The next day, after making sure that the Cadaver Realm had not undergone any changes and that no miasma outbreaks had occurred, Shin’s group left the Black Priestess Shrine’s guildhouse to return to Fuji.
“If anything happens, just contact me via chat.”
“Yes, we’ll try to handle things by ourselves if we can, but if we’re overwhelmed, I’ll call you.”
They had already said all they wanted to, so the farewell was a short one.
Along with Kuchinashi, the Black Priestess Shrine members who had bonded with Shin’s group the most saw them off.
“Please take care during your travels. I look forward to seeing you again one day.”
“…I’m thankful to you for saving my sister, but I’ll never let you have her!!”
While Rindou Kotone spoke with words of longing, Suzune glared at Shin.
“Same till the very end, huh…”
Suzune didn’t forgive Shin and Kotone’s friendship, after all.
Kotone added that Suzune too was truly thankful, but being grateful for Shin’s assistance was apparently a separate matter from letting him have her sister.
Schnee, Tiera and the others also bid farewell to Ayame and the other priestesses.
The greatest number, however, gathered around Shibaid, who had held a training session for the priestesses.
“Wow, that’s some popularity.”
“Some girls even said that, if only he was free…”
“Dead serious. Finding a marriage partner is tough in this world too, you know.”
Kuchinashi sighed quietly, mumbling that she couldn’t let her girls marry just anyone. Shin felt a vague discomfort learning that there were connections with the real world in curious places.
“(It would be a big relief for me if you took in Kotone though, Shin. There’s plenty of ambitious men out there pestering us to make her their bride.)”
“(No more, please. I still haven’t given up on returning to our original world, actually. Besides, even if I were to spend the rest of my life here, I have Schnee.)”
“(She only has eyes for you, hasn’t she? She’s always looking in your direction, it’s really easy to figure out.)”
During the chat, it was then Shin’s turn to sigh. He told Kuchinashi that “(That’s probably on purpose)”. There surely was a reason for Schnee to act so openly in front of someone she had just met.
“Okay, this looks like it could go on forever, so let’s go!”
Feeling kind of sorry for the girls sending burning gazes towards Shibaid, Shin climbed onto the horse carriage. After making sure everyone else was on, he motioned for Kagerou to go.
The carriage started slowly but quickly picked up speed. Unlike the time when they had first arrived at the Black Priestess Shrine, they were now traveling on a road used for transporting goods, so Kuchinashi and the other priestesses disappeared from sight very quickly.
The carriage proceeded towards Fuji, Kotone’s voice trailing behind it.
The travel back to Fuji was completely uneventful. Monsters wouldn’t get close to the group in fear of Kagerou. And since thieves and bandits were routinely hunted down by the Kujou clan and the samurai affiliated with it, meeting any would be rare in itself.
The group stopped on the way in a large city to refill their supplies, but made no other detours, advancing towards Fuji at an explosive speed. This would leave all travelers and merchants they happened to cross paths with speechless.
“We’ve already arrived? Happy times really go by quickly.”
Kunitsuna spoke while looking up at Fuji, when the group got off the carriage just before Aokigahara.
“With a travel speed like that, it’s pretty obvious.”
Nodding to Kunitsuna’s words, Mitsuyo looked at the carriage, a bit melancholic.
As anthropomorphized weapons, Mitsuyo and her comrades were bound to certain areas. Normally, they would never be able to go on adventures like the one they shared with Shin.
“Now that I think about it, I was attacked the last time I was here.”
Thinking they shouldn’t just walk in silence, Shin talked about when he was attacked while traveling with Karin and Kanade.
“Oh, were you really? Was the assassin that fled part of the Rokuhara?”
“Could be. The ones who stirred up trouble have quieted down, so there’s no point in dwelling on it.”
When Shin finished talking, the group had crossed Aokigahara and reached Fuji. The mist shrouded the mountain as always, but posed no problem.
There was no reason to engage in battle, so the group proceeded while avoiding the monsters they occasionally spotted and quickly arrived at Kagutsuchi’s shrine.
“Yachi, we’re back.”
Mitsuyo approached the Eight-Headed Orochi, which extended his necks to examine the group. The monster seemed to understand her words, as the “shaah” uttered in reply appeared to mean “welcome back”.
“Hmm, I see that you’re back safe and sound.”
Mikazuki Munechika emerged from inside the shrine: she had probably sensed the incoming presence of Shin’s group.
“It’s been a long time, Munechika. —-Haven’t you gotten prettier?”
Kunitsuna immediately noticed that Munechika’s appearance was now different from the usual.
“Just like Mitsuyo, now I am a Shinuchi.”
After Munechika’s explanation, Kunitsuna — who had already heard about the process from Mitsuyo — was easily convinced.
“I thought that you would look cuter, like Mitsuyo does…but I see, your beauty increased instead. That’s why Mitsuyo was kind of miffed, then.”
“I thought that only appearance would change, but the armor did too after all. But Yasutsuna and Tanetsugu praised Mitsuyo too, saying she had become prettier.”
“They laughed about it, I bet.”
Mitsuyo, pouting, joined in on Munechika and Kunitsuna’s conversation. Her ponytail shook as she quickly looked to the side.
“That’s not true. We might be weapons, but our bodies are those of women. Decorating our appearance is enjoyable for us too. I too would be interested in looking cute.”
“That hairdo, however…rather than making you purely cute like Mitsuyo, gives a stronger feminine allure. The neck area, for example.”
Munechika spoke her mind honestly, and Kunitsuna added her precise observations.
Having an appearance more childlike or adultlike could influence greatly the impression given to others.
“Kh, I can’t deny that…”
Regardless of what she said, Munechika had just lightly tied her hair, but still emanated a sensual charm that made it difficult to believe that she was wearing armor. Mitsuyo’s shoulders dropped.
“—-look at them, they’re sure having fun.”
“Hmm, their comrade came back safe. Of course they’d feel elated.”
Filma and Shibaid smiled while looking at the reunited Blades’ playful exchanges.
Nestled on top of Juzumaru Tanetsugu’s head, Kagutsuchi — now in chick mode — cried with its wings spread out. In response, Yuzuha raised her tail from her position on Shin’s head. The two descended from the respective heads they were on and initiated some sort of conversation.
Shin and Tanetsugu looked at each other and laughed wryly.
“Everyone, I wish to thank you for saving Kunitsuna.”
The only one to properly express gratitude was Yasutsuna.
“Our task is over, then.”
“Yes. However, I have been saved by you, sir Shin. If you ever require my assistance, I shall be at your side.”
He was probably serious through and through. Yasutsuna’s expression was firm.
“….hey, Yasutsuna? Don’t go hogging Shin for yourself, okay?”
“True, that wouldn’t be good at all.”
Munechika and Mitsuyo moved behind Yasutsuna in the blink of an eye. They each grabbed one shoulder, strongly enough to make a creaking sound.
“No, I had no such intention…”
Apparently, Yasutsuna was not receiving damage; however his reply was slightly confused by the developments.
“I’ll contact you if anything happens. Let me check if I can send you message cards.”
The Five Supreme Blades belonged to the monster, or weapon, category.
Shin knew that it was possible to send message cards to this world’s inhabitants, but was not sure if it was possible to do the same to humanized weapons. He thus tried to send a blank message, which was delivered without problems.
“I see, with this we can get in touch at any time.”
Munechika seemed impressed, but Mitsuyo, next to her, appeared frustrated.
“Ggh…why don’t we have any creation skills!?”
“My my, as usual you are full of surprises, young man. By the way, sir Shin, it does pain me to ask you this after everything you have done for us, but would you listen to an old man’s request?”
“I don’t know if I’ll be able to grant it, but what is it?”
Shin asked Tanetsugu for details.
“Oh it is simple enough. I thought I would like to become a Shinuchi as well. Seeing how Munechika and Mitsuyo changed, I grew interested, you see.”
“Hmm, that is true. We cannot change appearance as humans do, after all. Asking sir Shin to do even more for us would be…”
Yasutsuna seemed interested in the Shinuchi too. He had just thanked Shin for saving him, though, so he looked conflicted, standing next to Tanetsugu.
“I see, that wouldn’t take too much, so there’s no problem. There’s a Ley Line here, and increasing its defenses wouldn’t hurt for sure.”
Shin too was interested in seeing how they would change, so he accepted the two Blades’ request.
Kunitsuna too expressed the same desire, so Shin set on working on all three of them.
The time was already past 5 in the afternoon. The strong sunlight on the peak made it hard to tell, but the sun was already setting.
“I’ll make preparations for dinner, then.”
“Ah, I’ll help too.”
Entrusting Schnee and Tiera with dinner, Shin headed to the smithy.
He had already reinforced 『Mikazuki Munechika』 and 『Oodenta Mitsuyo』, so he had more or less learned the “trick” to it, more or less. Because of this, Shin was done in about one hour.
Shin left the smithy and walked through the corridor towards the living room, when about five mels from the living room, he found Schnee standing there.
“Did everything go well?”
“Yeah, I made them all into Shinuchi.”
“That’s good. I’ve made some preparations too.”
Schnee looked at Shin, somewhat fidgeting. He had no idea what she could have meant by “preparations”. He found it puzzling that she was blushing though.
Had something happened before dinner? So thought Shin, when Schnee abruptly started talking.
“W-will you have dinner first? Or have a bath? O-or, have…have m—”
Schnee couldn’t say it till the end, and covered her red hot face with her hands. She was obviously too embarrassed. Her long ears, poking from her silver hair, were blazing red too.
“Eh!? Wait a second, Schnee!!! If you say that much, you have to say it to the end!!!”
“I can’t!! I can’t do something as shameful as in-inviting Shin to….!”
After Schnee crouched down in embarrassment, Filma — who had been using a concealment skill — revealed herself.
“What are you even doing….”
Shin had noticed Filma’s presence, so he looked at her as to say, “I need an explanation”.
“I heard Cashmere and Hecate talk about it once. This is a wife’s proper greeting to her husband in your world, right Shin? A great welcome, to soothe the husband’s exhaustion while also encouraging prosperity for the family line!”
“I’m sorry for Schnee, who got all embarrassed like this…but that isn’t a proper greeting or anything…some people do say it though.”
Shin corrected Filma’s information, careful not to touch upon the wife-husband part.
He wanted to add that a phrase like that was only in manga, but he had actually seen his parents enact the situation once, so he couldn’t deny it outright.
“Really? Hecate and Cashmere really said that they would have liked to welcome their husbands like that, though.”
“Yeah, I heard that too. Hecate was looking for a partner, wasn’t she.”
Shin remembered hearing something about that during one of their offline meetings.
Rokuten members were mostly minors: Hecate was the only adult. As soon as she had found a job, she had quit being a hardcore gamer. For Shin, the impression of the real world Hecate was of a hard-working adult woman.
She was slender, beautiful, with a dimple near her eye. Her personality wasn’t bad either, so it was a mystery why she couldn’t find a boyfriend.
“Well, putting Hecate aside…Filma, don’t tease Schnee too much, okay?”
“I wasn’t teasing her. Without some stimulus, the relationship doesn’t progress.”
“Don’t talk about that here!”
Like Shibaid, Filma also wanted Shin and Schnee to become one soon. The difference was that Filma used a very direct approach.
“It can’t be helped, can it? If you disappear, then it’s all over.”
“….so you heard.”
Filma seemed to know that Shin was looking for a way to return to his home world.
“Though, I have no clue about how to do it.”
“And that’s precisely the reason why we should move now. If you find a way, it’s all over, isnt it?”
Filma was looking at Shin, but not in her usual joking way.
“Filma, that’s enou—-”
“Sorry, but in regards to this, I’m prioritizing Schnee over you, Shin. I’m sure you know why, don’t you?”
Filma interrupted Schnee’s words and pressed further. Shin knew the reason well, of course.
Filma Tolmeya was Shin’s second support character. She was without a doubt Shin’s support character, but her original position was supporting Schnee. That influenced Filma in this world too.
“I understand, once again.”
Schnee interrupted Filma’s words this time. Her powerful shout stopped Filma in her tracks.
“I’m sorry, Shin. I’ll talk with Filma properly about this.”
“Hey, Schnee! Are you really fine with th-”
Filma was ready to double down, but Schnee put a finger over her mouth and smiled.
“I’m all right. I have no intention of giving up either.”
“…hah, okay then. I’ll keep quiet for now.”
Schnee’s clear declaration, in front of Shin too, made Filma give a small shrug and nod.
“But, you know.”
The next instant, Filma took Schnee by surprise and stepped next to Shin, whispering something in his ear.
“Now I’d join in too, you know?”
Filma then kissed Shin’s cheek.
“Schnee, you have to do at least this much!”
Filma fled into the living room before they could say anything else.
To think she’d go so far…thought Shin while touching his cheek and watching Filma go.
“S-Schnee? That look is kind of painful, you know…”
Shin realized that she was staring at him and fretted. Schnee came closer, silent.
She finally took Shin’s head with her hands and pressed her lips on his.
The pressure felt just now completely vanished, Schnee gave Shin a gentle kiss.
“I can…do this much.”
She must have been nervous. After the kiss, she turned beet red again, as if opening a pressure valve.
“Le-let’s go eat! Everyone’s waiting!”
Not able to endure the embarrassment anymore, Schnee fled into the living room just like Filma had done.
“….what am I going to do?”
Filma’s concern for Schnee, Schnee’s feelings for himself…he could understand them. However, However, Shin had not given up on returning to his home world.
“If that wasn’t a possibility, I’d be OK with it in a heartbeat.”
Let’s go back — so Marino had said before dying. Her words were deeply engraved in Shin’s heart.
Shin himself felt a longing for his home world. It wasn’t just because he had spoken to Tiera about his past, but he strongly felt that he couldn’t just throw away the world he was born and raised in so easily.
“Well, I better go now.”
With a small sigh, Shin headed to the living room.