love to know
way to the
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 shared 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 make more money, I’ll have won; if I have
more fun, I’ll have 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
...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 reality.
—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,
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 moment 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
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 vw. Is this really my room? And then he thought further.
Without basis, he simply thought idly— Is 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...”
“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—the 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
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
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
—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
“So Shiro is here. What are you doing?”
As this was pointed out, Sora whipped his head in Shiro’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
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—”
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...I’m...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.”
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
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
“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
“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
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—
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 bedchamberl”
‘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.”
“Great, let’s build a house on the castle grounds!”
Leaving Steph behind as she utterly failed to follow him, Sora went
“What do you think, Shiro, our dream ie\ Don’t you think that’s a
...Where...would we build it?”
“Heh-heh, I know exactly what your concerns are, my little
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
“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.
“Great! So, Steph.”
“Uh, um, 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
—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
—This is what you call tyranny.
“- Sora! Get ready for a gameU”
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.
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
“Hmmm... And yet? You challenge—me? To a game of my
—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
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
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
“Sora, you’re going to become a decent
Whammo -/...went Steph’s finger at Sora. But only silence
“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?!”
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
—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—!!”
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
“—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!!”
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
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?!”
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,
“Aah, God, shit! Steph!!”
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, Steph!! 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— blackjack'.”
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
“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...”
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 as long as it wasn’t discovered, you could
cheatl (“Heh-heh-heh-heh... You’ll rue the day you looked down on
—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
“Hmm... It’s hard to know how to start.”
Apparently thinking of how to start a story he was writing.
Eventually, he seemed to think of something and started moving the
“—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
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 now ...the first piece.”
The boy’s name was Tet. He was the supreme creator of this world
—Disboard, 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 play. And now this One True
God looked out into the distance, as if casting his thoughts to a
—Question: is this a sign of the fall of humanity?
Suddenly, this haughty voice rang from thin air.
Or: is it a sign that thou wilt at last make 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 wouldst intervene: true,
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
“I’m 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 affp, 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— I’m
going to have to go visit you, aren’t I?”
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—.
The country of Immanity—the Kingdom 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.
...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
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
“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
4. Insofar as it does not conflict with “3,” any game or wager is
5. The party challenged shall have the right to determine the
6. Wagers sworn by the Covenants are absolutely binding.
7. For conflicts between groups, an agent plenipotentiary shall
8. If cheating is discovered in a game, it shall be counted as a
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
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
“I am 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
“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
pom games. Really, you had to be impressed at that kind of
“Forget it; I’ll just ask someone who knows how to explain things
'Wha—fine, fine, I’ll explain it to you!”
Steph, clearing her throat— a-ahem.
“It is clear what the basis is for constituting a violation of rights.”
“It’s simple: actions that violate rights with malice —are canceled.”
“—Uh, what, are you saying our brains are being censored in real
“Yes, that’s quite it.”
Okay, while this may have been a fantasy world, you gotta say
“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 whim. 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
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
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
“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—said 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 veiy
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 now -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
“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
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,
Plus, if I may—”
Arguing on, the three nobles—no, former nobles—shrunk at Sora’s
“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,
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
“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.”
“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 from a large-scale experiment 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. Y ou 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.
“...I-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—”
“.Um, 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
“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 smart 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.
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
“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
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 daily 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,’
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 monarch of Elkia is leading
someone dressed as a Werebeast ?”
“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 sbcth sense, reputed even to read minds, and that was about
“...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
Of course they do, she thought. To begin with, started Steph
—“Female Werebeasts practically all look like this, you know'.”
“...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
“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 #yolo, he started typing, while Steph.
“Hey—wha-what are you saying! Things aren’t even stable yet at
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
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...
“. I nform ation... ”
...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.
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.
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
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 forgot?'.”
Shouting this with tears in her eyes, Steph. Supplicated at Sora’s
“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
“Hm... So you ask not that we release you, but that we explain?”
“...Steph...do you...actually like it?”
“O-of—of course not! Do you mock me?!”
But Sora and Shiro would never miss the moment it took her to
“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.
“O-okay, okay, I’ll tell you... Card counting.”
“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.”
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
mathematically deduce the odds for what card will come up next. If
you know the next card, you won’t lose, right?”
It seemed the very idea of using math 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.
“Hey—hold on!! Doesn’t that mean you were cheatingV.”
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?”
—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
With a chuckle and a face that asked What do you take me for?:
“I’ve tried it on Shiro many times, though she always catches me.
It made 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
—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, how to put it—strangely pitiful.
“Steph...after this morning, are you serious? What are you gonna
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
“...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—!!”
Steph pointed violently to the street comer.
“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.”
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
“It’s—it’s impossible! What did you do to score 90 percent in a game
Sora, who, in his heart, had wanted to lose, explained mumblingly
as if his heart were torn out.
“—Y ou think people go around that corner for no reason?”
“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
—Shiro, having accomplished 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 comer!
—But, when it came to Sora and Shiro, that was a foolish question.
The answer: the same distance they took every game —all the way.
The victorious Shiro made her demand, according to the wager.
“All your undies...are belong to us...”
“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 play 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 Shiro! But Sora felt unease about
her unusual lack of mercy and asked:
- '•'TMil V 8.
. V ft
S|» \ii x
Ka m \j
''•ft'yi iyjP' (\w
L ^ ^ i
“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
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
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.
Heh-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 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 ofonel !”
In the direction indicated by Steph’s forceful finger.
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
“Sure thing. I’ll let you guess first. Aschente— so, how many
Uh, yeah, aschente...w -well— 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.
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
“This is what happens when you don’t set out the rules of the game
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 as luck in this world.”
—No such thing? Steph furrowed her eyebrows at the irreconcilable
“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
“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,
“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 cards, fresh from the box?”
“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.”
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 know?”
—went on to explain that that was just the point.
“That’s the thing. If you know, 1.92 percent becomes too 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.”
“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 enemy
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
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
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—a huge rock bed was drifting.
“Wh-what the 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 Shiro gaped up, thinking, Steph seemed to finally
“—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,
“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 Fliigel who live on top of it are far beyond Immanity’s
ability to defeat.”
“Fliigel—O-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: Fliigel. 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 Fliigel 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 Fliigel. But, in
this world, Immanity did not have the technology to fly. They had no
means of getting onto Avant Heim, 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, “Huh? If you have some business
with the Fliigel, 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 veiy 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 Fliigel 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! v
“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.
“I-i-it was my grandfather who bet them— h-he must h-have had
But, heedless, Sora pressed her. “What did he demand in return?!”
“U-uhh, uh, I-I hear he said that if he won that Fliigel would have
to j-j-join him!”
—Hmm, 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
Scratching at his scalp and tearing at his hair, Sora pointed to Steph
“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 lit-eracy...”
“—Oh, huh, I-I 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
...Steph, later I’m 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
“...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
“Don’t joke around! If you’re gonna play games with other
countries, six languages is the bare minimumV’
Having pretty much finished what he wanted to say,
Uh, okay, whatever. Steph.”
“As I understand from the literature, traditionally, there’s only one
game that Fliigel play, right?”
Indeed, as far as Fliigel 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.”
With that, Sora double-checked the task he’d input on his phone.
—GetImmanity’s knowledge back.
“...Hm, I think this is doable, too; let’s add it.”
With that, Sora input further.
“Uh, Get a Fliigel... 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.
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.
The first thing it recalled was the Libraiy 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 libraiy 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...”
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
“Y es, 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
Fliigel like this without a plan?!”
...Could this seem a reasonable question? But let’s say it anyway.
What a Steph.
“Look... Winning at shiritori has nothing to do with how much you
“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
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.”
“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 Fliigel? 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 Fliigel 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.
“You are Elkia’s atarashii king and queen, Sora -sama and Shiro-
The Fliigel girl stole his thunder.
“...Well, then, that speeds things up.”
“I like to read Immanity’s shinbun. Congra—I mean, omedetou on
“...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
“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 Fliigel girl as they dropped in disappointment.
“It was my edgy, unique personal language; someone beat me to
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 Fliigel 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 Fliigel girl
grabbed his pants and spoke amidst tears.
“Oh! I’m 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 Fliigel 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 Fliigel 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 I am being challenged to a game by a mere
“Y es, exactly.”
Then, warm eyes that truly made one think of a goddess.
“Is that so... However, this library is filled to the brim with books
that I have collected. Considering that, to us Fliigel, 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 equivalent in value to my life itself—”
—Her eyes slightly narrowed.
“Y ou propose that I wager my very life ; and what do you wager in
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
“Books from another world- over forty thousand volumes in
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... 1 -letting you see me in such an undignified
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 Fliigel 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
The girl, widening her eyes to stare at the tablet Sora had taken out
as if to bum 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
At Sora’s explanation, the girl cast eyes of doubt:
“...Sir, you claim to hail from another world?”
“Certainly, sir—you lie.”
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
“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
“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
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-
“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
“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
Though Sora answered decisively and without hesitation, still the
brakes came on.
Ngh, ghgh... You’re right... It was such an attractive proposal, it...”
However, like a doctor examining the body of the patient. The
Fliigel 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...?
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
“Why, that’s very well.”
Touchie touchie touchie...
“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
Said Sora as he stroked the Fliigel girl’s— wing. 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
—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
“Well, I guess now I might as well show my uber skills at touch-
based pom games.”
Upon his words, Sora slid his fingers, shk shk shk, 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 a-pologize, 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.”
“Oh, understood, Director. Whoop.”
“What are they doing to a Fliigel...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 Fliigel girl slumped to the ground...
“Ahem, now, first of all—”
Fixing her clothes as she got back in her chair, recomposing her
“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
“Jibreel,” as the Fliigel girl called herself, lowered her head deeply.
“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 Fliigel 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.”
“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 Jibril’s apology caused Sora to express
“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
“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.”
To the mumbling Shiro, Jibril flashed her eyes brilliantly and cried:
“You are the unknoumU”
“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—that which is not yet known !
It constitutes not existing knowledge, but the raw ore from which
knowledge not yet existing in this world is bom! 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,
“Oh, yes. With that—you request a game, yes.”
“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’?!”
The leap from merely “Hand over the library” caused Steph to raise
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 Fliigel.
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
“I-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 Fliigel within my grasp! In the meantime, please
“Um, 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 as an individual.”
“Wha... Y-you’d be satisfied with something so insignificant as
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?”
“Can you come 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...”
Jibril’s 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
—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
“Oh, yes, well, my home country, Avant Heim, lies on the back of a
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.”
“And so a draft law called ‘Let’s Eliminate Book Redundancy’ arose
in the Council.”
—This government Jibril had been mentioning. Was known, if
memory served, as the Council of Eighteen Wings: the central
authority of Fliigel, composed of eight representatives and one agent
“The notion was to share knowledge—and that’s all very well. But
what it came down to was obliging each Fliigel 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 scaiy.”
“—Just so you know, Sora...” said Steph to Sora, who had spoken
“The livelihood of Fliigel 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.
“—Fliigel 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
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.
“It’s a game device for Materialization Shiritori
Please take a seat, she indicated. Sora sat, and Jibril sat across from
“Fliigel 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-e d cutely as the faces of the three strained.
“That said, there are times when we have disagreements among
Fliigel. 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
shiritori 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 veiy entertaining
“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
'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?”
“Okay, Shiro. C’mere, c’mere.”
Tmp, trap, pff, Shiro took her place—on Sora’s lap.
“We’ll play together, as usual. In this case, saying female will only
make Steph disappear, right?”
Steph with a face that looked shocked enough to make a sound
“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 Fliigel, spirit corridors are a primary constituent of my
being; however, eliminating them would not directly impact my
“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
—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.”
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.
Imitating her, Sora and Shiro put their hands to the crystal by them
“Yes—let the games begin.”
“...Bring it on...”
“Will you listen to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”
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
—Probably, at that moment, they were transported from meatspace
into an entirely secluded world. Which meant that the game had
“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 moment 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 oj
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 Fliigel,
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.
The end of her cry at the final process of fusion occurred at about
the same time.
—Light swelled with heat. The “second sun” bom 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
“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 ball 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 must 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
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
Fliigel 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
At Jibril, spacing out with a face like that of a maiden picturing a
“...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.”
“Hh! Th-that’s right. Then I’ll go with something safe—‘uma
The same moment, a horse appeared in the room.
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].’”
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?
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 Shiro’s hip.
—So? Was his meaning, which Shiro 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:
‘bii chi [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
—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! ‘Chikuhi [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! ‘Bikini.’”
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—‘nimofsu [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 ‘tsumu ji [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 is thiis!”
—Sora and Shiro started shooting Steph together in high-speed
“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.
With a grin, Sora.
“With this, it will be complete—ji /oseifuku [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.
Steph, face flushed, trying somehow to cover her body with her
—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 genitals'. Moreover, their
shoes and knee socks, which are not ‘ladies’ wear,’ still remain-
making it even more sugoi than full frontal nudity'.”
Taking his Devil pose, arms spread wide, looking to the sky, Sora
“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.”
“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 Fliigel
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 ‘kurohaa [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
...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 more...fun...”
“Yeah. I’ll take video; you take pictures.”
“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#%$
—chased around by a corps as freakish as Cthulhu, looked about
out of SAN. Filling his mouth with curry, Sora spoke.
“Much, much... Hey, Jibril, don’t you ever get hungry? ‘Mantoru
“Not to worry. Unlike the powerless Immanities, Fliigel have no
need for food. ‘Ruiaaga.’”
“Oh, I see... But don’t you get sleepy; the sun’s about to come up;
don’t you want to resign?”
“—Heh-heh... Flirgel 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, evenl”
—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, I’d really like to greet the morning in my own room, so I’ve
gotta pass—‘Gaikaku [outer core].”’
“Is that so. If you are weary, I won’t be offended if you lose
intentionally? ‘Kurokku [clock].”’
Jibril murmured, and went on further.
“After all, you’ve already given me a fair bit of amusement for a
frail Imm anity . ”
Though Jibril said this with a smile, Sora frowned.
“...You keep calling us powerless, frail—it’s starting to get to me
—And with that word. The freakish corps that had been chasing
Steph around disappeared.
—Hff! Hff—hff—H... 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
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—
—At that one word, Jibril reacted with a twitch.
“You think I’m— 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 violence 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.
Y es—Jibril could render Sora and his lot unable to continue living
anytime she felt like it. The fact that she hadn’t was purely play.
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
And, putting his hand on the crystal, Sora—.
“Shiro, you ready?”
After addressing the nodding Shiro, Sora spoke to Steph.
“Stephy, have you caught your breath yet?”
“Huh? Uhh... Y-yes, just barely...th-thank you...”
“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,
“This is gonna kill a little— so get ready! Sit.”
Steph, brought unceremoniously to the ground, had no way of
understanding what he meant. While Sora and Shiro—took 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— dematerialized 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
—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...surf ace 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
“—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— ‘asa [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 Fliigel. 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—
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 back underneath us to continue the game, but... Thus
smiling, Jibril said, for now.
“Then I say: ‘ea [air].’”
But, at that word, Sora abandoned his show of reluctance and
twisted his mouth. Jibril didn’t know, after all. Air’s— “constituent
—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 Fliigel 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
—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, as 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 Shiro.
—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 playing 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 was 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 Fliigel. Which meant, then, that all she had to do was
—To begin with, it was impossible for them to kill a Fliigel. 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. I
suppose that is all that can be expected—in the end, they are but
humanities... 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
A smirk rose, looking down at her.
Shiro, here we go!!”
This time, they used all their strength—to blow out all their air.
—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.
““—A tom osufea! ””
With this word meaning “atmosphere,” this time, at last, all gases
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 Fliigel—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
Sound is composed of waves of vibration transmitted through
matter. Now they were in a vacuum—essentially, in space. Without
the medium of air—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 as mere Immanities—however.
—Jibril was unable to use magic. That was because she was a
Fliigel, 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
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 Fliigel. There
was no way for humans to reach the heavens—it was an eternal,
...Before this answer. From the arms of Sora, holding Shiro, the
force drained like melting snow. His 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
—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, Fliigel. 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, Fliigel.”
—Jibril did not know what was happening or what Coulomb force
was. But her instincts as a Fliigel 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 can 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 ah 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
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— kill 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.
“...Bom 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?! I’ll say it one more time?! You killed me!! I did not
say ‘You almost killed me’; I said, ‘You killed meV. 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.”
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.”
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
“And, thanks to you, we got Jibril. You’ve helped us save Elkia.”
“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...in deed.”
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 youuuuuuuu!!! 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?”
“I can see that you led me to answer using the morpheme ‘jaku
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
‘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— is Tet.”
—It took away Jibril’s power to speak.
“We 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 world 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. Y ou will be responsible for the books. How does
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?!”
“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?”
“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 Fliigel’s single— gesture of absolute loyalty, shown only to
“Goshujin-sama, my master, my lord.”
“—I am Jibril, one pair of the Council of Eighteen Wings, of Ixseed
Rank Six, Fliigel.” 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—hep. Steph’s scream
resounded and echoed throughout the library...
Kappoon... 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...I 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 Fliigel, 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
To the Fliigel spouting lines straight out of a commercial, Sora
“Wait, before that, let me point out an issue here—why are you
“...Mm.” Shiro started turning her head at these words.
“Steph, don’t let Shiro look this way! It’s not appropriate for
“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... Jibril’s got skills...”
With Shiro’s murmur, Sora inwardly sympathized, but.
“No, I mean, in the first place, why do you need to be naked just to
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-
“You call yourself a slave when you’re making that face?! You
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 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
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.”
“...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...
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
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.
-Ba-bump, went her heart...
“It’s an implanted emotion! They’re just using me for their
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
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? Um, 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.”
—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! ▼ I will certainly— ah!” Jibril’s eyes looked
distinctly amused, and Steph flailed her arms with a blush. “No—this
“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-is that 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...um, by ‘love,’ you mean...the, master-disciple kind,
“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...—
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: “I-I-I-I-I’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
“Uh, all right... Thanks for—huh?”
She was gone. In the second she’d averted her eyes...where had she
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
“Let me explain.”
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-!”
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 ointment 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
—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
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
Despite how fearlessly he displayed the extent to which his self-
interest overrode important national concerns, still Jibril was
“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 —and lost.”
“...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.”
“If I may add, the Elves—Elven Gard 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
“...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 oj
their game 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 Gard lost.. .four times?”
Elven Gard. 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 Gard 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
“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
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— after 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
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 Fliigel, 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
“...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.”
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—”
“—oh, yes...except one.”
“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
“I believe it may be easiest to see for yourself. Of course, Dora
should come along.”
Not knowing when she had been approached, Steph raised her
voice at the hand on her shoulder.
“Please hold on to me, everyone.”
Sora and Shiro obediently grabbed Jibril’s 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
—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 —what did you just do?\”
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,
“Whatever do you mean...I merely shifted.”
Jibril answered nonchalantly that she’d just accomplished
...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
—Hey, Shiro, how is it that Immanity survived the old war?”
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 histoiy 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 Fliigel, 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
.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
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 —I knew this would happen —Steph spoke.
“...It’s the Eastern Union’s—embassy in Elkia.”
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.”
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
“...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...”
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
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
“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 ...Elkia...”
“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
“Hey, hey, wait a second, it had stood at the center of the nation ?”
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 Gard 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— had
twice as much land as 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, I’m just kind of in despair.”
It pained him to cause his sister concern, but, even so, it had to be
“I thought the old king was a moron, but, God, he had to be an
alcoholic or something...”
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
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?”
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 battle 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 play 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
But, shaking her shoulders, looking down, squeezing out words,
“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.
...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
—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
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 shotl”
Elkia Royal Castle: the former royal bedchamber. Since Sora had in
fact taken the one-stoiy 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
Steph was on her stomach, wetting the pillow she held to herself
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
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 can have this, Stephanie.
Yes... But, Stephanie, listen closely to my words.
When one day you find a person with whom you believe from
your heart that you can 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?”
Vipp —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.”
Um, that wasn’t exactly the point.
“It is my recommendation that you return to the library at this
“—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 Fliigel 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
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 Fliigel 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
“Is it not the case that you ...‘found something,’ for the sake of
“I was just scouring the records for how not to conquer an animal¬
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¬
“Like I was saying this morning —why 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
“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
“That’s what I was thinking when I was clutching my head. But it’s
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
66 | »
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 first 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
“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
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 marsh— 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 valuable.”
But most important. Sora said, pounding the map.
“Isn’t all of the Eastern Union’s continental domain— originally
Elkian 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?”
“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
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 Gard 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 them, 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
“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.”
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,
—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
...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 potential.”
—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, I’d 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
“Some who —because 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, I’m a dumbass, all right.” He chuckled bitterly. “I’m great at
spotting ’em. The world is really full of dumbasses—sickeningly so,”
“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
“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
“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 ‘real thing’ really
Someone 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
“—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 potential.”
—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?”
—Y es, 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 called himself dumb— probably didn’t realize.
“—I see, so folly and genius are like two sides of a coin— these are
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
“—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
—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
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 tiy 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.
—...a person with whom you believe from your heart that you can
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”?
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 too 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,
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,
“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
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-now that 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, oo, n, to. If
we look at this in binary, it’s l, o, 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 ...in 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
“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—”
“The bookcase moves...”
And, after it finished moving, beyond—
“And here is our locked door. This must be where your key goes,
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—the day Shiro fell from the bed.”
—“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 game if you cheat.”
Sora smiling, Shiro nodding. Y es, 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, I’ll cover Shiro’s eyes.”
“Time is unfair in a fair way. Just wait seven more years.”
“I’m 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
..Sora, though he’d just been charging under the assumption
it was porn—along with everyone else, all present, somehow—was
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 last days—but of its resurgence,
we leave this.
Sora carefully turned the page, and it continued.
As king, we are not the Wise.
Rather we shall most likely be known as a rare Fool. Still, we take
up our pen for the sake 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— all 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 king ...didn’t lose his memories.”
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.. .m any.. .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.”
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 make use of these records. For
these were records that made very clear at length his conclusion that
they could never win fighting fair.
“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
Remembering Steph, who’d even bet her panties to reveal their
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 humanity. 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
“...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
What he slid his finger to input was, indeed, without hesitation, this
—Objective: Swallow up the Eastern Union.
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 are 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, I-I mean—i-it’s a violation of sovereignty!”
“Who said anything about violating anyone’s sovereignty? We have
Impossible, Steph was going to say before she was interrupted.
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, hakama- 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 I no 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
“Well, you know, this morning, this guy was looking at me while I
was on the library balcony.”
“So then I signaled, ‘I’ll be over in a minute,’ and Gramps nodded
back. See, we have an appointment.”
“...Um, no, that does not make sense,” protested Steph:
“H—wait a minute. It’s thirty kilometers from here to that
“You’re right. It really surprised me to see how good Werebeast
—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. I no 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—I no anticipated their business. I no’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— “I’m 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 I no 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, I no 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
As if genuinely taken aback by Steph’s sarcastic words, I no peered
into Steph’s eyes and spoke.
“—What, you have in fact posted...”
At I no, 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.
“O-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—! 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.”
I no’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
At Jibril’s snide quip, I no’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
“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
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:
“—‘Thepot 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 pot, 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 are inferior to you, O Fliigel, but as wretched,
inadequate 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!”
...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.
Though he sympathized completely, Sora only looked around.
“...If you’ll excuse me, I shall call Izuna Hatsuse and return in a
Having watched I no 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
Sora knew that Jibril with the unknown before her eyes equaled a
horse with a carrot dangling before it.
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.
“Yeah, I know.”
Another question rained upon her.
“...Master, do you know 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, Gramps?”
“—Please forgive the wait.”
I no, clicking the door open and coming back in.
“This is the ambassador of the Eastern Union in Elkia—Izuna
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.
Though Steph almost forgot her position and said cute, before she
could get the words out...
“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.”
The siblings each mumbling their bit and taking a big step back.
“Who said you could stop, please.”
“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,
With that, I no 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
Sora responded with half-closed eyes and a soft remark.
“—Gramps, 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 I no.
“...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 Iz-zy...so cute with that...potty mouth...plus ten points.”
As Shiro petted and fluffed her, I no, visibly suppressing rage, spoke
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,
“Oh, then me, too.”
“You’re pretty good for goddamn hairless monkeys, please. Do it
To Izuna, expressionless as a cat, yet closing her eyes as she spoke,
“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.”
“—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 I no, who looked depressed at Izuna’s instant
“Heh-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, I no. 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
“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
“...Just because we’re better with your granddaughter than you are,
old man, you don’t gotta get all pissy; jeez.”
As I no’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.”
I no, 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 I no’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
“Give me your daughter’s panties. I’ll give you Steph’s.”
“Hey, monkey bastard, there’s a goddamn line you might not
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,
“Hey, monkey. If you’re just here to be an asshole, get the—”
“Wha, you can’t have Shiro’s; to desire an eleven-year-old’s panties,
there’s something wrong with you, Gramps. 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, Gramps, are you sure? I’m saying I’d make a deal just
for Izuna’s panties?”
“Look, you son of a bitch —if you’re not going to say what you’re
really here for, then get the—”
As I no held his forehead as if he was getting a headache.
—Sora, like a gambler who’d just made the haul of a century.
Gramps, I hate to say it, but we know you’re just pretending to
Bip. From Ino came a reaction the human eye could scarcely
detect, but more than enough for Sora.
“If you’re not going to say 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
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 say
what I’m really here for?”
Crossing his legs, adjusting his posture, Sora.
“In the names 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 oj
nations, we demand—”
With a smile of blatant hostility, he announced transcendently.
“—everything on the continent you bitches have.”
—At these words, everyone’s eyes, except Sora’s and Shiro’s, opened
wide. Even I no, 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.”
“Too bad you didn’t shake on Izzy’s panties while you had the
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,
“Ma-Master, ehm, what do you mean?”
“Huh? You still don’t get it?”
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, I’ll explain for you all, including this self-professed
“The Eastern Union, half a century back, rapidly developed a high
level of technology... But it can be tough to be an advanced
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 Gard
“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 Gard, 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 Gard step up
“...After losing...they tried to break down...the unbeatable game...
from the results?”
Indeed—Unlike Elkia, Elven Gard was a vast country. To brace
themselves for a few losses in scouting was but a small matter for
“After losing once, Elven Gard 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
“And so they went in for the long-awaited fourth time—hut they
lost. Amirite, Gramps?”
“.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 Gard 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, Fliigel, 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, Gramps.”
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 can 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.
“Fliigel, 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
—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
“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. I no, 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,
“Ain’t it weird, Gramps; I never showed any reaction to your bluff
from the beginning.”
Erk, I no’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
Shiro, Steph, and Jibril knew the answer to this question. Therefore
“This question—is for you, you hairy old shit. You gotta have some
« | >5
—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.”
“—That his covenant not to tell anyone his whole lif e—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, Gramps?”
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 move Ino should make was a given. In this
“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
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 in —graph?'.”
Steph, who seemed to have finally grasped the situation, was about
to scream, “Are you insane?” when Jibril deftly grabbed her by the
—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
—showing I no no trace of fear, and spoke without humility.
“—Did you see this coming, Gramps?”
As Sora grinned, a line of sweat fell from I no’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—I no, just barely regaining his composure—no, feigning it—
“I can only applaud your remarkable imagination. However, King
Sora, isn’t there something you’ve overlooked?”
I no struck back at the desperation in his heart with his one
“Even assuming this fantasy of yours is true—would that not mean
that Elven Gard 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:
“Gramps, 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 I no’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—I no couldn’t see.
—That even cheats and tool assists wouldn’t be enough to beat
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?”
“—Sorry, but, this time, it’s your turn to suck it— Werebeast.”
From the heartbeat of Immanity’s king as he said this. I no could
sense no reaction other than conviction, so he merely gulped.
—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 as a team of four. Y ou don’t get to say anything about it, so
Sora, singing this merrily, waved to Izuna, still seated across from
“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
“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.”
Y et Sora responded with eyes that in contrast felt friendly.
“Sorry, but you are going down, Izuna, without a doubt. Blank
“...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, I no Hatsuse and Izuna Hatsuse
could say nothing...
“Wh-wh-what have you
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
“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.
“O-of of course I would have! D-do you even understand what
“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
“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
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.
“I-is this how you treat hum an...hum an 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—!!
' • *mv\ • • *
—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
—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 Jibril’s 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 ?”
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
“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
Fliigel, 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?”
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
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
“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
“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
Jibril and Steph could only—look at each other.
...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
Fliigel, 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
—And so, with weary steps, Steph appeared in the throne room and
“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
“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— their 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
Her question was half ironic and half genuinely seeking an
explanation. But the answer that returned was terse.
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
With this cryptic reply, Sora continued.
“There’s one more ‘piece’ I want to come first—jeez, what’s taking
To Sora as he vented at some unknown party.
—Jibril came from the side at which she’d been waiting and
But before Jibril could finish, Sora cut her off with his hand and
“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 Shiro 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
“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’ manga.”
“Shiro, we are always victorious before the game starts.”
At Sora’s calm spelling out of these statements of obscure meaning.
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.
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.
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.
“—Shiro, 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...soriy...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
“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.
—That couldn’t be. There was only one number registered in Shiro’s
phone: her brother’s. Yet. Why—. Why did her phone say —o
“...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
—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
lg.Y es, it had definitely been the nineteenth. But then it should be the
—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
Possibility 1: Some unknown force had erased her brother’s very
existence from this world.
Possibility 2: She had finally lost it.
l V "f^w\
r il/ i
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
“...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?”
-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
Hello, nice to see you again, it’s the author and illustrator, Yuu
—I-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
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.”
“Actually, Mr. Kamiya, in the first place, could you please not finish
a whole manuscript for a second volume and then say you’re
“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
...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 l, 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,
“...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 tiy 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.
“Excuse me—why does meat make a buxom blond girl appear?!”
In contrast to the sparking smile of Jibril, the cold eyes of Shiro.
“Brother, your image...”
“O-ohh...sorry, it looks like it got influenced by the image in my
—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?!
“.Y ou’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
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!”
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!!
Reps of immanity
shut-in. loser, game veg
bro Sora and sis Shiro
stop it. y
"Can you follow ^the^twists^th at
even the author can’t predict—1
takes on Flugel, Werebeast
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.
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. V”
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
“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-
IN 111 ' till! >»' fir mi
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