Present – December 18, 1926
Past God Bantorra Island’s town was enveloped by the hustle and bustle of the evening. Men who finished their jobs pursued their way back home, with the scents of dinners from houses along the way drifting in the air.
In the past, there were two days of hell there when the people of the world had attacked Bantorra Library.
In the year since then the town was rebuilt. People were returning to their daily lives before the rebellion. However, by straining one’s eyes, they would be able to notice some scars here and there. There were wheel-tracks of tanks that scraped the ground or bullets and shell fragments stuck to the walls. However, these were all mixed up in the traces of the people’s new daily lives and were gradually becoming less visible.
Mattalast’s feet hit an empty cartridge that was still not disposed of. It rolled on the ground and fell into a ditch.
“Damn, I mistook the time.”
Saying so, he turned at the corner. He found a large building at the center of the shopping district. He opened the heavy oaken door.
Sorry I’m late. Just as he thought of saying this, Mattalast held his tongue.
The interior was dark; all lights were turned off. All of the hundred or so Armed Librarians inside fell to silence without making a single whisper or sound.
Mattalast entered and gently closed the door. He took off his hat and held it to his chest.
“The minute of silence is over.”
He heard the voice of a woman from within the darkness. It was familiar to him. She was the Armed Librarian called Kyasariro.
“Our comrades who have died one year ago in the fight against the Indulging God Cult. The citizens who were involved with the Deep Blue Curse and died. We are all here right now because of their sacrifices.
We swear to never repeat this mistake again. We renew in our hearts our absolute duty to protect the peaceful life and quiet death of people around the world.
Let us pledge to dedicate our wisdom, power, and all of our lives for the sake of that duty.”
Even in the darkness it was clear everyone was strongly nodding to her words.
Kyasariro’s tone of voice, solemn until then, changed.
“Only for today and only in here, let us forget about that vow.”
The next instant all lights turned on at once.
It was a large place that could seat about 200 people. Almost all of the Armed Librarians have gathered there. They all held glasses in one hand and in their other hands were things such as crackers or bottles of champagne.
Even those who usually didn’t care about their appearances tried looking good to some extent. It was quite the sight.
“Ladies and gentlemen!”
Saying so, Kyasariro jumped on one table with a megaphone in one hand.
“This year, while we’ve had some difficulties, pain, difficulties and all sorts of things, we somehow made it through an entire year! You’ve truly done a great work this year, everyone!
Today’s our once-in-a-year great party! This is the only day for you chosen warriors, God’s agents, and protectors of world peace to return being simple idiots! Please enjoy yourself to the fullest!
Let’s have a toast you bastards!”
Along with Kyasariro’s voice, the sounds of glass and applause resounded in the room. Then, the paper ribbons coming from crackers and champagne bottle corks flew to the air.
“Forget all about your usual work and troubles for today and be as flashy as you can! You must recover from brawls in less than ten days! Make less than a thousand tohora in property damage! Murder, sexual assaults, looting or involving normal people and the like is forbidden! Please remember the above and eat, drink, sing, and party as much as you’d like!”
Saying this, Kyasariro jumped off the table.
The violent people started scattering champagne foam around. There were also those who started singing despite not being drunk yet. In the blink of an eye they all became fools.
They all were at the biggest beer hall in Past God Bantorra Island’s town. Every year on this day the place was reserved for the Armed Librarians. This was the only day of the year the disciplined Armed Librarians were allowed to make a great party.
“Hey now, taking ten days to heal means it will be a serious injury…”
Mattalast shrugged. Seems like it’s going to be wild today, he mentally sighed.
Speaking of the Armed Librarians’ party, many people probably thought of it as a luxurious banquet. Even the average Armed Librarian earned enough money to last a lifetime in a decade. By becoming an Acting Director candidate, one would get money comparable to the big tycoons of the Ismo Republic. They would think those Armed Librarians would host a party that could shame even royalty. However, the truth was different.
The meeting place was a simple beer hall. In order to create some empty space inside, the tables were placed in disorder. All those present either took a seat wherever they liked or stood eating.
Even the food was just things like meat dishes or deep fried food with random spices. Because the price of alcohol was reasonable, there was plenty in variance and quantity.
Most of the Armed Librarians came from middle-class families or below that. Since they have spent all of their youth doing nothing but battle training and Magic Deliberation, they didn’t know the taste of high-class cuisine. They also didn’t know how to drink high-class alcohol and had no manners inside their heads. So luxury would be wasted on them.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve had this party.”
While saying this, Mattalast immediately drank a glass of champagne.
“Oh, Matt-san. You’re late.”
Kyasariro spoke to him.
“Sorry. I mistook the time.”
“Didn’t I tell you already? This year we started an hour earlier than the usual.”
Mattalast said and shrugged.
Kyasariro Totona was in her mid-twenties. Although she was young compared to normal people, her career as an Armed Librarian was not short.
She was a fairly petite and child-faced woman. Her speech and conduct also seemed vaguely childish.
She wore a disproportionately big hat and had a large amount of pistols equipped to her waist and thighs. It could be said to be wild and carefree, but frankly speaking it was a queer getup.
“You took over the organizer role this year, right?”
While saying this, Kyasariro jumped onto Mattalast’s shoulder. For some reason, she loved jumping on to people’s shoulders or tables. Not only her appearance was bizarre.
“Must’ve been tough. Ireia used to take care of that.”
“Yeah. We’ve lost some precious people.”
Kyasariro gently dropped her elbows on Mattalast’s head while speaking.
“You can’t make such a miserable face today. Save it for tomorrow.”
“You have to look like you’re having fun. We haven’t had this party in three years after all.”
Perhaps growing tired of Mattalast’s shoulders, Kyasariro jumped off.
December 28 of the year before the last was a short while after the Allow Bay Assault Incident. They weren’t in any state to hold a party. Finally, last year it was the day when the war of the Deep Blue Curse began.
Thinking of that, he could agree to Kyasariro’s words. Being able to organize the party was extremely fortunate.
Suddenly looking away, he could see an improvised platform at the back of the hall. Mirepoc stood on it while holding a megaphone. Her hair, which was short one year ago, now grew all the way to her chest. Her features also matured, so she seemed more and more like a woman. Mirepoc raised her voice.
Mirepoc said, but the Armed Librarians were speaking to each other as they pleased.
She said again, and finally several Armed Librarians responded.
“Hey, Mirepoc’s trying to say something.”
“Listen to herrr. She’ll get angry at yaaa.”
After these voices echoed, the meeting hall became somewhat quiet.
“Just the other day we held the promotion examinations for Armed Librarians and three trainees have passed it. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce them to you. Come here.”
Three young people came onto the stage after being urged by Mirepoc.
“Please introduce yourselves and make a short speech in order. Starting from the right.”
The first to lower his head was a boy with a smiling face. He had a small stature and a cute face. He looked like some pet dog that grew up without any inconveniences in life. He started speaking in a cheerful voice.
“Hello everyone, I’m Rizzly. I’m 18 years old. My hobbies are cooking and gardening and my favorite colors are pink and cobalt blue. My specialties are sardine pie and the salmon piccata I’ve learned from Ireia-san. I made it today by my own hands. There’s plenty of it around, so please enjoy eating it, everyone.”
Voices of applause and people calling it’s delicious! rose from all around the hall.
“…Just what is your job supposed to be? Next one please.”
The one appearing next was a girl with a bob cut. Her sleepy eyes seemed to be looking at the day after tomorrow. She faced the ceiling for a short while. Finally, she spoke in a small voice.
“I’m the Armed Librarian Tena. The sky-blue birdy whispers to me about tomorrow’s clouds. They’re super fluffy, and although it’s spring, they look like fallen leaves.”
“That girl’s amusing.”
Mattalast snickered, his shoulders swaying.
“The moon, the kitten and the leafhopper are dancing according to the formula of the quadratic function. So how come the sad clown’s heart doesn’t flutter? All the Books stored at Bantorra Library are snowflakes of night. All of us Armed Librarians are boiled sheep milk. Why does the hexagon of the northern star twinkle for me?”
“I have no idea. Next one.”
Mirepoc said, and the newbie Armed Librarian called Tena got off surprisingly readily.
The third person rose on the platform. He stuck out his right hand and right leg at the same time. He kept silent and stiff. His whole body was shaking bit by bit. Mirepoc then came to the rescue of this new Armed Librarian.
“Since he cannot move if more than seven people are watching him, there will be no greeting. That will be enough.”
Without even naming himself, the new Armed Librarian left as if running away.
“Hey, is that all you’ve got?”
Mirepoc ignored the jeering rising from the assembly hall with a vein bulging on her forehead.
“Next, the Acting Director will address them with a brief speech about preparing to be Armed Librarians.”
Mirepoc spoke towards one corner of the hall. Hamyuts was idly sitting there and eating a salad.
Hamyuts walked to the platform while still chewing. She received the megaphone from Mirepoc and then spoke.
“It’s too much of a bother, so nope.”
Saying only this, she returned to her place. Wrinkling her eyebrows, Mirepoc took the megaphone back.
“…Well then, the greeting ends here. You may continue eating and chatting.”
Leaving those words behind, Mirepoc ran away from the platform.
“Seems like we Armed Librarians get more and more weird guys by the year.”
“You’re one to speak…”
Mattalast said, and Kyasariro raised her eyebrow as if it was completely unthinkable.
At that moment Mirepoc came walking with her shoulders perked in anger.
“Kyasariro-san, why did you give me that role?”
“Because I knew that no matter whom I’d ask, they’d just say something like ‘it’s too troublesome so give it to Mirepoc’.”
“It was good though. I enjoyed it.”
She clearly averted her face when Mattalast spoke to her.
“I shouldn’t have come here, jeez…”
She went away from Mattalast and Kyasariro while complaining.
“Good grief, she’s the same as ever.”
“That’s Mirepo’s good point. I don’t mind it.”
Kyasariro smiled and Mattalast nodded in response.
An hour passed since the party started. I shouldn’t have come. Mirepoc sat in the hall’s corner while thinking this.
She didn’t like bustling places in the first place. She hated making noise and hated getting drunk even more.
Mirepoc passed her gaze around the hall. Luik and Tsamuro were holding beer barrels and having a drinking game. Lasma and Coyoll started grappling. Bonbo arranged food on a whole table and started stuffing his stomach from one end to another.
Mattalast was playing music she had never heard on the hall’s piano while Kyasariro and Gamo were singing around him.
All of them were usually her respected seniors. Yet now they were all acting like fools.
“What’s up with them…”
But perhaps she, who wasn’t able to fool around was the one at the wrong. Sitting bored all by herself made her think of such things.
Mirepoc suddenly recalled the war a year ago. By touching her hair that now extended to her chest she could feel just how much time had passed. However, it still felt as if it was only yesterday.
The people who’ve died in the war rose to her mind.
Was it fine having fun like that? A lot of people got mixed up in that incident and died. Noloty and Ireia will never be able to participate in this party.
The new Armed Librarian Tena came in front of her. She handed the glass she was holding to Mirepoc.
“What is it, Tena?”
Tena looked at Mirepoc with eyes that made it impossible to know what she was thinking about.
“Nobody wants to forget. But if you don’t forget, the memories will sometimes trip you up and make you unable to move. Since everyone are bad at forgetting, do your best to forget things for today.”
Mirepoc received the glass from Tena. It was filled with a diluted amber-colored liquid. Is she telling me to enjoy myself?
Saying this, Mirepoc drank the liquid from the glass. Although it was sweet, she felt it sting her throat. It was her first time to drink this.
“What is this?”
Tena silently pointed at the bar counter. There was a drink with slices of orange floating inside a silver bowl on it.
“It’s punch. You pour it into the glass by yourself and drink it.”
She explained. It was bad manners to drink that way, but it wasn’t bad. She filled another glass and poured it into her. Mysteriously, it smoothly passed through her throat.
Mirepoc faintly smiled while staring at her glass.