SSS-Class Suicide Hunter - Chapter 148 - Prologue (1)
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Translator: thursdays Editor: Yahiko
The Great Library of All Things.
The shadows of the bookshelves overlapped, creating a complex net.
“I don’t know.”
The Constellation Killer’s voice wandered inside that net.
“It’s difficult. I can’t fathom it. Did I kill so many? You say that such a great number of people lost their lives because of me. It’s impossible to take responsibility for killing one person, but for the people of countless worlds…”
The Constellation Killer pulled out a diary with fumbling hands.
Maybe it was a trace of Kim Yul that was left. The Constellation Killer kept a diary even as he lost his memory.
“The Guardian Goddess, Old Man Hidden in the Deep, Follower of the Blind Eye.”
They were the Constellations he had killed.
The Constellation Killer quietly recited the names crossed out in red ink.
“The Large Snake Born inside Seven Sounds, The Stork that Serenades the Cosmos, The Witch Who Dies at Morning Frost, The Lion that Dreams of Endless Destruction, Poison Corpse Flower, The Moon that Swallows the Month’s End, The Yellow Dragon of Dynasty Lake…”
The names continued. There was no sign of an end.
After calling hundreds of names one by one, the Constellation Killed slowly looked at my face.
“…I don’t know. I have no way to know. But when I entered Kim Yul’s body, I felt his frustration with the world, and when I spat out curses, I felt the same as Kim Yul. I resonated with him. Kim Yul wanted revenge on those who had wronged him.”
The Constellation Killer was silent for a moment.
“Is that it?” he muttered.
“I, too, must receive the revenge of the worlds.”
The Constellation Killer closed the diary.
“The end of my life would not be enough recompense. Eternal agony. Those worlds would only wish for my eternal suffering. But mere suffering has no significance… What kind of suffering must I endure to apologize to those who have already died?”
I nodded my head.
Like he was waiting for me to call, the Corner Librarian stuck his head out from behind a bookshelf. His cheeks were flushed red.
“Welcome back! Unlike the previous Apocalypses, I, and everyone else, was unable to view the story directly. I’ve just hurriedly read the newly registered side story of [The Tale of the Ascending City]. Uh-huh, indeed, it’s…”
“That’s enough. Get over here.”
“Death King, you become harsher with me by the day…”
The Librarian feebly flew over.
“There. I’ve come. What would you like me to do? If you wish, I can—”
“Please hand over [The Epic of Lefanta Aegim].”
“Ahh… I know what I was saying, but did you know? The books I possess are all my holy relics. Of the numerous beings in the world, only I can create them. It’s difficult if you tell me to hand over such precious books like they’re pieces of fruit… But, of course, I will give it to you.”
The Librarian handed me the book.
“Your story is written inside this book. How you fell into a new world, how you met the Guardian Goddess, and even how you became Lefanta Aegim and the Constellation Killer. Your whole life is recorded here.”
“You may have lost your memories, but they aren’t lost forever. You can get them back again.”
The library became silent. The Constellation Killer wordlessly looked at [The Epic of Lefanta Aegim]. The Librarian exhaled softly and stared at the two of us.
He had understood right away what I meant.
The Constellation Killer had not.
“When you say [again].”
“Yes. Like we had glimpsed into Kim Yul’s past.”
“…From the beginning?”
“From the beginning.”
“You are saying I should look through my life, my centuries of living, from the beginning again.”
“What you’ve done, what you’ve thought, what worlds you trod upon, and how the denizens of those worlds lived.”
“Remembering is the first step to everything. ‘Don’t forget.’ Kim Yul staked his life on those words. You have to put down your life as well.”
“I judge that your words are right.”
The Constellation Killer accepted [The Epic of Lefanta Aegim] from me. To receive it, the Constellation Killer had to put away his diary again. Instead of the diary stitching together his disparate days, he held the record of his life from beginning to end in his hands.
“Indeed,” said the Constellation Killer, holding the book. “Simply repeating your life makes the world hellish. Does each person shoulder a type of hell?”
The Constellation Killer turned his head to where the director was sitting.
The director didn’t respond immediately when he was called ‘Class President.’ He couldn’t have. His silence contained a gap spanning decades.
“…Yes, Kim Yul-ssi.”
The Constellation Killer, too, didn’t respond immediately when he was called ‘Kim Yul.’ He couldn’t have. His silence contained a gap spanning centuries.
The decades that one person endured and the centuries that one person threw away settled in the quiet air of the library.
“Kim Yul thought that he wanted to forgive you, and I agree with him,” said the Constellation Killer. “I want you to accept the forgiveness.”
The director closed his lips.
The director shut his eyes. But was that an accurate statement? Most likely not. The director was not in control of his body. Rather than closing his lips, his lips were closed, and rather than shutting his eyes, his eyes were shut.
A pained sound, almost like a gasp, broke through the director’s lips. ‘Thank you.’ The director could say that. ‘I’m sorry.’ That was likely what the director wanted to say. But the director held back his words. What he couldn’t hold back escaped as a groan.
The groan wasn’t made of words but broken fragments.
But somehow, I could understand the picture the fragments wanted to paint.
“If I, a little… more……”
If I lived a little better.
If I had a little more power.
If I was a little smarter when I was young.
That moment, I realized something.
A tremor caused my body to jolt like a thunderbolt. The director’s tightly closed mouth, shut eyes, the backs of his hands that gripped the floor. His aged skin. The trembling of his arms. Seeing his whole bent form, I realized something.
The director was screaming.
‘What I have to prove.’
In this world, there were people who were screaming.
‘What I want to prove.’
Beasts mixed with humans in this world, and among them were people screaming alone, like islands, and somehow, the scream entered my ears and the sight entered my eyes.
I just wanted to be proof of the screams.
‘There is a person here.’
My infernal heavens.
‘A person is living here.’
Anyone who learned the Infernal Heavens Demonic Art, any cultist who preached the Doctrine of Shadows, for certain, without question, must have felt the emotions I felt now.
That was anger. Sadness. Seeing the hungry, the thirsty, the nine sections of life and nine types of death, they must have felt that [this cannot go unproven]—that someone had to bear witness.
I wanted to prove it.
I wanted to let everyone know.
I wanted to infix that someone was there, had existed, and bore a scar that nothing in the world could erase.
I wanted to express the director’s form in my infernal heavens.
That wasn’t all.
The dance of the children inside a burning mansion as they smiled at me. Preta’s voice crying to the skies as she held the bodies of a mother and babe in the middle of a town. The figure of my master as she brandished her sword in the snowy field she was named after. Raviel. Raviel—
‘I can’t let myself forget.’
The first form of the Infernal Heavens Demonic Art carried starvation within.
‘Now, I must embed my infernal heavens.’
First, the children’s dance.
Second, Preta’s scream.
Third, Master’s blade.
Fourth, Raviel’s sacrifice.
Fifth, the director’s silence.
‘I want to carry them.’
But could I do it? Me?
It was hard enough to carry starvation. Could I carry a person’s—no, many people’s lives?
‘Even if I have to devote my life to it.’
I was determined.
Meaning arose in my life.
‘Let’s prove that a person lived here. Let’s prove that a person died here. I will be the proof of how they lived and how they died. I will capture the cries of beasts and the screams of people. If they smiled, I will capture the vibrations of their smile, too.’
I wasn’t done here yet. Many things. My level wasn’t suitable for recharting the forms of the Infernal Heavens Demonic Art from the start—this was an endeavor that required tremendous effort for a chance to accomplish.
‘…That’s right. Let’s not rush. For now, I should do what I can.’
I turned my head.
Like that, I looked at our voyeur.
“Librarian. No, Hamustra.”
The Librarian’s shoulder trembled. The Librarian, who had been watching the Constellation Killer and the director while panting heavily, twitched.
“M-my real name? For shame! Please call me by my title.”
“Please make it so that the Constellation Killer can read [The Epic of Lefanta Aegim] whenever he wants. It doesn’t need to be about conquering a stage. Just allow him to view the world as you do.”
“Ah. Ahem. Mm.”
The Librarian wheezed and fell into deep thought.
“To do that, I must share my authority… I would have to make him an apostle. Hmm. Some Constellations do mass produce their Apostles without scruples, but I… Having Apostles is a little awkward… Should I say, it isn’t my style…?”
There was no way that he, whose epithet was [Corner Librarian], could make a subordinate or friend. He only ordered around weird servants like the bookmark maids.
“You don’t want to?”
“It’s not that I don’t want to…”
“He may have been formed by the Hundred Ghosts Reincarnation, but the other Constellation Killer is just a doll made with the [Puppeteer’s Parade] skill. Is there a difference?”
“Ahem, mm. There isn’t a difference, but…”
“Please make a choice.”
“When you say choice…?”
“Until now, you’ve loved the story of the Constellation Killer. But, to use your manner of speaking, the Constellation Killer’s path is now at a turning point. Two routes have emerged.”
“A turning point.”
I met the Librarian’s eyes.
“Route 1. In this route, the Constellation Killer has never met me. He has no memory of having met me. He leaves to hunt Constellations whenever he has a week’s worth of memories stacked up.”
The puppet route.
It was the route where the Constellation Killer followed the [Puppeteer’s Parade] forever.
Then, there was this place where the Constellation Killer and I met.
“The Constellation Killer now knows Kim Yul. He remembers, and he will retrace the life of Lefanta Aegim starting from Kim Yul’s days.”
It would be difficult.
“He will possess his body within the book and tread the same path he had walked for hundreds of years.”
It would be painful.
“In that route, both I and the director will be present. He doesn’t have to absorb his whole life at once. Slowly. Just what he can digest, one bite at a time. Resting on the way is also acceptable.”
But that was the Constellation Killer’s life.
And one day, it would become Kim Yul’s life.
“Choose the Constellation Killer’s path that you desire.”
The Librarian looked at the Constellation Killer.
The Constellation’s silence did not last long.
“Constellation Killer. And Death King’s fosterer.”
Beaming, the Librarian opened his arms toward the Constellation Killer and the director.
On this day, someone’s epilogue came to an end.
“How would you like to work as librarians?”
And someone’s prologue began.
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