Alme with her sword.
“You’re unscathed. This is not what a person who’s been fighting looks like.”
Alme clicked her tongue. She broke the window and escape outside. Mirepoc’s left hand pulled out her gun. Bullets shot after the escaping Alme.
Barely avoiding the bullets, Alme rolled on the ground.
I have no choice. After coming this far. Alme readied her resolve. She took a stance. She set the sword on her shoulder while bending extremely forward. It was an offensive stance that specialized in rushing forward and beating down.
“It’s finally gotten serious.”
Mirepoc took a stance too. She stretched her back and aimed the tip of the sword held in her right hand to her opponent’s heart. The fingers of her left hand gently propped up the rapier’s blade.
Both parties readied themselves for an attack. Their clash will determine the victor.
Lascall will not make a move. Alme could tell that.
He will be aiming for the battle’s conclusion. No matter who wins, he will probably kill the victor.
Alme clenched her teeth.
Will Lascall come? And will Mirepoc…
Mirepoc moved first. Just a split second behind her, Alme kicked the ground.
Mirepoc’s sword came thrusting down from above. Alme’s eyes finally got used to her speed.
Against the straight line drawn by Mirepoc’s trajectory, Alme’s sword drew an arc. Mirepoc was slightly, ever so slightly faster.
Sacrificed one hand. The back of her left hand got pierced. The blade stopped just three centimeters short of her heart. And she then raised the sword in her right hand overhead.
Mirepoc tried dodging. However, it was too late.
Just before the rusty sword hit Mirepoc’s neck… Alme felt Lascall’s presence from behind her.