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...Brother,^^ 
'Onj© 9 3 


“There can be no 
doubt that this is 
appropriate for 
all ages! Healthy 
and wholesome! 
Tastefully erotic! 
But not obscene! 
For this is what I 
shall henceforth - 
name; the Great | 
Wholesomeness I 









YUU KAMIYA 




NEW YORK 



OPENING 


You're playing an RPG and you hit a door you can't open. Isn't this what you 
think? If I can use magic, why can't I just bust this door the hell open? But you 
can't. Why not? Because those are the rules. 

—Games and real life are different. People like to say this as if you can't tell the 
difference. But have they thought about how they are different? They're 
probably just thinking in terms of is it real or not. Now, as much as I'd like to 
debate whether sports are reality or a game, we won't go there. What I want to 
talk about is a more fundamental difference between games and reality: 
absolute rules. 

If we look at the previous example realistically, ignoring rules. You don't need 
to worry about a door; you can just break it and continue. When the fate of the 
world is at stake, who needs to look for the key? In a situation in which you can 
appropriate the items inside as long as you have the key, it seems as if, even if 
anyone sued you for destruction of property, you would win. Looking at it 
another way, if the door is so strong that you can't even break it with magic that 
can defeat the Devil, couldn't you just break through the wall instead? Heck, you 
could even grab that insanely tough door and use it as a shield when you're 
fighting the Devil. Same for the legendary sword in the stone: You don't have to 
pull the sword out; just break the stone. But they don't do that. Why not? 

Because then it would be boring. 

That's right: Rules are there to make the process of achieving the ending fun. 
In shogi, to capture the king; in soccer, to score more goals; in an RPG, to defeat 
the final boss. There's nothing cool about reaching the set ending without 
following the rules. Thus, the rules of games have a shored absoluteness. 

— Do you see it yet? In reality—there is no ending. Victory is not secured when 
certain conditions are fulfilled, and beating someone doesn't bring peace. Lovers 
never live happily ever after. For better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, every 



single relationship reaches a dead end. Therefore, people set their own endings 
by their own arbitrary interpretation, and they create their own arbitrary rules 
to go along with it. if i moke more money, i'ii hove won; if i hove more fun, i'ii 
hove won—even thinking of winning in the first place makes you a loser... 

Let's try a little thought experiment. Imagine you're playing shogi and, all of a 
sudden, your opponent starts moving pieces around however he wants with no 
rhyme or reason. And then, he hasn't even captured your king, but he looks at 
you as if to say. How's that? I won. 

...How did you react? Could it be that you wanted to punch him in the face? 
But can you think of a game in which everyone plays like that? That's right— 
that's reoiity. 

—Games and real life are different? No shit. We have a few words for the 
people who say this smugly: Don't even try to compare them, noob. 

■■■ 

Eight twenty-three-inch widescreen monitors. That was the whole of their 
world. 

A little planet, thirteen thousand kilometers in diameter at its equator. A world 
with its surface covered in a fiber-optic network...Earth. On this planet, the 
concept of distance had been forgotten. Connecting to the Internet allowed one 
to transmit thoughts fast enough to go around the world seven times a second. 
It was possible to connect with someone on the other side of the world as if they 
were right by one's side. 

— People said that the world had expanded boundlessly. 

— But they thought that the world had shrunk tightly. 

Everything necessary for life could be delivered with a single click. The empty 
boxes left over robbed the close room of its original breadth. Where the 
inorganic light of the displays blinked upon them. No, rather, on the other side of 
the monitors. The net space built in hexadecimal—that was their whole world. 

Cramping the room even further were the countless PCs and consoles. The 
wiring connecting them, and numerous controllers, robbed it even of space to 
walk. Lighted within this were two faces, devoid of expression. These, indeed. 


were those of the brother and sister, who at the very nnonnent were waging a 
fierce battle against some unknown players on the other side of the world. The 
brother was a young man with black hair and black eyes. The sister was a girl 
with white hair and red eyes. The contents of the screen were chaotic, while the 
contents of the room were still. The siblings' headphones even monopolized the 
sounds of their own world. All that could be heard within the room were 
inorganic, mechanical sounds and the clicks of the two. 

—They thought that the world had shrunk. Electronic data networks had 
created the ability to see the other side of the world without moving. But what 
that brought on was a data tsunami that far exceeded the limits of individual 
cognition. The explosion of data had not created boundless connection, but the 
opposite. The surplus of data was a poison that made people flee to their own 
little worlds biased toward what they wanted to hear. Countless little closed 
communities. Isolated, ever-smaller, shallow individual ideologies. And 
someplace else, someplace that wasn't here: the countless game worlds. Their 
eyes as they peered into the worlds beyond the monitor. Sometimes they 
concentrated so hard that they fell under the illusion that they were really in 
those other worlds. That they weren't the dregs of society, bound in this cage 
the size of sixteen tatami mats. Sometimes they were heroes, standing up to 
save countries. Sometimes they were heads of the greatest guilds in the world. 
Sometimes they were mages, sometimes they were elite commandos, 
sometimes assassins. The general common thread was that the world revolved 
around them. That clear victory conditions were indicated. 

The young man let out a sigh. Eight twenty-three-inch widescreen monitors. 
How long had it been since they had become his whole world? 

The two reigned undefeated in all kinds of games. In the little world beyond 
the monitor, they were practically an urban legend. In the little world of games 
they belonged to, they were truly heroes, just as in the games. But, whenever 
they looked away, what was there was the same as always. Inorganic, quiet, 
cramped. The small, isolated world...of the dregs of society. And then the young 
man gave himself over to the dysphoria that always overcame him. The 
sensation of jamais vu: Is this really my room? And then he thought further. 
Without basis, he simply thought idly—/s this really the world in which I was 



meant to live? 


"Yes, you are right." 

But that voice responding to his internal monologue. In front of Sora was the 
same world they'd always seen. And, within it, an unfamiliar boy, innocently 
smiling while standing oddly. 

—Wait. Had he seen him before? He searched his memory, but, before he 
could speak, the boy went on. 

"This isn't where you were meant to live. So..." 

And- 

"That's why I've given you a new life." 

Past and present, fiction and reality. All of the memories clouded. His 
increasingly hazy consciousness started to strip away the reality from the world. 
And suddenly he realized—f/ie usual thing. 

" . Oh, I see, it's a dream." 

Then, just like all dreams. It ended, impossible to pinpoint when, as his 
consciousness returned... 

■■■ 

The Kingdom of Elkia: the capital, Elkia. In this city, now the last bastion of 
Immanity after it had lost territory in one play for dominion after another. In a 
corridor of the Royal Castle, a girl walked unsteadily. Stephanie Dola. A noble girl 
of the finest breeding, the granddaughter of the previous king, with red hair and 
blue eyes. 

— But. The deep fatigue shown by the dark circles under her eyes and her 
heavy steps robbed her of her natural refinement. Clutching playing cards with a 
creepy smile, wobbling her way to the bedchamber of the king, she rather 
appeared...a ghost. 

"Heh, heh-heh-heh... This is the day you get what's coming to you." 

As the newly risen sun came to reap her post-all-nighter consciousness. 
Stephanie—aka Steph—chuckled restlessly. 

"—Sora, you're awake, aren't you! It's morning!" 



Bam, bam. With her hands full of cards, Steph kicked the door and addressed 
the king by his name alone. But. 

"Beeep. The party you have dialed is pretending not to be available." 

"-Huh?" 

The voice that answered from the room was not the king's. Rather, it was a 
sleepy-sounding, monotonous, synthesized female voice. 

"Please move away from the door immediately and be sure not to barge in." 

Sora, is this some kind of joke?" 

"No, I'm serious, dood." 

"For the God's sake! I'm coming in, all right?!" 

He was probably just playing a game anyway—wait, scratch that, he definitely 
was. Spurred on by the irritation of fatigue, as if to kick down the door—no. 
Actually kicking open the door, Steph saw as she entered the royal bedchamber. 

"I'm sorry I'm so sorry I really wasn't joking I honestly just can't right now I 
didn't mean anything really I'm serious please I'm sorry I'm sorry..." 

—The king, crouching on the bed, clutching his head, apologizing profusely. It 
was so pitiful as to bring tears, as he trembled visibly. However, Steph, who had 
seen something similar before, looked around the room as she spoke. The room 
was covered in so many books there was no place to step, along with countless 
games. But Steph muttered at the lack of something that should have been 
there. 

"...Hm? Sora, are you alone?" 

"Yes I'm alone so alone no more reason to live probably never should've been 
born in the first place I'm sorry after you go I'll just be a good boy and hang 
myself so please—" 

"...Brother...? You're making a racket..." 

To the king babbling on without breathing—to Sora, a lethargic voice rose to 
complain. Recognizing the voice, Steph sighed and murmured. 

"So Shiro is here. What are you doing?" 



"-Huh?" 

As this was pointed out, Sora whipped his head in Shim's direction. She must 
have fallen off the bed while sleeping. The girl as white as snow, creeping up 
from the side of the bed. Sora's movement to hug her—left sound behind. 

"Ahhhhhhh, I'm sooooo glad! Oh, God, my sister! I almost hung myself by 
mistake thanks to your sloppy sleeping. What do you have to say for yourself!" 

As the brother wept openly and rubbed his cheek against his sister—Shiro. The 
sister looked at him with a cold squint, out of sleepiness...though probably not 
exclusively. 

"...Brother...that's too much..." 

"What?! Are you saying you don't understand your brother's feelings?!" 

Sora slammed to his feet and crowed with grand gesture. 

"Then tonight! When you're sleeping. I'll put you in the closet! And, when you 
wake up, I won't be—" 

". \...Hk...Ngh../' 

But, before he even finished speaking, Shiro already had tears in her eyes, 
perhaps imagining it. 

"See?! Now do you see how I feel?" 

"...I'm sor-ry...rm...sor-ry, for not sleeping better..." 

As Shiro apologized sincerely between sobs, Sora stroked her head. 

"No, I'm sorry. I went too far. I was a bad brother to make you imagine such a 
catastrophe." 

"...H/c... Yeah..." 

Then, the man who a moment before was shaking like a newborn gazelle and 
begging forgiveness. Turned powerfully, pridefully, back to Steph and made an 
announcement. 








"So, it must be the bed's fault! Steph, get rid of this bed and lay out a futon!" 

"H-hngg?!" 

Steph, who had been watching the siblings' antics as if she had already seen it 
all. Raised a queer voice in panic at the contradiction presented to her. 

"Th-th-this is the bed of the royal chamber! Do you know how much history—" 

"Whatever. Sleeping or not, for Shiro to leave my side, it must be the bed's 
fault. Maybe it's tilted?" 

Shiro nodded in agreement without hesitation. Steph thought—How 
ridiculous. 

"Th-that bed is worth enough to feed a whole family, you know?!" 

"Then sell it and feed a family. It's a good deed; there'll be a happy family." 

"...Y-y-y-you..." 

As Steph trembled speechlessly at Sora's tyrannical reign, Sora thought of 
something. 

"Oh, right. The stuff in this room belonged to the previous king—your 
grandfather." 

It seemed Sora had got something from Steph's reaction. Clapping his hands 
together, he spoke as if he'd had a brilliant idea. 

"So, this is what we'll do. Steph, from today, this is your room.” 

"Wha—! ...Th-this is the king's hedchamherV' 

"And I am the king. Anyplace I choose to sleep, be it a doghouse, will become 
the king's bedchamber.” 

The king spouted off sophistry like breathing, with a clear face. 

"So get me a room in the building the castle's maids use. For the bed, you 
should just stick a mattress on the floor, of course." 

Steph, for a moment, was unable to follow Sora as he pronounced that a futon 
would be motto ii. After a few seconds, she reacted. 

"A-a maid's room...we're talking about a little shack at the edge of the castle 



grounds?! It's wood, you know?!" 

"Mm? Now this I can't overlook; are you dissing wood?" 

Sora cleared his throat with an ahem and began. 

"It's superior in ventilation, absorbency, insulation, seismic resistance, wind 
resistance, and everything. Truly a castle as far as a shut-in is concerned. As long 
as you watch out for fire, there is no architecture that compares to Japanese—" 

Then, in the middle of his speech, Sora seemed to think of something. And got 
out his tablet, which had been on the solar charger by the window. 

"Oh, I knew it. I did have a book on Japanese architecture." 

"...What?" 

"Great, let's build a house on the castle grounds!" 

"Huh...?" 

Leaving Steph behind as she utterly failed to follow him, Sora went on, heated. 

"What do you think, Shiro, our dream /el Don't you think that's a great idea?!" 

"...Where...would we build it?" 

"Heh-heh, I know exactly what your concerns are, my little imoutoW" 

He accentuated his speech with English. As if to say, "You think your brother 
wouldn't think of that"...he pointed, bam—to the castle courtyard. 

"Over there, it would be close to the outer ward where the maids stay, so we 
should have no problem getting supplies. It's also close to the castle kitchen, so 
we can shut ourselves in just like always! It's also got a fair amount of greenery 
and a nice breeze, and very few people pass by! Plus, thanks to the castle wall, 
there'll be practically no sunlight at all in the morning! Can you even imagine a 
better place than this!" 

To Sora's boasts, Shiro lifted a hand. 

"...No objections..." 

"Great! So, Steph." 

"Uh, urn, y-yes?" 



To Steph, slack-jawed in awe at these developments. 

"Get us some experts on wooden architecture. Yeah, this is probably an 
unknown style of architecture in this world, so I guess we'll need a few ultra-top- 
class artisans and twenty or so staff? I guess, if we explain how to pick the wood, 
they can take care of the details." 

— By way of a late introduction. These two siblings are Sora and Shiro—the 
king and queen of Elkia, the last nation of the human race, "Immanity." Who 
spend days without leaving their room. Who read and play games all day and 
night while making unreasonable demands. 

—This is what you call tyranny. 

u -ready for a gomeW" 

Steph appeared to be out of patience with the tyrants. Clutching her cards in 
her hands, glaring daggers at Sora as she yelled. For today—she would bring 
divine punishment upon them. 

— But. 

"-...Oh?" 

At the mere mention of the word "game," Sora's eyes narrowed, all emotion 
blown out. Though Steph had seen this instantaneous transformation many 
times before, it still made her shiver. The pitiful man who just had been shivering 
himself turned into a smug, silly big brother. And with the flip of a switch, the 
contents of her heart were exposed, so that no matter what she did, she'd be in 
the palm of his hand—his mechanical calmness gave that illusion. And yet with a 
military boldness, his face turned into that of a game master. 

— But, more critically. As he looked into her eyes, Steph felt a flash of heat in 
her face and a bounce in her heart. The legacy of the game she had played with 
him before. The proof that the tab from her utter defeat had not been 
forgotten. It seemed to blunt the force with which Steph had come. As her ears 
turned red and her eyes turned away, Sora asked: 

"Does this mean you're challenging me to a game under Aschente?" 

"Uh, why, yes, that's exactly what it means." 



"...The Fifth of the Ten Covenants... The party challenged...has the right to 
determine...the game." 

Shiro mumbled out the Covenant she had memorized. 

— It was an absolutely binding Covenant that the God had set down for this 
world. An absolute rule that could not be defied for any reason. 

"Hmmm... And yet? You challenge—me? To a game of my choosing?" 

—The game had already begun. Steph had a line ready for Sora as he spoke out 
to maintain his psychological edge. 

"Oh, dear me, do you suggest that you, the greatest gamer among humans, 
will not e-entertain me with a game outside of your specialty?" 

Though Steph had desperately planned this line out and practiced it. Her voice 
cracked a bit, and she sounded as if she were reading a script. And Sora chuckled 
and grinned at her smugly. 

"I see. So you got a little argument ready ahead of time—what's your wager?" 

When playing an absolutely binding game under the Ten Covenants, what to 
wager was also part of the negotiation. 

"Heh-heh-heh... If I win-" 

But, as if that question was what she was waiting for, Steph grinned back. 

"Sora, you're going to become a decent person!" 

Whammo -.^..went Steph's finger at Sora. But only silence returned. 

"Uh...uh...?" 

"Oh, I see how it is." "You got me there." Those were the kinds of reactions 
Steph had expected. But, instead, Sora shouted with a twinkle in his eye. 

"That's—right—if the Ten Covenants are absolutely binding, then that would 
make that kind of thing possible?!" 

"Humgh?!" 

As Sora swayed toward Steph with unexpected enthusiasm, Steph turned her 
blushing face away. 



"I-I-I mean, you commanded me to fall in love with you...which means—" 

—That's right, after their previous game, at the end of which, through some 
sort of trickery, he'd demanded her to fall in love with him. It could be seen that 
Steph had in fact been forced to fall in love with him, regardless of her will. So. 

"I-I see; I'd totally overlooked that—I!" 

This is what it meant to have the scales fall from one's eyes. Sora looked to the 
heavens with fervor, but then gasped and shouted again. 

"Th-then don't say 'decent person'—make your demand that I 'get a life'l" 

"—Get a...life? What's that supposed to mean?" 

"It's an expression; it's pretty much like being a decent person; come on, let's 
bet it, let's play; I'll lose!!" 

"Uh, w-well..." 

While Steph stood bewildered at how to deal with his fervent response. The 
brakes came on from an unexpected direction. 

"...Brother, you can't...lose to someone other than...me..." 

"Wha—?! My—my sister, are you going to life-block your big brother?" 

"...Blank can't...lose..." 

"Ngk-r 

That's right: Sora (Sky) and Shiro (White), when the characters for their names 
were combined, made Kuuhaku: "Blank." And " " couldn't lose. It was a promise 
the two had exchanged, back in their old world—. In a world without rules, it 
was an absolute and immutable rule that they had decided for themselves. But 
now Sora looked back in despair as if dropped from heaven to hell. 

"That's... But! I mean, there's no way I would actually lose to Steph playing for 
real?!" 

"Wha-?!" 

The siblings ignored Steph's facial contortion and went on arguing. 

"...I don't care..." 



"Come—come on, just think, a life, a real life, with flowers and sparkles and 
shit! Sh-Shiro, let's do it; you set it as the wager. There's no problem if it's you, 
right? I'll lose with all I've got; come on, maybe chess." 

"...But...I refuse..." 

"Aah, God, shit! Stephl!" 

"Y-yes?!" 

Sora put his hands together in supplication and shouted to Steph from his 
heart. 

"I'll stake it on the one-in-a-million—no, inexpressible-without-imaginary- 
numbers chance that you might actually have a game you can beat me at! I'm 
begging ya, Stephl! Answer my hope, tinier than a quantum!!" 

"Heh, heh-heh...he-he-he...he-he-he-he-he-he-he, y-you're asking for it, 
buster!!" 

With her face twisted by the rain of verbal abuse, Steph laughed. 

"The game Is—blackjackV' 


"-...H/7/7/7/7..." 

"...H//..." 

As the siblings each gave their own sighs with their own meanings, Steph 
wobbled, unable to grasp the meaning of either. 

"Uh, what? What's that?! I do have a chance at this game?!" 

As Sora just sighed, and Shiro seems to have lost all interest, Steph yelled: 

"I'm the dealer! Sora's the player! This will prevent Sora from cheating, and, 
even if he does, I can show it and win! Skill has nothing to do with it if it's a game 
of pure luck, right!" 

Sora looking out the window. On his cheek glistened a single tear. 

"The character for 'fleeting' is written with 'person' on the left and 'dream' on 
the right. Well, whatever, Steph; don't lose hope; I'm sure next time you'll blah 




blah blah." 


As Sora messed with his nails and got started on a lazy victory speech, Steph 
chewed back into him. 

"H-how dare you... J-just you wait! Aschente!" 

This word was an oath that committed one to an absolutely binding wager 
under the Ten Covenants—but. 

"Yeah, yeah... Aschente." 

"Oh, come to think of it, I forgot to say what I would wager..." 

"Yeah... Anything's fine, really... Hff..." 

"Y-you-l" 

While Sora acted without doubt that he would win, Steph reminded herself 
silently to calm down. 

— That's right, calm down. This is your chance. Inside, Steph squeezed up the 
corners of her mouth and crowed. A game of pure luck? Like hell. Even though 
she'd been busy, it went without saying that she'd been practicing a trick all 
night and was confident she could pull it off. The dealer gets to shuffle the cards. 
Which meant that if she could line up the cards in the shuffle in a way that 
looked legitimate, she could win. It wasn't as if she were slipping in cards: There 
was no way you could prove it. The Eighth of the Ten Covenants: "If cheating is 
discovered in a game, it shall be counted as a loss"—which meant os long os it 
wasn't discovered, you could cheotl ("Heh-heh-heh-heh... You'll rue the day you 
looked down on me!") 

— But Steph didn't know. Doing that. Would never be enough to win her 
victory over Sora... 

■■■ 

— Beyond the horizon. Chess pieces giant enough to throw off perspective, as 
if the towering mountains were merely pedestals for them. Sitting at the top of 
the king piece, kicking his legs, was a boy. As the boy whistled merrily, he held in 
his hands a blank book and a quill. 

"Hmm... It's hard to know howto start." 


Apparently thinking of how to start a story he was writing. Eventually, he 
seemed to think of something and started moving the quill. 

"—Once upon a time, there was a world in which all exercise of armed force 
was forbidden, and all conflicts had to be resolved by games, as an absolute 
rule... Yeah. I guess that looks good, more or less?" 

Nodding, from the top of the piece higher than the heavens, the boy looked far 
into the distance and muttered. 

"...I wonder if it'll start moving about r\o\N...t he first piece." 

The boy's name was Tet. He was the supreme creator of this world—D/sboorc/, 
a world where everything was decided by games. Until the long-ago Great War 
of the gods put him on the throne of the One True God, he was known as the 
god of piay. And now this One True God looked out into the distance, as if 
casting his thoughts to a faraway lover. 

—Question: is this a sign of the fa ii of immanity? 

Suddenly, this haughty voice rang from thin air. 

Or: is it a sign that thou wiit at iast moke thy move? 

At this voice, Tet seemed slightly peeved, but still smiled. 

"Eavesdropping on me talking to myself? I can't say I think much of your 
hobby." 

The being spying on Tet, the One True God, was able to send words to him, 
albeit brokenly. Without a doubt, one of the Old Deus race, ranked first among 
the races—and one with power limited even among them. Of course, to Tet, the 
One True God, it was obvious who the being was, and not particularly 
interesting. 

—Question: Space-time distortion observed before new immanity monarch 
determined, inference that thou wouidst intervene: true,foise? 

But, to this question, Tet shot back languidly. 

"You guys really are a bore." 

Then, as if he were about to meet his lover again. Tet spoke with an impatient 



smile. 

"Tm not on anyone's side. You don't have to understand. Just go on playing 
your meaningless games." 

And then he said with a smile, a smile that embraced great hope in the midst 
of great despair: 

"They are coming. To my doorstep—and you guys can't stop it." 

As if he couldn't even see the voice resounding from space, literally. He looked 
instead at Immanity's last city—Elkia. Though, to the One True God, even 
hundreds of years must seem like the blink of an eye. His eyes instead. Like those 
of a child at the door on the day of going to the amusement park who couldn't 
wait five minutes for his parents to get ready. After confirming that the presence 
behind the voice that had rung from the air had vanished with a ffp, Tet 
mumbled. 

"Please don't make me wait too long. Blank." 

Kicking the edge of the piece he was sitting on with his heels. 

"I can hardly stand it anymore. If you make me wait too long—/'m going to 
have to go visit you, aren't /?" 

Twisting his mouth into an impudent grin, he whispered: 

"Oh, that's right. Next—" 

Apparently having thought of how to continue his story, Tet spoke as he 
twirled his quill. 

"One day, a pair of gamers was invited from another world to a country of 
Immanity, the lowest-ranking race among the Ixseeds. Coming to the last 
country of beleaguered Immanity—to Elkia—they defended it from other races 
and became the king and queen—and that is where everything started... I like 
it!" 

—The scribbles he wrote, now a story. Soon to be an epic to be passed down 
among the bards for generations. Sung in the hand of the God himself, telling of 
the gods of the future. In other words: the prologue to the newest myth—. 





^ CHAPTER 1 


WEAK SQUARE 

The country of Immanity—the Kingdonn of Elkia. The capital, Elkia: Block 6, 
Eastern District. In the guest hall of a resplendent mansion, five people 
surrounded a table, with several spectators. 

One of the people surrounding the table was a young man with chaotically cut 
black hair and dark circles under his eyes. In an "I <3 PPL" shirt, jeans, and 
sneakers. The second was a little girl sitting on his lap—with long, long hair as 
white as snow. With red eyes like rubies and white on three sides (sanpaku), and 
wearing a black sailor suit. Around the young man's arm was wrapped the 
queen's tiara, like an armband. Likewise, the girl was using the king's crown to 
tie her overly long bangs. In fact, these siblings were collectively the monarch of 
Elkia, the last nation of Immanity. The brother: Sora. Eighteen, virgin, unpopular, 
socially incompetent, loser, game vegetable. The sister: Shiro. Eleven, friendless, 
socially incompetent, shut-in, game vegetable. 

.So long, humans. 

THE END 

...Well, that's what anyone would think if that was all they heard. But these 
two—were not of this world. In their old world, they had set unbeatable records 
in the rankings for over 280 games. Carving their blank name at the top of all 
kinds of games, without a single loss. And so these gamers, with their unreal 
skills and mysterious identity, came even to be regarded as an urban legend. 
Known as " "—and here they were. 

In this world, Disboard, where war had been forbidden by the Ten Covenants 
since the distant past. Where everything, even national borders, was decided by 
games. When Immanity had been backed into a corner by the many races that 
kept cheating using magic, which humans could neither use nor even detect. 
When the last city of Immanity was about to be turned into a puppet state by an 





Elven spy. They had come, without magic, without powers. With mere human 
ability, they had earned the crown of the strongest of all humans, in name and in 
truth, and ascended to the throne. 

It was true. Unmistakably, they were failures at life. It was true. Inarguably, 
they were unfit for society. But, in this one world—the siblings could very well be 
the saviors of Immanity. Of these two who held the hope of Immanity in their 
hands—the brother, Sora, cards in hand, opened his mouth!! 

"Hey, Steph. Where do babies come from?" 

.Perhaps we should say so long after all. 

A certain figure, watching from outside the table, just beside Sora and Shiro, 
responded with cold eyes. 

"...I don't really want to have to explain that to someone who holds the fate of 
Immanity on his shoulders..." 

The girl in her late teens, with red hair, blue eyes, and just the sort of frilly 
clothing you might expect to see in a fantasy world. Her fashion, her appearance, 
her manner all suggesting high breeding—Stephanie Dola. Aka Steph. The young 
miss of a most pedigreed household, once the granddaughter of the king of Elkia, 
answered. 

"—Your Majesty, have you finally lost your mind?" No, that wasn't the right 
way to put it—she corrected herself. "When I say it like that, it makes it sound as 
if you were sound of mind to begin with." 

"Hey, I'm sound as can be!" 

"Asking that question as if it's sound as can be is exactly what's unsound!" 

"Jeez, you just don't get anything! Look, in this world, we have the Ten 
Covenants, right!" 

The Ten Covenants. The absolute law of this world, created by the god Tet 
upon winning the throne of the One True God. 


1. In this world, all bodily injury, war, and plunder is forbidden. 

2. All conflicts shall be settled by victory and defeat in games. 




3. Games shall be played for wagers that each agrees are of equal 
value. 

4. Insofar as it does not conflict with "3/' any game or wager is 
permitted. 

5. The party challenged shall have the right to determine the game. 

6. Wagers sworn by the Covenants are absolutely binding. 

7. For conflicts between groups, an agent plenipotentiary shall be 
established. 

8. If cheating is discovered in a game, it shall be counted as a loss. 

9. The above shall be absolute and immutable rules, in the name of 
the God. 

10. Let's all have fun together. 

"...Yes, and so?" 

"I mean, look. Bodily injury is forbidden. So how are you supposed to make 
babies?" 


"...May I ask why you are asking this now?" 

"I was just bored and it occurred to me. But isn't this kind of a serious 
problem?" 

Mindful of the gazes around her, Steph whispered at Sora's ear: 

"In your world, were people born from eggs?" 

Yes, it was a secret that Sora and Shiro were from another world. 

...The point being, don't talk about this in front of all these people. So, to 
Steph, who spoke to him with cold, incredulous eyes as usual. 

"—H-hey! Don't make fun of me for being a virgin! It's not like I don't know 
it's, like, the monster in the guy's pocket goes in and out of the girl's secret 
garden and then the whole world flips, right?!" 


"...Brother, when you, put it like that...it makes you sound, even more... 




virginal." 

"I ann a virgin; what do you want me to be if not virginal?!" 

The royal gentleman who had never had a girlfriend in his life, childishly 
retorting to the observations of his eleven-year-old sister on his lap. 

"A-anyway, when you do that stuff, it causes injury, right?! At least the first 
time!! So, with the Ten Covenants, how does Immanity reproduce in this world? 
That's what I'm asking!" 

Steph, realizing that he might be asking a serious question after all. But, first— 
"...Just let me check: this isn't some fetishy plot to humiliate me publicly, is it?" 

Um, I think you're the one who's weird for thinking of that?" 

She could come up with a porn game situation in a world without porn games. 
Really, you had to be impressed at that kind of imagination. 

"Forget it; I'll just ask someone who knows how to explain things later. 
Useless." 

"Wha—fine, fine. I'll explain it to you!" 

Steph, clearing her throat—o-o/iem. 

"It is clear what the basis is for constituting a violation of rights." 

"Hmm. Specifically?" 

"It's simple: actions that violate rights with malice—are canceled." 

...—Wha? 

"—Uh, what, are you saying our brains are being censored in real time?" 

"Yes, that's quite it." 

Okay, while this may have been a fantasy world, you gotta say that's ridiculous. 

"Therefore, since the establishment of the Ten Covenants, most laws have 
become mere relics. After all, any action that is successfully executed has got to 
be conformant to the Covenants, or else performed by consent, or by mistake—" 

"Hhh... Your God here really can do anything." 

"The One True God obviously can do anything, can't he?" 



—The right to rebuild the laws of the world on a whinn. And now—that itself 
would be decided by a game in this world, it seemed. 

"Hmm... All right, then. So, let me ask again, why is making babies okay?" 

But the one who answered was not Steph, but Shiro, who was on his lap 
shuffling cards. 

"...Consent... Transfer'... In other words..." 

"Oh, so if you give each other permission, it's not a violation of rights." 

Sora, remembering how he was kicked in the back by Shiro before, finally 
grasped it. If it was Shiro, it was natural to think he might have agreed 
unconsciously. 

—So, with a yawn, Sora spoke as he shuffled the cards in front of Shiro. 

"Well, that makes sense. I mean, doctors' hands would be tied if you couldn't 
do anything that wounded another person." 

As Sora mumbled again that these sure were well-designed Covenants, Steph 
spoke. "You can see the world is functioning, and the rules are fast." 

"That's not how it was back in our world..." 

...Surprisingly, the world still functioned even without rules. Though buried in 
contradictions and defects. This world had to have been the same before the Ten 
Covenants, really. 

"...But then that raises another question." 

"What is it?" 

"Why was I able to fondle your boo—Okay, never mind." 

We're in public; if you go any further—sa\di Steph's piercing glare, and Sora 
shut up. 

"Anyway, this was a very interesting discussion. It was a great way to kill time." 

"You just explicitly said it was just to kill time, didn't you?!" 

As Sora lifted his sleepy head, he saw, around the table, the last three guys. 
Nobles in their underpants—three middle-aged dudes with a little too much fat. 



Also, watching them as if seeing something very pitiable were several spectators. 

— He'd been playing half unconsciously and had almost forgotten. But Sora 
and Shiro were in the midst of a game with the three nobles. Poker, betting 
everything they had. 

"Seriously, who wants to see a bunch of old guys naked... Can't we call it a 
day?" 

Indeed, they had just had all their assets cleaned out by Sora and Shiro, these 
three novj-former nobles. "All their assets" meaning just what it said. Their land, 
their fortunes, their rights, of course, and even their wives, children, families. All 
of that had been wrung from the three in just two hours, and all they had left by 
now was their underpants. 

"H-how—if we stop now, we won't have anything left!" 

"Y-y-you think you can get away with this?" 

"If we don't recoup our losses, we won't even have clothes! How dare you!" 

But Sora yawned as he half-listened and then spoke. 

"...You're the ones who agreed to play, and you're the ones who laid your 
families and clothes on the table when we didn't even ask you, right... 

Plus, if I may—" 

Arguing on, the three nobles—no, former nobles—shrunk at Sora's eyes. 

"We're looking the other way about you three all cheating together. You 
should be grateful." 

"...Full house... Game over..." 

The hand Shiro opened with those words. Meant that the nobles' last bastion 
—their underpants—was taken. 

—And so. The three noble ringleaders of the movement against agricultural 
reform were left in their birthday suits. And the demonstrations they'd stirred up 
came to a close. 

■■■ 

The capital, Elkia: Main Street. It was an arterial road that joined the city's 


north, east, south, and west and the castle. It was Elkia's busiest street, and the 
one the nobles who had lost even their underpants opposing Sora's agricultural 
reforms had to take home. 

"Th-this is just too much; it's sick..." 

Walking the well-traveled road home among carriages and crowds, Steph said 
it. 

"Did you really have to take their families?!" 

"What, they just went ahead and bet them. To put their wives and children on 
the table, they're the ones who are sick." Sora answered from behind as he 
walked with Shiro's hand firmly in his grasp. "But never mind that; this crowd... 
Sh-Shiro, whatever you do, don't let go, okay?" 

"...Y-y-you, too...Brother..." 

The two spoke with their heads lowered while flinching at all the eyes around 
them. For two socially incompetent shut-ins, walking on a big street at noon was 
nothing but torture. 

"Aren't you the one who said you wanted to walk home, Sora?" 

"I-I had something to do...b-b-but this is just too many..." 

Hardly having left the castle in the months since they'd come to this world. The 
two jerked sketchily, gripping each other's hands harder, as Steph sighed at 
them. 

"So, what about all that stuff?" 

"S-stuff? Wh-what stuff?" 

"All the stuff you took from those three." 

"Oh, well, nothing in particular." 

Somehow putting his brave face on, Sora answered. 

"If you're talking about their families, they can do what they want. If they can 
forgive them for betting them, they'll go back. The other stuff, well, you and the 
ministers can take care of it." 

The purpose of this visit had been to eliminate the nobles in the way of the 



agricultural reforms. Their being stripped naked was simply a means to strip their 
authority. Sora thought the state could just deal with the assets now. 

"Um, Sora... It is my responsibility for not having been able to head off the 
protest, and I am sorry for having caused trouble to you two, but still, the way 
you're doing things leaves a bad taste." 

Sora and Shiro may have rebuilt the country with one pillar after another of 
wisdom from another world. But only having been in this world for a month 
meant that they were liable to make a massive gaffe or two in an unfamiliar 
culture. To avoid any slipups from this, they limited themselves to dictating 
policy while the ministers handled execution. As a bridge, they employed Steph, 
with her thorough education in the ways of royalty. 

—Or that's what they said, while they dodged all the events in running a 
country they thought would be boring. In fact, they had said this a month before 
— "We'll set out the policy and direction. You and the ministers can work on the 
details. If there are any assholes who aren't satisfied with that, bring 'em here. 
I'll take everything they have and send 'em out naked—that's what I said, right?" 

"That's what I'm saying! Your idea to begin with is savagery!" 

"Don't worry about it. A reign of terror would make things annoying later on, 
but just one or two things like this is nothing." 

Actually, if he kept this up, he'd be just like one of those genocidal reds. 

"In fact, it's really impressive to me that this is the first time this has happened 
in the month since we took the throne." 

Big agricultural and industrial reforms always caused disputes over rights. 
Nobles revolting, guilds conspiring. You always saw lame events like this in 
simulation games. He'd tossed all those annoying flags to Steph and the 
ministers to clear. But he hadn't expected that it would be a whole month 
before they started popping up— "Well, yes...I'd been controlling them." 

"...Controlling them?" 

"From the beginning, most of the nobles opposed the agricultural reforms you 
proposed. Fortunately, the Dola family has some clout with the Oluos and the 
Bilds, so we were able to get them to help us set the stage." 



".Huh? Oh, okay." 

"We used data gained fronn a large-scale experinnent on lands held directly by 
the crown and sowed the spoils among major nobles who were on our side. 
Some of the petty lords came looking for a piece of the pie, and we slowly 
isolated the lords they served... There were some major houses we had no choice 
but to confront. The three today were at the top of those, so this shouldn't 
happen again. You should avoid provoking them unnecessarily and proceed— 
Wait, what?" 

Interrupting the smooth flow of Steph's words by putting his head to his 
forehead, Sora. 

"...l-it doesn't feel like I've got a fever. Why does Steph sound like she's smart!" 
said Sora, clearly consternated. "Is there something wrong with me?! S-sorry to 
make you take us all around, but I've got to see a doctor right—" 

".Urn, excuse me, isn't that taking your rudeness a little too far?" Steph's 

shoulder shook, to which Sora replied with a shout. 

"But, I mean—you're Steph, right?!" 

"Yes, I am Steph; so?!" 

Closing his eyes and shaking his head, Sora. 

"Hey, hey, wait, wait, matte, matte, could it be..." 

Like a physicist who'd just witnessed a real ghost, his assumptions had been 
shattered. It can't be possible, he thought. He swallowed audibly and with a look 
of agony. He then pronounced a fact he couldn't believe. 

"I don't think this is possible...but, Steph, could it be...you're—not an idiot?!" 
said Sora, shouting in disbelief a fact he could hardly accept. 

"U-um... Do you know I graduated at the top of my class from this nation's top 
academy; what are you on about!!" 

"But, I mean—look at yourself?!" 

—Stephanie Dola. The well-bred young lady, once the granddaughter of the 
king of Elkia. Now wearing a collar and the ears and tail of a dog. The leash from 
her neck was held by Shiro as she walked. The downtown thoroughfare. 





"What kind of snnart person would be in your position?!" 

"Aren't you the one who put me in this position?!" 

Yes, just this morning, after Steph got her ass kicked at blackjack by Sora. 
"Okay, now you're a dog for the rest of the day," she had been told randomly, 
and she was forced to comply. Given that she was taking a walk down Elkia's 
Main Street in that state, it was no surprise. But everyone on the street looked 
back at her with eyes as if they'd just seen something bizarre. It must also be 
mentioned that even at the mansion just now, she had been like that the whole 
time. 

"C-couldn't you think of something better to demand than that?!" 

As Steph shouted, suggesting that her anger had returned at this late hour, 
Sora and Shiro thought: —Looks like she's pretty much the same as always. 

"...Steph, shake..." 

When Shiro held out her hand and said this. Steph draped her front paw— 
rather, her right hand—on Shiro's right hand. 

"Ng-ghh... Why must I obey you!" 

"I thought you just explained it a minute ago. Because those are the rules of 
the world." 

—The Sixth of the Ten Covenants: Wagers sworn by the Covenants are 
absolutely binding. 

"...Steph, lie down..." 

Flattening her body on the surface of the thoroughfare, Steph cried out. 

"Ungghh! I mean, why can't I beat you!" 

At this question, Sora sighed with evident relief. 

"Oh, so you couldn't figure it out after all... I'm glad you're the same old 
Steph." 

"It sounds like you're using Steph as an insult; is it just me?! Is it just me?!" 

But Sora ignored Steph's protestations and took out his phone, never having 
guessed how hard Steph was actually working. He took another look at the 



national data he had graphed from the ministers' reports on an app. It looked 
like most of his reform proposals were going to go through smoothly. He wasn't 
entirely satisfied with the area that had been achieved for dairy farming, but, if 
things worked, it should fit the population trend. And, meanwhile, those 
employment problems were getting better to some extent—having confirmed 
these things, he started his task scheduler. Going through "Reform agriculture," 
"Reform industry," "Reform finance," etc., he put a check to mark the 
completion of each one. 

"...But, still, it is just stopgap..." 

As much as they used knowledge from another world, fundamentally there 
weren't enough resources and land. It would take half a year for the agricultural 
reforms to start bearing fruit. Even if they wanted to overclock the hell out of 
their technology, they just didn't have enough materials in the country. 

"I guess it's true—we have no choice but to 'take back our territory,' right?" 

In other words. It was finally time to move to take back the borders. But— 
where could they strike... 


Shiro seemed to understand Sora's thoughts as he fell silent, falling silent 
herself to think for a long time. Steph, walking in front with a collar on her neck, 
was thereby forced into silence herself. 

— But. Steph was unable to take the looks directed at her. 

"So-Sora. I-I can't stand these stares; please, at least talk—" 

At Steph's remonstration, Sora noticed something odd. 

"...Hm? Isn't there something weird about the way people are looking at us?" 

"What you expect when you dress me up like this?!" 

"No, I mean...don't they look kind of scared?" 

Having noticed something faintly odd about the looks directed at Steph, Sora 
asked. Indeed, they weren't the looks of ridicule directed at a buffoon forced to 
walk in costume—rather, they seemed to be looking at Sora and Shiro with 


unease... 



"What do you expect when the nnonarch of Elkia is leading someone dressed as 
a Werebeast?" 

—...Come again? 

"Wait, what did you say just now?" 

"Who'd believe that the monarch of Elkia would make someone—" 

"No! That's not my point!" 

"Wait, are you saying that wearing dog ears and a tail makes you look like...a 
Werebeast?" 

In a flash, Sora replayed in his brain all the information he had gathered so far. 

— Ixseed Rank Fourteen, Werebeast. A race whose foremost territory was the 
Eastern Union, the third-largest nation in the world. Little information was 
available, but they knew they had extremely sharp physical prowess and senses. 
And that they had something called a sixth sense, reputed even to read minds, 
and that was about it. 

"...Steph, please answer immediately." 

"Huh? Wh-what is it?" 

"Werebeasts—do they include girls with animal ears and tails like you have on 
right now?" 

"...The reason you limit your argument to girls is beyond my understanding, 
but-" 

Of course they do, she thought. To begin with, started Steph—"Female 
Werebeasts practically all look like this, you knowl" 


"...So what you're saying is, the Eastern Union"—with a gulp, Sora asked as if 
to check—"is a country where females who look almost exactly like human 
chicks, except for animal ears and tails and maybe paw pads and whiskers and 
such, sugoi kawaii kemono-chan, fill out half the population of a veritable Eden 
that really exists in this world—is that what you're saying?" 


Was she saying that the Eastern Union—was that kind of an Arcadia? 



"Hell, yeah, this paradise is mine! Let's go conquer the animal girls! Now! 
Stat!" 

He drew his phone like a sword, and started his task scheduler! Conquer 
animal girl dynasty ^olo, he started typing, while Steph. 

"Hey—wha-what are you saying! Things aren't even stable yet at home!" 

To the "mad king" who'd just suggested picking a fight with the third-largest 
nation in the world. But Sora showed no engagement. 

"Ahh, hush! How dare you find fault with this perfect keikaku in which my 
private desires and the national interest are perfectly aligned! What makes you 
think you can stand in the way of my glory?!" 

Looking around as if searching for something, Sora shouted on. 

"Which way to the Eastern Union?! That way?! We'll charge ahead; call a 
carriage!!" 

But, while Sora ranted on. The little sister whose hand he held dropped a single 
soft word... 

". Information..." 

"Ung-gh...!" 

...And shattered his so-called perfect plan just like that. 

—Yes. What they'd just been thinking about. And the reason that, in the 
month since their coronation, when they'd declared war on the whole world. 
They still hadn't gone on the offensive to this day. Had been pointed out, 
silencing Sora. 

"Hrm, rmghgh... Is there no way to avoid solving this puzzle first..." 

As Sora and Shiro shut up once more, silence revisited. 

...—. Not that she enjoyed Sora's outbursts. But the silence weighed on Steph 
in its own way. 

"Uh, uhh, Sora, tell me why I lost at blackjack this morning—" 

Steph, unable to bear the silence, tried to make conversation. 




...But no answer came. Steph looked back. But. 

".Huh?" 

The leash, which mere moments ago Shiro was holding, was now dragging on 
the ground. And the two who were supposed to be there were nowhere to be 
found. 

"—Huh? Hey, are you...leaving me like this?" 

Amidst the soft sound of giggles, a gust of cold wind came through. 

■■■ 

"...De...licious..." 

A library on the other side of a labyrinthine alley breaking out from Main 
Street. Before it was a cafe, where Sora and Shiro gorged themselves on 
doughnuts and tea while holding books. 

"They're pulling it off despite not having enough ingredients...but it does seem 
the reserves are in bad shape." 

Doughnuts they had bought from one of the stands at the square off Main 
Street, and black tea from the cafe. But the stands seemed to have lost their 
original vitality. One could tell from the vendors' faces that times were tough. It 
was fair to say that this spoke to the whole of Elkia now. Looking at the data, by 
the standards of Sora and Shiro's old world, it would be about time for riots and 
pillaging. But what was really odd— "How about you, Shiro; you find anything?" 

"...Hm. Nope...no luck..." 

"Surprise, surprise. Jeez, what's up with this country? There's something weird 
about it." 

"—There's, something, weird about—" 

"—your heads, you knaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaves!" 

Appearing with this cry, her shoulders heaving with heavy breaths, was Steph 
(doggy version). 

"Oh, Steph. Where were you? We looked for you." 

"'Oh'? What do you mean, 'Oh'! Did you actually just forget?! Could it be that 



your reason for dressing me up like a collared dog and abandoning me in the 
middle of the city was not teasing or harassment, but that you just/orgof?!" 

Shouting this with tears in her eyes, Steph. Supplicated at Sora's feet. 

"Please! Do this one thing for me, just let me punch you!! In heaven's name I 
beg!!" 

"Uh, well... See, Shiro smelled something good and started drifting away. 
Obviously I can't let go of Shiro's hand, and I totally thought she had your leash 
—and by the time I realized you weren't there..." 

"Steph, forgive. And sit," Shiro commanded, her mouth full of doughnut and 
her thumb up. Sora continued. 

"Yeah, well, Shiro didn't mean anything, either, so forgive her." 

"You're making me sit, commanding me to forgive you, and you think that's an 
apology? It's really just abuse, isn't it?!" 

Still in her doggy "sit" position, Steph pointed at Sora and screamed: 

"First, tell me why I lost!! If you don't, there's no way I can accept this!!" 

"Hm... So you ask not that we release you, but that we explain?" 

—...Huh? 

"...Steph...do you...actually like it?" 

"0-of—of course not! Do you mock me?!" 

But Sora and Shiro would never miss the moment it took her to deny it. 

"Craaap, I thought that kind of thing only existed in porn games..." 

What should we make of the unjustifiable scorn of the one who made her do it 
in the first place? 

Never before had Steph so strongly cursed Lord Tet and his prohibition against 
violence. The pressure of her stare was so great that Sora had to say something. 

"0-okay, okay. I'll tell you... Card counting." 

"Card...uh, what?" 

"Card counting. To put it simply, you convert the cards into numerical values 



and count them. For instance, you can make 2 through 6 one, face cards minus- 
one, and 7 through 9 zero." 

"...? What does that tell you?" 

To Steph, who still looked a few steps behind, Sora stated decisively. 

"It tells you what card will come up next." 

"—Pardon?" 

While Steph wondered whether this was some kind of magic, Sora, going on 
blithely: "From the cards that have already been played, you can predict the 
cards that are left in the deck, and then you can mothematically deduce the 
odds for what card will come up next. If you know the next card, you won't lose, 
right?" 

"-I see..." 

It seemed the very idea of using moth for a game was a revelation to Steph. 
She even forgot that she was stuck "sitting" here because of her loss to it, and 
simply sat in awe. She took out a memo pad to try to collect what she'd 
understood so far. 

— But, as her pen raced, she suddenly realized. 

"Fley—hold on!! Doesn't that mean you were cheoting?\" 

To this complaint, still Sora rebutted promptly with his face calm and clear: "If 
you say playing wisely is cheating, then that makes reading your opponent's 
moves in chess cheating, too, doesn't it?" 

"B-but..." 

— In Sora's old world, card counting was in fact categorized as cheating. But 
Sora went on without mentioning it. 

"Cheating is more like that deliberate shuffle tracking you were doing.” 

-What. 

"—You—you knew?!" 

With a chuckle and a face that asked What do you take me for?: Sora. 



"Tve tried it on Shiro nnany tinnes, though she always catches nne. It nnade it 
easier to count the cards, too." 

Sora, who in his heart had wanted to lose, said this with a sigh. Steph, 
transitioning naturally from "sit" to "lie down," sprawled on the ground. 

— Her trick had been caught and, on top of that, used against her. The fact 
that just pointing out her cheating would have been enough under the Ten 
Covenants. And yet she had been defeated by exploiting it, which made Steph 
wet the ground on which she still lay with her tears. 

But then something flashed in Steph's mind. 

— In that case, what if it really were a game of pure luck? Couldn't she win in 
that case? 

"...Heh-heh-heh... Sora! I challenge you once more!" 

Steph shouted defiantly, still in the "lie down" position, raising just her face. It 
was, howto put it—strangely pitiful. 

"Steph...after this morning, are you serious? What are you gonna bet?" 

It was enough to make Sora reflexively think, "Should I just step down for 
you?" But. 

"The same thing as this morning—that you get a life!" 

"(Immediately) All right, then." 

The nature of her wager vaporized his drop of compassion. 

"...Brother, the game..." 

"Shiro!! Do you think there's a one-in-a-million chance your brother might lose 
to Steph?! Hmmm?!" 

"...I'll put it...on the one-in-a-billion-trillion...chance." 

That was the siblings for you—no, anyone could see it—but they could see 
through everything. 

"...I'll play, too... As Blank...we accept." 

—That meant. She wasn't just facing one of them, but the whole and true 



"greatest gamer among Immanity." But whatever, thought Steph. Skill was 
irrelevant in a game of pure luck. The odds were always fifty-fifty! 

"...Steph, if you lose...you'll obey...one command from me." 

Steph must not have seen it. Within the blank face of one half of the greatest 
gamer among Immanity. The fire blazing bright deep within her eyes. 

"Heh-heh, that's quite all right. Now, it's time: the game—I!" 

Steph pointed violently to the street corner. 

"Whether the next person to come around the corner will be male or female— 
you must guess!" 

After thinking for a moment about the game, Shiro answered. 

"...Best...out of...ten. Aschente." 

"Perfectl Aschente!" 

At Steph's enthusiasm, still Sora. Gazed at Steph with vacant eyes and a grand 
sigh. 

"H-how—how, how could it beee?!" 

The result.nine versus one. As it hardly bears saying, Steph lost 

disgracefully. 

"It's—it's impossible! What did you do to score 90 percent in a game of luck?!" 

Sora, who, in his heart, had wanted to lose, explained mumblingly as if his 
heart were torn out. 

"—You think people go around that corner for no reason?" 

"...Huh?" 

"While having tea here, I was watching who walked this road and at what 
intervals. Using the trends I observed, Shiro was able to apply the sex ratio of the 
population masses in this area by time frame, as well as the employment rates, 
occupational demographics, etc. to deduce the sex ratio as judged by the reason 
they would travel this way." 

"...V." 




—ShirO; having acconnplished all this just with memorized data and mental 
calculation, held up two fingers for victory. At that V sign, Steph finally started 
to sense a certain hostility...but first and foremost— "A-a-aren't you just like 
children?!" 

Just how far did they intend to take a dumb game of guessing the sex of the 
next person to come around the corner! 

— But, when it came to Sora and Shiro, that was a foolish question. The 
answer: the same distance they took every game—o// the way. 

"...And now..." 

The victorious Shiro made her demand, according to the wager. 

"All your undies...are belong to us..." 

"-Hungh?!" 

"Wha-what was that?!" 

But the wager by the Covenants had already been pronounced. 

"Errrk! Wai—p-please, anything but that!" 

The Sixth of the Ten Covenants: Wagers sworn by the Covenants (Aschente) 
are absolutely binding. The Covenants were absolute—none could defy their 
power. Though Steph protested as she removed her panties. Shiro showed zero 
engagement and took them unceremoniously. Therewith—the picture of Steph 
sitting on all fours, face beet red, with no panties was complete. But then the 
one who panicked most was Sora. 

"Hey—my—my sister! Don't you think this is a little over the line?!" 

"...I'm...e-leven...just a kid...so, I dunno." 

With these words, Shiro placed Steph's panties over her own head. Still 
expressionless, putting her index finger by her mouth and tilting her head with a 
clunk. 

"Wha—you're going to write this off as the innocent ploy of a child?\ Your 
selective use of that is too glaring to look at!" 

Now it was more the young girl with panties on her head that attracted the 



attention of passersby. Which meant, ultimately, Steph's panties being exposed 
to the public... U-unbelievable. She was one kid you didn't want to mess with— 
that Shim! But Sora felt unease about her unusual lack of mercy and asked: 














"H-hey, you're, like, going all out today, huh? Are you in a bad mood for some 
reason?" 

"...Not in particular?" 

But it was in questioning Sora himself that the reason for her mood lay. Shiro 
responded with half-closed eyes and a lack of apparent interest. 

Steph's resistance to Sora, who'd commanded her, "Fall in love with me." It 
wasn't "Rescind the command," but "Become a decent person," and what that 
meant. 

...You'd think one would be able to figure it out with a little bit of thought. 

"...H//..." 

It seemed the eleven-year-old girl who moodily returned to her book was the 
only one who noticed it. 

— Meanwhile. Steph was dressed up as a dog, with her panties pillaged and 
shown to the public. 

"Heh, heh-heh... I don't care... I gave up on my chastity the day I lost to Sora..." 

Father, Mother, Grandfather... Your Stephanie has been sullied. Fleh-heh, huh- 
huh-huh-huh, Steph laughed, and Sora winced. 

"Uh, you know, Shiro, I really don't feel right about this—I mean, looking at 
her makes me depressed." 

"...It's okay..." 

It wasn't clear what was okay, but that was what Shiro said, with the panties 
on her head. 

But then, suddenly, as she lay on the ground, holding her skirt down. Wetting 
the ground with her tears, Steph thought of something else. It was strange— 
there must be such a thing as a game of pure luck in this world. (That's right. 
Even just now...they did fail at least once!) In other words—guesses were just 
guesses. Shiro had specified "Best out of ten" because they could fail. Which 
meant—! 

"So-So-Sora! I-I-I have a new game for you!!" 



Faltering, apparently unwilling to stand up without panties, Steph. 


"S-sure, but...are you really okay?" 

With Steph already made into a dog and deprived of underwear. If Steph tried 
to double down now, wouldn't it totally be R-18—? But Steph continued, 
forcefully: "It is no matter!! All temporary setbacks stand insignificant before the 
cause of revealing your hand!!" 

—What was it? Somewhere, there was a hint of why Elkia had been reduced to 
this state. 

"...I-I see. So, same wagers; what's the game?" 

"How many seconds will it take till that bird takes flight; closest guess wins 
—best out ofoneW" 

In the direction indicated by Steph's forceful finger. 

"Cwoop-coo." 

A nasty white pigeon sat on a roof. "Blank can't lose," but, in a single round of 
luck—just you wait! Probably, they'd turn down the match. But even that was 
enough if she could find a weakness to exploit—! Steph then found her 
expectations betrayed by Sora's casual acceptance. 

"Sure thing. I'll let you guess first. Aschente—so, how many seconds?" 

"Uh, yeah, aschente...w-we\\—thirty seconds, I do say!" 

Though Steph for a moment had been taken aback that he'd betrayed her 
expectations and accepted. 

— It seemed very unlikely that the pigeon would stay there for more than a 
minute. Which meant that, whether it was early or late, the easiest 
approximation was the value in the middle. Racking her brains, Steph produced 
this answer. But, as if he wasn't even listening, Sora played with a stone in his 
hand and spoke. 

"Then I say—three seconds." 

He'd hardly finished speaking when he swung his arm over his head and threw. 

"-What?!" 



The stone that had been in his hand, thrown with all his might, zipped right 
beside the pigeon. The pigeon, startled—flapped away. 

"...Done... Brother wins." 

To Shiro, saying this without lifting her eyes from her book, with the panties on 
her head. Steph raise her voice in furious argument. 

"H-h-wait a minute!! How is that not cheating?!" 

But, as if well aware of what she was trying to say, Sora. 

"When did we set a rule that you can't intentionally make the pigeon fly?" 

"Wha-" 

"This is what happens when you don't set out the rules of the game carefully." 

S-so childish—just how childish could these two be?! But Sora, having sat back 
in his chair and returned to his book, spoke seriously. 

"—There's no such thing os luck in this world." 

"...Huh?" 

— No such thing? Steph furrowed her eyebrows at the irreconcilable cognitive 
dissonance. 

"Rules, premises, wagers, psychology, skill levels, timing, condition... All these 
'invisible variables' determine the outcome of the game before it even begins. 
There's no such thing as luck." 

—Luck. Was just another name for an unpredictable fate, dictated by invisible 
variables. 

"For example, let's see...imagine a facedown card." 

Without diverting his eyes from the book, continuing his talk adroitly, Sora. 

"What's the probability that it's the ace of spades?" 

"...Uh, there are fifty-two cards in a deck, so one in fifty-two, right?" 

"Sure, that's the typical way of looking at it. But what if the card is the one 
from the bottom of a new deck of cords, fresh from the box?" 

"...Huh?" 



"New decks are pretty much always in the same order. So, if you take out the 
jokers and then take the deck out and lay it facedown, and then you deal the 
card at the bottom of the deck, it's always going to be the ace of spades." 

"Uh, b-but..." 

That's—Steph tried to argue, but Sora— 

"That's right, I never said it was a new deck fresh from the box—i.e., you didn't 
knowT 

—went on to explain that that was just the point. 

"That's the thing. If you know, 1.92 percent becomes 100 percent. So those 
who don't know bitch that they got bum luck, while those who know are fated to 
seize the victory." 

And so Sora said with a sigh: 

"You got it? That's the trick to winning at games. The reason you lost to me at 
blackjack. And, by the way, also the reason Immanity has been losing hand over 
fist-" 

And then—with a sour face and a cluck, Sora said: 

"—and the reason we're trapped." 

.Huh? Trapped? 

"In this month, we've gone through every damn book in the country, and, I 
gotta say, you don't know shit about other races—or countries, you could say. 
We can't find an opening. For God's sake, what is wrong with this country—" 

"Uh, if I may... What do you mean?" 

"—What, did you think all we were doing in this month was sitting in our room 
and playing games?" 

"Yes, that is exactly and precisely what I thought," said Steph, loud and clear 
without a moment's hesitation. 

"Well, whatever," Sora mumbled, then spoke up: "Let's say we attack the 
Furry Kingdom—I mean, the Eastern Union." 

As thought to make it clear he'd still not given up, he continued. 




"But practically all we know about Werebeast is that the enenny uses a sixth 
sense.” 

"Y-yes...they do say they can read minds...” 

"If they can read minds, bluffs aren't going to work, and there's no way we can 
play mind games." 

Rank Sixteen, Immanity, the lowest-ranking of the Ixseeds, had no special 
abilities or magic. Thus, if they intended to come out on top in a game with a 
race that used "supernatural powers"— "It's not even a game if we don't at 
least know something about the enemy." 

And yet—Immanity hardly had any information to speak of on the other races. 
Of course, each of the races must have been concealing their information, 
because having it known would put them at a disadvantage. But, even so, this 
was too much. This was what he was complaining about when he was griping 
about the books in the library. 

They didn't know what kind of games they played, what kind of abilities they 
had. But the other side knew their features inside and out—which meant 
"invisible variables" visible right from the start—and that was a whole different 
story. If they went in with no advance information, they were doomed to fail. For 
exactly the same reason that Steph had lost to Sora—they'd be fated to lose. 

"That's why we've spent a whole month and we still haven't found an opening 
to attack." 

"B-but..." said Steph to Sora as he crossly closed his book. 

When Sora spoke as if to condemn her grandfather's choice to attack anyway. 
Steph had to speak up, and she argued feebly. 

"E-even so, nothing will happen if we don't do something!" 

— But. Sora's words, uttered with no particular feeling. 

"Look...if we make one wrong move, it's over.” 

Echoed with enough weight to flatten Steph on the ground. 

"—Our position now is just that bad. Don't forget it." 



— For a moment. Though really just for a moment. Sora's face displayed an 
anger that made Steph freeze. 

It was easy to forget, since they hardly ever acted like it. But the fate of all 
three million lives of Immanity rested on the shoulders of the two. Immanity's 
greatest gamers, without a doubt, who had even vanquished Elf, albeit 
indirectly. They said—they were trapped. The meaning, the weight of that, 
finally became clear to Steph, and it weighed on her so that she couldn't stand. 

— If they made one wrong move, millions of lives would end. Under that kind of 
pressure—Steph thought, holding in her breath, and then, Sora stretched 
languorously, fiddling with his task scheduler. "—We only know one way out and 
we don't have the key. Damn, what to do." 

To be able to stay calm like this, what kind of constitution did he have? Steph 

felt the hint of a chill-...and then. A sudden shadow instantly enveloped their 

surroundings in night. 

"...What? Why is it suddenly...night—" 

Sora shifted his gaze—and widened his eyes. Even Shiro widened her usually 
half-closed eyes and let the doughnut drop from her mouth. In front of their 
gazes, now directed straight up, the blue sky that was just there was no more. As 
if a piece of the earth's crust had been ripped away—o huge rock bed was 
drifting. 

"Wh-whatthe hell...?!" 

—Amazing! Laputa really does exist! The line replayed involuntarily in Sora's 
mind. It did look longer horizontally than in that anime, but, however you looked 
at it, an enormous island was floating in the sky. 

—Come to think of it. He remembered seeing an island floating in the sky, from 
up there, when he first came to this world. 

...Oh, so apparently this was a familiar sight in this world. The only ones who 
were surprised were Sora and Shiro; the other people walking the street didn't 
even seem interested. 

"...This world has so much everything, it's ridiculous... At this rate, that 'too- 
soon' thing will..." 



As Sora and Shim gaped up, thinking, Steph seemed to finally realize. 

"—Oh, it's your first time seeing it, Sora?" 

And she followed their gaze up. 

"That's Avant Heim—a Phantasma." 

Now that she mentioned it, if you looked closely, the island, which had looked 
like just a rock bed, actually had barely-there fins. It looked...like a giant whale- 
kind of...probably...if you looked at it a certain way. A question popped out of 
Sora's mouth. 

"—Don't you have rights to light or rights of airspace in this—Wait, 
'Phantasma'?" 

"Yes. It is a single entity of the race at Ixseed Rank Two." 

—Ixseed. The "sixteen seeds" of intelligent life to which the Ten Covenants set 
by the God applied. Still, pointing to the heavens, no, to "Laputa," Sora howled. 

"You're saying that's an intelligent living being?\ How are we supposed to play 
—I mean, can we even communicate with that thing?! If it weren't 'Laputa 
exists,' but 'Laputa talks,' even Pa*u would have just looked at the old geezer 
with eyes of pity!!" 

"...I didn't really get that last part, but, yes, it's impossible." 

Steph spoke decisively. 

"Even the Flugel who live on top of it are far beyond Immanity's ability to 
defeat." 

"Flugel—0-ohh, 'Avant Heim'... It was that thing." 

Watching Laputa Mark Two. The Phantasma "Avant Heim" pass by. Sora 
recalled that which had escaped him in his shock: The description he had 
previously read in a book. 

— Ixseed Rank Six: Flugel. The winged vanguard created by the gods, to kill 
other gods, in the ancient Great War. A war race. Since the Ten Covenants, their 
combat abilities had been effectively sealed off. Still, they possessed virtually 
eternal life spans and high magical aptitude, with a literal city of the heavens as 



their single territory. Thus, they did not participate in "play for dominion," that 
is, gambling over borders, but they did have a powerful thirst for knowledge, so 
many individuals personally engaged in games in order to obtain knowledge from 
the world's other races: that is, to collect books. For Immanity, which did not 
have much to bet. They were one of the few races they could draw in, with Sora 
and Shiro's knowledge of another world. And they were the first race that had 
grabbed Sora's attention since coming to this world. 

— But, having said that. 

"...I'm sure it would be a great idea to get the Flugel on our side, but there's no 
way we can contact them, is there?" 

To get in the empire, owning the animal ears—ahem. To obtain the 
information necessary to compete with other countries—in other words, they 
absolutely needed the knowledge of the Flugel. But, in this world, Immanity did 
not have the technology to fly. They had no means of getting onto Avant Fleim, 
nor any means of contacting them. Even so, there was no way they could make 
their knowledge of another world public in order to fly there. It was too soon to 
reveal Elkia—Sora and Shiro's sole trump card. While Sora ruminated and 
muttered thus, Steph responded, "Fluh? If you have some business with the 
Flugel, there's one nearby?" 


"What did you say?" 

"There's one, she's, uh...kind of sitting..." 

No, wait, wait, Sora shouted. 

"We dug through all the libraries in the castle and the country and we didn't 
read anything like that?!" 

"You probably didn't; in fact, she's the very one who tore all the most 
important books from Elkia." 

—Sora, with a slight bout of dizziness, but supported by his sister, eyes half 
closed as she probably felt the same way, barely managed to stand his ground 
and urge Steph on. "D-details, give me details." 




"Well... Five years ago, a Flugel appeared at the greatest library in the country, 
the Elkia Grand National Library, and made off with the entire collection...you 
see." 

— Indeeed! No wooonder Elkia had no information to speak of! ▼ 

"You noobs bet your intel? Are you even sane?! That's your only goddamn 
weapon, you knowW" 

Without intel—i.e., information—they couldn't compete with other countries. 
To bet that, if you put it in terms of combat, was like throwing both your sword 
and your shield. Or, to put it in generous terms, fail. Accosted by Sora's shout, as 
even passersby stopped in shock, Steph stammered. 

"l-i-it was my grandfather who bet them—h-he must h-have had some deep..." 

But, heedless, Sora pressed her. "What did he demand in return?!" 

"U-uhh, uh, l-l hear he said that if he won that Flugel would have to j-j-join 
him!" 

— FImm, so he was trying to get someone with knowledge exceeding humans' 
on his side. That was, in fact, exactly what Sora was trying to do; it was not a bad 
condition. It wasn't at all. What was bad was— "And then he lost and let our 
knowledge be taken awaaaay?!" 

Scratching at his scalp and tearing at his hair, Sora pointed to Steph and yelled. 

"How the hell do you let them make off with everything!! Didn't you make 
copies?!" 

"W-well, it's...a budget problem..." 

"Budget?! What's budget got to do—!!" 

To the uncomprehending Sora, the panty-hatted Shiro murmured: 

"...Brother... Elkia... Book, technology...and literacy..." 

"—Oh, huh, l-l see." 

As someone who had lived in modern Japan, it was hard to believe. But literacy 
in fifteenth-century Europe was said to have barely touched 10 percent. They 
knew from the data that Elkia appeared to be roughly equivalent. Considering 


that without mass production technology for paper, making copies would, in 
fact, incur an enormous—. 

"...Steph, later Tm going to give you a memo translated into Immanity, so get 
on it with the top priority." 

"Uh, yes, sir... What kind of memo?" 

"Drawings for 'paper manufacturing' and 'letterpress printing'..." 

But this was criticized sulkily by Shiro, eyes half open, panties on head. 

"...Brother... Cheating, again." 

"Sorry, Shiro, but this is just ridiculous." 

As Sora input a new task on his phone, he let out a looong sigh. Well, then, 
Steph, with her whole personal library. Was in fact quite the well-educated one 
after all...but. In this world, where games decided everything— "If you can't 
even read and write, how are you going to game? Are humans even trying?" 

"You're the ones who are weird, knowing six or eighteen languages!" 

"Don't joke around! If you're gonna play games with other countries, six 
languages is the bare minimam\" 

Hff...hff... Having pretty much finished what he wanted to say, Sora. 

"—Uh, okay, whatever. Steph." 

"Y-yes?" 

"As I understand from the literature, traditionally, there's only one gome that 
Flugel play, right?" 

Indeed, as far as Flugel was concerned—the game had been leaked. Therefore, 
Sora asked purely for confirmation, and Steph nodded. 

"In that case, the next task has finally been confirmed." 

Sliding his finger, he input it—into his scheduler. 

"It's our time to strike; if we go now, we should be able to get back by night. 
Steph, get us a carriage." 

"Uh, huh?" 



With that; Sora double-checked the task he'd input on his phone. 

—Get Immanity's knowledge back. 

"...Hnri; I think this is doable, too; let's add it." 

With that, Sora input further. 

"Uh; Get a Flugel...yeah, like that." 

—Though mere moments ago. Steph had called them invincible. Rank Six—the 
race of god slayers. Sora, having all-too-casually pronounced that he would 
"get" one, turned his indifferent back for Steph to watch in a daze, held Shiro's 
hand, and walked on. 



^ CHAPTER 2 


INTERESTING 


After about an hour rocking in the carriage. A bit beyond downtown Elkia, in 
the suburbs, after passing what appeared to be an educational campus with a 
dormitory. There was the Elkia Grand National Library. As Sora got out of the 
carriage and looked up, just one word escaped his lips. 

"...Huge..." 

The first thing it recalled was the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. That 
was the largest library in Sora and Shiro's old world, boasting a collection of a 
hundred million books, but the outer appearance of this one held its own. It was 
graceful, glamorous, so as to rival the Elkia Royal Castle. Such a wondrous library 
that it made one want to reconsider one's evaluation of Immanity in this world a 
bit. A wondrous library—and yet. 

"...You just let this...be taken away..." 

"Nm-mghh..." 

The observation of Shiro, with panties on her head. Caused to droop 
wordlessly the head of Steph (dog, no panties). 

"M-more important! I have a question!" 

With a tone of frenzy as if wanting to at least stick it to them somehow, Steph. 

"Yes, Miss Stephanie, what is it?" 

"Didn't you just say we shouldn't be fighting some race we hardly know 
anything about? Is it really okay to take on monsters like the Flugel like this 
without a plan?!" 

...Could this seem a reasonable question? But let's say it anyway. What a 
Steph. 


"...It's fine." 




"-Huh? Wh-why?" 

"Look... Winning at shiritori has nothing to do with how much you know." 

"Huh?" 

"Forget it; just get a move on." 

Opening the giant door and entering the library. There was a space full of 
shelves, not only on the walls, but even on the ceilings, defying gravity. The 
shelves towered probably tens of meters among countless faint lights floating in 
the air. It was a fantastic space, building these elements into something like a 
labyrinth. 

"Whoa...sorry, I gotta apologize a bit. Humans in this world do got skills." 

"...Yeah..." 

Sora was feeling dizzy just imagining the number of books housed here. Even 
Shiro was moved. It was no mean feat to collect this many books. Even in their 
old world, there could hardly have been a library with a collection this size. But 
Steph, apologetically— "Uh... I'm sorry to tell you, but these weren't collected by 
Elkia." 

"...Excuse me?" 

"They were built up to this level after it was taken, I believe. I mean...when I 
came here when I was a student, there weren't even a hundredth this many 
shelves." 

"...What a waste to have thought better of you even for a second." 

— But, then, when you thought about it, it was obvious. There was no way 
Immanity could put shelves on ceilings defying gravity. 

"Hff... So, where's our blessed angel?" 

Walking through the library of neatly lined books, suddenly, there was a shaft 
of light. Eyes tracing the light toward its source—froze. 

— It was an "angel." With an overwhelming presence one hesitated even to 
look into directly. A halo curving through a geometric pattern above her head. 
And faintly glowing wings, too small to hold a person aloft aerodynamically. 



sprouting from her hips: a girl. Her long, flowing hair swaying even indoors 
without wind—. Each time, the light would be reflected as if it were a prism, 
giving the appearance of a rainbow. When, thinly—her eyes opened and made 
contact. Sora was struck, for the first time since landing in this world, with the 
feeling of death. Filling her gaze—as if having mass, a murderous intent. 
Convincing him that this girl, this divine beauty, could end his life with a fleeting 
touch. Told him that, though he might run, though he might beg for his life, all 
such things would be meaningless. (This is a Flugel? This Is—Rank Six?) — 
Created by the gods to annihilate gods—to decimate and destroy, a weapon. 
While Sora felt that this must be what it felt like to have a machine gun pointed 
at you. Even Shiro, usually lacking in emotion, shrank and grabbed Sora's arm. 
Steph, for her part, was sitting on the ground, clacking her teeth, barely holding 
back from crying. 

That awe-inspiring thing alit. On a bookcase near them, without a sound, 
without the sensation of weight. 


Heedless of their speechlessness. The angel—the Flugel girl. Opened languidly 
her amber eyes—and said: "Sumimasen? What brings you hito to watashi no 
toshokan?" 

—...At that one utterance. 

"Ano... You just ruined it..." 

With a glance at Steph, unconscious beside them, the enervated Sora just 
managed to say it... 

■■■ 

"Um, uhh, why don't we begin with introductions. I'm—" said Sora, getting 
himself back together and trying to get his rhythm back, taking the initiative. 

— But. 

"You are Elkia's atarashii king and queen, Sora-sama and Shiro-somo, ne?" 

The Flugel girl stole his thunder. 

"...Well, then, that speeds things up." 




"I like to read Immanity's shinbun. Congra—I mean, omedetou on your 
coronation." 

"...She corrected herself..." 

While Shiro snarked thus (with panties on her head), she still held tight to 
Sora's arm. 

—One might remember that in this world, violence was meaningless, but still. 
The psychology was probably like how, even if you were told it had been drugged 
to sleep, you still wouldn't want to get close to a tiger. But Sora was seemingly 
exempt from this phenomenon. 

"Hey, actually, there's this celebrity we know who talks just like that, so, if 
that's not how you normally talk, could you knock it off?" 

Sora's remark seemed to be deeply shocking to her. What...said the shoulders 
of the Flugel girl as they dropped in disappointment. 

"It was my edgy, unique personal language; someone beat me to it..." 

But swiftly her expression changed back. 

"With that, m'dears, what brings yeh here today?" 

"...Uh, that was how you normally talk before that, right? Why are you talking 
like someone from Kyoto now?" 

"I've never heard of Kyoto, but thess is the ancient tongue of the former 
territory of Immanity; tickles it nut your fancy?" 

"All right, we're never going to get anywhere if we have to keep playing 
straight man here." 

"Mngh, I hardly ever get any visitors; and I was so excited to have a chance to 
display my knowledge." 

In the Flugel girl drooping in dissatisfaction, with a hint of tears. No longer 
could be found a trace of the dignity she'd had so recently. 

"So, uh, anyway, just talk normally. Okay?" 

"g07 17, dOOd." 

"Yeah, we're outta here." As Sora turned away, the Flugel girl grabbed his 



pants and spoke amidst tears. 


"Oh! Tm sorry; I do truly apologize! I rarely get visitors; please don't leave so 
soon; I'll make tea; I'll bring sweeets!" 

■■■ 

In a corner of the artlike library, woven of mystic light and bookshelves. 

Around the table, upon which tea and sweets had indeed been provided, Sora 
and Shiro, and the Flugel girl. Since Steph still hadn't come to, they'd ended up 
rolling her on the floor nearby. And, now, with a formal clearing of the throat: 
ahem. 

"—Well, then, rulers of Immanity, for what purpose do you seek me, wielder 
not only of the Flugel tongue, but moreover of every tongue of the Ixseeds, as 
well as over seven hundred languages including tongues of other worlds and 
ancient times, to say nothing of the appurtenant background information?" 

".Ah, yeah. Let's see." 

Sora decided he might as well give up, and got started. 

"I'll get straight to the point. Give us this library.” 


—A moment of silence. At Sora's words, the girl, lifting her teacup. 

"Could you mean that / am being challenged to a game by a mere human?” 

"Yes, exactly." 

Then, warm eyes that truly made one think of a goddess. 

"Is that so... Flowever, this library is filled to the brim with books that I have 
collected. Considering that, to us Flugel, who prize knowledge above all else, 
these books, the repository of my knowledge, and by extension these stacks that 
hold them can fairly be said to be eguivalent in value to my life itself—” 

— Fler eyes slightly narrowed. 

"You propose that I wager my very life; and what do you wager in return?" 

With these words, she filled her mouth with tea, and she beheld Sora keenly. 
With a fleeting swell of murder. That brought a thin sound from the thought-to- 



be-unconscious Steph: Eep. 

— But, remembering the Ten Covenants, not to mention the conversation 
they'd just had...Sora seemed already free of concern as he spoke. 

"Books from another world —over forty thousand volumes in total." 

"Pthhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhbt?!" 

The girl spluttered her tea all over the place, again destroying the gravitas 
she'd gone so far to build up. 

"D-do excuse me...l-letting you see me in such an undignified state." 

"...Gross..." 

While Shiro protested, covered in tea, still Sora gave the thumbs-up. 

"No problem. In our line of work, this is a reward." 

And answered with a very good smile. 

"I-I mean, f-forty thousand... You and your jokes, wh-where could you possibly 
store—" 

As the Flugel girl continued to act sketchy and out of character. Sora took out 
his tablet: "This contains electronic data—hm, you know what that is? Anyway, 
forty thousand books from another world." 

"-Wha...?" 

The girl, widening her eyes to stare at the tablet Sora had taken out as if to 
burn a hole in it. 

"Well, I had this to study for quiz games. But it's got encyclopedias, medicine 
and philosophy, science and math—basically, everything people knew in general 
in our old world is represented here in pretty high proportion." 

At Sora's explanation, the girl cast eyes of doubt: 

"...Sir, you claim to hail from another world?" 

"Yeah." 

"Certainly, sir—you lie." 

"Uh, wha?" 



Why? Though Steph had believed them right off the bat— 

"It is true that the Elves are skilled in the magic of summoning creatures from 
other worlds. I myself have some books from other worlds, albeit few. However, 
when a living thing is summoned from another world, it requires massive power 
to hold in this world. For there to be people from another world, even with the 
power of Old Deus, it would be an extreme challenge." 

— Having heard this much. Sora, squinting, called Steph, sprawled on the floor. 

"...Steph, enough with the unconsciousness act; I've got a question for you." 

"Mm-mmghh...y-you knew...?" 

"Isn't this totally different from what you were saying? That it's not that odd 
for there to be people from another world?" 

"I-I don't know about magic at that kind of advanced level... Huh? There aren't 
normally people from other worlds?" 

...It's about time to stop listening to what Steph says, Sora decided, and, as he 
began to think about how he could make the girl believe... 

"—On the other hand, it would explain how Immanity overcame the Elven 
game..." 

Before he was done, the girl gave him an opportunity to prove himself. 

"Might you have anything you can offer as proof?" 

"Proof... Well, check this out first." 

He manipulated the tablet before her and called up the bookshelf app. And 
then he opened an e-book. 

"I see; this is a language I've never seen... And no fabrication, it appears." 

There was your self-professed 700-glot. Apparently she was able to recognize 
immediately that the characters obeyed clear rules. 

"—I have seen something similar... But, a language I don't know, a world I 
don't know...its encyclopedias...academic literature...its knowledge, a-a-all in this 
thin box, f-f-forty thousand—eh-heh, eh-heh-hehh!" 

"Whoa! Dude, you're drooling, you're drooling!" 



The girl staring at the screen with a waterfall of drool dangling from her 
mouth, with a gasp, wiped her mouth. 

M-my apologies. How disgraceful of me." 

"So, what do you think? About those wager conditions." 

The girl mulled a little and then spoke. 

"—Well, it's if what you say is true.” 

"Yeah, sure. I suppose that wasn't enough to prove anything, huh?" 

There was still the possibility that this particular book was a fabrication written 
in an artificial language. The only way to prove that all of the knowledge in this 
tablet was real— "Are you two able to prove your status as residents of another 
world?" 

—Of course, it would come to this. But. 

"Honestly, I don't know. I'm a virgin! My sister's a child, as you can see! We 
aren't even clear on the individual differences between humans in our old world, 
so how do you expect us to know the differences between us and these guys!" 

...As he said it loud and clear, in a way, it made him look more manly. 

"I think you're the one who would know more, actually. Aren't you able to tell 
me apart from the Immanity of this world?" 

Asked this, hm—she observed Shiro and Sora carefully, comparing them with 
Steph. 

"—Well, King Sora, you do have a somewhat different complexion from that of 
Elkia's Immanities. On the other hand. Queen Shiro's seems even a bit too 
white... Would it be all right if I touched your body to check a bit?" 

"Hmm... It depends on where," said Sora, proceeding with caution. 

"Your erogenous area." 

"Please go ahead until you're satisfied and continue after you're satisfied." 

Though Sora answered decisively and without hesitation, still the brakes came 
on. 



"Brother, R-18..." 

"Ngh, ghgh... You're right... It was such an attractive proposal, it..." 

However, like a doctor exannining the body of the patient. The Flugel girl spoke 
calmly, free of ulterior motives. 

"All living things in this world have some small amount of spirits living within 
their bodies. Whether you have them—well, to speak plainly, checking nerve- 
dense areas will allow me to detect what kind you have, so...? 

...Stare. 

...Stare... 

Steph and Shiro of the cold, half-closed eyes stared at Sora. 

"Hngg... Uh—okay, but my underwear has to stay on! And—" 

Sora presented conditions for a compromise plan. 

"If you're gonna touch me, then I get to touch your erogenous area, too!" 

"Why, that's very well." 

"What, really?!" 


Touchie touchie touchie... 

"Hey..." 

"Yes? Is the feeling of this touch not to your liking?" 

"Uh, sure. It feels good, yeah, surprisingly so." 

Yes, he was moved in a way different from when he fondled Steph's breasts. So 
moved, in fact, by this mysterious sensation that he wanted it to go on forever. 
Having said that... 

"But, what is it, this feeling of betrayal—I just can't get my head around it..." 

Said Sora as he stroked the Flugel girl's—w/ng. While the girl was touching 
Sora's nipple. 

"Oh, dear, wasn't this an erogenous zone for you?" 




"Let's just say recognizing that as an erogenous zone is threatening to a man's 
pride. Let me also add that I was, how to put it, you know, hoping you would 
touch me somewhere else." 

Touchie touchie touchie... 

"Mm, please don't touch me so precisely; I'll start making strange sounds." 

".Hmm." 

—Sora, in light of her state. Glanced at Shiro. 

"My sister, I am only touching her wing. Is this not true?" 

"...Mm, totally wholesome..." 

The siblings' harmony was what was called "breath of om." Before Sora had to 
say anything, Shiro took out her smartphone and aimed her camera. 

"Well, I guess now I might as well show my uber skills at touch-based porn 
games." 

Upon his words, Sora slid his fingers, shkshkshk, from the base of her wing. In 
the middle of this trajectory, for an instant, the wing jumped lightly. Sora then 
focused on this one spot, trying out different levels of pressure, using both 
hands, at multiple points. 

"Yagh! Uh—ngh... I apologize, but I, uh, can't...con-centrate; please...augh...be 
gent—!...-ler, if you would..." 

"Uh, yeah... Hmm, I guess this isn't bad itself." 

"...Brother, angle...close-up...please." 

"Oh, understood. Director. Whoop." 

"Ungh—!" 

"What are they doing to a Flugel...these siblings..." 

The idea that these two would even sexually harass a god-slaying weapon was 
starting to become something like respect in the eyes of Steph as she murmured, 
appalled. Thus, this process of confirmation continued until the Flugel girl 
slumped to the ground... 



"Ahem, now, first of all—" 

Fixing her clothes as she got back in her chair, recomposing her reddened face. 

"I do humbly beg your forgiveness for lumping you together with the lowly 
Immanities, without so much as the courtesy of introducing myself. My name is 
Jibril... It is my pleasure to make your acquaintance." 

"Jibreel," as the Flugel girl called herself, lowered her head deeply. 

"...Steph." 

"Uh, yes. What is it?" 

"...Just how low is Immanity's status in this world?" 

"...If we're being generous—rock-bottom, I suppose." 

Thereupon, with an excellent smile, the Flugel girl—Jibril added: 

"If I may. I understand them best as 'neat monkeys who can talk'!" 

Jibril, speaking with her best smile, devoid of malice. 

"Oh, and, for the record, I have no interest in ordinary Immanities. I have 
already learned all about them and read more than my fill of their literature. Ah... 
you...your name was Zepef, yes?" 

"It's Stephl Wait, no, it's Stephanie Dola!" 

"Well, it doesn't really matter; I'll just call you little Dora." 

"What?!" 

"Dora, you are of no interest to me, so would you please go find a place to 
entertain yourself?" 

At Jibril, uttering this devoid of malice. 

"...I can cry now, right?" 

Steph, forced to dress as a dog (without panties), was on the verge of breaking 
through the dams on her tear ducts. 

"...Well, looking at the current state of Immanity in this world, it's hard to 
argue, really..." 



However, the manner of JibriTs apology caused Sora to express doubt. 

"But were you saying that we're not Immanities?" 

"No, it's... I can't sense any spirits from your bodies at all." 

She sparked a small light from her finger to show them a "spirit" or something. 

"If you do have spirits, they must not be detectable by any means known to 
me... In other words, you two do not even fall under the definition of 'living 
beings' in this world—but, structurally, you clearly seem to be Immanities." 

So...what? 

"...Then what...?" 

To the mumbling Shiro, Jibril flashed her eyes brilliantly and cried: 

"You are the unknownW" 

"Oh, could there be anything more sublime in this world than the unknown!" 
Her hands together, looking to the ceiling as if praying, wildly, she continued. 
"The unknown—f/70f which is not yet knownl It constitutes not existing 
knowledge, but the raw ore from which knowledge not yet existing in this world 
is born! I deeply apologize for my impropriety in equating this with mere 
Immanity!" 

— In theory, Sora was human, but it was extremely complicated. "—Okay, 
whatever, so we've proved to you we're from another world, right?" 

"Oh, yes. With that—you request a game, yes." 

"Yeah." 

"Of course, I accept. The wager—" said Jibril, then after a moment of lag: "— 
Eh? What was it, now?" 

".Weren't you even listening?" 

"P-pardon me... It seems the reward was so great that I lost track of everything 
that came before it—" 

To the squinting, silent Sora, Jibril spoke in a panic: 

"D-do excuse me! For my wager—how is 'all I have'?!" 




"What?!" 


The leap from merely "Hand over the library" caused Steph to raise her voice. 

Though Sora too thought to himself, ...What, seriously? He decided to look on 
without saying anything, since he apparently stood to gain even more than he 
expected. 

"Y-you might not guess it, but I am in fact among the leaders of Avant Heim. I 
am the agent plenipotentiary for several dozen Flugel. It does distress me that I 
cannot wager the entire country, but, well, what do you think?" 

...Now this...was unexpected. He'd just demanded she hand over everything in 
the library. He had planned also to get Jibril herself, but—. 

"l-is it not enough? Of course, of course it isn't. This is forty thousand 
otherworldly books we're discussing, after all. Can you wait a bit; I'll go seize 
control of the Avant Heim government and come back with all of Flugel within 
my grasp! In the meantime, please don't give—" 

"Urn, how long is that going to take?" 

"W-well you ask... I-I'll try my best to finish in a hundred years!" 

"We're gonna die of old age!" 

"Oh... How fleeting is Immanity..." 

But this...was even more than he'd thought, —A most welcome miscalculation. 
I'd better modify my plans... 

Sora mumbled to himself, getting those eyes—the eyes he got when he was 
making some diabolical calculation or another. 

"—Nah, you don't have to do that. All I'm asking for is all of your rights os an 
individual." 

"Wha... Y-you'd be satisfied with something so insignificant os thot?\" 

Lighting up her eyes as if flying to him, Jibril. 

"Of course, I accept with pleasure! Oh, and may I add an additional request for 
when I win?" 


"Yeah?" 



"Can you conne for tea even just now and then? I would love to know more 
about you two. You know-all the way to the nooks and crannies... Geh-heh, eh- 
heh-heh-heh..." 

JibriTs face, at first a fresh smile. Then gradually transforming into that of a 
dirty old man. It did make Sora think, honestly, that he should have recorded it 
on his phone. But anyway. 

"—You talk as if you've already won." 

"Yes, I apologize, but I shall win." 

Ah, so she thought she could bet anything because she'd definitely win. Sora 
responded with a smile. 

"Huh. Then we're gonna add a request when we win, all right?" 

"Certainly! It's not as if you will, but please request whatever you wish." 

—Sooo. Now there was a hole bigger than ever imagined. Yes, quite a big hole 
—for the sake of taking over the world. The only one who noticed Sora's thin 
smirk, still, was Shiro. 

■■■ 

The party made their way to the game venue: the center of the library. Walking 
through the maze of books in the fantastic stacks. On the way, a question 
popped up, and Sora voiced it. 

"Hey, why did you take over this library? It's just Immanity's knowledge, 
right?" 

"Oh, yes, well, my home country, Avant Heim, lies on the back of a Phantasma 


Sora remembering Lapu—no, the city of the heavens that had passed over his 
head. 

"We need no food and live all but eternally, so territory is hardly a concern to 
us, but then, we have been collecting knowledge for thousands of years, so you 
see, we do run out of space to store books." 

".Uh-huh." 

"And so a draft law called 'Let's Eliminate Book Redundancy' arose in the 



Council." 


—This governnnent Jibril had been mentioning. Was known, if memory served, 
as the Council of Eighteen Wings: the central authority of Flugel, composed of 
eight representatives and one agent plenipotentiary. 

"The notion was to share knowledge—and that's all very well. But what it 
came down to was obliging each Flugel to lend books to each other: yes, 
madness." 

Clenching a fist and growing passionate, Jibril. 

"Of course I opposed it! Four of the legislators including myself violently 
objected, and yet the Council split four to four, and the Alipotentiary, who holds 
the right to final decision, allowed this loathsome proposal to pass." 

Drooping in dismay, however—she began. 

"As I could never accept such a thing, I came to fly off on my own to establish 
my own library." 

"—And that's why the linchpin of Immanity's knowledge and wisdom was 
taken..." 

At Sora's soft jibe, Jibril raised a fierce cry. 

"But my books! It is my passion to keep my books organized and in pristine 
condition, even going so far as to control the surrounding temperature and 
humidity, and now I must allow them to be bent and sullied?! Aaah, it's 
impossible; it's unacceptable!! If it weren't for that little wretch Tet who 
prohibited the use of force, their heads would be fly—Oh, here we are. This is it!" 

"Ooh, this girl is scary." 

"—Just so you know, Sora..." said Steph to Sora, who had spoken his mind. 

"The livelihood of Flugel today rests in collecting knowledge, but in the old 
days-" 

But Jibril cut her off and answered herself. 

"Yes, before the Ten Covenants, we liked to collect heads." 

With an innocent smile as if looking back on old, fond memories. 



"Ah, how young I was then—going with everyone to decapitate Gigants and 
Dragonias and such and having these big fights about where to hang their heads. 
Oh, please don't panic; there were so many Immanity heads, they were rarity 
level zero." 

Having unconsciously covered his neck, Sora spoke. 

"—Flugel is a misleading name. You should change it." 

It made them sound like angels. This was the work of devils. 

— In the center of the library. A great circular space encircled by bookshelves. 
On the round table in the center was inscribed a complex geometrical pattern, 
and two chairs sat at either side. 

"The game, as you may know, is shiritori... However—we use these." 

Jibril softly extending her hand over the round table. The geometric pattern on 
the table cast light, and, with a convergence toward the center. Countless magic 
circles floated up, and a crystal was formed floating in the air in front of each of 
the two facing chairs. 

"...What's this?" 

"It's a game device for Materialization Shiritori." 

Please take a seat, she indicated. Sora sat, and Jibril sat across from him. 

"Flugel is a war race—ordinary games are not our specialty, nor, if I may add, 
of any interest to us." 

"—Despite the Ten Covenants?" 

"Yes, you see, playing such petty little games, we cannot help but think, 'Oh, if 
only we could get this over with by slicing off this vile fellow's head'... These 
cumbersome rules are all thanks to that devious little brat; someday. I'll fu—Oh, 
my, I nearly uttered a most vulgar word. Please excuse me!" 

"""Ooh,this race is scary!""" 

Jibril tee-hee-hee-ed cutely as the faces of the three strained. 

"That said, there are times when we have disagreements among Flugel. This is 
the game we use in such situations." Jibril touched the crystal floating in the air. 



"The rules are simple. We take turns saying words that start with the end of the 
previous word." 

This really was just shiritori—but. 

"A party loses upon repeating a word that has already been used, failing to 
answer in thirty seconds, or being unable to continue." 

Flashing a smile, Jibril further explained: 

"The more knowledgeable shall win'—this is the solution upon which we who 
live to collect knowledge have arrived!" 

"...Hmm, and are the words allowed to be in any language?" 

"Yes; however, things that do not exist, are made up, or lack an image are not 
eligible for realization. In other words, nonsense words and ideas will not be 
recognized, so please take care." 

But, having heard those rules. Sora found something troubling about the loss 
conditions. 

"—What do you mean by 'unable to continue'?" 

"After all, this is Materialization Shiritori—" 

Jibril, with a smirk. 

"If what you say is present, it will vanish, and, if it is not, it will manifest itself— 
certainly you can imagine...what such a game of s/i/nfon would look like?" 

...Ah. So, if you said gorilla, a gorilla would appear. While this was what he had 
been expecting, it did sound like a very entertaining game. 

"By the way, what if I said female?" 

Good question, said Jibril's face as she answered. 

"All nonplayer females—such as your sister and little Dora over there—would 
disappear." 

"Are you saying that all the females in the world would disappear?" 

"Fret not. This game holds not such an extent of power," Jibril explained with 
bashful mirth. 



"We merely move temporarily to a virtual space in which words materialize or 
dematerialize." 

...Merely? It sounded like kind of a big deal. At any rate, Jibril continued. "It is 
not possible to act directly upon the other player to make them unable to 
continue the game." 

"Upon the other player, right?" 

"Quite right." 

"Okay, Shiro. Cmere, c'mere." 

Tmp, tmp, pff, Shiro took her place—on Sora's lap. 

"We'll play together, os usual. In this case, saying/emo/e will only make Steph 
disappear, right?" 

"Uh." 

Steph with a face that looked shocked enough to make a sound effect. 

"Also, if you're saying not directly? What about heart, or water, which makes 
up most of our bodies, at least." 

At Sora's care in grasping the finer points of the rules, Jibril smiled faintly in 
admiration and answered: "It would only apply to that which is not presently 
possessed by the player. So, in the case of water, all water outside the body 
would disappear. The same applies to heart. As a Flugel, spirit corridors are a 
primary constituent of my being; however, eliminating them would not directly 
impact my continued existence." 

Hmm...well, then. 

"Please also note that, when the game ends, everything will be put back the 
way it was, so feel free to display your knowledge without reserve." 

— Beaming indeed like an angel, Jibril spoke: 

"Of course, since you are powerless humans, I suggest you enjoy yourself as 
much as you can without dying." 

".Hungh?!" 

Steph, apparently just now getting it, yelled in consternation. 




"Wh-wha? We could die?!" 

"The events of the game will not be reflected in real life. After the game 
concludes, all will be put as it was!" 

"No, please, hold on a minute?!" 

Dying? Uh. Hey. 

"When you think about it, I don't really need to be here, do I?! All I'm gonna do 
is be exposed to—" 

However, not seeming to consider Steph consequential, Jibril put her hand to 
the crystal floating by her. 

"Shall we-?" 

Imitating her, Sora and Shiro put their hands to the crystal by them and 
responded: 

"Yes—let the games begin." 

"...Bring it on..." 

"Will you listen to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" 

"...Steph, sit..." 

By the grace of the Covenants, Steph was brought promptly to sit like a faithful 
dog. 

"Gaaaaah! Now I can't even ruuun! I haaate thiiiiis!" 

The magic circles expanded until they enveloped the entire circular space. 

— Probably, at that moment, they were transported from meatspace into an 
entirely secluded world. Which meant that the game had begun. 

■■■ 

"And now, with that, I yield you the first play. Please select the word of your 
choice!" 

"Hmm. Let's see...then..." 

Playing with his phone, Sora put a hand on the crystal and said it. 



"Then, to start off... 'Suibaku [H-bomb].'" 

—So. The nnonnent he spoke, a hunk of iron that really did reach twenty-seven 
tons materialized above their heads. Having looked up to see it, Jibril and, of 
course, Steph had no way of knowing what it was. Even if they did, they couldn't 
conceivably have understood the meaning of naming it now. After all, it was 
what may be fairly termed—the greatest, and the vilest, error that humans in 
Sora and Shiro's world had produced. Being, as it clearly was—a weapon of mass 
destruction. 

Just as Jibril gaped up at it, already, the high-tech fuse had brought primary 
ignition by nuclear fission—to detonation. The nuclear heat it generated fused 
the lithium deuteride it carried, releasing light. 

—Jibril did not know what it was. However, the instincts of Flugel, created by 
the gods to kill gods, told her. "A storm of light is coming that will burn 
everything to the ground." 

// _ |// 

Less than a few hundred milliseconds of conflict before the secondary 
explosion. Jibril put her hand on the crystal and formed words as if screaming. 

"-'Ku Li Anse'r 

The end of her cry at the final process of fusion occurred at about the same 
time. 

— Light swelled with heat. The "second sun" born in this small room in the 
library volatilized everything in an instant with its super-ultra-high temperature. 
With a heat that meant instant death and the shock wave, it made the building 
literally "dematerialize"—turning everything in a one-kilometer radius to a plain 
of ash, in a whirlwind of overwhelming violence. 

...Transformed into a mushroom cloud reaching the stratosphere, the library 
—"site." In the center of a crater, the legacy of cataclysm— —Stood Jibril, 
without a scratch. 

"—Are you satisfied? There is no way to kill me." 

Ahead of Jibril's exhausted eyes. Were a grinning Sora, an indifferent Shiro, 



and a slack-jawed, absent Steph. They too were without a scratch. 

"You mean to explode on your first move? If it weren't for my 'good deed/ the 
game would be over." 

— Indeed. The magic that Jibril had summoned was not to protect herself. Ku Li 
Anse, or "Eternal Fourth Guard"—the highest of all seal spells concocted by Elf. 
She had materialized and cast it to protect them. While she herself...had taken 
the explosion directly without a scratch. 

"Good deed? Hey, hey, knock it off," Sora answered with twisted lips. "You just 
figured that even if you did get our knowledge—it would be boring as hell for this 
game just to end in one move, and you took a gamble on your common sense 
that told you you couldn't let that happen, right?" 

In other words—before a boll of the unknown that materialized something 
that astonished herself. To end the game with nothing more. Or to continue the 
game by shielding them. This conflict Jibril went through in the span of a 
hundred milliseconds had been seen through, and so she smiled self-effacingly. 

"But, yeah, I figured as much, but it doesn't look like we're gonna be able to 
win on the 'being unable to continue' condition." 

On the landscape reduced to scorched earth. Sora, sighing at Jibril, who must 
have been assaulted with the same force. 

"I am pleased to see you understand." 

"So we're going to go for one of the other victory conditions. There are plenty 
of ways to win at shiritori." 

"...Heh-heh, what a fascinating fellow you are..." As if to commence stage two, 
Jibril spoke. "Well, then—I earnestly hope that you will maintain my interest?" 

—The subtext of her words was evident even to Steph. Even with that level of 
destructive force, they were unable to make Jibril unable to continue. On the 
other hand, Jibril could make them unable to continue anytime she felt like it. 
Easily. Like glass. 

This was the meaning of difference in rank. The desperate difference in abilities 
between races: a wall higher than the heavens. Reminded of this fact, Steph 



drew in her breath. 


—Sora nnust have been trying to end it all in one blow. Using his knowledge of 
another world, probably the strongest attack he could think of. Prepared to die. 
Trying to finish it. And now that it hadn't worked— "Don't worry; I'll keep you 
entertained—'Seirei kairou [spirit corridors]."' 

But Sora, without regard for Steph's concern, casually put his hand on his 
crystal and spoke. The source of all races that could use magic, though 
undetectable to humans. Vanished. Surprised once more by his play, Jibril. 

"Well, I never—you got right to it." 

"Well, I just learned this word, and, plus, I've got no guarantee Flugel don't 
have magic to read minds?" 

Sora's chattering, grinning face had none of Steph's fear. It was filled with 
composure, that, yes, of one who had simply tried out a tactic he'd never figured 
would work. And, when it didn't, had simply moved his thinking on to the rest of 
his master plan. 

"Or, what, is it a problem?" 

As Sora continued to talk smart, Jibril. 

"No... All it means is that I'll be unable to replenish my spirits, meaning that 
certain limits will be placed on my physical abilities and I'll be unable to fly. But 
such things are unnecessary for a game of shiritori, so...no matter, I suppose." 

But Jibril, with a hint of fidgety unease. 

"If I must, I might describe it as...yes, somewhat discomfiting." 

"Ah... Maybe like when you don't have a phone signal." 

As if his words popped on a lightbulb, Jibril raised her head. 

"What is a 'phone'?! Does it have something to do with that thin box you were 
holding?! What kind of signal?!" 

"Ask me when you win—too close, too close, your face is too close! Wipe your 
drool, man!" 

"Hh! I-I'm so sorry...geh-heh-heh...forty thousand books from another world... 



eh-hehh..." 

At Jibril, spacing out with a face like that of a maiden picturing a delicious cake. 

"...Brother, this chick." 

"Yeah, I know, it's like she's gone all the way around until I think she's cool 
again—Hey, Jibril. Hurry it up." 

"/-//?./Th-that's right. Then I'll go with something safe—'uma [horse]."' 

The same moment, a horse appeared in the room. 

"Eep?!" 

Prrbbth... At the horse's point-blank raspberry, Steph stepped back abruptly. 
But, without pause. Without hesitation. 

—Sora said it. 

"Fwip, 'ma*ko [p*ssy].'" 

// //_ p // 

Jibril and Steph. Both raised question marks as if they didn't know what it 
meant. But, the next moment, suddenly holding down her clothes for some 
reason. A beet-red Steph yelled. 

"—Wh-wh-wh-what are you trying to do?!" 

But grinning Sora. 

"What, the whole point of shiritori is to say dirty words, right? Relax." 

"...Hff." 

Not looking particularly concerned, Shiro. And. 

"Immanity slang... No, even Dora didn't seem to know it, so it must be some 
secret jargon of a tongue from another world closely resembling the Immanity 
tongue, to refer to the vulva—! Oh, I feel my knowledge growing...!" 

For some reason calling to the heavens with apparent rapture, Jibril, and then 
Sora. 

"...Well, she's weird in her own special way, yeah." 



And Sora gently put his hand on Shim's hip. 

—So? Was his meaning, which Shim accurately grasped. Nodding once—yes, it 
was gone. 

— If it didn't directly make them unable to continue, you could act on other 
players. 

"This...offers some interesting possibilities." 

—Sora secretly laughed to himself, which only Steph saw... 


The game had been going on for about ten minutes. Jibril fired off the latest in 
the continuing rally of words. 

"This dusty lot grows so tiresome—shall we enjoy ourselves a bit: ‘bWchi 
[beach]."' 

Instantly, from the crater ravaged by destruction. The landscape changed to 
someplace like a resort beach, lit brilliantly by the sun. Beautiful white sand and 
complex crags, putting any tourist destination from Sora and Shiro's old world to 
shame. A sparkling coast with blue that could only be described as lapis lazuli. 
This must have been the image that beach conjured up in the experience of 
Jibril. 

— However. Sora covered Shiro as if to shield her from the sun. 

"Ngaah! It sure is pretty, but the sun is too much for a shut-in to take! 'Chikub/ 
[nipples]."' 

"There's some shade over there in which you certainly may take shelter; and 
there you go again with that nonchalance... I'm not sure what you're after, but I 
am excited to see! 'Bikin/.'" 

Instantly—her word materialized. To put all the girls in bikinis—. 

—Well...technically... But Sora roared. 

"Jibril, you don't understand anything! If you're going to put everyone in 
bikinis, obviously you need to dematerialize their clothes first! Don't you know 
how hard it is at this point to come up with a word that takes off all their clothes 




except the bikinis!" 

Yes, they were indeed all wearing bikinis. 

— Under their clothes, that is. 

"I-I see... I truly do apologize; I failed to read your intent—!" 

"L-look here, you fools! Are you just going to clown around or are you actually 
going to take this seriously?!" 

As Jibril gave her sincerest apologies as if Sora's words were deeply 
meaningful, Steph snapped. But, as if he hadn't even heard her, Sora, with a 
single cluck, continued. 

"Oh, well... In that case—'nimotsu [baggage].'" 

—Sora, choosing his mental image carefully before speaking. To make sure he 
wouldn't accidentally erase Steph. At his side, a heavy-looking backpack landed 
with a thud. 

"Then...yes, how about 'tsumuyV [dust devil]."' 

"Yes, Jibril! That's more like it!" 

At the moment Jibril said the word! Whish, with the speed of miracle, the 
siblings took out their phones and positioned them. 

—The word materialized into a dust devil, a rising, swirling wind. 

—...Carrying up Steph's skirt. 

"Hey! Wh-what isthiis!" 

—Sora and Shiro started shooting Steph together in high-speed burst mode. 

"Jibril, that was perfect! If it weren't for the bikinis, it would've been R-18 
because Steph didn't have any panties! But, even with a bikini, when you look up 
the skirt, it's, like, pretty hot somehow!" 

"I am most honored." 

Ignoring Jibril as she responded with an amused smile. And Steph as she 
struggled desperately to hold her skirt down, Sora spoke. 


"And now—" 



With a grin, Sora. 


"With this, it will be connplete—7yose//L/ku [ladies' wear]—!'" 

Instantly—his word materialized. Dematerializing what was already present— 
that is. Causing all of the girls' ladies' wear, including their bikinis, to vanish—! 
Of course Steph's, and on top of that Jibril's, and even Shiro's—. After a moment 
of lag due to failure to understand what had happened, a scream rang out. 

"Eep—aaaaaaaaaah!" 

Steph, face flushed, trying somehow to cover her body with her hands. 

— Does this strike you as R-18? But, actually, there's no problem. The reason 
being—! 

"Haaaa-ha-ha! What do you think, my sister; we are in the world of three 
dimensions and still there are no genitalsl Moreover, their shoes and knee socks, 
which are not 'ladies' wear,' still remain—making it even more sugoi than full 
frontal nudityV' 

Taking his Devil pose, arms spread wide, looking to the sky, Sora declared 
boldly: 

"There can be no doubt that this is appropriate for all ages! Healthy and 
wholesome! Tastefully erotic! But not obscene! For this is—what I shall 
henceforth name: the Great Wholesomeness Space!" 

"...Brother, omega, props." 

Giving each other the thumbs-up, the siblings photographed Steph as she 
made a scene. 

"Wh-what are you even trying to dooo!" 

"I said there were interesting possibilities, right? Don't you think this is 
interesting?" 

"That's not how I would describe it at aaaaaalll!" 

As Steph shouted, as if she had been a fool for ever expecting that they 
actually planned to defeat Jibril. Just the response expected from her, yet Jibril— 
"...P-pardon." 



"Huh?" 


"Y-you seem to suggest—your world has a rule that the nude body of the 
opposite sex is 'unhealthy'?" 

"Hm, your powers of deduction are remarkable." 

"B-but the method of propagation of the race is the same as the races of this 
world, correct?!" 

"...Since you're not specifying 'Immanity/ can we assume Flugel are the 
same?" 

While Sora casually breathed sexual harassment. Still Jibril spectacularly 
disregarded it and worked herself up higher. 

"B-but that's— To say that the desire to propagate the race is 'unhealthy/ 
doesn't that contradict the very premise of living things, to procreate! Oh, and 
'kuroboo [clover]."' 

Her breathing rough, interrogating them, full of curiosity, Jibril (naked). Almost 
forgetting the thirty-second rule, she hastily continued. At Jibril's assertion, Sora 
simply clapped. 

"Excellent. But, if you said that in our old world, you'd just be labeled a 
pervert." 

"The instinct to preserve the species is 'perversion'?!" 

Shocked as if by a bolt from the blue, and then with an expression of rapture, 
her hands together. 

"Oh—how fascinating. I want to see this; I want to visit this unreasonable 
world!" 

"...Hmmm, I can't say that I sympathize." 

Sora drooped at her reaction. 

"Actually, that reaction is kind of boring in a way..." 

He had been hoping to twist Jibril's smart face with shame...so to speak- 
sexiness that is not shameful is scarcely sexiness at all. And then, with Jibril's 
body, like a work of art, it was like, you know, how you couldn't get off on 



drawings that were too good—. 

"Brother, Steph is nnore...fun..." 

"Yeah. Til take video; you take pictures." 

"...Ro-ger..." 

"Hey—what are you taaakiiing!" 

"It's okay; just remember, there are no juicy bits, so it's not embarrassing. But 
don't forget the shame!" 

"What are you talking about!!" 


And so several hours passed. After that—it had become a space for which 
there were no words. In a junglelike primeval forest stood moai and a pyramid. 
In the center, Sora, chowing down on curry, naked, but wearing a ten-gallon hat. 
On his lap, Shiro, chowing down on mushroom-shaped snacks, naked except for 
cat ears and a scarf. And then there was Jibril, who kept being stripped of clothes 
anytime she got something on, still naked. As well as Steph, who— "Eegya#%$L 
?ita(S)+§&~#^iiJooA11!" 

—chased around by a corps as freakish as Cthulhu, looked about out of SAN. 
Filling his mouth with curry, Sora spoke. 

"Mnch, mnch... Hey, Jibril, don't you ever get hungry? 'Mantoru [mantle]."' 

"Not to worry. Unlike the powerless Immanities, Flugel have no need for food. 
'Ruiaago.'" 

"Oh, I see... But don't you get sleepy; the sun's about to come up; don't you 
want to resign?" 

"—Heh-heh... Flugel need no rest, either, so please be at ease—" 

"I still have an infinite supply of words. As I would like to draw out all the 
knowledge from you I can. I'll welcome your company for any number of days, 
months, even!" 

—Jibril spoke these chilling words sweetly, while still making it clear that she 




really did intend to do so. They suggested nothing but hopelessness to Steph— 
but. As always, Sora answered playfully. 

"Ahh, rd really like to greet the morning in my own room, so Tve gotta pass 
—'Galkaku [outer core].'" 

"Is that so. If you are weary, I won't be offended if you lose intentionally? 
Xurokku [clock]."' 

Jibril murmured, and went on further. 

"After all, you've already given me a fair bit of amusement for a frail 
immanity." 

Though Jibril said this with a smile, Sora frowned. 

"...You keep calling us powerless, frail—it's starting to get to me—'kuriichao 
[creature]."' 

—And with that word. The freakish corps that had been chasing Steph around 
disappeared. 

"—Hffi Hff—hff—ii... Th-thanks, you saved me..." 

"Th-they almost killed me," Steph said as she slumped to the ground. With this 
in the corner of his eye, Sora said: "Well, yeah, you know, looking down from 
Rank Six? We humans must look just like ants, eh? But I can't help feel you may 
be underestimating the ants juuust a little bit." 

"My apologies; that you would consider yourselves—not weak, my 
goodness...'Akan [lamp]."' 

To Jibril, saying this as if she were sincerely taken aback. Sora responded, 
switching to a provoking smile with a hint of anger. 

"If you think being tough and long-lived is power, you're the one—who's 
dumb." 

—At that one word, Jibril reacted with a twitch. 

"You think \'rr\—inferior to Immanities?" 

—What Jibril felt for Sora's party was nothing like respect. It was more like the 
feeling one has toward an interesting book: in other words, mere curiosity. To be 




told that she was inferior to that book was entirely out of the range of her 
expectation. Regardless, sneering at Jibril all the while, Sora continued. 

"'Weakness' isn't having force or not. It means not being able to do anything— 
like, for example, some goons I've heard of who can't do anything but fight 
when vioience has been forbidden, right?" 

"—...It seems you are incognizant of your position." 

In Jibril's eyes as she whispered was what had greeted them on their first 
meeting—murder. 

Yes—Jibril could render Sora and his lot unable to continue living anytime she 
felt like it. The fact that she hadn't was purely piay. Nothing more than a silly 
whim. Her gaze that demanded, "Aren't you forgetting your place?" Still Sora 
took face-on as he spoke. 

"Okay, I guess it's time I educate you—on your weakness. Suck it in." 

And, putting his hand on the crystal, Sora—. 

"Shiro, you ready?" 

"...Mm..." 

After addressing the nodding Shiro, Sora spoke to Steph. 

"Stephy, have you caught your breath yet?" 

"Huh? Uhh... Y-yes, just barely...th-thankyou..." 

"Yeah, thanks for all you've done; if we didn't have you to kite all the mobs, we 
couldn't have won." 

At Sora, casually declaring victory, Jibril furrowed her eyebrows. While Steph 
looked on dazed, Sora said with a great big smile, "—So, Steph!" 

"Y-yes?" 

"This is gonna kiii a iittie—so get ready! Sit." 

"_Pardon?" 

Steph, brought unceremoniously to the ground, had no way of understanding 
what he meant. While Sora and Shiro—foo/c a big jump and said: "Risosufea 



[lithosphere]." 

— Instantly, everything on the ground disappeared. 

—Mantle, outer core. They were words that Jibril probably wouldn't know that 
gutted the planet. And then the word that signified the entirety of the top layer, 
lithosphere—dematenaWzedi the entire surface of the earth and left them all 
simultaneously falling toward the core that remained. But Jibril took it calmly. 

"...I see. So this is why you said spirit corridors—to deprive me of my wings." 

—Jibril, not knowing what the words meant. But recognizing Sora's goal—to 
drop them to the core of the planet. She'd never actually seen the core of the 
planet, but—. She took a glance. 

...Central temperature six thousand degrees...surface temperature three 
thousand degrees...perhaps. If she made it all the way in, the pressure would 
probably render her "unable to continue," but, before that—Sora and his sister 
would die. Jibril laughed to herself at how terribly full of holes their plan was. Yes 
—after all, what it meant was that. 

"—You're...still trying to kill me?" 

Not hiding her disappointment, Jibril smiled her way down. It was only a 
matter of time before the heat waves from the planet core left the two "unable 
to continue," but—she might as well allow them to make the little time left 
enjoyable for her, she thought. 

"I still won't allow the morning to come—'osa [morning].'" 

With this whisper of Jibril—the sun disappeared. But—as Sora and Shiro fell, 
they took a deep breath. And put a hand to the crystal, saying with the minimum 
breath: "...Sanso [oxygen]!" 

—A fierce headache assaulted them all as they lost the ability to breathe. Of 
course, including Jibril...but then— —To keep me from breathing...how 
meaningless. Indeed—Jibril was a Flugel. Her home was Avant Heim, at an 
altitude of over twenty thousand meters. It was true it wasn't as if she didn't 
need to breathe. But for Jibril, who was composed of spirits, it wasn't a 
particularly urgent problem. However—for the human Sora and Shiro, it was 
fatal. They would asphyxiate and promptly become "unable to continue." 



"—Surely now you see it is futile; just entertain me a bit longer— sonafo." 

Jibril, asserting that it was impossible to kill her through asphyxiation. 
Requesting a certain word, for both of their sakes. Sora seemed to grasp her 
intent. 

"...Damn...'tane-ue [seed planter].'" 

Sora, his aim ending in a misfire, reluctantly answered her request. He's more 
obedient than I expected; I certainly would like to put ground bock underneath 
us to continue the gome, but... Thus smiling, Jibril said, for now. 

"Then I say: 'eo [air]."' 

But, at that word, Sora abandoned his show of reluctance and twisted his 
mouth. Jibril didn't know, after all. Air's—"constituent elements." 

— Instantly. A pressure drop that threatened to rob them of consciousness 
assaulted them all. Having thought that she was restoring the air, and instead 
finding that she couldn't breathe. Jibril spontaneously shrieked— "—Wha—why 
-hng?!" 

And then, regret. At this moment, her Flugel instincts told her that she had 
just inhaled a noxious poison. The name of the poison, indeed, was—oxygen. As 
his consciousness clouded in the precipitous pressure loss, Sora laughed. Jibril 
didn't know it, after all—atomic theory. She didn't know what oxygen was... 
which meant... 

If she couldn't breathe, she'd naturally assume it was another name for air, 
right? But what Sora's word eliminated was only oxygen—not air. 

—The rule: What is present disappears, and what is absent appears. Then, in 
an atmosphere from which oxygen had vanished, what would happen when one 
said air? 

—The answer was before them. A single element of air, oxygen, remained, os 
all other gases vanished. One consequence of this was the fierce pressure drop, 
80 percent, even, enough to take one's consciousness—and another was a space 
full of oxygen, which taken in alone was nothing more than a deadly poison, in 
which breathing would kill Sora and Shiro in an instant—but. 



—Slowly, Sora kissed Shim. 

"...Mmr 

—Circular breathing. To take advantage of the rule that this game could not 
invade the players' bodies. The two could circulate the air that remained in their 
bodies between them. Though their consciousness clouded with the sense that 
their whole bodies were going to rupture from the sharp pressure drop, still. 
They could just hold on—for a short time, they could continue ploying shiritori. 

The events unfolding, the actions of Sora, none of it made any sense to Jibril. 
But, even so, when all was said and done—it vjas futile. 

"...You think, a 'poison' like this...is capable of stopping me?" 

Jibril, sneering at Sora and Shiro, still continuing their futile efforts. She 
thought she had already proven that breathing was not so important to a Flugel. 
Which meant, then, that all she hod to do was not breathe. 

—To begin with, it was impossible for them to kill a Flugel. The game was over. 
Soon enough, the heat waves of the planet's core would reach Sora and his 
sister, despite all their futile flailing. / suppose that is all that con be expected- 
in the end, they ore but Immonities... Looking at Sora with eyes as if viewing a 
toy of which she had grown bored, Jibril. But—on the face of Sora looking back 
at Jibril, itself. 

// _ |// 

A smirk rose, looking down at her. 

"Shiro, here we go!!" 

"...Mm I!" 

This time, they used all their strength—fo blow out oil their oir. 

— For their next move. Checking that the air, sans the extinguished oxygen, 
had been blown from their bodies until there was only a bit of what had been 
"created" left, to wring out the last of the air in their bodies the two cried out. 

""-Atomosufea!"" 

With this word meaning "atmosphere," this time, at last, all gases were lost—. 





Something popped in Jibril. The gases she'd stored in her body, in the zero- 
pressure environment created by the loss of the atmosphere wreaked havoc as 
they pounded on her from inside, as if to rip her lungs apart. Sora and Shiro had 
blown out their air—in order to avoid this... But, even so. Jibril—could not be 
killed. More of this futility... Asphyxiation? Poisoning? Internal rupture from 
pressure difference? So what? If they thought that the war race created by the 
gods to kill gods—that the Flugel—were susceptible to the likes of such 
nonsense as this, their foolishness could hardly be overstated. A perfect vacuum 
—in such an environment, the two Immanities would die first. So overwhelmed 
that she thought she'd make a wisecrack, Jibril opened her mouth—and froze as 
she realized: —That sound could not be transmitted. 

Sound is composed of waves of vibration transmitted through matter. Now 
they were in a vacuum—essentially, in space. Without the medium of a\r—her 
words could not be carried to her opponent. One of the conditions of loss 
crossed Jibril's mind: —You lose if you fail to answer in thirty seconds. 

And...the time a person could survive in a vacuum was—about thirty seconds 
—they were setting up for this?\ Jibril was unable to hold back goose bumps. 
Indeed—if it wasn't possible for them to chase her into being "unable to 
continue," they could gamble on the survival time of thirty seconds and finish 
her with the thirty-second rule—. At the same time as Jibril reached that 
conclusion, Sora's face flew into her view. While clinging on to the consciousness 
that threatened to disappear anytime due to the lack of pressure. Hugging his 
sister with all his might, as if to pressurize her, the human, belaboredly—smiled. 
His face looked as if it read, "You feel that?" 

—Now I see: truly this is a most remarkable specimen... After things had come 
this far, at last, Jibril reevaluated Sora and Shiro. Indeed, it is a loss to dismiss 
these os mere Immonities—however. 

—Jibril was unable to use magic. That was because she was a Flugel, her body 
composed of magical spirits in the first place. And it was also because of the 
present situation, in which her spirit corridors had been eliminated, but—. All 
the more reason-for me now to answer with the fullness of appreciation and 
respect. If she broke down her spirits—she was at least able to write a word in 



space with light. 

—"Anja/cL/ [feebleminded]." 

See how things really are, Jibril said, with the word she drew in space in 
Immanity. They'd stretched their wills, called on their wisdom, sharpened their 
wiles, expended their mortality—and still it was not enough. Immanity could 
never win against the Flugel. There was no way for humans to reach the heavens 
—it was an eternal, inviolable rule. 

...Before this answer. From the arms of Sora, holding Shiro, the force drained 
like melting snow. Flis consciousness was dimming, but, still—despite these 
desperate circumstances, for some reason, the two grinned slyly, put a hand on 
the crystal, and took out the note they had written ahead of time. 

—A note that said: "Kuuronryoku [Coulomb force]." 

It was—an interval too short to even be called an instant. As they just fell 
through space, the air and the crust and the outer core removed, the space now 
devoid of a single atom, all that remained, beneath their eyes, was the planet's 
iron core. This high-pressure, high-temperature liquid metal core, sparkling 
white, burned Jibril's retinas. 

—The planet's core...the iron-atom core. When the Coulomb force exceeded 
the nuclear force it worked against, which pulled atoms together—normally, it 
was an astronomical phenomenon that only occurred at the death of a 
supermassive celestial object, through gravitational collapse. And now, through 
the loss of Coulomb force, a little planetary core was beginning fusion instantly. 
The end result had been named in Sora and Shiro's world: a gamma-ray burst by 
photodisintegration of iron—or. 

A multiple-light-year star-system-vaporizing hypernova. 

The war-race created by the gods to kill other gods. Able to withstand a direct 
hit from a hydrogen bomb—i.e., heat exceeding that of the sun's corona, 
pressure totaling fifty megatons, oxygen loss and drastic pressure reduction due 
to the vaporization of the air, and the residual toxicity—Rank Six, Flugel. The 
hopeless difference in abilities, a wall that towered boundlessly above Immanity. 
But a wall that was finite -the paltry humans were about to climb over. 



In the airless, soundless space, still, unmistakably, as Sora feebly raised his 
index finger, Jibril felt that she heard what he said. 

"You think you can take force on the level of the beginning of the universe at 
50 billion degrees Celsius? Let's see, Flugel." 

—Jibril did not know what was happening or what Coulomb force was. But her 
instincts as a Flugel were screaming. That something incomparable to the 
explosion she had taken at the beginning. Something no concept in her 
knowledge was prepared to stop. A light that would return heaven and earth to 
nothingness—would assault her in less than a tenth of a second. 

That's—It can't—how con I— But now, at last, Jibril. 

— Finally understood the meaning of Sora's and Shiro's actions. Before they 
eliminated the surface of the earth, they had jumped up slightly...which meant 
that Jibril was slightly below. Whatever heat might come—it didn't matter. 
Whether it was a trillionth, a quadrillionth, a quintillionth of a second. The one 
who died first would lose—and this. So this...was his true intent...in taking my 
wings. The first explosion—was a test of whether he could materialize concepts 
that were not known to both of them. After that single move, that man had 
already deduced all of the information he needed. It had been futile to try to kill 
her with heat, or with pressure, or with poison, but he had known that from the 
start. This series of exchanges was just a diversion. To make it look like he was 
betting it all on thirty seconds—a farce. Everything, everything was a trap. As 
Sora's index finger indicated—. The game was already over with the//rsf move. 

Turning her eyes away from the planetary core, which emitted several times 
the brilliance of a star, already too much to look at directly, a single thought 
revolved in Jibril's heart. 

—Otherworlders...no, Immanity—is truly a fearsome race. 

In this world where the ranking was absolute. In this world where combat was 
forbidden and everything was decided by games. That Immanity, a whole ten 
ranks below her, would actually—/c/// her. The laugh that welled up in the back of 
Jibril's mind was crossed by the speech of King Sora that had been passed on to 
her. 

"...Born with nothing, and so can become anything, and therefore the 



strongest race—eh?" 

Could it be that their hands could even reach the God...? 

At the edge of her vision, haven taken the brunt of the whole string of losses 
due to not being a player, free-falling without consciousness, Steph caught her 
attention. 

"—Truly a fearsome race in many ways." 

While she wished in her heart that she could watch them to the end. The blaze 
of the last moments of the planet roared death as it overtook space, and 
everything went white for all of them. 

■■■ 

"...You killed me." 

"Hey. Welcome back." 

"Do you get it?! Til say it one more time?! You killed me!! I did not say 'You 
almost killed me'; I said, 'You killed me'W I said that three times because it is so 
important?!" 

"But you're alive. You know what they say about fighting games, right? They're 
cheap as long as you survive." 

"I did not survive! You killed me!!" 

Rushing at Sora as if to grab him by the collar, Steph screamed on. 







"Y-y-you—Not only did you use me as a decoy, but you let me die and you 
didn't even care!!" 

"It's not like you really died. Who cares." 

"Ah-ah-" 

It was all she could take. It was finally time for her to let loose the entire stock 
of her anger at this man. And she opened her mouth—just as Sora spoke. 

"But we would have lost if it weren't for you." 

"Uh..." 

If she hadn't drawn about the targets that someone had raised. Just as Jibril 
said, Sora and Shiro would have been rendered unable to continue easily. 

"And, thanks to you, we got Jibril. You've helped us save Elkia." 

"...Uh...um." 

"Thanks, Steph. Sorry to always make you do the hard stuff." 

As Sora patted her resoundingly on the head. The rage that a moment ago was 
like a volcano about to erupt dissipated. 

"Uh...um, yeah, uh, uhh... Y-yes...indeed." 

Steph, her face reddening for a reason other than anger, looked down, 
intertwining her fingers. 

"Yes...indeed. If it means saving Elkia, for me to go through a little hardship... 
A-and, anyway, you two...had it hard, too, with all the psychological warfare 
and...everything. Yeah..." 

As Steph mumbled on, filling space, loosening her expression, Shiro. 

"...Brother...you gonna change jobs...from King...to Playboy?" 

"Don't be like that. Not everyone is as easy to manipulate as Steph." 

"I can hear youuuuuuuull! Aaaaaaaah, I haaate this; I hate hate hate hate 
you!!" 

Steph cursed the God. O One True God, why did you prohibit violence? Now 
before me is a man I would give my life to punch. 




"...You have defeated me, utterly." 

Bowing her head with a bounce, as if the terror that just unfolded never 
happened. At the center of the library, just as before the game, sipping tea as if 
to take a break, Jibril. 

"...May I ask you one question?" 

"Yeah?" 

"I can see that you led me to answer using the morpheme 'jaku [feeble]'...but." 

Sora's show of anger had been another act, to make her think of a word 
associated with weakness. But, still— 

"There must have been infinite other possibilities... What were you planning to 
do if I picked another?" 

"We prepared for about twenty. But, yeah, if you picked one other than those, 
we would've been pretty screwed." 

Though Sora said this with playful cheer, still Jibril knew. This man—in this 
short time. Had read her personality and narrowed it down to twenty. But, even 
so, it was too risky of a gamble. For this game in which he only had Jibril's word 
that everything would be put back when it was over. This man had even used the 
time limit of his survival as a bluff, and, to that, she could only say with the 
utmost respect. 

"You're quite mad, aren't you?" 

— But, Sora took this with a chuckle. At his words—those she'd waited for in 
the sixty thousand-odd years since her life began, Jibril widened her eyes and 
drew in her breath. 

"We're taking on 'God'—we gotta have mad skills, right?" 

It rang in Jibril's ears like gospel and made her heart quiver. 

—Taking on—God. Aiming their bows—at Tet. Jibril—hoping that he please 
not say no, but still steeling herself—asked. 

"Are you...in earnest?" 

Having realized the truth, Sora replied. "Sure, we are. I mean, haven't you 



wondered how we got to this world?" he said, as if revealing a spoiler. "I'll tell 
you the answer first. The one who summoned us to this world—/s Tet." 

— It took away Jibril's power to speak. 

"1/i/e beat him at a game, so he threw a fit and brought us into this world, 
telling us to try beating him by the rules here. He's the one who set up this game; 
we don't have any choice but to take him down, do we?" 

That's all it was. Usurping the One True God was as simple and obvious as that. 

"So, Jibril, from today, by the grace of the Covenants, everything you have is 
mine." 

As Sora spoke, Jibril could only gaze at him as if he dazzled her. 

"There are many things that need to be done in order to overthrow the God, 
but there are only so many things that can be done from the position Immanity 
is in. We need to do everything we can to get power, knowledge, and chips to 
bet. Your knowledge and presence will be useful." 

— Like Mary receiving the Word of God. 

"Oh, and those books on my tablet, they were just bait; you can look at them 
all you want. As people from another world, what we need most to take over the 
worid is someone with knowledge. If it's gonna help you become even more 
knowledgeable, we want you to read your fill and make use of them." 

To Jibril, wetting her eyes as if drunk, Sora, further. 

"Also, you're free to keep using this library to store your books just as you 
have. However, Immanity needs it, too, so you have to let the academy use it 
again. You will be responsible for the books. How does that sound?" 

At this string of words. Jibril, at last, knelt before Sora. Dropping a single tear, 
joining her hands as if in prayer. No, actually in prayer, she bowed her head. 

"Oh, my departed Lord. Artosh, thou who granted us life, and now hast none... 
At last I—we have fulfilled our ardent desire to find a new master worthy of our 
service, of our submission..." 

"Uhh, is that really your reaction...?" Steph, dissatisfied with this turn of 
events, dropped her shoulders and muttered. "J-just so you know, these siblings 



are perverts, okay?! They make me dress disgracefully, they make me act like a 
dog, they're foulmouthed, beastly, twisted, human garbage siblings, okay?!" 

"...Steph...beg..." 

"S-seee! They even do things like this!!" 

But Jibril, already way off on a trip, answered vacantly: 

"...Do you mean to say this poses a problem?" 

"Huh...?" 

"They will take down Tet, who assumed the throne of the One True God 
without fighting; they brought vast riches from another world; they, as mere 
Immanities, defeated an Elf and even myself; they are those who revolutionize all 
conventional wisdom." 

She folded her wings, moved her halo back, and bowed her head. This was a 
Flugers single—gesture of absolute loyalty, shown only to her master. 

"Goshujin-sama, my master, my lord." 

"Yeah, yeah." 

"—I am Jibril, one pair of the Council of Eighteen Wings, of Ixseed Rank Six, 
Flugel." She attended him solemnly, as if making a vow before a god. "All that is 
mine belongs to you, my lord. Now that my thoughts, my rights, and my body 
belong totally to you. Lord, it would be my greatest delight if you would use 
them to their fullest, as a foundation on which to build your grand plan." 

"Sure, leave it to us. Right, Shiro?" 

"...Mm, we gotcha..." 

"This is absurd! Also, just how long do you intend to keep me acting like a 
dog?!" 

Still in the pose of the last command—beg. Steph's scream resounded and 
echoed throughout the library... 








Koppoon... The manga sound effect for bath scenes—yeah, right. Anyway, it 
was bath time. For today—actually, just for the second time for Shiro since 
coming to this world. 

"...So, again, I have to wash her while you stand fully clothed?" 

"Don't worry; there are no cameras this time. Anyway, Shiro, get used to 
taking baths already." 

"Makes...my hair all scratchy...! don't like it..." said Shiro once more, sullenly, 
with a pout. 

"Come on, Shiro, we moved around so much today, you've gotta take a bath." 

Even Shiro had never—no, probably no human—had had as eventful a day as 
this. 

"In that case." 

Jibril popped out of nowhere and addressed Sora. 

"Whoa! Jibril, where did you come from?" 

"I will come from anywhere to be by your side. Master. More to the point: If 
you have hair concerns, why not try this shampoo?" 

She pulled it out. 

"Brought to you by Flugel, a shampoo specially formulated with spirit water. 
Your hair will shine, and you'll have a whole new look, soft and sleek, without 
doing any damage at all. Quality you can count on." 

To the Flugel spouting lines straight out of a commercial, Sora spoke. 

"Wait, before that, let me point out an issue here—why are you naked?!" 

"...Mm." Shiro started turning her head at these words. 

"Steph, don't let Shiro look this way! It's not appropriate for minors!" 

"It's quite all right. I have judged there to be sufficient steam to avoid 
impinging on these 'moral codes' you spoke of. Master." 







"...Hm... JibriTs got skills..." 

With Shim's murmur, Sora inwardly sympathized, but. 

"No, I mean, in the first place, why do you need to be naked just to bring 
shampoo!" 

At this question, Jibril. Kneeled and bowed her head. 

"For I, Jibril, am your humble slave. Master. It is the natural duty of a slave to 
wash her master's back and eh-heh...eh-heh! Eh-heh-hehh..." 

"You call yourself a slave when you're making that face?! You textual deviantl" 

It could be assumed that her intention was to check all the particulars that she 
had failed to check before the shiritori game. But—. 

"...Jibril...'Stay'..." 

"Eh-?!" 

Jibril was forced to sit on the floor on Shiro's command. 

"Wh-what? What...is the meaning of this?" 

Though she'd become Sora's property, and she'd sworn fealty to Sora and 
Shiro. Wasn't Sora the only one to whom she was bound under the Covenants? 
But then. 

"...Oh, I see. 'Cause Shiro and I have all our property shared..." 

If Jibril became Sora's. That meant she automatically became Shiro's. Sora 
arrived at this conclusion after Shiro. 

"...I'll use...your shampoo...but R-18 developments...are off-limits." 

"Th-that's my Shiro—your brother admires that coolness you've got; chills, 
man..." 

While Sora swallowed. Still Shiro stayed cool. 

"...Jibril...you can watch...but stay." 

"Whuhhhhh, come ooon! With all this steam, you tantalize meeeee!" 

Sora, unable to see Shiro having her head washed by Steph and apparently 



having learned how to handle Jibril from Sora, expressed his respect without 
reserve. 

"Oh, Shiro, that's incredible; your handling of Jibril is really, like, wow... You're 
my idol." 

And so— 

"...I can't believe I'm starting to get used to having a bath like this; I hate 
myself..." 

Steph, as she expressed herself, felt her humanity degrading little by little. 
With a smile, she wept a solitary tear... 



^ CHAPTER 3 


SACRIFICE 


A bit beyond downtown Elkia, in the suburbs, was the Elkia Grand National 
Library. The place had been retaken from Jibril, but remained under her 
management. In its kitchen, which Jibril had apparently set up herself, was 
Steph. But her face was one of utter exhaustion, suggesting that she had not 
slept properly. 

"...At this rate, I'd rather they'd just stayed cooped up in their royal 
bedchamber..." 

Sora and Shiro, having taken back the library, now no longer cooped up in their 
royal bedchamber, but instead the library. Steph, busy with the domestic affairs, 
while also having to come all the way to the library to make reports and even 
make tea. 

"What is it that obliges me to do this... I am no tea lady, after all!" 

But, in the back of Steph's mind as she grumbled was recalled that scene after 
the match with Jibril. 

"Thanks, Steph." 

-Ba-bump, went her heart... 

"It's an implanted emotion! They're just using me for their benefit!!" 

As Steph thus screamed and engaged in her new daily routine of digging a hole 
in the wall with her head, suddenly, she was accosted by a voice. 

"Oh, if it isn't little Dora. I see you're as industrious as ever." 

"Can you not call me 'little Dora'?! Wait, when did you even get there?!" 

Though there'd been no sound of a door, Jibril was standing there as if she'd 
always been there. 




"I have a message from my master." 


"Oh? Urn, can you answer my..." 

"Let's see... 'Jibril says there's all kinds of stuff in the kitchen, like sugar and 
butter and shit. Apparently it's all ours now, so I guess you can use it; knock 
yourself out'—those were his words." 

"...Huh?" 

—She could use sugar and butter? Th-that would dramatically expand the 
scope of sweets she could— "Hey, they're just indirectly telling me to make 
delicious sweets for them, aren't they! Just how far are they planning to walk 
over me!! I'd rather they tell me I can take a break!!" 

Bam, bam, bam. 

"I'm sorry to bother you in the midst of your head training..." said Jibril, 
extracting a note. "However, my master has made a note regarding a type of 
sweets that interests him based on a cookbook he found in my collection—" 

"Why, thank you! v I will certainly—Jibril's eyes looked distinctly amused, 
and Steph flailed her arms with a blush. "No—this is..." 

"I have heard the story. It seems that my master ordered you to fall in love 
with him." 

"E-exactly! And by some kind of swindle tantamount to fraud, you know! Can 
you believe it?!" 

Steph, seizing on excuses to justify her actions, raised a smoke screen. 
Meanwhile, Jibril seemed all the more curious. 

"Well, I don't know. I have little understanding of the ways of Immanity love. 
Please forgive me." 

"Oh—i-isthat so?" 

"Indeed. For ours is a race that only reproduces when necessary. All I need is 
love for my master. My grasp of the subtleties of the heart to which Immanity 
refers as 'romance' is limited to what I have heard." 

Jibril so casually mentioned her master—that is, Sora—in the same decisive 


sentence as "love." 

"Uh, well...unn, by love/ you mean...the, master-disciple kind, right?" 

"I am little capable of making such distinctions. What do you mean by normal 
love?" 

"Uh, yes... It's as if, when you see them close to another your heart constricts; 
when they're away you become uneasy; that kind of...—Huh?" 

Realizing that her first love—was Sora, with whom she'd been forced to fall in 
love against her will. 

— Realizing, in other words, that everything she just said was about Sora. 
Realizing that Jibril, watching sunnily, could see it all. Blushing redder than a 
tomato and panicking, she said: "l-l-l-l-l'm only talking in general, you know, in 
general! I-I don't have any personal—" 

Jibril only smiled at her utterly unconvincing defense. 

"I see. With that, as I have delivered by message, I will take my leave." 

"Uh, all right... Thanks for—huh?" 

She was gone. In the second she'd averted her eyes...where had she gone? 

". -(Peek!)" 

Glancing at the recipe on the table for the sweets in which Sora had taken an 
interest, Steph. 

"W-well... If we have butter, there are certain sweets I would like to try myself, 
after all. And, if I'm going to make them for one, it's not much more work to 
make them for everyone. Yes, yes, that's it. It's in passing, only in passing." 

Steph started to rummage through Jibril's kitchen. 

"Hmm... The first thing is to figure out where everything is, I suppose..." 

"Let me explain." 

"Eegh?!" 

Jibril popped up once more soundlessly from behind. 

"The preparation equipment you will need is in this cupboard. The dishes are 




over there. The ingredients and spices are on the shelf above. The tea set is here. 
The oven was made in Avant Heim, but I have summarized the directions for you 
in Immanity here. With that, I leave you to your devices." 

"Uh, um, okay... Thank you for everything." 

Said Steph while shrinking a bit. 

"No, it is all in the service of my master. Farewell." 

Once more, she vanished. Of her master... Steph felt a certain edge in these 
words. It sounded vaguely like some sort of threat, but was she just imagining it? 
But Steph just shook her head. 

"These are...for me!! Yes, now, it's time I prepare sweets so delicious I shall 
surprise myself!!" 

Her mind was crossed again by the sight after the match with Jibril. Her head 
being stroked—with only the words modified. 

— You're so good, Steph. Thanks. 

"Like. I.Said-l" 

Smashing her hands down onto the table. 

"It's not like thaaat!" 

As Steph bashed her head against the table. Outside the door, Jibril. 

"'Fall in love with me'... Such a fascinating request is truly the work of my 
master." 

Yet she spoke as if she saw something even more fascinating. Though Jibril did 
not well understand the feelings of Immanity, she did at least know something 
about the theory of romantic affection. 

"...Love burns in a flash and cools just as fast—why is it that Dora, who has not 
been ordered 'Stay in love,' should be affected long-term. Hee-hee, how 
endlessly intriguing." 

Thus giggling quietly, she faded back into the void. 

"Uh—red... Eeyaughh, it's blooood?! Eungh..." 



With Steph passing out at her own blood, it looked like the sweets would take 
a while longer. 

■■■ 

Having rubbed ointnnent on her forehead and dressed it, Steph carried with 
effort the four servings of teacakes she'd completed after recovering from 
unconsciousness. 

"Hee-hee-hee, now these are perfect!" 

Steph congratulated herself on being flawless now that she had sugar and 
butter again, then headed for the room at the back of the library so as not to let 
it be thought she'd come just to hear Sora's praise. 

—And found that, with her hands full, she couldn't open the door. 

"This situation gives me an odd sense of deja vu." 

Were the deja vu to continue, her opening the door would be punctuated by 
finding no one there...she thought. In the end, fortunately, the deja vu did not 
continue. Rather— "So—Jibril." 

A man interrogating Jibril with the most serious face imaginable. 

"Will you tell me about the country of animal-eared girls I'm about to conquer 
—about the Eastern Union?" 

...A man one didn't want to believe was entrusted with the fate of Immanity 
was there. 

"Yes, Lord, the Eastern Union is a country with a complicated background." 

The Eastern Union—the country of Rank Ten, Werebeast. Though the 
Werebeasts were considered a single race, it included countless tribes based on 
differences in physical characteristics. As a result, for many years, they cycled 
through civil war and truce among a number of small, disparate islands. Then 
suddenly a figure known as the Shrine Maiden subjugated and unified them over 
a period of only half a century. Now it was an enormous maritime nation, the 
third-largest country in the world. 

"Differences in physical characteristics...like, some have cat ears and some 


have fox ears?" 


Sora responded to this part deadpan, to which Jibril answered. 

"Yes. But perhaps even more critical than differences in appearance is 
differences in function. Though they are called Werebeasts, please do not think 
that their physical abilities are merely beastlike. For some tribes and individuals 
possess abilities approaching physical limits, and such unthinkable abilities allow 
them to even read minds. In addition, some individuals called bloodbreaks even 
go beyond—" 

"Hm, sure, I get the picture—so. 

"The animal-eared girls are mine; now, how are we going to smash this Eastern 
Union!" 

—This king was hopeless. 

"I'm sorry to say. Master, that it is most likely impossible." 

The one who dumped the cold water on him turned out to be none other than 
she who called him Master and claimed obedience: Jibril. 

"Wha—Jibril, for what did I invite you into my party as a sage?! How could you 
say such a thing about my kami no keikaku that fulfills both my private desires 
and the national interest—to pet animal-eared girls!" 

Despite how fearlessly he displayed the extent to which his self-interest 
overrode important national concerns, still Jibril was unmoved. 

"Master, I am most humbled. However—I do feel that even the two of you 
may be unable to defeat the Eastern Union." 

At these words, Sora, and even Shiro, who'd been reading a book at his side, 
squinted and glared at Jibril. 

"Mmm? Are you trying to say that Blank will lose?" 

"No, I worded that poorly. I simply meant that things may not proceed as 
planned." 

The reason being—. 

"I myself have once challenged the Eastern Union—one/ lost." 

...What...? 



"...Seriously? Wha, at shiritori?" 

"No, as it was I who initiated the challenge." 

...How many games could beat a freak multipurpose humanoid decisive 
weapon like that...? 

"It was most likely the other party who selected the game." 

—Most likely? 

"If I may add, the Elves—Elven Card has challenged the Eastern Union to a 
formal battle of nations four times in the last fifty years, and each of those times 
—they were defeated,” said Jibril, as if stating a fact that was unwelcome but 
unavoidable. 

But more important—Sora had to understand what her words meant, and why 
Jibril had gone so far as to state that it was impossible. 

"...Could it be..." 

But if it were the truth—it would, after all... 

"...the Eastern Union...demands as a wager that you lose your memory of the 
game?" 

...Mean that, at present, it was impossible to win. 

Bowing her head in reverence, Jibril said: 

"My master indeed is wise. For this reason, not a single detail of their gome or 
games is known.” 

...Well, then. The race known for superior senses and some kind of sixth sense 
that let them read minds went so far as to erase others' memories to conceal 
their games. There was no place to dig; there was no way to learn from loss. 
Indeed, to challenge them under the conditions, with no prior information, 
would be suicide. 

— But that left several unanswered questions. 

"Elven Card lost.../our times?” 

Elven Card. The thing was, he knew from experience, from the tournament to 
become monarch, what a pain those Elves could be. Even against Chlammy, who 



had merely called on their power indirectly, he was sure to have lost if he had 
had no prior information. Even attacking with two lines, three lines of defense 
prepared, she had forced them to struggle. And they were the largest country in 
the world. To be able to hold one's own against that— "Yes, and, as a 
consequence—I suspected the involvement of a higher race." 

Yes, just as Elven Card had tried to do to Elkia. Someone else, who could even 
have pushed aside Elf, might have turned the Eastern Union into a puppet state. 

"And I was so curious about who could be behind it were that the case—" 

"You challenged them and got it handed to you." 

"...I can say nothing in my defense." 

Well, then. That explained why Jibril stated it was impossible. If they didn't 
know anything about the game and had no way to bluff, there was no room for 
strategy. And, in this case, Sora's lot, who had no weapons but wit and wiles, 
was all but doomed to be prey. 

— But, even so, there was a doubt that couldn't be wiped away. 

"...Isn't the one who's challenged at an overwhelming advantage in this 
world?" 

The Fifth of the Ten Covenants: The party challenged shall have the right to 
determine the game. Obviously, someone who could select the game that suited 
them was in a superior position. 

"But then if they erase all the memories—o/fer a while, no one would try, 
right?" 

—Yes. It was like nuclear deterrence in Sora's world. No one would pick a fight 
once they knew there was no way to win against the opponent. 

"...Defensive, defense...?" 

Shiro speculated on the implications for the stance of the Eastern Union. But 
Sora pointed something out. 

"Shiro, you may be smarter than your brother, but this is why you lose to him 
in strategy games. There's no fun in that, right?" 



If they had an unbeatable move that even beat Elf and Flugel, why would they 
stop at defensive defense? The real fun was making it look like there was an 
opening, getting others to attack, and then kicking their asses. 

"...Brother, your...play style...is lame." 

"Are you saying the strategy I spent all my brains concocting is lame? That 
makes your brother really sad, you know?!" 

But yeah. Shiro recognized she'd gone in the wrong direction. 

"...For a country...that's surged in the last half-century...to adopt defensive 
defense...is weird." 

"l-isn't it?" 

Sora, grabbing onto Shiro with tears in his eyes. Jibril spoke to the siblings who 
looked quizzical at the unresolvable contradiction. 

"But in fact, in the last ten years, no country has challenged the Eastern Union 
to a battle of nations—" 

...Jibril smiled. 

"—oh, yes...except one." 

"...Mm..." 

"Huh, what, which?" 

Only Jibril and Shiro reacted. Shiro must have read about it already in Jibril's 
books, but it was news to Sora. 

—Oh, this is not a welcome development. 

Steph detected an imminent disaster and tried to quietly leave the room. 

"I believe it may be easiest to see for yourself. Of course, Dora should come 
along." 

"Hngmh?!" 

Not knowing when she had been approached, Steph raised her voice at the 
hand on her shoulder. 


"Please hold on to me, everyone." 



"Hold on?" 

Sora and Shim obediently grabbed JibriTs clothes. 

"And please do not let go—for now we begin." 

And; the instant Jibril spoke. A sound at Sora's ears like glass breaking made 
him close his eyes for a moment—and, just then. As he opened his eyes again, 
what he beheld...hmm, could it be a trick of the imagination? 

— It appeared that he was floating a few thousand meters above the ground; 
quite a nice view, yes? 

"What splendid weather we have today; visibility should be—" 

"Wait, Jibril; hold on; first of all—w/? of c//c/you just c/o?!" 

Sora interrupted Jibril, who went on as if nothing had happened. While Sora 
demanded an explanation of this situation in which they'd been launched into 
the air at very high altitude in zero frames. Still, blankly. 

"Whatever do you mean...I merely shifted." 

Jibril answered nonchalantly that she'd just accomplished teleportation. 

...So that was why it seemed she could pop up anywhere, Sora realized. She 
actually was a teleporter. It was hard to wrap one's head around, but it made 
sense. 

"...Just how far can you shift?" 

"Anywhere I can see. Or, otherwise, anywhere I have once visited." 

—Sora and Shiro had just run upon the greatest mystery of this world. 

"—Hey, Shiro, how is it that Immanity survived the old war?" 

".Dunno...?" 

If they had a "war" against the Werebeasts, with physical prowess said to 
approach physical limits, Elves, with their disregard for freaking common sense, 
and insane life-forms like Jibril, did that mean Immanity was actually able to put 
up a fight against this shit? But each of the residents of this world would answer 
that question thus: "That is considered the greatest mystery in the history of the 
human race..." said Steph, with a sigh. 




"Perhaps it was simply that no one took notice of Immanity?" answered Jibril 
with an excellent smile. 

"We were mainly engaged with the Dragonia, the Gigant, and the Old Deus. 
Oh, to think back on those days of just barely bringing down a dragon with fifty 
Flugel, or when we took on a god with a force of two hundred and yet were 
routed." 

...She was saying that a race that took a hypernova to kill, that could teleport 
freely, and could fly, had failed to bring down one of these things when they 
went in a gang of two hundred, and this was what everyone was waging war 
against. 

"That raises another question: 

"—How is it that this planet even retained its shape?" 

But Jibril answered Sora's question with a bashful smile. 

"That is exactly the reason the One True God was decided by defauit.” 

.It hadn't...retained its shape after all. 

"But never mind that. Look over there." 

As Jibril smiled as if to sweep away bad memories, she pointed to a place near 
the Elkia border, clearly visible from the air. On the inside of the national border, 
that is, inside Elkia's territory, in the distance loomed an imposing tower. Yes, a 
tower, imposing. 

—A structure that clearly was impossible for Immanity to have built—or, to get 
to the point... 

"...Uhh, what, is that...a skyscraper?" 

Indeed, it was a building more or less like America's Empire State Building. 

"...Huge." 

Even Shiro's eyes widened. Their sense of perspective was almost lost, except 
for the contrast with the buildings lined up below, which looked like an Immanity 
neighborhood. 

"Little Dora, could you please explain?" 




Slumping—/ knew this would happen—Steph spoke. 


"...It's the Eastern Union's—embassy in Elkia." 

".Hmmm, embassy?" 

Swishing her head away from Sora's squint, Steph continued. "Th-the truth is 
—it's where our country's royal palace used to be." 

".Hey." 

As Sora squinted further into Steph's face. Steph, turning her neck further 
back in an attempt to escape his gaze. 

"G-Grandfather h-had lost and lost and, uh, f-finally bet the palace." 

"...And, lost..." said the sister, softly, mercilessly. 


Sora and Shiro had no more words, while Jibril beamed as if watching a puppy. 

"Wh-what are you looking at me like that for!" 

"If your capital has an embassy bigger than the Royal Castle, that is pretty 
fail..." 

"Unghh..." 

Hmm... Sora started thinking. 

"So how did this Royal Castle get taken by the Eastern Union?" 

"More to the point—everything on that side was taken by the Eastern Union." 

"-Huh?" 

Jibril, speaking sunnily, and Sora, gaping incredulously. His sister explained 
with information she'd memorized. 

"...In, the last ten years...the former king...lost to the Eastern Union...eight 
times." 

"Eight... Uh, well, I can see the Eastern Union's motivation. A maritime nation 
with that kind of technology—" 


The difficulty for a maritime nation was the lack of iron and stone, i.e.. 






resources other than maritime resources. Judging from the style of that building, 
it appeared they had quite an advanced civilization. There were many resources 
they'd need, such as rare metals, that couldn't be obtained in an archipelago. So 
it was only natural that they'd try to get them from the continent—but. 

"But it was the Eastern Union who wanted the match, right? Why did he 
accept?" 

However, Shiro shook her head. And then Jibril answered. 

"Master, have you forgotten? The only nation that has challenged the Eastern 
Union in these last ten years..." 

"...The initiator was...E//r/o..." 

...What...? 

"First that mountain. Then that plain, and then...in the end, he bet the Royal 
Castle that had stood at the center of the nation—and here we are now." 

Jibril explained that she had flown them up in order to show them this. 

"Hey, hey, wait a second, it had stood at the center of the notion?” 

Sora said, pointing at the "Empire State Building." 

"So what are you saying? That we bet half our territory challenging an 
opponent against whom even Elven Card had lost after challenging them four 
times, and we challenged them eight times? Immanity? Hey, hey, come on. Cut 
the-" 

But, to Shiro, responding with a sigh, Sora still shaking his head. 

"H-hey, wait, so what are you saying? That Elkia before that—hod twice os 
much land os it does now?” 

At Shiro, nodding decisively, and Jibril, Sora put his fingers to his eyebrow, and 
Steph had no more words. 

"...Jibril, I want to go back to the library." 

"Oh, dear, are you afraid of heights?" 

"No, I just can't clutch my head here, so I want a floor." 


Back in the library. Sora sat cross-legged on a table, clutching his head. All that 
had come from his mouth since a while ago had been sighs, one after the other. 

In her usual spot on his lap, Shiro peered at him with concern. 

"...Brother...are you o...kay...?" 

"...Yeah, sorry, Shiro, Tm just kind of in despair." 

It pained him to cause his sister concern, but, even so, it had to be said. 

"I thought the old king was a moron, but, God, he had to be an alcoholic or 
something..." 

Sigh . 

Steph, who'd been listening, heard this long sigh and snapped. 

"Y-you've been rather rude, you know!!" She hit the table on which Sora sat 
with a bang. "I thought you said before that my grandfather was right!!" 

But Sora, with a biiiiig sigh, replied. 

"—Just how do you defend someone who threw away half of the national 
territory on some crazy charge?" he said, predictably pointing in the direction of 
the lost land that they'd seen just recently. 

"How much dairy farming and industry could you fit on that land area? If your 
gramps hadn't gambled until he was in his shorts like those dumbass nobles, we 
would have had twice the amount of land we do, you know?" 

"W-well, it's-!" 

As if he couldn't stop his mouth once it had started, Sora grumbled. 

"Yeah, he sure was your grandfather... Maybe he believed in that 'luck' shit, 
that if he kept playing the game eventually he'd win... We're talking about 
competition between nations... Didn't he understand what that meant?" 

—Yes, a personal game and a bottle of nations were two entirely different 
stories. A game that the agent plenipotentiary, a party responsible for other 
people's lives, played with their lives as collateral. That was a battle of nations— 
a ploy for dominion. It was a game in which each race, each nation, would 
mobilize all the knowledge and strategy they had their disposal. To challenge a 





nation that was ready for this eight times—. 

"I mean, is there a more positive interpretation than 'He was drunk'..." 

But, shaking her shoulders, looking down, squeezing out words, Steph. 

"Grandfather—it is true...had not much of a head, for games..." 

But—she lifted her head and shrieked. 

"He was not the sort of madman who would bear the lives of millions of 
Immanities without care! Unlike you two, he was a model of common decency!" 

But, given the actual situation resulting from this model... 

"If throwing away half the territory is 'a model of common decency,' I'm happy 
to be an uncommon deviant." 

"~~! I've had enough of this!!" 

Shaking her shoulders, yet unable to argue, Steph ran away with tears in her 
eyes. Watching her recede, Shiro muttered. 

"...Brother...that's harsh..." 

"...What do you want me to say after seeing that..." 

Sora spoke as if he had many things to think about, with his melancholy switch 
all the way on, the excitement of a moment ago now lost. 

—Then. He noticed the tea and cakes Steph had brought and left on the table. 
Faster than Sora, Shiro took some and stuffed them in her mouth. 

"...Mm, good...!" 

Hearing Shiro's usually monotonous voice take a leap, Sora picked at the food 
reluctantly. 

".Damn it, it really is good..." 

Sweet, but not cloying, and so fluffy. Though they had eaten Steph's delicious 
homemade sweets the other day, still those paled in comparison. Probably she'd 
looked at the recipe. And put her own touch on it, struggling in the kitchen. 
Imagined Shiro as she stared at Sora. While Jibril merely closed her eyes, waiting 
for orders. Tearing at his hair, Sora spoke. 




Ahhh—fine. I'll give it a shotV' 




Elkia Royal Castle: the former royal bedchamber. Since Sora had in fact taken 
the one-story structure erected in the courtyard, it was now Steph's bedroom. 
Buried in its gigantic, literally king-size bed. Sniffling and muttering, Steph. 

"Liar... Didn't you say you were going to prove that Grandfather was right..." 

Steph was on her stomach, wetting the pillow she held to herself with tears. 

"Grandfather...was not a fool!" 

Holding the key she always carried around on her person, she saw her 
grandfather's face. 


Grandfather, what is this key for? 

Oh, now there, Stephanie, you mustn't touch that. 

Why not? What's it for? 

This is the key to a place with something very important to your grandfather. 
Important? Oh, I remember what Father was saying. 

"Grandfather collects 'books he can't show people.'" 

N-no, no, Stephanie! That is another matter! 

Th-this is—the key of hope. 

Hope... ? What does that mean ? 

Ho-ho... Someday, you con have this, Stephanie. 

Really?! 

Yes... But, Stephanie, listen closely to my words. 

When one day you find a person with whom you believe from your heart that 
you con trust Elkia, give this to them. 


She'd thought back, for some reason, to events over ten years past. Two years 







since she'd received the key from her grandfather, when he'd foreseen his 
passing. The key whose lock was still a mystery to her, but of which she never let 
go for a moment. Why was she thinking of this now? 

—Sora. That man. Who'd affronted her grandfather. How could she ever give it 
to him? 

"Dora, do you have a moment?" 

"Eeyaaaaaaugh!" 

Wpp—Jibril appeared out of space, peering at Steph from her bedside, causing 
Steph to leap and scream in an excess of shock. 

"Wh-wh-wha-what is it?! Y-you're trespassing!!" 

"I have but a simple matter I wish to convey to you, so please don't worry 
about that." 

Urn, that wasn't exactly the point. 

"It is my recommendation that you return to the library at this time." 

"—What? At this time? Do you know what time—" 

But, perhaps inattentive of Steph's opinion, simply bowing once and 
continuing unperturbed, Jibril continued. 

"I came according to my own judgment that it would be better for my master. 
The decision is yours to make." 

With this unasked-for announcement, she once more melted into space and 
disappeared. 

...That was the Flugel for you: their thinking must have been totally different 
from Immanity's. Steph was disconcerted over the disjoint, but chewed over 
Jibril's words. 

—So she was trying to tell her to go back to Sora now? 

"...You must be joking; how do you expect me to go right after that!" 

Steph pulled up her blanket, but the ticktock of the clock in the room kept her 
puffy red eyes open. The words of her grandfather that she'd just remembered. 
The man who'd just affronted him. Could it be just because Jibril came and 



talked to her, or was there some meaning in her having remembered that? 

"...Ohh, fine, then!" 

Flumping aside her blanket, Steph got up and out of bed. 

■■■ 

Elkia Grand National Library. Though Steph had been here many times before, 
for some reason she still entered with quiet steps. In any case, Sora and the rest 
were probably in the room at the back as usual. With that assumption, she 
slinked up to the room and found the door slightly open. Peeking in, she saw 
Sora, Shiro, and Jibril. 

"Master, don't you think it's about time to retire?" 

"Mm...just a little longer..." 

But, turning the page of the book, staring unceasingly at the map, Sora 
answered absently. On his lap breathed Shiro, asleep, buried in pages, as Jibril 
pulled a blanket over her and spoke. 

"I suspect that, regardless of how hard you look, it will not be possible to 
defend the folly of the previous king.” 

As Jibril glanced as if aware of Steph, Steph hid with a gasp. 

...It wasn't as if you could escape the notice of a Flugel just by being sneaky. 
But it seemed you could at least escape Sora's. Sora answered with no sign of 
having noticed her, and with little cheer. 

"—That's not what I'm trying to do. I just noticed something/unny." 

"Is it not the case that you...found something,' for the sake of Dora?" 

"I was just scouring the records for how not to conquer an animal-eared 
kingdom!" 

Sora barked indignantly at the sly Jibril. 

"Well, what do you mean by 'funny'?" 

"Let's see now... There are several things." 

As Jibril continued to smile with amusement, Sora answered stone-faced: 

"Like I was saying this morning—i/i/Ziy does the Eastern Union erase players' 


memories?" 

That ought to deter anyone from challenging them. It was hard to see the 
point. At Sora's question, Jibril put her hand to her chin and thought carefully. 

"Perhaps they intended to steadily build their domain until then, and then 
close themselves off." 

"Yeah, that's the most obvious answer. And it's true that in the last ten years, 
only Elkia has challenged them." 

If that was their plan, you could say they'd succeeded. But, then, why had the 
old king challenged them? Eight times? 

"Well, you know, with the brains of Immanity, anything is possible!" 

"That's what I was thinking when I was clutching my head. But it's weird." 

Sora answered the smug Jibril without changing his expression. 

"Eight times—that's not a number of times a decent person shouldering the 
lives of millions would attempt just out of frustration." 

//_ I 

At the sign that Sora had actually been listening to her opinion. Behind the 
door, Steph gasped quietly. 

"So I researched the Eastern Union's continental domain." 

Sora, pointing to the map. 

"First, this here is a mine for a metal called armatite, right... This is the//Tsf 
place the old king bet." 

According to Jibril's books, the melting point of armatite was three thousand 
degrees. Such a metal was beyond the present abilities of Immanity to process- 
in other words, the mountain was worthless to them. 

"Next, this big plain. The Eastern Union has large-scale farming here; it's a key 
food source for them... This is the second place the old king bet." 

By now, the Eastern Union had developed the land and turned it into a plain, 
but at the time of the game, it was a mors/?—in other words, again, worthless. 



"This coal mine was third. Again, it's a resource that Immanity cannot yet use. 
And then the fourth time, the fifth time, the sixth time...until he bet the castle 
the eighth time, the old king—never bet anything that was vaiuabie." 

But most important. Sora said, pounding the map. 

"Isn't all of the Eastern Union's continental domain—originaiiy Eikian 
territory?" 

— Indeed, all the territory the Eastern Union possessed on the continent was 
that which they had collected from the old king. 

"You mean the previous king handed over to the Eastern Union all the 
continental resources they needed?" 

"In the end, yeah. But the point is, until then, the Eastern Union had no 
territory on the continent, right?" 

Which meant. 

"The one who was trapped—was the Eastern Union." 

A high-tech nation with that kind of construction technology, an advanced 
civilization capable of using resources with a melting point of three thousand 
degrees. A civilization that advanced—would need continental resources. In this 
world where everything was decided by games, if even trade was decided by 
games. The tightly defensive Eastern Union would be in a tight spot. 

"But what the old king kept asking for was 'one coastal city of the Eastern 
Union.'" 

That made sense: they'd get more maritime resources, and they'd get 
technology. It was a reasonable condition. Except that, if it was the Eastern 
Union that was trapped, they should have been able to squeeze them for more. 
Why did he do it eight times? Holding out land worthless to Immanity, little by 
little. 

"He had to have some reason..." 

Why—did the Eastern Union erase memories when that would be a loss? Why 
—did Elven Card challenge them four times? Why—...no, wait. That wasn't it. 

"Why...did the old king stop after eight times?" 



Look at it the other way. Not why did he challenge thenn, but why did he stop 
challenging them after so many times? Until the eighth time, when he bet the 
Royal Castle, he'd only bet things that were worthless. He could have stopped 
after seven times or nine. Why eight times—? Then, having thought that far, 
Sora. Reached a hypothesis. 

"What if the old king—hadn't lost his memories?" 

Taking out the map, he compared it against the data he'd gathered. Staring at 
the borders of several years, he whirled his thoughts around at blinding speed to 
confirm his flash of insight. The hypothesis was still full of holes, but it was worth 
looking into. The biggest holes were two. How did he avoid having his memory 
erased? And— Meanwhile, to the furiously thinking Sora. Jibril whispered 
hesitantly. 

"Master. You are, in theory, an Immanity." 

"—Mm, huh? What's this all of a sudden?" 

Sora, taken aback, stopped his train of thought and looked at Jibril. 

"However, it is not the case that all Immanities think as deeply as you before 
they act. Master." 

An indirect way of checking Sora as he tried to force a justification for the 
previous king's folly. This was the most she could say as a servant, to keep him 
on the right path—this faint admonition from Jibril, who could never cast doubt 
on her lord. But Sora brushed it off. 

"But some do. And usually—no one understands them." 

This time staring at the data he'd organized on the tablet, Sora. 

"To try to understand them is my duty." 

As if reading the mind of Jibril, who had fallen silent. 

"Jibril, it's okay if you just say it. 

"This puny, powerless, abject animal. How are we supposed to believe in the 
humans of this world, who to you are nothing more than lower animals, both 
physically and mentally—that's what you want to say, right?" 



"—No, I certainly didn't..." 

...She certainly did. After all, no matter what kind of folly was undertaken by 
the previous king, what could you expect from Immanity? Jibril had decided to 
follow not the lower life-form known as Immanity, but the two unknown entities 
known as Sora and Shiro, who broke all conventional wisdom. But, at Sora's next 
words: "The answer is simple—I don't believe in humans." 

"What?" 

Neither Jibril nor Steph, outside the room, could believe her ears. 

"You probably think that, since Shiro and I are from another world, we're 
different from Immanity in this world, but it's totally the same over there. 
Everyone, everywhere, they're all just dumb, unbelievably crass animals— 
including me." 

In Shiro's face as Sora deprecated himself...was nothing but thick, deep 
despair. 

—Their old world, covered in optical fiber, was a world shrunk to its limits, a 
civilization created by unbelievable wit and wisdom. Yet...the massive flood of 
information this technology made possible, somehow...only taught them more 
and more how foolish people could be. 

"...Humans are shit. It's the same no matter what world you go to." 

As Sora spit out these words, Steph clenched her key. 

—She couldn't trust Sora with her grandfather's key, after all. This man...could 
not possibly be worthy of trust. As Steph, with these thoughts, started to move 
away from the door... 

"But I believe in their pofenf/o/." 

—Still Sora's words held her. Jibril knelt to sit by Sora, who was tracing the 
floor. 

"The evidence—is here." 

Sora stroked the head of Shiro as she lay in his lap, breathing softly, asleep. His 
sister was exhausted after stuffing an enormous mass of information into her 
little head. 



"If all humans were as useless as me, Td have given up and hung myself long 
ago. 

The expression of the brother now caressing his sister was not the man just 
seen in the depths of despair and disillusionment—but someone else entirely. 

"In the world; there are some..." 

The eyes of a gentle brother, squinting as if looking at light. Saw hope and 
dreams...a white sister, her chest minutely rising and falling. 

"Some who—becoL/se of that puniness, that foolishness you see, come to 
embody learning, that special kind of divine potential, of hope, of fantasy, in a 
little body like that...the real thing." 


"See, Tm a dumbass, all right." He chuckled bitterly. "Tm great at spotting 'em. 
The world is really full of dumbasses—sickeningly so," said Sora. 

But then. 

"And yet...this girl was different." 

Gently passing his hand over the head on his lap, he continued. 

"The day I first met Shiro—it was eight years ago." 

Sora's face relaxed, as if he were thinking about something that just happened 
yesterday. 

"This kid who was just three at the time... Can you guess what the first thing 
she said was what she heard my name?" 

...You really are..."empty"... 

— Not getting it, Jibril knit her brow. With a laugh, Sora was made to explain. 

"This kid who was already a polyglot at the age of three saw the pun between 
my name, Sora, and me, who she could see right away was just smiling just 
because everyone else was, and insulted me using its double meaning—isn't that 
funny?" 


At these words, still without shame or anger, but rather as if delirious, Sora 
smiled boldly and spoke. 




"My heart skipped a beat. I was so excited—the Veal thing' really did exist." 

Sonneone who flew beyond his petty delusions without even taking notice of 
them. Someone who answered when he asked, "How can you do that?" By 
asking back straight-faced, "How can you not?" Someone overwhelming, 
impossible to catch up with, who saw a different world. 

"—To be the new 'big brother' of the real thing..." 

With a strained smile, but also with resolve. 

"I knew I wasn't worthy, but I wanted to be. I decided to believe. I thought 
that, no matter how worthless I was, if I tried like my life depended on it to 
understand, maybe I could be—maybe not like my sister, but almost. 

"So, I don't believe in humans." 

—Just as he didn't believe in himself. 

"But I believe in their pofenf/o/." 

—Just as he could believe in his sister. 

"The potential of humans is infinite. It's just that it's infinite both in the 
positive and negative directions." 

Thus people could be infinitely wise, or infinitely foolish—and so. 

"So it's like, maybe, if I'm as foolish as possible. I'll be able to catch up with my 
sister, who is as wise as possible?" 

—Yes, just as if going in a circle. As Sora spoke bashfully, patting his little 
sister. Jibril, kneeling beside, watched him with deep interest. 

— He probably didn't realize. His negligence of the fact he himself, at that time, 
was only ten years old. At ten years old, unraveling the truth behind the words of 
a three-year-old child, and accepting it. And, on top of that, respecting it. And 
starting to think about how to become like that. Seeing that he couldn't win with 
the same methods, and then immediately searching out his own path. Someone 
like that...who could do things like that...what would you call them? This man 
who colled himself dumb—probably didn't realize. 

"—I see, so folly and genius ore like two sides of a coin—these are deep 



words." 


Seeing Sora looking up toward the ceiling, Jibril ended up looking up herself. 
Squinting his eyes, through the library skylight, at the stars in the immaculate 
night sky, Sora told the story. 

"In our old world—humans fly through the sky and even to heavenly bodies." 

"—To tell the truth...I cannot believe that." 

"Yeah, no one could. Not even humans ourselves." 

But there were those who believed in it, believed in the dream. Looking up to 
the distant sky, aspiring all the more because they were not born with wings. In 
the end, people, by their own hands, built wings of steel and soared to the sky 
above. And then hoping higher, hoping faster, flew off the very planet. Because 
they were born with nothing, they filled themselves with ambition—and went for 
the other side. 

— If you don't have it, you can look for it. 

— If you look and it's not there, you can make it yourself. 

— If you try that and you still can't get it, you look to the ends of the world. 

Being born with nothing. This fact itself was the proof of the potential of the 
proud weak, humans. 

"There are some people who have found it. Not wannabes like me, but the real 
thing, without compare." 

Not to try to understand was a crime. Because their words—were so self- 
evident to themselves that they could not explain. 

"So it's our duty as ordinary people to try to get it." 

In which case—. 

"We gotta believe before we can do anything. The old king, too." 

As Sora, smiling thus, dropped his gaze back to the map. Jibril simply closed her 
eyes, created a fantastic light from her hands, and lit Sora's work. 

"What I believe is what you believe, my master and mistress. If you believe in 
Immanity, I shall simply follow you wherever you may go. There is nothing 



more." 

In the back of the mind of Steph, who had been listening to the exchange as 
she hid outside the door. An image flashed by of the back of her grandfather, 
scorned as foolish, but warm and big. The back of the man, gentle and warm, 
who always believed in people. 




Ll m ■ 

^ • 


r ' 


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rai 




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—...a person with whom you believe from your heart that you con trust 
Immonity... 

The cold, calculating man who always doubted people, so far removed from 
her grandfather, but, for that very reason. Sora, who believed in people's 
potential more than anyone. Might it be all right to give it to him—the key her 
grandfather left? Steph herself still didn't know what it meant—but. Would he... 
would Sora earn her grandfather's approval? Would her grandfather tell 
her..."You picked the right man"? 

"...Sora." 

Kreeek...opened the door at Steph's hand as Jibril smiled subtly and Sora 
looked startled. Steph simply—made up her mind, and spoke. 

"I have something for you." 

■■■ 

The next day...in the royal bedchamber that had turned into Steph's room. 
Steph, Sora, Shiro, and Jibril were all present. 

"—So, that's the story." 

The first thing that was said in reply to Steph, who'd just finished telling 
everything she remembered, explaining the story of the key, was: "No question 
about it, it's porn." 

...This. Steph fiercely regretted her error in selection of personnel. 

"A-are you mad? How do you get that from that story!" 

"'Cos it sounded like he got nervous when you mentioned what your dad said." 

"H-he said that was something different!" 

"According to statistics in the world Shiro and I come from, 90 percent of men 
have a hidden stash." 

"...Of R-18 stuff...adult, goods..." 

"Right? Yeah, Steph, this will really come in handy. I was in fact bemoaning the 
lack of prOn in this world." 


Steph, out of things to say, decided to collapse on the bed quietly. 


"But; Master, if you don't know where the key goes..." 

"There is a 100 percent chance that the hiding place for porn is the owner's 
own room, i.e., here. So, no problem: in—fact. 

"We've already found a hidden room. Must be what the key's for, right?" 

"...Excuse me—?" 

At these words, Steph lifted her head from the bed and saw Sora and company 
at a distance from the bed, which she raced to close. 

"First of all—I told you the bed was tilted, right? When Shiro fell." 

That must be the time a few days ago when Sora was trembling, thought 
Steph. 

"So we backed up and looked at it carefully, and it was slightly tilted. So, this 
ornament carved into the footboard is a scale. A scale tilted left, meaning the 
left side is heavier, meaning there's a device on the left." 

Calmly. Without any sense of catharsis, Sora simply and calmly unraveled the 
puzzle. 

"Then there's this bookcase on the left. The spaces between the shelves are 
slightly uneven. Even though the shelves on the right side of the room are even." 

"Y-yes...n-nowthat you mention it." 

"But, having said they're uneven, there's a pattern of just two distances, large 
and small." 

Pointing out the shelves in order from the top. 

"If we convert these into ones and zeroes we get 01, 00, 11, 10. If we look at 
this in binary, it's 1, 0, 3, 2. Then, if we look for books in this room that have over 
a thousand pages, there's pretty much just the encyclopedia, right." 

Drawing the encyclopedia from the shelf and opening it, Sora. 

"So, the first word on page 1,032 of the encyclopedia is lighthouse, in 
Immanity. Well, if we're going to interpret something here as a 'lighthouse,' it's 
got to be some lighting fixture like a candlestick or a chandelier or something." 

Clomping over to a candlestick by the wall of the room, Sora. 



"Also, the word had, at the center, a depressed line, as if made with a pen 
without ink." 

Steph and Jibril looked. 

— Indeed, there was a faint depression. 

"Which means it's the candlestick at the center of the left side of the room. 
Plus, there are three arrows to the left of the word to indicate an idiom, so—" 

He tilted the candlestick, left, three times. 

"Finally, to the right, there's an arrow referring to the related entry harbor on 
page 605. Which means—" 

He tilted the candlestick right once. Then the candlestick came off... 

— Revealing four dials inside. 

"Now after this is what Shiro solved, so I'll hand it off." 

They slapped their hands together, and Shiro turned the dials. 

"Factorize...the number of times...the lines cross...in lighthouse and harbor...m 
the Immanity writing system." 

There was a click. 

"...Ex-actly...four digits...result: 2642..." 

Sora spoke to Steph and Jibril as they watched in a daze. As if showing a swift 
magic trick, he clapped his hands to get things moving again. 

"Right, right—and then, what do you know! Look, behind the curtain, one 
block in the wall is sticking out oddly!... Oh, ya know, this is kind of tough; last 
time Shiro and I just barely managed to shove it together to open it; it probably 
hasn't been maintained. Jibril, give us a hand." 

"Oh, yes—at your command." 

Once Jibril did so with a light push. 

"And then, the moment you've been waiting for—" 

Grmmmmm. 


"The bookcase moves..." 



And; after it finished moving, beyond— 


"And here is our locked door. This must be where your key goes, right?" 
Playing in his hand with the key he'd received from Steph, carefree. 


Yes, all too carefree. All too easygoing. The trick that the previous king had 
probably racked his brains to prepare—. So leisurely that even Jibril was left 
speechless while Steph shouted: "Wh-wh-when did you figure this out?!" 

"I thought I already said—f/ie day Shim fell from the bed.” 

Shiro nodded. 

-"Wait, wait. Hold on," said Steph. "...You refer to the day I was made into a 
dog and you played against Jibril?" 

"Yeah; good memory." 

"I couldn't forget that trauma even if I wanted to! But anyhow—!" 

—That day, first thing in the morning, Steph had found Sora shaking. They'd 
played blackjack, and Steph had lost. And then they'd gone out to meet the 
nobles—and then to the library. 

"When did you have time to find this—?!" 

"When you got called out about the nobles, there was about an hour before 
you came back, right?" 

He was saying casually that he'd solved it in an hour. This contrivance—the 
puzzle over which Steph had brooded forever. As if it was just to kill time. 
Though Steph gaped, still, apparently unaware of just what he and his sister had 
done, Sora continued. 

"But, yeah, last time we got stuck because we couldn't find the key." 

"B-but, Master, a door like that—" 

"Yeah, we could have even just picked the lock, but what fun is a puzzle-solving 
gome if you cheat." 

Sora smiling, Shiro nodding. Yes, it was just a game... 



And then, softening his expression, going, eh-heh, eh-heh. 

"Sooo, shall we proceed to view these treasure texts he went so far to hide— 
oh, ril cover Shiro's eyes." 

"...Mmg...not fair..." 

"Time is unfair in a fair way. Just wait seven more years." 

"Tm telling you, it's not porn!" 

Sora placed the key he'd received from Steph in the keyhole and turned it. The 
door opened with the groan of high-quality metal fittings. 

—.Sora, though he'd just been charging under the assumption it was porn 

—along with everyone else, all present, somehow—was struck dumb. 

Inside was a windowless library. A dust-covered study, with wooden shelves 
buried in books, ornaments with a tasteful air, a desk, a chair. But, contrasting to 
its peace, everyone must have felt it, that certain dread. That told them this 
wasn't a place into which to step lightly, that held back their feet. With a gulp, 
Sora slowly went through the doorway of the study. He stopped his eyes upon 
the book that lay open on the study table in the center, stroking just once the 
surface of a page rendered illegible by dust. The writing that appeared was bold, 
and it said just one thing. 

To the monarch not of Immanity's lost days—but of its resurgence, we leave 
this. 

Sora carefully turned the page, and it continued. 

As king, we ore not the Wise. 

Rather we shall most likely be known os a rare Fool. Still, we take up our pen 
for the soke of the monarch of resurgence, not us. In faith that our shallow and 
desperate struggles may serve the monarch to come. 


Peering at Sora, standing at a loss for words, Shiro and Jibril understood and 
felt at a loss themselves. 

—What was there was everything. Over the span of countless matches with 





other nations in the life of the so-called fool king. Including all eight matches 
with the Eastern Union. The substance of this man who had charged headily, lost 
unceremoniously, and dedicated himself to exposing their hand—a\\ of it. 

— Knowing that, at the rate things were going, the human race would 
extinguish itself soon, and that his actions would only hasten this. But taking the 
offensive anyway, under the assumption of defeat: That was the part he played, 
the fool. Dedicated to exposing the cards of the Eastern Union and all his 
enemies, while scorned as the rarest of fool kings. All the memories he had 
managed to grasp as a mere human—. 

— It must have been. 

"The old k\r\g...didn't lose his memories." 

"But—how!" 

Jibril, wondering how he could have escaped the Eastern Union's memory 
erasure she hadn't been able to escape herself. But Sora had an idea. Just a 
guess—but close to a conviction. 

"Jibria. A fool with money walks into a casino. What do you do to empty him 
out?" 

"—Make him look like there's a game he can win, and get him to attack... 
many...times..." 

Jibril opened her eyes as if she'd seen it. 

"The old king was probing them. Eight times. Intentionally giving them 
worthless land—and then, to take it back." 

But even if they didn't erase his memory, there was no way the Eastern Union 
could allow him to talk. Therefore, probably—. 

"Maybe he said he wouldn't tell anyone his whole life..." 

But that—didn't cover after death... That was it. For humans, unable to use 
magic like the Elves, to grasp and remember the nature of the memory-erasing 
game was the only chance they had. 

"—'Let the next king be the greatest gambler among humans'...eh." 



".Yeah." 

Sora whispered the will of the late king with feeling, and Shiro understood the 
meaning and took in a breath herself. He—must have known. Aware of the flaw 
in the tournament to decide the monarch, that other countries could interfere, 
he had ordered it anyway. What he sought—was gamers who could get past it, 
while still only human, to take the crown. For only one who could break through 
foreign interference head-on would be able to moke use of these records. For 
these were records that made very clear at length his conclusion that they could 
never win fighting fair. 

"...Steph." 

"Wh-what is it?" 

To Steph, uncomprehending, perhaps, of the situation, starting at Sora's 
serious face. 

"...Your grandfather...no, the previous king...he was really your grandfather." 

Remembering Steph, who'd even bet her panties to reveal their hand. 

He'd been reviled as a fool, by his people, by the world. And he'd went on 
playing the fool, dedicating himself to revealing his enemies' hand. What kind of 
heart had such resolve? To keep believing in the "monarch of resurgence"—such 
faith in Immonity. He had gambled on the chance that, from the humans at the 
very bottom of the ranks, someone would appear who could rout the other 
races. On the infinitely near zero, but nonzero chance, he had placed his faith 
and bet his honor, his name, his pride...his own life. 

A life of shame and failure piled up high to set the stage for one invincible 
blow. The two-in-one "monarch of resurgence" with whom that blow was 
entrusted could only stand and stare. Sora looked down at his shirt which read "I 
<3 PPL" and simply said. 

"See, Jibril, there are some like that—what do you think: pretty sick, huh?" 

"...You...may be right." 

With the sense that she'd caught a glimpse of that in which her master 
believed, Jibril, intending to revise her understanding, closed her eyes and 




nodded. Sora, taking out his phone, started his task scheduler. 

What he slid his finger to input was, indeed, without hesitation, this one 
phrase. 

—Objective: Swallow up the Eastern Union. 



^ CHAPTER 4 


CHECKMATE 


The embassy—no, once Elkia's castle, now the "Empire State Building." 
Looking up from below, Shiro had one comment. 

"...My neck hurts." 

"Jeez, why does it have to be this big... Wait, Immanity doesn't have this kind 
of construction technology, does it?" 

To Sora, complaining as he held his neck, Jibril replied indifferently. 

"That goes without saying. The Eastern Union remodeled the building any 
number of times after they took it." 

Hmm... Sora answered, "...Well, I was already pretty sure...but, yeah, I think 
we're gonna have to just charge into this baby." 

"...? What are you talking about?—And, wait—" 

Steph, with a tinge of irritation, pointed to the ground. 

"May I finally ask what we ore doing here?" 

—And likewise. Shiro and Jibril, having also been led here with no explanation, 
looked to Sora as if agreeing with Steph's words. 

"Soft, soft, I come but to lay my eyes upon the fair 'animal girls.'" 

Sora dodged the question and marched ahead. 

"H—wait a minute, this may be in Elkia's borders, but it's an embassy, you 
know!" protested Steph. 

"I'm aware. And it was our castle." 

"Ngh, no, l-l mean—i-it's a violation of sovereignty!" 

"Who said anything about violating anyone's sovereignty? We have an 




appointment." 

"Wha? That's-" 

Impossible, Steph was going to say before she was interrupted. 

"Right—Cramps?" 

Just as Sora said this... 

...The door of the giant building opened to reveal a figure. 

"-Welcome, King Sora and Queen Shiro of Elkia." 

A gray-haired, wolf-eared, bushy-tailed, /7o/como-wearing—Werebeast. 
Descended the steps of the entrance to the height of four people or so and 
bowed deeply. 

"It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I am the deputy ambassador of 
the Eastern Union in Elkia—my name is Ino Hatsuse." 

Thus deferentially spoke the old man—Ino Hatsuse. 

"Uh, what? H-how did you make contact?!" 

Sora didn't know what Steph was getting all that excited about, but he 
answered. 

"Well, you know, this morning, this guy was looking at me while I was on the 
library balcony." 

-Huh? 

"So then I signaled, 'I'll be over in a minute,' and Cramps nodded back. See, we 
have an appointment." 

"...Urn, no, that does not make sense," protested Steph: 

"H—wait a minute. It's thirty kilometers from here to that library?!" 

"You're right. It really surprised me to see how good Werebeast eyes are." 

— No. That wasn't the point. If we were talking about Werebeasts, then fine. 
But the question was. How did Sora see that? But without addressing that in the 
slightest. Ino responded calmly as if the details were already known. 

"It is my understanding you have business with the ambassador of the Eastern 



Union in Elkia—Izuna Hatsuse." 


Thus—Ino anticipated their business. Ino's narrowed eyes, the mind-reading 
eyes of the Werebeast, faced them all. 

Steph's breath was stolen for a moment. They were—yes, just like Sora's, no, 
even more. Eyes that seemed to see through everything, to peer into her head— 
"Tm glad we could get straight to it. So, let's go; show me the way." 

But, from Sora, who stood as if utterly unaffected by these eyes, taking them 
face-on, what did Ino glean? 

"—Come right this way, please." 

As all he did was to invite them inside. 

■■■ 

Entering, going through the lobby, boarding the elevator. From among buttons 
that went up to 80, he pressed 60, and the elevator began to rise. 

"Uh?! Wh-what is this; the floor is moving?!" 

Ignoring the lone bewildered Steph, Ino said: 

"I must say, though, we would appreciate it if next time you made your visit 
according to the official procedures." 

To his words, which implied, and not some stunt like that. Surprisingly, the one 
who reacted was Steph. 

"Some talk. Has the Eastern Union ever responded to the official procedures!" 

As if genuinely taken aback by Steph's sarcastic words, Ino peered into Steph's 
eyes and spoke. 

"—What, you have in fact posted..." 

At Ino, seeming to read Steph's thoughts to see that she was telling a startling 
truth, Steph flinched for a moment at those eyes that read her soul, but 
stubbornly stood her ground. 

"0-of course we have! Since the reign of my grandfather, we have sent any 
number of letters regarding trade and diplomacy, and not once have we received 
a reply. How dare you feign ignorance!" 


"...I deeply apologize. Next time, please address your inquiries directly to me, 
Ino Hatsuse." 

With that, Ino sighed and put a hand to his forehead. 

"As you know, since that incident, there are a remarkable number among us 
who hold an excess of hostility toward Elkia... Since the last game with your 
previous king, I have not heard once of a letter..." 

"Wha-I You li-" 

"I suspect that your letters have been disposed of within the lower ranks. 
There is no excuse for this; I will identify those who ordered and carried out this 
grave discourtesy—and see to it that they are punished severely. I beg your 
forgiveness." 

Ino's finished words, cutting off the doubting Steph, shut her up, bringing to 
her face rage and shame. 

— It appeared that he really hadn't known. 

"Quite the 'great country'; but I suppose it's all one can expect from 
Werebeasts." 

At Jibril's snide quip, Ino's gaze sharpened subtly. 

"Wait, Steph, what's 'that incident'?" 

Sora seemed to suppose that because letters were not arriving no 
appointment could be made. 

"...It involves the reconstruction after our castle was taken." 

Sighing with a sense of pain, Steph explained. 

"Elkia built a new castle from the standpoint that having an embassy grander 
than our castle would affect our dignity as a nation." 

"Hmm, the castle we have now, right?" 

"In response, the Eastern Union undertook a large-scale remodel, and then 
again, as if to rub it in our noses... Elkia is no competition for the Eastern Union 
when it comes to construction technology either, so, well, you know, things 
happened." 



"Oh, yeah, I hate those events; they really get on my nerves..." Sora muttered. 

To this, Jibril took the opportunity for another jab. "It's all the more irritating 
for the tendency of Werebeast, at Rank Fourteen, to look down inordinately at 
Immanity, at Rank Sixteen.—I seem to recall reading a certain phrase in one of 
my master's books." 

With a smile of recognition, Jibril said: 

"—'The pot calling the kettle black.'" 

Hah-hah-hah, Ino laughed, and he answered. 

"How very apt; I cannot agree more. And, to be told this by Rank Six, how it 
smarts." 

But, continued Ino: 

"In that case, your old curios floating around in the sky under a pile of books 
constitute the pof, I presume?" 

"Hee-hee; there's no need to overexert yourself; you're welcome to speak your 
true meaning as plainly as you like," Jibril answered, with neither breaking a 
crack in their smiles. 

"That is, in rank, life span, physical abilities, knowledge, wisdom...in everything 
we ore inferior to you, O Flugel, but as wretched, inodeguate creatures crawling 
the earth, please allow us the luxury of looking down on one of the few life- 
forms we can find below us\" 

"Hah-hah-hah, I should not expect to hear such a novel viewpoint but from a 
defective product such as yourself who travels in the company of these hairless 
monkeys." 

"Why, yes, for narrow-minded mongrels such as yourself, it certainly must be 
an eye opener!" 

"Hah-hah-hah!" 

"Tee-hee-hee!" 

"...Hey, Steph." 


"...Not that I can't guess, but what is it?" 



"Is it just me, or is there way too much tension in this world? Also, by hairless 
monkeys, does he mean us?" 

"In a world that was fighting for almost an eternity, when you ban combat out 
of the blue, some grudges would have to remain..." 

To say nothing of the fact that— 

"...They're the two most bloodthirsty races amongst all the Ixseeds." 

As for the second question—Steph shook her head to indicate that no 
response was necessary. 

"Hee-hee-hee, I'm sure your children can sleep better at night now that 
violence is forbidden." 

"Hah-hah-hah, perhaps they do, unlike some with no skills besides killing, who 
have gone and settled into retirement." 


The two siblings, Sora and Shiro, both thought the same thing: No wonder 
violence was forbidden in this world. 

■■■ 

Escaping from the almost crackling air of the elevator, on the sixtieth floor 
where they arrived, Steph seemed already exhausted, and, once they were led to 
a space that suggested a reception chamber, she sat down immediately. 

"S-so tiring..." 

Though he sympathized completely, Sora only looked around. 

"...If you'll excuse me, I shall call Izuna Hatsuse and return in a bit." 

Having watched Ino take a bow and retreat beyond view. Sora started taking in 
their surroundings, and Steph took his lead to look around the room. 

"...But one must say it is magnificent. The difference between our civilizations 
is all too palpable," she said. 

A room made of marble and some other materials that one could tell at a 
glance were rare. Inside the leather sofa were even springs. But such things were 
not what Sora was looking for. 




"By the way, Master, how did you contact Werebeast?" 

"...Jibril, have you noticed no one's brought it up? Take a hint." 

"I apologize; unlike the mind-reading Werebeast, I could not help but wonder." 

Sora knew that Jibril with the unknown before her eyes equaled a horse with a 
carrot dangling before it. 

".Whoop." 

Sora, putting his index finger to his lips, brought out his phone. A video he'd 
apparently recorded using optical zoom and also applying an upscaling app to 
capture at the maximum magnification. In it was just barely visible an outline 
resembling an old man's. 

—So, in other words. Sora actually hadn't really seen Ino. It just so happened 
that a figure who seemed to be looking at him happened into his lens. He'd only 
gestured on the assumption that the person probably saw him. In short—it was 
just a bluff. 

Ah, how intriguing...went Jibril. However— (What purpose would such a bluff 
serve against Werebeast, who can read thoughts?) It didn't seem that Ino had 
known that the letters weren't arriving, either—. While Jibril ruminated thus. 

"...Brother, look." 

"Yeah, I know." 

Another question rained upon her. 

"...Master, do you /enow this?" 

Jibril pointed to it.— A TV. Yes, it was exactly what Sora had been looking for. 
The shape was significantly different from what Sora knew, but there was no way 
around it—it was a TV. 

"—Hmm, now I know for sure..." 

"What do you know?" 

But he answered with a sly grin. 

"I'll tell you later. Werebeasts have good ears. I'm sure they're listening 
already—right. Cramps?" 




"—Please forgive the wait." 

InO; clicking the door open and conning back in. 

"This is the ambassador of the Eastern Union in Elkia—Izuna Hatsuse." 

With this introduction, what came through the doorway... 

...had black eyes and black hair in a bob, a tail and long animal ears, big as 
those of a fennec fox, along with traditional Japanese-style garb tied at the waist 
with a big ribbon—and, however you looked at it, her age couldn't have more 
than one digit. 

"Cu-" 

Though Steph almost forgot her position and said cute, before she could get 
the words out... 

"King Crimson!" 

"Ee-hee-hee beautiful little girl with animal ears why don't you come play with 
big brother I'm certainly no one suspicious..." 

"...Boink, boink...poof, poof...fluffy fluffy...hee-hee-hee-hee-hee..." 

—When did they move? Sora and Shiro, whom even Jibril's eyes couldn't 
catch, were already well on their way, precisely petting the girl's head and tail. 
To these two, the Werebeast girl—Izuna—responded with a cute, innocent 
voice. 

"Who said you assholes could touch me, please." 


"-Huh?" 

"...Minus, fifty...cuteness...points." 

The siblings each mumbling their bit and taking a big step back. But. 
"Who said you could stop, please." 

"Uh...um, what?" 


"Get the hell on with it, please." 



Like a cat that wanted to be petted, squinting her eyes, extending her neck, 
Izuna. 

"Uhh, oh, it's all right?" 

"Dumbass, of course it's all right, please. You just touched me without any 
goddamn warning, please." 

While her manner and expression failed to match, somehow Sora seemed to 
catch on. 

"...Oh. Don't think putting 'please' at the end of any goddamn sentence makes 
it polite, please?" 

"...?! It doesn't, please?!" 

Come to think of it. In this world, you couldn't do anything to people they 
didn't want. So, when they were able pet Izuna, it meant that she permitted it. 

"Please don't mind my granddaughter. She has only been in Elkia for one year 
and is not yet skilled in the Immanity tongue—and, also." 

With that, Ino swiftly changed his expression. 

"You damn hairless monkeys! Just 'cos I've gone to the trouble of bowing my 
head for your scrawny asses you better not get cocky you little shits what makes 
you think you can get your filthy hands all over my lovely little granddaughter 
you're good as dead—" 

—And, with that, restored his polite smile. 

"—is an example of the type of conversation I must caution you to avoid." 

Sora responded with half-closed eyes and a soft remark. 

"-Cramps, this has nothing to do with the Immanity tongue and everything to 
do with you." 

"I'm afraid your meaning eludes me, sir." 

In Sora's shadow, Shiro spoke, glaring at Ino. 

"...I hate this old fart... Minus a thousand points." 

And, as Izuna gave the impression of wanting to be petted, Shiro fluffed her 



and said. 

"...But lz-zy...so cute with that...potty mouth...plus ten points." 

As Shim petted and fluffed her, Ino, visibly suppressing rage, spoke quietly. 
Izuna. If you don't like it, you can tell them?" 








"I like it just fine, please. It feels good, so keep doing it, bitch, please." 

"Oh, then me, too." 

Fluff fluff fluff fluff... 

"You're pretty good for goddamn hairless monkeys, please. Do it more, 
please." 

To Izuna, expressionless as a cat, yet closing her eyes as she spoke, Sora. 

"In that case, can you stop calling us hairless monkeys?" 

"Why the hell should I do that, please?" 

"Because we'd be happier if you called us by our names. I'm Sora. This is my 
sister, Shiro. Nice to meet you." 

"...Nice to meet you..." 

"Understood, please. Nice to meet ya, please. Sora, Shiro." 

Fluff fluff fluff... 

"—Gah, you won't let your grampy touch you, but you'll let the hairless 
monkeys, Izuna!" 

"Grampy...you suck; your claws hurt, please." 

Sora laughed at Ino, who looked depressed at Izuna's instant answer. 

"Fleh-heh-heh... My sister is a master of Nintendogs, and I am a master of the 
touch-based erotic video game. For us, to pinpoint our touch based on her 
reactions is but a trifle. Ph34r the hand-eye coordination of the gamer, old 
man." 

"...Not that...we have any...experience...with the real thing." 

"Why you gotta kill it like that, huh?!" 

■■■ 

Sitting on the sofa, looking at the ceiling with an expression of rapture, Izuna, 
and, tense at the temples, Ino. On the other side of the table, Sora and Shiro, 
making four, sitting across from each other. 

"Well, then, may I inquire as to why you monkey bastards are here?" 


"You can read my thoughts, right; why do I have to say anything?" 

"This is a place of diplomacy, a place where words are exchanged orally or in 
writing; or is that too challenging for a monkey to understand?" 

"...Just because we're better with your granddaughter than you are, old man, 
you don't gotta get all pissy; jeez." 

As Ino's smile cracked, Jibril added, beaming: 

"Master, inadequacy is a central part of the soul of the Werebeast, as fragile as 
glasswork. Perhaps you might refrain from upsetting him unnecessarily. It is 
most pitiful." 

Ino, his smile on the brink of finally breaking. Making up his mind that he 
should just blissfully forget everything and kick these asses out, he peered into 
Sora's eyes. 

—That instant, an unexpected chill ran down Ino's spine. 

What was there was not the silly wag who sat there just a moment ago. What 
was there was—full of confidence on the verge of arrogance, in the midst of 
ungodly calculation, and unmistakably—the king of a race. 

"My demand is simple—Ino Hatsuse." 

Sora flashed a cheeky grin with this, and then said with gaze of seriousness. 

"Give me your daughter's panties. I'll give you Steph's." 

"—Excuse me?!" 

"Hey, monkey bastard, there's a goddamn line you might not wanna cross!" 

Steph, tossed abruptly into the fire, and Ino shouted at the same time. But, as 
if it surprised him, Sora replied: "What, you don't want Steph's? You'd prefer 
Jibril's?" 

"I have no qualms, be it the command of my master." 

Just as Sora spoke, Jibril started peeling down her panties. Face-palming, 
squeezing out his voice as if trying to hold something back, Ino. 

"Hey, monkey. If you're just here to be an asshole, get the—" 



"Wha, you can't have Shim's; to desire an eleven-year-old's panties, there's 
something wrong with you, Cramps. Or—y-you wanted mine?! Uhh, wait, 
that's... I mean. I'm a tolerant guy, but that does kinda gross me out..." 

To Ino, finally starting to lose it, still Sora. 

"Come on. Cramps, are you sure? I'm saying I'd make o deal just for Izuna's 
panties?" 

"Look, you son of a bitch—//you're not going to soy what you're really here 
for, then get the—" 

As Ino held his forehead as if he was getting a headache. 

—Sora, like a gambler who'd just made the haul of a century. Beaming 
ironically. 

"—Cramps, I hate to say it, but we know you're just pretending to read 
minds." 

Bip. From Ino came a reaction the human eye could scarcely detect, but more 
than enough for Sora. 

"// you're not going to soy what you're really here for... Huh. That's pretty 
good; it does make it sound like you're reading my mind, but, if you could really 
read my mind, you'd have accepted a game for panties. 'Cos it wouldn't really be 
about the stupid panties; it would be about the side effect, i.e.— "You'd never 
overlook the importance of erasing my memories that tell everything about the 
Eastern Union's gomes." 

To Sora's words and insinuating smirk... 


...Ino had no response but to stay expressionless. After all—. Yes, Sora's pupils, 
heartbeat, even the sound of his blood flow. Every little thing told that the man 
here spoke with absolute conviction. 

"So, now that that's confirmed, shall I get to your request and soy what I'm 
really here for?" 


Crossing his legs, adjusting his posture, Sora. 




"In the nannes of the agent plenipotentiary of the kingdom of Elkia, last nation 
of Rank Sixteen, Immanity: Sora and Shiro." 

Taking Shiro's hand, lifting it as if in oath, Sora. 

"Your fine nation, the Eastern Union, of Rank Fourteen, the Werebeasts, has 
been chosen as the first sacrifice in our path of glorious global conquest, and for 
this we celebrate. Now, in a battle of nations, we demand—" 

With a smile of blatant hostility, he announced transcendently. 

"—everything on the continent you bitches hove." 

—At these words, everyone's eyes, except Sora's and Shiro's, opened wide. 
Even Ino, and even Izuna, who had been spaced out until then, changed their 
countenance. It was just—too unhinged a demand. 

"Oh, and what we're betting is still Steph's panties, FYI." 

"Ex-excuse me?!" 

"Too bad you didn't shake on Izzy's panties while you had the chance. 
Grandpa." 

The wagers were all the territory the Eastern Union had on the continent—and 
Stephanie Dola's panties? As even Jibril began to wonder about the mental 
soundness of the man before them, Sora continued with completely unwavering 
confidence. 

"Sorry, Gramps—it's check." 

While all sat at a loss as to the meaning of his words. Perhaps having the most 
courage, or perhaps out of obedience to her curiosity, Jibril asked. 

"Ma-Master, ehm, what do you mean?" 

"Huh? You still don't get it?" 

"...Oh..." 

Shiro came out of deep thought with a voice. 

"Now that's Shiro; you got it, right? Yeah—so this means the Eastern Union is 
trapped." 



But, as still no one but Sora and Shiro seemed to grasp the meaning of his 
words, Sora spoke listlessly. 

"Mm, okay. Til explain for you all, including this self-professed mind-reading 
grampa. 

"The Eastern Union, half a century back, rapidly developed a high level of 
technology... But it can be tough to be an advanced civilization." 

Settling deep into the sofa—the nice, springy sofa, Sora continued. 

"The TV in this room, the elevator back there, this sofa... all this modern 
technology isn't possible without continental resources. They're their lifeline, no 
kidding. But the Eastern Union started as an island nation. They had to get their 
hands on those continental resources any way they could—but, before that, 
Elven Card challenged them. 

"What a pickle! The only trick they had was taking challenges, but, then, if they 
beat the greatest country in the world, then no one would take on their 
mysterious unbeatable game, and they wouldn't get the continent. But they 
couldn't lose—why is this?" 

With a broad grin, Sora put up a finger. 

"Now, let's unravel the puzzle step by step. Question one: Why did they need 
to erase memories of an unbeatable game?" 

Shiro answered this question. 

"...Because...if they didn't...it wouldn't be unbeatable...anymore." 

Why would the Eastern Union incorporate a demand that contradicted their 
strategy of taking challenges? It must have been because, despite its downside, 
they had to. If they intentionally lost to Elven Card, then their game would be 
revealed—and then it would cease to be unbeatable. 

"But there's still a hole, even then." 

To erase all memories of the game—certainly that seemed the best possible 
way to make it impossible to counter. And yet. 

"Even if you erase their memories—you can't get rid of the result that they 
lost." 



Jibril gasped; while Ino remained expressionless. 

"Now let's move on. Question two: Why did Elven Card step up four times?" 

"...After losing...they tried to break down...the unbeatable game... from the 
results?" 

Indeed—Unlike Elkia, Elven Card was a vast country. To brace themselves for a 
few losses in scouting was but a small matter for them. 

"After losing once, Elven Card must have guessed that it was a game where 
you couldn't use magic. For Elf to lose, you know, that's pretty much the first 
thing one would think of." 

Raising a finger, Sora continued. 

"Still not knowing what the game was, with their memories erased—but 
knowing that it must be a game that annulled magic—the second time, they got 
someone outside to cast magic while they played. But then they lost anyway. 
And so, the third time, they probably uncovered the nature of the game by some 
method." 

Jeez, if only I could use some crazy official cheat like magic, went Sora. 

"And so they went in for the long-awaited fourth time—but they lost. Amirite, 
Cramps?" 

".You certainly have an impressive imagination." 

While Ino responded as though Sora's guess was nothing more than a guess. 
Yet thinking he could beat Sora in a battle of bluffs—that was the greatest 
blunder. Picking up on the faint waver in his expression, Sora smiled and held up 
two fingers. 

"But this raises two issues. First, why did Elven Card lose? And then this is the 
big one—why didn't they try again?" 

— Indeed. The question wasn't why they tried. It was why they stopped trying. 
Information too big to overlook in a game where the result of having lost told 
everything. 

"There are two possibilities. One is that they realized that the game was 
theoretically impossible to win." 




Then lowering one of his fingers. 

"The other—that they figured out the game, but they couldn't figure out why 
they lost." 

With a laugh and a confident smile, Sora said. 

"—But, in the first case, they'd win if they uncovered it. Which means it must 
be the second." 

Jibril, of Rank Six, Flugel, felt a chill of awe down her spine. Sora's reasoning 
was supported and supplemented by all the fragments of information that Jibril 
knew. Such extraordinary, even godlike powers of reasoning—. 

"But that makes things confusing. A game that can be understood without 
understanding why you lost?" 

Sora, grinning drily, that's weird, how could that be? 

"The key to unravel this mystery—we just got from you. Cramps." 

Into Ino's eyes. The eyes of Werebeast, who claimed to read minds, Sora 
peered with an ironic smile. 

"Question three: Why would you lie that you can read minds?" 

"...Because they can't..." 

Nodding to Shiro's immediate answer, Sora. 

"And they must have to lie because that implies something they can't let 
anyone know, right? 

"Are you starting to see it yet? Question four: What kind of game looks like you 
con win in theory but actually makes you lose?" 

Sora, apparently having fun. 

"—Now, here's a hint!" 

With theatrical gesture as if enjoying telling a riddle. 

"Flugel, Elf, Immanity. It makes all these races of entirely different 
characteristics lose every time, it can only be used in defense, it requires erasing 
opponents' memories, it's good for a race with superior technology who can't 



read minds—what is it?!" 


With a glance toward the TV, Shiro answered. 

"...A video game...with all cheats enabled..." 

It appeared that neither Steph nor Jibril understood the answer. That was no 
surprise: The Eastern Union must be the only country in the world that knew the 
concept of video games. This was why—they had to erase memories to conceal 
them. This was why they could never lose. 

—With video games, with them as the game masters. They could cheat all they 

wanted, do whatever they wanted, and there was no way- anyone would 

know. 

"This makes even magic pointless... Well, well, now that's a tech nation; not 
bad?" 

In these words from Sora was not the sound of irony, but that of genuine 
praise. 

"All that big talk about reading minds was to give 'em something to quell the 
question they'd be left with as the result of losing—Why did we lose?—so they 
wouldn't come searching. All you guys can do is to tell when someone's lying— 
you can't read minds." 

Yes—it was exactly the same as what Sora was good at. Seeing through 
expressions, gestures, voices to the lies behind them. They just were able to use 
their outrageous senses to incorporate heartbeats, blood flow. It was exactly the 
same, logically, as how a talented fraudster would pass themselves off as a 
spiritualist. 


-Bull's-eye. Ino, struck dead on, had no words to say. However, without 
showing it on his face, he was being eaten away by doubts. Until Sora—first 
realized they couldn't read minds. That is, even during all that crap talk about 
Izuna's panties and such. Sora showed no reaction of unease whatsoever. It 
seemed it could only be that he had eliminated from the start the risk that his 
mind would be read. But, to those thoughts, ironically. As if—yes. As if reading 
his mind, Sora answered. 




"Ain't it weird; Grannps; I never showed any reaction to your bluff from the 
beginning." 

Erk, Ino's expression almost went, or did it? As this alone filled Ino's mind, Sora 
continued snidely. 

"Yes. I knew you guys couldn't read minds—from the beginning. How could 
this be?" 

And noW; for the final question—went Sora. 

"Question five: Why did our previous king lose to you as many as eight times?" 

ShirO; Steph; and Jibril knew the answer to this question. Therefore— 

"This question—is for you, you hairy old shit. You gotta have some idea." 

//_ I // 

— Their previous king? He was the only one who'd played the Eastern Union 
without having his memory erased, when they took their continental domain 
from him. But they played on the condition that he wouldn't tell anyone; how 

could-Wait, no. It wasn't that; it was—! As if waiting for Ino's thoughts to 

reach that, Sora grinned, and then spoke. 

"Yeah, you got it, huh? The fact that the previous king was able to tell us all 
about it is the proof that you couldn't read his intention—you couldn't read his 
thoughts." 

Which were—. 

"—That his covenant not to tell anyone his whole Wfe—didn't cover after he 
died." 

As Ino tried to hold up his mask of calm, he could feel his blood draining. Were 
that the case—. It would mean that this man, truly—knew everything about 
their games. If it were exposed, the Eastern Union would be— 

"So, you get the picture now. Cramps?" 

Grinning ear to ear and continuing idly. 

"Now you're in a tough spot, huh? You have to erase my memory somehow. 
But if you play me betting your continental domain just for Steph's panties. 



you'll basically be admitting I'm right." 

Yes—and so. The nnove Ino should nnake was a given. In this situation— 

"You're gonna dismiss everything I've said as crazy rambling—that's your only 
choice, to turn down the game and run." 

Sora intercepted Ino's thoughts mercilessly. Like a hunter giddily cornering his 
prey. 

—And said: "Did you think I'd leave you an avenue of escape?" 

"We bet all of Immanity—the Race Piece." 

The moment Sora said it, before his eyes materialized a game piece, shining 
softly, as if made of light. Yes, it was...what, in this world where even the God 
was decided by games, was required to challenge the God—one of sixteen pieces 
to collect, by conquest of all the races. 

—The Immanity Piece. The piece of Immanity—was the king. 

— No one there had beheld it. Even Jibril, who had lived for six thousand years, 
was seeing a Race Piece with her own eyes for the first time. This made sense. 
For, in all the games played in the ages since the Ten Covenants. No one had ever 
bet a Race Piece, for it meant to wager all the rights of the race. In the event of 
a loss, it was tantamount to consigning the race to enslavement for eternity. In 
other words, it meant—the end. 

"A-are you \n—gmph?\" 

Steph, who seemed to have finally grasped the situation, was about to scream, 
"Are you insane?" when Jibril deftly grabbed her by the mouth. 

—With this, a wager was made of the piece of a race in one more struggle for 
continental territory. 

"With this, you'll also tell the world I'm right if you run?" 

Thus, with a smile, Sora looked into the eyes of a Werebeast who claimed to 
read minds— "Look, it's check again—no, now it's checkmate." 

—showing Ino no trace of fear, and spoke without humility. 



"—Did you see this coming, Cramps?" 

As Sora grinned, a line of sweat fell from Ino's brow. 

—What was this? For the lowest of races, a race down to its last city, about to 
bet their Race Piece and lose everything, to initiate a challenge against the 
Eastern Union, which had an unbeatable game, and on top of that to seize the 
upper hand. Cornering them logically—what was going on? 

But—Ino, just barely regaining his composure—no,/e/gn/ng it—answered. 

"I can only applaud your remarkable imagination. However, King Sora, isn't 
there something you've overlooked?" 

Ino struck back at the desperation in his heart with his one unshakable fact. 

"Even assuming th\s fantasy of yours is true—would that not mean that Elven 
Card lost even under such conditions?" 

— It was true that the Eastern Union had been put into a spot in which they 
had to accept this match. But, if one assumed Sora's interpretation to be 
correct, it was simply a challenge against the Eastern Union to a game in which 
they could cheat all they wanted. Just as before, there was no question that they 
would take away a certain victory—but. To this, Sora only sneered and 
answered: "Cramps, if you'd known how I managed to communicate with you 
from the library—if you could really read my thoughts, you wouldn't just be 
pretending you knew, but showing surprise openly." 

Looking into Ino's eyes, and, as if tripping him up. Sora, with an extremely 
malicious smile. Played his ultimate trump card. 

"That we're—not humans of this world." 

—That, in their old world, among the countless rumors, there was one about a 
gamer emerging unbeaten in over 280 games, ascending to urban legend—Ino 
couldn't see. 

—That even cheats and tool assists wouldn't be enough to beat them... 

t( n 


Reflexively, Ino tried to dismiss it as a lie. But in no motion or sound of Sora's 
was there a reaction indicating a lie. If his words were a lie, it would mean that 




this man could lie without reacting in the slightest. If his words were the truth, it 
would demonstrate, just as the man said, that he couldn't read minds. 

In either case—Ino was left with nothing to say. Yeah, that's what I thought, 
Sora seemed to laugh. 

"When I came, I bet you thought, 'Here comes a sucker,' just like the old 
king?" 

But—. 

"—Sorry, but, this time, it's your turn to suc/c/f—Werebeast." 

From the heartbeat of Immanity's king as he said this. Ino could sense no 
reaction other than conviction, so he merely gulped. 

"So." 

—As Sora stood up, and everyone rushed to imitate him. 

"That's all. Weill, I know you probably don't have the authority to make some 
craaazy wager like your entire continental domain on your own, so why don't 
you go check with the big guys back home and then let me know when we're 
playing." 

Oh, yeah—he added. 

"This goes without saying, but, for a game betting the Race Piece, all members 
of Immanity have a right to watch. Make sure you get the venue and equipment 
set up for that? Also, we're going to take you on os a team of four. You don't get 
to say anything about it, so see ya." 

Sora, singing this merrily, waved to Izuna, still seated across from him. 

"Nice meeting ya, Izzy; next time we're gonna play, yeah?" 

"...I don't get this shit, please. But—" 

But without a trace of the warmth she had just been showing. 

"Sora, and Shiro—you're...trying to pick a fight, please?" 

Her eyes were those of one with an investment staring down an enemy. Of one 




with a duty to protect something—of an animal poised for battle. 

"A fight? Naww. Just a game." 

Though Sora said this, still Izuna stared with keen eyes. 

"Still makes us enemies, please." 

Her eyes filling with clear hostility, the little Werebeast girl growled: "You're 
goin' down, please." 

Yet Sora responded with eyes that in contrast felt friendly. 

"Sorry, but you are going down, Izuna, without a doubt. Blank doesn't lose." 

"...Bye-bye... Izzy, see you later..." 

As if chasing the siblings as they playfully and wispily waved and left, Jibril 
followed, lifting up Steph, still covering her mouth as she struggled. Watching 
the backs of these four as they walked out of the reception chamber, watching 
the door close as they pressed the elevator button without hesitation, Ino 
Hatsuse and Izuna Hatsuse could say nothing... 

■■■ 

''Wh-wh-what have you 

dooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo 

Just as they got back to the castle, Steph screamed this, as Sora covered his 
ears. 

"Wh-wh-why did you just do that without saying anything in advance!!" 

"If I did, you'd have said no, right?" 

At Sora, telling her as he sat on the throne playing a wireless match with Shiro 
on their DSPs, Steph roared furiously. 

"0-of of course I would have! D-do you even understand what you've done?" 

"I blocked the enemy's escape by putting the lives of three million Immanities 
on the line." 

—So? Sora seemed to say as he answered blankly. Steph, almost at a loss, 
somehow managed to squeeze out: "A-a-and just how do you intend to take 


responsibility if you lose?" 

But—at the words that came back. 

"Responsibility? What responsibility?" 

Steph finally did lose words. 

"If we lose, then Immanity is over. What kind of responsibility is there to 
take?" 

Sora spoke as if he had no interest whatsoever in such things. 

"But, come on, Steph—aren't you excited?” 

No—he was in fact starting to smile, as if he thought it was somehow cool. 

"If we lose, then we take the lives of three million Immanities with us as it's 
'game over.' If we win, we double our territory in one fell swoop, and we grab up 
all the animal-girls in the Eastern Union—this has gotta be one of the most 
exciting games ever. Aren't you pumped?" 

"...(Nod, nod!)...” 

At Sora, smiling innocently, and Shiro, flapping her legs contentedly on his lap. 
Steph just felt a jolt of something chilly down her spine. 

-They were insane. It was not appropriate to describe these siblings by 

oblique expressions such as "unsound" or "unhinged." Correctly. Truly. In the 
literal sense—they were insane. 

"l-is this how you treat human...human life..." 

At this madness, madness beyond mere scorn, Steph felt fear. She wanted to 
run away, to escape, as she whispered on the verge of tears. 

"I've lost all hope I ever had in you...! I thought that, no matter what 
preposterous antics you got up to, it was all for the sake of the human race, but I 
was so wrong—!" 

Steph denouncing Sora, itself, was a scene that had been seen many times. But 
this time, it was clearly different from before; her eyes were full of genuine 
contempt and disillusionment. 

—As Sora grinned frivolously and answered. 



"Cool it, Steph... It's a game, you know?" 

—Just this, Steph's suspicion turned to conviction. To have believed in this 
man—she had been wrong. This man, no, both of these siblings were just 
playing. They didn't really care about Immanity or the Eastern Union. They just 
thought this whole world was a game—II 





. y Wm. 1 





• ~ r 1 

m ^1 



\ '•- 

1 

r ; if i;'. "^-'5 

\\ ' w w\ \ V 


f 







—I was wrong to entrust Grandfather's legacy to this craven scoundrel—! 
Despair, disillusionment, terror—as Steph was stirred up by countless emotions, 
still Jibril, attending on Sora and Shiro with all the more respect, said: 

"How wise is my goshujin-sama... This is the proof of one fit to rule over us—" 

— For the sake of victory, he would even put the lives of the masses on the line. 
This was not recklessness or abandon, but a confirmation of certain victory. 
Steph, in regard to Sora and Shiro, responded to the unknown with fear. But, to 
Jibril, this very same unknown pointed the way to adoration, envy, fascination. 

"Wh-what are you talking about! How could he—" 

"Then let me ask you a question, little Dora." 

Steph flinched under JibriTs uncharacteristically serious gaze. 

"You asked how he would take responsibility if he lost, but think about it the 
other way. If my masters are victorious, then all the Werebeasts in their 
continental domain will be stripped of their jobs and their rights to their land 
and assets, left to wander the streets, perhaps even die. Do you ask that my 
master take responsibility for that? Or would you say it is their responsibility for 
losing?” 

"-W-well...that's..." 

She had no argument. But, even so—Sora's actions were just too 
irresponsible. At least...at least the people should have been consulted or 
something, yes? But Jibril went on. 

"Even now that war has been forbidden, killing and being killed still continue in 
this world." 

—A world where force of arms had been forbidden. But, conversely, that was 
all. It was simple to take, to dominate, to kill by indirect means. This was the 
nature of the Ten Covenants, and also. Exactly what had happened to Immanity 
until now. 

"Dora, do you propose that Immanity not participate and instead simply 
perish?" 

"W-well...no, but-! Still!" 



To say that then they had no responsibility. That was...that was crazy—said 
Steph, but. 

"This is what being an agent plenipotentiary is about." 

Jibril, who herself was part of the agent plenipotentiary of the Flugel, gave 
Steph icy eyes, devoid of feeling, and stated. 

"To begin with, reality and games both are about killing each other—what kind 
of responsibility do you expect?" 

—At these all-too-heavy words from one who had lived through the bygone 
Great War, Steph fell silent. But, unexpectedly—it was Sora who spoke up to 
contradict. 

"Huh? No, no one's gonna die. Didn't I just say it's a game?" 

"-What?" 

"Pardon?" 

"Uh?" 

"...Mnn...?" 

As if something didn't fit. Everyone blanked out. Then Sora spoke, as if he'd 
finally understood. 

"Ohhh... Okay, okay, I get it now; that's how it is." 

To Sora, who'd arrived at the identity of the unease he'd been feeling all along. 

"Yeaaah, I thought this world was weirdly creaky even though everything's 
decided by games, but, man, you guys—you were really thinking just like those 
guys back in our old world... I didn't see this coming." 

"...Ohh..." 

Shiro, perhaps having wondered about the same thing, nodded looking as if 
she got it. 

"I see, so no one knows how to beat this game—no wonder God got bored and 
called us." 


But, as if he'd had his moment to revel in understanding. He brought his gaze 



straight back to the game console in his hands and answered vaguely. 

"Well; relax. We'll conquer the world just like we said we would. All of it, 
whabam, no two ways about it." 

Then, as if remembering: 

"Oh; yeah; and Steph." 

"Ah...wh-what is it?" 

"I'll give you a real answer to your question of what if we lose." 

Without a trace of his clowning from a moment before. Looking into Steph's 
eyes with a serious gaze; Sora spoke. 

"—There is no one-in-a-million chance we might lose. Didn't I tell you? It's 
checkmate." 

These decisive words of Sora— 

"Our game with the Eastern Union is already done. It's already impossible for 
them to beat us." 

—They went so far over her head; there was in the end no way Steph could 
believe them. 

"Well; to be precise; there is one last missing piece—but we'll have it soon 
enough. 

"Until then; all we have to do is play some games and wait;" Sora finished; 
then went back to the game with his sister. 

—The only one who got it was his sister. What was left was a countless set of 
hints. And two who could not follow those hints to the answer. 

Jibril and Steph could only—look at each other. 



^ FAKE END 


...One week—since their incursion into the embassy of the Eastern Union and 
their declaration of hostilities. 

The rumor that Sora had bet the Race Piece had started somewhere and 
spread all at once. Considering that Sora had beaten an Elf spy in the 
tournament to decide the monarch. And then even defeated a Flugel, a notion 
was growing, "What if Sora himself is a foreign spy?" The nobles who had 
already had a bone to pick with Sora fanned the flames, and protests broke out. 
The Elkia Royal Castle was surrounded by crowds, and day after day words of 
abuse rained down. 

—And so, with weary steps, Steph appeared in the throne room and mumbled. 

"Sora...I cannot control it any longer..." 

The doubts being cast on Sora had spread even to the ministers. There were 
even some ministers participating in the protests. 

"Even the nobles who had been on your side have said that they cannot defend 
you now... And now the ministers are going on strike, leaving Elkia in a de facto 
state of anarchy..." 

Though Steph must have been just as mistrustful of Sora. She'd apparently 
done everything to try to keep things steady. As if out of options, she dropped 
on the floor, reporting. 

"Good work, Steph. But everything will be resolved once we finish our game 
with the Eastern Union." 

As usual, as he sat on the throne playing a game with Shiro, Sora praised 
Steph's efforts, but at the same time gave a wry smile. 

"They're saying we're foreign spies? It's kinda late. Shoulda thought of that 
when we beat Elf's spy." 



— Indeed. In Sora, laughing at his people, Steph could not after all wipe away 
her mistrust. 

"...What are you planning to do? They're even holding a demonstration 
outside." 

"Whatever; let them do what they want." 

In this world, it made no difference if they held a demonstration. If they had a 
problem with Sora's decision—f/ie/r only option was to seize the authority of the 
agent plenipotentiary. 

— But no one had come to challenge them. In other words, that was all the 
nerve they had. 

"...Then, may I ask you what you have been doing in this last week?" 

Her question was half ironic and half genuinely seeking an explanation. But the 
answer that returned was terse. 

"Waiting." 

That was all. 

"...For the Eastern Union to answer that they accept, you mean?" 

"Mmm, nah, not really ready for that yet; I want them to wait a little longer." 

With this cryptic reply, Sora continued. 

"There's one more 'piece' I want to come first—jeez, what's taking so long..." 

To Sora as he vented at some unknown party. 

—Jibril came from the side at which she'd been waiting and reacted. 

"—Master, this..." 

But before Jibril could finish, Sora cut her off with his hand and spoke. 

"Oh, you're finally here. You ever heard of timeliness?" 

— Everyone tracing Sora's line of sight. But at the end of that line was no one. 
Jibril might have just felt the presence of something. Yet, to the entity invisible to 
Steph—and even to Shiro—Sora talked. 

"Yeah, I know why you're here. I'm ready anytime, of course." 



—With this, he picked Shim up from his lap and stood her on the floor. Then 
he got up himself and looked around. 

...Glaring audaciously at Shiro, Steph, Jibril, and that entity visible only to him, 
Sora, after a long exhalation, said to Shiro: "Shiro, listen closely." 

"...Mnn?" 

"I believe in you." 

"...I believe in you, too." 

While Shiro responded without hesitation, he returned only a smile. 

"Shiro, we are always two in one." 

"Shiro, we are bound by a promise." 

"Shiro, we are not the main characters of a boys' mongo." 

"Shiro, we are always victorious before the gome starts." 

At Sora's calm spelling out of these statements of obscure meaning. Somehow 
— "...Brother...?" 

Getting a sickening feeling. Shiro called her brother with unease. Sora, glowing 
in response, rubbing her head, said: "—Let's go grab the last piece we need to 
swallow up the Eastern Union." 

And then—facing that, he smiled and spoke. 

"—Come, shall we begin the game?" 


The sun slid through the window and her eyelids. 

"...Mm...nngh..." 

But, her consciousness resisting wakefulness to doze on. Shiro just turned 
once to sleep again, faithful to her desire to sleep more. Grasping her brother's 
arm as usual—but. Her hand, groping around while her eyes remained closed, 
flailed vainly without grasping what should have been there. 




"...Ngh?" 

Perhaps—she'd fallen off the bed again. But, in her sleepy head, she 
remembered that she was not sleeping in the bed of the royal bedchamber 
anymore. Reluctantly, she opened her dazed eyes to look for her brother and 
grab on to him, but—. The person—who was supposed to always be there—... 


The Kingdom of Elkia: the capital, Elkia. In this city, now the last bastion of 
Immanity after it had lost territory in one play for dominion after another. In a 
corridor of the Royal Castle, a girl walked unsteadily. Stephanie Dola. A noble girl 
of the finest breeding, the granddaughter of the previous king, with red hair and 
blue eyes. 

— But. The deep fatigue shown by the dark circles under her eyes and her 
heavy steps robbed her of her natural refinement. Clutching playing cards with a 
creepy smile, wobbling her way to the bedchamber of the king, she rather 
appeared...a ghost. 

"Heh, heh-heh-heh... This is the day you get what's coming to you." 

As the newly risen sun came to reap her post-all-nighter consciousness. 
Stephanie—aka Steph—chuckled restlessly. 

"—Shim, you're awake, aren't you! It's morning!" 

Bam, bam. With her hands full of cards, Steph kicked the door and addressed 
the queen by her name alone. But. Perhaps the door had not been shut properly. 
For her knock was enough to open it smoothly— "U-um... Could it be you're 
awake...?" 

—and Steph peered into the royal bedchamber, but. What she saw— 
"Brother... Brother, where arrre you... I'm...sorry...it was my fault... I...won't fall 
out, of bed...anymore...so pleaase come out...eugh..." 

—was Shiro, knees in arms, only trembling and letting out big tears. 

"—H—uh—wh-what's wrong, Shiro?!" 

Steph, who'd just a moment ago been snorting about Shiro getting what was 
coming to her. Was so shocked by the sight that she dropped the cards on the 




ground and ran to Shiro. 

"Wh-what's wrong; are you sick?!" 

But, as though she didn't even hear Steph. Shiro just went on crying and 
muttering. 

"Brother...Brother... Come ouut... Don't leave me a...looone..." 

Steph, appearing sincerely troubled by her mutterings, said: 

"U-um... Whom do you mean by 'Brother'? I-I just have to bring him to you, 
yes?" 

—Then. Steph's words finally made it into Shiro's ears. What was—Steph 
saying? Shiro only had one brother. Shiro took out her phone and opened her 
contact list—but. 

"...Noway..." 

—That couldn't be. There was only one number registered in Shiro's phone: 
her brother's. Yet. Why—. Why did her phone say—0 Contacts. 

"...That's impossible... No way...no way, no way..." 

Seeing the blood drain from skin already white. Steph felt something of no 
small scale and spoke to Shiro desperately. 

"Sh-Shiro, please, are you all right?! Tell me what is wrong!!" 

But Shiro seemed no longer to even realize that Steph was there. As she 
furiously went through her phone's e-mail records, game accounts, addresses. 
Opening her image folder, opening the subfolders—no. 

—There was no trace of her brother. 

"...No way... This...can't be..." 

In a panic, Shiro checked the date on the phone. 

—The twenty-first. Her brother had been playing a game with her on the 
throne—on the nineteenth. Shiro instantly went back through her photographic 
memory, through all the portable game console, tablet, and phone displays she 
had seen, and checked that they said 19. Yes, it had definitely been the 
nineteenth. But then it should be the twentieth. 



—So what had she done yesterday? 

—...No. She had no memory—whatsoever. The memory of Shiro, able to read 
books she'd read five years ago backward from memory alone. Had—a complete 
gap, as if she'd slept through a whole day. 

— Her brother was not at her side. He wasn't in her phone's contact list. He 
didn't appear in e-mails or records or logs or anything. 

— Her brother could not be demonstrated to exist at all. Having got the 
situation together, Shiro. Could come up with only three possibilities. 

Possibility 1: Some unknown force had erased her brother's very existence 
from this world. 

Possibility 2: She had finally lost it. 





\ itts 










Possibility 3: She had already lost it—and she was just now regaining her 
sanity. 

But, regardless of which of these possibilities was correct. None, to Shiro, was 
an answer sufficient to hold the darkness back from overcoming her vision. With 
a wavering voice, with difficulty, she opened her mouth. 

—To say what she hadn't. Since she could guess the answer but by no means 
wanted to hear it. With the last of her hope—said his name to Steph. 

"...Ste-ph... Where is Brother... Where is Sora...?" 

But the answer she then received. Was, as she'd guessed. 

—The answer she'd by no means wanted to hear. 

"...Sora? That is, someone's name, correct; who is that?" 

-Oh. 

—Please. Let this be only a terrible, awful dream. Let me wake up and find my 
brother sleeping there as always. Let him just tell me—"Good morning." That 
was all she wished for. As she surrendered herself to the darkness that 
overcame. 

—Shiro let go of her consciousness. 


TO BE CONTINUED 



^ AFTERWORD 


Hello, nice to see you again, it's the author and illustrator, Yuu Kamiya. 

— l-it looks as if somehow we've made it all right to the second volume being 
published, and for that I could not be more grateful. I mean, I have already had 
some experience with my manga and books with my illustrations going on store 
shelves. But, you know. I'm still totally a novice when it comes to writing light 
novels. I wrote it all and sent it in, and then much later I hear now it's going on 
store shelves and I finally realize it's for real. And then my stomach starts hurting 
from the stress, so before I know it I've fled to Skyr*m and I'm casting mad buffs 
on my weapons and venturing into ruins and collecting books and enjoying my 
alternate life in a literal other world with my hobby of gaming! And then my 
editor calls me and pulls me back to reality and it's already been released! 
Thanks to this, I have succeeded spectacularly in bypassing the pressure! 

"Ahem... Perhaps you could say that you were escaping from reality into your 
second manuscript; you really don't have to tell the truth about this." 

Oh! If it isn't Editor S! Editor S for Sadist, who told me. Wait, did I not tell you 
about the deadline for the promo materials? 

or something like that, all of a sudden before the deadline? Well, by the second 
volume, you've become a regular tradition, haven't you! Yeah, I was just 
wondering what the hell you were going to do to— "Well, you see? Considering 
you hadn't finished the manuscript, I thought it might be too much to order the 
art at the point." 

...I'm sorry. 

"Actually, Mr. Kamiya, in the first place, could you please not finish a whole 
manuscript for a second volume and then say you're scrapping it?" 

...I'm sorry... 

"Also, I understand that going back and forth between Brazil and Japan causes 



you to philosophize seriously about borders and trade, but if you could please 
refrain from then saying, 'Ah, whatever,' and blithely restructuring the 
manuscript you supposedly had finished by then..." 

...I'm sorry I was born... 

Uh, uhh, let's start over! Okay, the content of this volume was actually 
supposed to be in the first volume originally. The content of the first volume was 
supposed to be chapter 1, this volume was chapter 2, and the third volume was 
chapter 3—see. I do in fact have my early outline where I wrote some mysterious 
babbling like that, right here! 

"...Were you planning to submit a nine-hundred-page book?" 

W-well... I guess I didn't know how much text goes in one novel volume, or the 
distribution... A-a-anyway, with the next volume, Sora and Shiro will collect the 
"minimum hand" they need to conquer the world. Since, as of this volume, 
they've already got a "checkmate," as Sora says. Those of you who are reading 
the afterword first, as well as those of you who have already read the volume, 
why not try to anticipate Sora's thoughts—Wait, if you get it right, I think I'll be 
depressed, so maybe don't...please...uh. 

...Well. There's still more space in this volume, so welcome to Outtake Zone. 
Here, they're playing Materialization Shiritori, so. 

"...Whatever. Then I'll pick something safe—"niku [meat]." 

And Sora's word was materialized. 

...But...uh? 

"Excuse me—why does meat make a buxom blond g/W appear?!" 

In contrast to the sparking smile of Jibril, the cold eyes of Shiro. 

"Brother, your image..." 

"0-ohh...sorry, it looks like it got influenced by the image in my head?" 

—Yeah, there was a passage like that... 

"Ehh... That seems somewhat inappropriate..." 

Yes, I know. If you could materialize fictional entities, then you could say 



"jikuushin-bakudan [chrono-quake bomb]" and then the universe would be in 
rather bad shape, so I tearfully scrapped it. Oh, but that ends in "n" (against 
normal shiritori rules). 

"No, that's not exactly what I meant." 

And if that means Sora thinks of this every time he eats meat—well, I guess 
that's okay? 

"I wouldn't say that? (sunny smile)" 

By the way, I wrote over half of this volume in Brazil. In connection with the 
disease I mentioned in the previous volume, it was decided that I'd be going back 
to Brazil seriously, for a few years. So, to judge whether I could keep writing as I 
have been while living in Brazil, how much my life would be impacted, etc., I tried 
staying at a month-to-month apartment instead of with my relatives. 

—Conclusion: No. Cannot work in Brazil. 

"...Eh? Isn't it your native country? Is there some problem—" 

Yes, there is! Every time there's a soccer match, the whole town shakes, you 
know?! 

".You're not talking about an earthquake?" 

There are cheers and fireworks; every time there's a goal, everyone in the 
building goes crazy! 

"...Well, that does sound like something you'd imagine happening in Brazil..." 

I mean, I like soccer, too, but! To have that ruckus going on day after day, night 
after night, I can't concentrate, I can't sleep, and, most important!! Pops! I'm 
telling you I've got a deadline; stop grabbing my hand every time they make a 
goal and dancing a— "By the way, Mr. Kamiya, it's about time for those pages." 

...What? No, uh, the illustrations still aren't— 

"I'm sure you can make it work somehow!" 





HEY, 

2TEPH, 

WHERE 

DO 

BABIES 

COME 

FROM? 


SO 

LONG, 

IMMANITY 


Here, everything is decided by games... 


In a world where even lives and borders are decided by 
games, Immanity has been cornered by other races with 
magic and supernatural powers down to their last city. 


Now their fate lies in the hands of 
just two gamers!! 


of 


Reps 


Immanity 
?r. game ve< 
and sis Shiro 


loser, 


shut 


in 


bro 


Sora 


Mn 




Stephanie Dola 


L £b 
























IP you 
THINK 
BEIN^ 
TOLW’H 
AW LOW' 
UVeV IS 
POWER... 


COULD 

you MBAK 

A Fmi 
UUMAH... 


CUAl- 

LBt^OBS 

MB? 


Flugel—Jibril 

- ~7^ 


..yOU'RE 

TUB 

OhiB 

WHO'S 

PUMB. 


takes on Flugel, Werebeast 


TUBY 
ARB 
COMINO 
TO MY 
POOR- 
STEP... 


AKD 
YOU 
OUY6 
CAN'T 
STOP IT. 


OTG-Tet 


EDITOR, 

I IT JUST 

ys^ J OCCURRED 

TOMB... 

^ ^ HOW CAN 

I you WIN 
AOAINST 
N AAAOICAL 

...HE/, CHEATERS? , 

AUTHOR.1 i 


Can you yllowi the^twists^th at 


even the author can’t predict—?! 



























H-h-how does th-th-that look? 

"...? Why are you acting so tense?" 

Uh, uhh, well, I just couldn't make enough time, so...you see. The one who 
drew this— isn't me. 

"_Pardon?" 

U-um, I just made the storyboard, and the one who actually drew it was, uh... 
my...wife? 


I-I know you're going to say I'm too free and easy! B-b-but you were the one 
who tacitly pressured me into putting manga in the afterword, right? And my 
wife is in the same industry, you know...she's an illustrator by the name of 
Mashiro Hiiragi. S-so can you please somehow overlook—hey. Editor, why are 
you staring at my manuscript like that? 

"Mr. Kamiya, why don't we get started on the comic version. As a husband- 
wife joint project. ▼" 

You monster!! 

I-I mean, to begin with, didn't I say I was taking a break from manga because of 
my health?! 

"Well, sure, it might be difficult for you by yourself, but—" 

No, look, I'm just going to lay this out here, but I started writing these light 
novels because I thought it would be easier on my health than manga, but now 
that I look at it there's the illustrations and revisions and in the end it's just— 
"But you come through in the end, don't you? (sunny smile)" 

Oh, it's time for my flight. I'd better run away—I mean, I have to run! 

"Oh, Mr. Kamiya, just where are you intending to go?" 


But was blocked in front! 





U-umm, everyone who's read this far, please pick up the next volume, too! I 
hope you've found something to enjoy in this second volume, accelerated by 
rush! So, I hope to meet you again, and, with that, I run! 

"Mr. Kamiyaaa, we know where you live and your telephone number and face, hee-hee-hee-hee- 
hee..." 










tne 


gefoiie 








m 



































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Contents 


COVER 

WELCOME 

INSERT 
TITLE PAGE 

OPENING 

CHAPTER 1: WEAK SQUARE 

CHAPTER 2: INTERESTING 

CHAPTER 3: SACRIFICE 

CHAPTER 4: CHECKMATE 

FAKE END 

AFTERWORD 
YEN NEWSLETTER 

COPYRIGHT 















Copyright 


NO GAME NO LIFE, Volume 2 

YUU KAMIYA 

Cover art by Yuu Kamiya Translation by Daniel Komen This book is a work of 
fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's 
imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or 
persons, living or dead, is coincidental. 

NO GAME NO LIFE 

©YUU KAMIYA 2012 

Edited by MEDIA FACTORY 

First published in 2012 by KADOKAWA CORPORATION, Tokyo. 

English translation rights reserved by Flachette Book Group, Inc. under the 
license from KADOKAWA CORPORATION, Tokyo, through Tuttle-Mori Agency, 
Inc., Tokyo. 

English translation © 2015 Flachette Book Group, Inc. 

All rights reserved. In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the 
scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the 
permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author's 
intellectual property. If you would like to use material from the book (other than 
for review purposes), prior written permission must be obtained by contacting 
the publisher at permissions(S)hbgusa.com. Thank you for your support of the 
author's rights. 

Yen On 

Flachette Book Group 



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Yen On is an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc. 

The Yen On name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc. 
First Yen On ebook edition: July 2015 

The publisher is not responsible for websites (or their content) that are not 
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ISBN 978-0-316-38518-3 

E3