another update

Just thought I’d let everyone know the situation again. I am currently on vacation so I won’t be working again until next week. After vacation, though, I start language school. Then, right after, college starts again. 

So tldr releases will continue to be slow, sorry.

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[Shuumatsu] V5 C3 Everyone, in the Name of Hope P5

The Man Named Willem

The scarlet setting sun shining through the lace curtains lightly illuminated the cramped room. Inside was only a young couple.

“Ah… ah…” On top of the disarrayed sheets, a young Turturel woman breathed rapidly. “That felt… really good…” Lightly patting her flushed cheeks, she sat up and readjusted her disheveled clothes. “Wherever your fingers touch heats up like a fire’s lit. It’s like I lose control of my body.”

“Good to hear.” Sitting on the edge of that bed, Willem looked away in the opposite direction.

He still couldn’t remember much about himself, but, at the very least, it was clear that he was a young, healthy man. As for the Turturel, excluding the powerful light gray wings on her back, her outward appearance closely resembled that of a markless. Her skin was soft, warm, and smooth to the touch, and when she let out weird noises, well, he couldn’t stop his thoughts from going off into weird directions.

“Your muscles were tightened up in strange ways in a few places, so I loosened them all.” He took a deep breath, desperately trying to calm his excited heart to hide his body’s response. “If you don’t put excess strain on your body for a bit, the inflammation won’t get worse. You should take a hot bath and sleep early today.”

“What’s wrong? You seem so distant now that it’s over.”

“Nothing.”

‘Liar. Your ears are bright red.”

“If you’ve noticed then don’t say anything!” Willem shot back, still facing away. In the heat of the moment, the patch covering his right eye shifted slightly out of position. He fixed it in a hurry. Still not used to wearing it, the feeling of the patch being there still hadn’t fully sunken into his body.

“Ah, sorry. I feel like I might’ve let out those kinds of noises while you were doing your thing. Was it too stimulating?”

“No. I’m not a kid. I don’t react to everything like that.”

“Adults react to stuff like that, not kids, you know?”

“I don’t need you correcting me!” he grumbled again, still facing away.

“Haha, how cute,” the woman said with a childlike laugh. “Willem, was it? You seem to be acting all grown up and all, but you’re pretty young, right? How old are you?”
“I don’t remember.” He told the truth.

“You just started working at Astaltus’ inn recently, right? What were you doing before? Studying medicine in Collinadiluche or something?”

“Like I said, I don’t remember.” Again, the truth.

According to what Willem had heard, Collinadiluche was a large city a little ways away which boasted a large population and the longest history on Regul Aire. Of course, many well known medical academies were located there. Naturally, there were probably many who studied medicine in those schools. However, he somehow got the feeling that he wasn’t one of them. Whatever he studied, it most likely wasn’t medicine or anything like that. He didn’t study pleasant massage theory, but something else, something more covered in blood and dirt. He couldn’t explain the feeling very well.

“Ahh, my body’s so light! I think I’ll be able to fly around tomorrow!” The woman stood up and stretched.

“You were pretty stiff. Is your work that exhausting?”

“I deliver for the post office. Some days I carry pretty heavy things. Really unfortunate that I have to gain this muscle…” she said as she rotated her shoulder around.

“Don’t strain yourself. What I did is no more than emergency treatment. One wrong move and you could end up falling again tomorrow.”

“That wouldn’t be nice… wait, you’re going home already?”

“Yeah.”

“Why such a hurry? How about a cup of tea at least.”

“No thanks. Someone’s waiting for me.”

“… ah, the little kid from earlier?” the Turturel woman giggled. “I’m disappointed that I failed to entice you, but I guess we can’t leave that girl all alone. How unfortunate.”

“Glad to see you understand. Well then, I’m off.”

“Okaay. Say hi to Astaltus and your little companion for me.”


Who am I? The young man thought. His name was Willem, apparently. He only knew because others told him. He couldn’t actually remember his name, or anything else about himself.

Every time he tried to remember his past, searing pain tore through his head. Whenever he tried to endure that pain, for some reason, Elq, another survivor of the same airship crash, seemed to get pain of her own. As a result, he didn’t want to test that any further.

What’s gone is gone. I need to focus on what’s in front of me, not get lost in the past and lose sight of the present. With that, the young man set out to live a new life.


Stars filled the cloudless sky to the brim, looking as if they would spill down at any moment. The clear, chilly air felt refreshing on the young man’s skin, heated from a day’s hard work.

“Ah… I’m exhausted.”

He was an employee at an inn, so, of course, his traveling massage gigs weren’t exactly part of his work. Despite his head not being able to recall a thing, his fingers seemed to remember a lot. At first, it just started as an additional service to the inn’s regular customers, but, somehow, word started to go around, and now people from all over were calling for him directly.

Almost all of his customers were middle aged beast men. Because of their large amount of innate muscle, decay from age or lack of exercise affected them particularly hard. They also tended to think of themselves as still young, which led them to overestimate the amount of strain their muscles could handle. However, once in a while, like today, he got calls from young women.

“… Willem, too promiscuous.” And every such occasion put Elq into a grumpy mood on the way home. “You get so weak against any slightly pretty adult.”

“No I don’t,” he groaned back.

“Cheater.”

“Am not. I can’t even cheat because I’m not in a relationship… oh, wait.”

Thinking about it, he realized that, with his memories gone, he had no idea about his past self’s relationships with women. It was certainly possible that he had a girlfriend, or even a wife.

… nah. He quickly dismissed the idea. He just couldn’t imagine himself whispering words of love to a girl, so it was hard to think that he’d ever enter a special relationship with one. Surely, he had been single and didn’t deserve any accusations of cheating.

“Ah!”

Elq tripped on a stone, probably as a result of her looking up at the stars while walking down a dark road at night. Just as she was about to fall forward, he grabbed her by the back of her neck.

“Be careful. The road here is a bit bumpy.”

“O-Okay…”

“Should we hold hands?”

“Eh? Uh… but…”

She seemed hesitant, but, not minding, he grabbed her hand anyway. Cold. Then, he noticed: their heights were too far apart to walk like this.

“L-Let go, it’s embarrassing,” Elq protested.

“Why’d you turn into a teenage girl all of a sudden.”

“I told you, I’m not a kidafgh!?”

They couldn’t walk while holding their hands, but Elq couldn’t walk safely by herself. It was a tricky problem indeed, but a solution existed. He lifted up the girl’s small body entirely off the ground and placed her on his shoulders. A piggyback ride.

“Whoa…”

“Be careful, it’ll be more than just painful if you fall.”

“Wow, I’m so high up! I can see so much!” She didn’t seem to be listening. “The stars! It’s like I can reach them!”

Elq stretched out her hand to the sky with all her might. Of course, there was no way she would ever reach the stars. But still, she got the feeling that she could. So she kept stretching, and stretching. He understood that feeling very well. He didn’t know why, but he did.

“Hold onto something, okay? Hair or whatever, doesn’t matter.”

“I-I know!”

Despite receiving perhaps the most childlike treatment possible, Elq didn’t seem to complain.

“Hey, Elq. You knew me before I lost my memory, right?”

He felt the presence on his shoulders shake. “… I don’t know.”

“Really? But…” She seemed rather knowledgeable about Willem. He first heard the name ‘Willem’ when she called him by it. Also… “You seem to be really comfortable around me, if we were total strangers before. Well, that’s been a big help, but…”

“That’s, um… just how things turned out, yeah.” Elq’s answer seemed rather uncertain. It was obvious that she was hiding something. Well, Willem figured he didn’t need to pursue. “Carma went off somewhere, and, well, I’m an adult, but it’s my first time living my own life, so I didn’t want to be alone.”

“Carma?”

“She took care of me ever since I was born. Along with Ebo and Jay.”

“Hmm?”

A bunch of names came out of her mouth. Willem figured they were her family’s servants or something. In that case, she must have been from a fairly prominent family. Is it okay for her to be leisurely spending her days out with me? I wonder if her household is in a big panic right now…

“Is it okay for you to not go back home?”

“Yeah. I don’t have one anymore,” Elq responded casually. “If I wait, I’m sure Carma will eventually find me. When that happens, we’ll look for Ebo together.”

“Hm.” Looking around for her scattered old servants, huh? I don’t really get it, but I hope it goes well.

“So that’s why being with you right now is just how things turned out. I’m sure it’ll end soon. It’s just a… c-casual relationship?”

Elq seemed to be using words without really knowing their meaning. “Using more adult words I see.”

“I know, right?” Willem heard a proud hmph from above. “– Also, just a little addition to our conversation from before.”

“Hm?”

“Kutori is me. But I am not Kutori.”

— Eh?

“Kuto… ri?”

An unfamiliar name. A name he didn’t remember. A name that tugged at his heartstrings.

“So that’s why I’m not going to fall for you. I feel like that would be really unfair — Willem?” Noticing his odd behavior, Elq grabbed his hair. “What’s wrong? Not feeling well?”

“… I’m fine,” he responded, forcing the surging impulse to puke back down inside him. “It’s nothing. Just lost balance a little. Guess I haven’t been exercising enough.”

“Really?”

“Really.” His body seemed to be used to acting strong in front of children. Apparently, it was good at telling lies as well. Still suppressing a headache and nausea, Willem managed a natural smile. “Alright, let’s run the rest of the way home. Running is the best for fixing a lack of exercise.”

“Eh? W-Wait, then I’ll get off.”

“I won’t let you down! Grab on so you don’t fall off!”

“Eh? Eh, eh, eh?”

Willem ignored the voices of confusion for the time being, then, as he promised, broke out running down the night road.

“Ah, ah, ahhh!!”

As expected, on top of his shoulders, Elq violently rocked about. Her small hands held on to Willem’s black hair for dear life. It hurt just a little. But, he welcomed that kind of pain. It warmed his heart, unlike some random headache.

“No talking, you’ll bite your tongue–”

“L-Let me down! Aaaahhh!”

Guess it’s no use. “… hey, Elq.”

“W-WhahaT?!”

“I love you.”

“…….” A long silence. “You’re treating me like a child again,” Elq complained.

“Haha, how’d you know.”

He felt a strong embrace around the back of his head.

“There’s no way you would say that seriously. I know because Kutori, and maybe Leila too, suffered from that.”

A sharp pain struck his head again. And this time, his chest too, for some reason.


Elq Harksten was dead, apparently. She was originally an undying being, but a label saying ‘this is a corpse’ had been pasted onto her. Both the world and the Visitor’s body itself believed the label. The world treated her as a corpse, and her body acted as if it were one. And if everyone thinks something is a corpse… then it’s a corpse. In that way, the label overwrote reality.

However, just a few days earlier, Nils made a small wound in that label, causing it to lose a small amount of persuasiveness. Then, that in turn caused the corpse to become not a corpse just a little. Elq transformed from a complete corpse to a confusing thing with just a tiny bit of undying flesh mixed in.

Willem didn’t really understand the logic, and he probably didn’t need to either. What’s important was that the girl’s current body was unmistakably almost a corpse. On top of that, though, even if it was just a tiny bit, she was living. She was enjoying each day to its fullest, acting all grown up yet still behaving like a child at the same time.

And lastly, unlike him, who had lost his past, she had somewhere to go. She had someone to meet. Things she needed to do. Yet she was hiding all those things and staying at the inn with him. He knew the reason: she was worried that she couldn’t leave him alone in his current state.


Inside the pot, boar meat boiled noisily. Enticed by the delicious smell, his hands threatened to lash out on their own, but a look from Astaltus stopped them. Willem knew very well that if one wants to eat the most delicious meat, one must not go against a Troll’s directions. As always, though, he had no idea why he knew that very well. My past sure is mysterious, he thought casually.

Astaltus, the owner of the inn, was a Troll. A species of Ogre, they had the disturbing custom of entertaining guests only to eat them afterwards. However, with the killing of intelligent life forms banned by the law, Astaltus couldn’t carry on that custom. Trying to at least fulfill the instinct to entertain guests, he opened up his inn… apparently.

“There are many Trolls who choose this lifestyle. We do have our own villages, but only about half of us live in those. The rest are in various places living a life similar to mine,” Astaltus explained as he stared at the meat in the pot with a rather gentle gaze. “I have a daughter, but she moved out to some island to take care of small children. I know it might not mean much coming from her father, but she really is a nice girl, so I think the job is perfect for her.”

“I see…” Willem replied, then a sudden thought hit him. “So if your daughter’s all grown up… by the way, how old are you?”

“I passed fifty just a little while ago.”

“… you don’t look that age,” Willem muttered, then took another look at Astaltus’ face.

His facial features alone didn’t reveal his age. Although he had plenty of white hair and wrinkles on his cheeks, Willem didn’t get an aged impression at all. That being said, he didn’t exactly look young either. No matter what age he said, it probably wouldn’t have sounded right to Willem at first.

“That’s just how Trolls are. It’s not like we don’t age, but it’s not very noticeable. Ah, looks like the meat’s ready.”

“I’m jealous,” Willem replied casually as he took meat out of the pot and stuffed his face. “… delicious.”

“Hehe, right?” Astaltus smiled happily.

“H-H-Ho ahdg…”

Meanwhile, Elq seemed to be having some trouble, so Willem handed her water. “Don’t force it if you can’t handle hot food.”

“I thought it would be fine,” Elq pouted with tears in her eyes.

Willem understood that she was trying to grow up, but clearly she wasn’t being honest with herself at all.

“By the way, have you gotten used to living here?” Astaltus asked suddenly. “Collinadiluche’s close by, and we’re next to the highway. People of all races are coming and going. Well, even with you guys being markless, I don’t believe that should cause too much trouble.”

“Oh no, no trouble at all,” Willem answered. “I’m thankful for what you’ve done. It’s too comfortable, I feel like I’ve been here all along.”

“Well that’s good to hear. At first it was just supposed to be until Nils gets back, but, if you’d like, you can stay after that too.”

“… ah, how do I put this…”

“What is it?”

“In stories with an amnesiac, isn’t it usually a young woman living by herself who says that line?”

“Haha, well then I can ask, why aren’t you, who wandered into the home of a guy living by himself, a young lady?”

I see. That’s true, we both broke the trope.

“I feel like I’m being ignored,” a girl, much too young to count as a young woman, complained.

“Well, putting fiction aside, I guess I’ll take you up on your kind offer for a bit,” Willem said as he put part of a carrot on Elq’s plate. She made a face. “Don’t be picky with your food. You won’t be able to grow.”

After he finished talking, he remembered that she was somehow (he didn’t understand the reasoning) supposed to pretty much be a corpse. In that case, no matter what or how much she ate, a future of growth did not await her. In the first place, why was she even eating?

“Ugh…”

With tears in her eyes, Elq threw the lump of carrot into her mouth. After a bit of chewing, she swallowed it down. Apparently something must have gotten stuck in her throat, because she immediately reached for the water and gulped it down, then pounded her chest. After a short pause, she smiled proudly. Seeing the lack of a response, she moved closer to Willem’s face, then smiled proudly again.

“Ah, good girl good girl.” He threw some praise her way.

“Yup!” she said enthusiastically.

And she told me to not treat her like a kid…

Willem closed his eyes and wished that these peaceful days, these days so gentle that they felt almost artificial, would continue for at least a little longer.

 

 

 

[Shuumatsu] V5 C3 Everyone, in the Name of Hope P4

The Old Capital and the Fairies

The fairy warehouse was located on the 68th Island. On the other hand, Collinadiluche was located on the 11th. Put simply, one sat towards the outer edge of Regul Aire, while the other sat right in the middle. Naturally, a sizable distance separated the two. Furthermore, due to the lack of a convenient direct route between them, one had to be ready for a roundabout journey involving transfer between more than a few airships.

Of course, getting an army patrol ship to swing by would have solved the problem, but they were generally cramped, they had no vibration buffers so the rocking got out of control, the windows were small, and being on the same ship the whole time felt depressing. For these reasons, among others, Naigrat quickly declined. Needless to say, there were no objections. And so, they spent a whole day on airships, being rocked back and forth by the wind.

“Oohh…” Lakish, after just disembarking, looked around with a broad smile. “A-A-Amazing! Hey, Tiat, look look!”

“Yeah, amazing, amazing. Now let me go.” Tiat, her shoulders being shaken about by Lakish, struggled to break free.

“But, look! It’s the real thing!”

“I know, I know it’s the real thing, so just let me go.”

“Wooow…”

Lakish had completely entered a trance. Well, Lantolq could understand. After all, they were in Collinadiluche. The treasure box of the sky. The frying pan of dreams and romance. Generally, the fairies weren’t even allowed to freely leave the 68th Island, so the stories of books and crystal movies provided their only means for learning about other islands. Serving as the sparkling center stage of countless stories was none other than Collinadiluche. Right here in this city, “Second Mantle” stole one million bradals from the villains, “Rust Nose” found true love, the “Minchuet” family went through times of great turmoil… for years, the fairies viewed all those tales with eyes of admiration. It only made sense that Lakish, standing on that stage with her own feet for the first time, felt so overwhelmingly happy. To be honest, Lantolq herself was pretty excited, even though it wasn’t her first time.

“… so, where do we go now?” Thinking it disgraceful to let the excitement show, Lantolq took a deep breath then calmly asked Naigrat.

“Let’s see, we need to end up at command headquarters, but before that we need to drop Lakish off at my senior’s place.”

“Senior?”

“He took care of you guys too when you became fully grown. The big Kikuroppe doctor. He was my senior at medical school.”

“A pretty terrifying combo, huh? I bet your classmates were scared the whole time until graduation.” Aiseia butted in from the side.

“How rude. We didn’t do dangerous things that often.”

A denial that wasn’t quite a denial came back in response. Lantolq figured it would be best to not dwell on the subject. “… come on, Lakish, Tiat. Let’s go.” She grabbed both the shaker and the shakee. “We didn’t come here to sightsee. Let’s do what we need to do.”

“Ah… s-sorry.” Lakish snapped out of her trance and apologized.

“Ooo, the island is spinning…” Meanwhile, Tiat’s eyes were spinning out of control. Lantolq figured she would recover sooner or later.

“Well then, let’s go,” Naigrat said, then readjusted the huge backpack she carried.

From the top of that sturdy leather pack, a few pointy objects wrapped in cloth stuck out. Inside were four Dug Weapons… Aiseia’s Valgalis, Lantolq’s Historia, Tiat’s Ignareo, and, as a good luck charm, one more sword without an owner. All together, the weight amounted to that of a small dresser (filled with clothes), but the way Naigrat carried it didn’t show that at all.

“Behave yourselves, you two. It’s a bit of a walk to where we need to be, so don’t go off looking at things and get lost, okay?” Lantolq said.

“U-Understood. I’ll do my best,” Lakish responded.

The fact that she had to try her best made Lantolq a little uneasy, but she liked the can do attitude.

“… not even just a few detours? There are a lot of places I didn’t get to see last time…” Tiat said.

Lantolq wished this one would try a little harder. “Don’t make me repeat myself. We didn’t come here to sightsee,” she said in a stronger tone with her hand on Tiat’s back.

Tiat immediately fell silent. Lantolq wondered if she went too far, but she couldn’t think of anything to say. Well, since Tiat was a proper fully grown fairy soldier now, Lantolq figured she could at least restrain herself… probably.

“Aaaah, I-Is that Falsta Square? The thing in the middle is the statue of the Great Sage, right? Can we go get a closer look!?”

Lantolq turned to look. A wide, open plaza with a fountain. Countless couples and an imposing statue of an old man wearing a hood. The Great Sage, the legendary figure who lead the founding of Regul Aire and still continues to support it… somehow, his statue got a reputation for having the power to strengthen the bonds between a couple. The truth of this remained unclear, but, apparently, lovers didn’t care either. Throughout the plaza, couples of various races whispered words of love to each other. Even without a ban on detours, Lantolq got the feeling that it wouldn’t be a good place to take small children anyway.

“I want to see it too! When I came here before, Willem didn’t let me!” Tiat exclaimed, taking advantage of the situation.

Lantolq lightly plopped her fist down on Tiat’s head. “I told you, didn’t I? No looking around or detours. Let’s hurry on.”

Lakish and Tiat both slumped in despair.


Thirty minutes later.

The situation took a turn for the worse. Wiping away the cold sweat inside her mind, Lantolq looked around. To the right, various people and clanky horse carriages went back and forth along a wide avenue lined with stone buildings. To the left, a vast, well tended garden spread out behind an endless black iron fence. Still not quite spring yet, only a light green covered it. In less than a month, the whole place would surely bloom with vivid colors. Not being able to see that felt a little unfortunate, but now was not the time to be thinking about that.

Needless to say, both sights were unknown to Lantolq. Also — the real problem at hand — she couldn’t spot anyone she came with: Naigrat, Aiseia, Tiat, or Lakish.

“Well this is bad,” she muttered, closing her eyes and pressing her forehead.

She thought back on the events leading up to this. It was simple: while walking through the city, a building visible in the distance suddenly captured her gaze. It was the spire of a famous church she once read about in a book, one of the large structures built by a genius architect three hundred years in the past, of which only seven existed in all of Regul Aire. It was written that their unique silhouettes grasp the hearts of any who look, even from afar. Now Lantolq knew that the book was right. After spotting it, she got drawn in just a tiny bit (or at least that’s what she told herself), and, the next thing she knew, she had gotten separated from her friends.

What an embarrassment, ending up like this right after I warned the younger ones to not go off looking at things and get lost. Lantolq never would have thought she’d mess up this big. Their destination was the treatment facility here in Collinadiluche, the place where she once went when she became fully grown. Her memories were a bit fuzzy, but she could probably remember the way. Worst case scenario, she could just take to the skies and check the directions from above. She wanted to avoid drawing attention, but it would be better than extremely delaying their reunion.

“I guess I’ll just walk though.”

Fortunately, Collinadiluche being a trade city with ties to many other islands, markless like the fairies walking down the streets weren’t unusual. As long as she didn’t do anything particularly unusual, she wouldn’t stand out. Just simply strolling along, she could blend in with the town scenery. Thinking about it that way, she was able to forget her situation and lighten her footsteps a little.


Seven minutes later.

“… ahh.”

Once again, Lantolq really felt just how terrifying of a city Collinadiluche was. After every few minutes of walking, she came across something intriguing. Whether it be a famous building, a curious little alley, or a seemingly random bronze statue right in the middle of the road, she never ceased to be amazed at the city’s abundant repertoire. Being by herself, she couldn’t help but stop every time she saw something.

This is no good. If she didn’t try a little more seriously to advance, the sun would set on her. With that sense of urgency pushing her back, Lantolq jogged down a wide avenue, turned a corner, and…

“… ahh.”

… found another magnificent building. The Central Collinadiluche Grand Library. Not only was it one of the oldest structures still standing in the city, it also boasted the largest collection of books in the entirety of Regul Aire. That graceful white tower, still reaching high after crossing over centuries of history. Despite her supposed focus, Lantolq completely fell prisoner to that sight the moment she saw it. However, her legs, spurred on by her sense of urgency, continued to move. As a result…

“Ah!”

“Hmph.”

She bumped into something that felt like a wall and bounced off, landing bottom down on the ground.

“Ow…”

“Oh, my bad. I was a little distracted.”

“Ah, no, I wasn’t watching where I was going…” she responded.

Apparently, the thing Lantolq bumped into wasn’t a wall, but a markless old man with blonde hair, blonde facial hair, and a sturdy physique like a boulder. Due to the bright pure white mantle he wore, he stood out, and not in a good way. He seemed to conspicuously float above the scenery of Collinadiluche, the city which accepted any and all races. Still, after seeing him with her own eyes, Lantolq thought for a moment that maybe the thing she bumped into really was a wall after all. She didn’t know why, but that kind of heavy and mysterious force exuded from the old man.

“Are you injured?”

Even in his words of concern, a sort of overwhelming pressure filled his voice. I guess in such a big and historic city, you get strange people like this walking the streets like normal, Lantolq thought.

“Ah… I’m fine, thank you.”

Timidly, she grabbed the hand held out to her and stood up. A gentle smile showed on the man’s face, but it failed to conceal the sharp, piercing gaze of his eyes. Even being a seasoned soldier, Lantolq felt like her legs would buckle in if she didn’t consciously keep her mind focused.

“Ah… by the way, young lady. This exchange of words must be some kind of fate. Will you help me a little with directions?”

A brief silence.

“Huh?”

“Well, it’s a little embarrassing, but, truth is, I’m a bit lost,” the man said as he scratched his cheek. The gesture didn’t fit him. “I thought about asking someone on the road, but… well, talking to strangers passing by isn’t my forte.”

“Ah…”

That makes sense, Lantolq thought. Just standing there, his enormous sense of presence seemed to overwhelm his surroundings. She figured that would be just a little unfitting for casually asking someone for directions.

“I don’t mind, but I’m not from around here, so I can’t say I’m familiar with the roads. I don’t know whether I’ll be of any help to you.” Lantolq left out the bit about her being a little lost herself. “Well, where are you heading to?”

“A restaurant. I hear it’s near the general treatment facility.”

What a coincidence, Lantolq thought. “I have business there as well. If you’d like, we can go together.”

“Oh, that would be great.”

The old man smiled. Or at least, wrinkles appeared in his aged, ancient tree like face and formed the shape of a smile. The smile had such force behind it that it would probably make a small child cry. Good thing I’m an adult, Lantolq thought, slightly raising the ends of her lips.


“I’ve come to this city before, so I declined an offer for directions, saying I already knew the way,” the old man said as they walked.

Following alongside him, Lantolq felt a little like a servant taking care of her master. “Oh,” she responded half heartedly.

“But when I actually started walking, I realized the roads have completely changed.”

“Ah…”

That can’t be right. Collinadiluche was a historical city. Maybe various definitions of ‘historical city’ existed, but one of them had to be that many ancient buildings still stood within the city. So naturally, the roads couldn’t have just completely changed. As far as Lantolq knew, the area around the Grand Library hadn’t received any major renovations in the past hundred and some years. Well, he is a bit old. It wouldn’t be surprising if his memory’s started to get a little off. Rude thoughts passed through her head.

“Since this is such a rare opportunity, I thought it would be nice to enjoy a bit of sightseeing while I’m here, but I wouldn’t want to keep the person I’m meeting waiting forever.”

“Ah…” An invisible thorn pierced Lantolq’s chest.

“Still, it would be regrettable to only walk through this city. I guess I’ll have to come back as a tourist one day.”

“Is your usual residence on a faraway island?” Lantolq asked.

“Hm, it certainly is far away, but more troublesome than the distance is–” Suddenly, the old man looked up.

Lantolq followed his gaze. “Ah.”

Across the street stood Naigrat. She rose about a head taller than the pedestrians passing by, making her extremely easy to spot. Noticing Lantolq, she started crossing the avenue.

“Finally found you! We were worried about you!”

“I’m sorry.” Lantolq, having no excuses, sincerely apologized.

“I was wondering what to do if you bumped into a carriage or something, you know? You guys are strong when you fight, but in regular times you aren’t that sturdy.”

“Well… ah…”

About half of the Leprechauns’ strength during battle stemmed from their ignited Venom, and almost all of the other half came from the Dug Weapons they wielded. In other words, in everyday times, they had almost none of the power they had on the battlefield. In addition, most living beings, not only Leprechauns, probably wouldn’t be fine after bumping into a carriage. Well, of course, Naigrat didn’t belong in ‘most living beings’.

“Even if you’re going to become ground meat, you’d taste better if you went through an actual machine specialized to ground meat.”

“Um… what?”

Lantolq started to lose track of what Naigrat was saying. Anyway, it seemed apparent that Naigrat had been worried for her… probably. She already properly apologized, and now she needed to reflect on her behavior.

“Ah, sorry to interrupt your conversation, young lady.” The old man joined in. “Please don’t scold the child too much. I was a tourist passing by, and I was lost. She had the kind heart to show me the way.”

“Eh?” What’s this grandpa talking about all of a sudden?

“If this has inconvenienced you in any way, allow me to make up for it. Despite how I may look, I do have a little authority. So please, don’t be too hard on your little sister.”

“Oh my.” Naigrat looked a little bewildered. “Is that what happened?”

“Uh… well, sure?” Lantolq answered hesitantly. Yes, they did walk together under the pretense that she was showing the old man the way. However, just before that, she had been the lost one, and that was completely her own fault with no room for excuses. Also, she and Naigrat weren’t sisters…

“Well, alright.” Naigrat sighed with a slight tinge of pride. “No one else knows, and it didn’t cause any problems. I also don’t want to tell you to not be nice to other people. But next time, tell me, okay?”

“Ah… okay, understood.” Lantolq, going along with the flow, nodded.

“You too, mister.”

“Hm?”

“I’m sure you were anxious, being lost while sightseeing, but it’s not good to chat with a random young lady and walk around with her. People might think you’re kidnapping her, you know?”

“Ah… o-oh, yeah. I guess you’re right.”

“Tourist kidnappings aren’t a rare occurrence in Collinadiluche. If you need directions, you can ask the golems set up by the tourist department, okay?” Naigrat spoke in a gentle yet stern voice, as if scolding a child for a prank.

After a moment of silence, the old man, looking utterly bewildered, suddenly burst out in explosive laughter. Every single person walking along the street turned around, the pigeons resting on top of the lamps flew away, and a horse pulling a carriage off in the distance started flailing about.

“… are you okay?” Lantolq asked.

“Yes, my apologies.” The old man suppressed his laughter and wiped the tears from his eyes. “There hasn’t been anyone who took that attitude towards me in a very long time. It also feels refreshing and nostalgic to see a young lady not be intimidated before me. It made me feel young again.”

“Uh.” Certainly, he had a scary face, a scary physique, and a scary mysterious air about him, but Lantolq couldn’t imagine everyone he talked to being afraid of him.

“Well, from here, I can find the way myself. I don’t want to steal anymore of your time, so I think it’s time for me to get going.”

“… are you sure you’re okay?”

“Don’t worry, next time I get lost I can just ask one of those golems, right?” the old man said with a wink, and a rather skilled wink at that. “Thank you for the fun conversation.”

As they watched the old man walk off, Lantolq and Naigrat tilted their heads in confusion.

“I feel like I’ve seen him before… recently,” Naigrat murmured.

Now that she mentioned it, Lantolq become aware of the strange feeling that had been wriggling inside her mind. “But if I met him before… I feel like I wouldn’t be able to forget someone with such a strong impression.”

“Hmm, if we both remember seeing him, then that means… on the 68th Island? But that can’t be…”

Failing to come up with an answer, they continued to tilt their heads. Nearby, next to the street which they passed through, in the wide Falsta Square, stood the stone statue of the Great Sage, the most prominent figure in all of Regul Aire.


“Okay then, the girl who had the dream, come this way.”

“Y-Yes! Comingdsgsf!”

Lakish, lead by a group of nurses in white gowns, headed off to become a fully grown fairy soldier, wincing at the pain from energetically biting down on her tongue.


“I doubt she’s very far,” Naigrat said with a troubled face, then went out to search for Lantolq. “If something happened to her, I’m going to have to give her a big hug as punishment for making me worry,” she joked.

By the way, it is said that Naigrat’s full strength hugs could shatter boulders.


Now that leaves two more. They were sitting in a plain waiting room inside the treatment facility, having been told to standby until the next instructions. However, they received no comment on just when those next instructions would come.

“Wonder where Lan went,” Aiseia mumbled, a bored look on her face.

“She definitely went to see the Grave of the Perjurer!” Tiat answered as she hopped up and down next to the wall, trying to view the scenery out of the slightly highly placed window. “We passed closeby, and it’s a popular spot you definitely can’t miss when you go to Collinadiluche. No fair!”

“Lan’s not like you when it comes to those things, ya know?”

“Rust Nose said that beauty seduces the heart!”

“You sure he said that in the context that we’re talking about?” Aiseia titled her head. “Anyways, this sure is boring. Should we play a game or something?”

“Not boring! I’m very busy right now!”

“I see.” Aiseia flung her head down on the desk in front of her and watched Tiat’s back jump up and down. Of course, Tiat could’ve just ignited Venom and flew up, but she didn’t seem to notice, and Aiseia didn’t feel like pointing it out.

“Ahh, just a little more, legs! All that physical training was for this moment!”

“What a carefree kid…”

Looking up at the window in question from her position, Aiseia only saw the blue sky spreading out on the other side, the same, old sky that stared back at her with the same face whether she looked on the 68th or the 11th Island. Just then, there was a knock at the door.

“Maybe these are the next instructions.” Aiseia looked up, and the door opened.

“Excuse me…” With a hesitant voice, in came not Naigrat, nor a doctor, nor a soldier, but a young Lucantrobos lady with soft looking fur.

“Hm? You’re…”

“Firu!? Long time no see!” Apparently, Tiat recalled the newcomer’s name before Aiseia.

Firacolulivia Dorio, the mayor’s daughter. A few months earlier, Aiseia and Tiat went sightseeing around town under her guidance — or more accurately, under Willem’s scheming. To the Leprechauns, who usually had almost nothing to do with anything outside the 68th Floating Island, it was an unforgettable, peculiar experience.

“Aiseia… Tiat…” For some reason, Firu’s face stiffened up as she murmured their names and looked around the room. “They’re not here. Kutori and Nephren.”

“Firu?”

“My apologies.” After entering the room and closing the door behind her, Firu slumped down to the floor. “I didn’t know. What you girls were. Whose sacrifices were maintaining the everyday life we took for granted.”

“Huh?” Tiat’s eyes opened wide.

“Ah — I see.” Aiseia, understanding the meaning of that sudden apology, scratched the back of her head. “You heard from someone, huh? About us.”

“Yes. I happened to overhear uncle and father talking.”

The ‘uncle’ she spoke of referred to First Officer Limeskin, who she had been close with from a young age, and the ‘father’ referred to Gilandalus Dorio, the mayor of Collinadiluche. Aiseia didn’t know how Leprechauns popped up in a conversation between those two, but, for the time being, it seemed apparent that Firu knew about their nature as secret weapons.

“While you all were risking your lives on the battlefield, I was struggling to decide which jam to put on my scone for lunch. I spent everyday like that, without knowing the truth or shame. Now, I feel so embarrassed…” she confessed, her head faced down, sounding almost on the verge of tears.

“Uh, umm…” Tiat fumbled for words.

“Ah, well, I’m thankful for the fresh response, but… Firu,” Aiseia began.

“Yes?”

“We don’t need to talk about how we’re disposable weapons and all. You have a strong conscience, you were raised in a higher class environment, and you’re the type to believe that there are more good than bad people in the world. I’m not going to try to tell someone like you to agree with what we do.

So I want you to think about it this way. We secretly put our lives on the line so that all normal people on every floating island can go on living their everyday lives in ignorance.”

“Everyday life… ignorance…”

“That’s right. So don’t be embarrassed that you didn’t know about us. That time you spent in ignorance is exactly what we fight for… it’s like, our pride, or something like that.”

“Oohh…” Tiat seemed to be impressed. It remained doubtful whether or not she was aware that Aiseia was talking about her too.

“Look up, Firu. At the very least, we didn’t risk our lives all this time to see our friend cry.”

“Ai… seia…”  

Just then, the door opened again. This time, a blue haired fairy, Lantolq, showed up.

“Sorry for making you wor–” Lantolq’s apology stopped short. She looked around the room: Aiseia with her elbows propped up on a desk, Tiat pressed up against the wall with only her head turned around towards the door, and an unfamiliar Lucantrobos slumped down on the floor. “– What’s happening here?”

“That’s a rather difficult question…” Aiseia said with a concerned face, then laughed. “Wait. Lan, you’re alone? I thought Naigrat went to get you.”

“Yes, she was right there when a messenger from First Officer Limeskin grabbed her,” Lantolq said, pointing towards the entrance of the treatment facility. “They went out again. I was told to wait here with you guys.”

“Went out? Where?”

“I don’t know, but I don’t think we need to worry.”

“Well, that’s true.”

Aiseia and Lantolq both nodded.

“… um?” Firu, not able to keep up with their conversation, tilted her head in confusion, her eyes still teary.

“So what did you see? The Grave of the Perjurer!? Or a bit further to the Barley Market!?” Tiat, meanwhile, was being her usual self.


“This way, Miss Naigrat.”

“What?”
“First Officer Limeskin awaits you.”

A rather small Reptrace showed her to a door… or maybe he was actually average, as the individual heights of the Reptrace varied drastically due to their varying growth periods, but Naigrat, used to seeing Limeskin’s giant figure, couldn’t help but think that.

“You know I just got here, I could really use some rest…”

The messenger didn’t respond. He seemed very army-like, not saying anything unnecessary.

“Everyone is already waiting.”

“Who do you mean by everyone…”

No response. Well, Naigrat saw that coming.


Lead on by the messenger, Naigrat went out the back entrance of the treatment facility and into a small, dark alley filled with the stench of detergent and drainage. Looking up, she noticed ropes strung across the street from window to opposing window with abundant laundry hanging down from them.

— I wonder where we’re going, she thought. Judging by the atmosphere of silence the messenger seemed to give off, Naigrat didn’t think she would get an answer if she asked. Since I was called alone, it’s probably something no good that he doesn’t want the kids to hear. Thinking that, her mood sunk a little.

Just then, the delicious smell of charred meat wafted by her nose. Looking up, she spotted a small sign indicating the back entrance to a restaurant. Oh yeah, what am I going to do for dinner? As she pondered, the messenger opened the small door and entered the restaurant.

“Here?” she asked, but, as expected, received no response. The Reptrace simply turned around briefly, gestured for her to follow, then continued down the narrow hallway. Stepping inside, Naigrat caught a glimpse of the posh interior. “Oh no, I wonder if my clothes aren’t fit for the dress code.”

She looked down at herself. Now, she was wearing cute clothes, by her standards, but, still, it was a casual outfit. Also, after having been shook about by an airship for an entire day, she couldn’t exactly say that her appearance was very refined. Despite her worries, the Reptrace’s back steadily moved further and further away. He could talk with me at least a little bit, she complained inside her head as she went to catch up.

They stopped in front of a heavy looking door. The messenger’s claw bearing hand knocked twice in quick succession, followed by a third knock after a short pause.

“Enter,” a low voice said from within.

Oh my, a secret knock, Naigrat thought as the door opened. A large table sat in the center of the room, unfortunately without any food on it. Around the table sat some familiar and some not so familiar faces.

“… eh?”

Against the wall stood Limeskin in his army uniform. Well, he was the one who summoned Naigrat, so no surprise there. Next to him stood a Haresantrobos soldier. The insignia on his shoulder showed a shield and a scythe, which signified the Military Police, if Naigrat remembered correctly.

A middle aged Lucantrobos man sat at the table. The first new face. He wore a suit which looked to be of high quality and a fashionable monocle. His gentleman-like appearance fit the fancy restaurant more than Naigrat’s at least. Next, for some reason, there was the old man in a white mantle which she just parted with earlier. Judging by his surprised looking face, he probably didn’t expect their meeting either.

There was one last person at the table, a person with a very special face, so special that the faces of all the others present seemed to completely fly out of Naigrat’s mind. A young girl with gray hair. Her left eye was closed tightly shut for some reason, but there was no question about it: she was the fairy soldier supposedly lost in battle upon the land.

“Neph… ren?”

“Nn.” Nephren tilted her head.

“Are you… real?”

“About half.”

Naigrat received a rather puzzling answer, but she could barely hear it anyway. She wanted to run up to her. Hug her. Rub her cheeks against hers. Cry and wail. Those impulses shot up to her head, swelled up, and burst. Naigrat collapsed down to the carpet.


“S… Sorry for causing such an embarrassing scene…”

Naigrat took a seat as suggested, then grabbed Nephren and made her sit on her knees against her will. The amused looks from the guys around the table were a little rough, but she had no intentions of letting go.

“I think you’re still causing an embarrassing scene,” Nephren said.

“Quiet.” Naigrat also had no intentions of listening to complaints.

“… well then, let me introduce myself.” The Lucantrobos man, still seated, nodded slightly. “My name is Gilandalus Dorio. I am mayor of this city, elected by its citizens.”

“Eh.” Naigrat froze. “Ah, um, I’m Naigrat, from the Orlandri Trading Company.”

“Nice to meet you, Naigrat. Over here we have–”

“Coincidences are frightening things. We just met earlier, young lady,” the old man in the white mantle said with a wink, cutting off Mr. Dorio. “My apologies for not introducing myself earlier. My name is Suwon. I’m something like an advisor for the Winged Guard.”

“Ah… nice to meet you again.” The mayor and a retired old man from the army. Why were these kind of people meeting in secret, and, moreover, why was she called to that secret meeting? Naigrat didn’t understand. “Um, so… I have no idea what this is about… what is going on? Why is Nephren here? Could it be that–” Willem is also safe? She started to ask, but shut her mouth. “– another person was also saved from the ground?”

The atmosphere around the table seemed to grow slightly heavier. No one spoke. Perhaps she shouldn’t have asked.

“May I explain the situation?” The Haresantrobos soldier took a step forward as he readjusted his glasses.

“I’ll leave it to you.” The old man in the white mantle nodded.

“First Officer Baroni Makish. Pleased to meet you,” the Haresantrobos said after a light bow.

“Ah, nice to meet you…” First officer… which means he’s as important as Limeskin?

“First, let’s clear up one misunderstanding. The thing you are you holding on your knees is not the fairy that you know. It is something else, something whose body and mind have been transformed after being polluted by a Beast on the land.”

“Uh…” More rather puzzling words. Naigrat tried giving Nephren’s cheek a poke with her fingertip. Soft flesh. The type of softness that made her want to boil and eat it right away. That texture which Naigrat knew very well hadn’t changed one bit. What did he say? Polluted by a Beast?

“Next… I think you’re already aware that there are currently no predicted Teimerre attacks…”

Of course she knew. Naigrat nodded.

“We have identified the cause for this. Kutori Nota Seniolis.”

Eh?

“In the first place, in order for a Teimerre to attack us up in the sky, it needs to have a large enough body, then split that body and have the fragments ride on the wind until they happen to land on a floating island. In other words, a large enough number of them must gather to do anything.

Kutori Nota Seniolis destroyed an incredible number of Teimerre during the battle at the K96-MAL Ruins. Furthermore, ones that were previously sleeping underground came up to the surface and met annihilation.”

“Kutori…?”

“The number of Teimerre on the ground is currently drastically decreased. Although they may not be extinct, they will likely need a sizable period of time before they are able to attack the sky again,” the Haresantrobos continued.

“The girl threw away her life… no, used her life until the very end to protect Regul Aire.” Limeskin said, but the words failed to sink in.

Sacrifice oneself to save an island. That was the original duty of the fairies. Kutori fought and returned home alive because she wanted to be freed from that, but, in the end, she fulfilled it anyway.

“… she really was clumsy.”

Naigrat didn’t want to call her death fate. Kutori fought by her own will until her last breath for her loved ones, or maybe just loved one. Regul Aire just happened to be helped as a result. She preferred to think about it like that.

Or maybe the ‘Braves’ that Willem talked about once were like that too. They fought only for themselves, but their struggle became twisted by words like fate or duty into a fight for the world.

There were no more battles to fight. Danger had left. The situation should’ve made Naigrat happy. She should’ve been proud. Yet, for some reason, she felt just a little frustrated.

“This information is known not only by the Winged Guard, but also by various organizations throughout Regul Aire with some skill at gathering intelligence. Upon finding out, they all agreed on one point: now is the time for Regul Aire as a whole to rethink its strategy against the Beasts,” the Harensantrobos explained.

“And that’s why they tried to lay a hand on our… Dug Weapon users, huh,” Naigrat said.

Limeskin’s eyes seemed to be saying ‘you’re the one that’s laying a hand on them’. Nephren looked at Naigrat with a face that asked ‘what do you mean?’ A lot happened, but anyways I drove the bad guys off so it’s okay. Of course, she couldn’t say that out loud, so instead she just made a fist. Maybe that would get the message across.

“Also, one more thing,” the Haresantrobos said.

“… what?”

“What they’re demanding of the Winged Guard is the release of the authority to fight against the 17 Beasts. Specifically, the rights to develop weapons, maintain them, and use them in times of need. The Dug Weapons are no more than one part of this.”

It took a bit for Naigrat to understand. “The Beasts are powerful and mysterious enemies. To ask for permission to develop and maintain the firepower to fight against them means…” She gulped. “… the same thing as asking for permission to expand their military without limit.”

“That’s right. If they can’t judge how much strength is necessary to fight the Beast, it allows them to say that any and all power ‘may be necessary’. Ethics and the Constitution of Regul Aire will be nothing in the face of such an excuse.”

A wide variety of races lived in Regul Aire, even some which were originally in predator-prey relationships. Over the centuries, everyone gradually learned to get along peacefully, but that didn’t change the fact that they all still held different values.

Naturally, conflicts, big and small, never completely stopped. A large war involving many floating islands threatened to occur more than just once or twice. The Constitution of Regul Aire existed for the purpose of stopping such conflicts. Written by the legendary Great Sage back in Regul Aire’s early years, it served as the highest law, applying equally to every race and place. Do not kill. Do not steal. Do not carry unnecessary arms. All who broke rules such as those received proper judgement by the local governments of the various islands, or by the Winged Guard when that was not possible.

“Our real subject is from here on,” the Haresantrobos said.

“… there’s still more?”
“They are requesting the authority to use anti-Beast weapons whenever they deem them to be necessary. What does this mean?” He looked at Naigrat, as if waiting for an answer.

Naigrat didn’t know. She wasn’t a soldier, just an employee at a trading company. Although she wasn’t completely ignorant of those kinds of tactics, she couldn’t say she was knowledgeable.

“In any place where a Beast appears, they can fight with as much firepower as they want,” Nephren said softly.

“Exactly.” The Haresantrobos nodded.

“… why does that matter? No Beast besides the Teimerre can fly, so it doesn’t matter now, right?” Naigrat asked.

“Yes, at first glance. But, if a Beast were to appear on a floating island, they would be able to fight as they please,” Nephren responded.

“But that shouldn’t be possible…”

“Excuse me. Allow me to join in the explanation from here.” Mayor Dorio, who had been silently watching over their conversation up until then, interrupted, his pointy Lucantrobos ears wagging back and forth. After glancing at all the important people lined up in the room, he began. “This happened about half a month ago. An airship fell on this island. It was registered in the documents as a civilian salvager ship, but we now know that was simply a disguise. The ship’s true name was ‘Tomorrow Grasper Number 7’, a ground expedition ship unofficially held by the Elpis National Defense Air Force.”

“The ship was in pieces after the fall, but the storage rooms were particularly sturdily constructed and kept intact in their original forms,” the old man with the white mantle, Suwon, added. “Inside were traces of rather high grade barrier techniques.”

What are these people talking about? Naigrat didn’t understand. She didn’t want to either. Unfortunately, she understood enough of the conversation to think that. “Barrier techniques…?”

“Good enough to gain my approval. And good enough to restrain even a Beast…” Suwon said.

“… um.” Naigrat didn’t know what the old man’s approval was supposed to imply, but she figured only one conclusion could follow from their explanations. It seemed so unrealistic that she couldn’t believe it herself. “Are you saying… Elpis brought a Beast into Regul Aire?”

Naigrat wished everyone would break out in laughter at her ridiculous question. However, not a single person did. She felt Nephren budge slightly on top of her knees.

“Of course, it is no more than a possibility. There is no concrete evidence. There are no traces of a Beast escaping from the fallen ship, and there have been no reports of attacks. That’s why we ended up calling the fairy soldiers here in the way that we did,” Limeskin said.

“There are reports that many Elpis soldiers have infiltrated the island. There is no mistake that they are trying to make something happen soon,” the Haresantrobos added on.

“… but… why? Why do such a stupid…”

“No matter how irregular the behavior may seem to us, they have carried it out, and we must respond. Please, stay in this city for a bit and prepare for the worst.” Mayor Dorio bowed.

Naigrat glanced at the soldiers, who nodded silently. The Winged Guard currently did not have the means to formally request the fairies to be stationed in Collinadiluche. They needed Naigrat to pretend she brought them all on her own accord.

“… understood.” Feeling something bitter in her throat, Naigrat nodded. After hearing all that, there was no way she could shake her head. “But, hm, allow me to add one condition.”

“Certainly. If it is something we are capable of,” the mayor answered immediately.

Part of Naigrat didn’t feel right about utilizing her position, but she also didn’t want to waste the opportunity. She would do anything to help those kids, even become a demon. Well, she was a demon anyway, but… making up her mind, Naigrat spoke.

“Can you give the children permission to have free time?”

[Shuumatsu] V5 C3 Everyone, in the Name of Hope P3

The Man Without a Past

It felt like rising up out of a puddle of sticky, heavy mud. As he lifted his body, some black substance covering his skin slowly flowed off. However, it did not leave completely. It gathered at his feet, refusing to go away.

— That was what he felt the moment he woke up.

“Ung…”

Gradually, he opened his eyes. A single horizontal slit of light pierced his pitch black field of view. Inch by inch it widened, until it eventually turned into the face of a small girl peering at him from an extremely close distance.

“… eh.”

“Ah.”

Their gazes met straight on. The girl’s scarlet eyes blinked once. Her serious expression slowly transformed into a broad smile.

“Wi…”

Wi?

“Willem, you’re awake!”

“… huh?”

His head didn’t seem to be functioning well. Haphazard thoughts of unknown origin swirled around the inside of his skull, rendering him unable to even try to remember anything. What is ‘Willem’? The word felt very familiar, yet at the same time had a sort of uncomfortable ring to it.

“Nils, come here! Willem’s awake!” The girl turned around and, while hopping up and down in place, called out to someone in a loud voice. Her soft looking long red hair shook about.

“Ah, I can hear. Don’t shout, you’ll disturb the neighbors.” An exhausted man entered the room, scratching his head sluggishly.

Room. He looked around once more: a well cleaned and maintained room, most likely part of an inn. The furnishings, including the bed he had been put to sleep on, were neither luxurious nor shoddy. He guessed the nightly rate to be around thirty bradals, or perhaps a little higher, since he could tell just how well the place was cleaned from a brief glance.

Well, that doesn’t matter right now. A dull pain plagued the area around his forehead. His thoughts refused to get in line. Useless musings came to the forefront while the important things remained ignored.

“Hey, Willem.” The man, now standing beside his pillow, greeted him with a smile that concealed whatever true feelings which lay beneath it.

“… Willem?” he asked.

“That’s right. It’s your name. Did you forget?”

Willem. Willem. I see. This is my name. His ears certainly did seem to feel some sort of closeness with it. However, if he had to be told his own name…

“Did I lose my memory?” he asked.

As soon as the words left his mouth, he realized how odd his question must have sounded. Only he would know whether or not his memories had gone missing. At the very least, it wasn’t something to ask others.

“Yep.” Contrary to his expectations, the man gave an affirmative response. “To explain things simply, something very bad is haunting your memory and personality right now. If it surfaces and remains unchecked, your body will be done for. That’s why I used my great skills to directly put a lid on the majority of your memories and seal it in. It was a makeshift emergency treatment, but, being my work and all, it won’t break easily. Thank me after you finish crying.”

“What part of that was simple?”

“Shut up. Who was the one who showed up in front of me suffering from such a difficult condition?”

He didn’t have a comeback to that. “… I’m guessing you mean me? I don’t remember though.”

“You and this one. You two brought a real headache over to me.” The man’s large palm gave the girl from earlier a slightly rough pat on the head.

“Ow! Ow!”

“Don’t worry about it, you won’t die again from something like this.” He ruffled the girl’s hair.

“No! Ow! Stop!”

“Hahaha, okay okay.”

Willem, still on the bed, rose the upper half of his body. His arm moved at a speed untrackable by the eye. It swatted away the man’s hand and pulled the girl in close to him. The girl’s light and small body landed on top of Willem’s chest.

“Ah!” A small scream.

She’s cold, Willem thought. Usually, kids this size had rather high body temperatures. “I don’t know what’s going on here, but you should stop. She doesn’t seem to like it.”

“… okay,” the man answered, slightly bewildered. For some reason, his eyes showed a gentle look, almost as if he were feeling some sort of nostalgia at their exchange.

Meanwhile, the girl inside Willem’s arms had become speechless, stopped breathing, and started blushing and blinking rapidly. She didn’t seem to be particularly against it, so he figured he would stay in that position for a bit longer.

“Well? From what you said earlier, I’m guessing you did something to this kid too?”

“Don’t make that scary face. At the very least, I didn’t do anything that she wouldn’t like.”

“What are you talking about? You were hitting her just now.”

“That was just a friendly pat on the head. No need to be all suspicious about it.”

“Given that you were the only one smiling, I’m not sure if I buy that.” Willem glared at the man.

“You really don’t change…” the man said for some reason. “Well, whatever. She’s a moving corpse. What’s called a low class ghost, believe it or not.” He pointed at the girl.

“Huh?”

“Originally her body was supposed to be undying, but because of an annoying curse, it’s practically a regular corpse now. I used my super special powers to directly lift just a teeny bit of that curse, allowing her shattered in half soul to slip through that crack. So basically, a slight revival, with about one percent of her body and half of her soul.”

“I have no idea what you’re saying.”

Corpse? Ghost? Undying body? Soul? Those aren’t words you hear everyday… probably (He couldn’t say for sure due to his lack of memories). At the very least, none of those words seemed to be very fitting for the small girl inside his arms.

“If you don’t believe me, take a look. The cut through her heart still hasn’t healed.”

“Huh?” What the hell is this man talking about? Willem thought, but he decided to do as the man said anyway. Giving the neck area of the girl’s shirt a slight tug forward with his finger, he peeked down through the gap. A large sword wound deeply carved into the girl’s chest met his eyes. It was undoubtedly fatal. No proper living being would be able to move around while suffering from it. “Wha…”

“See? I told you. Sometimes I say the wrong thing, but I never tell a lie.”

Willem didn’t think that was something to proudly declare, but he put that matter to the side for the time being. What in the world is going on here? He took another look at the girl’s chest. Hm? He looked back up at her face, which had somehow turned bright red despite her lack of a functioning heart to pump blood. Tears were welled up in her eyes, ready to fall at any moment. By the time Willem figured out the reason, it was already too late.

“Pervert!!”

The girl’s hands descended upon both his cheeks at once.


Off to the side, the man laughed heartily.

“What’s so funny,” Willem snapped.

“Your face right now, obviously. It’s pure red. You should look in a mirror.”

Willem could imagine it, so he didn’t feel the need to check. Instead, he looked over at the door which the girl dashed out of. Thinking back on the situation with a calm mind, he recognized his failure. Even with such a small kid, or perhaps especially with such a small kid, girls are still girls. He should have treated her more carefully.

Wait no, is it because she’s still a corpse even though she’s girl? Or is it because she’s still a girl even though she’s a corpse? Why is a corpse moving in the first place? What the heck is an undying body? Damn it, I have no idea what’s going on.

“… well, putting that aside for now, time for serious talk.” The man dropped the tone of his voice. “How much do you remember about yourself and anything else?”

“About me…”

Willem thought for a bit. Based on the fact that they were currently conversing, apparently he hadn’t forgotten the common language of Regul Aire. Taking a look around, he confirmed that he had no problems remembering the names of the various objects in the room.

However, when it came to information about himself, his mind went blank. Where did he live? With who? Doing what? What did he like and dislike? None of that sort of information popped into his head. When he tried to force himself to remember, it felt as if he were trudging through a bottomless swamp. Still, he forced his hand down into the depths of that swamp — someone looked back at him with a lonely smile.

“Ah?!” He pressed his hand against his forehead, suppressing the sudden headache.

“Stop it. I sealed it on purpose. Best not to try and force it,” the man said with a sigh. “Right now you’re on the line between being able to remain as you and not being able to. If you take one step forward, you’ll trip and fall. What was once you will disappear. If that happens, not even I’ll be able to do anything. You hear? If you want to live, don’t remember anything.”

“… there might’ve been something I was supposed to do.” As Willem continued to suppress his forehead with both eyes tightly shut, his headache gradually weakened.

“Give up.” The man shrugged. “I’m not just trying to piss you off, you know? I don’t know what you’re trying to remember, but the instant you do, you’ll become not you. And a you that’s not you won’t be able to accomplish whatever it is you remembered. In other words, either way you won’t be able to carry it out.”

The man’s reasoning made sense. Except for an emotional outlash, Willem saw no way to counter argue. However, those emotions didn’t come. He couldn’t do anything.

“… ahh.” For some reason, Willem felt just a little bit of relief. Perhaps being told that he didn’t have to remember his past, that he didn’t have to take on those forgotten burdens, granted some part of him salvation.

The headache had now faded away, but his head and stomach still felt heavy. He threw his head back onto the pillow. “I’ll follow your word. I don’t remember what happened, but it looks like you really did take care of me.”

“For now, just rest a little more. Next time you wake up, I bet that messed up head of yours will be feeling a bit better.”

Droziness suddenly took hold of Willem. “… ok,” he answered faintly. “Oh yeah, there’s something I forgot to ask.”

“What is it?”

“Your names. You and the kid.”

“Hm… yeah, that’s right. Completely forgot,” the man said while scratching his head. “I’m Nils. The little one is Elq. And you are Willem.”

Nils, and Elq.

“Both names sound familiar. Were we acquaintances before?”

“That’s right. You once adored me and called me master,” the man said with his chest over exaggeratingly puffed out.

“No, don’t think I believe that one.”

“Why not!? I’m not lying!”

“No, no, it’s just too unbelievable. I mean, you really don’t look like the type of person to teach anyone anything.”

“It’s the truth! Why is that the only thing you don’t believe!?”

“Human virtue.”

“How do you know that old saying of yours?! Is your memory really sealed up!?”

Willem himself found that strange. He recognized that his attitude wasn’t one appropriate for a first meeting, but jabbing back and forth at each other like this felt eerily comfortable, as if he had returned to his distant homeland after a long absence.

“Rather than a master, you seem like a rotten old dad.”

“… geez, you really…” Nils sighed deeply. “Nevermind. I’m gonna head out so rest well.”

“Thanks, for everything.”

“If you’re gonna apologize do it first, geez…”

Even though he could only see his back, Willem knew that the man was smiling bitterly. Judging by the fact that he didn’t turn around, maybe he was even embarrassed.

“– Ah, that’s right.” Standing just beside the door, Nils added, “Don’t use your right eye too much. My seal only works on the parts of your mind which transformed, not the parts of your body. If you let it take over you, the seal will loosen.”

“Right eye?”

“See for yourself. There’s a mirror over there.”

The door shut, and Nil’s footsteps faded away into the distance. Where he last gestured to with his chin before leaving, Willem found a small mirror, about the size of his palm, standing on a table. What’s he talking about? Willem grumbled to himself, but he couldn’t ignore something like that. He dragged his eager to sleep body out of bed, took the mirror, and turned it towards his face.

“…”

The face of a black haired young man which seemed to lack any ambition reflected back at him.

Point of note number one: red swells in the shape of small palms lay on each cheek.

Point of note number two: his right eye, and his right eye only, was shining with a fierce golden color, like that of a wild beast. Since his left eye shared the same black as his hair, Willem figured that his right eye hadn’t always been like that. Most likely, it served as proof of whatever Nils was talking about.

“… I see.”

Just looking at that golden color, anxiety overcame him. It definitely didn’t mean anything good. Having convinced himself of that, he shut his right eye, slipped back under the blankets, then softly closed his other eye as well.


“If you’re looking for Nils, he left early this morning,” the owner of the inn — a markless man, strangely enough — told Willem the next morning.

“Huh?”

“He’s gone on a bit of an outing, apparently. Said he doesn’t know whether or not he’ll be able to come back. Also said to keep healthy.”

“Wait a second. I haven’t heard anything about this.”

“He’s the type to leave as soon as he gets the idea. Judging by his words, he might come back on a whim, but who knows when.”

“Wait wait wait wha?”

What kind of vagabond is that guy? Maybe Willem, as the one who got saved, didn’t have the right to say anything, but he really wished Nils thought a little more about the ones he left behind. Willem had no recollection of his own past, nor did he have any kind of assets. Normally, one wouldn’t leave a guy who didn’t know left from right and up from down all by himself. Or at least, Willem would be too scared to do it. Apparently he had once called that man master, but Willem still didn’t believe it. He couldn’t imagine himself looking up to such an irresponsible man.

“Ah, it appears your companion is also awake.”

Who? Willem thought and turned around. He spotted the red haired girl, Elq, peeking out from around a corner in the hallway.

“Companion?”

“That’s what I’ve been told.”

I see. That’s how Nils explained it. Without me knowing. His irritation at his supposed savior only increasing, Willem casually gestured toward the girl. After slight hesitation, Elq came out from behind the corner and jogged over.

“G-Good morning…” she said.

“Sorry about yesterday.” Willem bowed his head in apology.

“Ah… o-okay. As long as you understand… I mean, I’m not really angry anymore…” she mumbled, clearly flustered.

“I see. You’re a kind girl.” Willem raised his head and smiled. For some reason, Elq groaned softly and took half a step back. “What’s wrong?”

“N-Nothing.”

Willem rarely saw such an unpersuasive ‘nothing’. He thought about pursuing the matter further, but decided to stop, figuring such antics were too immature. Apparently, the two of them had been found close to each other. Then, they were both saved in the same way by Nils, then left behind in the same way by Nils. He had no idea how long they would be together, but he figured it would be best to get along. Probably.

First came preparations for living a brand new life. Willem needed to figure out what he was and was not capable of. Then, he needed to search for work. Elq still being young, he needed to somehow make enough to support her as well. Also, Willem decided that if Nils were to come back, he would throw a complaint or two his way.

“By the way, I still haven’t received your room fare for last night. How will you pay?”

Willem slightly revised his previous thought. If Nils came home, on top of a complaint or two, he would throw a punch his way too.

“… have any idea of a place around here that would hire a markless who doesn’t know who he is?”

“Let’s see… there is one place that comes to mind.”

There is? Willem didn’t actually expect an answer.

“By the way, the job provides three meals a day, and the small lady can come along too.”

“What…?”

“I am Astaltus, the owner of this inn. We are a small place, but there is much work to be done, so please prepare yourself.” The man held out his right hand, asking for a handshake.

That bastard. He left us while having this all planned out, didn’t he. Willem lamented his having no choice but to go along with the man’s kind offer.

“… alright. I’ll do my best.” Fighting the urge to deeply slump his shoulders, Willem gripped the man’s hand in return.

[Shuumatsu] V5 C3 Everyone, in the Name of Hope P2

Footsteps of the End

Some rather unusual guests came to the fairy warehouse: one Orc wearing a fresh suit and a few brawny beast men, most likely his bodyguards.

“… may I ask who you gentlemen are?”

“My apologies. Here.”

Naigrat accepted the business card handed to her, took one glance at it, and tightened her expression. “Let’s talk outside.”

“Oh? May we not come inside? I hear that currently you are the only manager of this warehouse. There is no one who could overhear us, correct?”

“We will talk outside,” Naigrat repeated firmly. She flung her outdoors coat over her shoulders and stepped out of the foyer, past the Orc man sagging his shoulders. “We will walk to town. That is fine with you, correct?”

“Of course, if you have any recommendations.”

“There aren’t many choices out here in the countryside.” With a calm face, Naigrat began walking, and the men followed after her.

“… this is suspicious!” Collon, sitting at the very top of a tree growing by the side of the warehouse, said as she watched them go, using her right hand as a visor.

“This is the first time I’ve seen Naigrat make that face,” Panival muttered, sitting about halfway up the tree with her back against the trunk.

“They don’t seem so important that Naigrat would have to act so formal like that.”

“Hm. I feel like it’s something else.”

Collon and Panival both tilted their heads in confusion.

“Come down, you two… this tree is dangerous so no climbing it, that’s what our seniors said, isn’t it?” Lakish, clinging onto a fat branch much farther down, pleaded as she looked up to the pair.

“Being born as a woman, I aim high!” Collon pointed to the sky and struck a probably meaningless pose.

“To us fairies, maintaining agility is very important. This is one part of our special training.” Panival nonchalantly strung together some nonsense.

“That’s not the problem… if someone finds us we’ll get scolded.”

“That would be unfavorable. If that happens, let’s leave Lakish behind and run.”

“Yes, we’ll leave the clean up to you!”

“So mean…” Lakish responded, half crying and half laughing.

“Hey, you two!!” Noft’s bellowing came from a second floor window. “No tree climbing until you’re actually scared of falling! How long have we been telling you that!?”

“I told you guys,” Lakish said, almost crying now.

“In order to know fear, we must climb!” Collon declared with her chest puffed out, completely unphased.

“Naigrat just went out with some guests.” Panival forcefully changed the subject in the same nonchalant voice.

“… guests? Who? Noft asked.

“Never seen them before. Naigrat had a rather calm, serious face, something unusual for her.”

“Calm and serious?” Noft, knitting her brow, turned around towards the center of the room she stood in. “What do you think, Lan?”

“I didn’t see her face, so I can’t say anything.”

“True, but doesn’t it make you remember anything unpleasant?”

“It does.”

It happened around seven or eight years ago. Perhaps Collon and the others didn’t remember, or maybe they never even knew about it, but Noft and Lantolq remembered it clearly.

At the time, there was a criminal organization of Orcs. Then, one night, it suddenly vanished. Neither Noft nor Lantolq knew concretely what happened. They were taught that children need to sleep at night, and they didn’t have the courage to oppose that. If they delved deep into their faint memories of that night, they could manage to recall that the faraway howling of beasts was louder than usual, nothing more.

The next day, the way the residents of the island looked at Naigrat changed completely. Instead of viewing her as a dear neighbor, they treated her as a feral predator. Exactly what happened to cause such a drastic transformation, Noft and Lantolq didn’t know, and they didn’t really want to know either.

Lantolq snapped shut the book she had been reading and sighed. “As long as history doesn’t repeat itself, I’m sure things will be fine.”

 

Downtown, in the usual restaurant. No other customers were in sight.

After bringing everyone their ordered drinks, the waiter, shivering violently, retreated back behind the counter.

“To put it simply,” the Orc said, leaning forward with a smile on his face. “Miss Naigrat. We came here to steal you.”

“… is that so,” Naigrat answered quietly and took a sip of tea. Bitter and horrible. Resisting the urge to spit it all out, she returned her cup to the table.

“I looked into your background. I was very surprised. The number of qualifications you obtained at academy at such a young age, your grades… you’re first rate personnel, no doubt about it. But Orlandri is wasting such a precious resource in this place out in the middle of nowhere.”

“… thank you.”

Ah, that’s right, Naigrat remembered. The path she once set out on was somewhat of an elite course. Obtain a few useful looking qualifications, land a job at a big trading company, steadily gain eminence, make money, meet a wonderful person… She once dreamed about such a dazzling life, and even realized it halfway. However, she got caught up in a little authority struggle within the company and, as a result, got sent to a meaningless position in the borderlands. After that, her mood became a bit unstable from the shock at the sudden derailment of her previously stable life. The kids in the warehouse at the time must have been scared of me, she thought with a slight tinge of nostalgia.

“We are different. Needless to say, we plan to give you treatment befitting of your abilities.”

“Well thank you. But, why me?”

“Being as wise as you are, I’m sure you can guess. We particularly highly value your skills and experience raising the dangerous Leprechauns, the ultimate weapons of the Winged Guard and Orlandri.”

Naigrat focused her willpower to suppress her hand, which threatened to lash out on its own any moment.

“After seeing the barracks with my own eyes, my honest impression is… what could Orlandri be thinking? It looked almost like a run down barn. To me, it seems that Orlandri and the Winged Guard, despite entrusting their very lives all to the Leprechauns, hardly allocate any funds to them at all.”

“I’m sure they have their own circumstances up there,” Naigrat answered calmly.

Of course, Naigrat knew those circumstances very well. However, she had no intention of explaining the details to the men in front of her. Besides, they probably already looked into it themselves. There was no need to chat about it.

“Yes, exactly as you say.” The Orc nodded happily a few times. “And due to those circumstances, they will soon abandon their monopoly on the Leprechauns. The time when organizations other than the Winged Guard can obtain those powerful weapons is almost upon us. The company which raises the highest quality Leprechauns will lead that new age.” He spread out his hands, continuing on energetically. “We, the Elpis Mercantile Federation, will take that seat from Orlandri. You are necessary for that. We are prepared to welcome you with first class treatment.”

“You praise me too much. Thank you,” Naigrat answered casually, no friendly smile on her face. “By the way, if I were to decline this offer, what do you plan to do?”

“Well, hypothetically speaking, of course…” The Orc stroked his chin. The beast men sitting to his left and right stood up roughly. “They are skilled at getting women to obey a wish. However, I personally am not fond of that method. Please do not make a foolish decision.”

“Oh?” Naigrat glanced at the beast men — then, for the first time during their talk, smiled. “My apologies. I can’t stand people whose flesh don’t look very tasty.”

“Do it.”

In the blink of an eye, the Orc’s face turned dead serious. At his orders, one of the beast men began to move. He kicked over the table, then, stretching out his right arm, swollen like a fat puppy, grabbed Naigrat’s neck. Holding that position, he gradually tightened his grip.

From behind the counter, the waiter let out a high pitched scream.

“Ah, how rude of us.” The Orc turned towards the counter and shrugged. “I’m afraid this may get a little noisy. We will repay the cost of any broken tables and chairs at double the price.”

“How generous of you,” Naigrat remarked.

“Important business gets appropriate funds. Those who refuse to part with spare change will never obtain larger wealth. We are different than Orlan… dri?”

Naigrat’s face remained calm as ever. The Orc finally noticed that. That couldn’t be possible. How could a delicate markless remain calm while being strangled with the strength of a beast person? Her breathing should have stopped, and she shouldn’t have been able to speak. The Orc’s dumbfounded stare shouted those objections.

“Why so surprised? You investigated my profile, did you not? You should have known that I’m a Troll.”

“W-Well, yes, but…”

“Did you not know what kind of race the Trolls are? Did you figure they couldn’t be scary since most of the markless have weak body types?” Naigrat couldn’t tell if the Orc’s stupefied face was confirming or denying. “I thought it was a rather well known fact. We’re just a teeny bit tougher and stronger than the others. If you’re really trying to recruit someone, you should properly study up, okay?”

With a cheerful smile, Naigrat laid her hand on the arm of the beast man gripping her neck. Her finger gradually sunk into that mass of steel like muscle. The beast man let out a scream.

“… oh, you said you were going to pay for everything that breaks in double, right?”

“Eh? Ah… eh?”

“In that case, I can rest assured.” Naigrat turned towards the counter, at the violently shivering waiter. Fortunately, he knew very well what kind of race Trolls are, so Naigrat figured he would understand. “Tell the owner, when the new restaurant is finished, I’ll come to celebrate.”

Confusion showed in the Orc’s eyes. What do you mean by ‘new restaurant’? they seemed to ask. However, that question never got put into words, nor did the necessity for that arise. The answer unfolded right in front of his eyes.

Thud. The Troll lightly swung her arm. It didn’t seem like she put much power into the motion, but one of the beast men went airborne, colliding into another man standing beside him before flying off together. A few of the sturdy, thick wooden tables collapsed and shattered as if fragile glass sculptures.

“Huh?”

With feral howls, the other beast men jumped onto the Troll. Their minds now realized that the person in front of them was not some frightened woman, but a terrifying monster. Judging that she couldn’t possibly beat them all in terms of pure strength, they grabbed her arms and tried to pin her against the floor. If they accomplished that, she wouldn’t be able to break out with pure strength alone.

“Oh, how passionate.” The Troll swung her arm again.

Another beast man went flying, this time straight up into the ceiling, head first. Their difference in physique. Their difference in level of martial training. All those elements which usually produce drastic differences upon the battlefield seemed to be of no use to the men.

“A-Ah…” The Orc went limp and fell to the floor.

Looking at that figure, the Troll let out a kind, gentle, and terrifyingly charming laugh.

A scream. A yell. A breaking sound. A smashing sound. Another scream.

And just like that, on that day, a restaurant disappeared off the face of the 68th Floating Island.


“I heard the report.” The Reptrace’s face seen from across the communication crystal was as hard to read as ever, but it looked somewhat disgusted. “Looks like you really made a mess.”

“It was their fault,” Naigrat replied nonchalantly. “They treated our precious children like tools. That deserves ten thousand deaths. Oh, also, a bunch of large men tried to make a woman do their bidding by force. If you think about it, that deserves a little punishment too, doesn’t it?”

“Only you would think of that order.” Limeskin snorted. “Anyway, there is something I must tell you, and something I must ask of you.”

“… huh?” Naigrat frowned. “If you have something to say, I’ll listen now, and if your request is something I can do, then I’ll do it.”

“We have a pest.”

Pest? … are we being eavesdropped on? Our conversation over this communication crystal? By who? How?

The crystal they were talking over existed for the specific purpose of facilitating important contact between the army and the trading company. If others could easily listen in on it, it would be an entirely pointless object. Was eavesdropping really possible? If so, by what means could it be done? Naigrat couldn’t see any signs of panic on Limeskin’s face (probably). In other words, just being eavesdropped on by itself didn’t present any danger to them.

Then, Naigrat understood. Ah, that’s what he meant. As she thought, their line of communication couldn’t be easily externally spied upon. The answer, then, was simple: someone else was listening internally. The ‘pest’ belonged to the Winged Guard, and was standing right next to Limeskin. The Winged Guard was by no means one large hivemind. Especially when it came to the Leprechauns, opinions were split. Even among his comrades in the same organization, there were those who couldn’t be considered Limeskin’s allies.

“Is it something we can leave alone?” Naigrat asked.

“I do not know. This decision cannot be wrong. That’s why I want to ask you.”

“Understood.” Naigrat gulped. “You can say anything. It’s okay if you make it hard to understand.” Even she, after knowing him for so long, still struggled to understand Limeskin’s peculiar way of expression. But if they could utilize that, they might be able to get past the eavesdropper.

“Come to Collinadiluche.”

“Huh?” Now of all times, he stated his request in extremely simple terms.

“Yes. Also, bring all fully grown fairy soldiers capable of battle with you.”

“W-Wait a second. Those kids too? For what reason?”

“… I do not have a plan. I leave that to you.”

“Wait!”

The fairies were weapons owned by the army and Orlandri. Even though the possibility of that situation soon changing existed, that was their current status. The fully grown fairy soldiers in particular served as keystones of the military force protecting Regul Aire. They couldn’t just casually be brought around everywhere. There needed to be a proper reason, usually orders within a military operation.

If Naigrat, an employee of Orlandri, left the island with Aiseia and the others without permission, that would give some of the guys in the Winged Guard another argument to make against the fairy warehouse. In the long term, it would no doubt only shorten the lifetime of the warehouse.

“I will be waiting there as well.”

… ah, I see.

Of course, Limeskin knew that the move would produce unfavorable results in the long run. Him knowing that and still insisting on Naigrat to go meet him could only mean that he judged that it was necessary. Could the imminent situation be that tense? Was there already no need to think about the long term? Naigrat didn’t want to believe that.

“Understood. I’ll do what I can.” Asking for more detailed information now would be pointless. She decided to wait until they met in person. “… we finally don’t need to talk about battles anymore, but it seems we can’t have a cheerful conversation.” She threw in a little complaint before cutting the transmission.

“When the enemy in front of their eyes disappears, people search for their next enemy among their neighbors…” Surprisingly, a complaint came back in return. “Most likely, everyone knows without realizing it: peace is the most terrifying disaster of all.”


Now, Naigrat was left with quite a difficult problem. Bring along every fully grown fairy soldier with a sword… which meant Aiseia Myse Valgalis, Lantolq Itsuri Historia, and Tiat Shiba Ignareo. Noft was a fully grown fairy soldier, but, her affiliated Dug Weapon Desperatio having been lost, she no longer held a specialized sword. Naigrat didn’t feel safe just leaving the small ones on their own, so maybe it would be a good idea to leave the older Noft with them… she didn’t feel particularly safe about counting Noft as an elder either, but she decided to avert her eyes from that fact.

With that decided, all Naigrat needed to think about was the excuse. She needed some kind of justification to bring the entire reserve of strength protecting Regul Aire off to Collinadiluche, no matter how forced it sounded.

“Hmm…”

Deep in thought, she strolled down the hallway. What about shopping? No, that won’t do. What kind of shopping would require a trip from the 68th Island all the way to the 11th? If I was told to do my shopping somewhere closer, I wouldn’t have a good response.

Okay, what about sightseeing? Collinadiluche is one of Regul Aire’s most spectacular ancient cities. There are plenty of unique landmarks there. That would be impossible to do at any other island… but I guess permission for a vacation isn’t going to go through.

What else is there? Apply for a mock battle with the soldiers stationed in Collinadiluche? No, I wouldn’t be able to use that excuse until after the request actually got accepted. Try forcing a mock battle first and get permission later? No, that would just lead to war.

Agh. What to do…

As she racked her mind for ideas, Naigrat wandered into the kitchen and poured herself some tea. It turned out rather sour, maybe because she had been half lost in thought while she made it, but, well, it was better than what she drank earlier in the day. Deciding to calm herself down for the time being, she began to take a sip, when she heard a voice.

“U-Um, is now a good time?” An orange haired little fairy, Lakish, stood beside her.

“… ah, sorry. I’m just thinking about something.”

“Oh… ok, sorry.” Lakish’s shoulders drooped. “I’ll come back later.”

“Aaah, wait a second. Sorry. I messed up my priorities.” The guilty feeling welling up inside of her accelerated Naigrat’s mouth. “Putting you guys second won’t do… what’s wrong?”

“Ah, is it okay?”

“Of course. What is it this time? Did Collon break another window or something?”

“No, this time it’s about me.”

“Oh?”

That’s unusual, Naigrat thought. The young fairies were, as a general rule, all innocent and straightforward, simply energetic and nothing more. Lakish, however, was one of the few exceptions. She stood by the others as they ran wild and took on the role of controlling them… ignoring whether or not she actually succeeded in doing so, she at least tried to control them. Naigrat couldn’t recall a time when Lakish came to report something about herself.

“What happened? Did you break a plant pot or something?”

“No, um, it’s not something like that.” After mumbling evasively, Lakish seemed to steel her resolve. “I had a dream.”

“… hm?” For a moment, Naigrat didn’t understand what she meant.

“I had it while I was napping earlier. I was in this really dark place, surrounded by all sorts of lights. Those lights were like books… I could read them, and… ah, I can’t explain it very well.”

Umm, oh. “Could it be that ‘special dream’?”

“Ah, yes!” Lakish’s speech became a little more energetic. “There’s no doubt about it. When I woke up, I knew immediately. That’s what it was.”

When the young fairies grew to a certain age, without fail, they had a certain dream. In it, they went to places they had never been before, saw sights they had never seen before, and talked with people they had never met before. That kind of dream. Yet inside that illusory world, they felt a strange and strong sense of reality. And the moment they woke up, for no apparent reason, they became convinced: the dream was special, and in it they had connected with something very important. That dream signaled the end of their youthful days and the beginning of the path to becoming a fully grown fairy.

“…”

A young one had the special dream. What did they have to do next? Treatment. In order for her to become a fully grown fairy soldier, they needed to take data and fidget with her body.

“Ah.”

“Ah?”

And in order to accomplish that, Lakish needed to be brought to the treatment facility in Collinadiluche. Accompanying her was, obviously, related to Naigrat’s duty as the manager of the fairy warehouse. In other words, she now had a justification.

“That’s it!” Overcome with emotion, Naigrat leaped forward and embraced Lakish.

“Hya!?”

Of course, a full strength embrace would end up snapping Lakish’s body in half, so Naigrat hugged her gently, as if touching a marshmallow, but firmly enough to not let her prey escape. The ultimate hug, a skill which Naigrat had acquired after much blood, sweat, and tears.

“Lakish, you really are a thoughtful girl! I love you!”

“Eh? Eh? Eh?” Lakish fell into deep confusion.

 

[Shuumatsu] V5 C3 Everyone, in the Name of Hope P1

Secret Meeting

“Well this is a rather strange turn of events,” a voice mumbled, seemingly unconcerned.

To Nephren, the owner of that voice was the real strange thing. Looking up a little, she spotted some being which looked like a floating fish covered in scarlet and silver scales swimming through the air leisurely. Upon closer inspection, Nephren could tell that the fish’s body was half transparent, meaning it had to be some kind of illusion or ghost. The only problem was why this illusion or ghost or whatever was in this place and chatting casually.

“You know, I can’t really afford to take it easy. I need to hurry up and talk to Ebon Candle then go look for a lost kid,” the fish said.

“I agree.”

Nephren too could not afford to take it easy. She didn’t know about that Ebon or whatever, but she had a lost kid, or rather lost adult, of her own to search for: that troublesome Emnetwyte, always acting strong despite being lonely on the inside, so fragile he could break at any moment, Willem Kumesh.

“– This might sound cruel, but there’s no hope of that, probably,” the flying fish said as it glided around the ceiling.

Despite knowing that only she could see or hear it, Nephren still looked up and asked the fish, “What do you mean?”

“By Willem you mean that black haired and sort of handsome guy, right? He’s not around anymore. I saw him quit being a human and return to a Beast with my own eyes,” she responded, moving her fishy eyes around. “He might still be alive, but he’s completely different from the Willem that you knew. It’d be best to throw away any weird expectations.”

“I don’t mind.” Nephren shook her head. “No matter what Willem changes into, my job remains the same. I need to be by his side.”

Fortunately, the current Nephren didn’t seem to be treated as an enemy by Beasts, so even if Willem had transformed into one, Nephren could be by his side. Probably. No, definitely.

“No matter how deep your love is, it won’t cause a miracle happen, you know?”

Nephren didn’t understand. Why did the fish use the word ‘love’? That was for children like Kutori. Nephren didn’t want to be by his side because of some bold motive like that.

“… hm? Did you say something, young lady?” the young Borgle man sitting next to Nephren on the sofa asked.

“Just talking to myself.”

Of course, that wasn’t exactly the truth. No one except Nephren could see Carmine Lake or hear her voice, so their conversation naturally sounded like a monologue from Nephren. She already explained the existence of the mystery illusion fish thing, but she didn’t feel like explaining the content of their random conversations too.

“Don’t worry about it,” Nephren said.

“I see… well, I can understand why you’d be restless,” the Borgle, Grick, not trying to hide his irritation, said as he scratched his bald head.

They sat in the reception room of a large airship owned by the Winged Guard. A grand flower design covered the walls, a chandelier hung down from the high ceiling, the thick curtains seemed to be made from expensive fabric, the furniture contained copious amounts of gold decoration… in other words, it was a pretty fancy room, which made it a rather uncomfortable room as well. Like Grick said, it would be difficult for anyone to remain calm in it.

“How much longer do we gotta be stuck in this stinkin’ rich room?” Grick complained.

“Sorry for the wait.” A heavy looking door slowly opened, and a soldier entered the room. A white furred Haresantrobos, he bore the insignia of a first officer on his shoulder. “The Winged Guard has been in a rather delicate position lately. We had to deal with a bothersome guest.”

“I don’t care about your business,” Grick, clearly in an unpleasant mood, spat out.

“The Winged Guard does not belong to a specific floating island. But this means that in order to survive we must provide support to all the islands. Or at least, that’s what we say officially. Occasionally we get islands who try to use that to get their requests through,” the officer explained.

“I said I don’t care about that. You have something more important to say, don’t you?”

“Hm.” The Haresantrobos gave a small nod. “Very well. It’s a little late for names, but I am Baroni Makish. As you can see, I am a first officer of the military police division of the Winged Guard–”

“I don’t care who or what you are,” Grick interrupted. “There’s only one thing I want to know. Where are we being taken?”

“I don’t recall ever asking you to stay. The only one we need is Dug Weapon user Nephren Ruq Insania.”

Upon mention of her name, Nephren budged slightly. Not only did she not have Insania anymore, a bunch of weird stuff had mixed into her. She didn’t have confidence that she was Nephren Ruq Insania anymore. To hear someone still call her by that name made her a little happy.

“I’m telling you to shut that mouth of yours and release that one person!” Grick’s fist violently slammed against an expensive looking table. “All he wanted was to get this girl home safely! He gave his life for that! She has family waiting for her! Why can’t you understand that!?”

Grick seemed to be getting heated up. He’s a good person, Nephren thought. Despite being a demon. She could tell that Grick was truly concerned for her as a real child, even though she was no more than a disposable (and already used) weapon.

However, his concern was a bit unnecessary. Sure, the fairies in the warehouse were like family to Nephren, but someone not coming home was an ordinary, almost everyday occurrence. She wouldn’t go so far as to say that no one was waiting for her, but certainly there wasn’t much meaning in hurrying home. Of course, she didn’t say any of that out loud. With those thoughts running through her mind, Nephren maintained her usual emotionless expression.

“Grick Graycrack.” Baroni Makish shook his head in disapproval. “According to my findings, you were once in the Winged Guard. You quit after half a year, but you used your connections and resources to start work as a salvager. I hear you were quite capable. Quite unfortunate that you quit.”

“That was a long time ago. I’ve forgotten already,” Grick said disapprovingly.

“Nevertheless, it is a fact that you once wore an army uniform, so stop pretending to not understand. Doing so will only make this take more time than necessary.”

“This is exactly why I quit.” His dissatisfaction clearly showing on his face, Grick threw his back against the sofa.

“… wait. I also want to ask something.” Nephren raised her hand. “Where is Willem? I heard an estimate has been made as to his whereabouts.”

“Ah, yes yes! Elq too! Ask about her whereabouts too, please!” Carmine Lake’s voice, inaudible to everyone except Nephren, rang loudly in her ear. “We’re in the world that Ebon Candle made, right? Her presence is too dispersed, I can’t pick it up.”

“… also, I heard that a small child should have been with him,” Nephren added on.

“Ah, Second Enchanted Weapons Technician Willem Kumesh. I don’t know about that small child… is that what the illusion you mentioned earlier is saying?”

Nephren nodded.

“We do not know his location accurately. However, we do have a guess. We had doubts about them before, but you guys brought home concrete proof,” the first officer responded in a slightly irritated tone, his gaze turned towards Grick.

“Huh? Us?” The Borgle blinked in confusion.

“You’ve heard of the Elpis Mercantile Federation, yes?”

Nephren nodded.

Grick scratched his head. “It’s that place on the western half of the 13th Island, isn’t it? Where they worship some giant stone or something as a god. The entry tax is too high, so I’ve never been there myself.”

“Yes, that’s the one. Many different races make up its population, but, by only having a single religion, the country has united its people and obtained a high level of public order. Perhaps because of that, its residence have a high level of patriotism, and the government’s policies are rather aggressive.”

“Okay. Well, what about them?”

“The traces of the campsite and cans of army rations you found on the ground belong to Elpis’ National Defense Air Force.”

“Okay, but what did those guys do? That’s what I’m asking.”

“Considering all the evidence, we have strong suspicions that the Elpis National Defense Air Force has transported a number of Beasts into Regul Aire on a disguised airship.”

— Silence.

“Eh?”

“Huh?”

Nephren and Grick simultaneously let out voices of disbelief.

“Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. What did you say?” Grick asked.

“I said, Elpis has brought Beasts into Regul Aire.”

— Silence again.

“Why would they do that?” Nephren, first to recover from the shock, asked. “Bringing in a Beast completely violates Regul Aire’s charter. They also surely understand the danger that the Beasts present. In the first place, how does one simply bring home something that’s dangerous to even approach?”

“Simple. For a while now, they have desired the title of ‘protector of Regul Aire’ to use in political negotiations with their neighboring islands. In order to obtain that, they’ve constantly been trying to stick their heads into the battles with the Teimerre which the Winged Guard has kept a monopoly on,” Baroni Makish explained.

“Huh??” Grick’s face only looked more and more confused.

“It’s not that rare of an occurrence. The Winged Guard, with its duty to protect Regul Aire as a whole, occupies a privileged position amongst the armies of Regul Aire. In addition, it has a total monopoly on battles with the Beasts, the information concerning them, and the weapons used in them. There are many who do not think too fondly of that. Those at the Elpis National Defense Air Force are no more than members of that group with particularly short tempers.”

“… why would they choose to get involved with those terrifying things?” Grick asked.

“Simple.” Baroni Makish held up two fingers and lowered them one by one as he explained. “First, that ‘terrifying’ nature is precisely what will lead to profit for them. Second, because the Winged Guard has a monopoly on almost all information regarding the Beasts, there are very few outside the organization who know that terror first hand.”

“For real…” Not knowing is scary, Grick thought as he stared up at the ceiling in despair.

“A spy we snuck in reports that they have recently developed a few anti-Beast weapons. Among them are new barrier techniques meant to capture and restrain. In other words, they have the means to bring a Beast home.” One of Baroni Makish’s ears folded down. “Of course, if word gets out, they will no doubt get criticized for violating the charter of Regul Aire. As for the reason why they would go so far despite knowing the consequences, we cannot say at this point.”

“Wait. That’s still not an explanation. I asked for Willem’s whereabouts.”

“I’m sure you can infer based on what I just told you. There is only one conclusion.”

For whatever reason, the Elpis National Defense Air Force brought a Beast they found on the ground up into the sky. Willem has now transformed into a Beast. So what does that mean? Ah, I see. It all fits together. There really is only one conclusion. Nephren stood up from the sofa.

“What’s wrong, young lady?” Grick asked.

“I’m going to the 13th Island.”

“Before that, there is somewhere else you must go,” Baroni Makish said.

“Move. I won’t ask you to take me. I’ll go by myself.” Nephren ignited Venom and spread her wings.

“Wait wait I don’t think there’s any need for that,” Grick said in a panic.

“Elpis is vast.” Baroni Makish’s voice remained calm. “How do you plan on finding a hidden army facility in a group of cities large enough to be called a country?”

… burn them all?

“In the first place, it is not even clear what they plan to do with the Beast they brought back. If we rush and act rashly, it will only delay the resolution.”

“That’s… true.” Nephren retracted her wings and sat back down on the sofa.

“If the whereabouts of the Second Technician are discovered, I will report to you as well, so just wait patiently for now.”

“Ok…”

“Us at the Winged Guard cannot leave Elpis alone either. We will conduct an investigation to the best of our abilities. During that, we will most likely find information concerning the Second Technician. At the very least, it should be more efficient than you running around by yourself.”

“Ok… I understand. Thank you.”

“There is no need to thank me.” Baroni Makish turned around and spoke to them behind his back. “You are in a very peculiar condition right now. Taking future developments into account, I judged that it would be worth it to deliberately try to please you, that’s all. Well then, I will take my leave.” With the sound of shoes pressing off the floor, the Haresantrobos disappeared beyond the door, just as he said.

“… was he trying to please me?”

“How am I supposed to know? Ask your mood,” the flying fish retorted.

“Hmm.” Nephren tilted her head.


Nephren closed her eyes, calmed her mind, and asked herself, Please answer either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Do you want to destroy Regul Aire?

After brief thought, she produced the answer ‘no’.

It’s okay. I’m okay. I haven’t changed into something that would answer ‘yes’.

It’s true that she did feel a certain empty and directionless sense of irritation thrashing around in her chest, but it wasn’t violent enough to swallow up Nephren. Most likely, it was the result of her being a Leprechaun trying to replicate an Emnetwyte, and not an actual Emnetwyte. The impulse inside of her which could turn an Emnetwyte into a Beast, or perhaps return an Emnetwyte into a Beast, could sit and fester but not actually transform her.

However, in Willem’s case, things were not so gentle. He was a genuine, purebred Emnetwyte, and moreover had the same amount of the same impulse poured inside of him. Without a doubt, he wouldn’t be able to endure it like Nephren.

I saw him quit being a human and return to a Beast with my own eyes.

Nephren didn’t exactly trust Carmine Lake’s words, but she couldn’t firmly doubt them either.

No matter what he turned into, all I need to do is be by his side. That was half Nephren’s honest feelings, and half her trying to act strong.

She wanted him to stay just a little longer. After all, he was so kind and hardworking.

He wasn’t a lonely existence destined to meet a meaningless end from birth like the fairies.

So, that’s why Nephren couldn’t help but wish for at least a sliver of salvation for that eternally busy Quasi Brave.