After a while of silence, Noloty spoke.
“Understood. I accept your surrender. Please accompany me to Bantorra Library and reveal all of the Indulging God Cult’s secrets.”
“I do not mind. Of course we will do that. However, I first have a favor to ask.”
“Is there anything else?”
“I would like you to conclude our fight. No… I would like you to clean up after my mistake.”
“…What do you mean?”
Noloty had a bad feeling. Don’t say it, she nearly mouthed.
“I would like you to kill Arkit Chroma.”
She didn’t think it would be something this stupid. She recalled his terror attack at the Toatt Mines. Noloty somewhat understood the goal of that plan.
No matter how you would think of it, it was a plan that couldn’t succeed. Also, there were the actions of the subordinates after Noloty had stopped their attack. It all lead to Arkit’s death. That plan was made in order to kill him.
“Why does Arkit have to die?”
“I have had another reason to hesitate surrendering… that was Arkit’s existence.
We sought power. As you know, we have dirtied our hands with many heretical deeds. As a result of that, we have created a horrible disaster.
That is Arkit.”
“A power is sleeping inside him… the power to transplant his soul into other people.
If it were to activate, all the people around him would receive his hatred. They would all start to violently hate the Armed Librarians just like him.
Furthermore, that hatred is not limited only to the surrounding people. It would spread throughout the entire world like an incurable sickness. If that happens I would not be able to do anything. Not even Arkit himself would.”
“I thought that using this power would lead us to defeat the Armed Librarians. However, it is not a power to be used for battle. It would destroy not only the Armed Librarians but all people around the world.”
Does such a power really exist? Impossible. It’s beyond what people can do.
“It is incredibly unlikely, but he might be able to control his power. However, that would also be meaningless. We will be destroyed before he would find how to do so.
If we were wiped out, the only thing that would remain is the disaster brought forth by him.”
“…This can’t be true.”
“Do you understand? We are already cornered. There is no choice but to kill him.”
“He obviously does not know.”
Noloty was worried whether this story was true or not.
“Even if what you said is true, there is one strange part.”
“What is it?”
“Why can’t you kill Arkit yourself? You’ve killed countless of people. You’re not one who would hesitate on killing.”
“…What a cruel thing to say, Noloty. No, it might be my just desserts…”
“I thought of killing him. But I could not. Arkit is my final remaining subordinate.
Could you believe it? Even I cannot do it. To think I had these kinds of feelings…”
“The attack on Toatt Mines was my final act of mercy. If he was to continue his hatred I wanted to at least have him die in a fight. You can laugh, Noloty. I could do nothing but give him that sort of mercy.
Come now, laugh Noloty. Laugh at this old man.”
But she couldn’t laugh.
“And after laughing, listen to my request. If you cannot do it, please call someone else. End it by your own hands.”
Is this old man’s story true?
If it was, would she be able to kill Arkit?
“…As I thought you are hesitating, Noloty.
You are thinking that you do not want to kill him. You are thinking of keeping his existence a secret and trying to save him somehow.”
It was exactly so.
“If so, I have no choice but to do this.”
Kachua pulled out a small knife. Its blade was only about as big as a middle finger; a knife unsuitable for a fight.
“I will bet on my life. Read the truth about the Indulging God Cult from my Book.”
The knife hit his neck. At that instant, Noloty’s hand moved. She grabbed Kachua’s thin wrist. The knife stopped just before his carotid artery.
Kachua widened his eyes in astonishment. In contrast to his expression that seemed to see through everything, he now had the face of someone who was surprised from the bottom of his heart.
His wrist creaked. The knife slipped and pierced the ground.
“Don’t, screw with me…”
The one standing there was not the Noloty he knew. It was the Noloty no one knew who clenched her teeth and glared at him with anger.
“Don’t screw with me. Why, why is it always this way?!”
She released Kachua’s wrist. Then, her fist hit the ground.
“It’s always like this. Everyone always, always urges me to kill and to kill!”
Noloty was pounding the ground. Her accumulated anger burst inside her. She had no other outlet for her anger except the ground in front of her.
“Is not killing so bad?! Is dying that good?! Why is it aaalways, aaalways like this?!”
Noloty shouted. She glared at Kachua with anger.
“I don’t want to kill. I don’t want to let anyone die. But everyone wants to die. Why is that?!”
Kachua intently stared at this Noloty. They were almost like eyes of someone who feared what he couldn’t understand.
Kachua had never been, during his long life, as surprised as he was at that moment. The moment when he came to know of Heaven… the moment when Hamyuts let him go… the moment when Winkeny succeeded in controlling Mokkania… even his shock at those events paled in front of what happened there.
During that moment, Kachua had truly intended on dying. He could do nothing else but bet on his life to move Noloty. He realized that and readied his resolve. He was simply that cornered.
Therefore, the shock he received was great. If she said she didn’t want to kill Arkit he could understand. She was that kind of girl. But what reason would she have to not want to kill him?
He couldn’t understand Noloty’s way of thinking. She was outside the framework of his knowledge.
Perhaps having relaxed, Noloty stood up. Then she spoke to Kachua.
“I refuse killing Arkit. If you want to clean up, please use a different way.”
Kachua furrowed his brows.
“What should we do?”
“Tell Arkit the truth. Tell him what the Indulging God Cult has been doing until now. Tell him the Armed Librarians aren’t evil. Tell Arkit about everything. Then he will stop hating us.”
“…Do you think this will settle everything?”
“You said his power can infect other people with his hatred. So if he doesn’t hate anyone his ability shouldn’t be able to activate.”
“…I wonder if this will go well. But I have no choice but to listen to you. I am the loser after all.”
Kachua said and smiled.
“That’s not all. There’s also another thing you need to do.”
Noloty touched Kachua’s face with her fist.
“Apologize to everyone.”
“All the people you’ve hurt! To Enlike-san, to the released Meats, to your comrades killed by the Armed Librarians, to everyone!”
“Apologize, huh. For me to apologize…”
“You can’t possibly atone for it. But at least apologize.”
Kachua started laughing. Noloty couldn’t understand why.
“I see, that is also a possible line of thought. No, I am surprised. I’m truly amazed by your way of thinking.”
“Why are you surprised? It’s natural.”
“Your saying so definitely makes it seem that way, but I have never thought of it. Apologizing, huh…”
Kachua kept laughing. Seeing him like that, she felt fear at this old man for the first time.
I feel bad, thought Noloty. This man is weird. There’s definitely something wrong with him that can’t be seen on the surface.
“Well then, we should wake up Arkit soon.”
Suddenly looking away, Noloty saw the other side of the mountain getting faintly lighter. She finally noticed that morning was approaching.
Arkit came out of the tent. Seeing Kachua, he seemed suspicious. Noloty was surprised; did that old man not show Arkit his true form?
Saying this, he took a step back. Kachua approached him.
“It is not unreasonable for you to not understand who I am. After all I never showed you myself.”
“Are you possibly…”
Kachua invoked his ability. He transformed to the illusory figure Noloty first saw.
“Kachua, why’re you here…?”
“I came to meet you.”
Arkit rushed up to Kachua and clung to him.
“Sorry, I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t able to kill any Armed Librarian. I’m completely useless.”
Kachua gently stroked his head.
“The one who needs to apologize is me. Because there are many things I have concealed from you.”
Kachua started talking. First he told Arkit of the Indulging God Cult’s existence; their mortal combat against the Armed Librarians; the ability budding inside of Arkit; and the fact that he was going to kill him.
Arkit interjected ‘you’re lying!’ many times through it all. He couldn’t believe any of it.
There were so many things to consider. He now knew the identity of Kachua, the one who he had believed the most of all. Furthermore, that very Kachua had tried to kill him. And most importantly he came to know that the Armed Librarians were not evil.
It felt like having your footing crumble down under your legs. When Noloty saw that around the middle Arkit stopped even nodding, she wondered if she had done something even crueler than killing him. He had told her that fighting was everything to him. That meant he lost everything other than his life.
After hearing the story to its end, Arkit murmured.
“Who are you?”
He thrust Kachua away. His light, old body stumbled.
“You’re an impostor. You’re not my Kachua. You’re an impostor Noloty brought from somewhere. It has to be that way!”
“You probably do not want to believe. But that is the truth.”
“I won’t believe you!”
Noloty interjected at that point.
“Arkit. He’s real.”
Throwing a tantrum, he also thrust Noloty away.
“All adults are liars, I won’t believe anymore, I don’t want to see your face. Go away!”
He started pounding Noloty’s stomach. At that moment, her shoulder was patted from behind.
“Noloty. Let us leave him alone.”
You’re one to say, thought Noloty. But having no choice, she left Arkit. She went a bit down the mountain and stopped at a place where she could see the tent from.
Noloty found Arkit’s figure. He sat down listlessly. She couldn’t tell his expression from that distance.
Will he reconsider now? But at his current state he might also be at a loss and kill himself. Although she was the one who had invited him, her heart ached.
“Are you worried about Arkit, Noloty?”
Kachua said. A faint smile was still seen on his face.
“He will not die. He was moved by his hatred for the Armed Librarians. Since it all collapsed, he should not have the mental energy left to suicide.”
What a horrible way of saying it, thought Noloty. It’s like you’re seeing through him.
“Don’t you feel bad for him? It’s your fault.”
“My fault, huh? Yes. That is true.”
“Don’t you feel responsible?”
“What responsibility do I have towards him?”
Noloty shuddered at his way of speaking.
“Who do you think that boy is?”
“He is Arkit. Our most important final pawn. Our only possibility to kill the Armed Librarians.”
Noloty felt nauseous. Earlier he said that he couldn’t kill Arkit because he was too dear to him. She didn’t think that was true.
“But you are only thinking of Arkit.”
“This is the end of a long battle. It is disappointing that you are not even a bit happy. Or do you not care about the Indulging God Cult at all?”
“That’s not it…”
Noloty spoke ambiguously. Now that he said it, she knew he was right. However, the important thing was who will become happy. That was far more important than who won.
Kachua raised a laugh from the back of his throat.
“Well, it is fine. In the first place the Indulging God Cult was not much of an enemy to you. I was intending to do my very best, but you Armed Librarians are truly hard to chew.”
Perhaps tired of standing, Kachua sat down. Looking at him like this, he was nothing more than an exhausted old man.
“I was supposed to know the strength of the Armed Librarians, but it seems my evaluation was too naïve. Thinking it was the same as fifty years ago was not good. Far from being like fifty years ago, perhaps the Armed Librarians of the present are the strongest in history.”
“…Fifty years ago? You can’t be…”
Hearing that, she suddenly remembered: she had once heard the name Kachua. Fifty years ago, he was the First Grade Armed Librarian who served as the sixth Acting Director before the current one.
“Oh, you seem to know me. Even Photona was not acquainted with me.”
If Mirepoc hadn’t told her this, she would have probably not noticed. She didn’t want to think that the enemy leader was once an Armed Librarian.
“I have met with Ireia once when she was a ferocious and sweet girl. Well, settling matters without fighting Ireia as she was at the time is most fortunate.”
Kachua laughed in a jesting tone.
“Why did an Armed Librarian go to the Indulging God Cult?”
“Hmm. Do you want to hear that? Yes, should I leave my testament since it is a good chance?”
Putting his hand to his chin, Kachua thought for a while. Then, he started speaking while looking at the sky.
“The reason is my dream. I dreamt of a new world.”
“When I was in Bantorra Library, I have always felt everything I did was in vain. Carrying and managing the Books was in vain. Do you not think so as well? We are all involved in stories that already ended. We do nothing to contribute to people’s happiness.
I wondered if I could have a job that was more meaningful for the happiness of people. I was young. I believed that I could achieve something big.”
“Making people happy?”
These were words that should have never come out of that man’s mouth.
“Yes, Noloty. Do you not think this world has fallen into unhappiness? Peace is full of deceit and conflict brings about tragedy. There is sorrow without end but happiness is like an oasis in the desert.
What makes people happy? Neither love, friendship or justice can give people perfect happiness. They are too weak.
I thought and finally found it. The thing that could give people the perfect happiness.”
“The Indulging God Cult?”
“It’s the worst. You don’t mind making plenty of people miserable for the sake of one person.”
“That is only one aspect of the Indulging God Cult. The essence of the Cult is bringing people’s Books to Heaven. Protecting Heaven, where the perfect happiness lies, and guiding people there.”
She had heard of the place called Heaven; it was the delusion of the Indulging God Cult.
“Noloty. Why do all people become Books and are then stored at Bantorra Library?”
“Because Past God Bantorra decided so.”
“Exactly. But Noloty, did we forget we also have power? Humans possess the power to overturn the Gods’ axioms.
All people become Books and are stored in the Library. We have the power to overturn even that axiom.”
She thought him insane. People certainly had the power to change the world. But could they make the sun rise from the west? Could they reverse gravity? It was a challenge beyond the mortal domain.
“My dream is the creation of a new Bantorra Library. Then I will purge all of the Armed Librarians clinging to the orders of the Library that was already gone from this world. Then, we will become the new Armed Librarians.
I have betted my life on that dream.”
“A new Library?”
“A Library that collects all Books and selects only the valuable ones among them to send to Heaven. It is not difficult at all. It is the same as what the Indulging God Cult is doing right now.
Blissful people will ascend to Heaven. This is not limited to True Men; as long as they are happy, everyone is worth enough to go to Heaven.
Those who bring happiness to people will also go to Heaven. They also do not need to be False Men, as long as they are kind-hearted people who wish for happiness. Meaning, people just like you.
Then, the souls of those valuable people will continually taste the perfect happiness in Heaven. Forever.”
“Me, go to Heaven?”
“My evaluation of you is high. You have saved Enlike. You have also tried to save Arkit. Even as your enemy I fully understand the righteousness in your heart. The Indulging God Cult needed people like you.”
She had never felt so unhappy at being praised.
“Do you not think it is marvelous? Kind people like you can go to Heaven and attain happiness. And those who have lost their righteousness, those who have made people unhappy, will be thrown away to the cold Library.”
“Both you and your subordinates seem to be the worst people, though.”
“Indeed. However, I required power. In order to win, I had to gather vile people such as Cigal. The Indulging God Cult was actually an organization overflowing with love and kindness, but I have defiled it. I regret this fact.”
Noloty couldn’t see any so-called love and kindness in the Indulging God Cult.
“There’s another thing you should regret. Just how many people do you think you’ve made unhappy?”
“Hehe, the sorrow I have caused pales in front of the eternal Heaven.”
She always thought that man was unpleasant. Now she roughly understood why.
A person who doesn’t think of people as people appeared in front of her. Hamyuts was also like that, and so was Zatoh. However, they were both different from Kachua.
She had the feeling Hamyuts did have some love in her. She felt that Hamyuts possessed some twisted love for fighting and for her enemies. She loved killing and loved whoever she fought to the death with. But this was different than that.
Zatoh also had a human-like heart. He felt pleasure at trampling people and joy at controlling them. If one thoroughly investigated the dirty aspects people can possess, they would end up with someone like Zatoh. But this was also different.
This old man was looking down at people from above. Whether he was immersed in some superiority complex or just thought of himself as some great being, he was of a different domain. He was like someone from a higher plane.
No matter who suffered or died due to his actions, he thought it had nothing to do with him. It was the ultimate irresponsibility and the worst kind of apathy.
“But, that was all in vain.”
“Obviously. There’s no way you could destroy the Armed Librarians. Also, there’s no way the dreams people like you have would come true.”
“That is right. However, I could not help but attempt it.”
Kachua spread his arms and started speaking loudly.
“That is a dream. Even if you are told it is impossible, you will not give it up. Even if you think your whole life will be in vain, you cannot stop it. Once you have dreamt, you can do nothing else but push on until your life is wasted.”
His old eyes sparkled as if he was young.
“And dreams go hand in hand with sacrifices. What does not require any sacrifices cannot be called a dream. Otherwise it is nothing more than a trivial, half-hearted yearning. Is it not so, Noloty?
I was not able to treat this dream as a half-hearted yearning. I have brought along countless of sacrifices.”
Noloty could understand that his words were no falsehood. He faced his dream more sincerely than anyone else.
Therefore, this old man was hateful and unpleasant.
“If this is true it might be amazing. But just where is that so-called Heaven?
There isn’t one, right? If not, that’s nothing but a delusion.
If the place called Heaven exists show it to me.”
Kachua scratched his head and smiled.
“It is troublesome for you to get stuck on that point. You see, Heaven right now is at a place I cannot reach. Only a few selected people can go there.”
“So as I thought it’s just your delusion. How stupid. What a waste of my time.”
Noloty frowned, but Kachua looked happy for some reason.
“However, Heaven does exist. It certainly does.”
Should I beat him up? Thought Noloty. If I talk to him any further I’ll go crazy.
At that time help arrived. Arkit came walking towards them. However, he stopped at a place quite far and raised his voice.
“Noloty, come here!”
Kachua urged her to go ahead. Although she was worried he might run away, Noloty started walking towards Arkit. Kachua intently stared at her. He could not miss even a single instant of what was about to happen next.
What’s Kachua thinking about? Noloty had no way of guessing.
I have barely reached this far. Kachua thought this while calming his beating heart.
Arkit was approaching perfection. Although it was a very close call, the plan to destroy the Armed Librarians was heading towards success.
It was truly dangerous.
If Noloty had postponed dealing with Arkit it would have all been over. As expected, she intended to try and solve it by herself without mentioning him to the other Armed Librarians.
If she were to receive Mirepoc’s Thought Sharing it would all be over. The Armed Librarians would gather at this place, and his plan would probably be spoiled. He was also lucky to avoid that.
He also deceived Noloty well. She doubted him, but should now partly believe in him.
His plan changed drastically, but the end result will be as he thought.
Noloty and Arkit were conversing. He couldn’t hear their words.
Arkit having the power to destroy the world… that story was false. There was no way a single person could possess that outrageous power.
However, him being their trump card was true. The victory of the Indulging God Cult rested on his shoulders.
There was only one thing needed to destroy the Armed Librarians:
It was for Arkit to keep on hating them.