I felt my heart shudder. It was a really unpleasant feeling. I wanted the false minoshiro to stop talking, but I couldn’t get my lips to form words. It seemed like everyone else was in the same state.
“…it is impossible to say for sure what happened during the Dark Age that was the next five-hundred years. Infrastructure collapsed, and naturally, Internet communication was severed. Once again, the spread of information was limited by geography, and people reverted to living in a narrow, closed-off world,” the false minoshiro said cheerfully, as if this were wonderful news. “However, some new books were published during that time. The most reliable literature from that era, says that societies in Northeast Asia were split into four conflicting groups. Ironically, due to the sharp decrease in population, such segregation was possible. The first group was slave empires ruled by PK users. The second was non-PK hunter-gatherer tribes that wanted to escape the slave empires. The third were wandering bandits who used PK to pillage and murder. And last was scientists who wanted to preserve the ancient knowledge and technology.”
“Books, like the ones you mentioned earlier, the really small ones inside you?” Shun asked, breaking the silence.
The tension eased a little as the subject changed.
“No. Normal books made with the old printing method. Our library scan these books and record the character data.”
I stopped understanding what it was saying right as it got to the main point.
“So you’re with the fourth group then?”
“There was regular contact, but apart from that, we did not work together. Libraries exist to protect human knowledge, but were unfortunately the target of many attacks during that age. Because of this, automotive archive robots were invented. In urban areas there were once models that could travel freely through drainage systems, but their functions were destroyed by nuclear attacks. The only types that remained were the ones made to imitate living creatures, impervious to the elements and able to take in and create their own energy. Those were then further modified, until they were able to change their form according to their surroundings. The Autonomous Evolution version, like me,” the false minoshiro said proudly.
“Creating your own energy…so what do you eat?” Mamoru lifted his head.
“Animals of the appropriate size. Organisms like microbes can be consumed and digested as is. Or, when the opportunity arises, I can catch small mammals and suck their blood.”
Just imagining that was disgusting. I turned away from the false minoshiro.
“…then what? What happened between the Dark Age and now?” Shun returned to the original topic.