Owari no Chronicle:Volume2 Chapter 15
Chapter 15: Multiple Sounds of Wind
Faster than the blowing wind
One’s will rushes through and the truth passes by
The most definite things might be the passing voices
Brunhild held her broom in both hands as she stood in the schoolyard of an abandoned school surrounded by forest.
She stood on a shadow created from the moonlight as she faced the gym. The cat was not at her feet.
“Is he doing a decent job of telling Venerable Hagen and Fafner what happened today?” she muttered.
The only response came from the blowing wind.
The wind blew in from the east. This movement in the air was gentle yet a certain grandness could be felt in it.
Brunhild held down her hair as she withstood the thick easterly wind.
“The wind is not too-…”
Her voice trailed off before she could say “bad”. The forest around her had begun rustling.
This rustling did not come from the leaves brushing together. As the wind gently pushed against the trees, they bent and the forest itself shook. This wind had a different sort of weight than a quick gust of wind.
Brunhild heard the high-pitched cries of birds within the forest.
As she looked around, a flock of birds burst from the moonlit forest.
“No wind created by the earth and wind spirits of 1st-Gear would drive out the birds.”
With the forest still bent, the pressure of the easterly wind produced a loud noise. It sounded like the crashing of waves. The cries of wakened birds and beasts filled the wind to provide a high-pitched coloration.
It felt as if the entire forest was walking from east to west. As Brunhild stood in that schoolyard surrounded by the forest, she felt as if the entire commotion was circling around her.
However, that commotion did not approach her any further.
The sound slowly settled down like a receding wave. The wind, the creaking of the forest, and the cries of the birds and beasts all slowly disappeared.
Brunhild sighed after hearing the final chirp of a bird.
She suddenly realized she was tightly gripping the handle of her broom.
Was I afraid? she asked in self-derision.
It was at that time that she sensed movement in the atmosphere behind her.
She turned around, thinking it was the black cat, but something much bigger filled her vision.
A giant white form had grown from the gym. It was Fafnir Custom.
Fafnir Custom had partially left the concept space enveloping the gym. The inside of the concept space could not be seen from outside. That meant Fafnir Custom had to have moved his face slightly out of the gym to access the outside world.
His giant, long, and slender face was already outside.
He must have taken a single step from within the concept space. The area from his face down to the base of his neck and his front right leg seemed to be pushed out. His metal claws were digging into the schoolyard and giving off several metallic noises. Next, his front left leg, his body, his back right leg, his back left leg, and finally his tail followed.
The dragon’s movements were heavy and certain. A heavy metallic noise caused the earth to tremble.
As Brunhild watched on, the dragon’s entire form appeared below the moonlight.
That great white and green dragon was over thirty meters long and over seven meters tall at the shoulder. Other than the red light of the primary vision devices on his face, nothing on him seemed to try to assert his own existence to the outside world.
His entire body only glowed palely in the moonlight.
Fafnir Custom turned to face Brunhild.
He had only walked three steps out of the gym and had stopped at precisely three meters away from Brunhild. He gently lowered his body which caused wind to wash over the schoolyard.
As she watched that wind rip dried leaves from the ground and toss them into the air, Brunhild asked the dragon a question.
“Has it been a while since you came outside, Venerable Hagen?”
Fafnir Custom answered the question in Hagen’s voice and tone.
“We have had a lot of meetings lately… And as the concept space will disappear after a few hours if I am gone, it has been harder and harder to find the time. I only came out now to see you off.”
Brunhild was relieved to hear a smile in his voice when he spoke that final comment.
A voice then spoke from above Fafnir Custom’s head.
“Brunhild,” said the black cat.
She looked up to see the black shadow had already climbed down to Fafnir Custom’s nose. The black cat tried to stop there, but…
The cat’s feet slipped and it slid right off the dragon’s head. As the cat shot diagonally toward the ground, Brunhild took a step forward to catch it.
“Watch out,” she cried.
The cat performed a counter on the knee she had moved forward.
The impact caused an unassuming noise. In response, the cat let out a controlled breath rather than a scream.
“N-nice effort,” it said before sliding down Brunhild’s shin.
Brunhild picked the cat’s small body up in her left arm and looked back toward Fafnir Custom with the broom still in her right hand. As a weapon, Fafnir Custom could not produce facial expressions. However, Brunhild sighed.
“I know this looks odd, but just know that I do not do this because I want to.”
“No, I think it is perfectly fine. I can see much better than I used to and I am glad to see you can remain cheerful.”
“I simply do not have much time to be serious. Venerable Hagen, is it tough having to be so serious all the time?”
“Good question…” replied Fafnir Custom with an answer that was neither an affirmation nor a denial. He then lowered his body slightly and asked, “Brunhild, do you see yourself as about to leave or about to return home?”
“Eh…?” Brunhild gasped. “V-Venerable Hagen… Do you think I have forgotten 1st-Gear?”
“No, I do not think that. However, your opinion of the current state of the headquarters does not seem to be a favorable one.”
“…I do not like that kind of arguing. I think this might be the nature of the long-lived race.”
“Yes. But listen, Brunhild. Even if you are not exactly fond of the others, you must not grow to hate them. Keeping your distance and hating are two different things.”
“If only you had someone as long-lived as you who could remain with you always. In your eyes, everyone, myself included, must seem rushed and intent on heading down a selfish path.”
The black cat raised its head in her arm. It looked toward Fafnir Custom and spoke.
“You sound like an old man, Venerable Hagen.”
“Stop that!” scolded Brunhild.
Fafnir Custom spoke in a smiling voice toward both the scolder and the scolded.
“Ha ha. That is because I am one. My body will not last much longer. I am sure everyone has realized it. And I do not mean my lifespan as a machine. My real lifespan is running out.”
Hearing that name, Fafnir Custom turned his primary vision devices accurately toward Brunhild.
“It is because of this body that I was able to last these sixty years. I hear UCAT has means of longevity involving remodeling the human body and using techniques they call magic. I wonder if they will obtain the same loneliness you have…” Fafnir Custom gave a bitter laugh. His body shook slightly. “The reason Fafner and the others are in such a hurry is likely because they are thinking about me. They want to resolve this while I still live.”
“Fafner just wants to use you.”
“No, he wants me to take action. How nostalgic. Do you remember when Fafner was first brought here?”
“He was raised to be the next leader of the reservation, but he ran off here with one of our guides when he learned of our history. He was inexperienced and arrived half dead after making his way through the thin concepts of Low-Gear. …And now he is the leader of the second generation group.” Brunhild nodded at her own words, but then continued. “I do understand why everyone is in such a hurry. UCAT has been very active since the death of Sayama Kaoru, a member of the former National Defense Department along with Siegfried and the others. What could they be doing?”
“They are doing something to prevent this world from falling to the negative concepts. Of course, that is just a front for something else.”
“What do they want to do?”
“I do not know. Not even Fasolt and the others working with UCAT know everything. UCAT is hiding something. I can only think they have been doing something in the sixty years since they destroyed our Gear. But as we have left the front lines of the fight to rebuild ourselves, there is no way we could know what that is.”
“Did the late Sayama know about it? Does Siegfried?”
“I would assume so. Also…” Hagen trailed off. When Brunhild tilted her head, Fafnir Custom asked, “Don’t you need to get back? When you arrived, you seemed to be in a hurry.”
The black cat reacted to those words before Brunhild. It tapped its soft front paw against her chest.
“The bird. Just because you have such a flat chest is no reason to forget about-… Ahh! Being strangled is new!!”
After squeezing the cat’s neck, Brunhild bowed toward Fafnir Custom. She then placed the cat on her shoulder.
As she frantically held up her broom, Fafnir Custom spoke up.
“Yes. She never learns. She took in a small bird that fell out of its nest.”
“Oh, I see. That is good to hear. Brunhild…no, perhaps I should call you Nein.”
“I…gave up that name long ago.”
“But that is who you are to me. You are the small girl who was taken in by my niece Gutrune and lived in the laboratory of my younger brother Regin. I may have forced a difficult decision on you. For Gutrune and Regin as well, Siegfried was…”
“Please stop. Hearing the names of people we both knew is worse than speaking to myself.”
As she spoke, Brunhild tried to give a slight smile.
However, she could not keep the ends of her eyebrows from drooping and the expression held no strength.
She hung her head down and looked at her broom. She wordlessly pulled a blue stone with a chain from her vest pocket and wrapped it around the broom handle. She held the stone and chain in her right hand.
A blue light appeared from the broom’s brush and it tried to float up from the ground. Brunhild held it down with both hands.
“It is time we left.”
Only then was she finally able to smile.
But it only lasted an instant.
She poured strength into her right hand. As her grip on the stone increased, the pale blue light coming from the brush increased. No one was around to see her here.
“I will be flying up all at once, so please stand back.”
“A dragon such as myself will not be damaged by the wind produced by a cute witch.”
“No, you would be able to see my underwear.”
Fafnir Custom took a step back and Brunhild gave a bow along with the black cat.
At the same time, she slid her left hand down along the broom handle. She tightly squeezed her right hand while in a pose that made it seem she was playing tug of war against the sky.
The pale blue light coming from the broom’s brush rapidly lost its color. In its place, wind began filling the school yard around the broom.
The powerful wind radiated out from the broom as it swept across the school yard.
A high-pitched noise reverberated through the wind. And once that noise reached a certain level…
“I will be going.”
With that comment, Brunhild relaxed her entire body save her arms.
It all happened in an instant. She clung to the broom handle as if throwing her body forward. With the resistance holding it in place lessened, the broom shot up into the sky as if it had been forcefully kicked upwards.
It flew in a slight arc up into the sky.
Brunhild looked down as the wind pressed down from above.
The shape of the forest was no longer visible and the abandoned school was no larger than a few centimeters across and still growing smaller.
However, a single pale figure was visible in the moonlight covering the clearing of the abandoned school.
Brunhild cast her eyes down as she continued to cling to the ascending broom handle.
She was headed east. As that direction entered her mind, she muttered in a voice the wind drowned out.
“The direction of the wind that moves the forest…”
Fafnir Custom stared up into the sky in which the moon was visible.
A line of pale clouds could be seen in the sky above as Brunhild flew to the east.
Fafnir Custom continued watching until that line of clouds disappeared in the wind.
“Now then,” he muttered before turning to the western edge of the schoolyard.
This was the opposite direction from the gym. A gym storage shed that’s roof had rotted away stood next to the school building. The moonlight filled that area with shadows of the night.
Fafnir Custom turned his crimson primary vision devices in that direction.
“I think it is time to speak with you. …You over there.”
As that mechanical voice rang out, three shadows appeared from the darkness filling the western end of the schoolyard.
They belonged to people.
Standing at the front was a tall elderly man wearing a sand-yellow summer coat.
Below a bandanna wrapped like a turban was a deeply tanned face with the Arab features of a hooked nose and sunken eye sockets. However, only the right eye socket had a black eye looking out from it.
Below the coat that was slightly opened by the wind, he wore vest and suit pants. He was walking toward Fafnir Custom with long strides.
Two girls walked behind him to the left and right.
On the right was a tall girl with her black hair bound at the back of her head. Below her black summer coat, she wore the same outfit as the man, but a silk wrapping containing some sort of rod hung to the left of her waist.
On the left was a girl with long hair fluttering in the wind. She wore a black stole over her shoulders, but she wore a white shirt and a black dress below it.
The tall girl on the right was older. She held a sharp look in her eyes and mouth as she glared over at Fafnir Custom. The short girl on the left had the ends of her eyebrows lowered slightly.
Those two contrasting girls flanked the man as the three of them approached. As Fafnir Custom watched that, he suddenly heard a musical tune.
The girl on the left had opened her lips slightly and was singing in the moonlight.
“Silent night, Holy night
All’s asleep, one sole light,
Just the faithful and holy pair,
Lovely boy-child with curly hair,
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace.”
Fafnir Custom knew that song.
“Brunhild would often sing that after our escape. It is a Low-Gear song. I believe the title is Silent Night.”
As the girl cast her eyes down and sang, she suddenly raised her right hand a bit.
When she did, several small shadows descended from the night sky.
They were birds.
These birds whose wings were shaded blue and black by the moonlight were the birds that had been driven from the forest by the blowing wind. That flock that had lost their spot now gathered on the girl’s outstretched arm.
The sound of flapping wings filled the wind of the night.
The birds elicited a smile from the girl’s narrowed eyes and faintly raised eyebrows.
“Ha ha,” she breathed out. “I have no food for you. So go.” The girl pointed toward the forest behind Fafnir Custom. “Go back home.”
As soon as the girl spoke, the birds flew up and become silhouettes in the moonlight.
Those black wings created shadows in the dark blue sky. The scattered sound of flapping wings passed by Fafnir Custom in an instant and disappeared into the forest behind him.
Fafnir Custom used all of his auditory devices to listen to the sound of the birds’ chirping disappear within the forest.
Finally, it faded away and silence fell.
The man and the two girls had stopped walking. Approximately twenty meters remained between those three and Fafnir Custom.
Even that large mechanical dragon would need to take a few steps to cross that distance.
The three people and Fafnir Custom stared at each other from that distance.
Fafnir Custom made the first move. He spread his four legs and raised his back end.
He was preparing to charge. And in that pose, Fafnir Custom spoke.
“So you have come unannounced once again, information broker. Or should I call you Hajji of the so-called ‘Army’.”
The man referred to as Hajji smiled at that. His white moustache and his stubble-covered chin bent upwards.
“It has been a dozen or so years now, but that is the first time I have been called that. I am shocked, Hagen.”
“You have no right to speak my name… I do not even know what Gear you are from. Even so, you are an information broker who can gather weapons and accurate information. I want to keep any familiarity between us purely professional,” said Fafnir Custom. “Also, who are those two insane girls with you?”
Still smiling, Hajji looked at the girls to his left and right. He lightly spread his arms and spoke.
“You could say they are my daughters. The tall one here is Mikoku. The short one is Shino. I thought it was time they learned how to perform this job. Cute, aren’t they? Hm?”
As they were introduced, Mikoku nodded and Shino bowed.
Hajji went on to say, “They may not look it, but they are both great warrior djinn. And…”
His smile suddenly disappeared.
But he quickly covered his face with his large right hand. The span of three breaths passed before he lowered his hand once more. Once he did, the smile had returned.
“That does not matter. For tonight, I have some more information for you.”
“And are you going to ask once more that I put my forces under your command?”
“I never said anything about putting them under my command. I would never think of such a thing. But we are both trying to stop Low-Gear’s Leviathan Road. I believe we want the same thing. Am I wrong? Hm?”
“Sorry, but my answer is the same as before. We will solve our problem in our own way. I have no intention of fighting alongside someone whose identity I do not know.”
“If you agree to join us, I will tell you our identity and our objective.”
“I might have considered it if that smile were real. …But I said no and I mean no.”
When he heard Fafnir Custom’s words, Hajji once more covered his mouth with his right hand.
No hint of a smile could be seen in his eyes as a voice leaked through the hand covering his mouth.
And before those two words had faded away, Fafnir Custom fired.
He targeted Mikoku, the girl on the right.
The tall girl was blown backwards as if she had been hit by a car. She floated up higher than her own height and flew several times that distance backwards.
Fafnir Custom had used the right side of his body. A meter long anti-personnel machinegun had been internally installed in that most stable location. It broke through the seal and shot out into the night air. The attack had consumed three pages of the book bullets loaded in it. Three bullets of light with a diameter of two centimeters were fired almost simultaneously.
It had all occurred much too quickly for a human’s reaction speed. And all three shots hit.
Mikoku’s clothing was torn to pieces both on her chest and on her back where the bullets of light exited.
Many things scattered into the air and her body fell to the ground headfirst.
She struck the ground.
With an unpleasant noise, her neck bent in the correct direction. It bent in the direction it should be bent to ensure there was no saving her.
Her body then rolled two or three times. When she finally came to a stop, her neck must have bent back into place because the air in her lungs passed through her throat and exited her mouth. This created a short coughing sound.
Fafnir Custom used all of his forward-facing vision devices to look at her.
“You taught her well, Hajji. When you lost your smile, she secretly opened that silk wrapping.”
He watched her. Even after being blasted away, Mikoku had her right hand next to her left waist. That hand held the grip of something sticking out of that wrapping.
She was not moving. After confirming that, Fafnir Custom fixed his vision devices on Hajji.
Hajji still had his right hand at his mouth, but he finally raised it along with his left.
Fafnir Custom asked, “That girl you called a djinn has fallen. Why did you bring these children with you? And what do you know? We know nothing beyond the destruction of 1st-Gear. But you that call yourselves the Army…” Fafnir Custom looked back and forth between Hajji and the girl on the left. “You are an army made up of a few different Gears, aren’t you? From what I can tell, Hajji, you appear to be from 9th-Gear. And those two girls appear to either be from 2nd-Gear or Low-Gear.”
“You are surprisingly nosy, aren’t you, Hagen?”
“I am saying you possess something that great. You understand, don’t you, Hajji?”
Just as Fafnir Custom ended its preparation for a charge and prepared to take a normal step forward, the vision devices on his right side picked up a single small light.
Fafnir Custom cast aside the heavy movements from before and leapt to the left. A change came over the joints of his legs. The output bands and wood pipes that provided the legs’ driving force rearranged in an instant to shift from normal mode to short-range movement mode.
He leapt about 10 meters to the left with a cat-like movement.
He leapt such that his face remained pointed toward the light but his back end rotated around.
His back legs landed and dug an arcing curve into the schoolyard.
Fafnir Custom lowered his body with the sound of breaking wood and he saw two changes occur in the spot he had just been standing in.
The first was that a five meter deep sphere of destruction had appeared on the ground there.
“Why…is the girl I killed there?”
It was Mikoku. While wearing clothes that had been torn to rags, Mikoku stood before the hole of destruction created in the schoolyard. Hanging from her right arm was…
“That is a concept weapon with a philospher’s stone inside. Is it a Cowling Sword?”
“Yes. Not many can use them, but we have an excellent instructor in the Army. This girl can travel that far and cause that much destruction in an instant.”
Mikoku remained silent. The left hand that did not hold the Cowling Sword held the remains of her torn clothes over her chest.
Fafnir Custom saw her look toward him just once.
Her face held no expression. However, she was not suppressing her emotions like Brunhild.
“She seems to be saying she has no interest in this.”
“It is an excellent expression, don’t you think? She’s guaranteed to be a cool beauty when she grows up, isn’t she? Hm?” said Hajji with a smile. “I will provide you with a special service today. I will tell you what we are after before getting to the real topic at hand. How about that?”
“I see,” said Fafnir Custom while remaining on guard. “Are you creating an organized rebel army out of the remnants of each Gear in order to stop the Leviathan Road?”
Hajji cast his eyes down and shook his head.
“Too bad. That’s not it. What we want,” he took a breath, opened his eyes wide, and bowed with a smile on his face, “is the annihilation of each Gear’s concepts.”
“I see no need for clarification. I mean exactly what I said, Hagen. We of the Army wish for the disappearance of every concept save the ones that preserve us. That is our goal.”
“…Why!? Are you abandoning your own Gears!?”
“We see a reason, meaning, and value in doing so. I assure you we do,” said Hajji. The smile vanished from his face as if all enthusiasm was leaving him. “The holy sword Gram stored in UCAT at IAI Headquarters in Shimane will be transported to UCAT in the Tokyo branch office tomorrow night. The airplane should pass right above here.”
“Why are you telling us this? We will retrieve the concepts of 1st-Gear, but we do not wish to eliminate them as you do. …We will become your enemy.”
“I know that. This is another special service. I am going all out with the special services today.” He lowered his gaze with no smile on his face. “Well, for now, we do not mind what you do here. At the very least, we want to avoid having the concepts remain with UCAT. If you do retrieve Gram, we can begin negotiations.”
“Negotiations about what?”
“For starters, we will tell you and demand of you the truth without giving any thought to Low-Gear. We must make Low-Gear into what is truly true.”
“What is truly true?”
“Yes,” said Hajji as he raised his right hand and snapped his fingers.
Mikoku moved back. She took large steps backwards so as to return to her position to the right of Hajji while never taking her eyes off of Fafnir Custom.
At the same time, Hajji and Shino moved back as well. They moved toward the darkness behind them.
“Farewell, Hagen. Our positions will likely have changed by the time we meet again.”
“Wait! Answer me, Hajji! What do you mean by what is true!?”
Hajji replied to that reverberating question with a smile.
Mikoku caught up to him and they sank into to darkness behind them.
Just before his sand-yellow summer coat sank into the darkness, Hajji’s voice rang out.
“It is a simple matter. In the truest sense of the term, we will pass everything onto the one who will take over after us!”
His answer grew to a shout that contained a hint of a smile.
Fafnir Custom heard that answer.
The three figures had disappeared from his vision.
At some point, an easterly wind had begun to blow around him.
Fafnir Custom quietly muttered to himself in that wind.
“So Gram will be transported tomorrow…”
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