Unlimited Fafnir:Volume 1 Epilogue
I had a dream.
Drifting in the seabed of slumber where everything was ambiguous, I looked out to a scene in the distance that did not exist in memory.
"Yuu-kun, wait up!"
"You're too slow, Mitsuki!"
But Mitsuki never called me "Yuu-kun."
So this must be a fantasy created by my own mind.
Only just a dream.
"If you run so quickly, be careful not to tire out before we reach the observation platform."
Hearing a voice from behind, I looked back to see four adults with gentle smiles on their faces.
Two of them were probably my father and mother, while the remaining two... I think I've seen them before, but could not remember.
"Don't worry, this is nothing!"
I acted tough and sped up, running up the slope.
"Yuu-kun, don't leave me behind!"
Mitsuki cried out pitifully, desperately chasing after me.
In this way, we left the adults behind and reached the observation platform at the peak.
The two of us were panting heavily. Large beads of sweat seeped out from our foreheads.
There was no one in the observation platform's surroundings. Only cicadas were making a noisy racket.
"What a surprise... The buildings became so small."
I looked at the scenery over the railing and exclaimed in joy.
"Can you see our homes?"
Showing excitement in her eyes, Mitsuki searched for our home.
"Should be around there, right? See, that's the arcade in the shopping street."
"Eh... Where? I can't see it!"
Leaning against her shoulder, I pointed into the distance. Mitsuki and I carved the sight of our town into our hearts and retinas.
Mitsuki looked like she was in a good mood. Seeing her dazzling smile, the young me asked her if something good happened.
"Yeah, because I kept up with Yuu-kun today! You usually leave me behind all the time, don't you know that hurts my feelings?"
"That's because you're too slow."
"I'm not slow. I finally caught up today. From now on, we'll stay together forever and ever!"
Saying that, Mitsuki hugged my arm.
"D-Don't do that, it's very stuffy. What do you mean, stay together forever and ever? That's impossible!"
"Why is it impossible? As long as we get married, even if we turn into old people, we'll still be together forever!"
Mitsuki replied with an innocent smile.
"What are you talking about? Don't you know kids can't get married?"
"I know, that's why I'll settle for being a fiancee until we become adults."
Hearing her declare so openly, I was stunned with surprise. At this time, Mitsuki silently drew her face near.
The soft touch of lips.
I was too surprised to speak.
"This is the kiss of engagement, Yuu-kun."
Blushing red, Mitsuki smiled.
Then the world went white.
The scene viewed from afar gradually drifted away.
—Ahhh, why am I having such a dream?
This kind of episode did not exist in my memory. That meant it was a dream created out of my desire.
Nevertheless... Even though it was clearly an embarrassing dream that could only be taken as a joke... Why did my chest hurt so much?
Why did I feel so much sorrow that I wanted to scream and yell?
I reached for the scenery in the dream, gradually drifting away.
But I could not touch it.
I could never touch it again.
I could not even remember what kind of dream I had dreamt.
—What on earth did I lose?
Even if I asked this question, no one would answer me.
Even if I searched, the answer would not be found.
All I knew was that this was something extremely important. Only this one fact was beyond a doubt.
—It was probably too late.
Unable to withstand the intense feeling of loss, I turned my back to my own dream.
Then I floated up from the sea of slumber.
Next... Even forgetting this incident of "having lost something," I opened my eyes.
"You finally woke up, Nii-san."
Sitting on the bed's edge, Mitsuki gazed down at me. The setting sun was shining through the window, dyeing the room a shade of red.
Hearing me call her name, my younger sister showed a helpless smile.
"I know the battle yesterday exhausted you greatly, Nii-san, but there should be limits in refusing to get out of bed, you know? It is almost dinner time."
"I slept for that long...?"
I sat up in surprise.
Immediately, I felt something cold slide down my face.
I touched it with a finger. My face was wet.
Mitsuki looked at my face worriedly.
"Nii-san... Are you crying?"
"No, the tears fell on their own... Probably because I just woke up."
I wiped the tears away with the back of my hand and smiled at Mitsuki.
"I hope so... If you find any unusual symptoms in your body, you must speak out, okay? Because you were seriously too reckless yesterday, Nii-san."
Seeing me nod in agreement, Mitsuki got up from the bed and walked to the door.
I should have locked the door, so Mitsuki must have entered using the master key.
But having slept for so long, it was normal for her to check up on me due to worry.
"So, Nii-san, I will be waiting for you at the dining hall."
"Yeah, I'll be there in a sec."
I watched Mitsuki exit the room after I replied.
Seeing her leave, for some reason, I felt a slight prick inside my chest.
Water dripped onto the bedsheets.
My tears still had not stopped.
'—Good job, 2nd Lieutenant Mononobe. Believing in you turned out to be correct. Thanks to you stopping those impetuous fellows, "White" Leviathan was taken out. I am truly grateful to you now that this threat is no longer left unhandled.'
On the screen of the portable terminal, Major Loki spoke with a cheerful smile.
The venue was my room.
After having dinner with Mitsuki, I suddenly received Major Loki's call while I was resting.
Although I had plenty of complaints for him, he suddenly thanked me at the very start, making me lose my opportunity to speak.
Major Loki was always like that.
He never let the other side take control of the pace.
As though I was thinking "how could you say that shamelessly," I still feigned respect on the surface and saluted him.
Major Loki must have considered both of two cases.
As long as I stayed clear of interfering, that would be best.
If I intervened, then backed into a corner, I would surely finish the job.
He must have been certain of that.
And he most likely predicted the latter to be more likely, hence he goaded someone else to take action.
The NIFL leader who had sent that team was perhaps Major Loki's rival opposing his interests. Although this incident did not get blown up into a huge deal, that person might be forced to take responsibility and lose influence.
—Supposing things happened as I imagined it was only natural that he did not send out the real Sleipnir.
Because Major Loki could not possibly send out his team on a mission that was presumed to fail.
'I believe that results are everything. No matter what the process, as long as the result approaches the best outcome, then the action you took is the correct one. As long as you maintain correctness, I will believe in you and praise you. If there's anything you want, please feel free to speak up. I will grant you a favor no matter what it is. Think of it as the reward for this job.'
"No... I don't have anything I want right now, so let me think about it."
'I see, then tell me once you've thought of something. But before long, Midgardsormr will be restored and the next time we can communicate will be another crisis. So, I'm still counting on you here on—My Fafnir."
The call ended with disturbing words.
If possible, I really did not want to see him again, but that was probably impossible.
I sighed gloomily. Just as I was about to lie down in bed, the terminal's screen indicated incoming mail.
After reading the contents, I stood up.
I had to go outside but it was near curfew time. I guess I should give Mitsuki a heads up in person before going out today.
I left my room and went up the second floor stairs.
As soon as I opened the door to the room that Mitsuki usually used, I saw Mitsuki look up from reading on the sofa, glaring at me disapprovingly.
"—I know that leaving the door unlocked is my oversight, Nii-san, but you should knock before entering, should you not?"
"Who cares? We're siblings so there's no need to be concerned about that, right?"
Mitsuki stared at me with extreme surprise.
"Hmm? Did I say something weird?"
"No... Nothing, you just feel different from before, Nii-san..."
"Really? I think I've always been like this, oh, Mitsuki—I need to go out for a bit right now."
"Going out is fine... But the curfew is 8pm, remember?"
"I know. Then I'm off."
"...Take care, Nii-san."
Until the very end, Mitsuki showed a very troubled expression but unable to figure out what was wrong no matter how much I pondered, I could only tilt my head in puzzlement.
Leaving the dorm, I looked up to see the sky filled with stars as far as the eye could see.
On a night several days before, I seemed to have gone out at this kind of hour as well.
While I was thinking this and faced forward again, I saw a shadow quivering near the door.
I frowned and approached, only to hear what sounded like people arguing in whispers.
"...H-Hey, could you not push? He will discover our presence!"
"...I think there's no need for us to hide."
I quietly looked outside the door to see my classmates pushing one another.
It was Lisa, Firill, Ren and Ariella. All classes were suspended today, but everyone was dressed in uniform.
"Are you looking for Mitsuki?"
I thought they probably came for school or student council business, so I asked that.
"N-No! P-Purely coincidence! We all happened to pass by during a stroll in the evening! Nothing more than that!"
Lisa glared at me, looking particularly flustered.
"...No, we came to check on your condition. Lisa invited all of us."
Firill quietly corrected Lisa.
Feeling surprised, I looked at Lisa to seek confirmation. Turning red, she looked away.
Ren tugged my clothing then showed me her terminal's screen.
'Mitsuki-chan contacted us to say you did not wake up the whole time.'
"O-Ohhh... Because I was totally exhausted yesterday."
After performing two transmutations beyond my own generating capacity, I was apparently quite tired out. By the time I woke up, it was already almost dinner time.
But judging from the conversation earlier, Mitsuki had wanted to rouse me from bed even earlier, But in spite of that, I remained soundly asleep, which was probably why she discussed with the others.
After hearing my answer, Ren typed on the terminal then showed it to me.
'Seeing you are so lively, our visit was a waste of effort.'
"...So you were that worried about me. Thank you, everyone."
Putting my hand on Ren's head, I thanked them.
Turning bright red, Ren brushed my hand off and hid behind Ariella.
"—You really are quite thoughtless. A girl's head isn't something you touch casually."
"Sorry, because her height is just right, I did it without thinking..."
"Without thinking huh... Whatever, Ren doesn't seem angry, so I'll let you off this time."
"...She's not angry?"
Looking at Ren's pouting face behind Ariella, I asked her that.
"She's just shy. She bites when she's angry, so be careful."
"...Got it, I'll be very careful."
I nodded respectfully. At this point, Lisa interrupted:
"Mononobe Yuu! Since we met by chance, there is something I shall tell you while I am here!"
"...You're still insisting it's by chance?"
Firill poked fun at her quietly. Lisa ignored her and continued:
"Rumor has it that yesterday's black light which halted Leviathan's movement was your doing... Is that true?"
"Oh... Yeah, well, it's true."
Judging from the fact that she called it a rumor, I guess what I did had not been publicized.
Telling the truth might lead to trouble... But I somehow felt hesitant towards lying in response to Lisa's question.
Probably because her eyes were very serious.
"So it is true... Then it cannot be helped."
Lisa crossed her arms and sighed deeply.
"Cannot be helped?"
"Indeed, your accomplishment of saving our family must be commended concretely. Hence, I hereby promote you to 'probationary classmate'!"
Pointing at me, Lisa declared.
"You said promote... Then what was I before?"
"Of course you were just an outsider!"
Seeing her assert that in such a matter-of-fact expression, I slumped my shoulders dejectedly.
"Well... Although it's better than being an outsider, so I still can't become a classmate?"
"Of course, if you thought you could become a classmate so easily, you are sorely mistaken. Please work hard!"
After saying that, Lisa turned to Firill and the others.
"Very well, everyone, let us return. The dorm supervisor will be angry if we don't hurry."
"Okay... We're of now. See you tomorrow."
Firill lowered her head and bowed to me.
Ren turned her face away while Ariella waved to me, then they walked away.
Seeing the four of them off, I then went in the opposite direction.
It felt good to be acknowledged.
While I felt my mood become relaxed, I walked along my way.
Following the same route, I came to the beach where I first met her.
The silver-haired girl who had called me out was still standing at the water's edge with her feet immersed in seawater.
A line of footprints extended from the breakwater all the way to her current location.
With longer strides than the girl—Iris—I walked across the beach, calling her name.
"Mononobe... Sorry for calling you out again."
"No worries. What is it this time?"
"The same thing as last time."
Iris smiled and approached me.
"Yes... What we didn't finish talking about last time."
Iris nodded and gazed directly into my eyes—Then she continued and said:
"Umm... Can we be friends... Mononobe?"
Hearing this question, my mouth gaped open in surprise.
"What are you talking about? Iris, we're already friends long ago."
"Eh? No way! When did I become friends with you, Mononobe?"
"Uh, I don't know how to answer even if you ask me when... I saw you as a friend very early on!"
Hearing my answer, Iris exhaled deeply.
"Mononobe, you... always give me what I want the most, so surely, you..."
Because her voice was too quiet, I could not quite catch the latter half.
"Nothing, it's nothing! Putting that aside, I have to somehow reward you this time."
With cheeks blushing red, Iris came even closer to me and made a gentle smile.
"...Thank you, Mononobe."
Standing on tiptoe, Iris approached my face.
That moment—the gentle sensation from a mere instant's contact between lips—was the first I had ever experienced in my life.
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