The next day, Shin and Schnee prepared to join Tiera and decided to visit their acquaintances in Erkunt to inform them of their imminent departure. In other countries, they would have left immediately, but in Erkunt they had made many acquaintances , from the king to former players.
Shin first informed the guild that they would leave on a journey, as to not be reprimanded again. Then, they headed to the institute of magic to meet Hilamee. Being former players, they decided to keep in contact in case anything happened. Just then, Luxuria arrived: she had somehow caught wind of Shin’s departure.
“You’re going already? You could take it easy a little longer…”
Luxuria grabbed Shin’s right hand and brought it to her chest, looking up at him with pleading eyes. While she didn’t state it outright, it was clear that she wished for him to stay there forever.
“My comrades contacted me, looks like they got involved in something troublesome. We’re in the same party, so I can’t ignore them, can I?”
Shin spoke while slowly removing his hand from Luxuria’s grip, thinking that her gaze alone would be enough to make any Chosen One fall for her.
The fact that Tiera sent him a message meant that his assistance was needed.
“We plan to leave right after we’ve said our goodbyes.”
“That’s really sudden…”
“It can’t be helped. Ms. Luxuria, you should know when to give up.”
Masakado, who had joined them in Erkunt just a few days before, was rather dejected. Hilamee agreed with Shin and tried to appease Luxuria, but she didn’t hide the fact that she felt lonely as well.
For former players that knew of the game era and the current era, they couldn’t help but hope for Shin to be in the same country, if possible.
“I’m a former devil, of course I don’t know that.”
Luxuria herself knew that it was impossible to keep Shin there. She wasn’t acting, she really felt lonely.
“…well, it can’t be helped, can it. I’d like to go with you, but I grew fond of this place, so that won’t do either.”
Luxuria had grown quite attached to her title of health officer of the institute of magic. Masakado added: now that she was an angel, the infirmary had gained a divine-like atmosphere.
“I didn’t do anything special though.”
“Why not use the chance to behave more angel-like too?”
“If you mean that you like the well-behaved type better, I’ll think about it.”
Luxuria talked while looking at Schnee and Shin raised his hands in surrender. He just meant to crack a joke but felt that any more banter wouldn’t sound like a joke at this point.
“In any case…thank you both for everything. If you ever come around here again, please visit. You will always be welcome.”
“Next time visit when I’m here too!”
Shin and Schnee still had places to visit, so Hilamee and Masakado prompted them to go. At the rate they were going, they wouldn’t ever stop talking, so Shin gladly took the cue.
“It’s a pity, but I very much look forward to seeing you again…”
Luxuria finally gave up and said her goodbyes. Before Shin could reply, though, she went up to him and whispered:
“That thing you gave me after the battle…makes me feel like I’m always being embraced by you, so it’ll do for a while. But next time, you’ll have to keep me warm yourself, okay?”
Shin hurriedly closed Luxuria’s mouth, but it was too late: the bomb had already been dropped. Hilamee and Masakado tilted their heads, as they hadn’t heard clearly, but Schnee was next to Shin, so she had to have heard everything.
Shin, slowly and timidly, turned towards her, but found her smiling as usual.
(She’s the same as always…chillingly so.)
Shin understood well how terrifying it was for her to remain unchanged. He wasn’t inferior to her in terms of ability, but he definitely couldn’t win against her as far as their relationship’s power balance went.
“Well, Shin? We should go soon, or we won’t be able to depart before the sun sets.”
“Y-yeah, you’re right. So, see you guys. If anything bad happens, don’t hesitate to contact us.”
Egged on by Schnee’s smile, Shin quickly left the institute. The remaining locations were the royal castle, where Sherlene and the others were, and Vulcan’s workshop. They hadn’t met Lecus and the other students, but, because of Avaritia’s attack, many inquiries and messengers were keeping them busy, so they couldn’t move freely.
Since there was no other way, Shin left a letter and some items as parting gifts for them.
“I see, so you’re leaving. It’s a pity…sir Namsaar wanted to thank you in person too.”
“My comrades requested my help, after all. I’m glad that Namsaar recovered, though.”
Sherlene said that Namsaar had regained consciousness and was gradually recovering, though he still struggled to move on his own. After waking up, he had apparently said that he would take responsibility for the incident and step down from his position as leader of the knights.
King Kreunzeit, however, pressured him to earn more accomplishments to cover for this failure and stopped him. Shin and Schnee said that if Namsaar stepped down, there would not be much difference between Sherlene and Fagall, so he resolved to strive more to fight for the country.
The problem was that there was no one skilled enough to succeed him. That was how important Namsaar and the two Heroes were for Erkunt.
“Then, we will be going now. Thank you for finding the time to meet us.
Shin and Schnee had arrived during training, so they kept their farewell brief.
Sherlene and Fagall thought of stopping them, but after hearing that Shin’s comrades needed his assistance, they couldn’t. They saw Shin and Schnee off with bitter smiles.
Shin thought that if he lingered in the royal castle he could get involved in something troublesome, so they left quickly. Disappearing without a word would be disrespectful, so he visited the people he knew more, but he didn’t have much time to spare.
Soon enough, Shin and Schnee reached the next destination, the workshop that had become quite familiar by then.
Vaal was at the reception desk with about three other dwarves nearby. Based on past experiences, it was clear that they were there hoping to catch a glimpse of Schnee.
“Good day, Shin, Yuki—are you in a hurry, perhaps?”
“Wow, keen eye as usual. Yeah, we’ve got some urgent business to take care of, so we have to leave right away, but it felt wrong to do so without a word, so we came.”
“That’s a pity. I’m sure the boss will say the same too.”
The dwarves reacted to Shin’s words with evident disappointment.
“Where’s the boss?”
“He went to a craftsmen’s meeting. The situation has improved, but the city still needs rebuilding. When will you depart?”
“That’s a shame, we have to leave today. It’s faster if we run instead of using a horse carriage, so we don’t need to make any preparations.”
Vaal didn’t expect them to leave the same day as the visit, so he was very surprised.
“That’s why we’re in a hurry. Please tell Vulcan that I’m looking forward to talking about smithing with him the next time we come.”
“…understood. Please take care.”
Shin and Schnee left Vaal and the dwarves and headed towards the gate. He was strangely impressed by the sight of the three dwarves, crying and waving handkerchiefs as they saw them off.
“Ok, shall we go?”
Shin and Schnee passed Erkunt’s gate, waited until they were in a place where no one could see them, and then started running. They used 【Hiding】 at the same time, so they could go as fast as they wanted without worrying about being seen.
Their destination was the elf village called 『Lanapacea』. Shin had never heard of it, but Schnee said to have been there before.
“The resurrection of the World Tree…according to Tiera’s message, it isn’t completely dried up, so hopefully we can do something.”
“That’s right. Personally, I’m more worried about Tiera.”
“About Tiera? What do you mean?”
Schnee’s tone and expression gave Shin a very bad feeling.
“The Lanapacea village is Tiera’s hometown. I believe that is the reason why, as she wrote in the message, things aren’t progressing well.”
Shin recalled the image he had seen of Tiera holding the remains of a woman, weeping loudly.
“Tiera is an adult now, so maybe there is no reason to worry…but please keep it in mind, just in case.”
Schnee didn’t seem to be all that worried about any potential issues. After all, Tiera had always been together with Schnee since losing her homeland. They had lived together far longer than Shin had.
Shin nodded, thinking that her judgement could be trusted more than his.
After all, hundreds of years had gone by, so it wouldn’t be strange if they had come to an agreement.
“Anyway, she was teleported next to her hometown…it feels like it was intended.”
Shin noticed that he had never heard the name of Tiera’s hometown before. Her message didn’t mention it either and he wasn’t aware of the circumstances surrounding Tiera after she was cursed.
Shin thought that it was probably tied to her particular status as Priestess of the World Tree.
Other than Yuzuha and Kagerou, the experienced Shibaid was with her too. If something truly dangerous happened, he would surely contact them via Mind Chat. The message didn’t describe their situation in detail, but it looked like they were stuck at an impasse. In order to break through it, Shin’s assistance was needed.
“Anyway, let’s hurry while resting when we can.”
They would take proper rest at night in Tsuki no Hokora and use the remaining time to proceed. They planned to maintain the maximum speed possible, while ensuring they wouldn’t arrive at Lanapacea exhausted.
“Understood. Oh, there is something I must ask you later, so please give me some time tonight.”
“Okay, got it.”
Shin answered Schnee casually, but he had forgotten. Forgotten that, now that there were no immediate emergencies, he could not avoid being interrogated about certain things.
“The meaning of Luxuria’s words: being enveloped by you. I will need a thorough explanation, is that clear?”
What Shin explained that night and what happened next is a secret only Shin and Schnee knew.