Volken kept speaking of his past regrets. Olivia listened to it all expressionlessly. She once lived on the White Smoke. However, hearing about the death of people in the exact same place and of the exact same circumstances didn’t move her heart at all.
Her only response was about the scribble.
“Yeah, I can faintly remember it. I was the one to write that.”
“…Is that so.”
“I see… so Vend Ruga’s alive…”
Olivia said and smiled. She couldn’t help but be happy. She didn’t care about the dead Meats at all.
That was the sort of person she was. She would pay no heed to other people if it was for her goals.
Volken knew that Olivia was that kind of person. However, when he saw her that way in front of his eyes he couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable.
Perhaps I can’t trust that woman. She can only think of how to use other people. However, Volken had no choice but to help her.
“I will continue the story.”
It was after the incident. Volken had some suspicious. He suspected that Hamyuts was the one to cause the explosion. However, he had no positive proof and she had no motive. It didn’t go beyond being a suspicion.
The Armed Librarians were busy. Their battle against the Indulging God Cult began. Their current goal was to look for a man called Cigal Crukessa. Even Volken, who was in charge of managing his mine, took part in it.
He also couldn’t neglect his normal business. He didn’t have any time to breathe.
Volken’s situation changed after some time has passed.
“Hey, Volken. I need to speak with you about something unrelated to our work now.”
It was a casual chat after they both finished writing their reports. It was actually Hamyuts that started talking nonchalantly. Recalling this afterwards, she was probably pretending to be casual. She tried mixing up the important truth that had to be concealed in idle talk.
“Yes, what is it?”
“Umm, how will I say this. It’s just that… were you perhaps given a Book by some strange person?”
He couldn’t recall such a thing.
“A strange person? Please be more specific.”
“A strange person’s just a strange person. If I were to be specific…”
Hamyuts started thinking. After a while, she shook her head.
“No, never mind.”
“What was that all about?”
“I just wanted to check something.”
He didn’t pay any heed to that at the time. A few days later, Volken understood the meaning of that conversation.
It happened as he came back to his home from Bantorra Library.
He hadn’t returned there for more than half a month. He took off his uniform after a long time and changed to casual clothes. He slept in a tidy bed for the first time in a week.
Volken’s eyes were suddenly caught on the pocket of one of the clothes inside his drawer. The breast pocket of a suit he hadn’t worn in several years was bulging. A small scrap of paper peeked from the pocket’s edge.
“What is this?”
Volken took out the suit. Inside the pocket was a single Book.
He took out the piece of paper and read it.
It was a letter to Volken, written in flowing letters.
“To Volken Macmani-sama.
I now entrust you with this single Book, in order for you to grant a continuation for this story. You were not originally the person meant to inherit this. Entrusting it to you is an unavoidable measure.
The person meant to inherit the story of this Book is Olivia Littolet-sama. However, she had lost her power to live.
The possibility of her inheriting this story is lower than that of moss growing on a large tree, but since the world of man is full with mysterious events, there is also the possibility that this Book will someday be delivered to her. I ask you from the bottom of my heart to deliver this Book to Olivia Littolet someday, and to bring about the ending of this story.
P.S. Hamyuts-sama alone must not know of this.”
“…I can’t understand it at all.”
Volken was befuddled. The letter seemed to be rejecting the understanding of its reader at its very core. Was it really fine handing this Book to the woman called Olivia?
He thought for a while and then remembered. That was the name mentioned in the scribble on the White Smoke.
And the end of the letter was a warning to not let Hamyuts know of it.
Volken recalled his conversation with her a few days prior.
That’s secret information.
Hamyuts asked me whether or not I received this.
Volken reached his hand to the Book.
As expected, the reason for the White Smoke’s sinking was written inside. The one to sink the White Smoke was Hamyuts just as he thought. And he knew… that it was done in order to kill the person known as Olivia Littolet.
“And so you have rebelled against Hamyuts.”
“Indeed. She sank the ship because of you. She involved hundreds of people in order to kill you. Is there something more inhuman than that? It’s no different from those Indulging God Cult guys.”
In contrast to Volken’s anger, Olivia’s response was weak.
“I do not know your goal. I also have no idea why Hamyuts wants to kill you. However, I do know that Hamyuts is evil.
Please regain your memories as soon as possible. You, the Book I was entrusted by someone, and the Spinning Doll Ückück. Once I gather all the evidence, I will strike at Hamyuts.”
“…I see. Do as you wish.”
Olivia bluntly said. Her goals were to regain her memories and Vend Ruga. She had nothing to do with Hamyuts.
“You’re also a strange guy. Why are you so passionate about this?”
She said her impressions with a brief comment.
Volken suddenly recalled the past. He thought of the Armed Librarian he admired, Photona.
If he were to see him now, what would he say? He will probably not tell him he was doing a foolish thing.
Volken will not forgive those who make light of human lives; he inherited that belief from Photona. He was raised in the Library. His life until now has always been with Photona at his side.
It was already ten years ago. Volken was playing at Bantorra Library. Usually, the Librarians who had some free time or the visitors who came to view Books were his play partners, but that day he was all alone.
“…No one’s here.”
Saying so, Volken reached for the Book held inside a basket. It was a Book meant to be shelved in the Sealed Archive. Volken took advantage of an opening where the Armed Librarian didn’t look at the Book and took it. He wanted to try reading it no matter what. A Book that was meant to be sealed and not allowed to be read tickled his young adventurous spirit.
“…There’s no one here.”
Volken’s talent for Magic was blooming. He knew that everyone around him said that he will become an Armed Librarian sooner or later.
He felt no guilt. I’m going to become an Armed Librarian. I’m just taking an early peek. Thinking so, Volken reached inside the basket.
At that moment, he heard a voice from behind.
“Hey! What’re you doing!”
Someone called him. It was the one supposed to carry that Book, Hamyuts. Volken panicked and tried to escape. Then, the basket fell.
“You can’t be here.”
To make matters worse, Volken stepped on the Book in his panic. He heard an unpleasant voice underneath his foot. The Book had broken into five or six parts.
Hamyuts held her head.
Volken’s leg, still on the Book, trembled. He was afraid not only about breaking the Book, but also about Photona getting angry at him.
Photona was scary. He was the scariest person among the Armed Librarians.
Hamyuts came out from the Acting Director’s Office. Her expression was not gloomy. It seemed he wasn’t too harsh with her. She wasn’t someone who could suppress her anger.
But it was not so for Volken. Facing so much fear that it made him feel as if he was floating in the air, he entered the Acting Director’s Office.
Even if a Book breaks one could read it using the fragments. However, only part of the information could be read from it. If a Book breaks, most of the content inside disappears.
“Breaking a Book is the same as killing a person.”
He had always been told so.
Photona and Ireia were inside the office. He felt a little relieved. It was better than meeting Photona alone. His steel-like gaze was directed at Volken.
His body wasn’t particularly big. He was about as tall as Hamyuts. He wore a bad-looking uniform the sort that a private at some army would wear. It fit neither his position nor his looks, but he was a man who only wanted his clothes to be easy to move in and durable.
He was close to forty years old. However, his face was that of an 18 years old boy. The aging of his body has stopped long ago. It was an extremely rare phenomenon that occurred to those who polished their bodily reinforcement Magic to the utmost limit. Even from his face alone, it was clear that he possessed extraordinary fighting capabilities.
His pure white hair was natural. It wasn’t a sign of his Magic Right, but that his body simply lacked pigments.
His most prominent trait was his eyes. Normally facing these old lion-like eyes was frightening.
“Volken. Do not become an Armed Librarian.”
Was the first thing Photona said. That was more painful than the worst case scenario Volken had anticipated.
With the shock and the intimidating air transmitted by Photona, he couldn’t even cry.
Ireia raised her voice. Photona ignored her.
“That’s all. You can go.”
He didn’t reprimand him at all. Volken couldn’t even talk back or apologize.
Hours passed until Volken stopped crying. He stopped not because the shock had lessened, but because he was tired of crying.
“Photona-san was too harsh, wasn’t he?”
Mattalast said with a sour expression. Volken wanted to become an Armed Librarian from the bottom of his heart. He admired Mattalast, Vizac, Ireia and Photona as well. His aspiration and the gratitude he felt towards them raising him until now were his reasons to become an Armed Librarian.
“Seems like the Director didn’t want to let Volken become an Armed Librarian in the first place.”
“He certainly did say something like this… I wonder why.”
Mattalast was troubled. Why? Volken thought. I seem to have talent. I also have the desire to become strong. Even though I like Bantorra Library more than anything, he…
The Book Volken had broken belonged to a man who lived in the small country known as the Dizala Republic. He was the leader of a criminal group. Unforgivable, thought Volken. He felt some anger towards Photona, but was also angry at the Book that robbed his future.
Isn’t it just one of many? How did things turn out like this from just that? Volken’s sadness transformed into anger.
With Ireia’s help, Volken wasn’t chased out of the Library. A few languid days have passed. One day, Mattalast called out to him.
“Hey, go to reading room number 54 in the Sixth Level.”
Volken went down the stairs and entered the reading room he was told.
There was an old man inside.
“Dear me, are you a lost child?”
The old man said. It seemed like he wasn’t the one to call Volken. Then why did he have to come here?
He soon understood why. His eyes turned to the Book on top of the desk. It was the Book Volken stepped on and broke.
“Little boy. This isn’t a place you can just come into. Making the Armed Librarians angry is scary.”
The man said. Volken approached him while hanging his head. He vigorously bowed down.
“…I see. So it was you.”
And with that the old man seemed to understand the situation. He gently tapped Volken’s shoulder and made him raise his head. He guessed who told him to come here. It surely was Photona.
The old man made Volken sit on a chair and spoke with him. The man in the Book was his old friend. They spent time together when they were young, and death separated them.
“He was my friend… he wasn’t a man worthy of praise, but the people around him felt relieved when he died.”
Volken silently listened to the old man’s story.
“We were both poor. We simply wanted money. If only enough so we could see a doctor when we get sick. However, at some point along the way he strayed to the wrong path. He had somehow found his way to the gallows.”
The man kept speaking. The light of his youth returned only to his eyes.
“Before he strayed from the proper path he truly was a good man. Everyone adored him. I am probably the only one left to remember these times.
I wanted to see the memories of that time…”
Those times have been lost from the Book’s fragments.
“No-one knows about those times anymore. Whenever someone speaks of him it’s always complaints. His youth was also lost at Bantorra Library.”
Volken sniffled. He told himself that he mustn’t cry.
“It’s okay, boy. I know. The memories about him will be inside my Book. So it’s fine. That man from those times will remain in this world.”
He now understood why Photona made him come here. He wanted him to understand just how much important was even a single Book.
After that, Volken spoke with Photona again. Without him mentioning what he talked with the old man about and what he thought about after hearing him, Photona asked him a single question.
“Why are there Armed Librarians?”
Volken has been thinking of that ever since he parted from the old man.
“Because Books have important information written inside. They exist in order to make use of Books and prevent their abuse.”
“There are far more people in the world that hold no important information.”
“There are people who want to meet them in their memories. The people left behind want to cherish the memories of the dead.”
“And if there were no such people, would throwing the Books away be fine?”
He then hesitated. Why were Books important? That was essential.
“Every person thinks of themselves as special. Therefore, every Book is special. Umm, I can’t explain it well.”
Photona stood up and put a hand on Volken’s head. He pinched a tuft of his bright green hair.
“People die. Until their deaths, they live earnestly for a short while. All stories made during this time are precious.
Both good and bad people. The long and the short. Even those with life full of hardships or those with boring lives.
There is no need to ask yourself why or how. Everything is equally precious. Do you understand?”
Yes, he wanted to say.
“You must be sad at a person’s death. You must be happy at a person’s salvation. You must respect people’s lives.
That is the justice of the Armed Librarians. It is more important than strength or honesty.”
At that moment, Volken saw Photona smile for the first time in his life.
“If you understand this, you will become a fine Armed Librarian.”
Photona’s palm was thick and stiff. Feeling it became like a guidepost for Volken’s life.
Becoming strong. Protecting the Armed Librarians’ justice. Becoming like Photona. Volken decided to devote his entire life to those goals.
Ireia, listening to the conversation from the side, spoke.
“You doting parent.”
Mattalast then spouted,
“Ireia-san. Don’t cut in like that.”
Vizac who listened from the side also laughed.
“Volken’s doing his best, eh. We now have another Photona.”
“Give me a break. If we had another person like that I wouldn’t be able to slack off peacefully.”
“Stop slacking off, you idiot.”
While everyone was laughing together, there was another person with a completely different expression. It was Hamyuts. No one there had noticed her.
“Good grief, that Photona-san and his nonsense…”
The emotion rising up to her face was scorn.
Volken was thinking while piloting the flying boat.
“Photona-san… I haven’t been wrong.”
He had confidence. Since he was confident, he could fly away like that.
A while before that.
It was inside a hotel room at the Ismo Republic. A man playing with chess pieces was there. He was moving the chess pieces placed on the chessboard in front of him by himself. White was overwhelmingly dominant.
He was the Overseer of Paradise.
A bee stopped on top of the black king. A piece of paper about as big as two fingers was wrapped around its abdomen. The Overseer of Paradise read it.
“So Volken has rebelled. Hmm, something seems strange.”
He recalled the face of the boy who grew up in Bantorra Library. In his memories was only his face as a young child.
Another bee came flying inside. He read the second report.
“…Olivia Littolet has been revived? Now then, who was that?”
The Overseer of Paradise thought for a while. He couldn’t recall who this name had belonged to. He stopped his hand handling the chess pieces.
“…Couldn’t be that woman? That woman from the White Smoke?”
He stood up without noticing. However, he soon pulled himself together and sat down again.
“Oh well. Hamyuts will probably kill her.”
He muttered. However, the slight sense of danger did not disappear.
“But… just in case, should I do something?”