Two gunshots resounded. Behind Alme, Lascall – who raised his stone dagger – stopped all movement. Mirepoc saw him stagger.
She drew her gun. Setting her wrist on Alme’s body, she aimed at him over the shoulder. The moment his body was about to disappear, she fired a second shot.
Alme’s sword was supposed to have cut off Mirepoc’s head… But stopped at the point where it barely bit into her skin.
Mirepoc pulled out the sword stuck in Alme’s hand. She then invoked her Magic Right.
‘Have you forgotten my ability?’
Lascall wore an astonished expression.
‘My Thought Sharing, that allows me to connect to anyone I know the face and name of.’
Mirepoc threw her rapier. It penetrated the center of Lascall’s chest.
‘We’ve already made a promise… me and Alme. This was the only opportunity to kill you.’
Lascall said. Alme was the one to answer his question.
“When you’ve killed your own son. Since you arrogantly told her my name.”
“I see, so that is how it was.”
Lascall laughed. The stone-made dagger fell from his hand.
His body sank down. It did not disappear in the ground. He just collapsed face up.
Leaving Lascall’s body behind, it was only the stone dagger sinking into the ground.
Saying this, Lascall closed his eyelids using his own hand. He soon stopped breathing.
Alme was surprised when she was approached using Thought Sharing. They would lure out Lascall by pretending to fight. They will then aim for the moment he comes for a finishing blow.
What a bold plan. If Alme hadn’t stopped her sword right then, Mirepoc would have died.
As for the result, Lascall fell into their trap, but if Alme had a secret agreement with Lascall then Mirepoc would be the one to fall into a trap.
She trusted the one she fought to the death with a few days ago and carried out their plan. This kind of decision didn’t seem possible for Mirepoc who was so indecisive until now.
“Something’s changed in you.”
“Who knows, I have no idea.”
Mirepoc bluntly answered and recovered the sword stabbed into Lascall. Alme then called out.
“Now that I’m done with it, it seemed too quick.”
Mirepoc checked out Lascall’s body and confirmed that he was undoubtedly dead.
“I was afraid of Lascall’s disguise until now. However, when I unmasked him I understood… that he was weak.”
“The strong ones don’t try to act tough.”
Alme asked another question.
“How did it feel? Killing someone.”
“Full of regrets.”
Alme smiled wryly. As I’ve thought, no matter how far she goes it seems we can’t come to an understanding.
“You’ve really trusted me. Even though you might have been killed.”
“No. You are strong. Saying that you could have killed me at any time wasn’t a lie.”
Right. She certainly said this.
Mirepoc looked at Alme’s face. She stopped herself from saying something.
“No, it’s nothing.”
Mirepoc left Lascall’s corpse and stood up. She then started walking. Alme joined at her side.
While walking, Alme was thinking. I’ve finally defeated Lascall.
She felt nothing special. She thought that it would be a bit more enjoyable.
She didn’t think of it as avenging Cigal. It was just defeating another enemy.
Winkeny once told her to forget Cigal. But, even without being told, perhaps his existence has already been growing dull inside her without even noticing.
Then why was she fighting?
“You’ve fought against the Indulging God Cult.”
Mirepoc asked her.
“I don’t feel like saying.”
“And you probably don’t feel like cooperating with us like Enlike does either.”
Right. She had no reason. She simply wanted to keep hating and killing.
That was all.
In a sense, that was the same as Cigal. His happiness was to hate other people and steal from them. Alme and Cigal have probably shared the same feelings.
She will continue fighting and killing. She couldn’t be happy otherwise. That was her.
While walking, Mirepoc was thinking. I wonder why she’s fought Lascall. Why would she oppose the Armed Librarians, betray the Indulging God Cult and keep on fighting?
No matter her reason, could she really have started a fight she had no chances of winning by herself?
Could Mirepoc have done it? Of course not. No matter the reason, she didn’t possess the courage to fight by herself.
Mirepoc had noticed.
The words she was about to say before… why she was able to trust Alme?
She felt drawn to her somewhere deep inside her.
Mirepoc couldn’t fight by herself so she was drawn to Alme who possessed the strength she did not have.
Mirepoc and Alme walked together for a while. They headed for a desolate place, perfect for them to kill each other.
It’s about time to start. Mirepoc was about to say so. But she couldn’t find an opportunity. She thought of talking to her a little bit more.
“Hey, what do you think happiness is?”
Alme suddenly asked.
Mirepoc answered. She hasn’t thought of this.
“You probably haven’t read her Book, but Parney wanted to become happy. Her only happiness was in appearing on the silver screen.”
“That geezer Ganbanzel wanted to become stronger than anyone, but that didn’t come true. He entrusted his dream to another person, but that failed too.”
“And Cigal-sama was also like that. He wanted to steal all happiness that people other than him had. But, that also failed.”
Mirepoc noticed that she used an honorific only for Cigal. Did Alme serve him?
“Even if I were to throw everything away and chase it with all of my might I would not reach it. How long do you think I need until I reach it?”
“You will never reach it. Because we Armed Librarians are here.”
“We are fighting in order to deny it. There’s no way it would be fine to make other people unhappy for your own happiness.”
“But even so we wanted to become happy. All of us.”
She had a feeling their fight will start soon. They were setting the field. She could speak to her only a little longer.
“Say, Alme. Where does your happiness lie?”
Alme stopped in place and thought. She thought for a long time.
“…I don’t know.”
This seems to be the end, thought Mirepoc. Let us fight.
“It’s about time to begin.”
They both drew out their sword simultaneously.
While fighting, Mirepoc thought. I cannot win. I cannot defeat her conviction.
With Rully’s death and the fight against Lascall she’s changed a bit. However, it wasn’t anything definitive.
She will probably not be able to smash Alme’s will to fight alone to the end.
After several clashes were over, Mirepoc started speaking.
“Alme, I fully understand. I am weak.”
“At the end of the day, no matter how far I go I cannot fight by myself. Even when I fought Lascall I needed an ally like you.”
“I admit it. I can’t beat you. I can’t beat you when you can fight to the end by yourself.”
She slashed at Alme.
At the same time, Alme started thinking… that she couldn’t beat Mirepoc.
At the end of the day, she was just running around in circles.
She looked down on people, hated people, killed people and took from them. She could affirm herself only at that moment. That was all.
Even if she fought again and again, she couldn’t create anything. And that is why she could never win against Mirepoc.
The pair kept clashing. Both their swords ripped their clothes, cut their skin, gouged their flesh and grazed their vitals.
The four legs leapt around as if dancing, separated after colliding and then once again clashed.
Alme was thinking.
The opponent in front of me told me I was strong.
I wonder how long it’s been since someone acknowledged me. Truly, for the first time in a long while, I was recognized by someone.
If I were slightly weaker I might have cried.
Alme was both too strong and too weak to do that.
That was why she had no choice but to fight. Against the opponent that had acknowledged her.
Both of their breathing rose and their movements grew dull. Mirepoc looked at Alme with sorrowful eyes.
“I respect you, Alme. I will not forget you.”
Mirepoc lowered her sword. She felt sad.
“But… I am going to win.”
She felt the sadness of defeating an opponent she was drawn to. The emptiness of smashing the strength she was attracted to.
However, it was an unavoidable victory. Mirepoc’s victory was decided from the very beginning.
Mirepoc looked up to the heavens.
“You are alone.”
A gunshot echoed from behind Mirepoc.
This bullet was shot by the one who Mirepoc had called and finally arrived – Mattalast. It punched through Alme’s chest with unmatched accuracy.
Alme asked. When did she call Mattalast?
“When I was talking with you.”
No finishing blow came from him. He was staring at the pair.
Blood welled up from her throat. She wasn’t able to speak further.
Don’t call it cowardly. I cannot fight by myself. That is your strength.
Alme’s body fell to the ground. Reflected in her pupils were Mirepoc’s sad eyes.
Ah. That’s fine, young lady.
Haven’t you become a little bit stronger?
Mirepoc turned around and spoke.
“I’m sorry, Mattalast-san.”
“I’ll overlook that you took independent acts without consulting me. The process doesn’t matter as you’ve gotten results. Besides…”
Mattalast lowered his gun.
“I should be the one to apologize.”
“Do you have anything to apologize about?”
Mattalast didn’t answer.
“Let’s go back.”
Is this… death? Alme thought. She understood that Mirepoc had already left.
She couldn’t see anything anymore. Her consciousness slowly sank into darkness and would soon vanish. But she had no regrets. She’s already done what she had to.
If I have any regrets, it’s about how I don’t know why Cigal-sama threw me away.
Her field of vision was suddenly opened inside the darkness.
I’m reading a Book. Why am I being read a Book?
She read only an instant. This was the Book of the one she admired and chased after, Cigal.
It was shortly before their parting. It was when Alme went to retrieve the Magic Blade.
It was in one of the city’s corners, where the echoes of explosive sounds coming from afar could be heard. It was there that Alme and Cigal have said their farewells.
“Alme is happy. Is it really fine for a False Man to be this happy?”
When Alme said so, Cigal found out for the first time that Alme was happy.
He was disgusted.
Until that moment, Cigal had certainly loved Alme. She was someone who was supposed to understand him.
However, that love turned into hatred in an instant.
The reason for that was simple. It was because Alme was happy.
Only he was allowed to be happy. He couldn’t forgive the mere existence of other people that were happy.
“Why does she not know?”
Why does the person who understands him never got the most important thing of all?
What will he do with Alme happy? He was the only one who was supposed to be happy…
“Why! Doesn’t she know!”
Cigal stood up, grabbed the chair and threw it away.
“Ah, why! Why does no-one! Understand! Even though I yearn for it… For someone who doesn’t care about their own happiness!”
He kept muttering.
“All these trash… these trash…”
Cigal kept muttering to himself alone in the room while hearing the explosive echoes from afar.
The Book ended.
How could he… Was I thrown for such a stupid reason? I’m…
Winkeny and the Overseer of Paradise were right. I was a foolish and pitiful woman.
As if I’d admit it. As if. I’ve lived my life in my own way. So I will not be pitied by anyone.
She knew. No-one wanted to admit such things. She was merely a foolish woman.
Ever since she was born she hated one thing.
Being pitied by someone.
But she had one more thing she hated even more.
As if I’d cry. I’ll die while laughing. I will never pity myself.
It was the battlefield that Mirepoc and Mattalast left behind. A single girl was next to the lying Alme. She stowed away a small, small Book fragment inside her skirt’s pocket.
She didn’t look much older than ten. She had blue eyes and beautiful chestnut-colored long hair. Wearing a fresh blue one-piece dress, she was an elegant girl.
She held in her hand a blade made of stone.
The girl said,
“You threw away your family, your friends, kept serving a foolish man without gaining anything, and was finally betrayed by the one you devoted yourself to, dying without accomplishing anything.”
The girl looked at Alme’s face. Her expression was insufficient to be a smile, so it was something halfway there.
“But if you were to sing aloud of it as being happy…”
The girl reached for Alme’s face.
“Wouldn’t that be your happiness in and of itself?”
Her thin fingers moved Alme’s face. She calmly closed her eyelids, distorted her cheeks and moved her lips. Alme’s face at death became that of a smile.
“The Passed Stone Blade Yor.”
The girl removed her hands from the face. She then thrust the blade into the ground. A single Book was created on the sword’s tip.
The girl picked it up, stowed it into her pocket, and then her body sank into the ground and vanished.