Side Story 2 – A Certain Scripture’s Pandemic
I decided to try writing a third-person story this time.
“So this is the problem book.”
In a room in a certain country, a number of people gazed down upon a book with black bindings that lay atop a desk.
“Yes, Your Majesty. You must take care never to touch it with your hands.”
The one referred to as Your Majesty was the king of that nation, and the people gathered in the room were also important leaders within the country.
Just the fact that so many people were gathered in this room was in and of itself a sign of the extraordinary circumstances behind it.
“The Black Scripture, huh. It seems that they’ve spread quite the troublesome thing.”
Their gazes were focused on the book called the Black Scripture.
Although, the term ‘Black Scripture’ did not refer to only the book in front of them.
“Just the ones we have been able to identify alone indicate that over a hundred of them have been brought into the country. If we include those unaccounted for, it is likely that they number a few hundred…”
The one who gave the report was the skilled man who was supervisor to the Court Mages of this nation, as well as the Chief of Magical Research.
As he spoke, he turned the cover of the Black Scripture.
“O-, Oi!? Are you fine with touching that!?”
The leaders in the room panicked at the Chief’s actions, but the Chief replied in a resigned voice,
“I have already touched it once, so…”
Now that he had mentioned it, they noticed that for a while now, the Chief had been limping as if to protect his right foot. And now that they had realised this, they all looked at him in pity.
“Please look at this.”
Behind the flipped cover were the warnings of the book.
According to the warnings, the book was a cursed item, and misfortune would befall those who had received this book. If they desired to avoid the misfortune, it was required that they transcribe the contents of the book, and hand it to another person, and unless they did so the misfortune would continue eternally. Furthermore, the curse would manifest in the transcribed copy as well.
The Black Scripture… A book written by the Evil God that was truly most wicked and foul. At that very moment it was making its terror known in countries where it had been propagated further.
“In order to avoid the misfortune, one must transcribe the book, huh. Then it is natural that it has spread this far.”
Naturally, in order to avoid the misfortune, those who had accepted the book would transcribe a copy and try to push it onto others. To not do so was the same as being tormented by the misfortune for eternity, and was not something anybody would accept. Even if they prohibited this, it would merely lead to a revolt.
“Is it impossible to dispel the curse?”
“It was impossible even for the Archbishops of the Church of Sacred Light. The curse that it contains is far too powerful.”
Having said that though, in contrast to the fiendishness of its propagation mechanism, the misfortunes were light enough to be called an anti-climax, and this gap had caused the researchers much puzzlement. The misfortune that a receiver suffered was randomised, and although the misfortunes differed, none of them were beyond the level of simple harassment. Even the limp on the chief was due to the curse of continually stubbing the little toe of his foot against shelves, and was not a particularly grave injury.
However, it was also difficult to say that this was something that a person could ignore.
Even the Chief had originally not planned to spread the harm to anyone else, but after stubbing his toe three times, he yielded, and pushed a copy onto the Vice-Chief. Because of that, at present, the Vice-Chief’s loyalty towards the Chief had dropped considerably.
“Can it not be stopped?”
“That would likely be difficult. However, there is a way to guide the damage in a more preferable direction.”
“It cannot be helped. At this rate, there is no option but to reduce the harm within our own country.”
It was difficult to stop the book from being pushed onto somebody else. However, it was not impossible to determine who the book was pushed onto. If they guided the harm outside the nation, the country would be saved for now, even without solving the root problem.
“It is likely that this will worsen relations with the neighbouring countries, but…”
“Of course, we will not disclose such a thing publicly. Hand them over to merchants leaving the country and the like, and have them independently carry them outside our borders.”
“I see. Then it will also be necessary to prevent them being taken into our borders from other nations.”
“Indeed. Prepare the arrangements urgently.”
“Yes, Your Majesty. Understood.”
With the King’s order, the leaders all began to act.
With this, the damage to the nation could probably be abated.
Of course, the countries that had the books forced upon them would in turn force them on another, and so each nation would suffer the harm one by one. The result was that the nation unfortunate enough to suffer it last would have nowhere to force it onto, and would be forced to push it around within its own borders.
“Considering the state of the other countries, it’s clear who the final nation will be, huh.”
“Your Majesty? Did you say something?”
“Haha, I was simply thinking that it may be time to reconsider our association with the Theocracy.”
Considering the flow from the country that produced this, the closer one was the earlier one would suffer, and the further away one was, the later it would come. In that case, it was not difficult to imagine that the nation with the greatest antagonism with the country of origin would be the eventual target of this curse.
As for which nation in particular, that much was already common knowledge.
While around the world, the Black Scripture was being treated as an object of fear, there was one country alone that instead saw it with affection.
The Holy Anri Thearchy; a newly established nation formed by a gathering of those who worshipped Evil God Anri. At present it was only a small nation that would be better called a town, but with each passing day, its influence grew.
To the Thearchy, the Black Scripture said to be written by Evil God Anri was truly a “scripture”. Every person in the country had a copy, and it was a virtue to proactively transcribe them and proselytise in other countries. Of course, because the normal citizens of the Thearchy had no export route, the copies would be gathered together in the Thearchy, and sent beyond the borders all at once.
Additionally, although the people of the Thearchy also suffered the curse at first, it was thought of as a trial from God.
And in this Thearchy, two buildings linked to the Temple had been newly established.
The first was the Orphanage; an institution for sheltering children who had lost their parents. Other nations had their own measures for orphans as well, but they were undeniably lacking, and so children with no place to go appeared no matter the nation. Gathering such children within the Orphanage, providing them enough food and a warm bed, and finally thoroughly educating them was the role of this institution.
Together with things like writing and arithmetic, the children gathered in the Orphanage were also taught from a young age the splendour of the deity worshipped by the Thearchy, Evil God Anri (although she was not recognised as “Evil” God within the Thearchy).
With strong piety towards Evil God Anri, as well as a vigorous education, they were also possible future elites for the Thearchy.
The other institution was a building created for the sake of transcribing the Black Scripture. The desks, chairs, paper, and pens required for transcription were lined up neatly inside the building, and at the back were people on standby who turned the pages into books.
This building was also the gathering place for transcribed scriptures, and gathered not only copies from within the institute, but copies from all across the country.
The books stored in the Transcription Hall were gathered and counted, and each month the number of copies was announced on a board.
The one who splendidly managed first place would be publicly commended by the Pope himself, but up until now that had never happened even once. The reason was simple – first place was being monopolised by a certain man.
“Hmm, I’m in good shape today, aren’t I.”
Unwilling to hand over the position of first place was none other than the Pope himself. As long as the position of first was being taken by him, nobody else would be commended. Even at this very moment he was sitting in first place, and transcribing copies in the Transcription Hall, but shockingly, this man was transcribing a different copy with each hand.
Normally the transcription process would be carried out while silently reading the original on the side, but when it came to this man, he had already memorised every word of the Black Scripture, and wrote from memory. In order to fulfil the act of ‘transcribing’, he did in fact have a copy there, but he was not looking inside.
Even ignoring the fact that he had learnt the contents by heart, he was writing with both hands at the same time. Such a feat could be called nothing but skilled, but as a result, he boasted a transcription speed of over twice the average person’s.
As long as there was nobody else who could replicate this feat, the seat of first place would stay with him alone.
Although there was the concern of who was governing the nation if he was doing nothing but transcribing, but it was because he was properly fulfilling those duties as well that made this so difficult to comment on.
“Pope-samaa, I finishedd one~”
“My, how splendid. Anri-sama is surely delighted.”
Boys and girls were sitting by the Pope and transcribing as well, proudly announcing their achievements to him.
With this heartwarming scene before him, the Pope gave a gentle smile and praised the children.
“I’ll go write one moree~”
“I might get first place!”
“Huhu, try your best.”
In addition, separate to the adult rankings was a children’s ranking that was properly functioning. Centred around the children of the Orphanage, they transcribed as a part of their upbringing. It was a ground-breaking arrangement that had them learn the teachings of the scriptures, while practising their reading and writing as well.
The contents of the scriptures were morals regarding how to live properly as a person, so it was nothing unsuitable for a child’s upbringing.
The amount of sweets given out were dependent on the rankings, so all the children assertively competed in transcribing of their own accord.
“Huhuhu, building the Transcription Hall was truly the right answer. With this, the proselytising will surely advance even further.”
In addition, had all the nations worked together and used death row prisoners as sacrifices, they might have been able to solve the issue surprisingly simply.