Owari no Chronicle:Volume11 Chapter 20
Chapter 20: Lesson in the Dark
After you are taught
And after you learn
What have you gained?
A small room was filled with blue light.
The room was bell shaped and had a diameter of about five meters.
The walls and floor were made of stone cut much like bricks and it had no windows.
The room was underground.
It had a single entrance and led nowhere else.
It appeared empty except for the desk in the center.
A bookcase sat on the desk, but it held no books.
There was a pen holder that doubled as a paperweight, but it held no pens. And yet a clear inkbottle sat next to it.
A boy stood in front of the desk and the items on it.
He wore a suit with the name Sayama stitched inside it.
He looked around the room and behind him.
“There is nothing else here.”
He had solved the riddle in the Kinugasa residence’s storehouse and he had reached this room by taking the staircase that had appeared.
The stairs into the darkness had continued down for about twenty meters before arriving at this room.
He had not noticed any tricks in the staircase passageway.
…So is the Kinugasa Document in this underground space?
He looked around again, but there was still nothing.
“This is supposed to be a study, so what is this?”
As he muttered to himself, he pulled a document from his pocket.
It was the Georgius Development Plan. His father had written it, but the project had been abandoned before completion. He read one line printed on the cover.
“Written based on the Kinugasa Document acquired at the Kinugasa residence.”
The supposed Kinugasa Document should have been here.
Had his parents taken it back with them and had it since been thrown out or sealed away?
“I can reject that boring possibility. If my parents had taken back what they found here, would that have included every last pen and every last book in the bookcase? And if they did, would they leave the paperweight behind? No, they would not.”
He vigorously swung his arm up and pointed in an arbitrary direction.
The cloth of the suit gave a nice snapping sound as he posed and spoke.
“There is something hidden here. Yes, the shy truth is hiding in this very room.”
He laughed and brought a hand to his forehead.
He breathed a sigh of self-praise before continuing.
“I am in an excellent mood today, I sound magnificent even as I speak to myself, and just one problem faces me here: where have the contents of the study gone?”
He stretched his empty right hand toward the inkbottle on the desk.
He picked it up, checked the ink from the side, and found about half of the black ink was gone.
“This is the answer.”
He flicked the bottle’s lid with his thumb and it opened with the sensation of scraping across dry dirt.
The sticky smell of ink reached his nose.
He gently shook the bottle to ensure the ink rippled.
“The entrance to the truth is not here. In other words, the truth is hidden. Hidden by this fake ‘empty study’.”
“How about I look at it in reverse? What if I try to hide the fake with what is real ? Using the real ink I have here!”
He swung his right hand.
The contents of the inkbottle splattered around him.
He heard the scattering droplets and the speed of the ink caused it to burst into a mist.
The black danced through the blue-lit room.
And the world melted away.
As the spraying liquid filled the room, the room itself was peeled away, starting from the top.
The empty walls were stripped away from top to bottom and they revealed…
A moment later, he saw bookcases and a floor overflowing with an ocean of books.
Even the floor he stood on was a layer of books.
He then saw a document sitting on the desk in front of him.
A pen sat on it and the title had been quickly written out.
“Georgius Development Plan!! By Kinugasa Tenkyou!”
As soon as his reading of the title filled the room, something welled up from the bottom of the bell-shaped room.
A sense of expansion rose from below the floor, almost like heat.
Something is coming, he thought as that something floated up into the air.
It was writing.
Black writing rose from anywhere and everywhere: between the pages of the surrounding books, from their covers, from the papers scattered around the room, or from below those papers.
There was hiragana, katakana, kanji, the alphabet, numbers, symbols, the lines of ruled paper, periods, and commas. They all floated around the room as if they had been granted freedom.
It was all writing.
Sayama could no longer see across the room.
Soon, that writing began to move.
First, it moved right.
It formed a gentle wave, but a breath later, the surface of the writing was swaying back to the left.
Soon, it moved right again.
The right-moving and left-moving writing split and…
As if to answer Sayama’s doubt, the tens of thousands of characters began rotating around the room either to the left or right.
The writing quickly rotated in opposite directions above the sea of books. They intertwined, split apart, spun, split some more, and raced along.
He looked up at it all and the writing showed no sign of stopping.
Like an astronomical model, the writing formed several rings that rotated inside the room, intersected, and continued spinning.
One ring slowly flashed yellow, one ring remained black as it intersected with another and sent sparks flying, and one ring glowed silver while ticking like a clock’s seconds hand.
In the center, sudden curiosity led Sayama to raise his hands toward the astronomical model of writing.
He touched a spot where left and right rings intersected.
He wondered if he was being careless, but he was touching information.
His physical fingers passed right through the rings of writing.
An image flashed in the back of his mind.
The information expressed by the writing had been given form and replayed in his brain.
A scene played for the information in the right ring and the information in the left ring.
“…four-way barrier is apparently the only option. 10th’s dragon will apparently pursue the refugees. I’ve heard something similar will eventually happen with 2nd-Gear, but first, 10th’s divine dragon will arrive as if making a demonstration. Kaoru-kun has nearly completed the technique for constructing a four-way barrier, so he is a step ahead of the 2nd-Gear engineers developing the celestial seal. However, one thing is lacking. For the barrier to function properly, someone must make a decree in the center. I am sure he will volunteer for that, but that will mean someone else must fill his normal position and I do not think I will last long if I…”
“…only natural. There is a mystery about Low-Gear that only some residents of 9th and 10th have noticed. It seems they occasionally invade Low-Gear, but when they return, they often find that invasion was for nothing. Why is that? That will surely be discovered after my death. So before sealing the divine dragon, I will ask a certain question while I can still push myself: Why did I name this world Low-Gear? And I have a message for the later generation: If you wish to know the identity of Babel, you must seek the truth of this world…”
Sayama quickly jerked back his hands.
The information had been directly carved into his mind and not even his racing pulse could help him process it.
…What was that? What was I just told?
“There is a mystery about Low-Gear?”
“The identity of Babel?”
What did that mean?
The first record had likely been about the seal for 10th-Gear’s divine dragon.
His grandfather had created the seal used to obtain 10th-Gear’s Concept Core and Professor Kinugasa had predicted his own death in the process.
But the next record was the problem.
Sayama had his own guesses as to what Babel was.
…I must seek the truth of this world?
What had Kinugasa Tenkyou known?
And when his parents had presumably seen that record…
…Did they learn something? Or did they know something?
He shook his question-filled head.
This was not the time.
He had come here to check the Kinugasa Document on Georgius. His mother had left Georgius with him and his father had tried to create it yet abandoned it, so he had to know what it was.
For that reason, he firmly faced forward. That was when he noticed something.
A single ring floated in the center of his vision.
The thirty centimeter ring of writing floated above the Kinugasa Document.
Bluish-white dots raced across its surface and slowly rotated.
“So this is the embodiment of the knowledge inside the Kinugasa Document.”
He no longer hesitated to reach out.
As if watched over by the massive amount of information circling around him, he touched the information he was searching for.
As soon as he grabbed it, it fully expanded in the back of his mind.
He saw the embodiment of the knowledge related to Georgius.
He did not see it and he did not hear it. He simply knew it as knowledge.
The only other way to describe it was as a memory. The knowledge entered his brain via his memories.
…What is this?
He could tell that something greater than his five senses had reached him.
Why was the letter “a” pronounced “a”? Why did people read a string of letters as a sound and a meaning? What filled his memory now was “pure” information that preceded those questions.
Georgius was poured into his mind and memories like that.
He became aware of the information in his mind as he translated it into words.
The images he saw were instants of the past displayed on the screen of his memories.
He first saw a yard beneath a clear sky.
The gravel-covered yard had crops growing in the back and beyond that was a field full of rapeseed, a forest, and a mountain range continuing downwards.
This was the yard of Professor Kinugasa’s house.
The gaze viewing it was inside the house. It sat next to a tea table in the living room.
Only a right arm was visible and that arm was resting on the documents sitting on the tea table.
His thoughts reached Sayama’s memories and Sayama’s language comprehension translated them into words.
“Here I will record the results of my examination of the concept weapon made to restrict any and all concepts.”
That weapon’s name was…
“It is commonly known as Georgius. It takes the form of two gauntlets, but I currently only possess the right one. I acquired it in a certain place, but I lost the left one in the process. The one who will later create and use an identical concept weapon will surely learn at one point that I possessed this one. And I must state this here: Georgius must not be made.”
The scene changed to the inside a dimly-lit wooden building. The room contained rows of washing stations by the window as if in an art room or a workshop. Thick wooden work desks lined the room and Sayama’s gaze sat at a desk piled with documents.
Someone walked around the pile of documents and into view.
It was a young man in a lab coat. When Sayama saw the slender man with long hair, a name filled his mind.
Except he did not look all that much like her. He was taller and bonier.
But the smile he made as he gave a greeting did remind Sayama of hers.
…Is this part of my Shinjou-kun withdrawal symptoms?
He tilted his head and the gaze’s owner handed a document to the young man.
The young man took it and suddenly looked to the side.
Someone had entered the room.
The young man looked a bit surprised to see the person, but then he smiled and opened his mouth.
His mouth moved to call someone’s name and the movements were much like those Sayama often saw. There was no sound here, so he could only read the vowel sounds.
…Ah – ah – ah – un.
I see. So this is the National Defense Department, he realized as someone’s thoughts reached his mind.
“Georgius is a machine built to capture its user’s willpower so it can either amplify or destroy that world’s positive and negative concepts. In other words, it is an amplifier for and weapon against all concepts.”
There was a pause as if for a breath.
“As Georgius must not have its power disturbed by any concept, its foundational component must be a power that is not bound by concepts. That is, it must be given an operational mechanism that works under all concepts and can ignore or overcome those concepts.”
Sayama mentally frowned at what the thought said.
…Ignore or overcome all concepts?
Did something like that really exist?
“If it does, it cannot be light or heat,” he muttered. “It could not be anything bound by the laws of physics. Something that exists even in absolute nothingness.”
A story suddenly came to him.
That story said the world had once been in a state of chaotic darkness where everything was formless.
“Let there be light…and there was light.”
He thought it was wrong to use those words to say light was the strongest thing of all.
What was it that had ignored the chaos and created the light?
As if in response, the scene before him changed.
He was now on a mountain ridge with an excellent view and his vision was walking with around ten other people.
One was the young man who resembled Shinjou and he was falling behind.
A young man in a military coat split off from those moving on ahead and walked back to that first young man.
The owner of the gaze smiled as he watched them.
A voice reached Sayama’s mind.
“A will. We can say that the appearance of every concept involves what we can call that concept’s will. And it is possible to seal a will inside a machine. 3rd-Gear’s gods of war and 5th-Gear’s mechanical dragons are proof enough of that. However…”
The scene changed again. This time to a destroyed city.
The gaze stood between buildings that crumbled and sent smoke into the clear sky. The water being used to put out a fire flowed into the street and the owner of the gaze looked west with a few of his comrades.
A blue truck arrived while weaving between the people weakly placing scrap wood out in the road.
“But that means Georgius’s final necessary component is a person. A person must be broken down and their will must be transferred inside, along with their flesh and blood, to give Georgius its own existence. That will create a weapon with a mind of its own. However, the will that enters Georgius must be perfectly synchronized with the weapon. To prevent even an instantaneous error or time lag, their entire body and sense of judgment must be made into Georgius. …However, this will erase their personality and transform their will into nothing but a component.”
“That is why the creation of Georgius must not continue.”
The scene changed to the underground study Sayama stood inside.
However, this gaze still was not his own.
…Is this still the past?
As if to confirm that, the gaze spoke from in front of the desk at the center of the piles of books and bookcases.
“Nevertheless, I possess the negative Georgius. Due to a promise I made, I cannot reveal where it came from and the positive Georgius that goes with it has been lost. But in the distant future, it should reappear. I hope that both of them will be held by their proper owners. …For that reason, I will later seal the negative Georgius in a place I know very well. To ensure no one foolishly seeks to create a similar item, I will leave only this document here.”
The voice paused as if to breathe.
“I pray that there is no conflict over the use of Georgius.”
Sayama was suddenly knocked away by the words of the gaze, by those words his own mind was creating.
He fell into darkness. He fell into the shadows that led back to reality and the present day.
But he had seen the answer. He knew what Georgius was.
On top of that, he had gained two new mysteries.
First, there were indeed two pieces to Georgius and one of those was hidden somewhere.
Second, his parents had come here for Georgius, but…
“Georgius is made from a human being. What fight made that necessary?”
That would be the battle during the Great Kansai Earthquake.
…Was that so great a battle that they wanted to destroy concepts!?
Before he could answer his own question, the scene before his eyes changed.
Realizing it would be the underground study, strength filled his gaze. He knew he had returned to the normal world.
But he was wrong.
He saw the blue sky and the mountains in front of him.
…Where is this?
He looked into the clear sky.
He saw a white fence and the top of a forest beyond that.
This was a narrow viewing platform built on an elevated cliff in the Okutama mountains.
He sat on a wooden bench and his vision was quite low to the ground.
…What is this?
He knew the answer and he spoke that knowledge aloud.
“Is this my mother’s attempted double suicide!?”
Sayama realized there was a lunch to his left. A large red box contained sausage, pasta salad, croquettes, apple slices, and other colors of food. A large blue box contained rice balls.
He felt the usual pain in his chest.
Without him telling it to, his vision looked down at the lunch.
This was his past self. This gaze belonged to a version of himself much different from now.
The gaze turned around to look at a parked wine-red sedan.
Beyond the car was a two-lane road. The wall-like slope covered by a cement embankment showed the road had been carved out of the mountainside.
The gaze turned back and looked to someone sitting beyond the lunch.
It was a short-haired woman wearing a blue shirt and a long white flared skirt.
She looked back at him with a smile and a tilt of the head. She tilted her head instead of looking down on him.
“What is it, Mikoto? What’s the matter?”
Sayama’s mind and body froze with fear at the voice he heard.
The pain felt like having his lungs squeezed, but…
His past self in the dream happily spoke the same word he forced from the depths of his throat: nothing.
“Let’s eat already,” said his other self.
“Go ahead,” said his mother. “Yes. I actually put real effort into this one.”
His hand quickly reached for a rice ball.
Do these have hamburger meat in them?
Aren’t you going to eat any, mom?
You’re eating too fast, Mikoto. I can’t keep up.
C’mon, eat. …You can eat dad’s portion too.
…Show some tact, child.
But despite his thought, he saw his mother smile.
He had not thought anything of the smile at the time, but he now knew what it meant.
He gave a long mental sigh and wiped away his unseen sweat.
…Why am I seeing my past? Does my subconscious have a humiliation fetish?
He could make a guess. When the information on Georgius had left, the information inside his own mind must have been partially dragged out.
But if he allowed that information to be fully drawn out…
…This past may be externally stored in writing and vanish inside me.
That would erase one of the memories that plagued his chest.
…How about it?
If he erased the memory, he would have an easier time in the future. Most likely, his mother would no longer give him chest pains and he would not worry Shinjou as much.
This was probably his one and only chance at this.
…This may be a sort of reward.
This may have been thanks for making it this far and attempting to learn what was written here.
As he thought through it logically, he saw a certain moment begin.
This was the final moment.
The owner of the gaze, that young Sayama, held a thermos lid his mother had given him.
It contained orange juice chilled with ice and the young Sayama rejoiced that it contained three whole pieces of ice.
“Mom, I can see the bottom through the i-…”
As soon as he turned around, he saw darkness.
That darkness made his mind gasp along with his past self.
He caught a brief glimpse of the blue sky and then something blue covered him. It was his mother’s clothes and body.
Something that kept him from breathing was pressed down on him by something heavy.
That weight prevented him from moving or breathing.
He tried to say so, but it was so sudden that his lips only trembled and refused to move properly.
He heard his young self’s voice.
His body used up all of its air for that shout.
A moment later, his vision grew bright and the blue cloth of his mother’s clothing lifted slightly.
He saw his mother’s face.
With the blue sky in the background, the ends of her eyebrows were lowered as if it say nothing could change this but not to worry about it.
…Why are you smiling!?
He heard his mother’s faintly shrill voice.
“Next time you call for me, it will surely be in a new world.”
Her hands rose toward his face.
She leaned toward him, he took a breath, and he passed out.
At the same time, his present self fell into darkness. He fell into pure black where nothing could be seen.
But even as his vision grew dark, the pain in his chest did not vanish.
The pain felt like his heart was being squeezed and he could not fight it no matter how much strength he gathered.
A weight emptied his mind until he could not even think about the pain.
And as the pain filled his entire body, he thought.
…When I later woke in the hospital, I learned that my mother had killed herself with a blade.
He had heard a fair bit of speculation. Some wondered if his mother had thought he had suffocated when he had passed out. Others wondered if she had known he was not dead but had been unable to go through with killing him as well.
All he knew for sure was that he had shed no tears for the mother inside that coffin.
His only thought had been “Why?”
About a decade had passed since then.
During those ten years, the pain had grown and he had tried to forget.
And now a chance had come. If he did nothing now, he could part ways with this memory and its pain. The memory itself would be drawn out of him.
It would become a written record and it would be stripped from his brain in the process.
He had recalled that final memory of his mother countless times, but it would instead spin round and round in that astronomical model.
…And I will have an easier life.
That was fine. It would be good for the Leviathan Road, good for his own future, and good for Shinjou.
But even as he thought that, he heard a voice.
“A terrible idea.”
The voice rejected his thoughts.
“Don’t you think, Shinjou-kun?”
When the voice called the name of the one most important to him, he realized it was his own voice.
The answer was simple. Even as his memory was drawn from him, he was waking up.
His subconscious – that undeniably honest part of himself – was speaking to him.
“Doesn’t it sound like a terrible idea? After all, Shinjou-kun is searching for the past and she would never think to erase the result, regardless of what that result is. And Kazami will never forget that Izumo was injured. The same goes for everyone else. They will never erase the loss of their loved ones. …So will I alone erase it?”
He spoke back to his own question.
…Yes, but I am me and they are them. What is wrong with it?
“Is that so?” he asked himself. “Will I be able to bear it if I have lost my own past? When Shinjou-kun is embracing her past even as she so beautifully grieves, will I not be there with her? Do you know what that is called?”
…Why not call it a privilege? A privilege earned by reaching this place?
He heard a bitter laugh.
“Coming here was my selfish decision. No one will give me a privilege for that. That is called…”
His mind answered his subconscious.
After a pause, his subconscious spoke.
“Do you understand? No, I know you understand. After all…”
Both Sayamas spoke at once.
“I know myself better than anyone else in the world. And the one who knows me second best is Shinjou-kun.”
After another pause, both conscious and subconscious suddenly shouted out.
“Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled…carrots!! Damn, you kept up wonderfully, other me! That’s me for you!”
Confident that his mind had gathered as one, he thought.
“Yes,” he began. “I had forgotten, but I am a human who stands above god. So no matter what handicap or past I may hold, I can continue upwards, unlike the common people below me. …Ergo, I need no helping hand. Having Shinjou-kun help me through the pain is my greatest happiness.”
“Then hurry,” said his subconscious. “Your past is being dragged out.”
Sure enough, his surroundings were filling with light.
He was waking.
If he did nothing, he would fully wake and he would likely find that final memory of his mother rotating in a circle.
He had to stop it.
The answer reached his body.
Someone placed their hand on the back of his left hand which he could not clench into a fist.
He did not know whose hand it was. Did it come from his memories, was it his own hand, or was it an illusion?
Regardless, he spread his unseen hand in the darkness. He held it before his eyes, spread the fingers, and thrust it into the blackness as if clawing at it.
“I heard that a will can overcome all else.”
He was alone.
“I will likely always be alone.”
Even if someone stood by his side…
“We will never fully overlap. After all, only I can do that.”
But he mouthed the name of the person he cared most for.
“Nevertheless, I want to be with you. …Surely that will lead me to my answer. That will tell me why I had Team Leviathan disband.”
His mind nodded and gathered strength in his left hand.
“I no longer have any reason to deny the past or to reject my pain. So cry out in pain, my body. Enduring that is what allows me to rise above all others. And as I do, I will go ahead. I will set an example for all those dragging around the pain of the past and will tell them this: If I am worth following, then go ahead. Yes, that is my role!”
He cried out.
“The surname Sayama indicates a villain! …And that villain has a single desire. If all is chaos and I stand above god, then it is not light that I desire. I desire…”
Strength filled his right hand.
He still doubted he could throw a punch, but he managed to fully clench the fingers in the darkness.
All five fingers constricted into a fully-formed fist.
He felt the memory clenched inside that fist and he raised his voice.
“Let there be strength!!”
His mind struck the darkness before his eyes and he had a thought.
…What is Shinjou-kun doing right now?
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