[Shuumatsu] V5 C5 Can I Lie Next to You?

Normal, everyday life is always on the verge of coming to an end.

The repetition of each single day, all on the verge of the end, forms that normalcy.

Sometimes newcomers may enter, but at the same time others must leave.

Changing ever so slightly bit by bit, it continues all the way up until that moment when it meets its true end.

The newspapers reported the attack by a group of Beasts to be the doing of The Order of Annihilation Service History. Owing to their already widespread reputation as a group of violent troublemakers, the news naturally became assimilated and believed within the population.

As for what kind of transaction took place between Elpis and Collinadiluche, and the Winged Guard too, no one knew. Morally speaking, spreading the truth would have been ideal, but, in the worst case scenario, that could lead to a war.

However, if nothing else, the Elpis National Defense Force suffered a major loss of influence as a result of the incident. There was also apparently a large change of personnel in the higher ups of the Winged Guard, so it’s safe to say that Elpis won’t be able to pull off anything similar anytime soon.

—It’s also worth mentioning that in one corner of that newspaper, there was a small article reporting the discovery of the transformed corpse of an Orc on the outskirts of Collinadiluche.


Elq Harksten returned home.

This fact literally shook the 2nd Floating Island, a consecrated land and also the most secretive place in all of Regul Aire.

“WaaaaaaaahhhhhhhElqqqqqqqqq” wailed a giant black skull. The One who Sleeps in Death. The One who Shines Darkness in the Garden of Light. Known by various over the top sounding names, Ebon Candle, one of the three Poteau, threw away any shred of dignity and simply wailed and wailed.

A strange light flickered on and off violently in the insides of his hollow eye sockets, and his lipless teeth clattered together vigorously. “I’m I’m so glad you’re ssaaaffeeeeeee.”

“Shut up you useless oaf,” scolded a huge red floating fish. Also one of the three Poteau, Carmine Lake swam around the surrounding air restlessly, making no attempt to hide her irritation. “In the first place, what the hell have you been doing for five hundred years!? I mean, I understand that you used the master’s soul to protect the world and all, but, after all that time, how have you not made any progress on the star boat’s repairs!?”

“W-What am I supposed to do!? Look at me! I don’t even have enough power to repair my own physical body.”

“That’s just because you’re wasting your energy! Just sink this stupid floating island already!”

“You think I could do such a thing!?”

“Both of you, be quiet!” screamed Elq, sandwiched between the two gods.

“But Elq, if we don’t hurry up and get this guy to regain his power and undo the curse, you’ll be in that half dead body forever, you know? Don’t you want to return to your original form as quickly as possible?”

“T-That’s a little optimistic, but…” Ebon Candle commented.

“I’m fine,” Elq said.

“Huh?” “Hm?” The two gods raised confused voices.

“I’m fine like this.”

“W-W-Whyy!? If you don’t properly come back to life, even if we fix the star boat, your body won’t be able to handle riding on it, you know? You won’t be able to leave this world, you know?”

“I won’t go anywhere. I kinda like this world.”

“No no no! This world is coming to an end! There’s hardly anything here! It’s only a matter of seconds before there’s nothing at all!”

“But, there’s still a few seconds left.”

“Where did that attitude come from!? Hey, Ebon Candle, you say something too!”

“H-Hm?” The skull’s teeth clattered confusedly as he was suddenly drawn into the conversation. “Did you meet some nice people while living on the floating islands?”

“… yes.”

“I see I see. Find a special someone you’re interested in?”

“……… no, not exactly.”

“Wait a second! What kind of questions are you asking!? And what kind of answer is that!?”

“He’s only the slightest bit handsome. Kutori and Leila lowered their standards too far.”

“I see I see.” Like a kind and gentle old man, the skull chuckled softly and nodded repeatedly.

Around them, the floating fish circled and circled, wailing about this and that.

Meanwhile, Nephren gazed blankly at their exchange. Carmine Lake still hadn’t acquired a physical form or whatever, instead residing in a part of Nephren’s mind. However, as long as Nephren stayed in this special barrier surrounding the 2nd Island, Carmine Lake could move and act freely within the boundaries. She mentioned something about the island being an archive of models of the primal world, so it could mix together the mind and body, but Nephren didn’t really understand, and Carmine Lake never explained in more detail. Nephren wished she had a book.

“Kaiya,” she said to the young Ayrantrobos lady, Ebon Candle’s servant.

“Yes, Miss Nephren?”

“What’s for dinner tonight?”

“I haven’t decided yet, but, since the fruits from the summer garden have been good, I’m thinking of making something with those.”

“Okay, I’ll help you out later,” Nephren said, then started to leave the room.

“Where are you going?”

“To Willem.”


The corpse of Willem Kumesh had been carried to the 2nd Floating Island and stored in a deep, secluded place. Ebon Candle suggested that they place him in ice again, but Elq and Nephren rejected that idea. Instead, they placed him on a decoratively and neatly arranged bed, where he now lay dead, almost as if simply in a peaceful sleep.

“… are you cold?”

Nephren touched Willem’s hand. Cold.

“Are you lonely?”

She touched his cheek. Cold as well.

She wanted to put a blanket over him, but, of course, doing so would have no meaning. She wanted to lie next to him and nap, like she often did back then, but, again, doing so no longer had any meaning.

“Ebo said it wouldn’t be that hard to revive him.” When she got there Nephren didn’t notice, but Elq stood in the doorway. “He’s the same as me. If Seniolis’ curse is loosened just a little, he’ll become not-a-corpse just a little and come back to life.”

“As a Beast, though, right?”

“Of course, but you wouldn’t mind, right? You’re a Beast too, after all.”

“It’s meaningless.” Nephren shook her head. “Hogging a broken Willem all for myself wouldn’t bring me any joy. I don’t…” She thought a little. “I don’t want to bring him unhappiness.”

“Hmph. You have bad taste too,” Elq said, unimpressed, and stepped inside the room. Then, cheerfully, she lied down next to Willem.

“What are you doing?” Nephren asked.

“Resting.”

“Why here?”

“No particular reason. I just feel sort of calm here… ow!”

Pulling her by the ear, Nephren dragged Elq off of the bed and continued straight out the room.

“No sleeping together.”

“Why not why not!? We’re both corpses, so it’s not a problem, right!?”

“That’s my assigned seat. I won’t give it up to any corpse or god.”

“This is tyranny!”


Inside a dream, he could see the orange of the twilight sky as the sun sank below the pitch dark horizon. He stood upon a small foothold which seemed to be made of tightly packed ashen hexagons. Besides that foothold, only an empty black nothingness lay below.

Only the half disappeared evening sun and the barely remaining foothold existed here. Nothing else. It was an aged world, on the verge of the end, on the verge of perishing.

In that place, there stood a young man. With nothing to do nor think about, he simply gazed blankly at the sinking sun.

Suddenly, the young man noticed a presence beside him: a small crystal lump lying on the ground. What is this? As he looked at it, the lump began to emit a clattering noise then split, swelled, bent, shrunk, and, in the end, took a shape very similar to that of a person.

Ah, I see.

This is the Beast inside of me, the young man realized. It was none other than the half of his being which awoke after he swallowed the fragments of the Shiantor. How many hundreds or thousands of years he didn’t know, but he must have been neighbors with this thing for as long as human history. However, they never knew each other before. They never even noticed each other’s existence.

“Hey, you,” he called out, but it didn’t budge. “Nice to meet you… that sounds kinda weird. Since we’ve been together this whole time and all.” Still no response. The Beast simply stood still, not looking at anywhere in particular. “Sorry for always ignoring you. You’re something like a victim too, huh.”

As before, still no response. Instead—

“—Yo.”

Hearing a familiar voice, he turned around. There, illuminated by the fading scarlet of the sky, he found the ambiguously aged, nostalgic face of a man.

“Good-for-nothing master.”

“Looks like you’ve been through a lot. Have any regrets?”

“So many I can’t count.”

“Glad to hear it.” Taking a seat next to Willem, Nils chuckled. “That’s proof you led a fulfilling life until the very end.”

Willem didn’t think it was anything to laugh about.

“I finally understand. These guys just wanted to go home,” he said as he looked at the crystal lump beside him.

“Hm?”’

“They just wanted to reclaim that ashen sea. The Visitors stole it. Moreover, they stole it because they longed for home themselves. As a result of that clash of homesicknesses, the land fell into ruin, and those who lost their home were driven up to Regul Aire. Everyone just wanted to return home. Just wanted to reclaim.”

The movements of the sun shook Nils’ shadow ever so slightly.

“There’s no need for evil to destroy the world. It always begins with a small wish that no one would ever find fault with. Such a tiny thing leads so simply to the end.”

“You’re right. This world is already done for,” Nils said as he scratched his head. “It’s almost time for me to get going as well. I can only stop in a world and use my power as a Visitor six times, and I used the last one to seal your memories. Now I need to look for a new world and start another journey.”

“… so you were a Visitor, huh.”

It should have been a shocking fact, but Willem wasn’t particularly surprised, perhaps because of his mind’s extreme exhaustion, or perhaps because, from the start, he realized that no matter what this man’s true identity was it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising.

“Want to tag along?”
“Huh?”

“This world is already coming to a close. You are dead, and there’s nothing you can do. So how about going to a new realm with me? If all turns out well, you might be able to life an easier life. At the very least, you’ll be able to life a more meaningful life than just being dead for an eternity here.”

“Ah…” Willem thought for a bit. “So in other words, you’re telling me to become a Visitor too?”

Nils nodded bitterly.

“That sounds fun.”

“I think you could be fine no matter where you went.”

“Maybe.”

It was tough losing home. Painful. But he was able to stand back up. He was able to think of a new place as home. That experience and those memories had now become precious assets to him.

“In the end, I couldn’t do a single thing for you or this world. So this is the last thing I can do for you as a good-for-nothing master,” Nils said, gesturing to the crystal lump with his eyes. “Right now, you guys are just barely separated. I can leave the Beast here and bring just you along.”

“Ahh… that’s what you were talking about, huh,” Willem said as he scratched his head. “Sorry, but, I can’t go.”

“I see.” Nils nodded.

“Losing my home, losing my place to return to, it’s been painful and miserable. But still. It’s always possible to find somewhere new. Anyone can.”

Those valiant people who call Regul Aire home were once residents of the land. How much blood was shed before they were able to accept their new home?

“But it doesn’t go well if you try to rush things. It takes time,” Willem continued. “Standing back up after the pain of loss. Meeting someone new. Getting used to a new place. They all failed at those. The Visitors, and the Beasts too. They tried to reclaim their homeland all in one go, so they chose the wrong method.

Well, at first I couldn’t realize either. But, if you try raising your head and actually looking around you, sometimes, right beside you, there’ll be someone to teach you.”

Willem closed his eyes. In his case, who stood right beside him? Grick, Naigrat, Nephren, … Kutori. They taught him so much it almost seemed wasteful. They saved him, who had been thrown out even farther past the end of the world.

“I want to be by this guy’s side.”

“You’re saying you want to talk with it? That’s impossible. Your mental structures and modes of life are different, you know?”

“I know. I’m not dreaming that big.” In a friendly gesture, Willem wrapped his arm around the crystal lump’s shoulder (?). “These guys can’t see anything except the world of their home. Only what they’ve lost is in their field of view. That’s why they can’t accept Regul Aire, and why they’re so desperate to demolish us.

It’s frustrating, isn’t it? That’s why I want to do something for them. Putting aside the past, something strange is beside me now. I want to help them think that.”

“Are you stupid?”

“I’ve been starting to suspect that myself lately.”

The two of them laughed together one last time.

“You really are a busy guy, worrying about an ended world even after you’re dead.”

“Well, it seems that’s all I can do, seeing as I could never become anyone.”

“… ah—” As he began to say something, Nil’s silhouette suddenly began to blur. “That’s fine too, isn’t it? It’s like you.”

“I’ve been started to suspect that myself lately as well.”

With that, their conversation came to a halt.

Sitting side by side, the two of them gazed blankly at the evening sun.

Suddenly snapping out of his trance and looking to his side, Willem saw that no signs of Nils were anywhere to be seen.

He was now all alone with the crystal lump, the fragment of a Beast’s delusional convictions, in this ending world.

“… well, it looks like we’re going to be together for a while.”

Willem lied down. Enough space remained on the foothold for that. Above, there was nothing, not even the night sky.

“Oh yeah, it’ll be inconvenient if you don’t have a name. Should I give you a nice one?” he said leisurely, then shut his eyes.


—A short while after.

“Hey! Wait, Eudea!”

“Oh, close one!”

Two girls sprinted down the hallways of a broken down house. The floor seemed like it could collapse at any moment, but, both of them having grown used to that, the two girls ran at full speed, skillfully dodging the particularly dangerous looking spots.

“Tonight’s dinner is a celebration for our seniors coming home, so you can’t snack beforehand. I told you that, right!?”

“Well, it just smelled so delicious. Almita, your cooking really is good! I’m sure our big sisters will be very pleased, mhm. Of course I’m very pleased too.”

“Aah you really are annoying! Let me spank you once!”

“Nope!”

The building shook with their rapid footsteps.

“Both of you, be quiet.”

“What, are those two at it again?”

“Hey hey, let’s make a bet. Who do you think will win today?”

“Ooh, good idea. I bet tonight’s dessert on Eudea getting away.”

“Okay, then I’ll be the opposite… Tazeka, you want to join too?”

“Hm? Ah… then I’ll bet on Kana. Also tonight’s dessert.”

“Eh, why? This is about Eudea and Almita.”

“Yeah, I can see that.”

Poking their heads out of windows here and there, the girls watched the pair’s escape drama.


“—Today’s lively as always, huh.”

Elsewhere within the same house, in the reference room, a blonde haired lady sitting in a wheelchair laughed cheerfully.

“It kicks up dust, so I’d wish they wouldn’t run around so violently. The big cleaning we just did is going to waste.” While flipping through a bundle of documents, a pink haired lady laughed back.

“That’s the fate of this run down lodge. I think it could really use a nice renovation sometime soon.”

“That’s true.”

The pink haired lady, Naigrat, put a finger to her cheek and tilted her head. It is often said that the true age of a Troll rarely reveals itself on the outside. As if to prove that stereotype, Naigrat’s appearance had hardly changed since those times.

“Memories are engraved all over the place, so whenever I think about hiring workers, I stop at the last minute. Do you remember the notches on the cafeteria wall? From when Noft and Lantolq used to compare heights.”

“Ah, when they made marks too often and we couldn’t tell which marks belonged to who anymore.” The blonde haired lady smiled with a nostalgic look in her eyes. “Speaking of them, does it look like they’ll be able to come home this year?”

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’ll happen. Their current job is pretty far away.”

“Ah, that’s too bad.”

A lot happened. For example, the rules restricting the fairies’ freedom were loosened, some with conditions attached. As a result, a few fully grown fairies were now living outside the fairy warehouse.

Lantolq held an unofficial position at the Orlandri Trading Company managing any affairs related to the fairy warehouse and Dug Weapons. On the other hand, Noft acted as a sort of part time soldier for the Winged Guard, accompanying salvager voyages to the land to ensure their safety. Both were working hard far, far away from the 68th Floating Island. They couldn’t be called home so simply.

“… oh yeah, how about Collon and the others? Are they back yet?”

“Eh? No, not yet. It should be sometime in the evening.”

“Oh, well then it must have been unrelated. A little while ago, I thought I saw a non-civilian looking airship land in the harbor district.”

“A little while ago? That’s strange, I haven’t heard anything about it.” Naigrat tilted her head again.

Just then, a soft knock sounded at the door, and a girl peeked her face in. “Excuse me, Naigrat and Aiseia. Have you seen Riel?”

The two women looked at each other.

“No. Why?”

“I can’t seem to find her anywhere. If she went off to play in the forest again that’s dangerous, so I got a little worried.”

A rather thick forest surrounded the fairy warehouse, complete with pools of water in hard to see places. For the inexperienced or young children, it could be pretty risky terrain.

“Oh no! I need to go find her!” Thrusting away the documents in her hand, Naigrat immediately stood up.

“I don’t think we need to worry that much. Aren’t you being a little overprotective?” Aiseia commented.

“Being overprotective is the special privilege of a guardian!” Naigrat said with almost a shout, then dashed out of the reference room.

“Umm… what should I do?” The young girl left behind said with a confused look.

“I don’t think you need to worry.” Aiseia shrugged.


“Kana! What are you doing?”

“Hehe. Taking advantage of this delicious situation.”

“W-Wait a second! Wait there to be spanked!”

“Ah… I guess Tazeka wins the bet.”

“Hmm, I never thought I’d actually be right.”

“Waaait!”


“… the place really is lively, huh.” Aiseia, left all alone in the reference room, smiled with a tinge of melancholy.

Still seated in her wheelchair, she reached out and touched the glass pane of the window. Once, long ago, he and she had been there, beyond that window, that young man and young girl who dashed restlessly through that short-lived time of the end.

“A lot’s happened, but I’m doing pretty well.” They were no longer here, so Aiseia had no choice but to voice her report in the vague direction of the blue sea above. “What about you guys? Where are you? What are you doing?”

However, the sky, ever so high and infinitely vast, only sucked up her words, returning no answer.


A girl fell out of the sky. Judging from her figure, she was probably a little younger than ten. She must have taken a wrong step while walking on a tree branch, for she was currently plummeting downwards head first. At that rate, she would no doubt have a violent collision with the hard ground, leaving a scene unfit for a peaceful spring afternoon.

“Uh oh.”

The young man stretched out his hands and tried to catch the girl. However, right as he did so his feet slipped, causing him to completely lose balance and fall over with a crash. As a result,

“Ahggh!?”

He ended up stuck under the girl’s body and let out a shriek similar to a crushed frog’s.

“… ouch.”

“S-Sorry!!” After a few second’s delay, the girl, seeming to have grasped the situation, jumped away in a panic. “A-Are you hurt!? Are you alive!? Are any organs crushed!?”

“Ah—I’m fine. I’m tougher than I look.” Wiping the dirt off his clothes, the young man stood up. “But I did get pretty filthy. Are you oka—”

He looked at the young girl. She had blue hair the color of a clear sky and eyes with the deep color of the calm ocean surface. He felt like he had seen her before.

“—Hm?” The two of them locked eyes and froze. “Have I met you somewhere?”

“N-No? I don’t think so… probably…” The girl tilted her head. “I’ve never left this island, and you’re not from around here, are you?”

“Ah—well, it’s been a while,” he answered vaguely.

“Since you’re walking on this path, I assume you have some business with our warehouse?”

“Yeah.”

“Well then, you’re our guest. Follow me, I’ll be your guide.” The girl whirled around and started walking off with a mature step.

The young man gazed blankly at her back.

“What’s wrong?”

“Ah… it’s nothing.” Scratching his head, the man started walking after her.

“Riel!” A voice sounded from the direction in which they were headed. It drew closer. “Riel… ah! There you are!” A tall woman came jogging over. “Don’t make me worry like that. How many times do I need to tell you that you can’t go into the forest alo…”

“Sorry, but, ah, there was a strange animal, well, it got away, but I chased it all the way up that tree, and…”

The girl’s explanation, ambiguous as to whether it was an excuse or a brag, cut off midway. The woman wasn’t looking at her.

“No… way,” the woman murmured with a quivering voice, both hands covering her mouth. “No… that can’t be…”

“Sorry. I’ve been away for a pretty long while.”

“Eh? Eh? Eh?” The girl, unable to comprehend the situation, rapidly looked back and forth between the young man and the woman.

However, the two didn’t explain anything, instead simply exchanging gazes, as if some mutual understanding had passed between them and only them.

“I’m home,” the man said.

The woman’s eyes opened wide, blinked, then began to fill with tears. Her expression turned into a jumbled mixture of crying and joy. Then, with a trembling voice and many pauses, she managed to reply,

“Welcome… back!”

 

Advertisements

[Shuumatsu] V5 C4 In This Twilight World, Even Now P4

The Character of a Brave

It was widespread common knowledge that the 17 Beasts held the position of the largest threat to all living beings, but the concrete nature of the Beasts was not very well known, mainly for two reasons. First of all, many mysteries surrounded them, so not even researches knew any details. Secondly, since, as a general rule, those who encountered the Beasts never returned home alive, hardly anyone actually had any direct experience with the creatures.

In other words, almost no one living on Regul Aire had ever considered the possibility of a Beast attack. Even for soldiers of the Winged Guard, the situation hardly differed. The large majority of them had never directly seen a Beast, so, regardless of mental preparation, they simply weren’t used to these enemies.

On top of all that, the Beasts couldn’t fly. The Teimerre could drift through the air under the right conditions, but that was about it. As a result, the chances of spotting a Beast other than the 6th without going all the way down to the surface were zero.

Basically, Collinadiluche had a fatal lack of knowledge regarding the Aurora.


Terrible chaos descended upon the command headquarters of the Winged Guard. Damage reports came flying in from this way and that. Actual wreckage caused by the Beasts took up about half of those, while the other half consisted of accidents or incidents caused by panicked citizens. And most likely, the majority of the events reported in both categories never actually occurred. Reliable information was a hopeless dream in the midst of the nightmare encompassing the city. Yet still, reports of trouble necessitated military action… the serious soldiers just trying to do their job only contributed to the chaos.

“I guess this is where we come in,” Aiseia said with a yawn as she rubbed her eyes.

Sitting inside, she pretty much had no idea what was going on outside. That Beasts had fallen from the sky and that, based on witness information, the specific type appeared to be the Aurora about summed up the extent of her knowledge.

If she remembered correctly, relatively detailed material on the Aurora had been piled up in the reference room of the fairy warehouse. However, no one expected a sudden battle with them to break out, so those resources had yet to be seriously read. The sole exception, Nephren, who would read any material, no matter how boring, from beginning to end, was no longer with them.

Well, lack of information against the Beasts had been a constant factor in all of their previous battles as well, so it didn’t exactly present that much of a problem. However…

“This is a pretty irregular battlefield for us. It makes me a little uneasy that this is gonna be someone’s first battle.”

“That’s true.”

Tiat, fully donned in her pajamas, let out a silly gasp at Aiseia and Lantolq’s comments.

“I-I’ll go too! Let me fight!” Lakish raised her hand fervently as she hurriedly thrusted proper clothes into Tiat’s arms.

“No.” Naigrat shook her head. “Your weapon hasn’t even been decided yet, you know?”

“But we have swords, don’t we?”

Naigrat fell silent. They did have swords: Valgalis, Historia, Ignareo, and, in addition to the Kaliyons of those three fairies, one more sword that Naigrat brought as a good luck charm. No one, as far as they knew, was capable of wielding it, so it really served no purpose other than a charm. Even as they spoke, its hilt peeked out of Naigrat’s jumbo sized backpack.

“But…”

“I don’t want to just wait around. I won’t be able to sit still. I want to… maybe I won’t be of much use, but I at least won’t drag them down!”

A slight spike of pain struck Naigrat in the chest.

“No, you can’t go. I can’t expose a child who hasn’t finished post tuning basic training to such danger. You’ve only successfully used that sword in a test. That doesn’t mean you’ll be able to use it in a real battle, you know?”

“But!” Lakish raised her voice even louder. Just then,

“Excuse me, young ladies,” a man’s voice butted in from the side.

Turning around, Naigrat spotted a few men standing there wearing fresh new suits. An Orc stepped out from amongst the group and smiled. Looking closer, she noticed bandages wrapped around his body here and there under his suit.

“You’re… the one from Elpis!” It only took a split second for anger to fill Naigrat’s voice.

“Ah!?”

“M-Miss Naigrat, what a coincidence meeting you here.” As the rest of the men cowered in surprise, the orc managed to stand his ground. “It seems like the situation has become quite grave. While I may not have much to offer, I came here wondering if I could be of any assistance.”

“How dare you say that!”

According to what Naigrat had heard, Elpis smuggled Beasts onto the island. In other words, the men standing in front of her could very well be responsible for this entire mess. Even as they spoke, dozens were being slaughtered in the streets. The Winged Guard and city forces were probably moving on the defense, but their ordinary guns and cannons would have little effect on the Beasts. Coupled with the utter confusion enveloping the city, she didn’t see how they could accomplish much.

“It seems we have a misunderstanding. The chaos outside was not caused by us. According to witnesses, it seems to be an act of the Annihilation something or rather, a criminal organization in this city.” The Orc continued to boldly spout blatant lies. “Please don’t make such a frightening face. We have come here today solely with the pure intention of lending a helping hand.” He waved his bandaged hands in an attempt to show his lack of hostility.

“With the firepower that the Winged Guard can formally utilize, excuse my rudeness, I doubt they will be able to stand up to their foes. However, today, we just happen to have an airship with our weapons on board docked in the harbor.” Then, as if just remembering something, he added, “Oh, of course, we brought the weapons here following the proper procedures. I wish to utilize them to exterminate our enemies.”

“Th…” Naigrat understood the significance of another island’s army being deployed in the city. Anyone who studied the slightest bit of history would know. “That will never be allowed! Under the Constitution of Regul Aire, this falls under the jurisdiction of the Winged Guard!”

“No, no, you are mistaken.” The Orc’s entire face went into making one grand smile, as if he came all this way just to say these words. “We’ve already talked with the higher ups of the Winged Guard.”

“… eh?”

“Oh, one more thing. I think the Orlandri Trading Company will contact you soon enough, but, out of the kindness of my heart, I will tell you now.” Acting as if he suddenly remembered something, he added on, “Concerning your post and that little shack, things have already been decided, including a concrete schedule. Also including, of course, the equipment stored there.”

“L-Lies.”

“Aw, don’t make that face. The facial expressions of the markless are so hard to read, but that face they make when contemplating their helplessness alone is different. It’s so obvious I can’t help but smile.”

The Orc spread out his hands, spun a cane around, and put on a silk hat, both of which seemed to come out of nowhere. “Well there you have it, Miss Naigrat. This town is our stage, so it would be best to avoid foolish actions like deploying the fairies without permission. The treatment your cute, precious dolls will receive once they leave your hands… being as wise as you are, I’m sure you understand the right decision.”

With that, the men went off towards the command room, led by the Orc, who stopped just short of bursting out in laughter.


“… whew, the Winged Guard’s more rotten than I thought up there,” Aiseia mumbled.

“Eh?” Tiat raised her head.

“It’s possible that they were forced to agree to a contract before knowing that it would be this large scale. Like doing a little dirty work just to make some extra spending cash but then realizing that it’s gone too far to turn back,” Lantolq added on.

“Ehh?” Tiat looked over at her.

“So basically, Elpis is confident that they can clean up the Beasts rampaging around right now and look cool, right? … it’s kind of frustrating, but if they can do it, then maybe that’s fine,” Lakish said.

“Ehhhhh!?” Tiat screamed. “L-L-Lakish, did you understand all that talk!?”

“Y-Yeah… not the difficult parts, but I think I got the general picture, maybe…”

“I’m that only one that didn’t get it!?”

“I-It’s okay, I’ll explain it now, so calm down.” Lakish pushed back Tiat, who looked just about ready to latch on to her. “Let’s see, you know Elpis, right? On the 13th Floating Island, sort of like a slightly distant neighbor country to here. Well, technically a city state.”

“Yeah, the country that’s always mean in ‘The Flames of Elpis and Shadows of Pitos’, right?”

“Well, yes, but forget about your impression from crystal movies. Anyways, Elpis, uh… this is just a guess, but they probably want to start a war.”

“Why,” Tiat said with a face of complete not understanding.

Lakish looked over to Aiseia, who continued the explanation.

“You see, war has this magical effect that can postpone all the problems within a country. For example, no matter how much you and your neighbors hate each other, if someone with an axe might come and attack at any time, you can’t afford to be fighting with your neighbors, right? Also, even if you’re poor or hungry, in a kill or be killed situation, there’s no room for complaining. The existence of an external enemy obscures any internal problems.”

As she explained, Aiseia made a scowl fitting of the unpleasant topic. “But when peace returns, so do all those problems that were swept under the rug. When no guys with axes are coming to attack you, you can’t help but remember how much you hate your neighbors. When it comes to that, there are two choices, both of which lead to the same outcome. Either start a war with your neighbors, or find another external enemy to start a war with.”

“… is getting along with your neighbors not a choice?” Tiat asked timidly.

“It is. You just gotta find your next enemy. Until recently, the Teimerre served as that external enemy, so, in general, everyone in Regul Aire got along. But now that word is out that the Teimerre won’t be showing up for a while, some countries are beginning to remember ‘oh yeah I actually used to hate those guys’. And the one country among those which immediately took action is Elpis.

They chose a pretty clever method too. If they simply attacked their neighbors, they would be known as a threat to the peace of Regul Aire and made into a new external enemy. So they changed their approach. They called in an enemy from outside and let them go wild in their neighbor’s backyard. Then all they have to do is walk into their neighbor’s backyard and valiantly slay the intruders. Their neighbors will thank them and willingly come under their control and everyone lives happily ever after.” Aiseia clapped sarcastically.

“So basically, they’re the ones who brought in the bad guys, but they’re going to play the hero and force others to be indebted to them?!” Tiat exclaimed.

“Oh, yes that’s exactly it. You catch on pretty fast, huh.”

“B-But, being the hero is the Winged Guard’s job, right!? Someone else can’t just take it.”

“They took care of that first. If the Winged Guard, who are supposed to be the heroes, can’t be of any use, then Elpis can swoop in and save the day, stealing all of the public trust that the Winged Guard’s built up over the years.”

“But… that’s…” All out of questions, Tiat fell silent.

With nothing more to explain, Aiseia and Lakish followed suit.


“There you are.” With light and swift footsteps unbefitting of his giant body, Limeskin came running down the hallway. “Naigrat. Return the fairies to their rooms.”

“… yes, I know,” Naigrat answered softly.

“Wait a second. Don’t tell me you’re planning to do as they said!” Lantolq stepped in between the two.

“That is exactly right. That is my superiors’ orders, and also one method to end this danger with the least possible damage,” Limeskin answered.

“But, in order to not let them have their way, we need to make it so that their weapons don’t produce the results they’re hoping for. Also, if we go out now, we might be able to reduce the damage to the city, even if just a little bit,” Lantolq protested.

“And then you guys might suffer more than just a little bit of damage,” Naigrat said, her voice sounding almost like that of a frightened kitten. “We’ve continued to send you guys out to battle all this time because we had no other choice. No one else but you guys could stand on that battlefield. If that weren’t the case, I never would have let you do anything so dangerous. But…”

Strength returned to Naigrat’s eyes. “This is not one of those battlefields. This is no more than a hunting ground for Elpis to release, fight, and capture their own prey. There’s no reason for you guys to have to risk your lives for this.”

“Then everything will go as they planned, you know? Are you going to just keep quiet and let them crush the fairy warehouse?”

“Of course not. I’ll resist until the very end. But that’s my battle, not something for you guys to shed blood over.”

“Hmph.” Meanwhile, Limeskin nodded with a somewhat calm face. “I will ask one question. Has the guidance of the wind reached the caverns of your hearts?”

“… what?” An utterly incomprehensible lizard line came out of nowhere for the first time in a while.

“A single blade does not choose its battlefield on its own. If there is a battlefield one wishes for, one must be a warrior. In one’s fingers gripping the hilt, in one’s arms supporting the blade, one must carry the wind.”

“… um…?” It was no use. Lantolq had no idea what he was trying to say. “Aiseia.” Poking her friend sitting beside her with her elbow, she whispered, “You know a lot of weird random things. Do you get what he’s talking about?”

“You’re the one who’s studied ancient languages and stuff,” Aiseia whispered back. “You’re more qualified than me when it comes to different cultures.”

“I just do it for fun, I’m not actually good at it. All that reading isn’t being of any use right now.”

“Well I have no idea what’s going on either.”

“… um, First Officer Limeskin.” As the older ones went back and forth with each other, Tiat took half a step forward. “We love this city. Does that count as a reason?”

“Should you fall here, the next land to come under attack will be further hurt. Do you understand that?”

“No, not really, sir.”

“Hm?”

“But if Kutori were here, I’m sure she’d say this. Who cares about the next place? A fairy soldier fights for what’s important. No matter the reason, I can’t run away in such a crucial moment… something like that.”

Naigrat gulped. Aiseia made a weird noise. Lantolq gawked silently with eyes wide open. Lakish alone showed no signs of surprise.

“One who chases after the back of a warrior will one day grow up to be a warrior as well… I see.” Limeskin, perhaps in a cheerful mood, emitted an odd sound from his throat. “I grant you permission to attack. However, do not overexert yourselves.”

“First Officer!?” Naigrat exclaimed, almost like a scream.

“There is no way around it. If we force them to stay, they may decide to break orders and move on their own.”

“That’s… true, but…”

“And more than anything, this young warrior has without doubt displayed the wind.” The Reptrace’s giant palm lightly patted Tiat’s hair. “Not just anyone can tie together the wind, nor are they allowed to. That is all.”


As the others notified her beforehand, Lakish stayed behind. Seen off by Lakish’s pale face as Naigrat embraced her with full strength, Lantolq, Aiseia, and Tiat flew off into the morning sky.

Looking down from above, Lantolq realized that she had never flew even once since coming to Collinadiluche. Gazing at the town from a different angle gave her a strange sense of excitement, like being able to peek backstage, or like neatly returning a book to the shelf after enjoying it, then taking a step back and looking at its spine.

However, when she dropped her altitude just a little bit, she could see the wounds infecting the city. Rows and columns of fallen buildings, flat as if cut down in one fell swoop. A single wrecked airship sitting right in the middle. And then, here and there, people lying on the ground, transformed into fountains of blood. Some had red blood, some blue, and some close to colorless. The corpses of a variety of races dotted the streets of town like broken dolls.

To put it objectively, it was quite a ghastly sight. As an extension of their weak sense of fear, the fairies didn’t have a very strong reaction to events or scenes related to death. A few corpses lying around wouldn’t be enough to evoke any fright or similar emotions. That being said, such a sight overflowing with irrational death and destruction naturally made her angry.

“Ah! Over there, over there! The new weapons!” Tiat exclaimed, her whole body showing the excitement at her big discovery.

Turning to where she pointed, Lantolq spotted a giant suit of metal armor walking down a large avenue below them. It looked big enough to fit two or three giants the size of Limeskin. From its awkward movements, though, she could tell that whatever was inside didn’t seem to be an actual Giant.

A few Aurora noticed the giant armor suit’s presence and attacked. Using their countless hairs, they crawled up to the armor’s feet in the blink of an eye, then attached onto its shins, like leeches in a swamp. However, their needles, supposedly strong enough to pierce steel when hardened, bounced right off the armor, and the Beasts were thrown back onto the stone pavement. A moment later, a colossal war hammer crushed them to bits.

“It’s… a bit stronger than I expected,” Aiseia commented.

“I agree completely,” Lantolq said.

Until just recently, she had thought of the guys from Elpis as arrogant fools. She figured that they didn’t actually know anything about the Beasts and had no actual evidence to back up their confidence of victory. However, she seemed to have been mistaken.

The metal armor suit bore a constant covering of intensely ignited Venom, and so did the war hammer. Beasts couldn’t be destroyed by normal means, and furthermore didn’t take any appreciable damage from anything other than a Venom attack powerful enough to send their body systems into disarray. For that reason, the combination of the Leprechauns and their Dug Weapons had been considered necessary for defeating the Beasts. But before Lantolq’s eyes, that metal suit continued to output Venom rivalling that of a Dug Weapon wielding Leprechaun.

“That could really be an anti-Beast trump card…” she murmured.

What piqued Lantolq’s curiosity was the source of the armor’s Venom, that force on the opposite end of the spectrum from life. Those closer to death could wield stronger Venom. If the armor suit were a mere machine with nothing inside, it shouldn’t have been able to use any Venom in the first place. On the other hand, Lantolq couldn’t imagine that a race muscular enough to freely move around while wearing that suit would be deficient enough in life force to use Venom either.

This power… it even rivals the output at the instant of the opening of the gate to the fairy homeland. The phenomenon known as the gate to the fairy world, a type of self destruction resulting from a Leprechaun, a very unstable existence, igniting Venom beyond her limit. The literally explosive amount of Venom obtained instantaneously could vaporize any Beast who bathed in the heat directly. To say the least, it wasn’t something that could be replicated with technology and engineering.

How in the world… Unfortunately, it wasn’t the type of problem that thinking alone could solve. There was probably some cutting edge technology incomprehensible to an amateur like Lantolq at work. But still, she couldn’t help but ponder.

She spotted objects which looked like droplets of light pouring out from the area around the armor suit’s right elbow. It looked familiar, but, before she had time to remember where she had seen it, a Beast bit onto the suit’s right arm, transformed its countless body hairs into needles, then pierced. The Venom defense failed to withstand the attack. Penetrated by myriad thorns, the armor plating, most likely forged from steel, weakened and split apart.

“Ah…”

The contents of the armor suit spilled out. Hovering in the sky some distance away, Lantolq still clearly saw it: a large number of the same droplets of light from earlier, and, inside of them, some kind of soft water blue object.

“… eh?”

The next instant after she thought she saw them, they disappeared. As for the armor suit, even after losing one arm, it didn’t stop moving. After re-adjusting its grip on the war hammer with its right hand, it brought it down and crushed the Beast who just ripped off its left arm with a fluid motion that almost made it seem like the wound didn’t have even the slightest effect.

“Just now…”

She only saw it for a split second. In that split second, she could guess what it was. But that split second wasn’t enough to be certain.

“No…”

No doubt, it served as the root of the armor suit’s strength. A top secret among top secrets. If what Lantolq just thought of were true, why the armor could ignite and manipulate such an immense amount of Venom could be easily explained.

— No… could it… really be? But no, that’s a complete violation of the Constitution. Even if they may obtain that authority in the near future, they don’t have the permission now.

Reality and imagination, things she wanted to believe and things she didn’t, they all mixed into a jumbled mess inside her head, and, for just one moment, Lantolq’s mind turned blank.

Meanwhile, Willem was situated in a place even closer to the metal armor suit than Lantolq, and this place also provided him a clearer view of the ruptured right arm. As a result, he could see everything that happened in that split second when that thing in the armor fractured into light and disappeared. It was enough to know everything.

Inside the right arm of the metal armor suit, there was one small girl, bound to the armor’s rivets by countless threads. She had bright blue hair the color of water. Moreover, her hornless and fangless appearance matched that of a markless. Due to a black mask, Willem couldn’t see her face. Her entire body had been faintly emitting light. Her entire body had also been pierced by the Aurora. Her over-ignited Venom had been running berserk. Put together, those two made for a fatal combination. He instantly knew that the girl could never be saved.

And then, the light glowed noticeably stronger. Then burst. And disappeared. The figure of the little girl was nowhere to be seen. It had vanished from the world for eternity. Then, suddenly, Willem got that intense headache again.

— If… this is a hypothetical question, okay?

If I were to die in five days, would you be a little nicer to me?

A voice. Willem heard a voice that should have been locked in a box and sunken to the deep, deep depths of his mind.

— If you were going to die, you at least wouldn’t want to disappear, right? You would want to be remembered by someone. To have a connection with someone.

“Ah…”

Fog blanketed his memory. He couldn’t recall the face of that girl who spoke those words. The strong feeling that it was something he must not remember blocked his memories from fully replaying.

— Then, what about butter cake?

Blue hair. She had blue hair the color of a clear, cloudless sky. Her eyes bore the deep blue of the ocean. She wasn’t honest at all yet honest at the same time, always put others before herself yet was incredibly selfish. She had that kind of contradicting, impossible to understand personality, but she seemed to be confused at herself too, which meant that there was someone who just recently made her that way.

— W-Wait! Ow! It hurts! I can’t breathe! This is embarrassing! I’m covered in dirt and scratches and I haven’t taken a bath and everyone’s looking — are you listening!?

No. The water blue that Willem saw for a split second just now wasn’t the same as the sky blue from his memory. That life that he just witnessed disappear before his eyes was not her’s. Obviously. She was already gone.

— I did… I really did…

Willem had wanted to make her happy. He had wanted to cling onto that wish. He had wanted to forget that past and only think about the present and the future. But then, just like now, in the next moment after he made those wishes, he lost both that present and that future.

— Thank you.

That water blue was not her. There was no doubt about it. That little girl was a completely different fairy, but the trigger was strong enough. He had already started to remember. Kutori Nota Seniolis, the girl who wished to be remembered by someone even after she had gone.

“Damn… it…”

A curse escaped his lips, but who was it aimed at? At himself who had forgotten about her? At himself who couldn’t maintain his body without forgetting about her? At himself who had now passed the point of no return due to the fragments of his sealed memory surfacing? Or all of them at the same time?

“Willem!” Elq came running over.

“Don’t come!”

“It’s okay. There aren’t any of those Beasts around us anymore.”

“No, not that! There’s one right here!”

Her leather shoes scraping against the ground, Elq stopped mid sprint and stood still. “Willem, don’t tell me…”

“I’m right on the border. I might still be able to turn back now,” he answered in a groaning voice.

He wasn’t just saying that to act strong. The seal that Nils Didek, that good for nothing master who was still living for some reason which Willem couldn’t understand at all, applied to his memory was strong and flexible. Willem Kumesh was on the verge of becoming a mere Beast. His spirit or soul or whatever had mixed with the substance which fell off of the Shiantor, resulting in a transformation of his physical body. His external appearance hardly changed at all, but, on the inside, he had already stepped outside the framework of normal life.

Nil’s seal essentially separated the milk tea inside a cup into two distinct and stable sections of milk and tea. Being stable, some moderate shaking wouldn’t be enough to disrupt the balance. As long as Willem didn’t put a spoon into the cup and mix everything up, the memories that had resurged just now would have eventually faded into oblivion. Then, once that happened, everything would go back to normal. He would be able to return to those leisurely days in the inn.

But it wasn’t too late. He could still turn back. He just needed to wish for it.

“Willem.”

“Don’t come.”

He stood up and patted all over his body, checking its condition. There didn’t seem to be any major problems. He couldn’t see very much due to one eye being closed shut, and his head was overcome with dizzying pain as if someone was banging on a giant bell in there as always, but his four limbs moved. He still had the bones and muscles of an Emnetwyte. Taking a deep breath and exhaling confirmed that his lungs and diaphragm were in order as well. He could still use all his techniques as usual.

“Wait,” Elq protested.

“Go back to Carmine Lake, Elq Harksten,” Willem ordered sharply as he turned his back to her. “I’m thankful that you stuck with me until now. Now it’s time for you to go where you belong.”

“But…”

“Please, do as I say.” He turned his head around to look at her and let out a cackling laugh. “I can’t bring anyone along with me from here on.”

“Willem!”

Without answering that last plead, he faced forward again.

 

What am I? Willem thought to himself. An Emnetwyte. Former Quasi Brave. No specialized Kaliyon. Second Enchanted Weapons Technician of the Winged Guard. Just a decoration. The manager of the fairy warehouse.

The world ended long, long ago. The story of the Braves came to a conclusion in the distant past. So now, what am I doing here?

He couldn’t remain himself for much longer. In that short interval, he needed to do all that he could. He had no time to be dwelling on the past. The Beasts seemed to have some method of sharing information with each other, for they all came from their original places scattered around the city to gather around their newfound enemy, the metal armor suit.

Each time the armor swung its hammer, the number of Beasts decreased by one. While there was a large gap in numbers, it was clear who had more raw strength. Not many methods existed for facing the overwhelmingly unreasonable enemies that the Beasts were, but an overwhelming amount of Venom was one of them. While working at full strength, such Venom could not only stand toe to toe with the Beasts, but even overwhelm them.

As time passed, the Aurora steadily disappeared.

“That sure is strong,” Willem muttered.

He could form a general guess as to just what, exactly, the metal armor was. A new anti-Beast weapon developed by some army organization, by constantly utilizing a ridiculously overwhelming amount of Venom in both offense and defense, it could both endure the Beasts’ attacks and make effective attacks of its own, without relying on the amplification of a Kaliyon. I see. If you can get this stabilized, it’s easier to use than unstable girls wielding swords. It really was a magnificent invention. If he hadn’t caught a glimpse of what was inside, Willem might’ve wanted one for himself.

“Development must’ve been a pain. If word of what they were doing got out before they could explain themselves, everyone involved would’ve gotten sent straight to jail.”

They must have planned meticulously and prepared thoroughly, devoting vast amounts of time and resources. Willem vaguely recalled being struck by similar feelings of admiration once before. That time, he smashed that crystallization of hard work and effort without hesitation, and this time would be no different.

“Sorry, but I can’t let weapons like you be used.”

He tore off the eyepatch covering his right eye and opened it wide up, exposing his golden pupil. An ashen gray color filled with fury covered his field of vision.

Looks like my inner Beast is pissed off, Willem thought. Destroy erase return send them home crumble — an intense urge to destroy welled up from within, along with an endless flurry of words. But, since he had prepared his mind beforehand, he could resist. For about five minutes, he could move this body while maintaining his own will as Willem Kumesh.

Demolishing Nightingale Dash. With a full force descent forward, Willem closed the distance between him and the metal armor in the blink of an eye. For once I agree with this voice. Let’s reduce this guy to sand. The armor suit, appearing to have recognized Willem as an enemy, brought its war hammer down with terrifying speed and unthinkable strength. After a brief pause, a violent gust of wind followed the hammer’s path.

Damn, that’s scary.

While watching his bangs fluttering around, Willem took the last step forward. That small space of a little over half a step provided the perfect distance. Throwing his body into the air, he spun once horizontally to build momentum, then pummeled his fist into one of the joints of the armor suit.

A noise like an iron board smacking against oil rang throughout the air. The Venom from the armor, its pressure raised explosively for one instant, tried to force his fist away. Ignoring the intense pain of his skin melting and flesh burning, Willem continued to push his fist forward. When his arm was jammed into the armor up to the elbow, he grabbed onto the thing inside, then, while snapping countless threads, pulled it out.

A young girl with dandelion yellow hair came out. As Willem expected, she was already deep into a berserk state as a result of igniting an excess amount of Venom. Her entire body emitted faint light. She could explode at any moment.

“Do you want the pain to end?” Willem asked, although he didn’t think she could hear him anyway.

The girl smiled faintly, or at least Willem felt like she did. He put his finger to the girl’s chest, then, in a gap between heartbeats, lightly pushed inward. Her heart, having its rhythm disrupted with fatal timing, stopped in an instant. With the flow of blood ceased, the Venom could no longer continue to run berserk. The Leprechaun girl, name unknown to him, passed away silently.

No longer able to acquire sufficient Venom to operate, the metal armor suit stopped its movements. Willem pulled out one more girl from within the machine and put an end to her life in the same way. With a small clap, the two corpses burst into grains of light and disappeared. Standing amidst the grains as they flowed away in the wind, Willem closed his mouth for a moment, as if to mourn their loss.

Inhale. Exhale. He didn’t know them. They weren’t from the warehouse. In other words, they appeared somewhere in Regul Aire and were captured and used for this weapon before they could be brought to the warehouse. If their luck had been just a tad better, they would’ve been gathered at the fairy warehouse with the other kids and lived a carefree… even if they would still meet the same end as a weapon, their life up until that point would have been relatively fun. But things didn’t turn out that way.

Willem bit down on his lip. This was nothing unusual. From the day he set out to be a Brave, these thoughts and feelings ran through his head time and time again. Whenever he found someone he wanted to save, the situation had already progressed beyond his control.

“… do it.” Glaring at the remnants of the metal armor suit with his right eye, Willem gave permission to the Beast inside him.

With a silent cry of joy, the part of him inherited from the Shiantor was released. Its very existence reverted its surrounding environment to its primal form. In other words, almost anything created after the Visitors’ arrival returned to either a Beast, dirt, or sand. Once, long ago, the Visitors, or more accurately the Poteau who served them, used the vast land with nothing but ashen sand on it as a base ingredient to create a fertile world. But anything created out of that fertile land could still be called back to its original form.

Whoosh.

With an undramatic sound, the broken suit of armor turned into a mere mountain of ashen sand.

Silence had descended on the area. It was only natural, considering that no one in their right mind would want to stay for long in a place with a violent Beast thrashing about. The townspeople had wisely and swiftly evacuated. Looking around, Willem could only spot one figure.

“Lantolq.”

Once he called her name, the girl, as if having steeled her resolve, took a few steps closer. However, she showed no signs of closing the distance any further.

The Kaliyon Historia in her hand faintly emitted light, signaling its battle stance. Willem expected no less from Lantolq.

In general, the fairies, perhaps because of their true nature as children, tended to be trusting. Once they got close to someone, they never doubted that someone no matter what. Lantolq, however, was unusual in that she could make rational decisions… or at least that’s what Willem’s faint memories told him. So now, even after seeing Willem’s face, Lantolq didn’t let her guard down and noticed something irregular… Willem decided to not think about the possibility that she had just hated him from the start.

“Since you’re up here, that means the Plantaginesta made it home safely, huh. I was really worried, you know? What are you doing in this city?”

“What are you talking about? I should be the one asking that. Long time no see, technician.”

“Mhm. Are you by yourself today?”

“I wonder. Maybe others are hiding nearby.”

Not only did Lantolq not hide her suspicion, she even used it to restrain him. Willem was once again impressed by her ability to remain calm and think fast. His usual self could detect the presence of a fairy with no problem. The possibility of others waiting in ambush nearby wouldn’t have any effect as a threat. However, in his current state, talking while enduring a constant headache, things were different.

“Is the talk of the fairy warehouse going away related to this guy?” Willem asked as he lightly kicked the mountain of sand.

“Where did you hear about that?”
He heard it from Nephren when she came to visit the inn. At the time, due to his lack of memories, he didn’t think much of it, but now he understood the meaning of those words.

“A lot happened. Well?”

“You are correct. The Elpis National Defense Force, plotting to steal the authority to fight with the Beasts from the Winged Guard, developed this weapon and is showing it off as something stronger than us.”

Lantolq’s answer basically matched Willem’s predictions, but at the same time surpassed them too. Elpis’ intentions were easy to understand, but, given that they actually produced such a powerful weapon, it was hard to do anything to stop them. Wait, no. There was one way that Willem could think of, although he couldn’t exactly call it a wise way of doing things.

Agh. His headache continued to intensify. As they stood there chatting, his remaining time only decreased. There was no time to be spending on question and answer.

“I have a question too. Up until now, what–”

“Sorry, but I’m gonna have to refuse any long questions. I’ll tell you what you probably want to know most right now.”

“Eh… ah!?” Lantolq took a huge leap back. At the same time, a lamp, bench, and sign which, up until a second ago, had been nearby where Lantolq was standing transformed into ashen sand and crumbled down. “That power… have you really become a Beast!?”

Willem laughed. “A subspecies of Shiantor. Probably.”

“You’re kidding.”

“The Beast inside me is a hulk of homesickness. It wants to take back the world it once lived in. And that desire leads to the desire to annihilate this current world.”

“But…”

“Living in a world where your hometown’s disappeared is pretty rough, you know?”

Lantolq gulped.

“Well, that’s about it for questions. Shall we begin? Miss guardian of Regul Aire–”

Willem cut off his own words and slightly tilted his body. Then, using what remained of his human body to its fullest extent, began to ‘fall’ sideways at top speed. Demolishing Nightingale Dash, one of the pinnacles of wisdom which the Emnetwyte once created and entrusted their fate to.

Observing Lantolq’s breathing, he aimed for a moment in which she wouldn’t be able to react and closed the distance. She can’t react in time, she’s done for… or so Willem was convinced. As always, he stopped a little more than half a step short, then twisted his body. Just like when he killed the two earlier, he aimed for the critical spot in the center of the chest and, going through Lantolq’s blind spots, moved two fingers in for the finishing blow–

He stopped midway. In the narrow gap between Willem and Lantolq, a single large blade had been thrusted in. A tiny burst of heat ran through Willem’s fingertips for a split second. Lantolq’s bangs fluttered.

The Kaliyon, Valgalis.

“Don’t you think doing that just with the two of you is a little lewd?” Right beside Willem, when she got there he had no idea, stood Aiseia with her usual smile. “Can I join in?”

“That’s okay, but I can’t be nice to you, you know?”

“Haha, that response is already nice enough.”

With a flick of her wrist, Aiseia sent Valgalis’ blade into an unnaturally sharp path straight toward Willem’s neck. After bending down to dodge it, the blade, which had been on track to pass overhead, bore straight down.

“Whoa!?”

Rolling backwards, Willem barely dodged the second attack.

“Oh my, dodging that, huh,” Aiseia said, pretending to be surprised. “It hasn’t missed once yet in actual battle.”

“I can see why.” Willem’s mouth stiffened. Sweat streamed down his cheeks. So I can still sweat after becoming a Beast, he thought to himself. “Starting out with an inertial control surprise attack, huh… you seriously have no mercy.”

“Well, truth be told, I am pretty serious about you, technician.” Even as she responded with a joke, Aiseia took no rest and came at him again. He couldn’t feel that much pressure from the Venom on her blade, but that didn’t mean it wouldn’t hurt.

“W-Wait, what are you two doing!?” After a few seconds delay, Lantolq let out a scream.

“It’s obvious, isn’t it? I’m accepting the technician’s love.”

“That’s not something for the one on the offensive to say!” Willem shot back.

“I don’t want to hear jokes!”

“Jokes?” After having Valgalis blocked by Willem’s fist, Aiseia crouched down, then, before Willem knew it, had kicked off the stone paving and leaped backwards, opening up distance between them. “We’re not joking, ya know? Lan, you still don’t get why he’s doing this?”

“… eh?”

“You don’t need to tell her too much,” Willem complained.

Aiseia, however, continued, still crouching with one knee on the ground. “He’s giving us a role.”

“I said there’s no need to tell her.”

“The last and strongest fortresses, protecting Regul Aire from the threat of the Beasts. That title drove us off to the battlefield, yet at the same time protected us. The humongous armor suit from earlier is good proof. Now I clearly see how the guys at Elpis want to use us.”

It truly was a magnificent piece of technology. It managed to control all of the enormous amount of Venom resulting from opening the gate to the fairy homeland and running berserk. Instead of ending in a moment’s explosion, the Venom served as fuel sustainable through the machine’s operation. The fairies’ lives met the same end either way, but that way had to be much easier to use them as weapons.

“The technician is going to give us that title once again.” Aiseia looked down slightly. “That giant suit didn’t stand a chance against him — this Beast. If we can defeat this Beast, that proves that our worth on the battlefield cannot be ignored. At the very least, Elpis’ plan will be totally ruined.”

Lantolq let out a gasp before covering her mouth with her hand.

Aiseia slowly stood up as she wiped her eyes. “… he wants to protect the fairy warehouse. And he’s giving his life for it, that idiot.”

“You didn’t need to…” Willem didn’t need his plan to be understood. If he just played his role as an evil Beast needing to be defeated, the rest would have gone smoothly. “… so, you guys. Do you like the little ones at the warehouse?”

“Huh?” Lantolq, caught off guard, opened her eyes wide.

“Hm?” Aiseia tilted her head.

“The reason you fight with your lives on the line, is it to protect them?”

“W…” Lantolq’s face turned bright red. “Who cares about that!?”

Willem burst out laughing. “Ha… haha!” A strong sense of nostalgia came over him. That’s right, he remembered. I once asked Kutori the same question. That time, he heard the exact same answer that Lantolq just gave. “Ahh, you guys. I really… really…” Love you guys. He remembered.

He remembered what he had been trying to do in this world. There were no more battles for him in this world, but if there were those fighting with the same thoughts and feelings as he and his companions once did, then he wanted to at least support them. In place of him, who couldn’t save anyone, he wanted to help them carry out their wish to protect those precious to them.

“Let’s go.”

In his current state, Willem could not ignite Venom. The closer to death one is, the stronger Venom, a force opposite of life, one can ignite. In return, one gets dragged closer to death at an accelerating rate. On the other side of things, those far from death don’t go very well together with Venom. For example, Limeskin and Naigrat, being born as strong and tough races, couldn’t even ignite any Venom in the first place.

Willem’s body had already ceased to be that of an Emnetwyte. It was questionable whether death even awaited him down the road anymore. Because of that, he could no longer ignite Venom. On top of that, he was unarmed, meaning the only weapons available to him were the martial techniques he acquired over the years and his ability as a Beast to turn his opponent to ashes. The latter, however, probably wouldn’t work very effectively against the fairies, who didn’t strictly have a physical body. His human skills were the only thing he could rely on.

This’ll be a hard battle, but I’ll do my best. This time for sure I’ll put an end to my fight. Taking in a deep breath, Willem slid his body. Blazing Sun Walk. Detecting the danger, Aiseia’s sword suppressed the surrounding air with traces of lightning. Willem slipped through all that and completely closed the distance between them. He spotted Lantolq starting to move just a tad later, but she wouldn’t make it in time. His right elbow aimed for Aiseia’s chin, while his left fist aimed for her side. Aiseia let go of Valgalis. Having suddenly let go of the heavy object she had been in the middle of swinging around, her posture of course collapsed, causing Willem’s elbow and fist to miss their targets slightly. Aiseia’s hand reached out and grabbed Willem’s hair, then pulled his entire head towards her chest. He couldn’t swat her hand away, as her Venom greatly strengthened her arms.

“Lan!” Aiseia screamed. “Quickly!”

“U–”

Even as she carried doubts, Lantolq began moving to do what she needed to do. Historia’s tip pierced straight into Willem’s stomach. The Venom infused blade sunk deeper and deeper into his abdomen, ripping apart flesh as it went. Red blood gushed out. Lantolq’s face contorted, as if she were about to cry, and the strength disappeared from her arm.

“Ah… ah…”

“Is that all?” Willem pressed his fist against Aiseia’s chest and pounded in a blow from above her Venom defense. Her lungs crushed, Aiseia silently writhed in agony and loosened her grip on Willem’s head.

“There are two things that Aiseia forgot to mention. If you guys aren’t strong enough, then you die here and this is the end. This is a common saying, but it’s better to die now than to suffer later.” Willem pushed Aiseia away and grabbed the blade of Historia stuck inside his stomach. “One more thing, I’m already a Beast. My sense of self that’s allowing me to talk like this will soon disappear. If you can’t defeat me, you’re gonna need to sink the 11th Island.”

Lantolq’s face further twisted in pain. She pulled out Historia, revealing a blade dripping wet with red. Then, she took a large swing. Her movements were slow. Full of gaps. Willem could aim and strike wherever he wanted.

She wants me to attack? Willem sent a punch with his left fist and a kick with his right leg at her. Neither were intended to be true attacks, but rather counter provocations meant to draw out Lantolq’s real intentions. She twisted her body, evading the trajectories of his attacks, then put all her momentum into Historia’s swing.

A fierce wind bearing the sharpness of an executioner’s blade roared past Willem’s head.

“I see,” Willem, who had crept up behind Lantolq, whispered into her ears. “Glad to see your doubts have disappeared. But, if that’s the best you can do, there’s no way I’m gonna be–”

“Ahhhhh!!”

Closeby, he heard the mighty yet cute war cry of a third fairy.

— wha?

Tiat. Ah, that’s right. I had forgotten. Even though it was none other than me who first took her to this city. This girl is also a fairy soldier. A Kaliyon wielding guardian of Regul Aire. A proper successor to us Braves.

— Ignareo!

The Kaliyon which Tiat held, Ignareo, was by no means a high class sword. At best, it was a standard sword just a little better than the mass produced models. It’s personalized Talent did nothing more than make the sword not stand out.

— She’s already gotten the hang of it? How did she grow so fast!?

Of course, this was the result of Willem devoting all his attention to Aiseia and Lantolq. His ceaseless headache probably didn’t help either. But even so, being able to get so close without being noticed by Willem at all deserved some admiration.

In the first place, the Talent of a sword was not something that could be understood right away. If one didn’t sincerely sit face to face with one’s sword, it was impossible to even get a feeling of what to do or what would happen. She’ll make a good soldier. Willem remembered the words that a Kikuroppe doctor once mentioned. Ah, you were right. Spot on. You’re a great doctor.

However, Tiat still had one step left. Willem pushed Lantolq away and turned to face the newcomer. She had plenty of momentum and spirit, and no doubts or hesitations dulled her movements. But she had a critical lack of stature, physical strength, technique, and experience. While a complete surprise attack might have gotten through, giving Willem Kumesh enough time to respond to her attack meant that there was no hope le–

“… ah?”

A giant blade seemed to be growing out of Willem’s chest. Its shape looked familiar to him. One of the highest tier ancient holy swords, Seniolis.

— Kutori? No, it can’t be.

Confused thoughts whirling through his head, Willem tried to turn around. His body, however, had stiffened. With painful effort, he managed to turn at least his head around.

“Ah… uh… ah…”

There, he found a face streaked with tears. It was a face he knew well, and also a face he hadn’t been expecting.

“La… kish…?”

“Uah, ah… W-Wil… lem…”

Why is she here? She’s still a little kid… wait, no. That’s wrong. Kids grow up. If you look away for one moment, they change just like that. While Willem had been away, new strength had been growing up one after the other in the fairy warehouse.

“… haha.”

I’m glad, Willem thought. The half broken souls of children who had supported this half broken world up until now. As he thought, they really were strong. Much stronger than him, who had been lost on the road the entire time.

There was no need to worry about the future. Even if he wasn’t with them, even if he couldn’t do anything more for them, they would be fine. He could finally put the final period on this story of a failed Brave, which had continued up until now by repeating meaningless words and passages over and over.

“Not bad. Barely a passing score.” Willem chuckled. Blood poured out from his mouth. “Ahh, but Lakish. For Seniolis’ usage, you’re still short of full points. If you’re gonna go up against an immortal, then properly use this guy as an immortal killer. It’s pretty amazing. I mean, it managed to seal the Visitor Elq Harksten for five hundred years.”

“Eh…?”

“Watch carefully. This is what you do.”

Willem held his palm to the blade. Kaliyons increase their Venom in response to their opponent’s strength. Willem could no longer ignite Venom, but an excess of power flowed through the inside of Seniolis. All that had to be enough to activate Seniolis’ miracle. One by one, he plucked the spell lines running through the interior of the blade. Soft noises filled the air and harmonized together, making it sound as if he were playing a clumsy lullaby on a harp.

As one of the highest tier ancient holy swords, Seniolis was said to be of especially superior quality among the vast number of Kaliyons. As a result, only an extremely limited number of people could wield it. The conditions, when properly written out, would go something like this. One who had no place to call home, one who had given up on returning to the place where they longed to return to, one who had completely thrown out his future. Only then could one be qualified to wield Seniolis.

Not just one whose life was fraught with tragedy. Not just one who had conquered tragedy. Not just one who held no hope. Not just one who had thrown away hope. Only one who had a strongly desired future but accepted that such a future would never be obtainable could pick up this blade and reach out to a different future.

The fissures in the large blade widened. Faint light flowed out from the gaps. The personalized Talent of Seniolis, the mightiest Kaliyon in the human world, had revealed itself. That power, the power to bring death to anything and everything, accepted no exceptions, even immortal beings. The faint light gradually weakened, then disappeared.

“Technician…?” Lantolq looked up and murmured softly.

“Willem…?” With no one to bring the Ignareo she held above her head down on, Tiat blankly called his name.

“Uuu… uaaahh…” Lakish simply cried and cried.

Idiots. Willem could no longer use his voice, so he chuckled bitterly in his mind. You guys won. You defeated a dangerous Beast and saved the island. You are heroes. You proved your worth. You secured your future with your own hands.

So be happy. Rejoice. If you guys are just gonna cry, why am I here on the ground about to die? This is all Aiseia’s fault. She spoiled everything, so my plan to become the villain was all ruined.

Ahh, damn it. A failure up until the very end. Why does nothing I try to do ever go well?

— That’s fine, isn’t it? Always desperately trying your best, that’s more like you.

He felt like someone giggled at him. It was a voice he shouldn’t have been able to hear. He knew it had to be a hallucination. But still, he was glad to hear her voice one last time.

He had many words he wanted to say to her. Many feelings he wanted to convey. But he had neither the time nor the composure to do so.

Thank you.

All he could do was utter those mere two words inside his head.

Suddenly, his field of view turned pitch black, as if a curtain had been drawn over it. A floating sensation enveloped him. He felt as if he had begun an eternal fall into an endless abyss. Deeper and deeper he went into a vast darkness.


Meanwhile, on the 2nd Floating Island, Nephren abruptly turned around. Before her lay a truly bizarre garden in which the four seasons had been mixed and jumbled together. And beyond that lay only the blue sky, rolling on and on forever and ever in every which way.

“What’s wrong?” the Great Sage asked.

Nephren didn’t answer. Instead, she muttered, “… that idiot.”

A single, small droplet streamed down her cheek before falling to the ground.

 

[Shuumatsu] V5 C4 In This Twilight World, Even Now P3

That Morning

At that moment, Naigrat was faced with a decision of extreme gravity, the likes of which she had only come across less than ten times in her entire life: a sandwich with thickly sliced bacon, or a milk stew with chamo cow liver. Which one should she choose for her breakfast?

She already knew that the bacon sandwich here was top notch, but the problem lied in the fact that she had never heard of a chamo cow. Liver tended to differ greatly from restaurant to restaurant, so, in essence, ordering the stew would be a bit of an adventure.

Eating is living. Choosing what to eat is equivalent to choosing how to live.

“Ughhh…”

With a dead serious face, Naigrat glared at the breakfast menu.


At that moment, Lantolq was deep in thought. Spacing out with her eyes on her Dug Weapon, she thought and thought in attempt to resolve her adolescent troubles. What were they? Where did they come from, and where did they go? And once gone, that cycle repeated over and over again naturally. What should they do?

Suddenly being told that they were fragments of a god, she of course found it hard to believe yet, at the same time, for some reason, also extremely persuasive. Rather than gaining new knowledge, she felt as if something which had been lurking at the bottom of her stomach for many years had been translated into words. She couldn’t deny it, but, what in the world should she do?

I wanted to be like Kutori, Lantolq thought for the first time. Kutori threw away things like the reason she was born as a Leprechaun or the reason she had lived so far and held her own reason to live on. She found that reason and lived a proper life. Lantolq knew it wasn’t something to casually aspire after, but, still, she couldn’t help but be envious of that strength.


At that moment, Aiseia was reading a book. To be specific, she was reading a cheap fiction novel, not related in any way to the important books stored in the Grand Library. She bought it at a bookstore in town just the other day. The new brand new seventh volume of “The Torn Triangle”, it, like its prequels, told of people devoting their hearts to cheating and adultery in the name of true love.

But it was exactly in times like these, reading such exaggeratingly comical stories, that she could really look at herself and the other fairies objectively — that’s what was running through Aiseia’s head. Almost all of the romantic relationships appearing in the book ended in disaster. A love in which finding happiness is forbidden ends in a way where no one finds happiness. She felt a strange sense of closeness with that theme.

“Haha.”

The main female character found her sixth adultery partner, counting from the first volume. He happened to be a junior to her third partner and, perhaps trying to make a personality for himself, always stuck a strange ending onto everything he said.

“Sixth guy, huh…” she murmured with a laugh. “If there was little more time, maybe I could’ve slipped in too…”


At that moment, Grick was on the west coast of the 13th Floating Island, in the harbor district of the Elpis Mercantile Federation. On the surface, he was there as a pilot hired by an influential merchant from Collinadiluche, and, in secret, he was there to gather intelligence on the various merchant groups and large movements of money within the country. Someone high up in the Winged Guard, apparently even higher than Baroni Makish, had requested him to do the job. Since the gray haired young lady, Nephren, said that she was fine alone, he didn’t need to forcefully stay by her side, so he accepted.

“I don’t think I’m very suited for this though…”

After all, why should a salvager who dedicated his heart to the treasures of the land have to be stuck observing some stranger’s back up in the sky? He had complaints, but, of course, no man abandons work he already accepted.

Sighing internally and taking a look around, he spotted a few curious faces. A few wealthy merchants hailing from Elpis but residing in Collinadiluche were coming into the 13th Island, all separately.

Could there be some kind of big conference? No, if that were the case, merchants from other islands would be here too. Why are a bunch of merchants all from the same city coming here as if they planned to meet beforehand… or maybe they did plan beforehand.

The merchants almost seemed like birds escaping from a sinking ship.

“… no, it can’t be…”

Grick got a bad feeling.

At that moment, Nephren was aboard an airship bound for the 2nd Floating Island.

“I met your friend,” an old man said without the least bit of a smile.

At the meeting with Naigrat earlier, the man called himself an advisor to the Winged Guard. In truth, though, he was none other than the Great Sage Suwon Candel, the creator of Regul Aire and its eternal guardian. Upon some consideration, Nephren realized how amazing it was to meet face to face with a legendary figure. However, feelings of admiration did not stir inside her as much as she expected. That was probably, or actually most definitely, because of Willem. After being around him for so long, she had gotten used to the non-amazingness of amazing people and the amazingness of non-amazing people.

“Friend?” she asked.

“I didn’t get her name. She had long blue hair, and seemed strong on the inside.”

“Ah.” Nephren quickly understood that it had to be Ran.

“She was a good girl. She was trying to live with all her might.”

“?”
Nephren didn’t understand what the old man was saying. Obviously, a living being lives with all its might. The Leprechauns were no different, despite not technically being alive.

She heard that many more of her friends besides Naigrat were currently in Collinadiluche. However, she ended up here on this airship without seeing any of them.

“I suppose you wanted to meet her?” the old man asked.

“Of course. But I understand why you don’t want to let me.”

Now that the fairy warehouse had gathered so much attention, if Nephren went anywhere near it, her irregular existence would be discovered by multiple parties. That spill of information presented a great risk which would no doubt negatively affect future developments. If she really insisted on meeting them, she probably could have gone in secret. However, setting aside Lan and Aiseia, Tiat and Lakish really didn’t seem like they would be able to keep quiet about Nephren forever. And, even if they did, she didn’t want to force them to carry such a heavy secret.

“If they’re doing fine, then that’s good enough,” Nephren said.

“Ahh, how strong… I think I might cry.”

Nephren swatted away the floating fish who suddenly decided to appear.

Outside the window, far in the distance, Nephren spotted a giant flower pot made of black quartz floating through the air.

“… could that interesting object be the 2nd Floating Island?”

“That’s right.”

“The person you want me to meet is there?”

“That’s right. He’s not a person though.”

Nephren once read in a book about one of the few secluded regions left in Regul Aire. Called the Heart of the World Tree, it supposedly hid great secrets within.

“Oh my, what a nostalgic presence. I see he’s holed himself up in another rather grand place.”

Nephren swatted away the floating fish once again.


At that moment, Willem and Elq were out grocery shopping.

The hustle and bustle of morning started very early in the city of Collinadiluche. The morning grocery market served as one of the main causes of this. Numerous stalls packed tightly into a few plazas, all displaying fresh goods in front: beans, vegetables, salad, meat, potatoes, eggs, bread, ice, chicken, spices. And lastly, of course, there were the hordes of customers, overflowing with energy.

Willem looked down at his shopping list. Today, he needed to buy a bit more ingredients than usual, so taking a moment to think first seemed like it would be much more efficient than simply wandering around the stalls without a plan.

“Hey, hey Willem! What’s that? Is it food?” Elq tugged at his sleeve, pointing to a stall with stones of various colors out for display.

“Not a food, more like a utensil. Some Reptrace put that in their stomachs to grind down their food instead of chewing with their teeths.

“Ohh…” Elq stared with sparkling eyes, as if the stones had precious gems.

“Don’t get any funny ideas. When it comes to bodily functions, the race wall is mercilessly thick.”

“Aww…”

Elq looked disappointed, but, no matter how much she begged, this was one thing that Willem could never let her try. At the very least, it would lead to a rather upset stomach. At worst, it could lead to death.

“Then… oh, what’s that? What is it? Can I try too?”

“That’s exactly what it looks like: wood. Doesn’t go too well with your stomach or mine.”

“Aww…”

Her voice sounded disappointed again, but her eyes soon began darting around the market, searching for the next interesting object. Willem figured it would be best to finish up their business before she found anything too weird.

“Ah.”

“Hm?”

However, right after that thought passed through Willem’s head, Elq’s eyes stopped. Their gaze focused on not a stall in the market but a regular shop beyond, an old hat shop. Following her gaze closer, Willem saw that the thing which captured her attention was a large brimmed hat displayed through the window.

“Hm? You want that?” he asked.

The clothes Elq now wore were apparently those worn by Astaltus’ daughter at a young age. At the moment, she had also borrowed a hat whose color matched her outfit. Willem thought her clothes looked perfectly fine on her, but, if Elq wanted to be more fashionable, then he didn’t want to stop her.

“Eh… n-no–”

“No need to hold back. It’s not that expensive, I’ll get it for you. Since I don’t spend too much usually, I have quite a bit saved up.”

“No, I don’t want it. Really, it’s something else!” Elq shook her head rapidly.

“I see.” It was a bit unfortunate, but he had no choice but to give up after hearing her deny so much. “In that case, I guess we’ll finish up our shopping without any detours.”

“O… kay.”

Once again, he set out amongst the sea of people. Elq followed close behind, but once every few seconds she turned around. She obviously still had interest in that hat. Maybe I should buy it in secret and give it as a present, Willem thought. It might be hard to find time to go buy it without Elq noticing, but he figured it was worth a shot.

Then, one moment, for no real reason, Willem looked up at the sky. He spotted a single middle sized airship leisurely hovering above. By itself, that didn’t present a very unusual scene. After all, Collinadiluche originally developed as a trading town, so many airships constantly flew in and out of the harbor district. At any given time, day or night, not finding anything at all flying through the sky would probably be more rare.

Despite that, Willem got a strange feeling about that airship hovering above. Something just felt… off. He couldn’t explain it very well. To raise an example, its altitude was oddly low, not low enough that it risked crashing into any buildings, but still low enough that Willem could make out the organization name written on the ship’s hull. In addition, that name gave off a rather strange impression: The Order of Annihilation Service History.

The name sounded so much like a joke that Willem couldn’t help but read it over and over again. Also, for some reason, he felt like he had heard it before. He began to feel his head hurting a tiny bit as well. Could it have some connection to his past? He wanted to believe that he never belonged to an organization with such an embarrassing name.

“Willem? What’s wrong?”

A tug on the sleeve pulled Willem out of his thoughts and back into reality. “Ah, it’s nothing.” He returned his gaze from the sky back to earth. “Let’s get going. If we don’t hurry up, we’ll miss all the good meat, and Astaltus will probably be disappointed.”

“No doubt about that.”

The two of them laughed.

Boom.

“Huh?”

Instinctively, Willem returned his gaze to the sky. He spotted black smoke gushing out of the bottom of that airship, from the area near the burning spell reactor. After a moment’s delay, someone let out a scream, then, after another moment, a collective scream rose up from the crowd. Within seconds, a panic broke out. The airship lost its balance, its ability to keep afloat clearly damaged. From the eyes of anyone at the scene, it was obvious that the ship would soon fall completely.

In the midst of the chaos, the waves of people threatened to sweep Elq away.

“Stay close!”

“O-Okay!”

Willem stretched out his hand. Their fingertips touched, connecting them as they tried to reel each other in.

Then, once more, he looked up at the sky. The column of black smoke only grew thicker, the airship tilted downward at an accelerating rate, and the ship body began to warp as it failed to support the weight, all while the screams coming from the ground grew ever louder.

Next, Willem saw it. Towards the back of the airship, where stabilizing ballast would usually be piled up, a large rupture had opened, and, out from there, something, obviously not gravel or burlap sacks, poured into the sky.

What is that?

Due to the sun, he couldn’t see it very well, but he could make out a faint silhouette. Overall, the objects took the shape of ribbons, or, to make a comparison, large snakes. However, instead of scales, countless hair like protrusions grew out from their bodies. They were strange animals. Or rather, they were strange things which he didn’t know if he could call animals or not. And, for some reason, their name popped into his head, as if it had welled up from the bottom of his stomach.

“No… they can’t be…”

Apparently, Elq had seen the same thing and arrived at the same possibility. Willem knew those things very well. They had given him memories he would never forget. Even with his memory sealed, his mind and entire body were trying to recall them, those things that once, in a faraway dream, stole everything and anything he held dear.

“Aurora…” he muttered, standing frozen in shock.

 

[Shuumatsu] V5 C4 In This Twilight World, Even Now P2

The Brave and the Visitor

Suddenly, Elq fell over. While they were cleaning a guest’s room, she simply collapsed to the ground, like a string puppet which had its string cut.

“Are you okay!?”

Willem hurried over and held her in his arms. She was cold to the touch. Hardly breathing. She’s like a corpse, he thought, then realized that she really was a corpse, just one that moved around as if living.

A living person would have gotten a fever or started breathing roughly, and he would have been able to discern the severeness of the condition from that. However, he had no idea what to do when it came to corpses. He also couldn’t think of any treatment methods. Calling a doctor seemed pretty useless. What should I do? What can I do?

For the time being, he carried her to the bed and let her sleep, although he didn’t know if that would help anything. He got the feeling that long ago, or perhaps just recently, something similar happened: someone who wouldn’t wake up was lying on a bed, and he was sitting by their side, unable to do anything but shiver. Eventually he couldn’t take it anymore and stood up, convinced that there was something he could do, then went to punch someone.

Ah damn it. If punching someone this time would change Elq’s condition, even with just a slight probability, he would do it without hesitation. However, now, of all times, he couldn’t think of anyone or anything to drive his hardened fist into.

“A wet towel… wait no, is there any point in keeping her cool? Should I warm her up instead? … she’s not going to rot or anything, right?”

He stood up every time he thought of a new idea, only to immediately sit down again. This had been going on for a while. Astaltus told him to forget about work for now and stick with Elq. However, sticking with her while being powerless to do anything actually made him feel worse. I guess I should go back to work. But I don’t want to leave her side. A debate raging in his troubled mind, he stared intently at his palm.

“Uu…”

Upon hearing a faint groan, Willem’s face shot up.

“Wha…?”

He leaned over to take a peek at her face. The color of her skin didn’t look as sickly as before. She also didn’t seem to be in pain. Seeing the lack of any apparent problems, Willem relaxed his expression.

“Yo.” Before revealing his sloppy face, he did his best to smile, activating every muscle in his face. “Finally awake? Work skipping princess.”

“Me…? Wha? Did I fall asleep? What about the cleaning?”

“You suddenly fell down in the middle of it. I was worried, you know?”

“Worried…”

“You’re really cold.”

“Am I?”

While tilting her head, Elq touched her palm to her forehead. Her face remained confused. Well, of course, she couldn’t measure her body temperature by touching it with her own body. Willem put his own hand on top of hers.

“Warm,” she said.

“Like I said, you’re cold. Usually, it’s the opposite for overwork and exhaustion. People get fevers. But you’re not normal, so I have no idea how to treat you. I really panicked. Thought you might never wake up again or something.”

“Oh, sorry.”

“Yes, reflect on your actions. Well, are you all good now?”

“Yeah. I was just a little tired, so, after sleeping, I feel fine.”

Willem felt like his entire body relaxed upon hearing those words. He still had some doubts, like whether that state could really be called just ‘sleeping’, but he didn’t have the energy to pursue that any further.

“I see… is there something you want to drink or anything? Something you want to eat? An apple? Should I peel one?” He asked the spaced out Elq in a gentle voice.

“Warm milk. Something a little sweet.”

“Alright, leave it to me.” He stood up.

“You’re kind of nice today.”

“I’m always nice.”

For some reason, hearing his answer, Elq laughed out loud.

“Here you go.” A sweet scent wafted out from the pot which Willem brought over. Inside was heated milk mixed with a little honey and a pinch of cinnamon. “I made it a little on the warm side, but don’t try to drink it all at once, okay?”

“It would have been fine hot,” Elq pouted as she took a sip. “It’s good.”

“Right? I’ve pretty much understood your taste preferences.”

“Hmph.” Maybe because she interpreted that as meaning a child’s preferences, Elq made a sour face. However, either because she realized that she really did have the tastes of a child, or because she was holding undeniable evidence, she didn’t complain in response. “… um, can I ask you something?”

“Hm?” Willem looked up as he poured seconds from the pot into his empty cup. “What is it?”

“If… this is just a hypothetical situation…”

“No need to make a big deal out of it, just spit it out.”

“If I were to die in five days, would you be a little nicer to me?”

“Huh?” Willem frowned. He got the feeling that he heard those words before. But more importantly, that means… “What are you talking about? Five days is pretty specific… is something wrong?”

Elq’s face clearly read ‘oops’. “Eh? N-No, nothing… sorry, forget about it.” She tightly held her palm against her chest area, right around where the large wound gaped.

“W-Wait, Elq, don’t tell me…”

“I shouldn’t have asked. I thought that maybe I could be the same as Kutori, but I shouldn’t have tried.”

Suddenly, pain shot through area behind Willem’s temples. Memories began trying to surface again.

“Sorry. Let me sleep a bit more.” Hugging her blanket, Elq turned so her back faced Willem.

“Alright. I’ll leave the milk here, so get some yourself.” Suppressing a small headache, Willem left Elq’s room.


Willem and Elq’s rooms were remodeled previously unused rooms in the corner of the inn’s second floor. As he walked down to the first floor, the creaking of the stairs filled the hallways. The inn didn’t usually have very many guests staying the night, but the spacious lounge on the first floor served as a space for customers to enjoy a light meal and some alcohol. In the middle of that lounge, Astaltus sat around a small circular table, drinking from a small glass.

“I heard some talking. Did she wake up?”

“Yeah, apparently she was just tired.”

“That’s good.” Astaltus nodded a few times, a kind smile on his face.

“Wait, didn’t you say you can’t drink? The other day when you declined an offer from a drunk customer. Was that just an excuse?”

“Well, not exactly.” He chuckled in embarrassment. “My drinking habits aren’t too good. It seems like when I drink I go on a rampage. I don’t remember them myself though.”

“Ah… that is pretty bad.”

“My wife and daughter always used to get mad at me, saying that it’s a lot of trouble to calm me down. So, usually, I try my best to not drink. This will be my only drink today.”

“That’s unfortunate. I guess I can’t join you then,” Willem joked with a shrug. Astaltus apologized with a laugh. “But still, I am thirsty. Maybe I’ll have tea instead. You want some too?”

“Yes, I will join you.”

Willem went to the kitchen, scooped some water out of a jar and into a pot, then put it over the crystal stove.

“… about Nils…” Astaltus started.

“Hm?”

“The day he brought you guys here, Nils’ eyes looked very kind. After saying that he would leave the rest to me, he added on ‘I want him to live a normal life this time’.”

“… I see.”

Willem could imagine. He only spoke with Nils for a very brief time, but he understood what kind of man he was to a surprising degree.

“Neither you nor Elq have normal bodies. Also, it seems like you were not born that way… ah, I have confidence in my judgement of meat. I am a troll, after all.”

Willem wished he wouldn’t brag about that.

“I’m guessing you two lived a very rough life of exposing yourselves to harm, and that is now over. Your body and mind are exhausted. If you two can live a different life, then I want you to… that’s probably what Nils wanted to say.”

“So he acts like an actual master when no one’s looking, huh.”
“Hm?”
“Nothing.” Willem didn’t actually know what that self proclaimed master had been to him in the past, but he could tell how importantly Nils treated both him and Elq. So he figured that Astaltus’ speculation was most likely correct… probably. “Well I’m glad for the concern, but that kind of thing is better if you hear it from–” An uncomfortable feeling suddenly clung onto the back of Willem’s neck. “– Hm?”

Did a bug land on me? No, that’s not it. He didn’t recognize that feeling of discomfort grasping at his skin, but he knew its form.

“Are there any guests staying overnight?”
“What’s this all of a sudden? No guests tonight as usual.”

“Did you ever piss off a lot of people?”

“Well… I don’t particularly remember doing anything that would earn me a long lasting grudge.”

Astaltus’ answer felt a bit uncertain, but Willem decided to take it literally for the moment. “So it must be a group robbery or something of the sort.”

He felt a few hostile presences surrounding the inn. It did make for a good target. The inn, which mainly targeted guests traveling along the highway, was just a little separated from nearby villages. Its relatively large size and clean appearance also gave off an impression slightly on the rich side. And of course, the stores of beer and food must have seemed very attractive to starving brigands.

“Oh my, is it already that season?” Astaltus asked.

“Wait, the seasons have nothing to do with this… also, why are you so calm?”

“When spring draws near, those type of people increase.”

You say that like they’re insects…

“You can drink tea or whatever, I’ll handle them,” Astaltus said.

“No, I’m the one being hired, so that won’t do. I’ll handle them, so you just drink some beer… oh wait… I’ll prepare some tea now so drink that.”

“You don’t need to worry. I’m used to it.”

“That’s not a good reason… also, you shouldn’t get used to that.”

Willem stood up. His memory was still as sealed as ever, but, even in this situation, he felt no fear nor nervousness. He even felt a sort of nostalgia, as if returning to an old home. Apparently, he lived in a rather dangerous world before.

“Really, it’s fine,” Astaltus insisted.

“No, no, just take a seat.” Willem cracked his knuckles.


If you want to disable someone in silence, then you must first understand your target’s breathing. That holds when you knock him unconscious and also when you steal his life with a blade. If any air remains in the lungs, it makes sound when it comes out. Even if you knock him unconscious in a single blow, he could emit a sound upon impact with the ground. That’s why any skilled assassin knows how to steal a target’s breath so well it almost becomes like an everyday activity.

“… I wonder if I was a skilled assassin or something…”

Willem crept out from the darkness and, aiming for the split second when his target’s breath was depleted, wrapped his fingers around his target’s neck, then gave his head a jerk, silently stealing his consciousness. The attack succeeded so smoothly Willem almost gave himself chills.

He took a good look at the person collapsed in his arms. First, he could immediately tell that his image of a starving robber was mistaken: the beast man wore an army uniform. In his hands, he bore a gun with a long barrel. They weren’t the kind of clothes or firearms which any regular old ruffian could obtain.

“This uniform… the Winged Guard?” In the darkness, Willem couldn’t clearly make out the color or shape, but, for some reason, he got that feeling. “But why would the Winged Guard surround our inn?”

The first reason to come to his mind was that a dangerous person was staying there. But that wasn’t possible, given their lack of any overnight customers.

The next possibility to come to his mind was that Astaltus was being pursued by the army. Considering his personality, that hypothesis seemed unrealistic yet strangely plausible at the same time. However, Willem felt it leaned more towards the unrealistic side. After all, pursuing a criminal would be a job for the law enforcement agencies of each individual city or island. The Winged Guard, being an organization which protected Regul Aire as a whole, didn’t hold the authority to search for or arrest criminals.

The next possibility…

“Me…?”

Almost at the exact moment that question popped into his mind, the light of a lantern suddenly illuminated his body.

“Don’t move!”

When they got there he didn’t notice, but a few guns now pointed directly at Willem. Well, he expected nothing less from the guardians of Regul Aire. However, even with devices aimed straight at him threatening to take his life, his mind remained as calm as ever. He felt no fear nor threat.

“What business do you have with our inn? Food? Lodging?”

“I told you to not move!”

“If possible, I’d prefer to keep this quiet. Wouldn’t want to bother our sleeping guests.” Of course, there was only one of those.

“We have found the target. We will disable him upon being granted permission.”

“I grant you permission. Attack!”

Responding to orders, the presences blended in with the darkness all moved forth at once. Putting everything else aside for the moment, Willem focused on the six opponents before him. Guns hidden in the darkness would be a bit bothersome, but nothing he couldn’t deal with. First he would deal blows to the two closest to him, then throw their bodies to destroy the lamps. If the lights went out, it might cause them to accidentally shoot each other, and it would be easier to deal with them one by one. Alright, let’s go with that.

Just as Willem made up his mind and prepared to carry his plan out–

“No good.” The voice of a small girl, completely unfitting of the situation, sounded from somewhere in darkness. “Even all together, you don’t stand a chance.”

“I believe I told you to stay back!”

“You did. But I believe I said that I’d move by my own will when necessary.”

The girl stepped forth into the narrow space illuminated by the lanterns. A gray haired, small statured markless. She wore a blank expression which rendered any attempts to read it useless. A simple eyepatch covered her left eye.

“……”

Did I… see her before? Meet her before? No, more than that. We shared something very important… I remember…

“Agh.”

Overwhelmed by intense pain, Willem instinctively suppressed his forehead.

“Willem.”

She called my name without hesitation. We really must be acquaintances.

“Willem,” the girl called again. “Willem, Willem, Willem!” With each repetition, more emotion seeped into her voice. The girl ran forward, straight through the darkness towards Willem. “I finally found you.” She threw her warm body into his chest. “I thought I wouldn’t be able to keep my promise. I was scared.”

The girl’s shoulders, so thin they seemed like they would break if he touched them, shivered slightly. Unable to push her away nor embrace her, Willem stood there motionless. He felt a bit envious of the soldiers surrounding them. They too were caught off guard by the situation, but at least they weren’t suffering from a splitting headache.

“Do I know you?” he asked, deciding to confirm the situation first.

“Eh?” the girl looked up.

“Sorry, but I can’t remember you at all.”

“Wha–”

“WHAT!?”

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a soundless scream split the air extremely close by. Knocked off balance by the shock, Willem somehow managed to stand straight up again. In front of him floated a strange creature… he had no idea when it got there, or perhaps it had been there the whole time. A large floating fish, covered with beautiful red and white scales. Or at least, that’s what it looked like. However, that couldn’t be right. It seemed as if a separate image had been hung up amidst the darkness; the floating fish stood out so much from its surroundings. Without needing much thought, Willem could tell that it had to be an illusion or something of the sort.

“No no no, you think you can get away with saying that!? Now, I may be a little too old to be a representative of a young maiden, and it’s true that sometimes my overabundance of life experience prevents me from commenting what I really think, and it’s true that I’m too busy worrying about my own family to stick my nose in the business of some random girl, but, as someone who was once a young maiden very long ago, I can’t let that comment just now slip by!” The illusion started rambling on about something.

“… uhh…”

“Be quiet, Carma.”

“How could I stay quiet what’s with this guy does he think of girls he knew in the past as already used up what a typical piece of trash this is too different from what I heard from Elq she really looked up to this guy like the hero of a story so why is he like this like I can’t remember you at all what did you get your memory sealed or something I mean come on.”

The illusion’s rambling suddenly came to a stop. It floating elegantly towards Willem, then poked his forehead with its mouth. “Oh, his memory really is sealed.”

“Eh?” The girl blinked in confusion.

“Moreover, only one part of his memory is closed off. I guess there must be some pretty skilled curse casters still left in this world. This sortilege is so high level it might be able to erase an entire concept from the world if used well. Being able to use that on an individual with such precision… that goes beyond great and into just plain creepy territory.”

“… apparently I won’t be able to maintain my personality if I remember my past. That’s why he sealed only the memories related to my past,” Willem explained.

“Ahh, I see… wait–” The illusion took a step back in midair. “You can hear me!?”
“Unfortunately.”

“What!? Right now I’m supposed to be only seen by my host!”

“It’s not that hard to understand,” the gray haired girl said with her eyes faced down. “Willem and I both have a part of the same soul inside us. I can’t explain the details logically, but that’s probably why.”

“A soul?”

Without answering Willem’s question, the girl removed the eyepatch covering her left eye, then, very slowly, opened that previously closed shut eye, revealing a vivid gold iris, completely different than that of her right eye.

“… that eye.” Instinctively, Willem’s hand went to his own right eye.
“That side changed color for you, right Willem?”

“I don’t really know what’s going on, but you really do seem to be familiar with my situation.” While his headache was calming down a little, it still continued to shake his brain about. With each heartbeat, his brain screamed in pain as if about to rupture.

“Willem. I have a request.”

“I decline.” By now, he had figured out that the girl was someone important to him, and that he was someone important to the girl as well, so a large feeling of guilt accompanied those words.

“Listen. The fairy warehouse is going to disappear. I’m not a fairy anymore, but I don’t know what’s going to happen to everyone else. Naigrat is more worried than I’ve ever seen her been.”

Another wave of pain pulsed through Willem’s head. “I said, I decline,” he said, biting down on his back teeth. “I decided to not remember my past. So I can’t listen to your request.”

“… Willem.”

“Well, maybe there’s nothing we can do.” The illusory fish sighed despite its lack of lungs. “Seal some memories to prevent the Beast from appearing. It’s easy to say, but this is a reckless feat. It could break at the slightest opportunity, and, once that happens, resealing is impossible. Given that situation, it’s only natural that he doesn’t want to get involved with his past.”

“But…”

“Anything more is just you being selfish, Nephren. Do you want to make Willem into a complete Beast?”

“……” The girl called Nephren fell silent.

She probably still had words to say. Feelings to release. But she held onto all of them inside her small, tightly squeezed fist next to her chest. Sorry, Willem apologized in his mind. It probably wasn’t the kind of thing that an apology would resolve. If his past self saw him now, it would probably throw a punch with all its might and send his head flying. But still, his current self already decided its course.

“Well then, Willem. Moving from the past back to the present, do you happen to know anything about Elq?”

“Yes,” he answered immediately. Earlier, this Nephren girl called the illusion ‘Carma’. He had heard the name before: it was the name of the family member who Elq said would one day come to pick her up. “I’ve been waiting for you. Right now she’s ill, sleeping on the second floor.”

“Ill? Eh?” the illusion said, confused. “She’s still a corpse, isn’t she?”

“The guy that sealed my memory said he chipped away a little at the curse cast on Elq’s body. Said that right now she’s an undying being infinitely close to a corpse or something.”

“Whaa!?”

From that bewildered shriek, Willem inferred that Elq’s current situation and Nils’ doings were irregular even to an irregular being.

“Take her with you. She’s been waiting for her family to come too.”


With guns pointed at him, Willem lead Nephren and Carma to Elq. As the three of them talked, he waited outside the room. He didn’t try to listen in, so he had no idea what they talked about. After about thirty minutes, the gray haired girl and Carma came out.

“We’ll take our leave for today.” Carma had become much less talkative than before.

“You’re not going to take her with you?”

“I’d like to, but she told me to give her time. She isn’t usually very selfish, but, when she is, she really doesn’t listen.” The giant floating fish let out a giant sigh. “I know I shouldn’t ask for favors when we just met for the first time, but can I leave her to you for a little while longer?”

“I don’t mind, but, are you sure? Isn’t she the daughter of the family you serve or something?”

“Uhh, well, if you put it in really rough terms, then yeah kinda like that.”

“I was opposed,” Nephren said with a slightly irritated face. “I think we should take her away, even if it means wrapping a chain around her neck.”

“Pretty sure you’re just jealous,” the fish said in return.

“Elq’s kind of like a kitten.”

“You could at least try to deny it, geez.”

What are they talking about? Willem thought.

“We’ll come again,” Nephren said, then started to leave the inn.

“O-Oi! Where are you going!?” Soldiers followed after her.

“Home. There isn’t any dangerous Beast here.”

“Wait, abandoning our post will not be forgiven!”

“There’s no work to be done here. I’m the one with the authority to decide that, right?”

“That… damn it. What is the officer thinking!”

The soldiers chased after the girl as she walked without hesitation off into the distance. And with that, their unwelcome guests of the night vanished from sight.


“… so who were they?” Astaltus asked, his head tilted in confusion.

“Our pasts chased after us, it seems,” Willem answered jokingly.

“Was it okay for you to send it back home?”

“I don’t have a past,” Willem said with a shrug. “Of course, I don’t know about that one.” He looked up at the second floor.

“Someone from her family came to pick her up, correct? What did Elq herself say?”

“Nothing. She just told me ‘I’m tired so get out’ and drove me out of the room.”

“I wonder if it was okay for her to not go home with them.”

“Who knows. I can never really tell what kids are thinking.”

That wasn’t a lie, but it wasn’t the truth either. The reason why Elq remained behind was probably because she didn’t want to leave Willem by himself. He was half convinced of that, but, put another way, only half convinced of that. Also, he was deeply thankful for that.

“Anyways, she’s here, so it seems we’re still going to be under your care, boss.”

“Well, of course I welcome that, but…” Astaltus made a conflicted face. “It’s difficult to put this in the right words, but, at the very least, please live so that you won’t have any regrets.”

“I’ll do my best,” Willem answered with some effort. He had no past. Accordingly, declining that girl’s request without listening to it had to have been the correct decision. But that correctness would most likely worsen the girl’s situation. For some reason, that thought left a bitter feeling deep inside his chest.

“… this is just something I’ve heard,” Astaltus started.

“Hm?”

“In children’s stories or fairy tales, there’s the cliche ‘lived happily ever after’ ending, right? But that itself is something so far separated from reality, only allowed to exist inside children’s stories and fairy tales. A dream unrealizable in reality, similar to magic swords or majestic castles and such. Unconsciously, we all realize the futility of the word ‘ever after’.”

“I’m pretty sure magic swords and castles actually exist, don’t they?”

“Now that you mention it, I guess that’s true.” Astaltus thought for a moment, not seeming to be phased by Willem’s little jab. With his index finger pointed up, he continued, “Basically, we unconsciously think of the phrase ‘ever after’ as as fictional object.”

“O-Oh.”

“The same time will not continue on forever. Eventually, an end will come to the entire world itself. The important thing is to accept that change occurs and to figure out how to best utilize that to meet tomorrow. No matter how different tomorrow is from today, we can live on. And as long as we are living, we can try to obtain happiness.”

“… ‘try’, huh. At least you’re being honest.”

“Happiness is not so cheap that even those who do not try can obtain it.” Astaltus shrugged. “No matter how long you stay here, I don’t mind. However, should an opportunity present itself, please don’t hesitate to leave. The place where you belong is wherever you are at that moment.”

“I know.”

Of course, Willem knew why Astaltus suddenly started talking about this stuff. He could regain his memories at any time, and Elq could become a plain old corpse at any time. No matter how much they denied the past or clung on to the present, these peaceful days at the inn would most likely not continue for long.

If, when the end came, he still hadn’t accepted that fact, he would end up cursing the world or fate or some other greater force. He would carry enmity not faced at any concrete person or thing, grudging his inability to simply live everyday normally and peacefully. He would forget how much effort and sacrifice was required to make such a greedy wish come true.

“I know,” he repeated.

These days would not continue for long. But, they were still continuing right now, thanks to Astaltus, Elq, and also the disappeared Nils. So at the moment, he just wanted to be thankful for this time.

With those thoughts running through his mind, Willem put his mouth to his yet untouched cup of tea. Naturally, after sitting out for so long, it had grown incredibly bitter.


The military began to keep watch around the inn, rotating through three shifts. The number of guards went up and down depending on the time of day, but usually hovered around three or four. They mainly occupied two places: the shadow of the neighboring farm’s stone fence and the watchman’s hut at the public bridge a little ways away. Both were separated enough from the inn to render observation with the naked eye impossible, so the soldiers most likely had devices for viewing from afar. They really put a lot of effort into it.

While it proved to be quite annoying, if Willem and Elq just sat still, the guards wouldn’t bring them any harm. As for Astaltus, he took the optimistic stance, pointing out that the army would step in if anything happened, and that they provided free protection from thieves.

Considering that, the soldiers were taking care of them in a way, so Willem once tried offering them some coffee, only to be met with the sourest of faces. He had been planning to start up a conversation and ask why he and Elq were being targeted, but the foul mood of the soldiers didn’t exactly provide the most conducive environment for that.

“Guess I can’t torture them or anything.”

If he wanted to, though, Willem figured he probably could. His body seemed to know various techniques for no apparent reason, like massages and assassination style combat. If he used his skills well, it probably wouldn’t be too difficult to destroy a target’s will and dignity without destroying their body.

Of course, doing so would certainly destroy his current lifestyle, so there was no point. Accordingly, Willem decided to continue living normally, trying his best to not think about who he was or why he was being watched by the army.

However, normal everyday life began to turn into a somewhat uncomfortable and twisted thing. He knew that the end to these gentle days was slowly, but surely, approaching.

[Shuumatsu] V5 C4 In This Twilight World, Even Now P1

The Fairies of Collinadiluche

After being tapped and touched all over her body, Aiseia then had a light shone up against her eyes to check their movement, was forced to drink medicine for test purposes and answer questions about her mood, and, while a small amount, had her blood drawn.

“Uhhh, having my body played with like this, I can’t get married anymore…” Wearing only a gown over her bare skin, Aiseia sat up on the patient bed. “Anyways, the inspection’s over now, right?”

No response. The Kikuroppe doctor made a troubled face as he stared at her medical records. As a general rule, reading the expressions of other races with different facial structures was no easy task, but, still, there were times when the message got across.

“… you really pushed yourself,” the doctor said faintly, as if struggling to speak.

“Ahaha, well, my stubbornness is the one thing I always have confidence in.” Aiseia shrugged off his comment with her usual laugh as she buttoned up her gown.

“Your life force is all wilted. Your body is forgetting what it means to live. If you receive a wound, it most likely will not heal. The strength depleted by igniting Venom will never return.”

“Mhm, I had a feeling that was the case.” She responded to the Kikuroppe’s serious tone with the most cheerful voice she could manage.

“Next time you stand on the battlefield, I don’t know whether you’ll be able to come home.”

“I guess so. Well, it’s finally my turn, huh.” Still sitting on the patient bed, Aiseia swung her feet back and forth. “To be honest, living so long, my mind’s been the one suffering lately. The ones I want to live keep dying off, and meanwhile I keep living this meaningless life.”

“There is no such thing as meaningless life.”

“Ah… true, we aren’t even life.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“Wouldn’t it be better to mean it that way? It’s not good to sympathize with a disposable tool.”

“It’s true that many people think that way, but they are all people who don’t know you guys directly, people who aren’t even told that the fairies have individual personalities. We don’t think of you guys as dis–”

“If you doctors don’t send us off to our deaths, Regul Aire can’t be protected.” Aiseia cut the Kikuroppe’s words off midway. “That’s why we’re not recognized as a race. That’s why we’re treated as weapons without rights. It’s necessary, because everyone needs to be able to properly use and dispose of us without hesitation, am I right?”

“Yes,” the doctor said in a bitter voice with a heavy sigh. “I’ll recognize that much. But what we think individually is our own choice.”

“If there are too many adults who spoil us, we might start saying ‘I don’t want to die so I won’t fight’, ya know?”

“… I suppose.” The Kikuroppe’s single eye turned away.

“Hm. You’re acting a little suspicious. Are you hiding something?”

“Well, it’s nothing important, but… if, just hypothetically, you guys maybe didn’t have to fight anymore, you could maybe continue living, what would you want to do?”

“Ah, a very sudden question.” Aiseia thought for just a little. “If this is just hypothetical, then, I guess pretty much just what I’ve been doing this whole time.”

“This whole time?”
“Spending everyday leisurely over at the warehouse in the forest. The little ones playing noisily, our childlike mother figure scurrying around… watching all of that while relaxing with a book. It’s so stress free, my life span keeps getting longer.”

“… haha, I see. Yes, I see.” The Kikuroppe nodded repeatedly. “Like I thought, you should live a long life,” he said, defeating the whole purpose of their conversation.


Lakish’s body tuning ended. The good numbers indicating her impressive natural ability earned her praise from the doctors. And with each compliment, Naigrat’s mood sunk deeper and deeper. After all, how could a girl be happy after hearing praise of her high functionality as a blade or a bomb? If Lakish had talent, then it would be better if an opportunity to use that talent never came. Naigrat hoped it wouldn’t. Stay away!

“Ooohh!”

“Ahh….”

Tiat and Lakish let out synchronized sighs of admiration.

The Barley Market, one of Collinadiluche’s foremost tourist attractions. Originally, it was, as the name implies, a wholesale market which dealt only with barley. Once another market was built close to the harbor district, it lost its role and became just a popular plaza. Various artists displaying their talents dotted the wide open space. A Ballman clown juggled countless knives, a Frogger magician breathed a thin column of fire, and a group all wearing matching masks filled the air with lively music.

“Wow, wow, wow!” The curiosity of a child, once unleashed, knows no bounds. Tiat sprinted this way and that from one crowd to the next. She pulled Lakish along, who let out screams as they went.

“H-Hey, don’t run so fast! Don’t forget that you guys are being watched!” Because of the formal procedures for handling weapons in the Winged Guard, when the Leprechauns went outside, they required one accompanying officer at the very least. The pitiable fourth officer who got stuck with the job chased the two around as he yelled after them helplessly.

Naigrat watched with mixed feelings. “… it would have been nice if we really did come here just to sightsee.”

She knew it was a hopeless wish. The girls were here to prepare for battle, a battle which they shouldn’t have needed to be involved in. But only because of that was a little sightseeing allowed, a selfish request which would have usually never gone through.

Speaking of selfish, there was Nephren, who, as Naigrat saw earlier, was not dead after all. However, she wasn’t exactly fine either. Having gone through a transformation in a different meaning than Kutori, Nephren would never again return to the fairy warehouse. Naigrat felt lonely, but not sad. The world is a big place, and the sky is a narrow part of it. Being able to believe that Nephren was off somewhere doing well gave Naigrat enough comfort. For those who had already passed away, however, she couldn’t even wish that.

“Hey, Naigrat, this way this way! They’re having an arm wrestling competition! Want to enter with this guy!?”

Looking over, Naigrat saw Tiat waving her hand enthusiastically, the fourth officer managing a confused smile yet still rolling up his sleeves, and Lakish bowing in apology. So cheerful, without the slightest clue of what’s going through my head… that’s very good.

“… alright, but…” Naigrat waved her hand in return. “If I enter, the competition will end right away!” she said, then ran over to where the kids stood.


For all things, always try asking. Upon asking if she could enter the Central Grand Library with the expectation of receiving a ‘no’, Lantolq instead got a firm ‘okay!’ from the mayor’s daughter, Firacolulivia… or Firu, as she preferred to be called. Then, before half a day had passed, Lantolq got permission to enter.

This gave Lantolq, the one who asked, quite a surprise. After all, they were country bumpkin fairies with no rights. On the other hand, the Collinadiluche Central Grand Library was one of the foremost places where the wisdom of all Regul Aire gathered. The huge difference in calibre made Lantolq feel as if some punishment would be brought down upon her just for being near the library.

The entrance permission card, handed over to her in an envelope, also looked somewhat like a dangerous weapon. Underneath many imposing stamps were the mysterious words ‘The holder is granted permission to view up until secret archive B-47’. What the heck is B-47? Does it have the kind of secrets where if you know you have to be disposed of?

“… you think of some reckless things too, Lan,” Aiseia mumbled, holding the same entrance permission card.

“Please don’t point it out. I am already well aware, and it’s crushing me.”

“Well then, let’s go! I may not be very useful, but I will help you with your research to the best of my ability!” Firu, getting hyped up all by herself, walked forth with strong strides. “I cannot be of any help in your original battle. Even trying would be an insult to the determination of the fairies. So for things that I can do, I will do my best!” A red flame burned in her eyes.

“When she turns on like this, she gets really troublesome…” Aiseia remarked.

“Has this happened before?”

“The technician messed things up a bit…”

That guy again? Why does everyone reveal their annoying side when it comes to him?


They brawled with countless books. Lantolq thought her head would boil over. She liked reading books. She also didn’t hate thinking. But all things have a limit. After being stuffed with information beyond its capacity, her head felt very feverish.

“Should we go outside for a bit to rest and organize our notes?” she suggested.

“Hmm, I think I’m gonna stick with this book for a little longer. You can go first,” Aiseia responded.

“I’m going to help Aiseia, so you go ahead. Oh, there’s a good pudding cafe behind this library, so how about you wait there and we’ll meet up?” Firu said.

They’re tougher than they look. “No, we probably shouldn’t split up. Since we’re fairies and all,” Lantolq said, then glanced at the man in the military uniform standing idly beside them.

“I was told by the First Officer to let you act freely as much as possible. But don’t go too far.”

Unexpectedly, he gave them permission. Lantolq had doubts about whether or not it was actually okay, but, if he said it was fine, she wasn’t going to argue.

“… I see. Well then, I might as well,” she said, then, with notebook in hand, stood up.


She found the cafe that Firu mentioned rather quickly. Perhaps because it was located off the main street, not very many customers were present. However, apparently, almost all of those customers were not tourists but locals, meaning that the cafe was good enough to attract regulars.

After taking a seat on an outdoor terrace, Lantolq picked out a milk tea and apple pie from the menu full of delicious looking choices. She then opened her notebook and looked back over some of the things she copied from various books.

“Hmmm…”

What even are Leprechauns in the first place? Why do they exist? Where do they come from, and where do they go? Those were the questions which Aiseia raised one day in the fairy warehouse. The list gave off the impression of the troubles of a pubescent teenager. And, unfortunately, they were precisely pubescent teenagers. Children of other races would probably look for answers to such questions in philosophy books or fiction, but they were poring over necromancy research books, and the most advanced ones available in Regul Aire at that.

“We really are suspicious things, aren’t we…” Lantolq mumbled, then remembered that she was alone.

Since they had been together for so long, she always got the feeling that Noft was right there by her side. Noft herself didn’t think too much about things and overall wasn’t exactly the brightest, but she was good at listening. Noft could pull words out of Lantolq even when she was deep in thought. As a result, Lantolq picked up the habit of talking to herself. Well this is no good, she thought. She was aiming to be an independent woman with everything together, but it didn’t seem to be going too well.

“I don’t seem to be getting anywhere, no matter what I do…”

Lantolq took a bite of the crisp apple pie. Delicious. Just then, a strong wind blew. It scooped a few pages of notes out of Lantolq’s hand and carried them up into the sky.

“Ah…”

She reached out in a panic but couldn’t reach them in time. The moment she stood up to try to stretch further, another gust of wind sent her remaining notes flying.

“A — Ahh!!”

Deeply regretting her carelessness, Lantolq stared dumbfoundedly up at the sky. Ignite Venom in a hurry and chase them? No, I won’t make it in time. Run and chase them? No, I won’t be able to catch them, and I feel like I’ll just mess something else up. What to do… what can I do? As she hesitated, time continued to flow, and her notes went up higher and higher and…

“Huh?”

Not higher? As if a snapshot of time had been frozen in place, all the papers suddenly stopped moving.

“What…”

After a brief pause, the notes began to move again. However, this time, they ignored the wind and, as if being reeled in, gathered in the hands of a man standing in the street, an old man with an imposing face wearing a rather conspicuous white mantle.

“A-Ah!? You!?”

“Oh, the girl from the other day! What a coincidence!” Not seeming particularly surprised, the old man in the street started to make his way over, the bundle of notes in hand. “Studying hard, even in a place like this? Very good, very good. The things you learn while young will become your weapons in the future. Of course, you must also learn how to use them or else it’s meaningless… hm?” The old man looked at the bundle of notes and frowned.

“Thank you. They are very important notes,” Lantolq responded.

“Hm, advanced necromancy? A rather strange subject for a student to choose for a research project.”

“Well, I am not a student, and I’m not exactly doing anything as noble as ‘studying’. I’m also not trying to prepare for the future. I just want to know something now.”

“What?” The old man handed the notes over. “… I see. Your hair color. You are also a Leprechaun.”

“Yes.”

For a moment, various emotions whirled around in Lantolq’s head. Those who knew of the Leprechauns did not necessarily have a very good impression of them. She braced herself, afraid of what expression would cross the old man’s face next.

“Oh, then the other young lady must have been your manager. My apologies. I once decided to never see them in person, but now I ended up meeting you and even exchanging conversation.”

What could this mean? The old man’s face twisted in pain ever so slightly, but surely. Neither hate nor discrimination, but rather guilt seeped out from that expression.

“Um, are you okay?” Lantolq thought it was a foolish question herself. If the man wasn’t okay, it was very clearly her own fault. She wasn’t in the position to put on a nice face and act worried.

“… haha. You’re worried about me? You’re one kind girl.”

“Uh…”

For some reason, he complimented her. Well, ever since they first met, Lantolq got the feeling that they weren’t really on the same page during their conversations. It was a kind of frustrating feeling, as if some important gears didn’t match up yet kept on turning.

“Guess there’s no unmeeting someone you’ve already met. Coincidences are coincidences. Whether you take them as good or bad luck only depends on how you handle the situation.”

“Uh…”

What is this guy saying? In front of a bewildered Lantolq, the old man pulled out a chair and sat down across from her. His large frame looked just a little odd on the small cafe chair.

“There’s something you want to know involving necromancy, correct? Try asking me. I will answer.”

“Ah, the thing we’re trying to research is a bit difficult…”

“I figured. I don’t mind, so ask away.”

He won’t give up. Earlier, the old man took one look at Lantolq’s notes and understood them to be about necromancy. From that, she guessed that he was fairly knowledgeable. However, what they wanted to know definitely wasn’t something that any old wise man would know.

“… what are Leprechauns?” Lantolq tried asking anyway, doubting he would be able to answer.

“I see. You’re getting right to the point. Very good, very good.” The old man nodded happily for some reason. “Now then, from where shall I start.” He thought for a moment. “Long ago, the Visitors ordered the Poteau to create the Emnetwyte.”

“Huh?” This has nothing to do with my question, Lantolq thought.

Not paying attention to her apparent confusion, the old man continued. “They didn’t create them from nothing. They prepared base materials and modified them. There were roughly two types of these base materials. One consisted of the only life which existed on the planet before the Visitors’ coming, the ‘Primal Beasts’. The other consisted of the souls of the Visitors themselves, tired of living a life of endless wandering. As for the modification method…”

The old man pointed to the half eaten apple pie on Lantolq’s plate. “It was the same as that. They wrapped the ‘Primal Beasts’ with their souls, which they shattered into fragments. The souls forcibly overwrote the Beasts’ flesh, casting a large curse on them. What were once ‘Beasts’ transformed into entirely different beings with figures similar to those of the Visitors, in other words, the Emnetwyte.”

“Uh… um, ehh?”

It didn’t match up with the commonly accepted world creation myth. The grand scale of it all confused Lantolq. And, first of all, he still didn’t answer her question. She didn’t even know where to start. However, there was one part that caught her attention: the Visitors used the ‘Primal Beasts’ to create the Emnetwyte.

“But, well, after that, the Emnetwyte grew too much. The number of pies increased, but, unfortunately, the amount of crust didn’t. The crust, the souls of the Visitors, never increased beyond the original amount present when they were shattered. So, with each passing day, the crust grew thinner and thinner.”

“… could that be what is meant by ‘the beasts were released from within’…?” That was a hypothesis which Lantolq arrived at the other day on the land. However, that thought came from an old book she just happened to find. Why was the old man, who didn’t have a chance to read the same book, saying something similar?

“Yes, very good. Did you already figure out that much?” Impressed, the old man looked over the notes on the table. “The ‘Primal Beasts’ were originally undying and indestructible beings. By being sealed inside the mortal Emnetwyte, they changed. Regret. Hope. Spoiledness. Justice. Kindness. Fear. Disinterest. Ignorance. Dragged along by all those various things which lead humans to death, they became beings which represented seventeen types of death.

If those things got released, the Emnetwyte would go extinct. The humans, realizing that, thought of a plan. Luckily, at the time, Visitors still remained, albeit only two of them.”

The Visitors. Even now that legend is passed down, how, a little more than five hundred years ago, the Emnetwyte Braves slew the last Visitor.

“They wanted to use those souls to create new pie crust. However, it failed. They couldn’t recreate what the Poteau did with human technology. The Visitor’s soul didn’t shatter cleanly and ended up in a mess of countless scattered chunks. With no way to cook all the new pie, the end came as expected. Well, I left out quite a bit, but that’s the gist of it.”

“… um.” Hesitantly, Lantolq raised her hand. “That was a very interesting story, but it only explained what the Emnetwyte are, right? I asked about the Leprechauns.”

“Of course, I answered that too.”

Argh, we really aren’t on the same page. However, even if they weren’t on the same page, they were still having a proper conversation. All Lantolq needed to do was decipher his words as if she were reading a difficult old book. If she did that, then surely she would understand. With that in mind, she thought back over his story.

“… could it be…” Then, Lantolq realized. The soul of the last Visitor didn’t shatter smoothly. The new pie remained unbaked, and the ingredients, the soul fragments, remained scattered. “The failed next generation of Emnetwyte that the Emnetwyte couldn’t complete. That is our true nature?”

“Hm. Your understanding is not mistaken.” The old man nodded. “However, I wouldn’t say ‘failed’. Well, the interpretation depends on the person. You can take it optimistically or pessimistically.”

Before that, there was something more important. If what gramps said was really true, then that answered many mysteries that had remained unsolved on Regul Aire for centuries. That couldn’t be right, but Lantolq somehow felt like it was.

“Why do you know this?”

“I’ve lived a somewhat long life,” the old man answered with a shrug.

“If what you said is true, it is not known at all in this world. Why would you tell something like that to someone like me?”

“I owe you girls something.” He smiled with just a slight hint of sorrow. “I cannot apologize nor take anything back. Nor would I be qualified to do so. But I can at least do this much. Anyway, it’s nothing more than a cowardly and selfish old man comforting himself.” He stood up. “I doubt we’ll meet again, but this was valuable time.”

“Ah–”

Trying to stop the old man from going, Lantolq stood up in a hurry, but, in that moment, a gust of wind blew by. Worried that her notes would fly off again, she panicked and closed the notebook. When she looked up again, the old man was nowhere to be seen.


“Whew… I’m exhausted.” Like a student on the way home from school, Aiseia walked over with eyes spinning from overwork. Firu, her condition unreadable beneath her Lucantrobos fur, followed close behind. “What happened, Lan? You’re spacing out.”

“… what are we? Why do we exist? Where do we come from and where do we go”?”

“Laaan?”

“Actually receiving the answer feels… unexpectedly empty…”

“Laan? Hello? Lantolq?” Aiseia waved her hands back and forth in front of Lantolq’s face.

The fork sitting on the plate of half eaten apple pie clanked slightly.

[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?”