Previous Chapter l TL Afterword
Author: I am truly thankful to everyone for tagging along with me in this story until the very end!
The 5 shadows gathered in the garden didn’t move from that place for a long…long while.
But the sky…
They were simply staring at the sky…as if searching for the remnants of the two people the spell had swallowed.
As if they were reluctant to part from an ended dream, as if they were fearing time would move the moment they moved; a mysterious, sad, but warm stagnation.
But eternity doesn’t exist in this world…no, any world.
No matter who or when, the needles of the clock will continue drawing on, and the stopped time of these girls eventually begins moving slowly again.
“…They have left.”
The first one to break the silence was the blonde girl standing at the frontmost within the 5.
Leila Milton lowered her gaze and tightened her fist as if not missing what had slipped out from her hands.
“H-Hmph! A guy like that…returning to his world is relieving! Good riddance!”
The one who reacted was the masked girl deep in.
What she said could be taken as an insult to the two that disappeared, but no one found fault in it.
Because those words she was spitting out were wet in tears.
The two eyes hidden within the mask were not hiding the tears flooding down from there.
The one who directed eyes of affection towards the girl that calls herself Sazan was the light brown hair girl, Ina, standing at her side.
She once again looked up at the sky where they disappeared to and muttered this in worry.
“Souma-san and Maki-san, did they return to their world safely?” (Ina)
Those words that leaked out from this kind girl created silence within them again.
It is natural.
What they saw was the Forbidden Fused Spell, Death Flash. The moment they saw the boisterous light created from the two strongest spells, those two were the only ones who disappeared.
Only god knows what really happened to those two that disappeared…
There’s not a single person here who could answer her correctly.
“I don’t know. However, the moment I saw that light, it is certain that their two signals disappeared completely.”
The one who answered that question was the girl with the Explorer Ring which allows the wearer to know the location of people.
Her cat ears stood on end even at a time like this, and her clear eyes didn’t have a single blemish.
However, there was a bit.
Just a tiny little bit.
Her lips were furled as she looked up at the sky and her tightened fist was showing her heart.
The innermost one within the 5.
She muttered this in a place the closest to the sky as she stared at it.
“…Cause I promised to you, Souma.”
Her hair of the same color as the sky fluttered with the faint wind, and the girl -Ringo- declared this.
While she stared up at the sky the whole time.
Simply placing her resolve within those words of hers.
“…That’s why…I will continue believing.” (Ringo)
That was most likely a lifetime vow that’s unknown whether it will ever be fulfilled.
A declaration that, no matter what happens from here on, she won’t ever bend.
“…You are loved.”
Those words that were suddenly muttered didn’t come from the mouth of any of the five.
Below the shade of the manor around 15 meters away from the girls looking up at the sky.
A pair of eyes were watching the girls.
The owner of that gaze was the one who said those words just now; a careless girl in old style maid clothes.
The maid mercenary that had been called a useless maid by a few which they met in the Aken family incident.
Her attitude was languid unlike usual, and she simply spoke while looking straight to the front.
“Is this really okay, Souma-san?” (Rirumu)
That wasn’t a mere monologue.
It was as if she were talking harshly towards someone that shouldn’t be here.
“Is it really okay to just leave them crying?” (Rirumu)
As if trying to make those words reach despite that someone having left.
“Is it okay to leave those most important people of yours like that?” (Rirumu)
She didn’t stop asking despite the fact that, no matter which of the girls there she were to ask, no one would be able to answer.
“Hey, I am asking you, Souma-san.” (Rirumu)
And then, she finally raised her tightened fist with heightened emotions.
She couldn’t lower her raised fist, but there was pity and strong unhidable criticism within those eyes of hers as she shouted this.
“—As I said! Please stop hiding behind my back already!!” (Rirumu)
Well, how to say it…she is right.
This is an issue of the storyteller, or like, it is outrageous to try to sell a first person perspective as an omniscient point of view.
That’s why I -Sagara Souma- will be that narrator for ya.
No, I simply was watching like an outsider to escape from reality.
To put it simply…
—I managed to come back…in 5 minutes!!
The trick for my return, which no one expected, was within the candy that I swallowed.
Maki was only paying attention to the Teleport Stone, but what I had in my mouth when I saw the Death Flash wasn’t only that.
Aside from the Teleport Stone, I had also successfully smuggled the Magical Pocket Gem in my mouth.
“I chanted Magical Pocket 5 minutes afterwards like you told me to, but a bear plushie suddenly jumped out from it, and Souma-san, who I thought disappeared, suddenly came out too.
I was shocked, you know?! How would you take responsibility if my heart had stopped there?!” (Rirumu)
Just as this useless maid said, I used that Magical Pocket Gem to return to this world from Japan.
You would think this way of returning is outrageous, but the hint of Mitsuki after all the experiences she has had until now was needed in order to reach this idea.
—Thief Shoo Shoo, Yellow Slime, and the Underwater City.
First, Magical Pocket is a spell that creates a storage space in the same way as the Adventurer Bag.
And then, because of the negligence of the Nekomimi Neko developers, that space was also shared, so NPCs could take out items players placed in it.
In other words, if I were to use Magical Pocket in Japan and enter the storage space, the moment when Magical Pocket is used in the Nekomimi Neko world, I might be able to move there -was my initial thought.
Thinking about it normally, it is impossible to use magic in Japan where mana and magic doesn’t exist.
However, there’s an exception.
Different from the Teleport Stone which uses the surrounding mana to activate, a Magic Gem has the setting of ‘using the mana inside of the gem to activate’.
As proof of this, even in rooms where magic and skills are sealed like the Thief Shoo Shoo room, we managed to use the Magical Pocket Gem without issues.
Being able to bring this gem to the real world was my biggest gamble, but I safely won the gamble.
…While on the topic, I also tried out other hiding spots if the inside of my mouth didn’t work, but let’s leave that for some other time.
Or more like, when I think about the clean-up afterwards, I would rather forget about it for a while.
On top of that, by readying the useless maid who can use Magical Pocket in the Nekomimi Neko world’s side, I set up the conditions to use Magical Pocket on both worlds, but we can’t move at once with just that.
That’s because living things can’t be stored in the adventurer bag and the Magical Pocket.
But that’s when I remembered the familiar Yellow Slimes from the Slime Mold Forest.
I have used them as a weapon against the Evil God Fragment by filling them up in a bottle and placing them inside the bag alive.
I don’t know the logic behind it at all, but by putting living things in containers, you can store them indirectly in the storage space.
Also, I had an idea of an item that ‘allows a human to be placed inside’, moreover, it is ‘a size acceptable to be placed in the storage space’.
The miniature city, the Underwater City, which we entered to get the Water Dragon Ring.
First, I would use the Magical Pocket Gem in Japan, bring out the Underwater City from inside there, and enter it.
From previous verification, I know that it can take in people even when stored within the adventurer bag and the Magical Pocket. After that, the rest is simple.
I just have to leave everything else to my carrier -the mysterious creature that freely enters and moves in the storage space, and is in the middle of NPC and item- the Bear.
I had the Bear, who was on standby inside the Magical Pocket beforehand, carry the Underwater City inside the storage space, then when the useless maid used the Magical Pocket in the Nekomimi Neko world, it would jump out with the Underwater City, and wala.
We can move from Japan to the Nekomimi Neko world in an instant.
Ah, by the way, we had Bear 2 on standby with a Magical Pocket Gem in Japan for when we head to Japan again.
Now that we know it actually works, this could be done with others aside from the Bear, so I am thinking about having Maki take that role in the future, but I really owe so much to the Bears.
“No no, the ones you should be lowering your head to aren’t the Bear-sans, but the people over there! Why are you hiding?!” (Rirumu)
Right when I finished my reminiscing, Rirumu shouted at me in a low voice, but there’s not much I can do about that, right?
“I-I actually wanted to come out at once, you know?! But the atmosphere got so heavy, it is not an atmosphere where I can just say ‘heya there, I am back’! So I thought that I might be getting in the way instead if I were to come out now.” (Souma)
“W-What are you saying?! Look at that! Sazan-san is wailing her eyes out there after you left! Does your heart not ache when seeing those tears?!” (Rirumu)
“It does hurt! But that makes it harder to come out. If it were after 1 week of being gone, I could come out and say ‘Tehehe, I am back’, but it is 5 minutes, you know?! They are all completely in their parting mood, and we made a grandiose farewell scene, and yet, it would be like coming back right after because you forgot something! That kind of awkward!” (Souma)
Of course, I don’t think I will be able to hide forever.
If Mitsuki checked my location with her Explorer Ring once more, I would be out. I don’t plan on continuing hiding to begin with.
But I do think everything has a timing for it.
That’s why waiting for when their emotions have settled down a bit more and getting out that natural and emotional reunion is actually…
“Ah! S-Souma-san! At the front! Front!” (Rirumu)
However, even if it was in a low voice, it seems like us arguing was a big mistake.
I hurriedly looked at the front and the cat ears of the sharpest member in the group, Mitsuki, twitched.
Then, her gaze dropped towards her own fingers, the Explorer Ring that can detect the location of the player, and opened her eyes wide as if she couldn’t believe it.
—It has been completely discovered.
While I was in the midst of being embarrassed and indecisive, a warm hand pushed my back.
“Come on, go.” (Rirumu)
That baffled, amused, but happy voice tickled my ears.
Being urged on by that warmth, my legs naturally moved forward towards my comrades by the time I noticed.
Even when Mitsuki finally raised her head and her eyes saw me, her expression didn’t change.
But the cat ears rampaging on top of her head, flapping and waving around, were speaking out her emotions fluently.
The next one to notice was Leila.
She raised her head at the footsteps, and the moment she saw me, she broke into tears.
The one who looked dubiously over here was Sazan.
Maybe because of the surprise of our reunion, her mask fell on the ground, and she wasn’t showing any signs of picking it up.
But she said ‘You idiot. I wasn’t…worried at all…you idiot…’ and the rest I couldn’t pick up.
I don’t know what Ina, who was standing deeper in, thought at that moment, but she pinched her cheek.
She then muttered ‘ouch…’ dumbfounded, wiped her tears with her sleeves, and directed her best smile at me.
And the last one…
Her blue hair spun.
She looked back and, the moment our eyes made contact, her clear blue eyes opened wide.
Even though she didn’t drop any tears when we parted, they began to overflow at this moment, and even her expressionless face crumbled.
“—Welcome back, Souma!!”
She jumped with all her strength at me, and I caught her tightly in my arms.
Author: Thank you very much for reading!!
Please look forward to my – Usuba-sensei’s- next work!!
TL: And what better timing to end the story than the end of the year and the beginning of one! Happy New Year everyone!
If you want to read and my overall thoughts and maybe share a view of the story as a whole, check out my afterword!
WG – Afterword from Translator
Thanks for tagging along with me in this journey. It was crazy fun!