Author: I wonder why, even though reading tragic developments or tragic ends makes you want to go ‘damn it, dieeeeee author!!!’ Writing them is super fun.
Ah, so that’s why tragic ends don’t disappear from society.
“Ringo, please come outside for now. Let’s have a proper talk.” (Souma)
“R-Ringo-san! I will hear you out if you have any worries!” (Ina)
“If you don’t come out quickly, I will eat your breakfast too!” (Sazan)
Me, Ina, and Sazan called to her facing the trap room’s door in that order, but to no effect.
It is impossible to come in or out of this room without the key, but there’s no doubt the sounds from the outside do reach the inside.
Judging from this, the chances of Ringo coming out by her own volition is low.
“…What’s the matter?”
While we were making a ruckus in front of the room in that fashion, even Mitsuki appeared.
“Aah, actually, just now…” (Souma)
I hesitated for a bit there, but I quickly explained the situation without hiding my promise with Sazan.
“I see, so that’s how it was.” (Mitsuki)
I was wondering what to do if she were to lose it like Ringo, but her reaction was unexpectedly light.
“You aren’t that surprised.” (Souma)
“Yeah, I imagined that would be the case after all.” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki said this easily.
So it really was obvious.
“Actually, Ringo-san also noticed this.
No, I think she was the one that was the most aware of this.” (Mitsuki)
“Ringo did…” (Souma)
It is true that the one who has acted the most differently lately has been Ringo.
But then why did she get that flustered?
I tilted my head and Mitsuki said with a gentle tone.
“Ringo-san most likely didn’t do this just to trouble you.
Why did she get this cornered?
…You know why, right?” (Mitsuki)
Ringo, who always prioritized me more than herself, has taken such a drastic action like this.
Even I can tell that there must be something big here.
“In that case, please be kind to her. Because she…” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki paused for a moment there, looked straight into my eyes, and said with a serious face…
“…She is your one and only little sister after all.” (Mitsuki)
“ No, that’s not true though.” (Souma)
Or more like, that misunderstanding was still there?
I told them about my meeting with Ringo when I explained to them about this world being a game, so I thought the misunderstanding that we are siblings was cleared.
However, Mitsuki already had a feeling that Ringo and I were not blood-related siblings.
No, we had zero sibling factors on us, but anyways, it seems like a story about me making Ringo my step-sibling because she was all alone in the world had unfolded in the mind of Mitsuki…
Mitsuki spoke such a terrible misunderstanding with such a confident face, so after that, her cat ears folded as if saying ‘Don’t look~! Don’t look at me~!’.
Well, leaving aside the misunderstanding of Mitsuki.
I raised a hand and did a greeting after entering the room, and Ringo, who was curled up in a corner of the room, stood up as if taken aback.
She took distance from me all flustered, but there’s no way there would be anywhere to escape to inside this room.
She escaped all the way to the window of the room, and after finding no other means to do anything, she sat in place while hugging the stone slate.
Her face was the very definition of expressionless when I first met her, but right now there were various emotions showing in her face.
Unease, fear, guilt, and a bit of relief.
Is this thanks to the growth of Ringo? Or is it because I can now read the emotions of Ringo?
Thinking back on the short but dense time I have spent with Ringo, I ended up getting emotional for a moment.
“I wall-jumped with Infinite Mirage Prison. I can’t use skills here, so that means I am trapped here too though.” (Souma)
If at the time when you use Infinite Mirage Prison, the place you teleport to is a space where skills are nullified, the skill is immediately canceled, and you can move to that place just like how I did in the library.
Entering a space where skills are nullified is fine and all, but that’s obviously a one-way method.
You can’t use Teleport Stones in places where there’s no mana or the mana is in disarray, so in the end, in order for me to come out of this room, I need to use the mansion key Ringo has.
…Well, I am honestly not that worried though.
“Can I?” (Souma)
I try my best to not startle Ringo by slowly approaching her, and sit by her side.
When I sat by her side, her shoulders shook as expected, but she didn’t raise her lowered head.
“…Good grief, you are unexpectedly thoughtless, Ringo.
You have to properly bring food when shutting yourself in a place like this.” (Souma)
I said this with as much of a bright tone I could muster, brought out a gem from my pocket, and chant [Magical Pocket] and a dimensional tear appeared.
“See, this Magical Pocket gem is convenient because you can bring out tools even in a magic nullification space.
You should have one on your person the whole time, Ringo.” (Souma)
I forcefully put a Magical Pocket Gem in the pocket of Ringo, who didn’t even spare a glance at the steaming breakfast and had an expressionless face as always.
Ringo didn’t react at all even with that.
(Good grief…) (Souma)
I was troubled in front of the recently made breakfast for two.
I thought the breakfast and this gem would serve as an icebreaker, but it seems like mix-ups won’t work on Ringo in her current state.
It seems like there’s no way of getting out of this situation aside from speaking my heart out here.
“…Sorry about that.” (Souma)
The moment I apologized, Ringo, who didn’t move an inch until now, suddenly raised her head and shook it.
It seems like she wants to say I am not the one at fault.
But that’s not true.
“I should have told you properly that I am searching for a method to return to my original world.
That’s why…I am sorry.” (Souma)
I lowered my head and a slender and cold hand was placed on my cheek.
Ringo opened her mouth with outstanding energy.
“T-That’s not it! Souma…is not at fault!” (Ringo)
“Ringo… But…” (Souma)
Ringo finally spoke after seeing I still wasn’t convinced about this.
“…I actually…noticed. The fact that Souma and Sazan…were searching for a way…to go back.” (Ringo)
It seems like the read of Leila and Mitsuki was right.
Looks like my secrets are completely see-through to my comrades.
Well, I have already told everyone that I am searching for a way back.
It isn’t something I could keep hidden from Ringo and the others forever.
“…Even if Souma…goes somewhere far away…I will just search for Souma…until I find you.
That’s why I thought…about supporting you…so that you could return.” (Ringo)
If I remember correctly, it was soon after coming to this mansion.
When I asked Ringo what she would do if I returned to my homeland and she couldn’t find me, she answered with ‘I will search until I die’.
The emotions of Ringo hadn’t grown to this point at that time, and I didn’t take that answer seriously either.
But being told this answer again, I was overwhelmed by the depth of the emotions thrown at me in those words.
It seems like that wasn’t the end of Ringo’s response.
Ringo grabbed her clothes tightly to the point of wrinkling them as if enduring pain, and held her own chest.
“Thinking about the possibility of Souma leaving…I couldn’t accept it.
My chest hurt…I couldn’t breathe properly…and I could only think…about not wanting Souma to leave…” (Ringo)
Could it be that …Ringo not feeling well since before the matter of the Mage Guild was because of the mental stress of me returning to my original world?
I looked at Ringo in surprise, and something flowed on her beautiful face.
It trailed its way to her chin, and fell as droplets.
Ringo is crying.
But she still moved that small mouth of hers as if pushed by a sense of duty even while crying.
“I actually…had no intentions of…troubling Souma.
And yet…but…that’s why…” (Ringo)
Ringo spoke messily in an uncharacteristic way of hers, and then, at the end…
“…I am sorry.” (Ringo)
Ringo lowered her head truly deeply with her beautiful blue hair trickling down.
I couldn’t say anything.
No, there’s no way I could.
Ringo was troubled and suffering to the point of literally affecting her body.
Her taking the stone slate and running away must have been the result of those emotions losing their destination and exploding.
In the first place, it is not like my way of going back will be lost without the stone slate.
I might get a bit troubled by it, yeah, but Sazan would most likely help me out even without the stone slate, and -putting it bluntly- there’s no point aside from buying time.
Now that I think about it, Ringo taking the stone slate might be the first really small selfishness she has shown to me.
There’s no way anyone could blame her for that.
Even so, Ringo apologized to me in tears, saying she got in my way, that she troubled me.
What can I say to Ringo when she is like this?
I take a deep breath.
And then, exhaled heavily.
I am done delaying my decision.
There’s no need for excuses like the last chapter of the Evil God Great War or the way of going back not being certain.
That’s the only option to respect the feelings of Ringo who has laid herself bare to this extent.
And now that I have resolved myself, for some mysterious reason, the answer that has been bothering me all the time until now slid its way to the surface.
I spoke to Ringo who still had her head lowered.
“I really will be going back to my original world with Maki.” (Souma)
Those words made Ringo’s body tremble with shock that couldn’t be hidden, but even so, she didn’t raise her head.
I took that trembling of hers and everything else…and hugged the body of Ringo.
“…I will definitely return to this world.” (Souma)
The slender body within my arms quivered.
I prayed that it wasn’t due to fear while I continued speaking.
“I have been worrying the whole time about this world or that world.
Both worlds are important, so I can’t make a decision, and I didn’t want to.
…But I noticed that hesitating in itself is not like me.
Choosing both is what a Nekomimi Neko player would do.” (Souma)
I rouse up courage and look at the blue eyes down at my chest.
The eyes of Ringo shaking with tears reflected my face.
My eyes must be showing her figure too.
“Of course, I don’t think it will be easy.
It might take time, and there’s no assurance that I can definitely return.
Even so…” (Souma)
I squeezed out all the emotions I could and asked Ringo.
“…Can you please believe in me and wait?” (Souma)
New tears came out from Ringo’s eyes.
But they were wiped away by Ringo’s own hand before they fell down her face.
The clear eyes with no haziness anymore were looking straight at me.
“…I…will believe in Souma.” (Ringo)
I was relieved from the bottom of my heart.
My hands that were tightened at some point in time at the back of Ringo loosened.
I am aware that I am saying something selfish here.
It really might end up making Ringo suffer.
I think so. I really do, but…
“But if you take too long, I will be the one going there.” (Ringo)
While I was watching those clear eyes that had no hesitation or fear, I honestly believed that this was the best method for me and Ringo.
“…Souma, this…” (Ringo)
Saying this, Ringo gave me the mansion key.
If I use this, I can open the door of the trap room and meet up with everyone.
That will wrap things up here.
I hesitated for a moment, took the key from Ringo’s hand, and then with the key…
“Oops, my hand slipped.” (Souma)
I threw it to the corner of the room while saying this in monotone.
My sudden weird action surprised Ringo and she looked at me.
I escaped from that judging gaze of hers and said this.
“You are more stubborn than appearances tell after all.
It can’t be helped if it were to take time to convince you.” (Souma)
Ringo still had a dumbstruck face even after I said this, so I laughed.
“That’s why…let’s stay here for a bit more.” (Souma)
Ringo finally understood after those words.
She responded with a bright and honest tone fitting her age, and jumped onto me.