Their goal was near. Flying a little more, they would find a lake that could be landed on. Getting off there, in another five minutes of walking they would find their destination. They would arrive at the hideout containing the Spinning Doll Ückück and the Book.
Looking down, Olivia could see a forest made of dense yet thin trees. Several hours later Hamyuts will arrive and will probably search through the forest with her Sensory Threads. But by that time, Volken and Olivia will be flying further to the northwest.
“We got her.”
Volken muttered. He didn’t know how his battle with Hamyuts will unfold afterwards. However, the first round ended in his victory.
But just when he thought so…
Something appeared in the edge of his vision. When he recognized this fact, it had already passed by him.
A bird? Thought Volken. However, no birds flew in this altitude.
He considered another possibility, but it was impossible. Every calculation would indicate Hamyuts should be flying around 500 kilometers behind them. Even her gravel bullets couldn’t reach that far.
He looked behind. There was something impossible there. A single airplane was chasing them.
Volken shouted. Olivia also turned around. Another gravel bullet grazed the airplane.
As expected of Hamyuts, sniping even moving objects from a distance of about 25 kilometers seemed easy for her. But that wasn’t the problem.
“Why’s Hamyuts here?!”
Volken shouted. At that moment, a voice resounded inside his head.
It’s Mirepoc. I need to inform her of this, thought Volken.
‘What is it? I think it should be about time the Director catches up to you.’
The thoughts she sent were cold. That coldness made him understand…
Was it all a lie? Both about Hamyuts and about Mattalast? Was everything a lie meant to deceive Volken?
‘You slowed down just as expected. If you flew at full speed ahead it would’ve been questionable if she could catch up to you.’
Volken’s body grew weak. He felt as if his legs were floating around in empty space. His entire foundation up to now started crumbling.
‘Mirepoc… did you…’
Deceive me from the very beginning? No. When you first spoke with me at Bantorra, and when you first sent me information you didn’t try to deceive me. If he didn’t think this way it would be far too painful.
‘I roughly understand what you’re thinking about. I believed you at first.’
The woman’s thoughts reverberated inside his head.
‘Isn’t it obvious?! It’s because you’ve killed Vizac-san!’
Murderous intent could be felt alongside those words. This can’t be, thought Volken. Vizac admitted defeat in the midst of battle and sent him on his way.
‘This is a misunderstanding, Mirepoc. Vizac-san isn’t dead.’
‘You thought you could deceive me? Too bad. After the Director embarked several Armed Librarians followed. They easily found Vizac-san’s remains.’
Why? Thought Volken. This cannot be.
Mirepoc laughed at the other side.
‘What are you even thinking of saying? There’s no way the Director would have killed him.’
‘There’s no way I killed him! Vizac-san said he would support me!’
‘The Director couldn’t have killed him. There’s evidence. Vizac-san was slashed by a sharp weapon and died. The Director doesn’t use blades.’
It has to be some mistake. If it’s a dream I have to wake up. I can’t believe it. I don’t want to believe it.
Vizac-san’s dead. And I’m about to die as well…
‘Oh, right. You brought Renas-san along with you. Is she a hostage?’
‘Renas is behind me right now.’
‘Armed Librarians don’t yield to hostages. You know this, right? Poor Renas-san.’
‘Don’t be silly. She’s right behind me now.’
‘Oh? Then why can’t I connect to her thoughts?’
Volken was about to explain about Olivia. However, Mirepoc interrupted him before that.
‘Goodbye, Volken. It doesn’t matter at all, but die quickly.
I plan on forgetting about you using Argax. I don’t want to remember your name and face.’
The Thought Sharing was severed. Volken’s hands slipped off the controls.
“This can’t be… Vizac-san…”
A while before this, the Overseer of Paradise received a message in his thoughts.
‘Overseer of Paradise. Your faithful False Man Daltom killed the Armed Librarian Vizac.’
Why? Thought the Overseer of Paradise. I don’t remember giving such an order.
Daltom shouldn’t have been able to defeat someone around Vizac’s level. He probably attacked him while he was injured.
‘More importantly, we’re done spreading our battle formation.’
That was what he ordered. That was much more important. He gathered forces that would kill Volken and Olivia inside the forest.
‘We have finished preparations by your faithful False Man Ulay.’
He told the False Men that any of them to kill an Armed Librarian will ascend to Heaven.
‘Understood. Let Daltom know he is promised to go to Heaven.’
‘As you wish.’
The Overseer of Paradise then muttered.
“So Vizac died…”
He recalled him. Vizac was brave and funny.
“He sure died at a boring place. He is the kind of man who should die fair and square on the battlefield.”
This wasn’t an interesting incident for the Overseer of Paradise. However, he didn’t know that this boring death had cornered Volken and Olivia.
The flying boat zigzagged around to avoid Hamyuts’s sling. She didn’t hit, but the accuracy of her attacks gradually increased. A gravel bullet grazed one of the wings. The plane greatly lost its balance.
“Hold me and jump!”
Olivia shouted from behind. It was a matter of time before they were shot down. He had no choice but to abandon the airplane if he wanted to protect her.
“Hold on tight!”
Volken opened the windshield and held Olivia’s body. Scattering his Dancing Blades in air and using them as footholds, he went down and softened the impact. If it was just him he could even jump down directly, but Olivia wouldn’t be able to bear the impact of his landing.
Having lost its pilot, the flying boat flew around in vain. Hamyuts’s gravel bullets punched through the empty plane.
Olivia shrieked inside his arms. Volken landed, ripping apart the vegetation around.
Olivia groaned. It was an unbearable impact for a normal person. Volken ran around while carrying her.
“An attack’s… coming…”
Volken invoked his ability. An illusory fog was created around him. He knew that Hamyuts’s Sensory Threads would lose their effectiveness in it.
Volken also produced illusions of him and of Olivia. The fake Volkens and Olivias scattered in all directions inside the fog. That should buy them some time.
But what should they do with that time?
He knew that beating Hamyuts Meseta was impossible. So should he devote himself to running away? And if he manages to run away, what should he do then?
Right now they had no allies. What the hell could he do in that situation? Volken started running around despite not having an answer.
When she saw Volken landing, Hamyuts abandoned her plane and jumped down. The plane crashed and Hamyuts raised a cloud of dust as she landed.
As expected Volken created illusions. Is he running away? Hamyuts smiled.
“Don’t give me such a boring fight. You’ll be scolded by Photona-san.”
Hamyuts loaded three gravel bullets onto her sling. She erased the Volkens headed straight for her. All of them were illusory. Which of the escaping Volkens was the real one?
Then, she felt something different from Volken’s illusions. She probed it with her Sensory Threads.
“So it’s the Overseer of Paradise… It’s fine taking some measures in advance, but it’s unnecessary help.”
“Shouldn’t you take this opportunity to kill me rather than that?”
Saying this, she kept crushing Volken’s illusions.
“Anyway, it’s been a long time. It reminds me of Colio.”
She felt the tips of her Sensory Threads touching something different from Volken’s illusion. The ones who lay in wait for Volken’s group felt nostalgic to her.
Volken kept mixing with his illusions and running away.
He couldn’t think of any plan right now so he could do nothing but escape. It wasn’t an aggressive escape like Hamyuts would make; he simply ran away. He didn’t have the leeway to feel humiliation at that.
At that moment, Volken noticed the figures of people. They were probably men. What were they doing at this sort of place? They wore old khaki-colored jackets and trousers. Their entire heads were covered with cloth masks.
Muttering something under their veils, the men paced around unsteadily.
Were they enemies or allies? Should he speak with them or not? Volken hesitated. Olivia then spoke.
At that moment, the masked man started running. He had the speed of a normal person who didn’t use bodily reinforcement. The man stumbled on the grass and fell over. At the same time, his body exploded. Volken remembered that. It was a human bomb just like the one that collided with and took Luimon’s life on the battle on the White Smoke*.
“…So even the Indulging God Cult came here. Seems like it’s getting more and more hopeless.”
Olivia laughed drily as if she found it amusing.
“Overseer of Paradise.”
One of the Cult’s executives spoke to him. His job was managing weapons.
“You ordered me to use up all of our human bombs, but is that really fine?”
“Yeah. Human bombs aren’t of use against Armed Librarians. They’re effective weapons only for a surprise attack. Once they know about them they become useless. Spending them all here isn’t much of a loss.”
The executive was displeased. Even though he made improvements upon improvements to them… wouldn’t it be a waste?
“But still, just to get rid of a single Meat woman…”
“We lost Charlot to that Meat woman.”
“Forget it. We will end Olivia now. Exhaust even the unneeded human bombs. That is all.”
They deployed the human bombs just in case. Hamyuts could not be trusted. There was a possibility she would let Olivia get away with some trick.
But now he had peace of mind. There was no way for her to escape.
“Well, if you think about it it’s obvious. Our direct enemies are the Indulging God Cult. Having them be quiet until now was fortunate.”
The situation just got progressively worse. Hamyuts was coming from behind and human bombs from the front. They had no allies. It was far worse than the worst case scenario Volken imagined.
“Let me down already. It’s fine.”
Olivia got off to the ground. And then she started cackling.
“This is impossible. We’re going to die. Definitely.”
That’s true. But is it fine giving up so quickly? While Volken thought this, Olivia spoke to him.
“But say, Volken. Do you understand this is a battle?”
She spread her arms. She didn’t have the face of someone who gave up.
“We have no allies. Our enemies are the worst. We can’t win no matter how much we try. Looking around we can find nothing but despair. This is a battle.”
Olivia looked at Volken and laughed.
“Is this your first time, Volken? This is my second time. My time on the White Smoke was far worse than this. Because I have you this time. This is much better.”
“I am going to fight. What will you do? Will you just die here doing nothing?”
Olivia turned her back and started walking. Volken gazed at her back.
Volken muttered. And he then remembered.
What was I fighting for? I fought to protect the justice inherited from Photona-san and the Armed Librarians of the last 2000 years. This justice will not yield. I never strayed from the proper path.
Therefore he could fight. The reason to fight still remained in his heart.
“Please wait, Olivia-san.”
Olivia turned around. Volken activated his ability. A mist that was white like rich milk was created inside his palm.
“Take this and go. This is part of my ability. Using this you can create illusions like me.”
Ability transfer. Warriors who could use that technique were rare. He acquired it for his comrades in case he fell in battle. He never thought he would transfer it to a non-Armed Librarian.
“Where are you going?”
Receiving his ability, Olivia asked.
“I’m going to fight Hamyuts. I have my own battle. And you have your own.”
“Right, in the end we have different fights.”
“…It’s been a short time.”
“See you, Volken. You’ve been the most useful man I’ve met so far.”
Is that what you choose to say as farewell? Volken smiled.
The two of them were neither comrades, kindred souls or war buddies. That was their final farewell. Their two paths, after slightly intersecting, once again branched out.
Volken fought for justice. Olivia fought for Vend Ruga.
One of the Volkens scattered in the forest created an illusory fog. Further Volkens were created inside of it and spread around. Different from the fight until then, all of the Volkens came running at her. She couldn’t see Olivia anywhere. Did that mean they separated?
“Hmm, how curious.”
Hamyuts thought she should kill Olivia without delay. If she aimed only at her she would be able to snipe her. However, her bad habit of postponing easier tasks came out. She focused instead on fighting against Volken.
She did nothing but keep attacking the illusory Volkens. She could do nothing but that for now. What a troublesome ability, Hamyuts thought.
Volken created illusions and controlled them. He had no chance to win, no plan and no goal. He was simply fighting. He just ran and successfully entered the range of his Dancing Blades which was 150 meters.
At that time, Hamyuts ceased her attacks.
The faint sounds Olivia could hear from behind probably came from the battle between Hamyuts and Volken.
She was walking towards the mountain she was told about. She couldn’t run through the gaps of trees like Volken. She walked while pushing her way through grass, going under tree branches, and filling the legs peeking from under her skirt with gashes.
For someone like Hamyuts, walking that slowly would seem as if she stopped in place. If she was aimed at, she would become scraps of meat even easier than it was breaking a glass cup.
Volken produced a large quantity of illusory Olivias and spread them around. Even Hamyuts would have to rely on luck in order to snipe her.
This bought her some time. But their plan was to trust their luck. Her head might be smashed any second now. She could do nothing but pray Volken bought her enough time.
Olivia heard an explosion from the right.
She remembered an illusory Olivia walking to the right before. A human bomb probably found her and detonated.
She looked at the amorphous mist hanging around her right hand. She held it aloft and wished. Olivia produced an illusion with her appearance in front of her eyes. She told it to advance forward in her mind and it did as told.
“I wonder if it’s fine now.”
Letting it go ahead for several minutes, Olivia also started walking. She followed after the illusion she sent ahead.
After a while, she heard an explosion from ahead. If she didn’t send her illusion there, the real Olivia would have died.
Olivia produced yet another illusory copy, and she sent it ahead the same way.
The illusory fog received from Volken grew smaller the more she used it. It seemed to have a limit of uses. Judging from its size, she could probably use it only ten more times.
“You’ve worked hard. All for a little girl like me.”
Olivia didn’t know – it was Cigal Crukessa who invented the human bombs. The human bombs attacking her now were models improved by other False Men. And she didn’t know that it was Cigal who came up with the idea after Olivia used a bomb to threaten the False Men.
In a sense she was the originator of the human bombs. And she was now reaping what she sowed.
Hearing these words, Volken reflexively stopped his movements. Ever since the time he was a trainee he learned to absolutely obey the words of the Acting Director. That long-time habit made him stop faster than he could think.
“We should talk before we fight, right? Conversing before fighting… isn’t it the spirit of this age?”
Are you kidding me? Thought Volken.
But regardless of her true feelings, it did appear that Hamyuts wanted to talk. Volken stopped the movements of the illusions swarming around her. But he still let the illusions of Olivia keep moving.
“First let me ask a question. You didn’t cross over to the Indulging God Cult, right?”
One of the illusions opened its mouth. He was not so foolish as to let her find him based on his voice.
“I knew it. That’s what I thought. You don’t seem like the type to aim for Heaven. You’re the type of person to not care about your own happiness.”
Heaven – it was the vain, baseless concept the Indulging God Cult were chasing after. He obviously didn’t have any interest in it.
“Then what’s your goal?”
“I act for the justice of the Armed Librarians. I have no other reason.”
“Did you take Olivia for that? How weird… I don’t get it at all.”
Hamyuts cocked her head.
“Wanting to protect justice is fine and all, but if you do something stupid Bantorra Library might be destroyed. Do you understand this?”
He interpreted these words as Hamyuts’s conceit. She was probably saying that if they lost her they would be destroyed by the Indulging God Cult.
“Even if you alone will be gone Bantorra will not be destroyed. We won’t lose to the Indulging God Cult.”
“…? That’s not what I meant though.”
Hamyuts cocked her head.
They were both talking about completely different things. They haven’t noticed that.
“Conversely, I have something to ask of you. Why did you sink the Meats’ ship? And why are you trying to kill Olivia? She’s not opposed to you.”
“Ehhh, that’s what you’re thinking about?”
“Answer my question. Why are you trying to kill Olivia?”
“I can’t let Olivia live. That’s all.”
Hamyuts once again cocked her head.
“Well, it’s a tough question. I can’t really say. I wonder why.”
“You don’t know? Not even the reason for your massacre? Did you just kill them without any reason?”
“No, I do have a reason. But I’m not sure how much Olivia’s involved.”
The story didn’t seem to mesh properly from a while ago. He couldn’t understand what Hamyuts was saying. In the same way, she didn’t seem to understand what was happening.
“That’s enough. I don’t get it.”
Hamyuts scratched her head.
“It sure turned out to be troublesome.”
“That’s enough. Let’s stop fighting. Let’s kill Olivia. Then we’ll erase your memories of her. Let’s hear the true situation from Lascall Othello. And we’ll wrap this up.
No, it doesn’t seem like there’s a need to kill her. The human bombs will probably do so. Let’s stop this.”
Volken was convinced – that woman was definitely evil. She wasn’t an Armed Librarian, one who protects the lives of people and Books.
He operated his illusions. All Volkens charged towards Hamyuts.
“Hey, what’re you doing. We haven’t finished talking yet.”
She swung her sling. The fight started again.
Volken moved his Dancing Blades. Hamyuts was already within his range. The battle started at that moment.
*The author either mistook Luimon’s death in Volume 1 or meant to write Casma instead.