Feeling the warmth of sunlight, Shin opened his eyes. He understood right away that he was in his room, inside of Tsuki no Hokora.
As he pulled himself up, he noticed something silver next to him.
Seeing Schnee, sleeping while lying on the bed, fully woke up Shin.
His memories before falling asleep were hazy. He remembered completing 『Dojigiri Yasutsuna』, but he couldn’t remember what happened after. He only remembered the feeling of being buried in something soft.
After a few minutes of racking his brain, he managed to recall having entrusted the katana to Schnee.
“What happened then?”
He was concerned whether 『Dojigiri Yasutsuna』 could be used as a container. Shin’s senses deemed it perfect, but he couldn’t be sure unless Kagutsuchi confirmed it.
As there was no other way, he decided to wake Schnee and ask her.
“Schnee, wake up, Schnee.”
Schnee woke up as Shin called her name and shook her shoulders. She emitted a half-asleep mumble at first, but after noticing Shin was awake she sprang up to her feet.
“Ah, er….how are you feeling!?”
“Just fine, so please calm down. How long was I asleep?”
Staying in the smithy for a long time, Shin had lost track of time. Gradually, he wasn’t able to tell if it was morning, day, evening, or night anymore.
“Let’s see, you have been sleeping since yesterday morning, so one full day, I’d say. Kagutsuchi said that the katana you made can be used as a container. They should already be starting the transfer of consciousness.”
“I see….aaah, that was hard!”
With a big sigh, Shin dropped back down on the bed.
Thanks to Schnee telling him what he wanted to know, Shin felt as if a large weight had been removed from his shoulders. As he was now, he couldn’t craft a better version of that katana.
Focusing so completely on blacksmithing made him realize that there were parts of the blacksmith skill that he hadn’t completely mastered.
“It’s just time for breakfast. Will you eat too?”
“That’s fantastic. I’m actually starving.”
Shin nodded while passing a hand over his stomach.
He hadn’t noticed how empty his stomach was while crafting, but now hunger was attacking him in full force. His stomach would start growling very soon.
Shin and Schnee moved to the living room and found Mitsuyo putting plates on the table. As her eyes met Shin’s, she looked away for some reason.
“Yes, that’s right—–good morning.”
After that curt greeting, Mitsuyo disappeared into the kitchen. Shin’s head was full of question marks because of this reaction.
“Isn’t she pretty different than the usual?”
“Is she? To us, it doesn’t look like she changed much though.”
Schnee tilted her head to the side, not understanding what Shin could be referring to.
“Ah, Shin! Did you rest enough?”
As Mitsuyo left the room, Tiera came into the living room from the kitchen. The plates she was carrying contained bacon and scrambled eggs.
“Yes, I’m fine. I don’t see Shibaid and the others, though—-”
“They’re with Kagutsuchi, to see the consciousness transfer process. Mitsuyo is helping with preparing breakfast. They should finish any moment, I think.”
Shin asked while looking around the living room and Tiera replied. She then added that Yuzuha was assisting the process, so she was with them too.
“I see. I’m sorry for having you do everything here, but can I go there too?”
“It’ll be fine if Mitsuyo helps.”
“I’ll take Shin there then.”
Shin and Schnee headed to Fuji’s shrine, as Tiera saw them off with a smile.
After crossing several forks in the path inside the shrine, they arrived in a room roughly 20 square mel large.
On the pedestal in the center of the room lay two 『Dojigiri Yasutsuna』; the one Shin’s party had recovered from the dungeon and the one he crafted.
Baby Kagutsuchi and Yuzuha were on the pedestal too. Around the pedestal stood Filma, Shibaid, Munechika and Tsunetsugu, silently observing the process.
The process seemed to be reaching its conclusion. As baby Kagutsuchi cried loudly, a faint light rose from the tattered 『Dojigiri Yasutsuna』. As the small light left, the katana quickly deteriorated and turned into a lump of iron, as if the flow of time around it had suddenly accelerated.
The light slowly floated in midair and was gradually absorbed by the 『Dojigiri Yasutsuna』 Shin had crafted.
As the light was fully absorbed by the new katana, Kagutsuchi lay down, visibly exhausted. Its ball-like fluffy body was rolling back and forth on the pedestal.
“Kuu, you worked hard.”
As to praise it for a job well done, Yuzuha supported Kagutsuchi’s body to prevent it from rolling around. They didn’t appear to be on especially good terms before, but maybe they found something in common.
“Thus, was it a success?”
Just as Kagutsuchi cried in reply to Tsunetsugu’s question, something changed.
The new 『Dojigiri Yasutsuna』 rose in midair and shining with light. As the light dissipated, a black-haired young man in armor appeared in its place, with 『Dojigiri Yasutsuna』 hanging at his waist.
The handsome young man and his straight, proud posture exuded the atmosphere of a natural born warrior.
“…hm? Munechika and Tsunetsugu? This is…hm, who are those people? What happened to lord Kagutsuchi?”
The young man Yasutsuna opened his eyes after hearing Munechika’s call. He seemed to be perfectly conscious. After confirming Munechika and Tsunetsugu’s presence, he cast a sharp glance in the direction of Shin’s group.
His worry about Kagutsuchi signified that his memories, up until being swallowed by miasma, were intact too.
“Calm down, Yasutsuna. These people are our saviors, they put forth their utmost efforts to save you.”
While calming Yasutsuna down, Munechika explained how Shin’s group explored the dungeon to retrieve him, how Shin attempted and succeeded in crafting an Ancient-grade weapon to save him.
“Is that true!? I might have been ignorant of it all, but how could I act so disrespectfully to my saviors! My deepest apologies…!”
After hearing the explanation, Yasutsuna bowed his head energetically. Maybe a symbol of his serious personality, his body was angled in a perfect 90 degrees bow.
“Lord Shin, Lady Schnee, Lady Filma, Lord Shibaid, noble divine beasts. I offer you my most heartfelt gratitude for assisting me and my fellows in this endeavor. If you were ever in need of my strength, please do not hesitate to say the word.”
Yasutsuna spoke fervently, his head still bowed.
At that same time, Tiera and Mitsuyo entered the room.
“I see everything went well, I’m relieved.”
“…good grief, don’t make people worry like that.”
The sight of the young man she had not seen before made Tiera realize that Kagutsuchi’s process had succeeded. Next to her, a sullen-looking Mitsuyo let her sharp tongue loose.
“I am sorry, Mitsuyo. I am perfectly fine now. You are lady Tiera I suppose. You have my gratitude for everything you have done for us.”
“I am just glad you are safe and sound.”
Yasutsuna spoke to both newcomers with a smile. He had heard all the names of the members of Shin’s group, so by elimination, he had guessed that the person next to Mitsuyo was Tiera.
“By the way, Munechika, I don’t see Kunitsuna.”
“Because Kunitsuna is not here. I don’t know if you remember, but you two were swallowed by miasma. We’re going to go rescue Kunitsuna next.”
“…is that so. That time…”
Apparently, Yasutsuna still retained memories of that moment. He then spoke with a saddened expression.
“Is there anything I can do?”
“Do not fret. You have just transferred to a new body, you surely are not familiar with it yet. You have to start from mastering your new body.”
Yasutsuna offered to help, but Tsunetsugu dissuaded him. Having just transferred his consciousness, he couldn’t move his body as freely as before yet. Tsunetsugu related Kagutsuchi’s message, that he needed time to familiarize himself with it.
“Hmm, it is true that it still feels unnatural. I suppose I would weigh you down if I came with you as I am now.”
“There’s nothing to worry about. I’m going with them next time.”
Mitsuyo’s announcement was followed by Yasutsuna’s dejection.
“What are you saying? The one going will be me again, obviously.”
“Munechika, you touched Yasutsuna when he was still tainted by the miasma and are not in your best condition, right? We know that my 『Odenta Mitsuyo』 can be reinforced too, so I will go.”
Mitsuyo’s question to Shin a few days before had been caused by her consideration of the possible effects of miasma.
She knew that miasma could taint weapons, so she had been waiting outside the dungeon in case something happened to Munechika and she had to be replaced.
“Kh, now you said it…”
“In that case, this old man will…”
“You stay quiet, Tsunetsugu.”
“My my, they can’t take a joke, can they.”
Tsunetsugu’s proposal was met by razor-sharp looks from the two, which gave him cold sweats. Taking a couple steps away from them, he mumbled “S-So scary!”.
“Er….Kagutsuchi seems pretty tired too, why don’t we go eat for now?”
Shin’s proposal directed the group’s eyes to Kagutsuchi, lying on the pedestal as before. They couldn’t just leave it there, so they decided to continue the conversation after breakfast.
Tiera had been a little intimidated by Munechika and Mitsuyo’s aura though.
“So, which one will it be?”
After breakfast, the two finished their discussion and went to see Shin. Though, looking at Munechika’s regretful expression and Mitsuyo’s beaming smile, already gave away the answer.
“I’m going. I’m sorry for my impudence, but I would like you to reinforce 『Odenta』.”
Mitsuyo’s expression turned serious as she made her request, her head low.
Munechika was still slightly affected by the miasma, but if she transferred her consciousness to 『Mikazuki Munechika – Shinuchi』, Munechika would be even stronger than before; in addition, Tsunetsugu – Fuji’s most powerful warrior – was still present. Now that Yasutsuna was back too, Fuji would have been safe even without Mitsuyo.
“Got it. I more or less grasped how to do it thanks to Munechika, so just wait a while.”
Shin did not have any objections about reinforcing 『Odenta』 either. He proceeded straight to the smithy to begin the reinforcement.
Mitsuyo transferred her consciousness to the 『Odenta』 now in its Shinuchi form.
Mitsuyo, enveloped by light, took human form again. She appeared to have grown a bit.
Her hair was now tied in a ponytail, her appearance resembling a young lady who still retained traces of childishness but was one step from becoming an adult. Depending on her behavior, the impression she gave could change completely.
Mitsuyo, however, had not grown as much as she hoped. With a hand over her chest, she seemed to be conflicted.
Shin’s ears caught the words she was mumbling to herself: “It’s bigger, sure….it’s bigger, sure, but…!”
Maybe because of her physical growth, her armor had grown in size as well, its design changed too.
Munechika’s armor was very practical, one a general of the Japanese middle ages would wear; in contrast, Mitsuyo was something closer to the cosplay one could find at a convention.
The upper half of the body was sturdily protected, but the lower half was something akin to a skirt; her greaves guarded only her shins and knees. Her rather long socks extended just above her knees, thus charmingly showing her thighs.
“Let me say this to avoid any misunderstandings. I didn’t design your appearance or design of your armor, okay?”
“Uuh…I know that!! My abilities have definitely increased, I’m really thankful! Thank you very very much!”
Shin couldn’t help a wry laugh after Mitsuyo’s somewhat desperate words of gratitude. He then left the smithy and headed to Tsuki no Hokora, trying to calm Mitsuyo down as they went to join Schnee and the others.
“Hmm, I see everything went well.”
“I see, Mitsuyo changed just like Munechika did.”
Tsunetsugu and Yasutsuna commented on the sight of the grown Mitsuyo. The preparations seemed to be already complete.
“I suppose you expected something different, did you Mitsuyo? I have to say, your armor’s shape changed very much.”
“The childishness that bothered her seems to be gone, so I do think what you said isn’t warranted, lord Tsunetsugu. Hmm, your armor certainly became very…interesting.”
“I didn’t think that I’d become like this either, my legs exposed and all!!”
Mitsuyo noticed that her companions were looking at her legs and tried to hide them as much as possible by stretching the cloth.
Her cheeks were flushed out of embarrassment.
“But is that not a good result? Even without the adult charms Munechika possesses, with that appearance you will surely attract sir Shin’s att—whoops!”
Mitsuyo’s 『Odenta』was swung before Tsunetsugu could finish the sentence.
“Tsunetsugu, what might you be saying, all of a sudden?”
“Just a joke, dear. You look very different from before, now sir Shin surely won’t think of you as a child.”
“….I’m sorry, Yasutsuna. I leave the protection of Fuji to you and Munechika.”
“Whoa!? M-Mitsuyo, please calm down!! I apologize, lord Shin. Could you please assist me in soothing her!?”
Mitsuyo’s face had completely lost all expression after Tsunetsugu’s repeated jest. Yasutsuna, who was next to her, hurriedly pleaded for Shin’s assistance.
Mitsuyo’s eyes did not show the slightest hint that she was joking, so Shin grabbed her from behind to restrict her movements.
“Wait wait wait!! Don’t go attacking our biggest defense here!”
“Kh, let me go, Shin!! I can’t cut Tsunetsugu down like this!!”
“You can’t cut him down anyway!”
“There are things you can say and things you cannot….wait, where are you touching!?”
Shin was focused on trying to calm Mitsuyo down, but his face was suddenly attacked by her cranium.
“E-even if I’m wearing armor, don’t just go and touch a woman’s chest!!”
Shin backed away in a hurry, as Mitsuyo shouted at him, her arms crossed on her chest.
Shin didn’t have the slightest intention of doing that. Touching her chest over the armor wouldn’t have made him feel the slightest sensation, as he almost wanted to point out.
“What exactly are you doing?”
“That’s what I want to know too…”
Shin could not find any other answer to Schnee’s weary question.
After the commotion was finally resolved, The group descended from Fuji, sent off by Kagutsuchi, Tsunetsugu, Yasutsuna, and Munechika.
Once the group passed the forest and reached a road large enough for carriages, Shin materialized their horse carriage from the item box.
They then headed due north, relying on Mitsuyo’s detection ability.
Yasutsuna had been found very close, in Fuji’s secret dungeon. However, according to Munechika and Mitsuyo, things were different for Kunitsuna.
“It’s getting cold.”
“That’s right. The nights have been getting rather cold.”
Tiera and Shin remarked at how the temperature had dropped as they headed north. Fuji’s shrine, despite being on top of the mountain, was not too cold.
“I guess it’s similar to Tohoku or Hokkaido.”
“Tohhok? Hokado? What are you talking about?”
Mitsuyo had heard the words mumbled by Shin, so she inquired their meaning as she was looking at the scenery. Tiera also looked towards Shin.
“They’re places in the island country where I used to be. It gets colder as you go north and warmer as you go south. It’s a country similar to Hinomoto.”
He would be troubled by further questions, so Shin gave a very general description of Japan. He added that he didn’t know exactly where it was, to sway the conversation.
“I’ve heard that Hinomoto gets colder as you go north and warmer as you go south, yes. I just heard though, I’ve never seen it with my own eyes.”
Mitsuyo told how most things she knew came from Kagutsuchi’s knowledge. Being bound to a specific area meant that she couldn’t travel freely.
“I want to see that snow you talked about too. By the way, master’s false name is Yuki, a word for snow, right? Is there some connection?”
As if she had suddenly recalled something, Tiera asked her question.
“The name Schnee comes from a word that means “snow” too. I’m not sure of the exact origin though.*”
Shin had not explained to Tiera in detail about support characters, so he answered as if he had heard it from Schnee.
As he answered, Shin noticed how Schnee, who was sitting on the coachman’s seat, reacted through her ears perking up every now and then. He and Tiera were inside the carriage, so their voices would surely reach Schnee’s ears.
Noticing Schnee’s reactions sparked a flame of trickery in Shin’s heart.
“So that’s the reason why master often uses ice magic?”
“She started by training in water magic, which is connected to ice, and lightning magic, after all. Raizar also comes from a word meaning “thunder” it seems. I know it’s weird for me to say it, but isn’t it a beautiful name? I think it matches the color of her hair and eyes.”
Shin glanced towards Schnee as he answered Tiera’s question. Her ears had stopped moving, but in exchange had turned bright red all the way to the tips.
“That’s true. I think it’s wonderful to have a name with such meaning.”
Tiera was facing towards Shin, so she hadn’t noticed the change in Schnee’s condition; while slightly puzzled at the grin on his face, she agreed with him.
The other party members showed different reactions to the scene.
Expressing frustration after understanding what Shin was looking at was Mitsuyo, her consciousness transferred into the newly crafted 『Odenta Mitsuyo – Shinuchi』. Her expression clearly showed how she found the situation quite unpleasant.
In contrast, Filma was thoroughly enjoying it all.
She was sitting next to Schnee and fully understood Shin’s intentions; after he finished talking, she gave him a thumbs up, making sure only he could see it.
Shibaid was watching the whole scene with a somewhat jaded expression: finally Yuzuha, her ears pointed at the commotion, was curled into a ball on Shin’s lap.
(T/N: When Shin explains about the origin of Schnee’s name, in Japanese he actually says “I’m not sure how you exactly read it, originally it’s “Schnii” or “Schnee”, implying that Schnee’s actual name is a deformation of the German word, not exactly the word “Schnee” itself. It would be complicated if not impossible to explain it properly in English, especially since Schnee’s name has been translated like this, so I cut Shin’s line short.)