“Guess it can’t be helped it. I’ll just have to tear you apart bit by bit to get to the books inside you.”
“Destructive activity is a criminal offense punishable by law.”
“What should we do? Start by pulling the feelers out, then cutting it in half?” I said to Satoru, miming a ripping action.
“Hmm, look at how rubbery its skin is. We should probably skin in first,” Satoru leered, catching on to my plan.
“…documentation requirements have been waived. Beginning user registration process!” it said loudly, still in the same soothing female voice. “Will each user please pronounce their name clearly.”
Each of us stepped in front of the false minoshiro in turn and said our names.
“Iris pattern, voice print, and head MRI authentication complete. User registration complete. Shun Aonuma, Maria Akizuki, Satoru Asahina, Mamoru Itou, Saki Watanabe, query services are available for three years starting today.”
“Alright then, why are there so many toads…”
Shun covered Satoru’s mouth with his right hand. “There are a mountain of questions we could ask, but I want to hear the answer to Saki’s first. …do fiends really exist? What about karma demons?”
The false minoshiro didn’t pause for a second this time. “The word ‘fiend’ returned 671,441 hits in the database, and can be roughly separated into two groups. ① Creatures that have reportedly been sighted in the ancient past, frequently called demons, ghosts, ghouls and other similar names, that do not exist in reality. ② A term invented in the final years of the ancient civilization to describe those suffering from Raman-Klogius syndrome, also known as ‘Fox in the Henhouse’ syndrome. It is not confirmed to exist in the present, but did in the past, and is highly likely to recur in the future.”
We looked at each other. We couldn’t fully understand what it was saying, but we could tell that it was something we would never be taught, and something we were definitely not allowed to know.
“Karma demons were also discovered before the fall of the ancient empire, and was a common term for severe cases of Hashimoto-Appelbaum syndrome. Along with fiends, their existence in the present in unconfirmed, but there is a high risk of reappearance.
“That…” Shun hesitated.
I saw his face pale and understood painfully well what he was thinking.
We shouldn’t ask any more than this. The warning came unconsciously.
But opening Pandora’s box when we knew perfectly well not to has been human nature since the dawn of time.