No Game No Life

Vol 2 Chapter 3

Chapter 3 - Sacrifice/Sacrificial


Part 1

In a suburb a short distance from the center of Elchea city. The Great

National Library of Elchea.

It had technically been won back from Jibril, but it was still under her control.

Steph was in the kitchen that Jibril had arbitrarily installed in there.

From her drawn out face, it was evident that she had not been sleeping well.

"......Maybe it would have been better if they had just stayed shut ins in the


After retaking the library, Sora and s.h.i.+ro had holed themselves up in there


Whilst taking care of internal affairs, Steph had to come to the library to

report, and also to brew tea.

"Why do I have to go this far......I'm not a tea set, you know?"

However, as she grumbled.

Her mind would flash back to that scene after the fight with Jibril.

"Thanks, Steph."


"It's all because of these implanted emotions! I'm just being used!!"

Crying and burying her head in the wall had become a daily routine for Steph.

She abruptly heard a voice.

"Ah, Dora-chan. Thanks for your work."

"Didn't I tell you not to call me Dora-chan!? Rather, when did you get there!!"

The door had silently been opened, and Jibrilstood there as ifshe had been

there from the beginning.

"A message from master."

"Hah? Um, go on......"

"Uh--"There are things such as sugar and b.u.t.ter in Jibril's kitchen. Well, it

seems like those're all mine now, so feelfree to use them as you like"--end



She could use sugar...and b.u.t.ter?

T-then, the variety ofsweets she could make is now so much greate--

"Wait, isn't that just an indirect order to make sweets! How far must I be

used before he's satisfied!! AllI want is something like 'you can rest'!!"


"Sorry for agitating you to the point of you banging your head."

As Jibrilspoke, she took out a note.

"This is from my recipe book collection that the master says he's particularly

keen on."

"Ah, I'll take it ♥ Thank yo--oh."

As Jibril eyed her with interest, Steph frantically waved her hands as her face

turned bright red.

"It's not--this is......"

"I've heard. The master commanded you to 'fall in love' or something."

"Y, yeah, that's right! Not to mention, he totally tricked me into it!!

Unbelievable, right!?"

Steph jumped on the chance to excuse her own actions.

On the other hand, Jibrilstill looked curious.

"I wouldn't know. I'm rather ignorant of Imanity romantic feelings. Sorry

about that."

"Eh, is, is that so?"

"Yes. We as a race do not breed unless there is a need. If the master is loving

that is sufficient. The subtleties of these romantic feelings which Imanity has

cannot be understood merely through hearsay."

Master--that being Sora.

To Jibril, who had just flatly stated 'love'.

"Eh, ah......uhm, by you mean between master and servant?"

"I am not very clear on the distinction. What is the difference from normal


"That, that would be......when your chest hurts seeing them with others, being

anxious when you're not with them, things like th......huh?"

Suddenly it came to her, her first love--was the one who had forcibly made

her fallfor him, Sora.

--That being, she realised that all these things she had just described were

what she felt for Sora.

She also realised that Jibril, grinning, had heard everything.

As her face burned even redder, she quickly said,

"Th-that, that's, that's the general idea, just the idea! I, I certainly have not had

any such experience--"

As she attempted to cover for herself with utterly unconvincing words, Jibril

just smiled.

"I see. Then, since I've delivered my message, I'll leave it at that."

"Ah, right......thank you for your--huh?"

She was gone.

The moment she had looked away......where to?


The recipe of the cake Sora was interested in, now upon Steph's desk,

caught her view.

"Oh, well......if I can use sugar, there are sweets I'd like to make myself. It's

the same time and effort making for one as for a group, so why not. Yeah,

that's it. Incidental, it's just incidental."

Steph began to bustle around Jibril's kitchen.

" I just have to find where everything is......"

"About that."


Again, Jibril had materialised behind her without a sound.

"The necessary cooking utensils are over there. Dishes are there. Ingredients

and seasonings are on the top shelf. The tea set is over there. The oven is

from Avant Heim, so I've summarised the instructions for its use in your

language here. Now then, please feelfree to use them."

"Eh, ah,'re very gracious, thank you, very much."

Steph replied with confused emotions.

"It's fine, everything is for the master. Excuse me."

She vanished again.

For the those words, Steph felt uneasy.

Was the feeling ofsomething restraining her just her imagination?

She shook her head.

"It's! For! Myself!! Alright, let's make something so delicious it'll amaze even


Again in her mind, a scene from after the battle with Jibrilflashed by.

As he stroked her head--now the words were different.

"You did well, Steph. Thank you."


She smacked both hands onto the table.

"I said that's not the case alreadyyyyyyyyyyy!"

Bang bang, she started pounding her head against the table.

Outside the door was Jibril.

"......'Fall in love with me', as expected of the master; such an interesting


She was watching something even more interesting now though.

For Jibril who knew little about the emotional workings of Imanity, she

understood the concept of romantic feelings as knowledge only.

"If the order had been for just a moment, then the effect should have lasted

only a moment as well--yet despite not having been ordered to 'keep loving

me', why is Dora-chan displaying more permanent effects? Fufu, curious


Smiling slyly, Jibril disappeared into the air.

"Eh--red......hyaaa, bloooood!? Uynn......"

Having fainted at the sight of her own blood, the preparations took a

considerably longer time to complete.

Part 2

Steph was now salved and bandaged.

Completely recovered from her faint, she trudged back with tea and cakes for


"Fufufu, it's perfect this time, you know?"

Believing herself invincible after having recovered sugar and b.u.t.ter, Steph was


Perhaps wanting praise from Sora, not that she would have admitted it to

herself, she headed towards the room in the very back of the library. And

found out she couldn't open the door with both hands full.

"For some reason I'm getting a sense of deja vu from this."

If that were the case, the punch line when she opened the door would be that

there was no one there.......she thought.

Fortunately, the scene which greeted her was not as she had sensed.

"So, Jibril-kun."

With a fully serious face, a man was questioning Jibril.

"Won't you tell me about the kemonomimi kingdom I intend to conquer, the

'Eastern Union'?"

......A man you really didn't want to believe held the fate of Imanity in his


"Certainly. The Eastern Union is a nation with complex circ.u.mstances."

The Eastern Union--country of the fourteenth ranked species, the


Although they're all grouped under the name Werebeasts, even just separating

by their physicalfeatures there were countless different tribes.

For many years they had been locked in a cycle between civil wars and

negotiated peace, a small country of islands with little uniformity.

Then one known as the 'Miko' had appeared, pacified the country in just half

a century, and now they had merged into a gigantic maritime nation counted

as one of the three world powers.

"About the different physical characteristics......does that mean there are

things like fox ears and cat ears?"

Jibrilreplied to Sora's question with a straight face.

"Yes. Besides their appearances however, their abilities differ as well. I do

not believe the name Werebeast was given to them merely because of their

animal-like bodies. Both individually and as a race their strength approaches

the physical limit; some are even able to read thoughts. Those with that

capability are known as 'kekkai'."

"Hm, well, I get the general idea--now then."

"All the kemonomimikos are mine, so without further ado how do we set

about taking down the Eastern Union!"

--This king is no good at all.

"As unfortunate as it is master, I think that is [impossible]."

The one who poured water on that idea was surprisingly the one who called

Sora master, Jibril.

"Wh--Jibril, do you know why we recruited someone as intelligent as

yourself!? It was allfor this perfect plan which met both my personal and the

national interest so well, that being the capture of all the kemonomimi girls, so

just what is this you're saying!"

In face of this fluent confusion between self-interest and private and public

affairs, Jibril maintained her stance.

"I am very sorry. However--even if it's you two masters, I do not believe you

are able to win against the Eastern Union."

At those words not only Sora, but also s.h.i.+ro who was next to him reading a


Suddenly narrowed their eyes, and stared at Jibril.

"Hou......are you implying that 『 』 would lose?"

"No, that's not quite the right meaning. I suppose a better expression would

be, I cannot meet your expectations."


"I too have once gone to challenge the Eastern Union--and [lost]."


"......Seriously? Eh, at s.h.i.+ratori?"

"No, that device is here after all."

......There's a game capable of beating this eccentric, all-rounded peak

humanoid weapon?

"It is probably the game which they specified."


"In addition, the Elves--Elven Gard, have officially challenged the Eastern

Union four times these past 50 years to official[Territory Games], and lost

every time."

Jibril didn't seem to want to admit it, but she dutifully spoke the truth.

More importantly however--

Sora understood the meaning behind those words.

He also deduced why Jibril had said it was [impossible].

"......I can hardly believe it, but."

If that really was the case--then it certainly explained things.

"Did the Eastern Union......put 'erasure of memories pertaining to the game' as

one of the conditions?"

--The meaning was that as they were, they had no chance of victory.

Jibril bowed her head respectfully and answered.

"It is as you said, master. For that reason, there is no one who knows just

what the game was or is."

......Is that so. The race with their excellent five senses and even a sixth, the

ability to read the heart.

Their game was concealed to the point of erasing it from their opponents


An investigative expedition would be impossible. Losing and developing

strategies for the next time would also be impossible.

Challenging without any information would be suicidalfor sure.

--Thinking things over, however, there were some things which stuck out.

"Elven Gard lost......[four times]?"

Elven Gard.

The craftiness of the Elves was already well known to them through the

events of the King Selection games.

Even though they had only helped indirectly, without being forewarned they

would certainly have lost.

They were strong opponents who could keep fighting even after being

breached two or three times.

Moreover, they were the world's largest country. Being able to stand against

them meant--

"Right, and so I--[suspected the involvement of a greater power]."

Like what Elven Gard had attempted to do with Elchea.

The reason the Eastern Union could brush off the attacks of the Elves was

because they were already the puppet government ofsomeone else.

"I was not able to resist trying to find out if that were the case and ifso, who it


"So you challenged them and ended up having the tables turned."

"......As embarra.s.sing as it is, that's true."

Right. The reason for Jibril's 'impossible' was clear.

Without knowing the game and being unable to bluff, there were absolutely no


Against Imanity who could count only upon plans and cunning as their sole

weapons, they could be said to be the perfect enemy.

--However, there was still a snag.

"......In this world the overwhelming advantage goes to those who are


Fifth of the [Ten Oaths], the challenged party has the right to decide the

contents of the game.

Being able to select a game advantageous to you would obviously confer the


"If you erase everyone's memories of the fight, however--people would [stop

attacking you]."

That's right.

In the world Sora came from, an a.n.a.logy would be 'nuclear deterrence'.

No one would try to pick a fight against someone they absolutely couldn't


"......Non-aggressive, nationalsecurity......?"

s.h.i.+ro predicted the Eastern Union's stance from the results of their policy.

Sora pointed something out, however.

"s.h.i.+ro, this is why you lose to Onii-chan in strategy games even though you're

so much smarter. [That would be boring]."

If they had an 'ace in the hole' capable of laying low both the Elves and the

Flugel, why would they focus only on defense.

Because deliberately showing an opening, letting them use their tricks, and

then beating them at their own game was far more satisfying.

"......Nii, your......playing, style......annoying."

"If you call the strategy your onii-chan so desperately wracked his head to

come up with annoying, I'll collapse, you know!?"

His point stood, however. s.h.i.+ro admitted to her mistake.

"......A country, which suddenly expanded, 50 years......having a, nonaggressive



Sora hugged s.h.i.+ro, his eyes filled with tears.

These siblings truly are strange, Jibril thought as she tilted her head.

"The fact of the matter is, in the past decade, no one has made a move against

the Eastern Union--"

......Jibril then laughed.

"Or rather, there was actually......just one country."


"Eh, what, who?"

Only Jibril and s.h.i.+ro responded.

s.h.i.+ro possibly already knew from reading one ofJibril's books, but Sora was

still clueless.

(--Ah, this is a pretty terrible development.)

Sensing an impending danger, Steph quietly stood and tried to leave the


"It'll be quicker to show you. Of course, Dora-chan has to come too ♪"


Caught by surprise and grabbed, Steph cried out.

"Now then, everyone, please hold on to me."

"Hold on?"

As they spoke, both Sora and s.h.i.+ro took hold ofJibril's clothes.

"Please make sure you don't let go--now, let's be off."

The moment Jibril uttered those words.

At the sound ofshattering gla.s.s, they squeezed their eyes shut--in one


Sora slowly opened his eyes, and what stretched before him......was it his


Still, floating thousands of meters above the ground, the view was certainly


"It's nice and sunny today. You should be able to see--"

"Wait, wait up, Jibril, before that--what did you do!?"

Sora held up Jibril who had continued speaking as if nothing had happened.

Having just been thrown up incredibly high into thin air, Sora naturally sought

an explanation.

However Jibrilreplied in a bewildered manner.

"What, you ask......I merely s.h.i.+fted us."

Speaking of [teleportation] as if it were nothing, Sora understood,

......Of course, no wonder she can randomly appear all over the place.

So she was a teleporter. It was something he had understood conceptually,

but now he was convinced.

"......Just how far can you s.h.i.+ft?"

"Anywhere within sight. Anywhere I've previously been to can also be

[traveled back to indefinitely]."

--Right now, Sora and s.h.i.+ro were pondering over one of the greatest

mysteries of this world.

"--Hey s.h.i.+ro, how did Imanity survive the ancient war?"

"......Who knows......?"

The Werebeasts are physically supreme, the Elves are surpa.s.singly cunning

and beings like Jibril are pure hax, just how were they fought?

All the inhabitants of this world had but one reply.

"......That is a mystery of Imanity's history......"

Steph sighed.

"Wasn't it simply because no one bothered to spare Imanity so much as a

second glance?"

Jibril answered with a broad smile.

"We of the Heavenly Winged warred mainly against the dragons, gigants and

old G.o.ds. It took around 50 of us Flugel to take on a dragon, and 200 to

challenge one of the G.o.ds."

......The race which needed a supernova to finally kill, could teleport around,

and soared freely through the sky.

They had fought monsters which even 200 of them could not defeat.

"Then a different question."

"--Why did this world not keep its originalform?"

Jibril could only reply with a wry smile.

"That answer lies with the [sole surviving G.o.d and default victor]."


"More importantly, please look over there."

Smiling to shake away the bitter memories, Jibril pointed.

Looking carefully from the sky, they were near the border of Elchea.

Within the border, in Elchean territory, a majestic tower rose into the air.


Meaning--it clearly was not built by human hands.

"......Uhm, what's that......[high building]?"

It resembled the Empire State building in America.


Even s.h.i.+ro's eyes widened.

It was just barely possible to make out the foundations.

It was located in a gap between the buildings of a human street.

"Dora-chan, please go ahead and explain."

Dropping her shoulders as if to say 'I knew it would come down to this',

Steph spoke.

"......That's the Eastern Union's [Elchean]."

"............Hou, the Eastern Union."

Stealing a glance at Sora, Steph averted her face.

"T-to be accurate, it's--the site of our [former] Royal Palace."


Sora trained his eyes on Steph.

Trying to escape that gaze, Steph craned her neck even further away.

"M-my grandfather, bet...the Royal Palace."

".......And, lost......"

His ruthless sister uttered one word.


Both Sora and s.h.i.+ro were at a loss for words, and Jibril wore a pleasant

smile as if looking at a puppy.

"W-why are you looking at me with those eyes!"

"The Royal Palace of our [Capital] is someone else's"


Hmm......Sora considered.

"So, why was the palace taken by the Eastern Union?"

"Actually--that entire area was taken over, if I recall correctly."


Sora's eyes widened at Jibril's smiling words.

His sister had to explain the information she had memorized.

"......This decade, the previous king......challenged the Eastern Union [eight

times]......and, lost."

"Eight......w-well, I get the intentions of the Eastern Union. If it's that state-ofthe-art

'maritime nation'--"

One of the drawbacks of a maritime nation was the lack ofstone and iron; the

dearth of resources not found in the marine environment.

Seeing the architecture of that building, it was evident that they were a fairly

advanced civilization.

They would require many rare metals and other resources not found in an


It would only be a matter of course to search for them in the continent--


"The challengers would have been the Eastern Union, right? Why answer?"

At that, s.h.i.+ro shook her head.

And Jibrilreplied.

"Master, have you forgotten? The sole country which challenged the Eastern

Union this past decade......"

"......The challenger, was......[Elchea]......"

......Just, what......?

"First was that mountain. Then that plain, then......and so on and so forth, until

finally they reached the royal palace in the center of the country, and the result

is as you see now."

Jibril had taken them into the sky precisely to show them this.

"Nonono, wait, back then that was the center of the country?"

Sora spoke while pointing to the Empire State Building (temporarily named).

"Are you kidding me? He bet the country away eight times? Against

somebody Elven Gard lost to 4 times? Imanity did this? That's just beyond

stupid. Please stop with the jokes--"

s.h.i.+ro simply sighed, yet Sora continued to shake his head.

"Wait, wait a minute? Then Elchea's territory was over twice what it is now?"

Jibril and s.h.i.+ro nodded.

Sora placed a hand to his brow as Steph became silent.

"......Jibril, please take us back to the library for a bit."

"I am sorry, are you afraid of heights?"

"No, it's just I can't think clearly up here, I need the floor for that."

Part 3

Back in the library.

Sora sat cross-legged upon the table, cradling his head.

All that left his mouth were sighs.

Perched in his lap, s.h.i.+ro looked at Sora anxiously.

"......Nii......all, right......?"

"......Ahh, my bad, s.h.i.+ro, I was just in despair for a bit."

It pained him to cause worry for his sister, but even so, he couldn't help


"I had thought the previous king was terrifyingly idiotic, but now I have to

consider whether he was an alcoholic or something as well....."


"T-that's so rude!!"

She smacked down on the table Sora sat on.

"Earlier, didn't you say what my grandfather did wasn't wrong!!"

Sora, however, merely heaved a grand sigh.

"--Just how do I cover for a guy who threw away half the country in futile


Sora pointed out the window in the direction of the 'dispossessed territory'.

"If we had that land, just how much farming and industry could we achieve? If

your grandfather had been able to keep betting like those moron n.o.bles who

eventually lost even their underwear, would we even have any territory left



Perhaps unable to stop now that he had started, Sora just kept going.

"Ah, right, he was [your grandfather] after all......probably believing in [luck],

that if he tried enough he'd definitely win someday......the opponent was a

[nation], did he seriously not understand the implications?"

Compared to personal games, [national warfare] was on a completely

different level.

One entrusted with full authority, responsible for the lives of others, thus

fought with those very lives at stake.

That was national warfare--[territorial gambling].

Fighting over the border which would define all that the people, the nation

possessed; [total war].

To challenge those aware of that eight times--.

"Blaming it on drink may be one of the kinder interpretations here......"

Steph, however, stood stock still, looking down at the ground with shoulders


"My grandfather--certainly......was bad at games......"

And yet--lifting her head, she cried out.

"Carrying the lives of millions of Imanity on his shoulders, he never did

anything that would affect his thinking! Unlike you two, he was a man of

common sense!"

That admirable person had brought them to this, however.

"If negligently throwing away half the country is 'common sense', then I'd

gladly be abnormal any day."


Shaking, yet unable to refute Sora's words, Steph ran from the room with

tears in her eyes.

Looking at her retreating back, s.h.i.+ro spoke.

"......Nii......too, far......"

"......After showing me something like that, just how was I supposed to


The tension from earlier evaporated.

Perhaps because he had much to consider, Sora's depression switch seemed

to have been completely turned off.


They finally noticed the tea and sweets Steph had placed on the table earlier.

Faster than Sora, s.h.i.+ro crammed one into her mouth.

"......De, licious......♪"

Hearing s.h.i.+ro speak in a voice different from her normalflat tone, Sora

reluctantly picked one up too.

"......s.h.i.+t, it really is good......"

Sweet, yet not overbearingly so, and fluffy.

The sweets Steph had made the other day had been amazing as well, but this

eclipsed those by far.

She had probably followed the recipe painstakingly.

He imagined her figure in the kitchen, struggling even to make the arrangement


s.h.i.+ro stared at Sora. Jibril merely closed her eyes, awaiting instructions.

Tearing at his head, Sora gave up.

"...................Ahhhhhhhhhhh----fine I get it, [I'll try]!"

Part 4

Elchea royal palace, former king's bedroom.

Sora had actually gone ahead and begun construction on a house in the

courtyard, returning the bedroom to Steph.

In that t.i.tanic, literally king-sized bed.

Steph lay sobbing.

"Liar......and you had even said you'd prove that grandfather was right......"

Lying face down, Steph wet the pillows with her tears.

"Grandfather......wasn't a, bad king!"

She squeezed the key she always carried on her and recalled her grandfather.


"Grandfather, what is this key?"

"H-he~ey Stephanie, you can't touch that."

"Why? What is it for?"

"This key is for entering a place precious to grandpa."

"Precious? Ah, father mentioned that."

"Grandfather has some books that he 'cannot show to people'."

"W, waitwaitwait, Stephanie! That's totally different!"

"T,this is--the [key of hope]."

"Hope......? Of what?"

"Hoho......someday, I'll give this to you, Stephanie."


"Yeah......but, Stephanie, listen carefully."

"One day, when you meet the ones who you believe from your heart you can

entrust Elchea to, give this key to them in turn."


She suddenly remembered those events from 10 years ago.

She had received this key from her grandfather two years ago as his death


She still didn't know what it was for, but she had never let it go.

Just why did she recall that now.

--Sora. Him. The one who had insulted her grandfather.

Even though there should be no way she would pa.s.s it on to him.

"Dora-chan, do you have a moment?"


Jibrilsuddenly appeared out of thin air to peek at her from the bedside.

Letting out a cry, Steph jumped up in surprise.

"W-w-w-w-what the heck!? This is trespa.s.sing, you know!?"

"There's something I'd like to tell you, so please don't mind."

No, that's not the problem here.

"From now, I think you can return to the library."

"--Hah? From now? Just when--"

It didn't seem like Jibril was listening.

She simply bowed and continued at her own pace.

"I determined this would be best for master, and came of my own accord.

What you will do is likewise up to you."

Having arbitrarily said her piece, she disappeared again.

......The thought processes of the Flugelreally are different from those of


Stillrather confused, Steph nonetheless thought over Jibril's words.

You can go back to Sora now, was probably what she was trying to convey.

"......Don't joke around, after that, how could I forgive him!"

She threw a blanket over herself as she said so.

Yet the steady ticking of the clock in the room made her suddenly aware of

just how red and puffy her eyes were. She recalled the words of her

grandfather. The one whom Sora had insulted so.

Perhaps it had been Jibril's speaking, or perhaps there was a reason she

remembered them now.

"...........Ahhn, jeeeeeez~~~~~~!"

Throwing off the blankets, Steph got out of bed.

Part 5

Elchea national library.

She had gone in countless time already, yet this time Steph quietly stole inside.

Sora and the others were, as usual, in the back room.

Having made up her mind, as she approached the room the door opened


Peeping in, there was Sora and s.h.i.+ro, and Jibril as well.

"Master, it's about time you rest......"

"Nnn......just a bit longer......"

Flipping through a book, without taking his eyes off the map, Sora answered


Jibrilspoke as she drew a blanket over s.h.i.+ro, sleeping huddled in Sora's lap.

"However much you look, it's impossible to defend the folly of the previous


Jibrilflashed a glance, as if aware of Steph's presence, and startled she hid


......Although however much she tried, there was no way she could hide from

the Flugel.

That didn't seem to be the case for Sora however.

Showing no signs of noticing anything, Sora replied in an unhappy tone.

"--It's not like that's my sole intention. I simply noticed an [anomaly]."

"Rather, you're 'finding' one for Dora-chan......wouldn't you say?"

"I'm just going through these records to determine what not to do when

setting about my nekomimi kingdom conquest! That's all!"

Sora seemed quite dissatisfied with Jibril's wry smile.

"So, what's the anomaly?"

"Right......there are several."

As Jibril laughed in amus.e.m.e.nt, Sora replied while still looking sour.

"The thing mentioned this morning--why would the Eastern Union [erase


As a deterrent, the result would be no more challengers. The benefits would

be slim.

Placing her hand on her chin, Jibrilseriously considered.

"Having expanded their territory so much, devoting themselves to defense

doesn't seem too far of a stretch."

"It's natural to think so. The only one who challenged them this decade was

the previous king after all."

If that was their goal, then they were most successful.

Ifso however, then why had the previous king fought eight times?

"Well, that's how Imanity is after all ♪"

To Jibril who said so laughingly.

"I had also worried over that. But something's strange."

Sora spoke deadpan.

"It's not something a 'sensible' person responsible for the lives of millions

would do."

It was as if Sora had read her mind.

Behind the door, Steph drew a breath.

"Then I examined the continental territory of the Eastern Union."

As he spoke, he pointed to the map.

"To start with, this mountainous alumat.i.te mine......the previous king bet that


According to Jibril's books, the melting point of [alumat.i.te] was 3000


With the metal processing technology Imanity currently possesses, it has no


"Next, these plains. They've become the cornerstone of the Eastern Union's

extensive agriculture......the previous king bet them [second]."

They were what they are now however due to the Eastern Union's


At the time of the challenges they had been no more than mere [bogs], and

worthless as land.

"Third was this coal mine. That's a resource Imanity also cannot utilise.

Likewise the fourth, fifth, sixth the eighth time when he bet the

royal palace, the previous king never once bet [something of value]."

But more than anything else. Sora jabbed at the map.

"All of the Eastern Union's continental land--all of it [used to be Elchea's] did

it not?"

The continental land which the Eastern Union had won.

All of it had been gained from the previous king.

"......All the continentalresources the Eastern Union needed, had been gotten

from the previous king?"

"That's just the result. The thing is before all this, the Eastern Union had no

continental land."

Which meant:

"The ones who were cornered--was the [Eastern Union]."

An advanced technological nation like that, even able to utilise resources

requiring a 3000 degree melting point.

A civilisation like that would [absolutely require] continentalresources.

In this game where everything is decided by games, even 'trade' would be

determined by games.

For the defensively orientated Eastern Union, it could be said to be a critical


"But what the previous king had consistently been playing for was 'one of the

Eastern Union's coastal cities'."

That would provide marine resources as well as technological advancements.

It was a good bet.

If it was the Eastern Union that was pressured however, he should have been

able to press for more.

Why then had he continued eight times.

Doling out land useless to Imanity a little at a time.

"The only conclusion I can come up with, is that it was intentional......"

Why--did the Eastern Union persist with its disadvantageous amnesia.

Why--did Elven Gard challenge four times. wait. Wrong.

"Why......did the previous king stop after eight times?"

Consider the reverse.

Not how many times they challenged, but why they stopped at the number

they did.

Right up to the eighth time, that being the royal palace, he had wagered only

things of little value.

The seventh or ninth times should have been just as good.

Why eight?

Having thought that far.

Sora came up with a single hypothesis.

"What if the previous king, had not been losing his memory?"

Spreading out the map and the accompanying figures, he collated the data he

had collected together.

He stared at the borders spanning many years, and rapidly confirmed his


It was still a theory full of holes, yet worth considering nonetheless.

There were two particularly glaring holes.

How had he avoided losing his memories.


As Sora was in the middle of thinking.

Sheepishly, as if reluctant to speak up, Jibril muttered.

"Master. Master, your cla.s.sification certainly is 'Imanity'."

"Nn, eh? Of course it is?"

Still deep in thought, Sora looked at Jibril who had interrupted his thinking.

"But not all of Imanity acts as wisely as Master."

She said this euphemistically to Sora, who was trying to come up with a

legitimate reason for the previous king's folly.

These words were as far as she could go speaking as a servant to her master.

A servant is not allowed to doubt their master; Jibril chided herself.

But Sora spoke without hesitation.

"There are definitely [those who have it together] as well. And generally,

those guys are--incomprehensible."

This time, Sora glared at the data compiled on his tablet PC.

"Trying to understand that is my 'duty'."

It was as if he had read Jibril's mind.

"Jibril, it's alright to speak freely."

"Imanity here is small, powerless, coa.r.s.e and uncivilized. Why do you believe

in [the Imanity of this world] who from your perspective, mentally and

physically, must be no more than animals--that's what you wanted to say


"--No, that's not quite......"

......That was exactly it.

Whatever follies the previous king had committed, it should all be able to be

put away by blaming it on Imanity's behaviour in general.

Sora and s.h.i.+ro, by their own admittance, were cla.s.sified as Imanity.

However the reason Jibrilfollowed them was because they were not [lower

organisms] such as Imanity.

Sora and s.h.i.+ro were two beings who broke the mold of all common sense.

Thus Sora's following words.

"The answer is quite simple--I don't believe in [humanity]."


Both Jibril, and Steph listening in outside, couldn't believe their ears.

"s.h.i.+ro and I are not from this world, so you must think that we're different

from Imanity in this world, but actually nothing is different back where we

came from. Everyone, everywhere is vulgar and stupid--including me."

Sora's face as he spoke those self-mocking words various ways,

full of despair.

--That world of the past, covered in optic fibre.

A world that had been compressed to the limit, possessing untold intelligence

and cultured wisdom.

And yet......that technology had simply led to a vast flood of information.

As for why......all pointed towards that wherever they were, humans were

foolish things.

"......Humans are s.h.i.+t. Even if the world changes, that never will."

As Sora spoke in disgust, Steph clenched the key in her hand.

--There was no way she could entrust her grandfather's key to Sora after all.

There was no way......she could believe in this man.

Thinking so, Steph began to move away.

"However--I believe in [that possibility]."

--But Sora's words did not stop.

Dusting the ground next to Sora as if preparing to sit, Jibril knelt down.

"The reason is--her."

Sora spoke as he stroked s.h.i.+ro's gently sleeping face, her head in his lap.

Packing so much information into her little head, she must have been


"If humans were all useless trash like me, we would have been lost in despair

long ago."

His expression as he caressed his sister's cheek.

Compared to the man who was so full of frustration and hopelessness earlier-

-belonged to a completely different person.

"They definitely, exist."

The gentle brother half closed his eyes, as ifstaring at the light.

Full of admiration and aspiration......for this pale girl, whose chest softly rose

and fell.

"People's--the smallness that you felt, happens because of our foolishness, yet

it is through that we learn, that we rise up to possibly reach even the G.o.ds;

such wishes and dreams are what her smallframe represents......the hope of



"Hey, I'm an idiot after all."

He laughed wryly.

"I'm good at observing my own kind. Really, the world is filled with them--

enough to make me sick."


"But......s.h.i.+ro is different."

As he stroked the face that lay on his knees.

"The day when I first met s.h.i.+ro--eight years ago."

As if remembering what happened yesterday, Sora's eyes drifted away.

"She had been a child only three years old. But what do you think the first

thing she said was, when she heard my name?"

"......Rea, 'empty



--Not understanding, Jibrilfrowned.

Explaining, Sora chuckled.

"A three year old, already juggling multiple languages, saw me who was

superficially laughing along with the crowd and hit me with that double

meaning the first time we met--it really is laughable isn't it?"

His words contained neither self-depreciation nor anger.

Rather as if in a fever, Sora laughed fearlessly.

"[I was entranced]. The [geniuses] I had always been thrilled by, were real."

What his worthless imagination had cooked up had jumped out to be before

his very eyes.

He asked himself, how can she do that.

And asked again, why can't I.

Completely different, seeing a completely different world; an overwhelming


"And as for me, who had become that [genius]'s 'brother'......"

He laughed bitterly again, yet there was resolve mixed in.

"Despite how apart we were, I longed. I decided to believe. Even one as

useless as me, if I utterly worked my a.s.s off, even if I couldn't follow her into

that realm, then I could at least come close."

"That's why I don't believe in 'humanity'."

--As he doesn't believe in himself.

"That's why I believe in that 'possibility'."

--As he can believe in s.h.i.+ro.

"Humanity's potential is infinite. It's just that that potential can go in either


Therefore humans can be infinitely wise, or infinitely foolish--if that's so.

"If I'm infinitely foolish enough, then maybe I can one day catch up to my

infinitely wise sister?"

--A perfect revolution.

Smiling so, Sora continued to tenderly nuzzle his little sister.

Kneeling seiza next to them, Jibril observed with great interest.

--He himself probably didn't notice.

Overlooked that at the time, he himself had only been 10 years old.

That at 10 years of age he had unraveled the essence of the words of that

three year old child, and accepted them.

Even respected them.

And then thought of what to do about it.

He had realised that he couldn't win that way, and so set about carving his

own path.

Something like that......someone who can do that......what would you call


He who called himself a fool--he himself, probably didn't realise.

"--I see, the [line between genius and stupidity is fine indeed]--those are

profound words."

Jibril likewise looked overhead.

Gazing up at a sea ofstars in the endless night sky beyond the skylight, Sora


"In our original world--humans have flown the sky, and crossed the stars."

"--Speaking freely......I can't believe it."

"Exactly, no one could. Even humans themselves."

But there were those who believed, who dreamed.

Precisely because they were born without wings, they gazed up and longed

for the heavens all the more.

At last, with their own hands, they soared up into beyond upon wings of iron.

Then they dreamed even higher, even further, until they reached the very stars


Because they are born with nothing, they could yearn--to aim at that which is

'far away'.

--If we don't have it, then we'llfind it.

--If we can't find it, then we'll make it.

--If it still can't be obtained, then keep searching until the world's end.

[Being born with nothing].

Precisely because of that fact, they are the [proud weak], the proof of

humans infinite possibilities.

"They're definitely there in humanity, [those who've found it]. Not one of the

countless imitations like me, but an unrivaled genius."

Not trying to understand that, would be a sin.

Because the words of a genius are too obvious to themselves, such that they

cannot explain it.

"So the duty of conveying that, falls to us common men."

"If you don't believe in the 'start' then there can be no 'beginning'. Same for

the previous king."

Laughing so, Sora looked down at the map again.

Jibrilsimply closed her eyes.

She produced a magic light in her hand, and lit up Sora's surroundings.

"I believe in what master believes. If master will believe in Imanity, then I will

simply follow you until the end. That is all."

Hiding outside the door, listening to that exchange, Steph's mind whirled.

Endlessly maligned as a king, yet her grandfather's back had been so big and


Gentle and warm, the back of a man who ceaselessly believed in people.

--"When you meet the ones who you believe from your heart you can entrust

Elchea to......"

Cold and calculating, a man who has always doubted people.

He was far different from her grandfather, but because of that.

He was someone who believed in the capability of people more than any


Would it be alright to entrust to him, this key her grandfather left her.

She herself did not know what it was for--but.

If it was him......if it was Sora, would her grandfather be satisfied.

Would he praise her......'you chose a good person'.


Creaaak......slowly pus.h.i.+ng open the door, Steph saw Jibrilfaintly smiling and

Sora looking surprised.

Steph simply--spoke with grim determination.

"There's something I want to pa.s.s to you."

Part 6

The next the royal bedroom, now Steph's bedroom.

Four people: Steph, Sora, s.h.i.+ro and Jibril were within.

"--Is the general gist of it."

Having spoken everything she remembered, Steph described the history of

the key.

The first words that came in reply.

"--They're definitely ero books."

......And so.

Steph intensely regretted her choice.

"T-there's no way that's the case! How the heck did you get that from my


"But he was in such a hurry to shut your father up."

"He, he said that was something different!"

"In the [previous world] s.h.i.+ro and I came from, ero books were something

statistically 90% of men hid away."

"......80%, also hid......ero, goods......"

"Yep. Well, this is an important key Steph. I had been worried there were no

[side dishes] in this world."

With no words left to her, Steph fell backwards onto the bed in silence.

"But master, we don't know where the key goes yet......"

"Ero books are absolutely always hidden in the bedroom, in other words right

here. Without a doubt."

"If it's a hidden room we've [found it already]. It's probably the one over



At those words, Steph got up in a hurry and turned around.

Falling off the bed, Steph chased after Sora and the others.

"Firstly--the bed is tilted. s.h.i.+ro fell off after all."

A few days ago Sora had indeed waken up inconsolable, Steph recalled.

"So if you push the bed and look closely, there really is an incline. Look at the

decorative scales engraved on the plates at the foot of the bed. The scale is

tilted to the left, meaning the left is heavier, meaning there's something on the



With no catharsis whatsoever, Sora blandly revealed the mystery.

"Next, the bookshelf on the left. The intervals of the shelves are not uniform.

Even though the shelves of the one on the right are."

"Eh,, that's certainly so."

"They're irregular, but by and large the pattern can be divided into large and


He pointed at the rows ofshelves from the top.

"If you take this as 0, the result is 01, 00, 11, 10. Converting to binary that's

1, 0, 3, 2. In this room, well the only book with over 1000 pages is the


Saying so, Sora took the encyclopedia from the shelf.

"Now the first word on page 1032 is, in the language of Imanity, [lighthouse].

Well~conventionally it'd probably be referring to a candelabra or chandelier,

some sort of lighting fixture."

Sora walked over to some candles mounted on the wall.

"There's been an indent drawn through that word in the middle, as if with an

uninked pen."

As he spoke both Jibril and Steph looked.

There was indeed a faint dent.

"So it's referring to the candles on the left side of the room, specifically the

[middle] candles. Furthermore that word is connected by three arrows on the

left which point to related entries. So--"

He tilted the candelabra three times to the left.

"Finally, one single arrow to the right points to [harbour] on page 605 as a

related item. Basically--"

He then tilted the candelabra once to the right.

Once he did, the candelabra slid out......

--Within were four dials.

"s.h.i.+ro solved it from here, so I'll pa.s.s it on."

Tagging hands, s.h.i.+ro turned the dials.

"......[lighthouse], [harbour]......Imanity, script......factoring in......number of

line, intersections......"

Clicking sounds could be heard.

"......Perfectly......four, digits......answer, [2642]......"

As Steph and Jibril looked on stunned.

Sora, as ifshowing off rapid magic tricks, clapped his hands and rushed them

to the next step.

"And with that behold, behind the curtain, one of the blocks of the wall

somehow lifts out!......and it's pretty heavy, so earlier it took both me and

s.h.i.+ro some considerable effort, but screw that now. Jibril, if you please."

"Ah, yes, as you will."

Jibrilfocused slightly.

"Once you do that, well, as we said--"

Rumble rumble rumble.

"The bookshelf moves~"

Behind that now displaced bookshelf was--

"Something that looks like a locked door. The key should be for that, right?"

Taking out the key he had obtained from Steph, Sora spoke leisurely.


Too leisurely.

Too leisurely, and too unceremoniously.

This must have been a mechanism the previous king had desperately planned

out with all his cunning--

With even Jibril being taken aback at this carefreeness, Steph shouted out.

"J-ju, just when did you figure this out!!"

"Like I said, the day s.h.i.+ro fell off the bed."

"......Nod nod"

--No wait.

Please wait, thought Steph.

"......Would that be the day you made me a dog, and challenged Jibril to a


"Ah, you have a good memory."

"That's trauma I'll never be able to forget even if I wanted to! More


--Steph looked back on that day, from when Sora had awoken trembling.

Steph had lost at black jack.

They had then proceeded to decimate the n.o.bles--then they had visited the


"Just when did you find the time to solve all this--!?"

"From when Steph called for the n.o.bles, in that hour I guess?"

Without any fuss, they had solved it in such a trivial amount of time.

This mystery--that Steph had brooded over for so long.

As if it were just to pa.s.s the time.

Steph was stunned, but it was as if Sora wasn't even aware of their own


"Well, that being said we couldn't find the key, so this is as far as we got."

"B, but master, a door of that degree, even without a key--"

"Ah, yeah we could have picked it easily, but cheating in a puzzle game like

this would be boring."

Sora laughed, and s.h.i.+ro nodded.

Right, this is all, just a game to them......

Loosening up, Sora coughed.

"Now then--let us go wors.h.i.+p the treasure books hidden within, ah, I'll

blindfold s.h.i.+ro first."

", fair......"

"Time is impartial. Please wait seven years."

"Haven't I been saying they're not ero books!?"

Sora turned the key he had gotten from Steph in the keyhole.

With the sound of refined fittings creaking, the door opened.


Even Sora who had been expecting ero books just a while ago.

Why could it be.

As one--they gasped.

All of them.

In there was a study, with no windows.

Alongside bookshelves crammed with books were sentimental accessories,

tables and chairs, all covered in dust.

But contrary to the peacefulness, something unearthly could be felt.

A feeling that one should not enter here so carelessly, which would stop

anyone's feet.

Sora cleared his throat, and slowly pa.s.sed through the door.

And looked over the book placed in the centre of the desk that was still


He brushed a hand over the unreadably dusty pages.

Just one statement had been written there, in a strong hand.

"From the king of the last of Imanity--to the king who will bring us back, I

leave this to you."

Sora painstakingly turned the page, and read what followed.

"I was not a 'wise king'."

"I could perhaps have been remembered as an extraordinary king. But for the

sake of he who is not I, that will bring a resurgence, I willingly take this

shame. With the hope that through the struggles I have encountered, I believe

that the path of the next king will be cleared."


Sora stood silent, motionless, and both s.h.i.+ro and Jibril who understood what

all this meant were likewise.

--Here was a man who had forsaken glory.

In a lifetime, he had wagered countless games with other nations.

The Eastern Union alone had been challenged eight times.

A man who had challenged recklessly despite the losses, seeking to uncover

and expose all their secrets.

--As it was, Imanity stood on the brink of destruction.

His own actions had hastened it.

Yet knowing that he had set out on a series of offensives, as if he were a fool.

Beginning from the Eastern Union, devoting himself to uncovering the

stratagems of the enemy, he was despised and reviled.

This was the record of a man who understood all that--

It was true after all.

"The previous king......had [not lost his memory]."

"No way, why!"

Even Jibril herself had not been able to avoid amnesia when facing the Eastern


But Sora realized.

It was just a guess--but it was almost certainly the truth.

"Jibril......a rich idiot comes into your casino. If you wanted all his money,

[what would you do]?"

"--I'd tempt him with games he just might be able to win, however many"

Realising thus, Jibril's eyes widened.

"The previous king dove in. Eight times. Deliberately handing over the land--

so that it may one day be won back."

But even if his memory wasn't erased, the Eastern Union must have sought to

stop him from speaking out.

Therefore, most likely.

"The condition must have been 'you cannot tell anyone in your lifetime......"

Meaning--[after death] was not included......

And so. With a body unable to use magic like the elves.

He was the only one who had grasped the contents of an unrecordable game.

"----[The next king, will be Imanity's strongest gambler]......was it."


Sora muttered the will of the late king, and s.h.i.+ro also understood the intent.

He--probably had known.

He had made the gamble despite knowing that other countries would

definitely send their own agents.

Even so--he had calculated that the one who would overcome all and be

crowned, would be a 'person'.

Because of the interference of other countries, he could only pretend to be a

loser and leave this record for those who would follow.

Having concluded that if he fought straight up he could not win, he instead

kept this immaculate record.


"W, what?"

Perhaps not understanding the situation, Steph was confused at Sora's serious


"......Your, the [late king].......was without a doubt [your


Sora recalled how Steph, in order to figure out their tricks, had bet even her


He had been held in contempt by every other nation, and even his own


Yet he had continued to play the fool, and devoted himself to understanding.

Within his heart, he had prepared himself to the uttermost.

Without ever losing belief in the 'king who will bring us back'--was this faith in

the human race?

He had been betting.

That from humans, the lowest of the low, would emerge one able to

overwhelm all the others.

The possibility was almost zero, but he believed in the possibility that wasn't


Fame, glory, praise......a fulfilling life.

For the sake of final victory, he had lived a life of defeat and shame.

The siblings who had been entrusted as the 'king who will bring us back'

simply stood.

Looking down at his s.h.i.+rt which read [I ♥ Humans], Sora spoke.

"Hey Jibril, for a guy like this to have existed--it's unbearable right?"

"......I, guess so."

She felt she could see a glimpse of what her master believed in.

Jibril, in order to change her perception, closed her eyes.

Sora took out his mobile, and opened the task scheduler.

He tapped his fingers.

Without a doubt, what he had written was:

"Objective- absolute conquest of the Eastern Union"

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