Ao no Kiseki Short Stories
Lloyd’s Chapter (Part 2)
The Crossbell Public Library is the largest library in the autonomous state of Crossbell.
Located in a stately building in the administrative district, it boasts an impressive collection of books of all kinds. True to Crossbell’s reputation as an international trade hub, this library possesses books from all over the continent. It even has a wealth of hard to come by literature from the Far East, making it a drool-inducing resource for researchers.
It was in this library that Lloyd, Oscar, and Wendy set out to learn more about the mysterious bullet.
As libraries aren’t the most exciting place for kids to hang out, they didn’t have much experience going here. As a result, Lloyd and Oscar ended up looking like wide-eyed tourists, in awe at the magnitude of books around them.
“Hey, settle down you two. Come over here.”
Of the three of them Wendy was the only one acting like she’d been here before.
Wendy set her bags down on the corner of a long wooden desk, and wasted no time heading toward a bookcase that was considerably taller than the average adult. Trying their best to keep up, Lloyd and Oscar rushed to follow her. She began pointing to book after book with incredible speed.
“This one, that one, the one up there with the red spine…”
Turning around and seeing that Lloyd and Oscar were just standing behind her dumbfounded, Wendy snapped.
“For Aidios’ sake, don’t just stand there, grab those books!”
And with that, it finally sunk in that the two of them had brought along as Wendy’s personal errand-boys.
On Wendy’s direction, and with the help of a stepladder, they ended up gathering around 10 books. They divided the books among the three of them and worked through them one-by-one searching for the bullet.
However, it didn’t take long before this endeavor ended in failure. It proved very difficult finding books that dealt with something as rare as gunpowder guns, and the books that did mention them were mostly books about orbal guns that only touched on the gunpowder variety at the very end.
Wendy and Oscar finished looking through their books, and even Lloyd, who had been painstakingly combing each book for any mention, finally closed his last one, and shook his head. The three of them let out a sigh in unison.
“There’s nothing here is there… hmmm, we’d probably have a better chance at a library with a larger collection of engineering books than this one…”
“Surely if we couldn’t find anything here, we wouldn’t find it anywhere, right?!” Oscar exclaimed in response to Wendy’s muttering, exasperated at the idea of having to go to another library.
If there was nothing in Crossbell’s largest library, the only places likely to have what they’re looking for would be libraries established for specialists, like the archive room in Zeiss Central Factory. But of course, Wendy lacked the rank to get into the archive room, and the money to get there in the first place.
The librarian, who was walking by carrying a stack of books, shot them a suspicious look, as if warning them this isn’t a playground for children. Feeling slightly uncomfortable, Lloyd lowered his voice.
“Well, I guess that’s…”
“Maybe this is a counterfeit,” Wendy interjected. She stared absentmindedly at the bullet sitting on the table. “It could be a craftsman’s imitation, made at the request of an enthusiast. It’s kinda cool, I guess, but doesn’t have any value in the real world.”
Oscar, who had been sitting there looking ready to pass out, suddenly spoke up.
“Nah, I bet this is real.”
“I’m serious, this looks real to me.”
Wendy, frustrated, didn’t want to hear it. “Oh shut up, you don’t have anything to base that on.”
“Hmm, I’m pretty sure of it though,” said Oscar, unphased by Wendy’s dismissiveness.”
Done with this exchange, Wendy called Oscar and idiot and dropped it there. However, Lloyd, who had been silent this whole time, said something unexpected.
“Actually… I think Oscar is right.”
Wendy began to object, but bit her tongue. Lloyd could be a bit timid, but he was a very thoughtful person whose logical way of thinking rarely led him to wrong conclusions.
So instead of arguing, Wendy decided to see what he had to say.
“What makes you think that?”
“Wendy, if you were a gunpowder gun enthusiast, do you think you would want this bullet?”
“I don’t know, because I’m not an enthusiast.”
“Just think about it,” Lloyd inquired of the headstrong Wendy. Urged on by Lloyd, she decided to play along.
“Hmm… I think I would… but then it also seems like I wouldn’t…”
“But why wouldn’t you? This is a bullet from your favorite type of gun, isn’t it?”
“But it’s not real. This is a fake that doesn’t look anything like any known bulle– AH!”
Wendy cut herself off, comprehension dawning on her face. Her little shout drew more than a few stern glares from the people around them.
The three of them scooted in their chairs and leaned close so they could talk at a whisper. Oscar spoke first.
“Hey what is it, did you guys figure something out?”
“No one, especially not a collector, would want to own an item that looks like a fake.”
“Exactly. If you were to make an imitation, you would make it look as close to the real thing as possible. At least, that’s what I would do.”
A while back Wendy tried to recreate a watch her grandfather had made. Clumsy as her attempt was, she took great pains to try to make it look exactly like the original.
“Right. For that reason, I don’t think this can be an enthusiast’s recreation.”
Wendy still needed some convincing, however.
“But why is it not mentioned in any of these books?”
This time she wasn’t asking as a challenge, but rather because she genuinely didn’t know. Lloyd was hesitant with his answer.
“Because it’s not yet in circulation… either that, or it’s not supposed to be.”
“That would…” Wendy began to speak, but trailed off into thought.
A prototype, or a brand-new product. Crossbell is a place where all kinds of items cross through. It wouldn’t be too strange for technology in the middle of research or testing to end up here.
But this was a bullet. By nature this is isn’t something that can just be traded in public, even more so if this is a prototype. From that point alone, the odds are high that it’s connected to some kind of criminal organization or to a jaeger corps.
Sensing Lloyd and Wendy’s mood, even the normally nonchalant Oscar looked deep in thought.
“…Anyway, I think we should head out.”
On Lloyd’s suggestion, Wendy and Oscar got up to return the books.
When they left the library the sun had sunk considerably. In Crossbell’s evening glow the shadows on the ground appeared with a reddish tint. It would be night within an hour.
Lloyd, Oscar, and Wendy walked mostly in silence. They had more or less figured out the true nature of the bullet, but they hadn’t yet decided what to do with it.
Wendy came to a sudden stop.
“…You know that cat that’s always here? It was holding the bullet in its mouth.”
“You mean Mimi?”
Lloyd and Oscar answered simultaneously. They turned to each other, puzzled.
“Isn’t that cat called Mimi?”
“It’s always been Cinnamon. At least, that’s what the old man at the bakery calls it.”
“I always hear the old lady that lives near me call out ‘Mimi’ when she feeds it though.”
“Guys, does it really matter which name you call it?” Wendy interjected to cut off Lloyd and Oscar’s conversation.
“Anyway! Want to search for where this thing came from?”
“That… sounds dangerous.”
Lloyd answered seriously. He was normally down for some detective work, but trying to find the source of something as dangerous as this bullet was something he couldn’t get on board with.
“…I think it would be better to turn it into the police.”
Wendy turned to Lloyd, astonished.
“The police?! That’s a terrible idea. Those guys are totally useless.”
It wasn’t that Wendy had a special hatred of the police. In this city, due to corruption, bribery, and general negligence of duty, the police had a very low degree of trust among the people. Their incompetence had earned them such infamy that “Crossbell Police” was even used as a synonym for anything unreliable or useless.
“Even if we did take this to the police, they would just tell us to get lost. Either that, or they’d pretend they found it and take all the credit for themselves.”
Wendy’s words were harsh, but you couldn’t deny the truth of them. The Crossbell police were infamous for seeking praise without doing any actual work.
“What about the Bracer guild?” Oscar suggested.
Unlike the police department, the Bracer Guild had built up trust among the citizenry to the point that if someone has any hardship, or even some annoying errand that needs running, they’re just told “take it to the guild!”
“Yeah… the guild would definitely listen to us. But in the end, even they’ll send us away without telling us a single thing about it. At best they’ll just take it and then offer us some candy.”
Whether or not this bullet is dangerous, the Bracer Guild was unlikely to share whatever detailed information they may have. When it comes to things of this nature the Bracer Guild seems to operate in a fair amount of secrecy. If the bullet did happen to have some connection to a criminal organization, as soon as the guild figured that out, they would go tight-lipped about it. And that scenario would fail to satisfy Wendy’s intellectual curiosity.
“Hrmm, so the police and the guild are no good, huh? Oh yeah, what about Lloyd’s brother? He’d be fine, wouldn’t he?”
Wendy considered Oscar’s question. Lloyd’s brother, Guy, is an investigator for the Crossbell Police Department.
“Guy…” Lloyd trailed off. Guy’s team was well-known for working long, exhausting hours, and it was common for him to come home very late at night. Lloyd would often find him asleep on the couch still wearing his uniform. He works so hard he doesn’t even have time to make it to bed.
“Guy is… busy.”
That was the excuse Lloyd used to reject that proposal, but in reality, he had a different motive. That had more to do with Cecil.
Cecil is a shared acquaintance of Guy and Lloyd, and slightly younger than Guy. Lloyd had been developing something of a crush on her, though this was unbeknownst even to himself. For reasons he did not understand his stomach would churn whenever he saw Guy and Cecil laughing and spending time together.
Maybe if he uncovered the secrets surrounding this bullet, even Guy would be impressed… and maybe then, Cecil would finally notice him.
“Alright, then we’ll just have to do it ourselves. Let’s solve the mystery of this bullet!” Wendy exclaimed, getting excited.
“Count me in. Sounds like fun,” Oscar agreed.
They turned to look at Lloyd. If Lloyd backed out, they would have to call it off. No matter how much one or two of them may be itching to do something, without the approval of all three it’s a no-go. That was an unspoken rule between them.
“…Alright, let’s do it.”
Wendy and Oscar beamed in response.
If this does turn out to be connected to something dangerous, as soon as that became clear they could bring it to Guy. That way Guy wouldn’t be burdened with a search he has no time for, and they would be able to avoid any real danger. That was how Lloyd justified not telling him.
“So, tomorrow we start our investigation!”
“Okay!” they both responded, Oscar sounding a little more enthusiastic than Lloyd.
The three of them turned toward home with a spring in their step, their shadows dancing on the road ahead of them.