The moment Ruruta reached the stage, the Beasts of the Final Chapter ceased their movements. Their job was to prevent Ruruta from coming to Nieniu and killing Mirepoc. But that task was over. They would never make it in time for both.
At the same time the Armed Librarians also stopped fighting. If the Beasts stopped moving their work was also over. It was impossible for the Armed Librarians outside, as well as people like Volken and Mokkania who remained inside the Imaginary Entrails to help Ruruta. The only thing that could break Nieniu was the glowing knife in Ruruta’s hands.
“Is it over?”
The Beasts completely stopped moving. Mattalast muttered while still holding Mirepoc.
The silence suddenly returned to Bantorra Library’s courtyard. Not a trace was left of the dignity the Library prided itself on, and small fires occurred here and there. Most of the Armed Librarians, both dead and living, were collapsed.
“Yuri… how much… are left…?”
Yukizona was also exhausted and tumbled to the ground.
“Almost everyone is unable to fight. In the end they were only able to hold out with willpower. About three quarters are alive. Some people were also caught up in Enlike’s lightning strike.
Fortunately, since the evacuation of citizens was already complete, I believe they have sustained no casualties.”
“…D…don’t mind me… so go… help the others…”
From the severity of his breathing sounds she could tell he was in a lethal condition. Yet without hesitating Yuri went to take care of other people. Those who still had the energy to stand also moved.
“…Is it really over?”
Bonbo climbed out the mouth of a whale lying on the ground.
“Our work probably is.”
While answering, Mattalast gently laid down Mirepoc’s body.
“Mirepoc’s still fighting. The Beasts are also not gone yet. This means Ruruta’s battle has yet to be settled.”
While saying so he looked around. The frozen Beasts… they would probably move again only when the time for the end of the world comes.
“…Having a minor role sure is sad. Wasn’t it also like that before?”
By before he meant the decisive battle against the Indulging God Cult. During that time as well the Armed Librarians were engaged only in a defensive battle. The ones to settle everything were Enlike and Noloty.
“At the very end the Armed Librarians did nothing but support.”
“That’s not true. You’ve done well. Now we only have to wait for the conclusion.”
Mattalast didn’t say ‘for the world to be saved’. No one knew who was going to win. No matter what the ending was, the only thing for certain was that it would close the curtains. The long, long tale of the Armed Librarians would end in a little while.
In the hole opened up in the stopped Forest Fortress, Volken awaited the conclusion.
“…Volken, did we win?”
Hamyuts said from his arms. She had already lost her sight. She was probably not able to use her Sensory Threads either.
“Y…yeah, we won. The world is saved.”
Volken said, making Hamyuts smile.
“You’re bad at lying. That’s why you lost to me.”
He looked at Hamyuts’s face. Volken recalled the moment he was killed.
“…Say, won’t you take revenge against me?”
“It’s fine. Do what you want. Take revenge for those on the ship or for yourself.”
The fight to protect the world has ended. Volken was free. He had no reason to hesitate in his revenge. Yet what floated to his mind were memories from before he knew betrayal, from the time they were comrades.
There was some hatred. However, he felt no bloodlust.
“…You’re a good kid. You idiot.”
Hamyuts said as if reading his mind.
“I’ve killed… many people.
I don’t want any forgiveness. I definitely don’t want any sympathy. Kill me, Volken.”
“If you don’t… then I’ll just die by myself.”
Volken noticed that the body held by him was crumbling down.
“I’m not meant to die in someone’s arms.”
Hamyuts sought to be killed. It was transmitted to Volken.
And that’s why he decided to keep holding her and watch her until the end.
‘What’s that kid doing?’
Hamyuts started thinking in Volken’s arms.
Isn’t that strange? I’m supposed to die by being killed by someone. The first time by Ruruta and the second by Volken. That’s my fate.
“Hey now Volken, stop that. If you do this…”
Hamyuts raised a hand and caressed Volken’s cheek.
“I’ll die happy.”
Volken smiled, perhaps finding it amusing.
“Is that so. Then die happy.”
I give up, thought Hamyuts. What’s up with him, she was greatly disturbed.
She never even tried thinking about ending up like this. Because she could only think she was going to be killed by someone at some point.
To think she would die in someone’s arms… and it being Volken, someone who could be said to be her archenemy…
“I’m somewhat… troubled… please… stop… I don’t know… what to do. How should I die?”
“You don’t know? Then I’ll tell you.
Think about everyone you’ve met so far and slowly close your eyes.”
Just like Volken told her to, Hamyuts recalled her comrades. She thought of Chacoly and Makia. And of Mattalast, Mirepoc, Ireia, Noloty and the other Armed Librarians. She recalled the faces not of people whom she fought to the death with, but of people whom she smiled with.
“How strange… this shouldn’t have happened…”
And, she slowly closed her eyes.
“Thank you, everyone.”
These became her final words. Hamyuts, who was born as a tool and lived as a human uttered her final words.
Hamyuts in his arms crumbled down to sand. This was her true last time. And her enemy had without a doubt seen her face smiling.
“…Ruruta. Save the world.”
Volken raised his face, turning his eyes toward the hole in the Forest Fortress where Ruruta and Nieniu were. Whether the world was saved or not, whether Hamyuts’s fight was rewarded or not all depended on Ruruta.
There was no longer anything he could’ve done. Besides watching.
Since it was their story they were the only ones who could end it.
On top of the stage was Nieniu. On one of the spectator seats was Ruruta. Betting on the fate of the world, they calmly glared at each other.
No needles from the Forest Fortress came to assault him any longer and neither were any Beasts of the Final Chapter created. Nieniu raised her index finger and pointed above.
Ruruta realized what her intent was. It was the causality erasing attack, Binding Song, he had seen before. When she pointed it at Ruruta, he would die unconditionally.
Now he knew why everything had stopped. Nieniu staked everything on this attack.
“…Ruruta. I will not lose.”
Without replying, Ruruta lightly stomped his left foot. It moved. He could run. Since Noloty had supported him, it was somewhat able to recover.
“…I cannot afford to lose.”
Ruruta made no reply. Still clenching Colio’s knife, he simply looked at Nieniu quietly.
Both of them didn’t move. Or perhaps they couldn’t move. The distance separating them was a mere five meters. Until when would that distance not shorten?
“…Ruruta. Why are you fighting?”
“…There is a slight happiness in this world. Even I already acknowledged that.
…However, even so the world must be destroyed. This world has conflict. It has hatred. It has sadness. This will never change for all eternity.
…Wishing to have never been born… there are many people like this in the world. Just like I did on that day. Just like you once did.
…I cannot forgive this.”
It was transmitted to Ruruta – he knew what lay behind these words full of determination and fighting spirit.
Nieniu felt fear. She was frightened by the prospect of losing, of the world not being destroyed.
He made her scared. That fact hurt Ruruta.
“…So I will destroy it. Once I do, the world will be born anew. I will create a world with no sadness, suffering, conflict or discrimination. You should be aware how wonderful this new, reborn world would be.
…Protecting the world is a mistake. Neither Colio-san, the Armed Librarians nor the people of the world understand this. That is why they are trying to destroy me. This is something truly important, yet without understanding anything they keep heading down the wrong path.”
Ruruta couldn’t deny her words.
“…Why do you fight? Because everyone protected you? Because they all supported you?
…That is no reason. You simply mistook me as evil. But I am right. You do not possess even a shred of justice.”
He couldn’t reply. He couldn’t overturn the justice Nieniu had spoken of.
“…So how can you fight?
…You have trampled on people’s happiness. And you are now trying to do the same. How can you do that?”
Ruruta shook at hearing her words.
Thinking that it was too late into the game to hesitate and shake off his thoughts would be simple. However, the one in front of Ruruta was the one and only love of his life.
Ruruta knew – she definitely wasn’t trying to destroy the world for her own sake. It was because she truly believed it was the right thing to do.
He painfully received her feelings. Just as she did before, even now she wished for people’s happiness without any change. She was also a savior. No, she was the only savior. Ruruta was an evil being who tried destroying the savior for his selfish desire.
“…Step aside, Ruruta. If you have even a little of a righteous heart remaining.”
He nearly looked away from Nieniu. But if he averted his gaze it would all be over. She would probably point at Ruruta and use her causality erasure power to kill him. She would definitely not hesitate.
Doubts encroached Ruruta’s heart. The power of the world embedded into Colio’s knife… would it really make Nieniu happy? Would it be able to crush the will of destruction? What would happen after the knife hit her? Would she not disappear along with the will of destruction?
He didn’t come there to destroy her. He came there to make her happy.
What was her happiness? What did loving her mean?
These fundamental questions assaulted his heart in front of the final confrontation.
‘…Ruruta, don’t hesitate.’
A voice echoed from the knife. Was it Colio’s? Or did it belong to the power of the world? Even those couldn’t clear Ruruta’s doubts.
“Nieniu. Perhaps you are right.”
And yet, contrary to these words, Ruruta once again strongly clenched the knife.
“But I will advance. Even if I am wrong, I will not retreat.”
“Because I can accept all my doubts and hesitation. I can’t know what’s right or not. I can only be myself.”
“…From the bottom of your heart…”
“Right. From the bottom of my heart, I am myself.”
There was only one thing for certain. One thing that never changed now or before.
He didn’t want her to destroy. He didn’t want her to feel like she shouldn’t have been born. He wanted to make Nieniu happy. Ruruta was always like that.
He smiled and simultaneously cried.
Nieniu’s index finger moved faintly. Ruruta exerted power to his right leg.
“I am glad to have met you.”
These were the words to inform the beginning of the final battle.
Ruruta leapt. He clenched the knife in his hand.
Nieniu moved. She lowered her fingertip down from the heavens.
The distance between the two shrunk immediately. The distance between the pair, that stayed the same ever since the end of the Paradise Era and until this day, became zero.
They collided soundlessly.
Nieniu’s finger touched Ruruta’s heart.
Colio’s knife touched Nieniu’s chest. A mere millimeter of the tip stabbed into her.
Silence fell. After a mere few seconds, the endlessly long silence passed.
Nieniu said. Ruruta made no reply.
She shouted. The next instant the knife emitted an especially powerful violet-colored light.
Said Ruruta. He was alive. His eyes were looking at Nieniu.
Small cracks appeared on Nieniu’s stone finger. They spread to her whole body in the blink of an eye. The knife reached her. The moment before Ruruta perished, the power of the world was poured inside Nieniu.
The violet-colored light enveloped her.
“Accept it. Accept everything that I was finally able to give you.”
The emitted light wrapped up the both of them. No one could see them anymore.
The power of the world entered Nieniu through the knife. It wasn’t any physical power. It was a will in itself.
The heart of the people of the world that wished to protect it clashed with Nieniu’s will of destruction, the heart that felt the world must be destroyed.
If it was only one person’s heart at a time, they would be easily broken and repelled. However, what collided with Nieniu was the will of all people in the world.
A mother prayed for the growth of her young child. A father prayed for the growth of his child and his wife’s happiness. A child prayed for the safety of his loving parents.
A man wished for the happiness of his lover, a woman wished for the happiness of her lover.
A certain politician wished for a peaceful life of his citizens, a soldier wished for the safety of his countrymen.
If an artist wished for someone to understand his work, then those who did wished to see his next work.
A lonely man thought about someone he hadn’t met yet, and another lonely person thought about someone who was already gone from the world.
All their various reasons of wanting to protect the world were transmitted to Nieniu.
Someone wished to protect the world for someone’s sake.
Destroying it was proper. The world would be reborn into a paradise. Although Nieniu wished to carry out this will, the power of the world denied her heart.
It was because paradise would be born only after everyone was gone from the world. Even if hundreds of millions of people would become happy, a single person who was there wouldn’t become happy.
Nieniu’s wish to make all people happy and the world’s wish to make a single person happy… These clashed, with the wish of the world winning out.
All humans should become happy without any exceptions. That was everyone’s fundamental wish.
However, without being aware of it their fundamental wish was lost, wore out and broke down. The heavy reality and their own powerlessness destroyed that wish.
The thing that remained after losing their wish… was the wish in their heart to make the few people related to them happy.
That was the power of the world flowing inside Nieniu. Ruruta’s power that denied the final chapter. The power of the calamity that misled Ruruta. The power of hope that made him stand up.
A power that didn’t exist in paradise but existed in this world.
That mysterious power known as love.
The will of destruction was broken. Orntorra’s destined destruction was rejected.
Luik shouted. He was rescuing his comrades at Bantorra Library.
Yet they could see even without him shouting. The Beasts of the Final Chapter that stood in place started disappearing.
The black army thinned out as if it was nothing but an illusion, vanishing one after another.
The Armed Librarians raised a cheer. Even the collapsed people rose.
Bonbo started running around while shaking his large body and Yukizona lost his consciousness as the tension was released all at once. Among them, only Mattalast stayed at Mirepoc’s side.
“…Is it over? Mirepo.”
Faintly opening her eyes, Mirepoc groaned. Her hair returned from its violet color to her former blonde.
“…It is over. However…”
Mirepoc pressed on her eyes. She wore a sorrowful expression.
Even Volken left inside the Imaginary Entrails saw its ending. The remaining Beasts as well as the Forest Fortress were disappearing.
“We won… Hamyuts, we won.”
Volken said. At the same time the Imaginary Entrails started shaking.
Looking behind him, he saw another abnormal event in the desert. Here and there huge holes were opened up, the sand flowing inside them. It was as if the bottom of the ground became loose and was swallowed up by darkness.
At some point Mokkania came near him.
“…So it means everything’s going to be destroyed.”
Mokkania muttered. Volken thought the same. The Imaginary Entrails themselves were crumbling down.
Turning his eyes to the theater, Mokkania muttered.
“What will happen to him?”
Ruruta was still standing there.
Colio’s knife left Ruruta’s hand. Emitting violet-colored light, it fell on top of the stage, bounced off and rolled to somewhere. As if saying it would no longer disturb the two, the knife vanished far away.
The violet light surrounding the two slowly vanished. Only the cracked statue and Ruruta remained there.
Ruruta muttered. Small fragments scattered from Nieniu’s body.
“Become happy. Return to my side once more.”
His eyes reflected none of the Beasts disappearing nor the collapse of the Imaginary Entrails. He saw nothing other than Nieniu.
He came all the way there for her. Only for her. He had done everything he could. He even accomplished what he shouldn’t have been able to do.
So please don’t disappear like that and only show me the ending.
Ruruta hugged Nieniu’s body. He hugged her exceedingly gently so that she wouldn’t break down, so that she wouldn’t be destroyed.
The stone statue broke.
It was all over. Nieniu’s sense of powerlessness and misery filled her chest.
Impossible. Unbelievable. Although thinking this, she couldn’t stop the destruction.
Why was I defeated? She thought but reached no answer.
At that moment, Nieniu heard someone’s voice.
“…Because you finally realized… there’s something more important than happiness.”
Who are you? Thought Nieniu. It certainly seemed like a familiar voice, but she couldn’t recall it.
“…It doesn’t have to be a paradise. You don’t have to be happy. No matter how sad you are, you can get over everything as long as you have this feeling. You can live by embracing it.
…You have now realized that emotion exists.”
Who is talking? Nieniu carefully listened to the voice in her heart.
“…That’s why he was able to fight and win. Colio-san, Hamyuts-san, Chacoly-san, Ruruta, and everyone else faced you with this feeling. I have to go as well. I apologize to you.”
At that moment Nieniu realized who the speaking voice belonged to. It was herself.
She also noticed at the same time – that she was no longer Nieniu. She realized she was the Future Overseer Orntorra.
“…I wish I wouldn’t have been born – the moment I thought this we became one.
…However, I no longer think that way.”
Nieniu and Orntorra split. Losing Nieniu, Orntorra could no longer exercise his powers.
Wait, Nieniu. Why are you going? Where are you going?
Nieniu looked back at Orntorra speaking to her.
“…That child is crying. Just like he did 1927 years ago on that day.
…If that child is crying then I must go to him.”
Nieniu smiled and announced her goodbye.
“…I feel happy at having been born even just for that.”
Nieniu and Future Overseer Orntorra were divided into two.
After the stone statue broke down, Ruruta felt warmth in his arms. It was the soft and delicate sensation of a girl.
No words came out. He couldn’t see because of tears. He only felt Nieniu in his arms.
“…I’ve made you wait for a long time.”
Nieniu wrapped her arms around Ruruta’s back. While becoming wet by his own tears, Ruruta shook his head to the side. Don’t worry about it. It was only a mere second, he spoke in a voiceless voice.
“Nieniu, I’m sorry. What I did… to you…”
He couldn’t form his thoughts into words. Losing his memories to the water of Argax… Keeping her suffering for a long time… The both of them fighting to the death two times. He tried to apologize for many things, but no words came out.
“…It’s fine. It’s all in the past.”
With just these words, the pair forgave each other and understood each other. Even the numerous mistakes, the second battle to the death that put the world’s fate at stake, the many days and months all disappeared by just that. That was what loving someone from the bottom of one’s heart meant.
There were no other words spoken afterward. As if afraid to hurt each other, they simply stood there while embracing each other. As if no matter what they said it would be lies.
The desert of the Imaginary Entrails started shaking. The sky lost its color and gradually darkened.
The time for Ruruta’s world to end has come.
The two remaining Armed Librarians – Volken and Mokkania – both put their hands on their chests the same time. In the silence they displayed their respects and blessings. Although they couldn’t understand anything, they realized it was a wonderful time.
No matter what happened, no matter what Ruruta did, only this moment should be extoled.
As the Imaginary Entrails crumbled down, even their figures collapsed into the void.
The Beasts of the Final Chapter vanished, the Tearshed Celestial dispersed, and even the dark clouds were blown away by the wind, clearing up the skies at Bantorra Library. At last even Ruruta’s figure floating in the air was starting to collapse. The stone body shattered and its fragments rained down.
Although the Armed Librarians were raising cheers until then, their joyous expressions suddenly vanished. They looked at the crumbling Ruruta with a somewhat solemn face.
The Armed Librarians realized. Even if Ruruta was their enemy, even if he was evil, he was a great being that would never appear again in the world. It was a great moment that would never happen again even if they were to live for a thousand years.
“Goodbye, Ruruta. And Nieniu.”
Mattalast muttered. He then suddenly noticed that at some point it became sunset. While slowly descending, Ruruta’s body was dyed slightly red.
The Armed Librarians heard someone’s voice. No, was that even a voice? It was a transmission without any vibration of air. A melody that used no vocal cords or musical instruments. It was nothing they heard before, but it was definitely a song.
“…She is singing.”
Yuri muttered. With these as the final words, they all stayed silent and listened to her song.
Inside the center of the crumbling Imaginary Entrails, two people stood in the theater. It was the theatre Ruruta had built by his own hands for the day when Nieniu would finally awaken.
They both separated their hugging bodies and sat down on the stage. They snuggled close and intertwined their fingers. They pressed their shoulders together, supporting each other.
Nieniu was singing. Ruruta closed his eyes and listened.
It was a song of tranquility. However, this wasn’t her song from the past.
She had affirmed everything. She had accepted everything, affirmed everything in life, be it sad or painful.
She had once wished for something: to sing a new song. To deliver it to everyone in the world. To make the world’s people happy with her song. That wish was now being granted. After 1927 long years, the power of the world brought forth by Ruruta let her sing a new song.
The Imaginary Entrails were collapsing. Sand fell into the void and the sky lost its color. The only thing that remained was the theater.
The vanishing pair had no lingering regrets. Was that because they have lived for so long or because they were finally able to meet and so didn’t need anything else?
The theater and the pair vanished into the void. In the moments before it happened, Nieniu’s singing voice kept echoing.
Ruruta Coozancoona vanished. Bantorra Library was once again enveloped by a mysterious silence.
The winter’s evening wind was slightly warm, and the red sunset that seemed as if nothing even happened covered the Armed Librarians and Bantorra Library. Without anyone giving out any voice, they all looked above the needle where Ruruta no longer remained.
The eastern sky was dyed indigo and stars were faintly visible. Migratory birds, who knows where they have been going until now, crossed the sky while chirping.
January 12, 1927.
The ending to Bantorra Library’s longest day was announced by the sunset and stars.