Vizac was relieved. Volken’s eyes did not seem rotten.
Even after not seeing him for a while, his eyes retained the same steel-like look that he knew. His pure heart stayed while the innocence of his childhood was disappearing.
“You’ve truly grown, Volken.”
Vizac said again.
Joy filled his heart. He even felt proud. Volken was not just a junior to Vizac. No, he felt the same as all the time-weathered Armed Librarians.
Volken was raised to become an Armed Librarian since he was a baby.
When he was born, he was abandoned at the office of an Armed Librarian at a certain mine. The reason for his abandonment in such a place was thought to be the fact that he had beautiful, bright green hair. Leaving someone with a powerful Magical talent for the Armed Librarians probably indicated some parental affectation did remain.
Just as expected by his unknown parents, Volken came to be raised by Armed Librarians. His playground was the spacious Bantorra Library building. His playmates were Armed Librarians, normal librarians and the people who visited Bantorra.
It was truly hard for someone so young. But it was also truly enjoyable.
There were also those who became flustered due to not being used to raising children. There were also those that, despite living a life full of battles, were unexpectedly tactful. There were those who were unfriendly and kept their distance, and there were those who loved him dearly.
Ireia was unexpectedly strict. She said that they shouldn’t spoil him until he becomes an adult.
Mattalast was unexpectedly affectionate. Perhaps he thought of him as a much younger brother.
If Volken hadn’t been around, just how much boring and dull would the battle-filled life of Vizac and the rest become?
And how happy were they to see him grow into such a splendid Armed Librarian? People like Hamyuts could not understand these feelings.
Suppressing his joy, Vizac pointed the tip of his spear at Volken.
“You and I do not need to fight. My target is Hamyuts alone.”
Vizac shook his head.
“Are you hesitating?”
“No, that’s not what I mean.”
Volken was troubled. He was thinking on how to persuade Vizac.
“How do you plan on winning against Hamyuts?”
“I will soon get evidence of her misdeeds.
If I show that to the other Armed Librarians, she will undoubtedly be exiled.”
“And where’s that evidence?”
“I still do not have it.”
“Can you really get it?”
“I do not know. It depends on the circumstances.”
Vizac thought for a while. He kept aiming his spearhead at Volken.
“I also don’t like Hamyuts. I’d also like to cooperate with what you’re doing.
However, orders are orders.”
Vizac encouraged the uneasy Volken.
“Shut up. If you can’t win against me, fighting Hamyuts would be nothing more than a pipedream.”
Volken suppressed his uneasy expression. And he then threw up the Dancing Blades at his waist to the air. Two blades protruded out of the iron rings and Volken started spinning them.
Hamyuts was probably pursuing after the desperate Volken. If that was true, she would probably think to beat him with a surprise attack.
However, that didn’t have anything to do with Vizac right now. Right now, his feelings of wanting to celebrate the growth of the snot-nosed kid were much larger.
“This will be an offering. Feast on my spear.”
“I’ll gladly receive it!”
A one-on-one fight against the boy he’s raised… was there anything as enjoyable as that?
The pair’s fight has begun quietly. However, for the eyes of the average person it might have seemed like a fierce battle.
Vizac’s spear was not a mere spear. Its handle was dreadfully long and it also had a rifle barrel. Bullets that could pierce even through the armor of MBTs in one shot were fired at Volken.
However, he was far. Volken’s martial arts were such that being at such a distance allowed him to evade by seeing him shoot.
The Dancing Blades attacked Vizac from all directions. He blocked those with his spear’s tip.
They were about equal in their physical skills. It would become a battle of Magic.
The first one to unleash his ability was Vizac. The sand at his feet scattered as if there were explosives buried inside. It was made by the power of his kick as he ran ahead.
His ability was charging.
Only for the moment when he headed directly for the enemy, his physical capabilities were explosively improved. His speed slightly surpassed even that of Hamyuts who boasted on being the fastest Armed Librarian.
A Dancing Blade grazed the projecting spearhead. Its trajectory was slightly altered. Volken leapt forward. He kicked at the spear’s blade, brushed against Vizac’s shoulder and landed behind him.
Volken already knew that this was the one and only method to deal with Vizac’s charge.
“Good, as expected of you.”
And at the moment he turned around and prepared his spear for a second charge…
Volken activated his own ability as well.
The power of his Dancing Blades was something that he acquired later with Magic Deliberation. His true power, symbolic of his bright green hair, was now attacking Vizac.
Volken became two people. Both Volkens left and right drew their Dancing Blades at the same time and fired them simultaneously. Vizac blocked them both.
However, their form vanished as soon as the spear touched them. Further Dancing Blades came attacking him from the back. But as he tried hitting them with his spear’s butt, they also disappeared.
“…So all three were fake.”
There were several dozens of Volkens around him.
Volken’s ability was to create illusions. There was no limit to their quantity and size. Even manufacturing an entire town was easy.
The only way to distinguish them was by touch. There was no other way of seeing through them. The illusions were even elaborate enough to fool Sensory Threads.
This might have been a somewhat unsuitable ability for Volken seeing as he believed in honesty and frankness. But he had full control of it.
While fighting, Vizac recalled the old days. He remembered Volken and the previous Acting Director, Photona Bardgamon.
Photona was a terribly strict man. He was strict to others and even more to himself. He imposed extremely harsh training on himself even though no one told him to.
However, strangely, Photona was the one to whom Volken was the most attached. He always used to say that he wanted to become like him and that he wanted Photona to acknowledge him.
He was overly self-disciplined just like Photona. He strongly believed in justice just like Photona. His very life was to grow into the ideal Armed Librarian.
For Volken, being an Armed Librarian wasn’t merely an occupation. You couldn’t describe his life as being something other than an Armed Librarian.
He tried being that way to the extent he betrayed the Library. If possible, Vizac wanted him to accomplish this. Thus he thought while he was fighting.
Which of the several dozen Volkens was the real one? Although Vizac hesitated, he soon threw his doubts away. Making him hesitant was a part of Volken’s strategy. He could do nothing else but break the illusions and charge forward.
He narrowed down his target to a single Volken and charged. He ran while weaving his way through the gaps between the several hundreds of Dancing Blades. One of them was real. Blood spouted from Vizac’s flank.
The Volken stabbed by the spear was an illusion. However, Vizac predicted it since he didn’t take any evasive actions. Vizac erased Volken’s illusions one by one. The real Dancing Blades mixed with the illusions minced up his body.
There were only three Volkens left. Which of them was real? He continued his slightly dulled charging attack against two Volkens. Vizac flew sideways. Kicking at the sand, he then charged in an attempt to penetrate the two Volkens.
Vizac should have probably noticed at that point. Thinking calmly, it was a simple psychological trick.
The spear penetrated the two Volkens. There was no resistance. They both were illusions.
Stopping in place, Vizac surveyed the scene around him. Volken was sitting in the cockpit of the plane Vizac took there.
His body was wet, probably from having hidden himself in the sea.
“Vizac-san. I broke your airplane. Repair will be easy, but will take time. I will keep you here.”
Those who were shown several fakes would think that the real one was among them. It was an elementary technique frequently used for sleight of hands and fraud.
Vizac’s injuries were not shallow, but his life was not at risk. It wasn’t impossible for him to continue fighting. However, Vizac threw his spear away and sat on the sand. It was his complete defeat. He was led by the nose.
“That’s fine. You weren’t bad at all.”
Vizac sure said something embarrassing, thought Volken. These were the same words he used when he trained him.
Volken lowered his head.
“Thank you, master.”
Vizac blushed in embarrassment.
“What’re you saying. Go already. Hamyuts is coming to get you with her face burning in rage.”
Even so, Volken kept bowing his head for a while.
“Listen, Volken. The Armed Librarians have some sort of secret. Even I or sister Ireia don’t know it. Probably only the Acting Directors and those close to them know of it.”
He started running towards the flying boat as if he didn’t think of Vizac anymore. That is fine. Don’t look back, thought Vizac.
Sitting inside the flying boat, Olivia closely watched the fight between the two. Volken was impressed by her. A normal person would look at the fight of Armed Librarians and tremble with fear.
“Our fight has only just begun. Let us hurry.”
Wiping off his hair, Volken started the plane’s engine. At that time, he heard Olivia’s whisper coming from behind.
Volken turned around.
“That was no fight.”
Volken was upset. They brought out each other’s full strength and left no regrets behind. He himself thought it was a fine fight.
“A fight needs to be dirtier.”
“I dunno. I just thought so.”
Once the airship reached enough altitude, he stopped ascending.
“Keep telling the story from earlier.”
Olivia said. Volken nodded and started talking.
After having occupied the White Smoke, Volken and rest went below deck just as Hamyuts told them. Mirepoc screamed. Volken covered his mouth from the stench.
More than a hundred people were stuffed in about twenty cabins. They were so dirty to the extent they didn’t seem human.
“What’s wrong with these people?”
Volken entered the cabin and called out to them. What were their names? Why were they here? Those who gave a normal answer to that were rare.
“How is it, Volken?”
Hamyuts, coming in late, spoke to him. Volken shook his head.
“It’s just unbelievable. For what purpose would they…”
“They were probably turned to livestock.”
Hamyuts’s sound was the very image of calmness. Volken couldn’t tell whether she was shaken but suppressed it or if she didn’t have any emotions in the first place.
“Because human beings are very useful. They could turn them into bombs and such.”
Volken clenched his fist. He regretted the meaningless massacre.
But he couldn’t let the human bombs die. Those people on this ship had to be protected.
“Let’s rescue them for now. This ship will sink soon.”
“There should have been a lifeboat left. Let’s use it.”
Hamyuts shook her head.
“We won’t be able to fit all of them on one boat. Besides, we’ll be using something else.”
“Yeah. We’ve found lots of interesting stuff. I ordered Mirepo and the rest to bring them out now.”
Volken went outside. Luimon held some documents and carried them to the deck.
A lifeboat was floating on the sea’s surface. Mirepoc was inside of it.
Luimon tied a bundle of documents together and threw them to Mirepoc. Besides the documents, various kinds of unfamiliar objects were stowed on the boat. They prioritized collecting information about the terrorist organization to rescuing people.
That’s not right, thought Volken. Luimon spoke to him.
“Hey, come and help us. We have to take everything from the ship no matter how small it is.”
“Shouldn’t human lives take precedence? If the ship sinks those people will die too.”
“Mirepo called a rescue ship. Look over there.”
Luimon pointed at the bay, where a ship was starting up. The seized goods were carried on the lifeboat and the ship will carry the people. It certainly is better that way, but I still feel uncomfortable that human lives aren’t of the highest priority.
“But we’ve found something quite incredible.”
“What is it?”
“It’s the Book of the Ever-Laughing Witch, Shiron Booyacornish. In addition to that there are pathogens for Dragon Pneumonia, the Spinning Doll Ückück and plenty of other things.
Just what was that ship? This is unbelievable.”
“Hey there. Stop talking and work.”
Mirepoc called from the boat.
“Look, you’ve made Mirepoc angry. You work too.”
It’s fine for another ship to come and rescue them. We have other work to do. Thinking so, Volken went back to the cabins.
Volken regretted what happened next even now. If they took some people on that boat, they might have managed to save some of them.
Volken entered a room below the deck. He didn’t think there were valuable items in such a place, but decided to check it anyway. He found something unpleasant inside that cabin. There was a pile of explosives there. They were probably meant to hide evidence in the worst case scenario. It was fortunate they did not use it.
They had no time to get rid of the explosives. He found the detonator and removed it.
“Oh my, what’s that? How unpleasant.”
Hamyuts came inside.
“Volken, pull out the detonator.”
“I already did.”
He handed the test tube full of black gunpowder to Hamyuts.
He just casually did so, but he regretted this moment as well. He thought that he should have destroyed that detonator or perhaps throw it into the sea countless of times. Even though he knew it was meaningless to think so.
Volken kept searching further inside the ship.
He entered yet another room. It appeared to be some sort of warehouse, and he found nothing impressive inside. There was a mountain of clothes dirtier than mops; pots and barrels that gave foul smell; and whips with dirty fingermarks on them. They were probably all tools to take care of the people on the ship.
Just as Volken was about to close the door, he noticed something. Hamyuts was sitting in a corner of the room. She was staring at something. There seemed to be something written on the wall at the height of her knees.
Volken saw a horrifying and unusual sight. Hamyuts’s eyes were wide open and her mouth slightly ajar. It was an expression of utter shock.
Hamyuts made a poker face. A poker face was different from being expressionless. Her face barely showed any agitation and dismay.
Was it because she neglected to check if there were people around? Or was it that big of a deal?
Volken spoke. Hamyuts rose up.
“Oh, Volken, what’s wrong?”
She returned to her usual voice and expression which made one not understand her true intentions from. Volken was worried about what she saw.
“What are you doing there, we have work to do.”
While he answered, Volken looked down at the scribbling Hamyuts saw. The following was written there:
“Vend Ruga is alive. He is alive in Olivia Littolet’s heart.”
He had no idea what this meant.
“Volken. The rescue ship will arrive in 30 minutes. Bring those people to the deck.”
Mirepoc called him from the deck. Luimon headed for the shore with the lifeboat slightly earlier.
Volken destroyed the cabin’s locks and lead the people to the deck.
At that moment, the ship shook with a tremendous roar.
He had no idea what happened in an instant.
The floor, at first slowly and then at great speed, slanted to the side. The people slid on the blood-covered floor and were thrown into the ocean. Volken couldn’t respond immediately. He didn’t even have time to create footholds using his Dancing Blades.
Volken was thrown into the sea. Water filled his nose.
The hull came crashing from above. Volken swam down and pulled his head out away from the ship.
As the ship toppled sideways, a black smoke that was the opposite of its name came out from its belly. Seeing that, Volken finally understood what happened.
“But I removed… the detonator…”
Volken muttered as he grabbed on to the floating wood scraps. He looked at the sinking ship dumbfounded.
“Are you alive, Volken?”
Hamyuts came swimming to him.
“…Director, the detonator, I…”
“You have your Dancing Swords, right? Make some footholds. Mirepo is also fine. She’s swimming around here.”
The Director’s voice hasn’t reached Volken’s ears. He felt as if she was speaking to him from far away.
Hamyuts clicked her tongue, ignored Volken and swam around.
“Volken, let’s go. It’s dangerous here. There might be more explosions.”
Mirepoc shouted. However, Volken didn’t register what she said as well.
He looked for the figures of people who should have floating on the sea. However, he found not even one.
“I was looking for them now. But no one came floating. I found some of them but I couldn’t save them.”
“I tried saving them. But they wouldn’t grab to me or try to float.”
Volken dove into the sea. Bumping into the debris of the sinking ship, he finally found one person. When he grabbed his hand there was a response. He was still alive.
He emerged to the water’s surface. He tried making the skinny body grab a wooden scrap. However, the rescued person listlessly shook off Volken’s hands.
Volken grabbed the clothes of the person who was about to sink and pulled him up.
“Why, do you not want to live?!”
The Meat tore off the grabbed clothes. Then he sank again.
“Don’t you want to live?!”
Volken screamed again and again. There was no reply; only the sounds of the sinking ship replied to him. These people lived as if they were livestock for a long time. It seemed those days robbed their reasons to live.
Volken and Mirepoc dove into the ocean in an attempt to rescue them many times. And they felt it was all in vain every time.
Eventually, the only ones rescued by the ship Mirepoc called were Volken and the rest who didn’t need it.