They opted to explain what happened to Zazie and the others, saying that they would leave for the moment.
First, they went to check Celciutos, using a teleport stone prepared for themselves, different from the one placed in Shigureya. The group arrived in the ship and quickly proceeded to its stockroom.
Shin unlocked the 5-mel tall door, which slid effortlessly to the side.
The stockroom contained items in both card and materialized forms. Some items were kept in materialized form simply because keeping stacks of cards in such a large storeroom would give it a bleak atmosphere: a pretty meaningless reason, honestly.
Keeping the items in card form allowed one to store them more efficiently: in each of the room’s sections, one for each member, piles of cards were stacked.
One of the storeroom’s functions prevented the stacks from collapsing, as all cards kept there were rare items and parts.
Despite the apparent lack of care in the way the item cards were stacked, they were actually piles and piles of treasures.
“This is impressive…even if they’re all in card form, I feel kind of overwhelmed.”
The memory-deprived Schnee commented after looking around the storeroom.
If any person skilled in detecting magic power, other than a player or someone related to one, entered in a room like this, they would either be completely charmed or run away as fast as they could.
“The storeroom in Tsuki no Hokora was also unbelievable. It even had cursed weapons on display, just like that.”
“Is that not dangerous?”
Tiera commented with a sigh, but Schnee replied to her seriously.
“It’s fine as long as you don’t touch them. All accessories that can create mental interference are blocked from doing anything too. If any weapon gets a bit too daring, I just melt them and send them back to the forge.”
Shin clearly stated that there was nothing to worry about, as he had done with Kuchinashi at Hinomoto, when he showed her his storeroom.
“I see, our lord is well acquainted with the usage of weapons.”
“Er…not just weapons, blacksmithing in general. Leather, threads…I’ve also raised my skills in handling materials other than metals. ”
Shin momentarily found himself at a loss of words because of Schnee’s impressed comment. Her words and expressions showed that she was simply saying what she thought.
When he first started playing, Shin tempered iron and Schnee poured her magic power in it, to forge swords. Though she did not remember her experience now.
“I’m sorry, but I’ll have to check the list.”
Shin returned to the mission, and, after checking the item cards in his section, asked for “permission” and started checking the stocked items’ list of the other Rokuten members.
He scrolled through the long list of item names, looking for the 『White Scent Nectar』. He checks each list twice, to be sure not to miss it.
First, he looked through Hecate’s and Cook’s lists, rich in vegetal-related ingredients. He then went to the other sections in order from the closest: Cain, Cashmere and Reed.
Contrary to his expectations, however, Shin could not find the 『White Scent Nectar』 anywhere.
“I didn’t expect much, but to not even find one…I wonder if we’ll be luckier in the other places.”
“We have no choice but to make an attempt, though.”
“Yeah, off to Rashugum then.”
Shin nodded to Shibaid and announced their next destination. The fastest way would be to teleport directly from Celciutos, but as it had happened when they tried from Tsuki no Hokora, it was not possible.
“Where is Rashugum now, by the way?”
“We’ll have to check with Vizzy about that. I’ll have her prepare some transportation too. If the Elder Dragons we used before are still available, there’s no need to make Rashugum come down either.”
Rashugum was always flying in the air, so if it was not possible to fly or teleport there, it would be necessary to make it land and start from the lowest floor.
It wasn’t impossible for Shin, but thanks to Vizzy and the Elder Dragons they could avoid such a troublesome method.
“I’ll send Vizzy a message and ask where they are. I’ll try to get her to come here or to Barbatos, whichever is closer.”
“As you, my lord, are the only High Human, I doubt she would refuse your orders.”
Schnee continued, saying that even if a member of Rokuten other than Shin had come to this world, she would surely obey.
Vizzy and Berett collaborated with Shin because they shared Schnee’s sentiments, maybe.
“I’m trying not to force people like that. And you can just call me Shin.”
“I cannot address my lord in such a manner.”
“Before losing your memory, you called me Shin, you know?”
“I have no such recollection.”
Schnee was steadfast. She wanted to clearly draw the line in their master-servant relationship.
Even when they left Barbatos, Schnee reproached Filma for her much too familiar manner of speaking with Shin.
“Schnee was pretty stubborn in this period, huh.”
“I don’t think she was so stiff, though.”
“What about me?”
Shin and Filma answered Schnee’s expressionless stare, laughing and saying it was nothing.
“By the way, my lord, will we spend the night here?”
“It depends on what Vizzy and Berett tell us. I was planning on thinking about it after lunch.”
He hadn’t chosen where to eat yet. Schnee said that she would like him to materialize Tsuki no Hokora.
“I’ll go ahead and prepare lunch, then.”
“Okay, got it.”
Spurred on by Schnee, who was eager to do the housework herself, Shin materialized Tsuki no Hokora in an open space. Tiera noticed and said she would help, so she followed Schnee inside.
Shin went to his room to write messages for the support characters Vizzy and Berett, as well as the former players Hibineko and Shadow. Afterwards, he went to the kitchen to check on Schnee.
“Even without her memories, I guess her skills are intact.”
Schnee and Tiera were making preparations for the meal.
Schnee had taught Tiera not only how to fight, but also skills useful for living, such as basic alchemy and cooking.
Probably because they lived together for a long time, Schnee and Tiera worked together swiftly and efficiently, without bumping or inconveniencing each other.
“Master, you once said that for cooking technique and feelings are what’s important.”
Tiera, not noticing Shin’s presence, started talking with Schnee.
“I can understand why technique would, but…feelings…?”
“Yes. You told me that dishes prepared with feelings for someone and dishes prepared with just technique had different flavor.”
“Is there an unknown ingredient to be added…?”
“No, that’s completely not the way to think about it…”
Schnee seriously reflected…in the wrong direction, and Tiera stopped her, disappointed.
Shin too nodded, hidden in the shadow of the corridor.
“Master…no, Schnee, what you put into your cooking were your feelings for Shin.”
Tiera stopped her hands for a moment and talked while looking at Schnee. On her face was a slight frown, as if she was enduring something painful.
“My feelings for my lord?”
“Yes. Shin disappeared, and even if you were told that he might not return anymore, you continued to wait for him. Ever since he returned, you were always looking at him. I am sure many things that I am not aware of happened between you, too.”
Tiera continued, frankly.
Thinking about it, Shin and Schnee were alone together rather often. Tiera had probably noticed it too.
“Back at the village, I was often told that I was slow when it came to romance…but even I could tell how you felt about Shin. That’s how important he is for you.”
“That’s beyond what I…I do not find it unbelievable that I might harbor feelings for my lord, but our difference of status is too great. I am but a mere servant, would my lord ever look at me?”
Schnee closed her eyes and talked with her hands resting on her chest.
It was simply preposterous: so suggested Schnee’s behavior.
“Oh, you were quite open in showing each other your affection. Despite……..what others might feel.”
Tiera thought to talk in a light, casual way, but probably couldn’t hold back anymore, and blurted out a complaint. She had said it almost in a whisper, but it had reached Schnee’s ears.
“Is that so. I do not feel that way as of now, but…it is the same for you, yes?”
“Ah! Er, I…….yes….”
Tiera was stuck in a long pause after Schnee’s question, but finally answered in a very feeble tone of voice.
After hearing her reply, Schnee put down the frying pan she was holding and, with a small smile on her expression-void face, hugged Tiera.
“You are very kind.”
“….eh? Er, I….”
Schnee hugged Tiera with just enough strength so that she could break free anytime she wanted, then continued to speak softly.
“After talking with Filma and Shibaid, I have concluded that I was rather…though I do not know if this is the appropriate way of saying it…well liked by my lord. If you are fond of my lord, this loss of memory would be the perfect chance for you to express your feelings and draw him to you. Despite this, you are trying to bring me back, in your own way…maybe because you are this kind of person, the past me saved you.”
“No, er, I didn’t think that far…”
Not knowing what to do, Tiera was squirming in Schnee’s arms.
“I’m sorry, my body moved on its own. Even if I forgot, it appears that my body remembers.”
“You don’t have to apologize! I’m the one who has a huge debt of gratitude to you, mas…Schnee!”
“You may call me master if you want. We must have lived together long enough for you to call me that instinctively, correct?”
“Ye, yes. Thank you, very much.”
Tiera’s last words trembled.
Shin did not know how Schnee and Tiera met. As Tiera said, she not only respected Schnee but also felt indebted to her.
After Tiera calmed down, the meal preparations continued smoothly. Schnee’s skills had not decreased in the least, so there was no delay.
The eavesdropping Shin, however, had missed the timing to leave. He only meant to check on them, but encountered an unexpected development.
“The menu is hamburg steak, right?”
“Indeed, nice smell.”
Maybe attracted by the smell of cooking meat, Shibaid and Filma too arrived and joined Shin in looking at Schnee and Tiera cook.
“Now that I think about it, the day I met Schnee again, we had hamburg steak for dinner.”
Shin mumbled under his breath.
“Hmm, might this be Tiera’s proposal?”
“I don’t know, but she was with us too, so it could be.”
“Food prepared in a special occasion…I wonder if it will trigger her memories.”
The three continued observing the cooking team while talking.
It wasn’t clear if Schnee and Tiera noticed them or not, as they continued working quietly.
Soon after, Shin received the replies to his previously sent messages.
“Guys, I’m leaving for a moment”
The former players, Hibineko et al, had not been much interested in the “Depths of Oblivion” event and did not participate in it. They added that they would research it on their own.
Berett said that they did not sell the 『White Scent Nectar』, but he would look for it.
Vizzy was back at Rashugum.
Incidentally, they had given Wilhelm a teleport crystal for the location near Bayreuth where Tsuki no Hokora was located. After bringing Hermie back, he had apparently used it to return to Bayreuth.
Vizzy and Rashugum were flying over the center of the continent: in her reply, she asked if she should head towards their location right away.
If she did so, she would arrive late at night. Flying with dragons was dangerous when it was dark, so Shin asked her to depart the following morning, while moving with Rashugum. Vizzy couldn’t see through Shin’s concealing skills, so he added that she should contact him again when she was close.
Just about that time, the hamburg steaks were cooked and ready to eat.
“Okay, I’ll go call Shin and…what are you doing?”
The meal mostly complete, Tiera started walking out to go call the others, but then she found herself face to face with Filma and Shibaid.
Filma and Shibaid were peeking inside from the corridor’s shadows, while Shin, behind them, was turning around too.
Tiera, her apron in her hands, looked at them and sighed.
“We were wondering how things were going. Hamburg steak, yeah?”
Thinking it would be weirder to just keep quiet, Shin tried asking about the menu.
“Yes, it left an impression on me too, so I thought that it could maybe trigger some response. Well, my cooking can’t quite compare with what master makes when she puts her heart in it, though.”
Due to the memory loss, Schnee’s culinary prowess had somewhat decreased. Even so, she was still an opponent beyond Tiera’s league.
Shin and the party thought that the possibility of Schnee recovering her memories through the meal were low, but still held onto this tiny ray of hope as they sat down.
“Let’s eat, then, everybody.”
Shin thought that Schnee could have forgotten about this custom of theirs, but she followed with everyone without hesitation.
When he pointed it out, Schnee looked at him puzzled.
“I’m not sure, but…I did it without thinking.”
This made Shin think she didn’t actually forget every little memory.
“How’s the taste, master?”
“Good enough, I’d say. No problem.”
Filma and Shibaid too commented about the hamburg steak’s deliciousness.
It was indeed delicious, but to Shin it seemed like something was missing. Tiera too shared his opinion.
It had been a while since they last ate Schnee’s hamburg steak, so it could be their imagination. Even so, they felt that there was something lacking in it.
“Can you remember anything?”
“…I’m sorry, not especially.”
“I see…well, I guess that’s normal. If it could return so easily, we wouldn’t need any items!”
Tiera was clearly faking a cheerful tone.
Shin then decided to comment in a joking way.
“If she came back like this, I would have to send messages to everyone all over again!”
Shin then changed to lighter topics, implying that that conversation was over.
Everyone else followed him too, successfully avoiding for the meal to continue in silence.
“Thanks for the meal.”
After eating, Shin and the party prepared for the following day. They had just finished a late lunch, however, so it was still too early to sleep: all members then spent the day freely.
Shin left the others and went to the alchemy room, located next to the smithy, to check if there were other items which could substitute the 『White Scent Nectar』.
He chose items that looked similar and were harvested in the same location, then tried the creation method of the 『Blessed Tag of Bonding』 with them. He stopped just once for dinner, but was cooped up in the room for the rest of the day.
“My lord? Are you still awake?”
Shin heard a hesitating voice call to him as he was drawing the essences he needed from the items. He turned around and saw Schnee, with a gown over her pajamas.
“What’s up? Did something happen?”
“No, but it is rather late, so I thought that it was time for you to rest…”
Shin thought that not much time passed since he started to work again, but it was past midnight already.
Similar to when he was called to dinner, when he focused time really flew by.
“I didn’t notice at all. So that’s why Yuzuha said that she was going to sleep.”
Yuzuha had been watching over Shin’s work, but then said that she was sleepy and would go to bed…as Shin just remembered.
“Please do not overexert yourself. Think of yourself before me.”
“That I can’t do.”
Shin answered immediately to Schnee’s light reproach. He wouldn’t compromise on this.
“That is not good. Please rest.”
“I will, after a couple more tests.”
“….if so, I will stay with you.”
If she left him like that, who knows how long he’d continue. Schnee realized this and sat down on a chair in a corner of the room.
She planned to not move an inch until she confirmed that Shin stopped working.
“You can go to sleep first, you know?”
“It is unthinkable for me to go to sleep before my lord.”
No matter how much Shin protested, Schnee did not budge from her chair. He eventually gave up.
“To your room, then. I will accompany you.”
“Wait, I can go to my room by myself.”
“It would not do for you to come back to this alchemy room.”
“I’m not going to…”
Shin’s words were not very believable after he forgot about the time, lost in his experiments.
“I am but one of your support characters. My lord’s health must be prioritized. I am nothing to be…”
“That’s not true!!”
Shin’s tone grew stronger.
He did not talk loudly, considering the time, but the will contained in his words did not allow Schnee to retort.
“Even if you don’t remember, even if you have forgotten everything, I remember the feelings that you expressed towards me. What you felt while you waited for me. I just want to answer those feelings. I can’t just not do anything. For you, I don’t care how much I’ll overexert myself!! For me, you are a higher priority!!”
Schnee was right too in a way, but Shin couldn’t stand it.
He knew it was one-sided, but he held her shoulders and confessed his feelings.
Maybe because there was no one else around, or because, tired from work, his sense of restraint had weakened. He wasn’t sure why, but he said exactly what he felt.
Schnee was in a corner of the room and couldn’t step backwards. He had her effectively cornered, as if he didn’t want to give her a chance of escape.
At a distance close enough that he could have stolen her lips if he wanted, after this kind of confession even Schnee couldn’t maintain her expressionless face.
“I, I…understand…you’re…too close…”
“Ah…I’m…I’m sorry. I kind of lost control there…”
Schnee blushed and whispered, looking down. Shin quickly put more distance between them.
“…ahem. My lord, I think I have fully grasped how you feel towards the past me. And because of that, I urge you to take care of yourself first. If the me before memory loss knew that you pushed yourself too hard for her sake, she would surely blame herself.”
“Yeah…you’re right. I won’t push myself too hard.”
“Please do. Well then, good night.”
Schnee bowed lightly and returned to her room. She seemed to have given up on taking Shin back to his quarters.
Shin looked at her quickly walking away, then headed to his room himself.
Schnee left Shin and returned to her room. After closing the door, she leaned on it and slowly slid down to a sitting position.
“As I thought…memories are not… all gone.”
She barely managed to complete the sentence. She held her right hand over her chest, where the heart was, and tried to calm her breathing.
The present Schnee did not feel any particular affection towards Shin. As he was her creator, she respected him and did not have doubts about obeying him, but did not have any romantic feelings.
“To feel like this even without memories…how lost was I for him before…?”
Schnee laughed a little at herself. She couldn’t know how she was before the memory loss, but if her body was this affected, there was no choice but to believe.
When Shin came up close to her, her heart started beating fast like never before. Surprise and joy swelled in her chest, large enough to make it difficult to breathe.
How happy did those words make you? Her chest had become so burning hot that she almost wanted to ask the past her this question.
And because of that, she thought.
The present her shouldn’t approach Shin any more than strictly necessary.
“The Schnee who should stand beside my lord is the one before the memory loss.”
The present her was some sort of mirage. She would eventually disappear. If so, she will be a loyal servant, obeying her lord, until the end.
“Come back soon.”
Schnee talked to the other her.
It looked like it would take a while before her body cooled down.