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“Adventurer, I commend you on reaching all the way here! But I, the ruler of the demons in the west—”
Seeing the boss being blown away the moment I waved my right hand, my shoulders drooped.
“To think I would win even against this guy.” (Souma)
I muttered this as I looked down at the weapon in my right hand.
What I am holding is a verdant plant in the shape of a whip…a foxtail grass.
“Hmm, there’s no weapon as weak as this one though.” (Souma)
A foxtail grass is a weapon popularly known by Nekomimi Neko players with ‘it is weaker than even a rock!’. Because of that fearsomely low attack power and its special ability of only lowering one durability each hit no matter what enemy you attack, it would mostly be used when you want to beat up an NPC without killing them.
You would wonder just what’s the usefulness of something like that if it were some other game, but in Nekomimi Neko, being able to punch an NPC without worries is extremely useful.
They would die from charging onto a passing monster in the middle of a duel event, would get stuck on a wall by some mysterious action and make it impossible to progress with the event, so there would be times when you would need to punch them when they are going to make an action that would bug them out. This weapon that can knockback or aggro them with no damage is invaluable.
Anyways, if a weapon to hold back is like this, there’s nothing I can do now.
I waved the foxtail grass and sighed as I watched the cat ears of Mitsuki move in rhythm with that.
The reason I am overkilling a boss is obviously the musical instrument on my left hand.
This Lute Dis Aster of the strengthened Evil God turned into a weapon increases the basic stats of a person to a stupid degree.
If you were to have those boosted stats, even the foxtail grass that is like a bundle of harmless changes into a sure-kill weapon.
I am honestly troubled about what to do with this Evil God weapon.
It will end up being excessive force no matter what I do, so it is not that user friendly, but if someone were to steal it and it were to end up in the hands of a bad guy, it would be terrible.
As a result of this, I have no choice but to have it with me at all times, and I am now in a pitiful state where I mass produce corpses.
“…But well, it will soon be over.” (Souma)
I mumbled this and turned back.
“Maki, this is the last dungeon on the list, right?” (Souma)
“Eh? Y-Yeah, it is over then. Good work.” (Maki)
Even when I felt something off from the slightly awkward attitude of Maki, I felt like a weight had come off from my shoulders.
We ventured to various locations while holding dear to the time we had, and conquered many dungeons.
I do plan on returning to this world, but that’s unfortunately not a certain thing.
You could say the biggest threat of this world has been dealt with now that I have defeated the Evil God, but in Nekomimi Neko, there’s still several events where dangerous things might happen depending on the situation.
I would like to reduce the chances of a world threat as much as possible.
But everything has an end.
We are a high level party that can clear the game to begin with. On top of that, I hold the strongest weapon made from the Evil God as its material, so there would rarely be any enemies we would have trouble with.
Ah, no, there was one time.
At the time when Ina tripped with her Mutual Love Ring and her weapon slipped out, Sazan’s head was about to become a red fruit about to explode, but that’s as much of a close call we had.
I have written down a list of the places that need to be cleared and given it to Maki, but the dungeon this time around is done.
With this, the Nekomimim Neko world shouldn’t be falling for the foreseeable future…I think.
Even if I were to make so much preparation, I can’t really state definitives here. We are talking about Nekomimi Neko.
“Well then, let’s go back. Leila and the others are waiting.” (Souma)
That said, there’s nothing more I can do in this world.
I will be able to go back with my chest held high with this.
—We definitely saved this world.
…Even though I am thinking that way…my feet on today’s way back were heavier than usual.
It seems like that was the same for my comrades. Even the usually articulate Maki was silent and seemed like she was thinking something.
Because we defeated them in one go, there were no monsters blocking our path, and we headed to the entrance in suffocating silence.
“T-That said, we have completely gotten used to dungeon exploration~.”
The one who broke the silence with a cheerful voice was Ina.
“Even I, who couldn’t handle dungeons well in the past, am beginning to feel like I am an actual adventurer!” (Ina)
When she said this, she tightened her fist in a really exaggerated and showy manner.
But it is also true that it reminded me of our first adventure.
“Speaking of which, you did feel like a dungeon beginner at that time, Ina. You wouldn’t use skills on cut off paths, would go out of your way to create footholds, and would go into a corridor without throwing an explosion gem before doing so…” (Souma)
“N-No, that’s because Souma-san’s way of conquering places is weird. I actually think it is weird even now, but I have gotten used to it…” (Ina)
Ina responded in an unclear manner.
She might be getting even more embarrassed after remembering her time when she was unskilled.
“At any rate, it has been only a few weeks, and yet, it is now natural to walk around with these members.
It already feels like our daily life, natural scenery…” (Ina)
The tone of Ina’s voice changed a bit there.
Like longing for an important something, as if showing affection towards irreplaceable memories.
“But that’s over today, right?” (Ina)
Ina seemed bright when she said this.
The expression she directed at me still had a smile.
“It feels strange thinking that we won’t be able to walk together like this with everyone from tomorrow on…” (Ina)
But there were tears streaming down from her eyes.
“Eh? W-Wa? Why…? E-Eh? Ah?” (Ina)
She must have noticed for the first time once I spoke.
Ina wiped her cheeks all flustered and desperately made a smile.
“I-I am…sorry… This is not it. This wasn’t my…intention…” (Ina)
“My bad! I was inconsiderate…” (Souma)
“N-No, you are not at fault, Souma-san! I am okay! I am okay, see?!” (Ina)
Ina was smiling the whole time after that, as if to prove those words.
But even when we got out of the dungeon…her tears didn’t stop either.
“Can you tag along with me for a while after this, Mitsuki?” (Souma)
I opened up with this when we arrived at the capital.
“With me?” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki was distracted by the foxtail grass in my hand, but her cat ears straightened up as if surprised at what I said.
Mitsuki looked as if she had been struck by lightning, but this is something I had decided from the very beginning.
“Yeah. There’s one other dungeon I would like to conquer for last.” (Souma)
“In that case, we should bring everyone—” (Mitsuki)
I cut off Mitsuki.
“…Got it. We will…bring Ina back.” (Ringo)
Ringo, who was silently following from the back, took the job.
I internally thank Ringo who understood my intention without saying anything.
“Thanks… Well then, let’s go, Mitsuki.” (Souma)
“Got it. If you say so.” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki didn’t seem too keen about this, but nodded obediently once I reiterated.
I then left Ina to my other comrades, and I left the capital with Mitsuki once again.
Our destination is…
“This is…the Mirage Stone Cave?” (Mitsuki)
“I have decided on this a long time ago. Once I finished going through all the dungeons, I was thinking of coming here last.” (Souma)
—Mirage Stone Cave.
This is a dungeon where you can get a gem called the Mirage Stone which serves as a material for a marriage ring.
It is the place you go to in order to do the marriage event of Mitsuki in the game.
At the same time, it is also the place I promised Mitsuki to come together with.
I say ‘promise’ but it was a one-sided deal, and I honestly don’t have a clear view of things like marriage. Even so, I have come here together with Mitsuki because I truly wanted to.
I also felt I wanted to present her the best ring from the Mirage Stone if it will become a good memory.
“T-Then, let’s go.” (Souma)
My voice turned somewhat high-pitched as I took a step into the Mirage Stone Cave.
But, for some reason, there’s no footsteps of Mitsuki following after me.
When I looked back, Mitsuki was standing in the same place.
She was looking at the Mirage Stone Cave as if in fear, and she shook her head to the sides with an awkward tone.
“…Let’s not do this today.” (Mitsuki)
“W-What’s the matter? Didn’t you say all the time that you wanted to come?” (Souma)
Even when I responded with surprise, Mitsuki still had an awkward smile on her face and simply shook her head again.
“It is true that this is an important place, but it is not a place we have to go to no matter what.
Even though there were no outstanding difficulties, we just came back from clearing a dungeon.
I am also worried about Ina-san, so let’s just go back for today.” (Mitsuki)
Even though it is a place she wanted to come to so much, even though it is a place she invited me to come to countless times…
I couldn’t understand that change of tune and tried to argue it.
“You don’t really need to worry, you know? It is not like I am forcing myself to tag along here. It is because I don’t want regrets to be left, so…” (Souma)
“—Then, isn’t it fine that way?!” (Mitsuki)
The words I was going to say stopped inside my mouth at the uncharacteristic sharp voice of Mitsuki.
“If you have lingering regrets, you will want to come back here again, right? Then, I don’t care about you not fulfilling your promise!” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki bit her lips when receiving my gaze.
“It is not like I want it to take shape. I simply…I simply want to be by your side…!” (Mitsuki)
After saying that much, Mitsuki lifted her head as if she snapped back.
And then, after around 1 second, she closed her eyes and…
“…It was a joke.” (Mitsuki)
“No, a joke, you say…” (Souma)
“It seemed like you were taking that promise a lot heavier than I expected, so I simply wanted to tease you a bit.
…Now, let’s go back.” (Mitsuki)
I don’t get the real feelings of Mitsuki.
However, I was overwhelmed by the discerning eyes of Mitsuki, and could only answer with an ‘okay’.
I parted from Mitsuki who said she had something she wanted to buy, and returned to the mansion.
A white something jumped at me from the gate and I hurriedly jumped to the side.
The white something passed by my side and smacked clean onto the gate, sticking onto it.
…This is a towel, moreover, a wet one.
I rubbed my chest, relieved that it didn’t hit me, and…
“W-Why did you avoid it?!”
“No, of course I would.” (Souma)
The culprit of this prank showed her face from the shadow of the gate.
“So, why did you do something like this, Sazan?” (Souma)
When I asked with angry eyes, Sazan faltered for an instant, but…
“Hmph! We are rivals to begin with after all! That’s my way to challenge you to a duel!” (Sazan)
“Who is your rival? In the first place, what you throw for a duel is a glove.” (Souma)
How did it end up like this? She is as baffling as always.
But well, you could say she showed up at a good time.
“Here, take it back.” (Souma)
Saying this, I throw the item I take out from the bag towards Sazan.
“Hya?! Y-You bastard!” (Sazan)
Sazan was angered after receiving it with the face, but she noticed what I threw at her and stopped moving.
“T-This is…” (Sazan)
“Yeah, the Fingerless Gloves.” (Souma)
“Eh? B-But the Fingerless Gloves were…into your weapon…” (Sazan)
Sazan was surprised, but the answer is simple.
“I found out they were selling them again just the other day. It seemed you liked them, so I thought of buying them for you.” (Souma)
“T-Then, these are…” (Sazan)
“A present. I am giving them to you.” (Souma)
When I said this clearly, Sazan stared at the Fingerless Gloves as if conflicted.
I thought for sure she would be happy, but was I wrong?
“That’s not fair. If I get something like this, I can’t go challenging you to a duel anymore.” (Sazan)
“No, don’t challenge me to a duel for nothing.” (Souma)
I don’t get what she is thinking as usual.
I said this amazed, but Sazan doesn’t seem to be listening.
A while after looking at the gloves, she began muttering…
“…I actually…intended to have you not return to your world if I were to win in the duel.
But…I am not going to anymore.” (Sazan)
Sazan wore the Fingerless Gloves with care and pointed straight at me.
“I am the Great Mage Sazan-sama! If you don’t come back from that world, I will be the one searching for you!
Better live while fearing my shadow! Fuhahahahahaha!” (Sazan)
This might have been her own way to encourage me.
In that case, this is unbelievably clumsy.
“…Haah, you really are the same as always.” (Souma)
Whichever the case, Sazan will most likely be living like this from here on.
Forever, even without me.
“Just wait with bated breath.” (Souma)
That’s why I left Sazan who was laughing out loud and entered the mansion…
Just before the door of the mansion was closed, I heard sniffing from my back, but I acted as if I didn’t hear it.
The moment I entered the mansion and headed to the living room, golden hair ran towards me.
“Souma! You were late, so I got worried! The meal is ready already!” (Leila)
It is Leila with her usual smile.
But that smile pierced at my heart.
Leila has been protecting the mansion this whole time while we were outside.
That’s why she is…the only one who doesn’t know.
The dungeon exploration time is over, and I will be returning to my world now…
“Leila, you see…” (Souma)
While I was searching for the words to say in order to breach up this topic…
“I know… You are…already leaving, right?” (Leila)
Leila said this ahead of me.
“It is about you, Souma. I can tell that much.” (Leila)
She smiled with a bit of sadness and somewhat proudly as she looked at me with unfaltering eyes.
“You see, I am really really sad about parting with you, but…but I noticed that I am the happiest when you are happy, Souma.” (Leila)
I didn’t know what to say to this girl that was directing a smile at me as she spoke those words.
“Ah, I forgot! The kettle is still burning!
T-Today is a special day, so I made it extravagant. Eat a whole ton, okay?!” (Leila)
I simply saw off that back that ran off hurriedly.
I wonder how much time passed since I stayed standing still there.
I only noticed I stood there for a long time when someone spoke to me from the side.
Maybe because I have been watching my comrades sad the whole time today, unease assailed me the moment I saw her walking towards me.
That’s why I ended up asking Ringo unintentionally.
“Hey, Ringo, are you really against me going back to my world?” (Souma)
I regret it after asking.
A question like that would only trouble the other party no matter how she was to answer.
Ringo must have been troubled as expected, she went silent for a while and…
After that, she for some reason offered me her pinky finger.
I was flustered, unable to tell the intent of this, and Ringo added.
“…Promise me…one more time.” (Ringo)
“…Return…no matter what.” (Ringo)
I wonder why.
I felt my chest grow hotter at those silent feelings -the passion- placed in those words.
I only knew one way to reciprocate those feelings.
“…Got it.” (Souma)
I gently linked my own finger with her small one.
And then, I promise with every emotion I could muster here.
“—I promise that I will definitely go back to my original world.
And also…that I will definitely return to this world!” (Souma)
I said this and let go of her finger, and Ringo raised the corner of her lips lightly, extremely lightly.
She said this as usual and smiled.
—That’s how we spend the remainder of the day as if digesting it thoroughly, and the day finally came.
The place we are going to be using to return to our original world is the manor where the ring theft (attempt) happened, the garden of the Aken family’s residence.
What I am trying to use for my return is the forced logout bug, Death Flash.
Death Flash is a phenomenon that occurs when you use the wide AoE spells: Stardust Flare and Bubble Chain.
It would be troubling if pedestrians were to get caught up in the spell, and -I don’t think it would happen but- who knows what kind of effect would occur just from looking at the Death Flash.
As a result, we have gone to the isolated space that is the Aken residence where there’s no fear of others causing trouble.
“…Well, I wanted to talk with that useless maid again while at it though.” (Souma)
I remember the culprit’s face from the Aken family incident, the bodyguard in a maid outfit as I made preparations to vacate the Nekomimi Mansion.
I say vacate, but Mitsuki and Ringo will apparently continue living there, so I am simply collecting my belongings.
That was done in just a few minutes with my adventurer bag and I somewhat felt sad here.
I reluctantly opened the door and Ringo was standing at the corridor.
It was honestly giving me a bit of a scary mood here, so I got slightly frightened there.
She didn’t falter at me and just asked me at her own pace.
I nodded silently and Ringo stood by my side without saying anything more.
I watched the waving blue hair at my side while I remembered that Ringo and I were the only ones in this mansion at first.
In that case, it might be destiny that we are the last ones at the end.
“At first, I thought I came to an unbelievable place.” (Souma)
It is just a few months, but it is a place I have been living in for a long time.
Ringo and I had our last walk in silence.
All the places were filled with memories, and I could feel my chest tighten every time I remember.
After taking our sweet time going through all the rooms, I bid my farewells to the mansion.
Raiden and his group, the greengrocer old lady, and even the King gave us a big send off.
After receiving an extravagant send off, we exited the capital, and from here on, it is now only me and my comrades.
Ringo, Mitsuki, Ina, Sazan, Leila, and Bear 1.
Me and Maki headed to the Aken residence together with our irreplaceable friends.
There was no conversation on the way.
It just doesn’t feel real that I will have to bid farewell to the best friends I have had after a few hours.
If someone were to say ‘I don’t want you to return to your world’, I feel like what was supposed to be a strong resolve would be broken and crumble.
But the result was…
Not a single one of them opened their mouths and we arrived safely at the Aken residence.
I have already told them.
Once we arrived at the residence, we would greet the Aken family, borrow their garden, and return to our world soon after…is what I thought.
“Eh? It is only you, Rirumu?” (Souma)
The only one waiting at the Aken residence was the useless maid.
She simply welcomed us with ‘over here’ and invited us to the manor.
“This is…” (Souma)
Seeing the thing readied there, I opened my eyes wide in surprise.
At the dining room we were guided to, there was an overflowing amount of fancy food on the table decorated in such a fashion it screamed handmade.
“The wish of us all is for you to enjoy your last day together with your comrades with no worries.” (Rirumu)
I felt my eyes grow hot at the words of Rirumu.
“Those people…” (Souma)
The sight of the Aken family that is bottomless in their kindness showed up in my mind.
They readied the party for our sake, and the family apparently went out somewhere so they wouldn’t get in our way.
“This maid…-like Rirumu will be serving you today! Everyone, please enjoy your last day!” (Rirumu)
Even when she said that with a composed face, she walked off just a few meters to perform her duties and fell straight onto the center of the room. This is why she is called a useless maid.
But this is included in the things I love about the Aken family.
Ringo looked at me as if hoping for something, and I scratched the cat ears on my head.
“There’s no way I can ignore it after going so far for us, right?” (Souma)
“Souma-san! Then…” (Ina)
I nodded at Ina whose face glowed from this.
“—We are leaving tomorrow. Let’s enjoy it a whole ton today, no holds barred!” (Souma)
With my words as the onset, cheers with a somewhat empty spirit were raised, and our last banquet began.
On that last day…
In the first and last party before returning, there were a lot of things I wanted to say that I didn’t have enough time to.
We laughed, partied, and cried a lifetime worth.
Night eventually steepened, and we fell asleep as if our batteries ran out.
—I woke up from a loud sound it made me think it was the end of the world.
The intensity of the familiar sound increased more and more, and my sleepy brain woke up in an instant.
“This is…this sound is…!” (Souma)
I didn’t have the time to think about anything.
I ran to the window at full force and opened it.
There wasn’t the presence of anyone in the back garden. The sound was coming from the opposite direction.
After reaching a decision in an instant, I ran off to the garden in the opposite direction of the residence.
The culprits that broke the silence of the morning were losing their minds in the garden.
“W-Why?! Even though my spell succeeded…”
“T-This is weird! Why did it disappear? With this…”
Seeing them, I sighed in relief.
“—Stardust Flare is not expected to be used by two people at the same time. I don’t know how they programmed it, but when a different person uses Stardust Flare in the middle of it, the effect will be taken by that one, and the effect of the first Stardust Flare disappears.” (Souma)
The two snapped back when I spoke to them.
“Sazan, Maki.” (Souma)
The source of the sound was these two.
To be more precise, these two using the strongest spell, Stardust Flare, was what was creating that destructive sound.
“…So you were trying to test out Death Flash.” (Souma)
When I asked this, Sazan got flustered and Maki hung her head down.
Death Flash happens when two spells with intense effects are combined.
Because of the bug in Stardust Flare, two Stardust Flares won’t be happening at the same time.
That’s why we even went through such dangerous lengths to obtain the Bubble Chain spell, but Maki and Sazan didn’t know about the defect of Stardust Flare.
Maki, Sazan, and I are the ones who have obtained the Stardust Flare.
Maki probably thought she would be able to recreate the Death Flash without me as long as she had the cooperation of Sazan.
I walked towards Maki who was hanging her head down.
“Why did you do something like this?” (Souma)
“C-Cause I know just how much you treasure your time here! I know just how sad Ringo and the others are about you leaving!” (Maki)
Maki speaks on the verge of tears.
“I actually knew the whole time…that you want to stay your whole life in the game world. It is because I am here that you are trying to return, right? That’s why…!” (Maki)
“That’s why you thought about returning to our original world alone?” (Souma)
Maki nodded with tears still in her eyes.
“You are an idiot. It is true that, if you were not here, I might not have said anything about returning to my original world. But…” (Souma)
I held up my fist towards the crying Maki.
“For me, returning with you to Japan is just as important as living together with everyone here.” (Souma)
“Souma… But…but…” (Maki)
“Also, I believe in it… That I will definitely find a method to return to this world once again. See?” (Souma)
I took out the item I prepared and had inside my poach, and pushed it onto Maki who was still trying to say more.
“Hyah?! W-Whash thish…?” (Maki)
“This is one of the methods I thought of to return to this world. A special ‘candy’.” (Souma)
I ignored her questioning look and faced back.
“It is about time.” (Souma)
“Eh?! E-Everyone…” (Maki)
Everyone was there at some point in time.
They made that much noise after all.
I wet my dried lips, placed strength into my hands that were close to trembling, and made a deliberate smile.
“It seems like everyone is here. As you can see, who knows what she will do if we take our eyes off her, so I am thinking about testing it out now even though it is a bit sooner than planned.” (Souma)
“S-Souma?! B-But…!” (Maki)
My other comrades nodded as if filled with resolve in contrast to the confused Maki.
“…Souma, I will be…waiting…” (Ringo)
Ringo said a few words.
“Let’s go to the Mirage Stone Cave together once you come back. It is a promise, okay?” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki showed a smile.
“Please come back no matter what! It is a promise!” (Ina)
Ina said with strength.
“I actually don’t want to be separated from you. But…but…have a safe trip.” (Leila)
Leila said this in tears.
They all showed reluctance to my leaving in their own ways.
When I moved my gaze to the side at the end, I made eye-contact with Sazan who had serious eyes.
“I…no, anytime is fine. I will match your timing.” (Sazan)
I took up that offer and cut off eye contact.
I threw a ‘candy’ inside my mouth just like I did with Maki, and finished my preparations.
I slowly look up at the sky.
My heart was drumming.
—Will it really go well?
—What should I do first if I get to return to Japan?
—Is it really okay to go back?
—Will everyone cry once I am gone?
Jumbled thoughts were filling up my mind in an instant.
There was no choice of stopping popping inside my mind.
I take a deep long breath.
I match the gaze of Maki at my side.
I smiled at her, who seemed to be nervous, and raised both hands high up in the sky.
At the same time, I could tell at the corner of my perception that my partner at the side also raised both hands.
That’s why I shouted with no regrets or hesitation.
— “[Bubble Chain]!!”
— “[Stardust Flare]!!”
Two voices overlapped.
Light ruled over the sky.
(It is beautiful…) (Souma)
The explosion of Stardust Flare and the bubbles of Bubble Chain jumbled up together in a dance, mixed, and overlapped.
After only a few seconds, the intensity of the effects will reach their peak, and we will get a result.
“Ringo, Mitsuki, Sazan, Ina, Leila.” (Souma)
That’s why I looked at all of my comrades at the end…
“Thanks, everyone. Also…” (Souma)
I burned that sight of theirs in my retinas and…
“—See you later.” (Souma)
The world dyed white.