The sound of dull, oppressive bells rang throughout Past God Bantorra Island.
All Armed Librarians to hear this bell stopped their work and prioritized gathering. These bells were the ones that rang during emergencies such as during the Monster’s attack and Mokkania’s rebellion.
The normal librarians evacuated slowly. The trainees lead all visitors to a safe place. Slipping between them, the Armed Librarians ran towards the conference room that was their meeting place.
Enlike alone stayed sitting in a chair at the lobby. He gazed at them with empty eyes. Ten days have passed since he heard of Noloty’s death. He kept just sitting the whole time without listening to anyone.
Why am I here? Enlike thought. I have nothing to do at this place anymore. Since Noloty died, there’s nothing to connect me to Bantorra Library anymore.
But he still kept sitting there. His eyes wandered among the people running around. He was looking for the figure of Noloty who couldn’t be there.
How many months ago was it? They have played chess there before. Playing tables for guests needing to kill time were scattered in the lobby. Since Enlike had a lot of free time, Noloty taught him to play.
“Umm, you have four more minutes.”
Only Noloty was talking. Enlike stayed quiet and glared at the board. There was no rule in chess that allowed one to take pieces by glaring at them, though.
Enlike moved the knight. He was at a position where he could aim for both the bishop and the rook simultaneously.
“Oh, that’s a good move, so I’ll escape here.”
Noloty moved her rook back. Enlike took the bishop. At that time, Hamyuts who was watching from the back spoke.
“Just where would that count as a good move? Noloty, you could have had checkmate by moving the queen to f7.”
Noloty’s expression seemed to be telling her to not speak unnecessarily. Enlike unconsciously let out blue sparks from his body.
“Hamyuts, is Noloty good at this game?”
“Not at all.”
Cold sweat ran on Noloty’s cheeks. Enlike stood up.
“I now recall I have some errands to do. I’m going home.”
Noloty hurriedly grabbed his sleeve.
“Umm, if you got tired of chess, will you do darts next? Do you know how to play darts?”
“I’m not good at it either, but won’t you play? Come on, Mattalast-san will teach us.”
She could hear Hamyuts murmuring behind her.
“It isn’t easy babysitting that kid.”
Yes, that happened. Noloty invited Enlike to play with her at something. He had no one to invite him to play anymore.
Was it about a month ago?
Enlike also taught the trainees during that day. His entire training regimen was made of real combat. The trainees could freely attack Enlike and he could freely attack them back. Since he did not get hurt even when being hit by attacks, it was a training method possible only for him.
When he was about to leave that day Ireia spoke with him.
“Have you not softened lately, Enlike-san?”
At first he would attack in a way that could kill in the worst-case scenario. Now he settled on attacking in a way to would only cause heavy injuries at worst. Ireia then chimed in.
“Do not hold yourself back, Enlike-san. You can do whatever you want except killing them.”
“I know, but… I’m sorry.”
Unusually, Enlike frankly apologized.
“Oh my, what is the matter?”
“I’m worried for Noloty.”
Recently, it seemed that the other trainees complained to Noloty about the training being too hard. Why don’t they talk to me? Those spineless guys, thought Enlike.
But since it was for Noloty he had no choice. He started going easier on them.
“Oh my… so you have no choice.”
Ireia said and smiled. Enlike sighed in relief. When Noloty was troubled, he was troubled as well.
But there was no longer anyone to trouble Enlike.
The following event happened three months ago. It was the time when the man called Volken took Olivia and ran away.
Enlike didn’t think that man betrayed them for the Indulging God Cult. He didn’t seem like a cowardly man.
He didn’t know much about the person called Olivia. He’d heard that eventually Volken was killed. Just what was his goal?
Anyway, after the two have disappeared, something strange happened with Enlike.
His memories taken away by the Cult were suddenly restored.
He recalled his late parents as well as his village that was erased during wartime. He retrieved only a part of his memories, but Enlike was still able to find out about his personal history.
His memories were not the only ones to return. The memories of his comrades eaten along with him by the Monster were also restored. Although they have died, their memories were still alive inside Enlike.
“So you came from the Principality of Meliot, Enlike-san.”
Noloty unexpectedly shared her sentiments.
“To be exact, the west of Meliot. It now gained independence and became the Kuler Region.”
Mattalast corrected her.
“What about it now?”
Enlike asked. The hometown in his memories was wrapped up in war without any end in sight. He lost both of his parents due to that. He was probably captured by the Indulging God Cult afterwards.
“The war is over. The new government’s also doing pretty well. It’s now at peace.”
Enlike said and smiled. He only had a fragment of a memory about his hometown. Even so, he was happy to hear everything was at peace there.
“Do you want to go back, Enlike-san?”
Noloty asked. However, Enlike shook his head.
“It doesn’t have to be right away. I’ll return after the fight with the Cult is over. Besides…”
He closed his eyes. He wasn’t to only one to retrieve his memories. The memories of his comrades captured at the Monster’s island also returned.
There were also war orphans like Enlike among them. There were those who were trafficked. There were also those who’ve lost their positions as False Men due to some blunder and were turned to Meats. They were already dead, but their memories lived inside Enlike.
“I’ll have to go to the other guys’ hometowns as well. I will travel around the world.”
“So it’ll be a world cruise.”
Noloty said in a carefree manner.
“Yeah. Not bad… a world cruise, huh.”
For some reason, Noloty watched him with excited eyes. He could not understand their meaning and kept chatting. Time passed and Noloty left her chair to go to work. As she did, Mattalast suddenly poked Enlike.
“What’re you doing?”
“Invite Noloty. Ask her ‘won’t you come with me?’… Wasn’t that the flow of that conversation?”
“…Really, sometimes you’re so…”
Mattalast seemed troubled. Though Enlike had no idea why.
Nonetheless, he thought that inviting Noloty for a trip around the world wouldn’t be so bad. But time passed and he didn’t breach the subject.
And now, the person he wanted to invite was gone.
It’s not that he was in love.
He didn’t think of any grand ideas like wanting to unite with her or stay together with her his whole life.
He just thought that it would be good for Noloty to be alive and happy.
He wanted her to become stronger; strong to the extent she could protect both herself and her happiness. Enlike wanted to protect Noloty and the Library until she’d become strong enough.
Then, after defeating the Indulging God Cult and seeing Noloty grow into a fine warrior, he would leave Bantorra.
One day, if he could live in some town and hear about her good health once or twice a year, he would want nothing more. He thought that would be fine.
If he wishes for too much it would come crashing down. I mustn’t wish for a lot, Enlike thought.
But if even that was too much of a luxury, what should he have wished for?
Mirepoc stood in front of his eyes. She seemed like she wanted to say something. Did she come to console me? Or to encourage me? How kind of her, thought Enlike.
“Why am I alive? Why was it Noloty who died and not me?
Wasn’t her turn supposed to come much later and mine much earlier? But she still died and I’m alive. Why?”
Mirepoc said nothing. It was as if all the words she wanted to say have been sealed.
Enlike recalled Relia. He was the first person to show him a smile. He died; he was turned into a human bomb and died idly.
He recalled his comrades. They were killed both by him when he was foolish and by the hands of the foolish Ganbanzel.
He also recalled Qumola. The girl who he might have loved died by his hands.
Then, Noloty died.
All of them were people who should have lived. All the people who should have lived died, and yet Enlike remained alive.
“Why did everyone die and live me alone?
Based on the order I should have been next. Also, based on who I least care about dying, it should also be me.
So why am I alive? I’m alive but everyone else died. Why?”
Mirepoc said nothing. She kept looking for words.
“I just don’t know anymore. Because I’m stupid. I can’t understand it. No matter what.”
Mirepoc made up her mind and started talking.
“Don’t talk to me. I can’t understand anything.”
Mirepoc was probably trying to make him fight. She probably came there to tell him to fight to avenge Noloty or to fulfill her dying wish.
However, he had no intention of answering those words.
“I can’t understand anything. So I’ll be going.”
Enlike rose up and started walking. The people around avoided him and cleared a path.
“Please wait! Enlike-san!”
Mirepoc stood in front of Enlike. Her eyes seemed to be telling him not to go. He ignored that and kept walking.
At that moment, a loud voice echoed in the hall.
At this loud voice not only Mirepoc, but everyone in the lobby stopped in place. The one to raise his voice was Mattalast. He stood at the lobby’s entrance, panting.
Mattalast shook his head.
“In two more seconds you would have died.”
Mirepoc took a step back. Mattalast’s prediction was probably right. Even Enlike himself didn’t know what he would do. He might have killed the unfamiliar woman in front of his eyes.
Enlike and Mattalast glared at each other. A few moments later, Mattalast opened the way.
“Please go, Enlike-kun.”
“I will do so. I am indebted to you.”
Enlike passed by him and went for the exit. He heard Mirepoc’s voice behind him.
“Was the monster revived?”
He could then hear Mattalast’s voice.
“No. It’s been born.”
Hearing his voice, Enlike left the Library.
The sound of bells was still echoing throughout Bantorra. Just like it did ten months ago.
Ten months ago, the Monster created by Ganbanzel attacked this place. Now, at the same place, with the same chime in the background, a new monster was born.
It was much more of a monster than before. It was a monster that would crush any and all people who stood in its way.
Bantorra Library shook as the battle began. Among everyone, only the monster stayed calm.
“I see, so he’s gone.”
Hamyuts muttered after receiving Mirepoc’s report. She was in the Acting Director’s Office on the top floor of Bantorra Library. She left the command of the gathered Armed Librarians to Mattalast. They were probably discussing countermeasures in the assembly hall downstairs right now.
Hamyuts did not join the meeting. She was thinking by herself.
“Well, we can’t do anything about Enlike-kun. We’ll think about it later. Our current enemies are more important.”
Mirepoc nodded. Behind her strong expression and tightened lips there was the color of fear she was unable to conceal. The biggest threat was now approaching Bantorra Library. Hamyuts had no intention of scolding her for this expression as cowardice.
A radio was left on the desk. The voice heard from it belonged to the announcer of the Ismo Republic National Broadcast.
“We will cease regular broadcast and instead hold a special news program. Please listen to this broadcast for a while. I repeat, we will now cease regular broadcast…”
The announcer raised his voice as if he was shouting. Ever since that morning, their national broadcast was wrapped in confusion.
“But, no, umm… just what is happening? What is going on with our Republic of Ismo?!”
Mirepoc’s hand turned off the radio.
“Director, what have you been thinking about this whole time?”
“I’ve been reviewing the battle we’ve had until now. Mirepo, I’d like you to help me.”
Mirepoc nodded. Hamyuts started talking.
“It all started with the Allow Bay Naval Assault Incident. This was the start for us Armed Librarians, but the Indulging God Cult had been probably secretly preparing for about 20 years before that.
At the time we had no information about the Cult. Although we possessed amazing military forces we didn’t know where we should attack. From the point of view of information warfare we were defeated by an overwhelming margin. Is that correct so far?”
“The first branching point was the incidents of Dragon Pneumonia at Toatt Mining Town and the Monster’s attack. They were tiresome battles, but we Armed Librarians were able to grasp some information about the Indulging God Cult.
It wasn’t much information, though. We found out the identity of Cigal’s subordinates, the origin of the goods arriving to the monster’s island, the structure of their organization and such.
However, we were able to get a small amount of information due to those. Based on the result, the Cult should have not made this attack. Because they’ve lost their biggest weapon: their secrecy.”
Everything was still correct. So Mirepoc nodded again.
“The second branching point was the battle with Mokkania.
Failing to get rid of me there was the Cult’s biggest blunder. The fact that we lost Mokkania and Feekiee was also important, but we still managed to keep our losses to a minimum.
With that, the battle’s progress was heavily inclined to our favor.”
“After that we turned to the offensive.”
“Right. Until then we were attacked, but it then became our turn to strike back.
Using the information we were able to obtain, we started raiding various places. First Luik assassinated the slave merchants in the Principality of Meliot. They were gathering kids that would turn to Meats.
Old Ireia and her group raided a facility meant to raise warriors.
Kyasariro and Gamo obliterated the Cult followers who tried to steal the Ever-Crying Magic Blade Acharai.
Also, you’ve defeated Charl Strite, the self-proclaimed Lascall Othello who collected the followers’ Books. And there were still a few more targets even when only taking the main ones into account.
Ever since Mokkania no attacks came from the Cult. We’ve been unilaterally striking at them. Is that right?”
“I believe there is no mistake.”
“Another person to play an active part was Minth.
The Indulging God Cult had spies all around the world.
The Guinbex Army sent supplies to the Cult. Ismo Republic’s economical world was a source of revenue for them as well. Newspaper companies incited the populace against Armed Librarians. We even had a spy among us Armed Librarians. Minth found each and every one of them and erased them thoroughly. It was a great achievement. If we had to choose three people who’ve contributed the most to this fight, it would be me and Minth, and perhaps one other person or so.
You’ve missed the matter of Volken for some reason, though.”
“Oh, you’ve erased your memories, right. Really, why have you done such a thing, you idiot.
So, the fourth branching point was the mysterious event that happened to the Meats.
One day suddenly Meats all around the world regained their memories and started rebelling against the Indulging God Cult.
Many of them asked for the protection of the Armed Librarians. There were also facilities destroyed at the hands Meat mobs. That further accelerated the collapse of the Indulging God Cult.
We don’t know about the remaining strength of the Cult at present. However, it’s headed for destruction. Supposedly.”
“I don’t believe there’s any other conclusion.”
“The Cult should have no spare energy left. Then what does this mean?”
Hamyuts turned on the radio again. The announcer was raising his voice just like he did before.
“I will report this again.
Today at dawn, the government of the Ismo Republic announced severing of all relations with Bantorra Library and at the same time declared war!
The navy has already commenced an attack on Bantorra Library. I repeat, this is not a drill! The Ismo Republic started a war against Bantorra Library!”
Mirepoc and Hamyuts exchanged glances.
The Ismo Republic – the world’s largest country with its territory spanning the entire continent to the east of Bantorra Library.
They were a developed democratic state. Using the economical might created by their abundant lands and resources, they focused their efforts on the development of science and technology.
Ismo was the world’s most advanced country in every aspect. That same Ismo now waved the banner of revolution.
Four years ago, the Armed Librarians fought against the Guinbex Imperial Army and were victorious. However, Ismo’s military might was more than double than that of the Guinbex Empire. They wouldn’t lose to them, but they were also not an opponent they could fight with no losses.
“There were no signs of this happening. Ismo also cooperated in our fight against the Indulging God Cult.”
“Minth should have already gotten rid of all spies. The Cult’s hand should not have been able to reach the Ismo Republic anymore.”
“Then how did the Cult manage to influence Ismo?”
The pair sank into silence. Hamyuts once again switched off the radio.
“We can’t reach an answer no matter how much we think. But since the enemy is coming, our actions are already decided.”
Mirepoc nodded. The Armed Librarian sent to meet the enemy has already sortied. It was because of him that Hamyuts and the rest could be carefree and listen to the radio.
He was one of the four Armed Librarians said to rank in power after Hamyuts. Second Grade Armed Librarian Bonbo was already flying eastward.
“Well, thinking about it, it’s always been like that. We just can’t understand the Indulging God Cult.
That’s why they’re the Indulging God Cult. Am I wrong, Mirepoc?”