We don’t have to worry about getting lost, but this corridor is way too long!


It is connecting two stars. There really isn’t any way it could not be long.

Stop pointing out how futile my complaints are!


We’re almost there, anyway.
Beyond that should be —


The King’s chamber?

Nageki stares at the extravagant door at the end of the hallway and nods.


All right!
Let’s get in there with a bang, take out The King with a clang, and knock down the lighthouse with a… crash!


Looks like you two cleared your half just fine.






We went through two rooms.


We talked to Okosan, Miru and Kaku… and Doctor Iwamine!
And we made lots of cracks in the shell!

Though, I still don’t think the Doctor is really with us…


Two rooms, after all…


Just like on the map.


I didn’t take any shortcuts, but I’ve only been through two rooms as well.

I’m afraid I have to go back, mon amie.


But we’re just a few steps from The King!


We’re still one short. I must have missed the room somewhere…
No doubt it’s the quail.

I’ll go find the last room, as quickly as I can.
My mission here is to get everyone out alive, after all.


And your status as a hero of justice does give you a better chance at spot checks than either of us!

Among all the video game jokes, a D&D one appears.


Yuuya will finish the search-and-rescue. I’ll clobber some sense into The King, and Nageki will destroy the lighthouse!
It’s the perfect plan!


Try not to hurt him too badly, Miss Tosaka.

He started it!


I was hoping to enjoy our reunion a little more, but we’ll have plenty of time for that after we wake up.

The King isn’t going to be like anything you’ve fought before, mon amie, and he certainly won’t be eager to let you pass… but, we’re low on time.  This is the best way.


Don’t worry, Yuuya!
Nothing can stand before Nageki and me!
Ours is a march of destruction, and no tender grasses sprout in the charred trail we leave!


…speak for yourself.

Mister Sakazaki.
Hitori is blind, and if he’s alone he may be scared.
Please, help him.


Of course.
Leave it to me.

Back to the mission, then. Adieu!

And as for us… into the hall of The King!




Comin’ through!
Stormtrooper Captain Hiyoko has arrived!


You have invited us here, and we have come.
We want to talk.

The King

His Royal Highness, The King!

014 king1

Hello. I am The King.


You rotten royal rapscallion!
Your silly fanfare and informal greeting won’t help you now!


The King asked, why do you look so angry?
The King is scared.


The King does not understand.
The King does not understand.
The King does not understand, and thinks he might cry.


Your Majesty.
We didn’t come here to make you cry.
Please, listen to what we have to say.


You won’t get anywhere talking to him, Nageki. He belongs in a mental institution!
He hasn’t listened to anything we’ve said so far, anyway.

Come on, let’s beat him up already!



Miss Tosaka, please!

Nageki glares at me.

I guess he’s right… our opponent is the undead lord of a dead kingdom.
Maybe if we talk for a bit we’ll find out something useful.


Who are you?


The King is The King.


I know that.
And it’s not what I’m asking.


The migrant said that this was a place where the souls of the dead wash up… the souls of the dead who have gone astray, that is.

He said that this “false star” grows by attracting those souls with it’s light.

Were you the one who created this star?



If you did, why? Why did you try to trap more people here?


…because it is safe here.


Safe? This place is fake! It’s a sham!
This place IS the danger!


I don’t think The King is evil.


Sometimes he doesn’t seem like anything but evil!

It’s nice, after BBL, to see how Hiyoko would actually respond in situations like this. I never thought before about how this is new.


The King just thinks a little differently than we do.

He’s doing all this because he thinks he’s helping people.
Isn’t that right?


Of course.
The King always acts with the good of his people at heart.


His idea of what’s good is too far away from ours, Nageki!


…that may be true.
But I still want to figure out his motives.
It’s not very likely, but if we can persuade him without using force, we should.

Tell me, Your Majesty…
Where did you come from?



There’s a soft tick-tock sound.

It was already dark when I awoke.
What time is it?
It must be past six.
I feel like I had a report due today.

Which one was it… classics?
Or maybe German lit…
I gave up on both of them ages ago.

“I don’t want to go out…”

Where did I go wrong?
Was it when I took the gap year?
Or when I settled for a safety school?
No… it must have been a long time before that.

The days go by, and I do nothing.
I wrap myself up in blankets and never go outside.
I hate myself, and I hate myself, and night is here.
I sleep until morning, sleep until noon, doze through the evening, and wake up at night.


At first, I would write, every day.
Not quite a journal, and not quite poetry, but writing.
I didn’t hate writing.
But one day even that was too much trouble.


My life was always boring. I never had friends.
Nothing good ever happened to me.
Whenever I would go outside, everybirdie else would sneer and laugh at me.
The world turned its thorny, unkind back on me.


I can’t do anything. I’m useless. I’m trash.
I’ve never really taken care of myself.
I’d be useless at work, if I had a job.
I have no redeeming qualities.
I think I would be better off dead.

My bed is a cocoon, protecting me.
I want to go back to the shell I hatched from.
I want to go back to when I was a yolk floating around in an egg so I can rot and die before I hatch.


I want to die.
I want to die.
I want to die.
I can’t take this anymore.
Why do I have to live, and study, and work?
Why do I have to deal with other people?

Working hard has never gotten me anything.
Birds had it so much better decades ago.
They were born, ate, flew, slept, and never had to think about any of this.

I want to die.
I want to die.
I want to die.
But I don’t have the courage.
I don’t like pain. I don’t want to suffer.
Someone, help me…

And just when it was the most painful, when I had sunk so deep into my depression that I could sink no further…

The gods heard my wish, and granted it…


A friend. My only friend.
I was useless to myself and everyone else, but the gods still showed kindness to me.

“Your plumage is so nice.
It’s bright and cheerful, unlike mine.”
And it wasn’t just our colouration, he was my opposite, in every way.

He was earnest, and smart.
He didn’t mumble when he talked.
But despite all that… he understood me, more than anyone else in the world.


“It must be hard for you.
I know how it feels.
It’s painful.”

“It’s not your fault.
Society is always telling us to do this, do that.
It’s like we’re held at gunpoint.”

“I hate it all, too… just like you, right?”

He alone understood me, and I alone understood him.
We were alone, the two of us, in the world.
The time we had together was the warmest and sweetest of my life.
If only it would go on forever.

And one day, he said to me.
“Let’s make it go on forever.”

“Come on, let’s die together.
It won’t be scary if we’re together.”
“Are… are you serious…?”
“Of course I am. I’ve never lied to you, have I?”

He was kind to me right until the end.
One night he came home with a bag full of medicine.
Medicine to wash us away, without pain, forever.

“Let’s go somewhere far away.
Somewhere where we’re completely alone. Just the two of us.
Where no one can bother us, and no one will find us.”


We left on our final journey, and we took the medicine.

“Aah… I’m getting tired. I feel so peaceful, holding your wing like this…
We should have done this a long time ago.”
“My pulse and breathing are dropping steadily… we’re almost to the end.”

“Yes. Just us, at the end of the world.
Time to say goodbye to this awful world, together…”

“I guess you’re right.”

The music stops.


“I was thinking it was about time to say goodbye to you.”

He softly stands up.
His warm wing leaves mine.
He steps calmly away.
He reaches into my bag.
He takes out the key to room 701. My wallet.
My ID.

I reach out.
I can’t move.

This is as far as I take you.”
“B-but, you said you’d leave this awful world behind with me…”
“Yes, what an awful world it is.
But I still have things I need to do in it.”

“N-no! I don’t… I don’t want to die!
I don’t want to! I don’t!!”
“It’s too late for that now.
How many times have you told me you want to die?
…you never really wanted to die, but you had to.
People like you are just a bother, hanging around complaining and getting in the way.
What an awful world.”

“I-it wasn’t my fault!
Why do you have to kill me?
Come on, please… this isn’t right…!”

“You’re right… I never really did want to die!
It wasn’t me… it was… Society did this to me! It wasn’t me, it was everyone around me!”
“Society, you say?”

“Help me, please! Call an ambulance!
Come on, please!”
“They won’t come. This is the end of the world, and it belongs to you and me alone.”
“A-agh… I don’t… want to die…!
I’m scared… I’m scared!
I don’t… why are you doing this to me…!?”

“You wished for death.
And I helped you to it.
That’s all there is to say.
…ah, please try not to throw up. It will just hurt you more.”


Someone… help me…!



“The King’s Picture Book.”


Once, there was a poor little quail.


One day, the quail was tricked by a bad bird and killed.


The quail was put onto the train through the night sky, along with all other birds who had died.

Where is the train going? There must be a terrible place at the end of the line.
The quail was so scared, and so afraid, it thought its little heart would burst.


But the train stopped, for a little while.
Apparently even galactic trains have to wait for signals.
The quail was too scared to stay on the train, so it jumped off.


There was a dark, dark room there.
There was nothing in it but a chair and a little candle.
There was no one else there.


The quail sat on the chair and cried.
Why did this happen?
It was betrayed by its friend and forced onto a strange train.
What would happen next?


The quail thought, and thought, and made a station.
Maybe if there’s a station, someone will come by to play.

The quail made the station, and lit the candle, and waited.


Time passed. Birds came.
The dark room became a beautiful kingdom.


The candle became a grand lighthouse.


The chair became a royal throne.


And the quail became The King.


Those who come to the kingdom become one with The King.

The King is all, and all are The King.
No one is hurt, and no one has any sad thoughts.


The birds of the Holiday Star lived happily.
Happily, ever after.

How nice.
How very nice.




Happiness is here.
Happiness, and nothing else.




The King thought, if everyone is one, none will be afraid.

So little by little, The King absorbed everyone on the Holiday Star.
And now we are one.


I don’t feel like I understand you at all, even after that huge monologue!


He’s lonely, so he wants friends.
But he doesn’t want his friends to quarrel.
So he absorbs them all.

You’re quite a storyteller, Your Highness, to use a few hundred lines to express what I did in just three.

In other words, this whole place is basically a cult of loneliness and crazy peer pressure!



What’s good about having everyone together, Mister King?
No one gets to play their own part!

If Okosan were here he’d say something like “Everyone is different and everyone is good”, Mister King!
And then he’d slap you!


Even now that you’re The King you’re still just a small, frightened quail. You ran, and hid in your shell, and now you’re safe in your own private kingdom.

I suppose you are right.
If everyone is one, no one gets hurt.

But there’s no one on this fake star but you, Your Majesty.
As long as you stay here, you’ll be alone.


The King said, it’s not The King’s fault.



The King was not the only one who wished for this.


The King

All who came here accepted it gladly.

Even the ones like you, who were angry at first.
In two days, you will be The King’s best friends.


The King

You are the ones who are wrong.
It is you who are wrong.
You’re not right.



The King

The King, and That King, and This King, and all these Kings, are so happy.

But you want to hurt The King, and This King, and That King.

Everyone has to be good on this star.
If we are not one, then someone will surely hurt someone else.

The King said–

Let us become happy, together.


 Part 7>