“So it still remained…”
Marino’s gravestone was still in that private area. Shin had lost his composure when he saw it, but thanks to the gentle, warm sunlight shining on it and the flowers around it, he calmed down quickly.
“Is this someone’s grave?”
“Yes…the person that I loved.”
Shin replied matter-of-factly to Yuzuha’s question. His tone both included sadness and nostalgia. After hearing the answer Yuzuha jumped down from Shin’s shoulder and looked at the gravestone for a while.
Schnee, who was shocked by Shin’s sudden dash, had followed him. As expected of a kunoichi, even in while rushing she did not step on the flowers around the grave, just like Shin did.
“I’m sorry, I kind of lost my cool there.”
“This is, you see, a private area that…I mean, a particular place? Who would have guessed that Sety was here…”
“Is that so. You started running with a concerned look on your face, so I thought that something grave had happened.”
Schnee was honestly worried, so she sighed in relief.
A little later, Tiera arrived running too, but she had a hard time avoiding the flowers.
“No need to hurry. I’m sorry for surprising you.”
“Oh really. But why did you run off like that anyway?”
After Shin reassured her, Tiera calmed down and approached them while slowly walking around the flowers. Just like Schnee had, she asked Shin what had happened to him.
“I told you about my past and Marino, right? This is where I buried Marino’s avatar, and this is her grave.”
Tiera looked in the same direction as Shin was looking.
“…I see. Now I understand why you made that face.”
Shin realized that he must have seemed desperate and regretted it. It was too sudden a surprise, however, so he had momentarily lost his composure.
All the flowers surrounding the grave had gentle colors, which calmed the heart just by looking at them.
Shin had thought about this place after arriving to this world. Since the very geography of the world had changed, he thought that even if it still existed it would have been difficult to find. He had considered asking Berett to look for it, but being related to Marino, it was too emotional a subject for Shin. He thought it wouldn’t be right to bother him with something like this, so he did not say anything to the other members either.
“My lord, who is Marino?”
“I guess you forgot her too. Marino was my lover, and this is her grave. I thought that maybe she wouldn’t feel lonely here.”
After hearing about Marino, Schnee frowned, holding her temples. She stumbled as if affected by vertigo, so Tiera supported her.
Tiera was surprised by her sudden change.
“Hey, why did you three run ahe….hey Schnee, what’s wrong!?”
Filma and Shibaid had lost sight of Shin and the others, as they had run to the gravestone before they could pass the portal, so they reached their position only now. Surprised to see Tiera holding Schnee, Filma ran up to her, then Shibaid asked a question.
“I did not feel any enemy presence, but what happened?”
“Yeah, we were just talking when she started holding her temples like that.”
Shin explained what happened while watching Tzaobath enter the faerie village too.
Schnee recovered fairly quickly, but they decided to let her rest for a while, just in case. In the meantime, Shin spoke with Filma.
“Marino’s grave, I see. I get why you got all shaken up, but Schnee’s reaction was pretty surprising.”
“Yes. I mean, it’s a bit weird to say, but Marino is not with us any more. Even if she could stimulate Schnee’s memories, I didn’t think that she’d react as excessively as she did.”
Her grave was here…she was buried here, so there was no risk that she could take Shin away, or so Filma thought.
“Why are you all gathered here?”
Tzaobath reached the group after finally managing to pass through the entrance with its gigantic body. It was still at a distance from the group, as it did not want to risk trampling the flower field.
“Did something happen before I came?”
Tzaobath was large enough that it did not need to come close in order to look down on Shin’s group, so it noticed right away that Schnee was not feeling well: it reacted like Filma and Shibaid, so Shin gave it a brief explanation.
“I see. Indeed it does seem a particular reaction to having one’s memory stimulated.”
Tzabath noted that in his experience, after being affected by the cursed tag, Tzaobath’s friend never showed any reaction to Tzaobath telling about their memories together or showing items related to them.
“There are, however, many differences between a High Elf female and my friend, who was a Human. I do not think it wise to treat their cases the same way.”
Tzaobath added that it had never seen a reaction such as Schnee’s, but no one knew what it could mean at the moment.
“No need to rack our brains over this any further. I believe we should go ahead and create the blessed tag.”
“That’s right. You said that Sety was here, is she over there?”
Shin remembered there being only one building in his private area, a kind of shrine. However, a log house was standing next to it now.
Shin’s detection field picked up a nostalgic response: inside the log house, he sensed a presence that could only be Sety. Shin noted many other small markers were spinning around it: they were probably from the Tsumugi tribe, as Tzaobath had mentioned.
Schnee had recovered already, so the group decided to head towards the log house: that very moment, the door opened and noisy voices could be heard.
“Hey!! What are you making a ruckus for!! I know that Tzaobath brought people here!! Look at the fire!! I left the fire on!! I said don’t pull on my clothes!! Or my hair!!”
From the log house appeared a young girl carrying a frying pan, excited to the point of spilling its contents everywhere, pulled by flying creatures.
With blonde twin tails poking out of her pointed hat being pulled around, tears were forming in the young girl’s deep red eyes. Such an entrance almost made everyone forget that she was actually a powerful mage, Shin’s fifth support character, Sety Lumiere.
While she was quite pretty, whe was less than 160 cemels in height, so she looked like a high school freshman or a mature-looking junior high student. Compared to Schnee and Filma, who clearly had adult looks, Sety appeared quite childish.
“Keep this up and there’s no dinner for you today!! Hey, wait!! I said stooooop!”
Even her witch-like mantle and skirt were being pulled: Sety, irritated, started threatening to not give the little creatures anything to eat.
The little creatures — Tsumugi tribe members stopped for an instant, but then started pulling at her again. The Tsumugi tribe looked quite fancy: cute, deformed versions of human-like upper half bodies. Thanks to their lovely appearance their lack of fingers and dark skin did not seem creepy. In the game era, many female players and even some male players had requested to be able to use them as mascots and take them into their homes or guildhouses.
As per the game’s settings, they all shared their memories and did not have individual names. Because of that, using 【Analyze】 on any Tsumugi tribe member would show the same name, Tsumugin. It was pretty well known among players that when this name was revealed, a thread on the game’s bulletin board was opened: “Let’s talk about the devs’ naming sense”.
“I feel all my strength just melting away…”
“They’re much more active than usual, I suppose they have felt the cursed tag’s effects, that’s why they’re taking Sety to us.”
Shin had been taken by surprise by Sety’s unexpected entrance, but Tzaobath reassured him that they weren’t always like that.
The Tsumugi tribe was very sensitive to the Kishimi tribe’s aura, and vice versa. As Tzaobath said, that was probably the reason why they were pulling Sety like that.
“Let’s go, we cannot leave her like that.”
The group nodded and followed Shin towards the loghouse: as they did, the Tsumugi let Sety go.
“Geez, what’s with you guys, really. I know that the house won’t burn up just because the fire is on, but…eh?”
Sety was fixing her hair with a brush, holding the frying pan with the other hand, when her eyes caught Shin’s group walking near Tzaobath’s legs. When Shin noticed it, he greeted her very casually.
“Hey, it’s been a while.”
Sety had not noticed him right away, but soon enough she recognized Shin. Her pouting face turned into an expression of absolute surprise. She froze in place, while the contents of her frying pan started slipping out and falling out. The liquid falling out of the frying pan splashed on her legs.
“Ouch!! So hot!! No wait, my lord!? Oucchhh!!”
Watching Sety caught between surprise and heat, Filma and Shibaid nodded thoughtfully, as if hit by a wave of nostalgia.
“Was she always like this?”
“Eh, she wasn’t?”
Tiera was confused by the different reactions to Shin’s question.
“I understand the surprise, but can you calm down a bit?”
“It’s these little guys’ fault, for pulling me out when I was cooking. Why are you here anyway, my lord? You ditched us for 500 years, why did you even come back now!?”
Encouraged by Tzaobath, Sety spoke to Shin after a moment, as if her previous confusion had not happened at all. Her red face and ears clearly showed her embarrassment.
Her words, however, had some thorns to them.
“Well, there’s nothing I can say if you put it that way. Could you please at least listen to what I have to say?”
“Hmph. If you say that, I guess I could spare a minute or two.”
Shin expected her to protest more, but Sety just glared at him and scoffed, begrudgingly accepting. She was acting bossy, but the dripping frying pan robbed her of any dignity.
“Shin, who is she?”
Schnee, now fully recovered, asked about Sety, so Shin gave her a brief explanation.
“She’s my last support character, Sety Lumiere. She was created a bit later than you, so she’s like a little sister. ”
Shin also explained about the Tsumugi tribe creatures floating around Schnee.
“I see, so these little creatures gathered around me because the cursed tag was used on me. Now I understand.”
The Tsumugi had left Sety and gathered around Schnee, sometimes rubbing their bodies against her arms.
“Hey, don’t just ignore me like that!? And you, big sis, don’t talk like you’ve met me for the first time! You’re horrible!”
Schnee was puzzled by how the protesting Sety addressed her.
When creating Sety, Shin had played around a bit, making her call Schnee, Shibaid, and the others big sister or brother. Apparently those settings were still effective.
“Eh, you haven’t forgotten, right? “Our lord” here told me to call you lady sister, but that’s too embarrassing so I switched to big sis, don’t you remember?”
“I’m sorry, Sety. There’s actually an explanation for this.”
Sety started looking at the strange-acting Schnee with suspicion, so Shin explained what happened.
In the beginning Sety listened quietly, but when she heard that the affection-resetting item also deleted memories, she became furious.
“Whaat!? Does that creep know how my lady sister felt all these years waiting for master?? Unforgivable!! When we find him I’m going to burn him, freeze him, smash him to pieces!!”
Sety became so emotional that she used the “lady sister” name, despite how embarrassing she claimed it was. Her confrontational attitude vanished, Sety did not try to hide her anger, clearly showing how much she adored Schnee. Schnee herself, however, could not bear to look at her like this and stopped her.
“No way I can!! I’m going to teach Hameln that he messed with the wrong person!!”
Sety, however, was too far gone, so Schnee’s words just poured more fuel in the fire of her rage.
Thinking that she had to stop Sety, Schnee stepped in front of her, pulled her closer and hugged her tight.
“Calm down. Our lord and the others have come here to return my memories. I am happy that you are angry for me, but please listen to our lord.”
Schnee gently caressed Sety’s head while soothing her violent spirits.
The sudden hug had caused Sety to freeze, then shudder. A little while later, her arms and legs relaxed.
“Did it pass?”
“You’ve always been a bit too easy on Sety, Schnee.”
Shin was relieved that the ruckus had calmed down, and Filma added a comment. Maybe because she was the little sister of the group, Schnee had said that she always felt like hugging her.
“Now that I think about it, I was hugged too…” thought Shin while remembering what had happened at Falnido and Balmel. At the same time he remembered the softness of Schnee’s chest, so he hurriedly shook his head to dispel such thoughts.
“I do agree that it’s good that things turned quiet, but can you just leave them like that? I feel this happened before too…”
Following Shibaid’s question, Shin looked at Schnee and Sety. He felt a little envious of Sety, being cradled by Schnee’s breasts, but he knew that there was nothing he could do about it this time.
“Hey, isn’t Sety tapping master’s back there?”
“….hm? Now that you mention it, it does look that way.”
Shin looked at the two again after Tiera’s comment, realizing that Sety’s movements seemed strange, like a wrestler trying to tap out. Come to think of it, a good while had passed since Schnee had started to hug her.
However, it was a mystery why the Tsumugin were touching Sety’s body too.
In stark contrast with her desperate struggle, the little creatures performed completely fluffy movements and sounds..
“Oh yeah, Schnee couldn’t control her strength in her initial settings. Hey Schnee, she’s going to suffocate if you don’t let her go.”
Schnee let Sety go after Filma told her to, and the high pixie panted heavily, her face completely red above Schnee’s chest. She had tasted heaven and hell at the same time, like Shin had before.
“Hah…hah…I…thought…hah…I was…hah…going to…die…”
“I’m sorry, are you okay?”
“O-of course, I…wheeze.”
Sety was desperating recovering her breath, but did not blame Schnee in any way. She knew that Schnee’s embrace expressed her gratitude.
“Do you lot do this all the time?”
Tzaobath looked at Shin’s group with a sigh, and Yuzuha could only give him a short answer.
“S-so, my lord, you came looking for 『White Scent Nectar』, right?”
After recovering her breath Sety, still red because of the embarrassment she was subjected to, went to check her stock. Once again, she acted as if nothing had happened.
Lily Orchids, the plants needed to concoct 『White Scent Nectar』, grew in locations where positive emotions were strong or where pure streams of water flowed. The Tsumugins also cultivated it elsewhere. They too responded strongly to positive emotions and had the power to suppress negative ones.
In the opposite way, the Kishimi tribe could amplify negative emotions and suppress positive ones.
Such abilities had no effect on the players in the game era, but in this world things were obviously different: Shin made a mental note of this while listening to Sety.
“Exactly. According to the person who gave the information, though, there’s only a 50% probability of success.”
“Just 50%? It doesn’t work all the time?”
“Hey, I didn’t decide it. Anyway, you have 『White Scent Nectar』, right?”
“Of course I do. Or rather, with the Tsumugins around there’s no way you can’t find some!”
Sety’s tone suggested that it was pointless to ask such obvious things. Her attitude, however, was ill received by a certain person.
“Sety. This has been on my mind since before, but aren’t your manners towards our lord Shin too disrespectful?”
“Eh!?! But big sis Filma doesn’t speak politely to him either…big sis, you’re pretty different than before…”
Sety, wary of Schnee’s different atmosphere than when she was hugging her, instinctively stepped backwards.
“Filma is allowed to, though. Again, I am happy that you are angry for my sake, but that has nothing to do with your attitude towards our lord. I shall not allow any excessive friendly behavior without permission.”
“Eek!! I’m sorry!!”
Despite her smile, Schnee’s aura was rightfully frightening, so Sety instantly raised the white flag. Even if Schnee had lost her memories, the hierarchy was the same.
“I don’t mind that at all, and please call me Shin.”
Shin extended a helping hand, to which Sety nodded while stealing quick glances at Schnee.
“O-okay then…permission! I have permission now!”
Sety flaunted her newly obtained permission under Schnee’s stern gaze.
“Anyway, our first priority is the 『White Scent Nectar』. Where is it?”
Sety responded by beating her chest with her left hand, her right one still holding the frying pan, a perfectly smug look on her face.
“Inside my item box! Heheh, time to show your deepest gratitude to me for protecting the Tsumugins and—sorrysorryimsorryioversteppedmybounds!”
Sety was shot down halfway through by Schnee’s darting gaze and quickly apologized.
“Er…anyway, you’re a lifesaver. I’m really thankful.”
Shin calmed Schnee down, who was starting to make the mood tense again, and honestly thanked Sety. Her storing the 『White Scent Nectar』 was a real help.
“Here’s your 『White Scent Nectar』!……my lord!”
Sety materialized the item cards, prudently. Transparent bottles containing a semi-transparent liquid appeared in her hands.
“Turn big sis back now!…please.”
“Just talk like you want. Schnee doesn’t really mind either, see.”
Shin took the 『White Scent Nectar』 from Sety, materialized Tsuki no Hokora and went straight to the alchemy room. A few minutes later, Shin returned with several blue-rimmed white cards with patterns drawn on them.
“So this is the 『Blessed Tag of Bonding』.”
“Yes, using these should return your memories.”
The probability being 50%, it was painful not being able to say that the tags would definitely work. Shin wasted no time and decided to use the tags right away. He thought about using it and held it close to Schnee: the blessed tag then lit up with a white light.
Schnee stood still, her eyes closed. The light emanating from the blessed tag slowly traveled through the air towards her, enveloping her body. A few moments later, it popped without a sound and disappeared. A few more moments, and Schnee opened her eyes.