Sieg and Ruler, who had been chasing after Archer of Black, were also engulfed in it.
A black fog-like something had surged toward them while they were running through the streets, and engulfed them without giving them any time to run away. A mud-like substance coiled around their entire bodies, and all their senses were cut off, like when you’re about to fall asleep.
When he regained his senses, Sieg was standing in a strange place.
He was in an extremely cold city covered in fog. A heavy and awful stench pervaded the area. The stench of meat, the stench of entrails, the stench of vomit and human excrement…
This isn’t Trifas, Sieg judged based on his surroundings. The building architecture was completely different, and there were people on the streets. Though the fog smelled slightly disgusting, it wasn’t painful.
He noticed that all of senses were dull and muted for some reason, and that everyone passing by him on the street was ignoring him.
He began walking. He limped, unable to feel his feet stepping on the ground, as if he were stepping on a plastic bag.
This is an illusion, or a nightmare—Sieg thus concluded.
The problem was, whose dream was this? It wasn’t Sieg’s; this scenery was completely unknown to him. It wasn’t Ruler’s either. He already knew her true name. No matter how he thought about it, this place didn’t match the era she was from.
A cold wind blew by, seeming to permeate his very flesh and bones, and a crumpled newspaper floated down in front of Sieg’s feet.
He read the text on it—and understood everything.
From Hell—Jack the Ripper
This appears to be Jack the Ripper’s… that is, Assassin of Black’s dream. But where is Assassin herself? She… no, he? Which was it? Strange, there’s no way I could have forgotten that…
“Damn it. All the information about Assassin disappeared again.”
The way Assassin was able to slip away no matter how much they chased after her was truly superb. But this time, this time Sieg wouldn’t let her get away.
Sieg began walking in search of Jack the Ripper—but then his vision suddenly distorted, and an instant later, he found himself in a different place once more.
—Sieg couldn’t deny that, up until that moment, he had held certain illusions about humans.
—He had only gained self-consciousness a few days ago and, even if he had knowledge, he had no experience, so it was hard to say that he had understood how deep the evil deeds of humans went.
—Most of all, the fact that he was blessed with the people surrounding him being Heroic Spirits, those who were heroes in the past, had the biggest effect on his view of things.
—The world is beautiful. How many sacrifices had people made in order to speak those words? Sieg still hadn’t comprehended that.
Laugh, laugh, laugh.
This place is the lowest plane of the world. This is none other than Cocytus, the very bottom of hell. Of course, I don’t know if there’s actually a hell. I know nothing of such things.
Visitors here come to understand just one thing. ‘This place is definitely hell.’ London, Whitechapel, a great human meat processing plant. It’s a nest of Jorougumo1 where escape if impossible if you fall down into it.
This place is packed with everything within Pandora’s Box, except for hope. All kinds of disasters, all kinds of despair, continually flux, converge and rain down like dirty mud here.
Prostitutes who are like monstrous creatures both without and within sell their bodies, and shelve the money they earn by selling the life they were born with.
Treatment, treatment, treatment, treatment.
Blood flowed in a river. The factories are discharging waste anyways, so it’s no big deal if we increase the protein.
It’s truly no big deal. No problem at all. If you consider the size of the world’s great flow, this is just a little smidge of dirty mud.
Hands protrude from that dirty mud, and monsters are born.
That’s why this place is hell, purgatory, the corrupt city of Babylon where inhuman monsters live.
He watched a very young girl be violated by a large hairy man in order to get her daily food. He watched a young boy knock down the girl with a stick in order to steal her food. He watched the boy have the bread he risked his life to get stolen in turn by a cunning adult, and watched that bread finally arrive meaninglessly in the hands of someone else.
He saw an unborn fetus. He watched the people who had brought it into the world in an unchaste act of intercourse then dispose of it.
Children weren’t killed in this hell. Children were expended.
Thus, light gradually disappeared from the eyes of children. The world, like silk cloth, twined around their bodies, and they were swallowed by snakes without moving an inch.
It was ugly.
It was far too ugly.
If there was some great evil, he could understand. If there was some enormous, wicked villain—someone like that who ruled them, then Sieg would still have been able to hold onto his illusions about humans. But, this was a system. A bad debt that was created when humans built and developed a city. Or perhaps it was just pus.
No one was blamed and denounced. No one was saved. No, saving anyone here was impossible. The act of salvation itself wasn’t acknowledged by the system.
Sieg trembled and kneeled down on the ground. He had been on the verge of death many times up until now, but those times were all cases of bodily death. But the sight of this was killing Sieg’s heart.
“Stop it… Please, I’m begging you, stop it!”
His illusions were contaminated and the scene that should have been beautiful grew faded and dull.
“—Yes. That’s right.”
When he came to his sense, his surroundings had changed once more. There was thick fog in the air, blocking out all moonlight… It was a truly chilly night. Whose voice was that just now?—Sieg wondered as he looked around, and finally noticed.
Sieg was standing alone on a deserted street somewhere.
Sieg resolutely questioned the voice. He saw a shadow move in an alleyway. He chased after it without hesitation.
At the dead-end of the back alley, there stood a girl in tattered clothing.
For some reason, he knew who she was—she was Jack the Ripper.
“I’ll ask you again. What’s right?”
The girl replied in a strangely distorted voice.
“The world is ugly.”
Hearing a rustling sound behind him, Sieg turned around—and there too stood a girl in tattered clothing. That girl opened her mouth.
“That’s why we wanted to go back.”
“…Go back where?”
Another rustle. This time, it came from above—and walking casually on a building’s wall was another girl in tattered clothing.
“Back inside mother’s belly.”
Another one appeared. Every one of them looked at Sieg with hollow eyes.
“We wanted to go back.”
“We wanted to go back.”
“We just wanted to go back inside mother’s belly.”
“So why? Why is everyone so mean to us?”
“We wanted to be saved. So why did no one save us?”
“Were we bad?”
“Were we hated?”
Sieg couldn’t give an adequate answer to those questions. The premise of ‘wanting to live’ did not exist for these girls.
The girls grabbed Sieg’s arms. The girls melted while smiling with tears falling from their eyes and permeated inside of Sieg.
“The world—is so very ugly. We know that. Despite that, do you still want to live?”
Those words… dealt the most fatal wound of all to the heart of the boy who did not yet know the world.
(1) Jorougumo: a spider monster/spirit in Japanese myth. More details here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jorōgumo