Unlimited Fafnir:Volume 7 Chapter 1
Chapter 1 - Fictional Nostalgia
Inside the lab premises sealed off by NIFL troops, Miyazawa Kenya was walking alone.
The soldiers walking past him all wore tense expressions as though about to fight a formidable foe, speaking in quiet voices.
Amidst the tense atmosphere, Miyazawa Kenya walked over to the large hole on the side of the lab building and stopped.
The hole was very deep, extending downwards in a slant. The deep end could not be seen at all.
He knew that this hole led to the fourth floor underground.
The hole's walls were abnormally smooth, as though sliced by a blade.
"—Seriously, I can't believe I survived under those circumstances. I must be pretty damn lucky."
Touching the cast on his arm, he muttered to himself in self-deprecation.
At this moment, a man approached him from behind and patted him on the shoulder.
"Are you the one in charge here?"
"Hmm? Indeed. And you are?"
Miyazawa Kenya looked back and examined the man in front of him. A man with a cold gaze was the first impression. Next, he felt a strong sense of deja vu.
—So similar to him.
He recalled the meddlesome young man who was on good terms with his daughter.
A nice guy to a fault versus a cold man.
Despite their difference in style or the lack of facial similarity, these two people overlapped in image on a certain point.
"I am Loki Jotunheim. Rank is Major. I was sent by NIFL to handle this incident."
"Now that is truly unfortunate for you to be caught up in this kind of nuisance. You have my deepest sympathies. I am Miyazawa Kenya, the director of this lab. We will be seeing much of each other for the time being and I look forward to working with you."
Miyazawa Kenya extended his hand in a business-like manner. Major Loki shook it with a smile.
His hand felt as cold as his gaze.
"I'm already used to these types of assignments. However, what a major incident. The higher-ups have issued an extermination order for that."
"It was an unexpected accident but to have concealed that kind of thing in Asgard and even allowed it to escape—If the public were to find out, the organization's reputation would suffer irrevocably."
Miyazawa Kenya stared into the depths of the hole and concurred with Major Loki.
"Unexpected huh. I was clearly about to hold you responsible, yet you can still remain so calm. You look quite relaxed."
"Truth be told, quite. As a researcher, I still wish for it to be captured alive if possible."
Miyazawa Kenya made a crooked smile.
"That is impossible. That thing will be exterminated by my team—Sleipnir."
"...Will they manage?"
Confronted with Miyazawa Kenya's taunting question, Major Loki smiled fearlessly.
"Even if they fail, I'll just let him take action."
Seeing Miyazawa Kenya frown, Major Loki spoke calmly:
"The strongest killer I raised. In this country—'Fafnir' is visiting."
"Wow! So this is the town where Mononobe grew up!"
Iris leaned towards the window and exclaimed in joy while watching the surrounding scenery.
For around four hours now, we were riding a large van with a member of Asgard staff as the driver.
After the long journey, the van drove into an inland mountain town in the central region—Nanato City.
This was apparently Mitsuki's and my hometown.
After traveling through a long tunnel, an overarching view of the entire town could be seen from the windows. Being sandwiched between two great mountains could be considered a kind of characteristic.
Although it was not extremely rural, Nanato could not be described as one of those modernized and developed regional cities.
It was no different from those towns we passed along the way.
A river ran through the middle of town, glittering under the rays of the setting sun.
"Compared to Tokyo, this place is much more quiet and peaceful!"
Iris had gotten very excited after hearing Mitsuki propose taking everyone to our hometown. However, I totally felt nothing despite seeing my hometown right before my eyes.
Having lost all memories beyond three years ago, it was like seeing this scenery for the first time. I was hoping some nostalgia might be evoked by the sight, but now it looked like there were no such feelings.
Once again, I realized how massively losing my memories would change me.
To think that the gap between my past and current selves would be this far.
"Hey Mononobe-kun, which side is your home?"
Firill looked out the window and asked me. Of all the girls here, only she, Mitsuki and Ariella did not know about my memory loss.
"Well, which side, lemme see..."
Of course I could not possibly know. My only choice was to avoid eye contact and answer ambiguously.
"You forgot because it's been too long?"
I jumped upon hearing Ariella's joke.
"Nii-san, look, it is over there. The shopping street with the arcade, around that vicinity."
Mitsuki pointed at a part of town.
"Oh, right—I remember now."
I nodded stiffly while she waxed nostalgically.
"Fufu... When we were young, we often looked for our home's location from the observation platform there."
I half-heartedly concurred with Mitsuki, escaping eye contact, not daring to look at her.
The guilt of acting as "Mononobe Yuu" was making my heart hurt immensely.
Having just woke up, Tia looked at me as though wanting to say something.
I looked around and saw Iris, Lisa and Ren watching me with worry.
These four knew of my memory loss. In other words, they probably realized what I was feeling inside.
I stroked Tia's head and smiled at the girls to tell them not to worry.
"It has been two years for me and three for Nii-san since we left. When I called home earlier... Mother was so happy. Nii-san, you really should call more often."
"We'll meet immediately so it's fine. Also, is it really possible to accommodate so many people?"
I tried as hard as I could do to respond to Mitsuki as usual and brought up a question that concerned me.
"There is no problem with space if we use my house as well. However, there might not be enough ingredients for dinner, so Mother hurried out to shop."
I totally did not understand what Mitsuki meant by that but I could not ask her directly.
To get a grasp on my location, I looked seriously at the scenery of the hometown I could no longer remember.
After going down a slope, the van drove along the river. After passing the arcade shopping street, we were brought to the place where Mitsuki had indicated earlier.
The van made a U-turn and drove off after dropping us off. Shinomiya-sensei was apparently going to pick us up for the return journey.
In front of us was a two-story wooden house. Compared to the newer designs of neighboring buildings, it felt a bit historical.
The family name on the plate read—Mononobe.
A gust of wind brought floral fragrance unique to this town.
For the first time, I finally felt a sense of nostalgia.
Although I had no memories of the town's scenery or impressions of the house, my body still remembered this distinctive air.
After taking a few deep breaths, feelings of my childhood spread through my entire body from the air entering my lungs.
"...I finally feel like I've arrived somewhere truly Japanese."
Looking at the house with the tiled roof, Firill remarked with emotion.
"Indeed... There is a feeling of Japanese culture."
Lisa looked at my house inquisitively and agreed.
"Tokyo was totally unlike what I imagined Japan to be like. There were no samurai or ninjas."
Seeming quite surprised, Iris walked back and forth, looking around.
"No, I don't think there will be samurai or ninjas here either."
Having lived in Japan the whole time they were with Miyazawa Kenya, Ariella and Ren smiled wryly while corrected Iris' mistake.
"Hey Yuu. It smells really good."
Tia pulled my hand and commented. Speaking of which, there was definitely a very appetizing aroma in the air.
"I suppose Mother is preparing dinner. Since the car is absent, Father is not home from work yet. Okay, Nii-san, stop spacing out over there and hurry inside."
Mitsuki urged me and entered the yard without ringing the doorbell. Since it was her own home, she had no reservations.
Opening the door with a clatter, Mitsuki announced loudly in the house.
"I have returned! Mother, we are home!"
Then with a meow from the depths of the corridor, a black cat walked out.
"Oh, it's a cat!"
Iris exclaimed happily. Smiling, Mitsuki approached the black cat and stroked it. It seemed to be the Mononobe family cat.
"Ohagi, I am so glad to see you in good health."
The black cat—Ohagi—meowed as though responding. Then walking over to my feet, it rubbed itself against me.
"Looks like it still remembers you, Nii-san, even though you have not looked after it this whole time. So I guess the one who picked it up ultimately holds a dear place in its heart?"
Mitsuki grumbled to me.
"I-I never looked after it?"
Troubled, I asked because I had no memories of the cat at all.
"No, it is not that you never looked after it, but when you picked up Ohagi, Hekatonkheir—"
Just as Mitsuki tried to continue, a patter of footsteps interrupted her.
"Welcome home, Mitsuki and Yuu."
A voluptuous middle-aged woman walked out from the depths of the corridor.
She was probably my mother, even though I had no idea. However, even though she treated me very nicely, she still felt like a stranger to me.
"Mitsuki, I have waited a long time. And Yuu... finally came home."
Mother—the one who seemed to be her—smiled gently at me.
"It has been a long time."
Due to nervousness, I used polite speech without thinking.
"Come on, what are you getting nervous about? This is your home, right? Don't be shy, girls, come in and have a seat."
This woman—my mother—urged us with a wry smile.
"T-Thank you for having us. Oh, I ought to remove my shoes, isn't that correct?"
Lisa's voice sounded strangely stiff as she took off her shoes and entered the house. We followed.
"This way. In any case, let us all go to the living room first."
Leading us, Mitsuki and Mother walked to the living room. Ohagi also came along.
Passing through the creaky corridor and opening a partition, we reached a room the size of eight tatami mats.
Sitting on seat cushions, we gathered around the table in the middle.
"Wow! Tatami, it's my first time touching it."
Iris touched the tatami and remarked happily.
"Onii-chan... Here, I should seiza?"
Sitting beside me, Ren asked quietly.
"No, it's fine, just sit casually."
I looked around. Mitsuki was sitting beautifully in formal seiza posture, but without being too rigid, so it was fine.
"Thank goodness. I am not good at seiza."
Ren breathed a sigh of relief, relaxed and allowed her leg posture to collapse.
"My legs are getting numb... I guess I won't seiza either."
Iris was imitating Mitsuki. After hearing my conversation with Ren, she relaxed too.
"I will endure longer."
However, among the girls, Firill continued to keep her back straight in seiza posture.
"Firill, it's best you don't strain yourself too much, okay?"
Likewise sitting in seiza, Lisa cautioned Firill.
"...The same goes for you, Lisa. It's not necessary to present yourself in front of Mononobe-kun's mother."
"Y-You are talking about yourself, right? I am simply doing as the Romans do."
Lisa replied frantically then threw a sideways glance at Firill.
However, they both showed strain on their faces. Seiza was probably tough for them.
"I'm not responsible if you can't stand up later."
Ariella looked at them as though they were idiots.
The black cat, Ohagi, came over and jumped on my lap.
"Looks like it really remembers me."
This feeling of nostalgia was making me very glad. At the same time, I felt deeply conflicted that the cat remembered me but I had forgotten it completely. Just as I had nothing to do and was stroking Ohagi's back, Ren looked at me with eyes of anticipation.
"Onii-chan, can I touch it?"
"Thank you... It's my first time touching a cat."
Ren happily reached out and stroked Ohagi's jet black fur. Although Ohagi moved its ears in fright, it did not move away and curled up in my lap.
Smiling radiantly, Ren continued to stroke Ohagi.
Mother brought drinks at this time. After setting down the tea before each of us, she sat down next to Mitsuki. Then looking at everyone, she spoke:
"We already met at the school festival, but allow me to introduce myself again. I am Mononobe Yoshimi, Yuu and Mitsuki's mother."
Mother nodded and greeted everyone.
Mononobe Yoshimi—I committed this name to memory. I could not even recall the name of my parents.
"It was very rushed during the festival when Nii-san was transported to the infirmary. Everyone starting with Lisa, could you introduce yourself again?"
Hearing Mitsuki, Lisa started the self-introductions.
"My name is Lisa Highwalker. Sorry for intruding on this sudden visit. Thank you for your hospitality."
After Lisa introduced herself while sitting in seiza, everyone introduced themselves in student number sequence.
"My name is Firill Crest. I am really really good friends with Mononobe-kun."
For some reason, Firill's introduction seemed to emphasize "really" in particular.
"I'm Ariella Lu. Nice to meet you."
In contrast to Lisa and Firill's formal airs, Ariella introduced herself in a casual tone of voice.
Still stroking Ohagi, Ren named herself quietly.
"I'm Iris Freyja! I'm, umm... really really good friends with Mononobe, and we're always helping each other out!"
As though competing with Firill, Iris also applied great emphasis in her tone of voice.
"Tia will become Yuu's bride one day! So Yoshimi is Tia's mama!"
However, Tia refused to admit defeat and made a bold declaration, frightening me.
"Fufu, what a cute little fiancee. I would be very happy to gain another daughter."
However, Mother smiled and responded, treating it as a child's joke.
"......Tia got ahead of you, Lisa."
Firill patted Lisa on the shoulder and commented. Lisa's face instantly turned bright red.
"F-Firill, doesn't the same go for you? I am not..."
Iris pouted in frustration. As expected, she had called herself "friend" only out of concern for Mitsuki.
"Then I will go get dinner ready. Please rest well, everyone."
Chuckling to herself as she watched us, Mother stood up.
"Oh Mother, let me help you."
Mitsuki instantly stood up.
"No need. It's rare enough for you two to visit, I'd like to show off today. Mitsuki, accompany everyone and show them around the house."
"—Understood. How is the other house?"
"Since have been cleaning and tidying regularly, it shouldn't be that messy or dirty. However, the electricity and water supply is cut, so it probably can only serve as a place to sleep."
"That is good enough already. Thank you, Mother."
Mother left the room after that. Ariella asked Mitsuki:
"Hey, what does the other house mean?"
I wanted to ask the same question. Smiling wryly, Mitsuki answered:
"Eh... Actually, my parents passed away when I was little. After that, I was adopted into Nii-san's family. As a result, the adjacent house was where I used to live with my birth parents."
While looking at everyone, Mitsuki explained in embarrassment.
"Oh... I see now. Sorry, I didn't know—"
Ariella apologized, feeling bad. After finding out that Mitsuki and I were not blood-related siblings, the others looked quite shocked. Iris was the only one without any change in expression.
In Iris' case, she already knew about this relationship when I explained to her about the childhood marriage promise between Mitsuki and me.
—Mitsuki and I were childhood friends and neighbors.
After Mitsuki explained, I felt a little relieved. However, this was something matter-of-fact for my past self. At this rate, I was going to be exposed sooner or later.
"N-No need to apologize... Weird speculation might arise if it was publicized that we had no blood relations, which would make things difficult to explain... Umm, please do not mind. I did have the intention of looking for a chance to explain to everyone."
Seeing Mitsuki explain frantically, I felt like my emotions were in a mess. If I asked about the past, everything would get exposed.
"Well, Mitsuki-san and Mononobe Yuu have to live in the same dormitory, isn't that right? Then it cannot be helped. Furthermore, despite being an adopted daughter, the sibling relationship is for certain... Mitsuki-san, there is no need for you to be so sensitive about it."
Lisa soothed Mitsuki's anxieties on everyone's behalf. No one said "so you're not real siblings" or continued to pry.
The same went for me. Although there were many things I wanted to find out, the sight of Mitsuki's expression gave me pause.
"...Thank you, everyone."
After seeing our reactions, Mitsuki thanked in relief.
"Then let's hurry and go tidy the house. We just walk over from this house to that one, right?"
Under the slightly heavy atmosphere, Ariella cheerfully asked Mitsuki.
"Ah yes.. It would be too cramped if all eight of us were to stay on this side. So let us separate just for sleeping. However, as stated earlier, there is no water or electricity in that house. Hence, you will need to take baths and use the washroom on this side."
"It'll be a bit inconvenient going to the toilet at night. I don't really mind, but those who are afraid of the dark should sleep on this side."
Ariella commented and looked at Tia, the youngest present.
"T-Tia can go to the toilet alone!"
Tia retorted with her face all red.
"Okay, then let us divide up based on the house's size and the usual rooming arrangements. The master bedroom on that side is the most spacious, so Lisa-san, Firill-san and Tia-san will go over together. Ariella-san and Ren-san can have my former room. Iris will stay on this side with me in my present room."
After assigning rooms decisively, Mitsuki looked at us.
"...What about me?"
Mitsuki stared at me in exasperation when I raised the question.
"Nii-san, you will sleep alone in your own room. Or are you telling me... You would like to room with someone?"
"N-No, nothing like that. Just kidding."
Under Mitsuki's gaze, I explained in panic. On further thought, it was only logical for me to have my own room here. Due to a lack of memories, I accidentally asked the question.
"Good grief... Anyone else have objections? In that case, before dinner is ready, let us get the rooms ready. It will be pitch black in the other house once the sun sets."
Looking at the setting sun outside the window, Mitsuki spoke.
Everyone nodded in agreement and got up from their seat cushions. Lying on my lap, Ohagi jumped down and walked over to the window to bask in the sun.
Mitsuki went to the kitchen to find Mother and returned with a key. It was probably the key to Mitsuki's house.
We exited the entrance, following Mitsuki and made our way to the neighboring house.
The mailbox was stuffed with all sorts of letters. It was clearly a vacant home at a glance.
However, when Mitsuki opened the main door and entered, I could see that the entrance hall was occupied with cardboard boxes. The house was probably being used for storage.
Despite looking quite old outside, the inside was relatively new. The ground floor rooms had western designs without anything like sliding screens.
—Mitsuki lived here when she was young.
I must have come here to play in the past, but I totally could not recall memories from that time.
"The bedroom is on the second floor. The rooms on the ground floor are quite cluttered and a bit dangerous, so do not wander around after dark."
Mitsuki reminded everyone to take care then walked up the stairs to the second floor. The banisters were not very worn. In other words, the house had not been lived in for very long.
"This was my parents' bedroom. This side was mine."
After reaching the second floor, Mitsuki indicated the two rooms to us.
There was nothing left in Mitsuki's room apart from a bed. Everything had probably been moved when Mitsuki moved into my home. Then I looked into Mitsuki's parents' bedroom on the opposite side where the furniture was untouched. There was a very large two-person bed, enough for three people to sleep on.
"Then hurry and get the rooms ready. There are not enough blankets on this side, so could you carry some futons over later?"
Pointing at her former room, Mitsuki said to me.
"Got it. I'll do the manual labor."
As the only boy, this could not be helped. Smiling wryly, I accepted the job.
Hence, we started to perform simple cleaning while the sun was setting and the interior was a bit dark. Then opening the windows for some fresh air, I looked at my house next door.
"—Before we became siblings, we used to talk to each other like this."
Walking up beside me, Mitsuki commented nostalgically.
The room on the other side with the drawn curtains was probably my bedroom.
Unable to recall anything, I could only imagine painfully and concur.
"Chatting till late at night, I even made my parents mad."
These fake responses pained my heart immensely.
"I am the only one who inherited this house... It would be better to sell the house if I am not living in it—But there are too many memories here. I cannot let go. Also..."
At this point, Mitsuki looked up at me.
"I have a... dream. That being said, it is a very distant dream, impossible to achieve."
Blushing, Mitsuki spoke in slight embarrassment.
"What kind of dream is it?"
"—I have to keep it a secret from you, Nii-san. Okay, time to move the futons over. The bedsheets also need to be changed. I am counting on you, Nii-san."
Ending the conversation one-sidedly, Mitsuki patted me on the shoulder.
I obeyed Mitsuki even though I still had questions. If she continued to reminisce like this, my heart would not be able to endure.
After I exited the room on my own, Iris poked her head out to look at me.
"Oh Mononobe, are you returning to the other house?"
"Yeah, to get futons and bedsheets."
"Then could you ask to see if there's something like a light? It's quite inconvenient if there are no lights at night after all."
I nodded in agreement, then in the middle of leaving, I stopped.
"...Iris, could you meet me later? I need to tell you something."
I looked back and said to her in a serious tone of voice.
"You can't do it now?"
"It's very important and only for the two of us to know."
Iris nodded seriously too.
"Then tonight, find a chance to go out."
After saying that, I went down the stairs. Naturally, what I wanted to tell her was Tia's suggestion.
But if we were to discuss, I did not know how Iris would answer.
Hence, I must firm my own will before the discussion.
—To prevent Iris from having to agonize over the decision.
"My name is Mononobe Kai. Thank you for taking care of Yuu and Mitsuki. Please continue to be good friends with them."
While we were getting the house ready, my father—Mononobe Kai—came over to greet everyone. A kind and thoughtful man.
Dinner was already set out on the living room table. The lovely aroma was stimulating our appetites. At this moment, someone's stomach rumbled. All the girls made a "not me" look and avoided eye contact. Ohagi the black cat was the first to begin eating its catfood, not caring about us at all.
"Oh sorry, you must be famished. Come, don't be shy, let's eat, everyone."
Smiling wryly, Father picked up his chopsticks and announced the beginning of the meal.
Everyone started to eat. During the meal, they introduced themselves to my father.
I listened while eating silently.
—The taste was great.
Meat and potato stew, boiled vegetables, miso soup... All nostalgic flavors. Despite losing my memories, my body still remembered the flavors themselves.
"Nii-san, Mother's cooking is really wonderful."
For the first time, I answered Mitsuki while facing her for real.
"It's different from what I understood as the taste of Japanese cooking. Not to say it is not delicious, but there is this modest feeling..."
Eating the meat, Lisa offered her comments in surprise.
"Lisa, this is how it should be. It's what they call 'mother's taste.'"
Drinking a sip of miso soup, Firill offered praise.
"Indeed, in those manga and novels that you brought, upon returning to their hometown to eat their mothers' cooking, people are always brought to tears in emotion."
Saying that, Lisa looked at me while I was eating.
"No, I'm not gonna cry."
I answered tentatively first.
"Mononobe, you don't have to hold it in."
"If you wanna cry, Tia will lend bosom to you!"
However, Iris and Tia thought I was holding back and looked at me in worry.
"No, like I said—"
"Mononobe-kun, we won't laugh at you even if you cry."
Ariella and Ren joined in the fun. I sighed in resignation.
"You are all such good girls."
Watching them, Mother chuckled to herself.
The dinner atmosphere was very lively. By the time I noticed, the meal was over in an instant.
"The hot water is ready. You should all take baths in sequence."
After clearing up, Mother reminded us to bathe.
"Then you go first, Nii-san."
"Eh, I can?"
I was thinking the girls would be resistant to the idea of entering the bath after a guy. However, Mitsuki nodded seriously.
"No problem. With so many girls, it will probably take a long time. You should go wash up first and go to bed. You must be tired with only the brief nap on the van."
Mitsuki urged me with a smile. I felt strongly that she really was my family.
Since no one objected, I took the towel Mother had handed to me and went to the bathroom. Although I had no memories of the bathroom's direction, I had pretty much figured out this house's layout.
After removing my clothes in the changing area, I entered the bathroom. It was roughly a size larger than my bathrooms at Midgard and the research lab, a family bathroom that was not especially huge. There were signs of redecoration in the bathroom and looked a bit newer than the one back home.
Lisa and Firill were probably going to be disappointed that this was not a hot spring-style bath. I broke out in cold sweat at the thought.
I exhaled deeply after soaking myself in the tub. As Mitsuki said, I was truly exhausted.
I stretched and spaced out, looking at the ceiling. While I was reminiscing over my experiences, I suddenly noticed someone's presence in the changing area.
A petite figure behind the frosted glass. I could guess who it was based on her outline and the color of her hair.
No way. I broke out in cold sweat. The sound of undressing in the changing area stopped. The door gradually opened.
"Yuu, Tia will join in the bath."
Looking at me shyly, Tia went bright red.
I cried out in surprise. Tia immediately showed panic on her face.
"Shhh! Not so loud! Or else Lisa and others will notice."
Tia placed her finger on her lip and shushed. Then fully naked, she entered the bathroom.
Despite a pubescent body, her chest was showing minor signs of growth. Without any flab at her waist, Tia's elegant curves were emphasizing Tia's feminine charms.
Furthermore, Tia seemed quite shy today, covering up her privates with her hands. Previously at the hot spring, she was still so innocent, not hiding herself at all.
Her shyness made the sight even more racy. I frantically looked away.
"W-What are you doing?"
"Because you... are worried about Tia. Also, you looked brokenhearted the whole time today."
Hearing her, I looked back at her. Tia's skin had gone red from embarrassment, but she looked at me seriously.
"Looks like—I've been like that all day."
Hearing my whispers, Tia nodded and quietly entered the tub, soaking herself, leaving only her head above the surface.
Sitting in the space in front of me with her knees drawn up to her chest, Tia stared at me intently.
"Yuu, are you okay?"
"I'm fine... Although many things are definitely troubling me, I think I'll manage. No need to worry."
I pulled myself together slightly and smiled at Tia.
"Rather, I'm more worried about you. After devouring Yggdrasil's core, do you feel unwell anywhere?"
After a nap in the van, she looked recovered. But was that actually the case? I asked Tia in return.
"No problem anymore. I've used my own will to suppress the information from the Akashic Record."
Suddenly hearing this unfamiliar term, I frowned.
"It is Yggdrasil's function, the power to amass information and process it... Controlling electricity is just a side effect. The Akashic Record is the circuit of omniscience that chronicles all information observed by Yggdrasil."
Tia spoke fluently using terms that she normally did not use.
"Then... There's nothing you don't know anymore, Tia?"
"Hmm, I might get devoured if I go too deeply into the Akashic Record, so it's best to control myself not to know too much."
Tia shook her head and said with her face red.
"Because... Tia only needs to be Tia. To keep loving Yuu... To be Yuu's bride."
Saying that, Tia shyly immersed half of her face into the water.
These actions and words made my heart rate accelerate. Furthermore, I understood too what kind of resolve she had committed herself during the battle against Yggdrasil.
"For my sake, Tia, you really worked hard. Truly... Thank you."
To express gratitude that words could not convey, I stroked Tia's head. Tia grabbed my hand, raised her head from the water and leaned in towards me.
"Mm-hmm... But Tia is not confident about keeping the old Tia. Because, last time in a bath with Mitsuki, the three of us, or at the hot spring... Tia's heart did not beat so fast."
Tia pulled my hand and pressed it against her left breast. I could feel a slight bulge even though it was not big.
My thoughts suddenly halted. Feeling the heartbeat transmitted to my hand, my mind went blank.
"Yuu, can you feel Tia's heartbeat?"
I nodded partially out of reflex, then moved my hand slightly. Tia's body suddenly shuddered.
"Mm... It feels so strange, touched by Yuu. Although a bit scary... It's very comfortable."
Flushed red in the face, Tia covered my hand with her hands.
"Ya... Ah... Mm..."
The softly bulging elasticity and the flower bud that strongly emphasized its existence was paralyzing my thoughts.
"Hey Yuu... Is Tia very weird right now?"
Blushing intensely, Tia asked me uneasily.
"No, I think... You're not weird at all. At least, probably, it's due to Yggdrasil."
Not knowing how to answer, I replied ambiguously.
But Tia was reassured and her expression relaxed.
"Thank goodness... Then, if it's not weird, Tia doesn't need to keep holding back what Tia wants to do."
Saying that, Tia hugged me from the front.
I panicked from the direct skin contact. Unconcerned, Tia pressed herself tightly against my body.
"Yuu, tell Tia whenever you are ready."
I hesitated for a moment, only to realize she was referring to my memories.
"Any time, no matter when, Tia will support Yuu. So, the precious memories... must return."
Tia hugged me tightly and looked up at me. I could feel Tia's sincere feelings, but was too moved to say anything.
The force Tia's body exerted. The refreshing fragrance that cleansed one's soul. The sensation of smooth and soft skin.
All this was depriving me of the ability to think when I heard a noise from the changing area.
I instantly regained my senses and Tia separated from me with her face red.
The person in the changing area removed her clothing like Tia and quietly opened the bathroom door.
"Ah... Tia is here as expected. She stole ahead again..."
Wrapped in a towel, Firill entered.
Seeing me in the tub with Tia, she sighed.
"W-Why are you coming in too, Firill!?"
I asked frantically. Firill tilted her head slightly.
"Because bathing together is more efficient with so many of us."
"Also... Mononobe, I want to make you as happy as that time at the hot spring."
Firill smiled with blushing cheeks then stepped into the tub, submerging herself. With three people in the tub, the water overflowed and spilled out.
The bathtub was not that big. Hence, after Firill squeezed in, Tia and I were pressed tightly together again.
Leaning her head against my chest, Tia curled up shyly.
"Mononobe-kun, sorry for making the tub so crowded."
Leaning against my shoulder, Firill spoke quietly. Seeing her large breasts floating on the water, I could not deny that my heart rate was gradually accelerating.
But at this moment, someone else seemed to enter the changing area.
"—Mononobe Yuu, are you there?"
I heard Lisa's voice coming from the door. Tia frantically covered her mouth and Firill held her breath.
"Y-Yeah, I'm here."
I feigned calmness and answered. I was already bracing myself for this kind of situation. She was absolutely not going to let me off so easily.
"I can't find Tia-san and Firill-san... They are not together with you, are they?"
However, I still broke out in cold sweat with fright when I heard that question. Lisa looked like she was here in search of them. Since she had not discovered their clothing in the changing area, Firill had most likely hidden Tia's clothing and hers.
"H-How could that be possible... Those two won't come here, right?"
With the determination to flee the bathroom immediately as soon as Lisa left, I lied.
"True. Sorry for disturbing you."
Saying that, Lisa moved away from the door. I sighed in relief but Lisa did not exit the changing area.
Next, I heard the rustling of clothing. I suddenly had a bad premonition.
"U-Umm... As a special reward for how hard you've worked, only for today, allow me to scrub your back. Also, it is more efficient for two people to bathe together—"
Saying the same thing as Firill, Lisa entered the bathroom with a blush. The towel covering her body seemed a bit small, exposing everything below her chest and abdomen.
Well aware of that herself, she stretched the towel, trying her hardest to cover the majority of her body.
However, she paused as soon as she saw Tia and Firill together with me in the bath, swallowing the rest of her sentence.
Finally, as shame turned into anger, Lisa's face also flushed red.
"What is this!? Aren't Tia-san and Firill-san right here!?"
"No, it's because—"
Having lied, all explanations were rendered weak and ineffectual. However, Firill stared at Lisa and said:
"But... Lisa, you wanted to take a bath with Mononobe-kun too, so you can't scold us for that, right?"
"W-Well... No, I was simply concerned—"
"Stop looking for excuses, Lisa, and come on in. We can probably fit another person."
Firill waved and enticed Lisa with the bathtub.
"That way, it'll be more efficient!"
Smiling, Tia repeated what Lisa said just now.
Lisa's gaze wandered in hesitation. Firill hugged my shoulders at once.
"If you don't come, Lisa, I'll have Mononobe-kun all to myself."
"Muguu... Enough, Firill, this is a bit uncomfortable."
Sandwiched between me and Firill, Tia complained with a smile. Attacked by the softness of the two girls, my sanity was slipping away. No, perhaps I had simply soaked too long in the bath.
"H-Hold on, Firill, know some shame! Arghhh, goodness gracious, get away from him right this instant!"
Lisa was already blushing to her ears. She immediately walked over and stepped into the tub, trying to pull us apart.
I could not tear my gaze from Lisa's thigh.
"M-Mononobe Yuu, what are you staring at!?"
Lisa frantically tugged at a corner of her towel, but this brought down the top end, displaying her deep cleavage before my eyes.
I frantically turned my head away but was met with the sight of the blushing Firill and Tia, making me unsure where to look. Since my legs were pinned down, I could not stand up either.
Just as I was in a dilemma and the situation was going out of control, I heard frantic footsteps.
"What is the meaning of this!?"
Someone rushed into the changing area directly and pulled the bathroom door open in one go.
Showing up fully clothed, Mitsuki's expression was grim.
A dark smile surfaced on her face while she looked alternately between Tia, Firill, me, and Lisa who had one foot in the tub.
"M-Mitsuki-san, umm, this is a misunderstanding—I came to caution them against..."
Lisa explained in panic but confronted with Mitsuki's cold stare, she lost the power to argue.
"...Mitsuki, come in and join us?"
Firill asked weakly but Mitsuki glared at her and shut her up.
"Mitsuki... So scary."
Intimidated by Mitsuki's aura, Tia submerged half her face.
"Wondering why it was so noisy, I came to have a look... But never did I expect even Lisa..."
Mitsuki sighed with her hand against her forehead.
"Mitsuki, what's wrong?"
Then Ariella and the others appeared as well.
"Wawa... Mononobe, what are you doing!?"
Leaning out from behind Mitsuki, Iris went red in the face and asked.
Going red, Ren hid behind Ariella.
Seeing everyone's reactions, Mitsuki glared sharply at me.
"So... Nii-san, there is a mountain of things I wish to say, but before that—"
"W-What is it?"
I gulped and asked. Mitsuki roared in anger:
"How much longer do you intend to expose your naked body to everyone!?"
"S-Sorry! I'll get dressed immediately!"
I instantly lifted Tia and stood up, trying to leave the tub.
But without considering the consequences of this action, I fully exposed my lower body that had been hidden underwater.
It was too late for regrets.
All eyes were focused on one point. Next, seven people's worth of screaming ensued.
On the second floor of the Mononobe home, my room was adjacent to Mitsuki's.
There was a lot of shounen manga on the bookshelves. A satchel with back straps was still hanging on an elementary schooler's desk. The school calendar on the desk still showed March from three years ago. It looked like NIFL had taken me before my elementary school graduation. I felt like I was recalling someone else's memories.
To me, having lost all memories beyond three years ago, this room felt like it belonged to someone else.
I apparently liked soccer at the time. The posters on the walls were all soccer players.
Resting against the futon, I looked at the posters, sighing deeply.
I was not simply sighing due to the loss of my memories. I also felt extremely exhausted because of the long lecture Mitsuki delivered after the bathroom crisis.
Moreover, Iris had witnessed the scene. Judging from how she screamed and ran away, tonight's conversation might be very difficult.
Iris was in Mitsuki's room while our rooms were adjacent and very close together. However, after that lecturing, I really did not have the courage to visit Mitsuki's room again.
Unable to calm my feelings, I stood up and walked to the window. Pulling the curtains open, I could see a bit of light in the opposite house.
Over there was where Mitsuki lived before becoming my sister. It was currently Ariella and Ren's bedroom. The light I could currently see was probably used for illumination.
—At this distance, it was definitely possible to converse with the windows opened.
As soon as I thought about how Mitsuki and I used to have happy conversations like this, my heart began to ache intensely.
At this moment, the room's sliding door shook then came slightly ajar.
"Mononobe... Can I come in?"
I could see Iris' face from the gap in the door.
I walked over in surprise and opened the door. Dressed in a negligee, Iris fidgeted shyly. She looked like she was still bothered by what had happened in the bathroom.
"You came, Iris. But... won't Mitsuki get mad?"
To prevent us from violating public morals in the house, Mitsuki had warned ahead of time. If she discovered Iris came to my room, Mitsuki would probably get angry again.
However, Iris smiled wryly without panicking.
"Don't worry, Mitsuki-chan tired herself out scolding all of you. She is already asleep."
"Really... Then let's talk now."
Feeling guilty for exhausting Mitsuki, I invited Iris into the room.
"Wow... It's like a kid's bedroom."
Iris looked around in interest then sat down on the futon.
"I actually was a kid when I lived here. By the way, why are you sitting there?"
"Eh, I can't?"
Iris tilted her head in puzzlement. Dressed in a negligee, sitting on the futon, there seemed to be an element of seduction. However, Iris had no self-awareness of that sort.
"It's not that you can't... Whatever, let's proceed."
I calmed down and faced Iris who was sitting on the futon.
"Is this a very important topic?"
Iris confirmed with a serious look on her face.
I nodded and took a deep breath. Although it was decided abruptly, I already prepared myself. Although it was very troubling, I already fully understood the existence of "myself."
"Actually, Tia told me, she'll return my memories to me."
Iris was stunned for a moment then spoke in surprise:
"S-So you're saying Tia-chan can return your memories to the way they were, Mononobe!?"
"Wait, not so loud."
I frantically covered Iris' lips. I carefully observed the presence next door. It looked like the noise had not woken Mitsuki.
"S-Sorry. But... That's wonderful, Mononobe. That's truly wonderful..."
Large teardrops fell from Iris' eyes while she gave me her blessing in a trembling voice.
It looked like in her consideration for me, she had not realized she might lose her "number one" position in my heart.
Thus, even if I told her what troubled me, she would surely ask me to retrieve my memories.
Through just now, I had already confirmed this fact.
Hence, I needed to steel my own determination even more.
"Thank you for being happy for me, Iris. But to be frank, I'm very afraid."
"How my current self will change, how my feelings for you, Iris, will change... I might get overwritten by my past self, it makes me very afraid."
Iris was instantly stunned by what I said.
"That's true... I know how you feel, Mononobe. Still... But—"
Iris placed her hand on her chest and looked at me with a pained expression.
"—I know. Even so, I must retrieve my memories."
"Mm-hmm... I think that's best. Because you look like you've been suffering the whole time, Mononobe... Poor Mitsuki-chan, kept in the dark all along."
For the second time, Iris showed relief for others without being concerned for herself.
"It's not an issue between Mitsuki and me. In my current state, I can't face you, Iris... So, I have to move forward and retrieve my past self."
Iris had always worried about Mitsuki. Influenced by the real "Mononobe Yuu," I also felt guilty, unable to grow closer with Iris. Due to this indecisive state, I could only maintain a relationship of ambiguous affection with Tia and the others.
As a result, no one was going to obtain happiness if the status quo continued.
"I will definitely become different from my current self—Neither will I forget anything, including you, Iris... I won't forget my current feelings for you."
Iris brushed the corner of her eye with a finger then replied in a sobbing voice.
"Hey Mononobe, will you promise me a willful request, just one?"
"What is it?"
Enduring the pain in my heart, I asked. No matter what it was, I would do everything I could to actualize it.
"In the end... I'd like to have a date with the current Mononobe, just the two of us."
Smiling tearfully, Iris told me her wish.
"It's a promise."
I instantly replied. Iris smiled happily.
"Thank you. It's already late tonight, so how about tomorrow morning?"
"Then let's wake up earlier tomorrow morning."
Saying that, Iris stood up then left my room lightly.
Leaving only traces of tears...
The next morning, Iris and I were walking side by side in town with morning mist hanging in the air.
The sun had just risen and the air was still a bit chilly.
It was very quiet in the surroundings. Sounds of car engines and birds singing could be heard clearly.
"Looks like we ran away successfully without anyone discovering."
"By the way, I can't believe you managed to get up so early. Mitsuki would have woken if you used an alarm clock..."
Roused by Iris before 5am, I rubbed my sleepy eyes and commented.
I never expected Iris, who often overslept at school, to get up this early.
"Oh, umm, well—Yeah..."
Iris answered vaguely. On closer examination, her eyes were a bit red.
"Hmm? No way—You didn't sleep?"
"Rather than didn't sleep, it's more like I couldn't sleep... B-But don't worry, I already slept in the van yesterday!!"
Seeing Iris smile bravely, I could not say anything. It would be insensitive to say I was tired despite sleeping so soundly.
"Oh, Mononobe! It's really fine, don't worry. Come on, gimme a smile, it's a rare date after all."
Seeing my expression, Iris spoke cheerfully and held my hand. I was startled by the strength coming from her delicate fingers and smiled back at her. Yeah, Iris would be sad if I made a gloomy face.
"You're right. We should enjoy our date right now."
I gripped Iris' hand in return and looked around.
Slightly farther away from the residential neighborhood was the entrance to the arcade shopping street.
We naturally walked over there.
The shops were not open at this time with only one delivery vehicle stopped there and no one could be seen behind it.
"But is this kind of date okay? There are no shops open right now..."
Would Iris be happy like this? I asked her.
"Don't worry, I'm happy with just taking a walk, because I'm with you, Mononobe. Do you feel bored together with me?"
"No, of course not."
"Then that's enough. This is our date, Mononobe."
Iris smiled happily and we walked arm in arm.
Although this made it harder to walk, compared to before, it gave me a stronger sense of Iris' presence.
Indeed, nothing else would be needed.
Arm in arm, Iris and I walked along the street. Without any memories, I could not introduce things to her. I even had to take care not to get lost.
Hence, we made one round then returned to the vicinity of my house.
The date would be over if we went home just like that. We stopped in front of a park on the side of the road and looked at each other.
—We wanted to stay together longer.
After confirming these feelings, we entered the park.
This was a small park with leisure facilities for small children. At this hour, it was completely deserted.
Maintaining this posture, arm in arm, we sat down on a bench, looking at this park we had all to ourselves.
"We have to get back before the others wake up.
Iris said sadly.
"Not really, it's fine even if this date continued for the entire day. Since we're on vacation, it's fine even if we don't stay in touch. Oh well, although we'll face all kinds of questioning afterwards."
I squinted at the morning sun and answered.
Despite making such a suggestion, I still felt very scared. Perhaps I still wanted to remain with Iris like this indefinitely.
If possible, I wanted time to stop at this moment. It was very spineless, but these were my true feelings.
"Thank you, Mononobe, but... No. We can't worry Mitsuki-chan."
Iris shook her head resolutely. Instead of choosing to escape, she was going to, with determination—
She was very resilient indeed, always guiding me on the important points.
"Also, no matter how much time we have, the final farewell will always be painful."
Iris smiled dreamily and looked into my eyes.
She was like me... No, she was even more afraid than me, but she did not escape.
"That's why, here—Let's end it here. It's fine to end it like this..."
Saying that, she closed her eyes and lifted her face.
Why was I so weak?
As least right now, I needed to become as strong as her.
Answering briefly, I drew near Iris' face.
Mustering my maximum courage, I slowly approached the end.
My distance between Iris shortened bit by bit. Finally, all I could see was her.
Then we made contact.
Soft, warm, slightly moistened lips.
This was the third and perhaps our last kiss.
In order not to forget this moment, Iris and I kissed for a long time
But ultimately, the end had to come. Iris slowly drew away and ended the kiss quite calmly.
While I was still in a daze...
"Then let's go back," Iris used a cheerful voice to remind me.
With blushing cheeks, she forlornly released my arm and stood up.
I wanted to pull her back and embrace her tightly but that would waste her resolve.
Clenching my fist, I resisted the urge and stood up from the bench.
At this moment, I noticed.
Mitsuki was standing at the park entrance, staring at Iris and me in a shocked expression.
I exclaimed in surprise. Why was Mitsuki here... No, this park was near the house.
Probably noticing Iris and I had gone out after she woke up, Mitsuki must have gone searching for us.
But this really was the worst timing.
Meeting my gaze, Mitsuki cried out and took a step back.
But for a moment, I could not move, unable to even call her.
Then Iris ran over.
She simply hugged Mitsuki who was trying to flee.
"U-Unhand me! Sorry—for intruding upon you. I had no intention of peeking—"
"No! This is the end! Mononobe has always wanted to turn back into the Mononobe who loves you most! So—Don't run away!"
Iris spoke to Mitsuki in a strong tone of voice.
After hearing this, Mitsuki stopped struggling as hard.
"The end? Turn back... What on earth is this about—"
With a troubled expression, Mitsuki asked Iris.
"Everything, all of it will be explained. Sorry, Mitsuki-chan. What happened just now was my willfulness."
Iris hugged Mitsuki tightly, her shoulders kept shaking.
Mitsuki gradually calmed down and looked in my direction.
After taking a deep breath to calm myself, I walked over to Mitsuki's side.
By this point, there was no way to hide things. But the situation had changed. Thanks to Tia, I was now able to recover my memories.
Furthermore, I had already resolved myself to turn back into Mononobe Yuu. Even if the truth was brought to light, Mitsuki would not despair.
"Mitsuki, you probably noticed I've been hiding some things from you."
I tried my hardest to stay calm and confirmed with Mitsuki.
When I revealed that Yggdrasil was taking over my mind, Mitsuki had asked whether I was still hiding more things.
"Indeed, Nii-san, last time you said that you would tell me once you have retrieved everything."
Troubled, Mitsuki nodded and looked at me.
"Yeah... Although it's a bit early, I'll tell you now."
Resolving myself that there was no turning back, I explained everything to Mitsuki.
"Wait here for me. I'll go call Tia-chan."
Iris left Mitsuki and I in front of the entrance and went into Mitsuki's old home.
Tia was probably sleeping on the second floor with Lisa. Iris was fetching her to recover my memories.
Having listened to the whole story at the park, Mitsuki now stared in shock at the sky.
"...Seriously, I never would have thought."
"Something like losing your memories in exchange to download new data of anti-dragon armaments... Unable to recall living in this town... That kind of thing, even if you tell me—"
Saying that, Mitsuki gnashed her teeth and glared at me sharply.
"Also, even saying immediately that there was no problem because you were going to retrieve your memories immediately—How am I supposed to react? Be sad? Be happy? ...I do not even know what expression to use to face the matter."
Smiling in self-mockery, Mitsuki kicked a pebble by her foot. The rolling pebbled stopped after hitting my shoe.
"I am sorry, Mitsuki."
"What in particular are you apologizing for?"
"For lying to you, Mitsuki... Pretending to be your brother as 'Mononobe Yuu' when I clearly have no memories."
Hearing that, Mitsuki sighed deeply.
"Lying—is definitely not good, but there is no need to feel bothered about pretending to be my brother."
"Do you think I would fail to notice if someone were to pretend to be my brother? Even having lost your memories, Nii-san, you are still yourself. I still know that, at least."
Mitsuki stared at me with forceful eyes. Then her expression grew gentler.
"So... Whether 'the memories will come back so it is fine' or 'Nii-san will turn back into his original self'... Even if you tell me something like that, none of that would excite me. Moreover, I somehow get the feeling that something larger is brewing... But there is no telling what it might be... What should I do? My thoughts are all knotted together."
In our dialogue, Mitsuki voiced how lost she felt. I did not know how to answer either, hence silence descended upon us again.
Evidently, even after confessing my secret and sharing information, I still could not reach an understanding with Mitsuki.
I was unsure what exactly Mitsuki wanted to express.
"Nii-san... You and Iris-san were kissing, right?"
Surprised, I nodded.
"Iris-san said it was the end and that once your memories recovered, you would turn back into the Nii-san who loves me most. However... What grounds is that belief founded upon?"
All I could think of was the childhood promise Mitsuki had mentioned after the Basilisk battle.
"Getting married after reaching adulthood. That was what you and I promised, right?"
Mitsuki asked as though reading my mind.
It was pointless to deny it—I had no choice but to admit.
"Iris-san is nice to a fault."
Mitsuki smiled wryly and spoke softly.
"Ahhh—I still do not get it. Should I be happy? Should I be sad...? Or should I be angry...? Everything is incomprehensible... Everything is—"
Saying that, Mitsuki looked down.
The atmosphere grew heavy again. Thus, after time passed without us saying a word, the main door opened with a clatter.
As though trying to escape the awkward atmosphere, Mitsuki and I both looked at the door. We happened to make contact with Iris who was peering out. We all smiled wryly.
"M-Mononobe... Sorry, the others found out."
In addition to the apologetic Iris and Tia, four more people came out together. Lisa, Firill, Ariella and Ren.
I rested my forehead against my palm in despair. On further thought, asking Iris to bring just Tia out alone was too tall a task. It was unavoidable that the others would discover her.
"So, what are you trying to do? Please explain properly."
Arm crossed, Lisa questioned. Once again, Iris and I explained the situation to everyone.
"More secrets. Give me a break. Even I'm getting mad now, you know?"
"...I'm already mad, and it seems like we're the only ones kept out of the loop."
After learning the whole story, Ariella and Firill stared at me.
To prevent the commotion from attracting my parents' attention, we went over to the earlier park.
Choosing a park over indoors was due to Tia's request. A park where trees grew would apparently allow Yggdrasil to manage the plant network.
"Well, you two should calm down first. Since the memories can be recovered, we should hurry and attempt it. It would not be too late to save the complaints for later."
"Yes, Onii-chan's memories are the most important."
Already in the know, Lisa and Ren began to appease Ariella and Firill.
"That's right, we must not delay any longer. Tia-chan, please. Return Mononobe's memories."
Iris urged Tia seriously.
Still looking a little sleepy, Tia rubbed her eyes and shook her head to wake herself up.
"Nii-san, is this really for the best?"
Mitsuki asked me sorrowfully.
I nodded and Mitsuki looked at Iris.
"Mitsuki-chan, I've always been waiting for this moment to arrive."
Iris noticed Mitsuki's gaze and responded with a cheerful smile. It was a smile of resilience without a shred of hypocrisy.
Mitsuki looked like she wanted to say something but her lips moved without making a sound.
"Okay, Yuu, Tia will try hard too."
Under everyone's watch, Tia stood before me.
"What do I need to do?"
"Umm... Basically, Tia will access Yuu's brain next, rather than skin... lips would be better."
For some reason, Tia's face turned bright red while she spoke quietly.
"Sorry, I didn't quite catch that. What kind of contact?"
"Umm... W-Well... A-Anyway—Get down first!"
Saying that, Tia pulled my hand. I had no choice but to listen to her and stoop.
"U-Uh... This isn't a wedding vow kiss yet, okay?"
Tiny cherry lips drew near and pressed against my lips.
Due to this sudden attack, my thoughts halted. With shocked faces, the others watched Tia kissing me like this.
Tia kissed more forcefully and stuck her tongue inside my mouth. The instant the tip of Tia's hot tongue made contact with my tongue, there was a pop in my mind as though sparks had exploded.
Presumably, electrical access to the brain was established through a passage via oral mucous membranes.
By the time I became aware of the significance of what she had said earlier, Tia had already separated from me.
"Yuu, how do you feel?"
Blushing, Tia asked gently.
"Eh? How should I say this? Umm, my brain feels lighter—"
I answered in confusion. If it was over like this, that would be far too simple a process.
No, perhaps startled by Tia's kiss, I had failed to notice great changes.
I originally expected myself to be replaced by the real "Mononobe Yuu" but there was no special feeling.
"Tia has cleared away the bad stuff Yggdrasil sent into your body. Now you should become able to recall past memories."
"Become able to recall, past memories...? Not return to the way I was?"
"No, Yuu's memories were blocked. After clearing them, you'll naturally be able to remember bit by bit."
In other words, I would not feel a dramatic change in memory right now. I looked at everyone else, stunned as they were, my gaze settling on Mitsuki.
Past experiences flashed in my mind, but those memories were too vague. I could not even tell when they had occurred. However, the image of Mitsuki's face, from when we were playing in this park, overlapped with her current face.
Mitsuki called my name in concern.
By the time I noticed, my cheeks were burning and a single tear was sliding down from my eye.
"Sorry, although I'm not recalling everything, there are vague impressions, the memories are still there, they still remain... At the thought of this, I..."
I frantically wiped the corner of my eye and smiled at the worried Mitsuki.
Seeing me like that, Mitsuki wept with joy.
"Really...? I'm so glad, Mononobe, honestly, I'm so glad."
Seeing Iris crying with a smile, the others seemed to recover their from the shock.
"But Mononobe-kun cannot recall clearly... Is that a problem?"
Firill asked with worry.
"No, it isn't, Firill-san. I believe it is very normal for memories to be difficult to recall clearly. Memories are very ambiguous to begin with, especially those that have not been recalled for a long time. They probably entered a state that is relatively harder to recall."
Arms crossed, Lisa contemplated while offering her insight.
"Then let's take a walk all over town and check out the scenery, how's that? It might jog his memory. After all, this is his hometown."
Ren nodded to agree with Ariella's suggestion.
"That's a great idea."
"Then today, let's all have a tour of Mononobe's hometown."
Iris concurred happily. It looked like she was happy for real. However, as soon as I thought of Iris' last kiss with me, I knew she was pushing herself.
My heart was aching. My feelings for Iris had not disappeared. But while my memories slowly returned, these feelings might no longer remain "number one."
When my thoughts reached this point, I noticed that like me, Mitsuki was paying attention to Iris.
Seeing the slight expression of suffering from the side of her face, I spoke to her hesitantly. Then Mitsuki smiled wryly at me and said:
"As expected, I still have no idea how to react. Nii-san... Are you happy?"
I was at a loss for words. Seeing me like that, Mitsuki sighed.
"Well, no matter what, you ought to thank Tia-san. Nii-san, for your sake, she... even kissed you."
Mitsuki urged me with complicated expression that seemed a little angry and slightly appalled.
Tia looked at me with slight worry. She probably felt worried after seeing I was unable to answer Mitsuki's question immediately. Seeing as I was the one who hoped for this outcome, it would be bad if I did nothing to ease the worry on Tia's face.
"Tia, thank you for returning my memories to me."
Placing my hand on her head with the little horns, I stroked along her hair's direction.
"Yeah... But speak up if you feel anything weird. Tia still isn't familiar with using Yggdrasil's power—"
At this moment, Tia stopped mid-sentence and widened her eyes, staring over my shoulder.
Just as I inquired, the surrounding suddenly darkened.
The trees in the park were shaking. A strong gust of wind swirled.
"What is going on!?"
I followed Tia's gaze to look at the sky too.
Floating in the sky... was a gigantic monster.
Large enough to blot the sky, its wings featured hard jet-black scales. Tiny black particles were flying around it.
—I had seen it before.
It was the giant dragon that I had seen many times during lectures at Midgard, capable of creating dark matter and the perpetrator of the first dragon disaster.
By my side, Mitsuki spoke its name in surprise.
Occupying Nanato City's airspace, the black dragon was ruling the sky with overwhelming presence.
A majestic sight truly befitting the title of dragon. To believe that having defeated Yggdrasil and retrieved my memories, all problems were resolved... That was an illusion.
Nothing was over.
The dragon possessing the same power as Ds was watching us from high in the sky...
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