Owari no Chronicle:Volume13 Chapter 25
Chapter 25: Where to Carry One’s Being
I want to take your hand
But my trembling soul
Still desires the bed
All but one of the library’s lights was turned off.
That one was a reserve light in the center of the ceiling which illuminated a boy and a desk below.
The boy wore a suit and looked out at the people he could faintly see in the darkness.
Some wore suits, some wore traditional garb, some were old, some were young, some were male, some were female, and plenty were not even human.
But he understood that they were all watching him and that gave him a thought as he looked around at them all.
…I am being watched by every single world.
This had come quickly.
Just eight months earlier when the cherry trees had been blossoming, he had stared up into the sky from the emergency stairs, unsure what to do.
He had wanted to get serious and he had plunged into a place where he could do that.
…And now the world is focused on me!
He placed the weight of his excitement in the bottom of his heart to puff his chest out with pride.
And a moment later…
He lowered his head.
He turned in each direction and bowed, slowly but surely.
Baku also bowed from atop his head.
After the four bows, he raised his head and looked at them all again.
Wonderful, he thought. Simply wonderful.
…Even as I take my eyes off them to bow, the world still watches me.
A laugh of joy almost escaped his throat.
His absolute delight seemed to twist into an audible sound deep in his gut.
Utterly wonderful, he thought. Bless this wonderful world.
Feeling generous, he decided introduce himself.
“Hello, ladies and gentlemen of many worlds. I am Sayama Mikoto, the Low-Gear representative who stands at the center of the current world.”
The world quieted down, but it was not mere silence. Tension filled the air.
The world did and said nothing as it waited cautiously to see what he would say next.
Good, he thought. That is good. This is good. Nothing else would qualify as good.
He felt the world needed to be peacefully tense.
They could not build peace on top of tension. They had to build tension on top of peace.
…You could call it high-tension peace.
The world is surprisingly focused on momentum, he thought as he used the tense atmosphere to speak.
“Approximately sixty years ago…”
Everyone focused on his words.
“Yes, sixty years ago, a vigorous war was fought even inside this Gear.”
He put clear pauses between his sentences.
That kept people’s focus from waning and felt generally pleasant.
“At the time, the monkeys we call ancestors realized the other Gears were continually fighting to ensure their own continued existence. That was known as the Concept War.”
He took a breath and was happy to hear others taking similar breaths in the darkness.
“Our ancestors made a late entrance into that war, contacted each of the ten Gears, fought or negotiated with them, and ultimately played a role in their destruction. …And we also know that, fifty years later, they fought the sole remaining Gear, Top-Gear, destroyed it, and watched its ending arrive.”
He breathed out, but his last sentence received no objections.
…Because that will be the greatest point of contention in this meeting.
He nodded to maintain a consensus with everyone else. At this meeting, Low-Gear had to go back over everything related to the post-Leviathan Road world and…
…Investigate the truth behind Top-Gear’s destruction.
How that turned out would determine the result of the final trial. It would decide whether Low-Gear was right or not.
He gave a mental sigh turned his eyes and attention in all four directions and thought.
…Being judged is rather interesting.
Oh, but it is a shame.
…It is such a shame that Shinjou-kun is not by my side and that this will not last forever.
It was also a shame that he could not say aloud how interesting he found this.
The highest point in the world is surprisingly full of disappointment, he thought while placing his hands on the desk.
“Now, I would like to use this meeting to accept the truth behind the destruction of the different Gears and to go over the compensation your worlds require. But as Low-Gear’s representative…”
He breathed in.
“I would first like to express my deepest sympathy for all of those who were unable to make it here.”
With those words, he bowed deeply enough to place his forehead on the desk.
Some people gasped in response to Sayama’s action and others stirred.
“What a farce!”
Sayama kept his head lowered, but a young man in casual clothing cried out from the 6th-Gear section of the northern upper level audience seats. He stood up below the deactivated lights and pointed at Sayama.
“Your deepest sympathy? For all of those who were unable to make it here? That’s all because of what Low-Gear did! You’re just using nice-sounding words to justify your own actions!”
This new shout came from a woman in the 2nd-Gear section of the southern audience seats.
“Then are you rejecting any sympathy for all of the people who didn’t make it here!?”
“Low-Gear has no right to give or receive sympathy!” he shouted. “The people of Low-Gear are the kind who grow defiant even as they bear their own seven deadly sins!”
At that point, a sudden gunshot sent the young man flying through the air.
Everyone turned to the moderator’s seat. Sf stood there with her left arm aiming a heavy machinegun toward the ceiling.
Then #8 spoke from the next seat over.
“The moderator only allows the current speaker to speak.”
Sf nodded and slowly looked around. Everyone watched her silently and cautiously.
“Tes. I fired without a warning this time, but next time I will fire even with a warning.”
“W-wait! Are you ruling this trial with fear!?”
Sf aimed the heavy machinegun toward the one who said that.
They let out a shriek, but Sf continued regardless.
“Do not worry. I am using non-lethal rounds.”
She pulled a single bullet from the ammunition belt and tossed it high into the air.
She immediately released the machinegun’s hammer, a gunshot filled the library, and the sound of an impact soon followed.
However, no sound came from the thrown and fired bullets when they collided in midair.
Everyone watched blankly as sparks silently scattered, so Sf spoke.
“Did you see that? The bullets have been engraved with the words ‘Silence, fool’.”
The library was entirely silent save for the metallic clunk of Sf setting down the heavy machinegun.
After that, she looked south which was to her right. The 2nd-Gear woman cowered back at the automaton’s gaze, but Sf only urged her to sit.
“It would seem many of you still do not understand, so let me repeat myself. As a German-made automaton, I have no emotions. As such, I cannot understand anything said or done based on them.”
No one dared speak or even breathe.
“In a negotiation between two parties, I may not understand them, but I do understand that emotions are influencing the negotiation. But when an unrelated third party says something I do not understand, I will physically quiet them down.”
She looked to the audience seats as she spoke.
“Itaru-sama, will that do?”
“Try summing it all up in a single sentence.”
Sf thought for a moment and then spoke to them all.
“Please avoid speaking amongst yourselves.”
Everyone in the darkness frantically nodded, so Sf looked down to the person whose head was still planted on the desk at the bottom of the Kinugasa Library.
“Low-Gear Representative Sayama-sama, please continue your statement.”
Sayama straightened up, raised his arms to fix his sleeves, and brought his left hand to his collar to loosen his tie.
“Well, then. I certainly did not expect a simple bow to be so poorly received. But Sf-kun, you make a good protector of our speech. If I say anything silly, please shoot me as well.”
“That was already my intention. I am perfectly impartial. …I do hate the Soviets, though.”
The representative of Russian UCAT ducked down behind the others, but both Sf and Sayama ignored him.
Sayama then spoke while looking up at the audience around him.
“Listen, everyone. I have no intention of letting this end with mere sympathy and apology. If you wish for a fight, we can deal with that later. But first, how about we begin by doing what we can with words?”
He raised his eyebrows a bit and spread his arms.
“So I am perfectly prepared to bow down.”
He faced forward and everyone followed his gaze to the one sitting in front of him.
“1st-Gear Representative Brunhild-kun, we can start by hearing what you have to say.”
Despite being called on, Brunhild was having trouble grasping the meaning of this meeting.
1st-Gear had already clashed with Japanese UCAT several times. They had been forced to retreat each time and they had reached an understanding.
…And I’m sure the others know that.
But, she thought.
She did not ask why. She thought “but” instead.
She did not know their reason, but instead of asking why, she moved on to creating that reason for herself.
There was something she could point to because they all had an understanding.
So she faced forward where a desk was set up about a dozen meters away at the bottom of the Kinugasa Library.
She had a thought as she looked at the boy in a suit who stood beyond the desk.
…There’s a lot to hesitate over and a lot to question.
But the others had come here to give their answer, so she stood up.
The light above her switched on and she knew she was lit up just like Sayama.
…The world is focused on 1st-Gear right now.
Even during the Concept War, they had only been seen as one of the ten Gears that needed to be defeated.
I see. So this is the first time in history for 1st-Gear to receive this kind of focus, she thought with a bold smile in her heart. In that case, this ridiculous stage isn’t so bad.
At the same time, Sayama spoke.
“Do you have something to say, representative from the world of the dragon of words?”
The girl in black opened her mouth below the light.
This would be her first statement in this question-and-answer session with another Gear. And as the first statement in a meeting held with every Gear present, it deserved to be recorded. The stenographers from various Gears and UCATs prepared their paper or laptops and the stenographer automatons waiting behind the moderator’s seat also prepared.
They all accurately copied down Brunhild’s words.
“The question-and-answer sessions here are meant to discuss what to do in the new world, aren’t they? After all, we’ve already finished the Leviathan Road and settled the past.”
Her first statement was calm.
The audience’s tension would fade away with her next statement. If she had not said not said what she did, that is.
“In that case, I have a question concerning the coming new world.”
The stenographers immediately saw the girl swing her arm around to produce glowing writing in front of her.
It said, “When will we be able to leave the reservations and enter this world?”
She then clarified the question.
“If the non-human races are trapped in reservations, there can’t be a ‘new world’. …What do you have to say about that?”
With the light shining on her, she pointed to one corner of the darkness.
That was where 1st-Gear’s assistant representatives sat. One of them had lost his wings but still had the massive frame of a half-dragon.
“Listen. We have people as big as that, so things are going to get pretty cramped if we get many more of them. And even if this world gives us a larger reservation, we’re still trapped inside it.”
The girl gently tapped on her desk and everyone saw a paper in that hand which said “locker” on it.
As they all watched on, she pulled a long weapon from the desk drawer.
“Requiem Sense. The souls that reside in here persuaded our people to abandon 1st-Gear, but where are we supposed to go now? Will you actually have a place for us here?”
She spun the scythe in her right arm. The blade end of the handle rotated around her arm like a living creature clinging to her. It sliced through the air as it moved from her right arm to her shoulder, to her left arm, and to her left hand. With a snap of the wrist, she sped it up and sent it back the way it had come.
The air split open and she gently twisted her body as she sent the scythe back to her right arm.
Meanwhile, light began to appear around her.
The green light looked like luminescence or firefly light.
“The souls sleeping in the underworld are asking: have the lives they sent onward arrived in a new world? Or…”
“Or are they in another closed-off world like 1st-Gear? Is that what they are asking, Brunhild-kun?”
“Yes,” she replied while rotating the scythe in her right fingers and sharply jabbing the bottom against the floor.
A solid sound rang out, the scythe shook, and light spilled from the blade like raindrops.
“Now, Sayama, give us a clear answer. This question could easily be avoided by continually putting it off, but I want a clear answer. Will we and the others with non-human forms be able to live in this world?”
A voice replied to Brunhild.
The low scolding voice came from Siegfried at the library counter behind her.
“Please do not damage the floor like that, Nein.”
Brunhild frowned and looked at her feet.
The bottom of Requiem Sense had dug into the wooden floor and the black cat was glaring up at her next to it.
“See, Brunhild? That’s what happens when you try to show off.”
She silently lifted the scythe and dropped it on top of the cat.
“Ah! Wait! Not the device! Not the device, Brunhild! This is so immoral!!”
“Shut up and support this a bit. Like a proper cat.”
“That last part doesn’t even make sen- hee hee hee hee hee. Stop, I’m sensitive there!!”
All of the stenographers copied down everything the cat said while wondering, “How many hees was that?”
Brunhild then faced Sayama.
“Well? Are you going to answer the question?”
Sayama crossed his arms and opened his mouth.
As soon as the stenographers readied their hands, he spoke.
“To be blunt, how many times must I bow down to make up for it?”
Brunhild’s mind was unable to immediately react to Sayama’s words.
However, her body did react. It filled with energy, the cat shouted some more, the stenographers were given a lot more work, and she suddenly came to her senses.
“W-wait a second!”
“Y-yes, please wait, Brunhild! My heart isn’t ready for that kind of enthusiasm!”
The stenographers occasionally had trouble translating some of the more incomprehensible statements and had to quickly ask another representative’s stenographer for help, but Brunhild did not care. At most, she was glad to be helping foster some interaction between nations and worlds
“Sayama, this world has a certain saying, doesn’t it? ‘If sorry was enough, we wouldn’t need the police.’ ”
“If you are ready to say you are sorry, you should not commit the crime in the first place,” replied Sayama expressionlessly. “To be blunt, it is simply impossible to throw your brethren – or any of the other non-humans – out into this world. Even if you would be fine, the people of this world know nothing of the Concept War.”
“So what are we to do about that, Brunhild-kun?”
He now asked her a question.
I thought I was the one asking the questions here, she thought.
It was true the people of this world knew nothing of half-dragons, spirits, or even the former existence of other worlds. If some non-humans showed up now, they would only be seen as a spectacle.
That was why Sayama had said it was impossible.
Brunhild immediately smiled bitterly at her own question.
…The time for “why” has already ended. That’s an outdated word for me.
Instead, she thought “but”. Sayama had said it was impossible.
…But then he asked me what to do about it.
That was why she said what she would do if it were her.
“Yes, it’s true that would be impossible now.”
But what were they to do?
“So I ask that you help us remake this world not conceptually but as a world. And you can do so by making philosopher’s stones for us.”
“Philosopher’s stones? You can remake this world with those?”
“Yes.” She nodded. “If they are philosopher’s stones made from a concept text saying ‘fits in’.”
Silence filled the library.
Some in the dark audience seats leaned forward. They were mostly the residents of Gears with non-humans and the German and European UCATs that had agreed to take in the 1st-Gear reservation.
Brunhild spoke at the center of their focus.
“The non-humans of each Gear will either wear those philosopher’s stones or have them embedded inside their bodies before heading out into the world. If they do that, the people of the world will not fear or avoid us.”
“But doesn’t that mean you are being protected by the stones? Won’t it mean you cannot live in this world without relying on them?”
Sayama had a small smile on his lips as he asked and he gave an exaggerated shrug.
“How is that any different from living in the concept space of the reservation? You will have trapped yourself inside the protective cage of the philosopher’s stones.”
“True, but the stones are necessary to get along with the people who will live alongside us.”
She looked at Sayama’s slight smile as she spoke.
He already knows the answer, doesn’t he? she realized anew.
She went on to give the decisive statement.
“But what about the next generation?” she asked. “When the next generation of children is born into a world they share with us, they will grow up in a world that includes non-humans and will not need the philosopher’s stones to accept it.”
“So let me be clear: only our generation will be protected by the stones. By the time our next generation is born, the people of this world will also be of a new generation and they should all be people who see nothing strange about our presence. After all, we will have been there from the moment they were born.”
Brunhild held her left hand forward and a few lights floated above her palm.
“We are the generation that was given a push and told to walk through the gate. But we are outsiders, so will not find a place of rest. So…so we will choose to be the generation which builds the room containing a bed of peaceful rest for the next generation.”
“Then in a way, won’t 1st-Gear and the other non-humans be conquering this world? You will use a generation’s worth of familiarity to become residents of this world.”
“Yes,” said Brunhild. “Help us, Low-Gear. You don’t need to say you can’t and bow down. We do not want this world. …We want the next generation of this world.”
“But what reward do you get? Are you sacrificing yourselves for the next generation?”
Brunhild lifted the scythe in her right hand.
“I don’t know if we will have a reward or not. But if we do have one…”
She swung the weapon and reaped the light in the air.
“It will be the possibility of finding people who will accept us without the philosopher’s stones even in this generation. If we find that kind of acceptance even once, it will be all the reward we need.”
Sayama crossed his arms and thought for a few seconds.
“That is an interesting answer, if you ask me.” He gave a clear nod. “So UCAT will help you. If you work up the courage and remove your philosopher’s stone before someone you can trust, UCAT will do everything we can to assist that person.”
He raised one arm and looked through the surrounding darkness.
“I have a suggestion. If, after this meeting has ended, Low-Gear has been forgiven and allowed to exist, I would like to create a Non-Human Naturalization Promotion Committee within UCAT.”
“That is exactly what you suggested, Brunhild-kun.”
He smiled and spoke toward the ceiling.
“This concerns every Gear. The committee will assist any non-human who wishes to live inside Low-Gear. And I appoint…”
He took a breath.
“…1st-Gear to lead the committee!”
Brunhild heard what Sayama said.
She gave a resigned shrug.
He had made the decision on his own and assumed they would go along with it.
But, she thought. But if we can do that…
…What would the others think after helping all of us escape from the closed world of 1st-Gear?
Would they be delighted? Would they be rewarded for trying to accomplish something even as they were looked down on as a weak Gear?
But that might be too naïve, Brunhild warned herself.
That pessimistic thought caused her to speak.
“I doubt that would work out.”
She sighed and smiled bitterly.
“Yes, I seriously doubt any unguarded interaction with non-humans would work out.”
She almost said “really”, but a voice that could be taken as an affirmation or denial reached her.
“But didn’t it work just fine for a group in 1st-Gear long ago?”
Sayama’s calm words were answered by a sound.
It was the sound of chirping from Brunhild’s black three-cornered hat.
Looking like she had only just remembered, she removed the hat and let the small bird jump from her head and onto the brim of the hat.
Her eyes narrowed as she looked down at the bird and Sayama’s words reached her.
“You can find crazy people just about anywhere. Sixty years ago, a dozen or so such people gathered together and now…”
He looked around and Brunhild did the same.
They looked to each of the figures visible in the dark audience seats.
“Look, all of the people gathered here and the many more they represent are just as crazy. So what does that mean for the world domination of acceptance that you have bet an entire generation on? I would say it is only a matter of time before the entire world has gone crazy.”
Brunhild wanted some time before answering.
She slowly breathed in, created a few seconds of silence, and finally looked to the scythe in her hand.
She then looked to the green light appearing from the blade and at the 1st-Gear residents in the audience.
She saw them crossing their arms or legs while watching her.
They were leaving it all to her, so…
She narrowed her eyes, nodded their way, and turned back to the boy in front of her.
She had a single question for him.
“What is 1st-Gear to this world?”
The stenographers’ hands could be heard moving as he spoke.
“The transfer of the non-humans to Low-Gear is likely the greatest problem faced by all the Gears, so I can say you are a valiant Gear for working towards a solution. In body, you refuse to run. In soul, you refuse to be cowed.”
He took a breath.
“This is an honorable act that will save the non-humans of every Gear.”
As soon as she heard his words and the sounds of the stenographers recording them, Brunhild produced a much louder sound.
She had forcefully taken a seat.
At the same time, she placed Requiem Sense on the desk with the handle pointed toward Sayama and she mouthed someone’s name just once.
She pulled her hat low to hide her lips as they called the name of someone she knew well yet would never meet again.
She gathered her strength and raised her voice to a shout.
“1st-Gear desires to embody the word ‘honor’ and exist within Low-Gear!”
From the neighboring seat, Tsukuyomi watched the small witch sit down.
The woman then faced forward and saw Sayama looking her way.
She glanced up at the ceiling as the light above her switched on.
What a pain, she muttered in her heart.
…I’m always pulled around by this boy.
He was either always at the center of trouble or he had a way of causing trouble.
But Kashima’s family seemed to be doing well and Yamata had been resealed within Totsuka.
Also, the name Tsukuyomi was the imperial name of the one who tracked the progress of the moon and compiled history.
So with an understanding of her role, Tsukuyomi listened to Sayama.
“Do you have something to say, representative from the world of the dragon of names?”
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