It happened in the past, on the day Volken officially became an Armed Librarian. Mattalast spoke to Hamyuts then.
“Photona-san really didn’t want Volken to turn into an Armed Librarian until the very end.”
“Is that so?”
Hamyuts didn’t think so. Based on the result, Photona was the one to guide him to that path.
“Photona-san cherished him. He wanted him to make his dream come true. But at the same time, he didn’t want him to become an Armed Librarian.
I believe that he always hesitated.”
“What do you mean?”
“Volken’s strong. If he grows up, he might eventually climb up to the position of an Acting Director. Even if he didn’t, he might reach the position of someone who knows the truth like me. Photona-san hated that idea.”
Mattalast was also one of the people to cherish Volken. He thought of him like a much younger brother.
“Photona-san also believed the justice of the Armed Librarians at first. But when he became the Acting Director he learned the truth. I believe that he had suffered.”
“It’s painful to know the truth. To those who have even a tiny bit of a conscience, anyway.
He had to hide the secret, deceive his comrades and keep conducting evil. He had no choice, though. Even a liar like me hates it. I believe that he suffered even more.
People like you are the exception.”
Photona certainly was an overly self-disciplined man. He was probably continuously suppressing his conscience to fulfill his duty as the Acting Director. He had to continuously commit evil while withstanding the pangs of his conscience.
“He wanted the Armed Librarians to keep representing justice even if only inside Volken’s heart. He wanted him to protect the justice of the Armed Librarians even if it was a lie.
Since he knew the truth and couldn’t protect justice, he wanted him to be his replacement.
I believe that Photona-san thought this way.”
While looking down at Volken’s corpse, Hamyuts mumbled.
“Photona-san. As expected you were a fool. You were always a half-baked softy about everything.”
Volken’s dead face was full of sorrow and anger.
“You’ve made both me, who’s devoted to evil, and Volken, who’s devoted for good, follow your example, Photona-san.”
These were words of condolences directed at Volken.
The fight was yet to end. Olivia was still alive. Hamyuts loaded her sling with a gravel bullet meant for long-range sniping.
While starting to rotate her sling, Hamyuts felt a presence behind her.
Turning around, she saw a lone girl standing there. She was a graceful and refreshing girl wearing a blue one-piece dress. She had never seen this girl, but still spoke to her.
“Oh my, it’s been a long time, Lascall.”
“How nostalgic, Hamyuts Meseta-sama.”
Lascall Othello pinched the hem of her skirt and made a lovely bow. She appeared like a disciplined young girl. Her expression, seeming more nihilistic than mature, did not give her a human-like impression.
“Well aren’t you cute?”
Hamyuts lowered her sling and turned to face Lascall.
“You were the one to bring Volken something strange, right?”
“Indeed. I have entrusted Volken-sama with the Book of a Meat who perished on the White Smoke.”
“So you’re the mastermind this time as well, huh?”
Lascall shook her head.
“My, a mastermind? How awe-inspiring. People like Mirepoc-sama and Alme-sama also thought this way, but everyone greatly overestimates me. I am a being who exists only to carry Books. Reading those and acting accordingly are all done by humans.”
The girl’s body sank into the ground. She then appeared again next to Volken.
“What a pitiful boy. I did give him that Book, but what he thought and acted upon had nothing to do with me.”
Lascall spoke truly irresponsibly. However, responsibility was something to be taken by human beings, not by swords. That was probably what she thought.
“So, what are you going to do?”
“I am only to carry on my function. I will pass along the Book of Volken’s interrupted story to someone who can inherit it.”
“I see. Well, do as you wish.”
Saying this, Hamyuts turned her back to Lascall. She loaded her sling with a bullet meant for long range sniping and started rotating it. Lascall thrust her sword into the ground. The soil hardened into a Book.
And just as she picked up Volken’s Book… Hamyuts swung her sling. While completely opposite of her field of vision, she shot at Lascall’s left hand holding the Book.
Her delicate hand was torn off and flew to the air together with the Book. Lascall sank inside the ground. Hamyuts accelerated her sling at the same time.
The left hand drew a parabola in the air and was about to land. In order to grab the Book held by that it, Lascall’s torso emerged from the ground.
The second shot hit Lascall’s head. It crushed her head and mowed down the trees behind her. The right half of the girl’s face disappeared as if gouged by a spoon.
Her mouth seemed to form the word ‘Hamyuts’, but no voice came out. The stone blade fell from her hand and vanished into the ground. The hideously destroyed body of the girl was all that was left in front of Hamyuts.
“Lascall. I feel bad for you, but it’s somewhat troubling for me.”
Hamyuts already moved away with frightening speed. She ran next to the corpse and used her sling to seize Volken’s Book.
“I can’t let the truth be found out. Bantorra Library can only exist in this world if it has an Acting Director. Volken’s story ends here.”
Saying so, she placed Volken’s Book on the ground.
Bending her body, she touched the Book with a finger. Volken’s story flowed into her head. His goal was also there. It was a memory from when he read the Book that told him of Olivia.
The hut she reached was probably what a hunter seeking refuge from rain would use. A single Book and a doll were left on the floor. Olivia reached for the latter. The delicate doll shook its knees. It was waiting for the moment to activate the Magic Right the Meats and Olivia had accumulated in it.
It finally came back to me. My precious Spinning Doll Ückück that was taken by Cigal.
The doll was aching to dance. However, Olivia couldn’t make it do so right now. She couldn’t remember the orders needed to give the doll.
She turned her gaze to the Book. Volken said that this Book did not contain Olivia’s goal. However, it might still become a clue for her to regain it.
If she read this Book and could not remember it would all be over. Readying her resolve, she extended her fingertips to it.
Olivia and Hamyuts both touched the Book simultaneously. They both came to know the life of a single Meat.
His name… saying it would be meaningless.
There existed words in this world that could identify him individually. However, he threw that name away. He had also abandoned his memories and feelings with his own will.
He was a simple Meat who became such out of his own accord.
Before he became a Meat he was a shoe polisher living in a certain city. He polished shoes every day so he could pay for his daily necessities. He ate in the morning, in the afternoon and at the evening, and went to sleep when he became sleepy.
Without being disliked by anyone nor liked by anyone, he kept on living. On the surface he was a normal human you could find anywhere.
The only thing different from the norm was that he was very afraid of death. Of course, there was no one in this world that did not fear death, but it was still far more extreme for him.
However, that was the only part of him different from other people. Overall he seemed to be an ordinary person.
He became divorced from the norm when he realized his goal. It was at the day he started looking for a way to escape the fear of death tormenting him.
At first he tried ordinary means. He drank alcohol, took drugs and slept with women. He tried forgetting about death in his pleasure.
He soon quit. The more attached to his life he felt, the more he felt afraid of death.
Perhaps he could live a peaceful life so that he would have a peaceful death. He thought that dying as if gently withering away would lessen his fear of death.
He soon quit that as well. Death was simply death. Nothing has changed.
How about trying to die? People will not die twice. If he dies he would escape his fear of death. He thought of it as the best way.
I see, he thought and immediately took action.
He started thinking in front of the knife he was holding.
Although it was the only way, it seemed to be a much too foolish method.
Where did all misfortune come from? Why did he have to suffer so much? He tried thinking.
He noticed before long. If he were not alive he wouldn’t have to die as well. Meaning, the source of all misfortune was being alive. All unhappiness came from his fate to be born, live, die and be placed in the Library.
So I should die. Thinking this, he pointed the point of his knife at his heart.
The blade was then grasped. At some point without him noticing, a man stood beside him.
The man grasping the blade said. He was using superhuman strength. He’s probably a Magic-using solider or an Armed Librarian, he thought. It was a strange man whom he could see but could not remember the appearance of.
“I have one suggestion for you, sir. How about forgetting everything? If you forget everything in this world, wouldn’t you also forget your fear of death?”
Doesn’t seem bad at all, he considered. And he then nodded.
The man offered him a cup of water that he said would make him lose his memories. He drained the cup without hesitation as if it was breakfast milk.
He was sent to the Meats’ ship. All he could see was moldy bread crumbs and a pot filled with excreta. He was surrounded only by livestock that wore clothes. They had no happiness. They had no hopes. They had no dignity as human beings and their lives had no value.
Since he had nothing, he didn’t fear losing it. Since his life was worthless, he did not fear death. Since he had no memories he had no troubles. Since he had no will he had no desires.
It felt calm. He was absolved of all his suffering.
He was truly happy.
I’ve tried many things, he thought. I didn’t realize that not having happiness was that blissful.
“While you do not need anything, I will give this to you just in case.”
Saying this, the Overseer of Paradise engraved a small seal on his hand.
“If something bothers you, use it. It is the power of protection transferred by a certain Magician.”
I will probably not use it, he thought. Since he did not need anything, he was released from all suffering.
He was a Meat, but also a True Man at the same time. He knew neither the existence of Heaven nor the doctrine of the Indulging God Cult, but he was still a True Man.
Cigal, Ganbanzel, Parney and him. Out of all True Men found by the current Overseer of Paradise, the one to lead the happiest life was probably him.
Not even the ship’s manager knew he was a True Man. He received the same treatment as all other Meats. His happy despair kept going for a while without incident.
Until he met a strange person one day.
The girl started talking to him.
“Say, can you understand words?”
At first he thought she was one of the caretakers. It was because she wore a dress that revealed her thighs like that of some and not rags like the other Meats. She also wore perfume and makeup and was beautiful.
“I’m looking for comrades. If you understand my words, will you help me?”
He stayed silent.
“We want to become human. We’re looking for people who would fight with us for that purpose.”
He didn’t reply. What did becoming a human mean?
“…No, looking at your eyes there does seem to be some intelligence but… it’s no use.”
Saying so, she left him. She said the same to another Meat. It did not matter if they agreed or refused. If she saw a human-like response she would simply take them.
After a while, he came to know that woman appeared to be named Olivia. He also learned that she was a Meat.
“The number of Meats is decreasing again…”
“That Olivia used them. Really, what’s that woman doing?”
What happened? He questioned. A Meat who was supposed to abandon everything was wishing for something.
Apparently she was threatening the caretakers. Also, she was buttering up one of the False Men. Apparently, night after night, she gathered the Meats and surrounded a weird doll.
There are strange things in the world, he thought.
Primal feelings like curiosity still remained inside his heart. He exited the room and went to the place where Olivia gathered everyone. Thanks to her, the Meats could freely move inside the ship to a certain degree.
Olivia was crouched inside the room. She was throwing up. She suffered alone as to not show anyone.
“Damn it, that pervert man…”
In front of Olivia was a scribble. She then noticed him.
“…What do you want?”
He didn’t answer anything.
“…Don’t tell this to anyone. I come here to throw up when I’m tired. Seeing this scribble distracts me.”
Olivia stood up.
“Act as if you didn’t see it. You probably won’t understand it anyway.”
But he did understand. She was suffering. By wishing for something, she was suffering for it. Why did she do such a thing?
Loving someone, wishing something… These were all filled with pain. If you wish for nothing, nothing will hurt you. Don’t live and don’t wish for anything. That was the best sort of happiness.
Eventually Olivia’s actions came to light. She and the Meats who’ve followed her received torture out of this world.
Told you so, he thought.
Since you couldn’t get it no matter what you tried, you were better off not wishing for it in the first place.
The long-haired men tormented Olivia.
“So, say you’re sorry already. Say something like, ‘I have overstepped my position as a Meat. Although it would be natural to kill me, please make use of my body for the Cult’s sake’.”
Olivia shook her head. She was then tortured further.
What she’s doing is strange, he thought. If she suffers then she just needs to run away.
Why does she still wish? With only doubts left in him, Olivia left the ship.
Even after Olivia had left, his despairing happiness continued. However, the questions she left with him stayed. But he didn’t seek for an answer. He didn’t try thinking about it.
Before long the ship became noisy again. This time it was something other than Olivia.
The almost perfected human bombs were mobilized. False Men carried their guns and ran around. It seemed to be a battle. Someone probably came to sink the ship.
The battle kept raging for a long while. Although it couldn’t be destroyed in just several hours, it was probably already useless. This ship will sink and end his happy paradise. However, he was not sad. He possessed no such feelings.
Eventually some unknown people have boarded the ship. They seemed to be Armed Librarians.
He stood up. Let’s die. There should have been some explosive at the ship’s bottom.
He started walking there.
“…Oh, do you need anything?”
Someone got to the ship’s bottom before him. It was a woman with ruffled hair. She was activating the explosives at the bottom of the ship ahead of him.
“Sorry. I’ll have you die for me. I have to kill Olivia.”
Saying so, the woman rose up and left. He thought of thanking her.
Soon an explosion took place. He was thrown into the water. That’s fine, he thought.
However, a boorish hand pulled him up. Although he thought of thanking them, they also did unnecessary things. What a strange bunch, he thought.
The one to rescue him was a green-haired youth.
Please don’t do meaningless things. Thinking this, he shook off the rescuing hands.
The youth was shouting. I’m the one who wants to ask this. Why are you trying to save me?
“Don’t you want to live?!”
The youth shouted. Indeed. He didn’t want to live.
While sinking, he thought. He had some time until his death. He thought back on his life.
Why did that youth try to save him? It was unnecessary.
“Don’t you want to live?!”
Why did he ask that? There was no meaning to life.
He recalled Olivia.
Why did she fight? There was no meaning to wishes.
He was thinking. Why do you live? Why do you want to live in this world filled with nothing but suffering?
He ran away. Because this world had nothing but suffering, he ran away from it. He gave up on anything he couldn’t get and anything he left behind. He believed this was the only way to reach happiness.
But was that really the right path?
Was there perhaps another way of living in this world?
A way of living? He smiled wryly. Do I have any way of living? My heart is working, but wasn’t I dead since long ago? What way of living could someone like me possibly have?
They were living. I did not.
I have never lived. I did nothing but run away. So what does living mean? Maybe trying to live wasn’t so bad after all?
He was a True Man. A True Man, meant to become nourishment for Heaven, should not question his own happiness. At that moment he lost the qualifications of a True Man. The desire to live was born in his heart.
His body moved. Seeking air, he paddled towards the sea’s surface. It was useless. He exhaled the oxygen remaining in his lungs and his already scarce droplets of life vanished even further.
And yet he still struggled. He struggled to he could live.
He ran from suffering, he abandoned his sorrow and was simply alive without doing anything. It was easy. It was possibly very happy.
The world was filled with suffering. People hated each other, hurt each other and mocked each other. Love was fleeting and lost, dreams were thrown away and ideals were eventually corrupted.
However, if he could keep struggling and suffering even now…
If he would aim at the things he couldn’t get…
That was what it meant to be living. This was life.
He flailed around. And he yearned. He yearned for Olivia and for all people in the world who wished for what they could not get.
However, when he started yearning for it, it was already too late.
The sea’s surface grew farther. His flailing grew weaker. He will soon be exhausted.
He voiced the name of the person he admired. Even he could not hear his own words. They formed bubbles and vanished.
I want to become like her, he thought. If I can’t become like her then I want to be of help to her, he thought.
His body was sinking.
Just before his consciousness fell into darkness, he could hear a voice. He lent his ears to those words.
“The moment you have wished to live, your Book lost the qualifications of going to Heaven. However, you will bring forth a new, poor story.”
The voice kept talking.
“Olivia-sama is alive. Since you have wished to become of help to her, your story – as truly weak as it might be – possesses the right to continue.
Your Book will probably be of some small help to Olivia.”
I see. So do it. Thinking this, he died.
Hamyuts crushed Volken’s Book.
Even reading it, she did not find out Olivia’s goals. She still didn’t know her connection to Vend Ruga.
Then I should just kill Olivia. I can just read the truth from her Book.
“Hmph, so you’ve helped her, huh.”
Crushed by Hamyuts’s hand, Volken’s Book was grinded to dust and scattered.
It certainly did help Olivia. This Book guided Volken, and he guided Olivia. But that was also meaningless.
Hamyuts loaded her sling with gravel bullets.
Olivia put his Book on the floor. Renas then inquired her.
‘Olivia. Have your memories about Vend Ruga returned?’
‘No, it was useless. It didn’t help at all.’
However, she was faintly smiling. It wasn’t a smile meant to deceive or a mocking smile.
Plenty of people died because she wished for Vend Ruga. Thinking of that, the fact she was a villain did not change.
However, what she was trying to gain was not mistaken. This she understood.
Whoever it was that delivered this Book to her surely wanted her to understand this.
Olivia turned around to the Spinning Doll Ückück. Let’s get our memories back. Her life had but several minutes left. Even so, she kept yearning for Vend Ruga.
There were but several minutes left to the end of the long fight. Although Olivia overcame all despair, the final obstacle was waiting for her.
Hamyuts’s gravel bullet has started accelerating.