The sound of dull, oppressive bells rang throughout Past God Bantorra’s Island.
All Armed Librarian who heard this bell stopped their work and put their highest priority on gathering. These were the bells that rang during times like 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 through 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 here before. There were some playing tables scattered in the lobby for the guests that needed to kill some time. Since Enlike had a lot of free time, Noloty taught him.
“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 made a face that felt as if she was saying why are you saying unnecessary things? 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 remembered 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? 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 Ireia spoke with him.
“Haven’t you softened lately, Enlike-san?”
At first, he would make attacks that could kill in the worst-case scenario. Now he settled on making attacks that would cause heavy injuries at worst. Ireia chimed in.
“Don’t hold yourself back, Enlike-san. You can do whatever you want except killing them.”
“I know, but… I’m sorry.”
Unusually, Enlike apologized frankly.
“Oh my, what’s wrong?”
“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 it can’t be helped.”
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.
This 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 look like a cowardly man.
He didn’t know much about the person called Olivia. He heard that eventually Volken had been killed. Just what was his goal?
Anyway, after the two have disappeared, something strange happened with Enlike.
His memories that were taken away by the Cult were suddenly restored.
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.
Enlike’s memories were not the only ones to return. The memories of his comrades eaten along with him by the Monster were also restored. His comrades have died, but their memories were still alive within 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 in war without any end in sight. He lost both of his parents due to that. He was probably caught 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 we lost their position 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 there?”
“…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 things like wanting to unite with her or be together with her his whole life.
He just thought that if Noloty was alive and happy it would be good.
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 could be strong enough.
Then, after defeating the Indulging God Cult and seeing Noloty grow into a fine warrior, he would leave Bantorra Library.
One day, if he could live in some town and hear about her good health once or twice a year, he wanted nothing more. He thought that would be fine.
If he wishes for too much it would come crashing down. I mustn’t wish for too much, Enlike thought.
But if even that was too much of a luxury, what should he wish 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 and not me who died?
Wasn’t her turn supposed to be 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 at 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 was alive.
“Why did everyone die and live me alone?
Based on the order I should be 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 here 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 made a path for him.
“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.
“Did the monster revive?”
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 Library. 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 that would stand in its way.
Bantorra Library shook as the battle began. Among everyone, only the monster was calm.
“I see, so he’s gone.”
Hamyuts muttered after receiving this information from Mirepoc. 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 their countermeasures in the assembly hall downstairs right now.
Hamyuts did not join the meeting. She was thinking by herself.
“Well, can’t be helped about Enlike-kun. We’ll think about it later. More important are our current enemies.”
Mirepoc nodded. Behind her strong expression and her tightened lips there was the color of fear that could not be hidden. 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 was that of the Ismo Republic National Broadcast’s announcer.
“We will cease regular broadcast and instead have 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 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 had amazing battle strength, 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 Dragon Pneumonia Incident at Toatt Mining Town and the Monster Incident. 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 which was their secrecy.”
It was still all correct so far. 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.”
“Indeed. Until then we were attacked, but it became our turn to attack them.
Using the information we were able to obtain, we started attacking 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.
And you have defeated Charl Strite, the self-proclaimed Lascall Othello who collected the followers’ Books. Even only taking the main ones into account, there are still a few more.
Ever since Mokkania there was no attack from the Cult. We have been unilaterally attacking them. 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 missed the matter of Volken for some reason, though.”
“Oh, you’ve erased your memories, right. Really, why did you think of doing such a thing, idiot.
So, the fourth branching point was the mysterious event that happened with the Meats.
One day suddenly Meats all around the world have regained their memories and started rebelling against the Indulging God Cult.
Lots of them asked for the Armed Librarians’ protection. There were also facilities destroyed at the hands of Meats forming a mob. 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 is 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 once again turned on the radio. The announcer was raising his voice just like he did before.
“I will report it 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 false alarm! The Ismo Republic started a war against Bantorra Library!”
Mirepoc and Hamyuts exchanged glances.
The Ismo Republic. It was the world’s largest country with the territory of the entire continent to the east of Bantorra Library.
They were a developed democratic state. Using their economical might made by their abundant lands and resources, they were focusing 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 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.
“No matter how much we think we can’t reach an answer. 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.
Because of that they’re the Indulging God Cult. Am I wrong, Mirepoc?”