The opponent was moving fast; much faster than the opposing Armed Librarian Minth Chezine. Minth retreated while keeping his opponent at bay with a handgun. Their specialty was close combat, after all. Getting close would be disadvantageous for him.
Minth’s opponent avoided his shots. The rubber bullets grazed her dark-brown hair. She avoided them not to the side or below, but kept on straight ahead. Tilting her body extremely forward, she leapt.
Minth stepped back but the distance between them became three meters. He was forced to decide whether to retreat farther or engage her in close combat.
He chose the latter and threw away his handgun. He raised the wooden sword held in his left hand and slashed at his opponent.
Enlike Bishile, who watched the two fight from the side, was muttering to himself. You have to create some distance even if it’s useless. Minth didn’t have a good chance to win in close combat.
They were in Bantorra Library during dusk. This was part of training ground behind the main building. Inside a simple ring enclosed by fences with a radius of around 300 meters, Minth and his opponent were conducting real combat training. Enlike watched over their fight.
Minth excitedly swung down the wooden sword in his left hand. Just when he was about to achieve a direct hit, his opponent stopped her movements a moment before and dropped to the ground.
It was uncertain whether Minth’s eyes could follow her next move. She rotated her body with both hands as the axis. Her feet sled a few centimeters on the ground. Her heels hit him accurately on his ankles. Both of his feet were swept away and his body floated in air.
She rotated her body once more. Spreading both legs, she clamped down on Minth’s torso.
Their bodies rolled on the ground. The next instant, Enlike spoke.
“That’s enough. Noloty won.”
They both suddenly stopped.
Noloty Malche ended up straddling Minth as he collapsed with his face up. She grabbed Minth’s left wrist with her left hand. Her fist was stopped on the verge of striking.
If this was a real battle, fists would have rained down on him without giving him any chance to escape. This was the form of Noloty’s certain victory technique that once even felled the Monster Zatoh. Once the current Noloty has assumed this position, escape would be impossible.
“This makes it nine wins and nine losses. It’s a tie.”
Noloty said and grinned. Minth complained to her while she was atop his stomach.
“No, it’s nine wins, eight loses and a tie. I’m ahead by one.”
“You’re still saying that?”
Enlike lent Noloty his hand and she got off Minth. He then stood up.
“Enlike stopped us too soon that time. It was a tie.”
Enlike was fed up with them. Minth had dragged the fight five matches ago forever. Hating to lose wasn’t bad, but he was too persistent.
“No, that was my win.”
Noloty pouted her lips.
“No, I had a secret plan for reversal.”
“What is it? Please show me.”
“Even if you tell me to show it to you I can’t, it needs to flow in battle.”
Although they just ended their fight, the two were energetically arguing.
“That can’t be.”
“Oh, so it reached that point eh?”
The tired Enlike interrupted the two.
“I don’t mind which of you won.”
Minth was still dissatisfied.
“…That’s not good at all.”
“You’re stubborn as well. Oh well. Let’s end it here for today.”
After he said so, Noloty also made an unhappy face. Even though I can still continue… she wanted to say.
“If you still have the energy to spare go run. Ten laps around the island at your full speed.”
Saying so, Noloty jumped over the fence and ran away. Seeing her jump over Bantorra Library’s wall, Minth plunked down on the ground. Enlike stopped the training because he knew that fatigue had caught up to him.
Nine months have passed since Noloty and Enlike met. During that time, Noloty grew strong beyond recognition. She was a different person from when they first met.
Her supervisor Mirepoc was no longer able to be her sparring partner. She ended up asking Enlike and other Armed Librarians to do real combat training with her. Weren’t they already at the situation in which an active Armed Librarian wasn’t able to compete with a trainee?
“She’s sure gotten strong.”
“Because Noloty’s made great efforts.”
Enlike revealed his honest impressions. He was currently in charge of the trainees’ practice. The only one of them to come under his rigorous coaching was Noloty.
“But shit, this’s making me angry. Losing to her feels ten times as frustrating as losing to other guys. I’ve lost my confidence.”
Minth was still vexed. Since his ability is meant for intelligence and support, fighting isn’t his forte. He shouldn’t mind it that much, thought Enlike.
“Frankly speaking, I have no idea why she’s still a trainee.”
“It’s a problem of human nature. It seems people like Mirepoc and you have acknowledged her, but other people still think of her as an unreliable girl.”
Enlike made a small sigh. Although Noloty was lacking nothing in ability, her promotion to an Armed Librarian was being postponed. Ireia opposed it, and Hamyuts and Mattalast weren’t in favor either.
He could understand them. Noloty didn’t know how to doubt people and hated killing. As long as she couldn’t grow out of her naivety, she was unfit to be an Armed Librarian.
“Well, her promotion’s close. At the end she is strong enough for an Armed Librarian. If we’re talking about her personality even the Director or Mokkania were more of a problem.”
Minth said and smiled.
Enlike answered with complex feelings. She really wanted to be promoted, but becoming an Armed Librarian would put her in more danger. He felt worried and could simply not be happy about it.
Minth rose up.
“I’ll get going.”
“Yeah, time is pressing. I now have to look for a spy in Rona.”
Minth’s ability was known as Sacred Eyes, allowing him to see a person’s soul and state of mind. It was the best ability to use when looking for traitors and spies. He flew around the world without a moment’s rest due to the fight against the Indulging God Cult.
“Sorry for asking you on such busy times.”
“What’re you saying, this was great for relieving my stress. Call me again if you need to.”
Saying so, Minth walked away.
Enlike left the training ground and headed back home. He rented a humble apartment in Past God Bantorra Island’s downtown. He ended up being treated as an irregular staff member of Bantorra Library. His salary was about the same as a normal librarian; it was less than that of an Armed Librarian and even that of a trainee.
If evaluated only by his strength, it wouldn’t be weird for them to give him enough money to play around for a year. But Enlike had no complaints. Because he had told them the following himself.
If you were to give me a high salary, my troubles would only increase. Since he planned on leaving Bantorra Library at some stage, he didn’t want to get too deeply involved.
Someone suddenly spoke up to him at the Library’s courtyard. He noticed the Armed Librarian Ireia sitting on a bench. Apparently having finished her work, she was busy knitting elegantly.
“Thanks for your hard work. Could I talk to you for a while?”
Ireia moved her plump body to the bench’s edge. Enlike sat down.
“I have seen Noloty. Unbelievable. She became that strong.”
“Since she’s fighting against me every day, it would be weird for her to not grow stronger.”
Ireia smiled wryly.
“Why can you not frankly praise her sometimes?”
Enlike averted his gaze and snorted.
“I have been serving here for a long time. I have raised many children, yet have never seen one who betrayed my expectations that much. It is all thanks to you, Enlike-san.”
“No, Noloty got strong by herself. That’s all.”
Enlike really thought so. Out of all the trainees he taught, only Noloty was able to keep up with his hellish training.
“She’s been the most passionate child around here from a long time ago.”
Ireia said while still knitting. Come to think of it, she was also in charge of teaching the next generation. It was her who had brought up Noloty until she became a trainee.
Enlike voiced a question he wanted to raise since a while.
“By the way, why does she want to become an Armed Librarian?”
“Oh, so you do not know? Does that mean you also have no idea about her origins and all that?”
“We haven’t really had personal talks.”
Ireia smiled bitterly.
“You should speak to each other more. Why are you distancing yourself so strangely?”
“Leave me alone.”
Enlike became sullen.
“So, Noloty-san came from the mountain region in the southern frontier. She said it is a small village where they did nothing but raise goats. Enlike-san, prepare to be surprised. I will tell you something amazing.”
Ireia sank into silence for a bit.
“That girl was her village’s princess.”
Enlike was surprised. Noloty, a princess? He couldn’t imagine it at all.
“Unbelievable, right? I thought it was a lie for a while. But when Minth looked at her with his Sacred Eyes he saw that it wasn’t.”
“Why an Armed Librarian then?”
“That girl ran away from home. She said that she wanted to leave the village no matter what.”
“They’re probably worried about her.”
“Probably. When you ask her about her hometown, she makes a really troubled face.”
“So why an Armed Librarian?”
“Since she ran away from home when she was little, she was in trouble because she had nowhere to go. She heard that by getting into an Armed Librarian school she could receive food and education, so she rode on that chance.”
“That is not all.”
Saying so, Ireia began laughing.
“I remembered something funny. It was from when I had asked her why she wanted to become an Armed Librarian.
She said it was because she never lost in a fight at her village.”
Even Enlike was dumbfounded.
“So she thought she could become an Armed Librarian…”
“Unthinkable. I thought it would truly be impossible. I told her that she should quit for her own good.”
“…But she didn’t?”
Ireia smiled wryly.
“She was the only child in the last ten years who did not listen to me. She truly made me worry.”
He could understand why. Looking at Noloty, she frankly never listened to most of what other people told her.
“I will say this clearly, but Noloty-san has nothing like some sort of talent that cannot be found anywhere. There are plenty of talented children around her.
However, at some point that girl had surpassed all these talented children.”
“She truly is a mysterious child. She managed to make the impossible possible before we even noticed. I am the most senior among the Armed Librarians but I have never seen a child like her.”
“Then someday she will surpass both me and you.”
Enlike said half-jokingly. However, Ireia did not deny it.
“I want to say that is impossible, but… I don’t know that girl’s limits.”
How stronger will Noloty grow from now on? Will she able to safely work as an Armed Librarian?
Enlike certainly was anxious for her, but at the same time held some expectations. Noloty possessed something no other person had. He didn’t know what, but she had it.
Was thinking like this only due to his bias?
At any rate, the day she would be promoted to an Armed Librarian approached by the day.
And then, in December 18, 1925…
Noloty Malche has died.