Part 8: Home AgainWith Saki in Sarapatras form, they were almost ready to return to Blue Canyon Hamlet. This included a rather awkward trip to one of the shops near the doctors clinic.
This shopkeeper keeps staring at you, Doc.
Well, yeah, that's quite obvious.
Hey, don't say such weird things. That's just your imagination.
But seriously, I don't know why, but Doctor receives some fervent support from men.
That means he's highly respected as a competent medical doctor.
A man who's trusted by everyone, huh? Ghh! That's so cool, man!
Well, it's not necessarily trust, but more like...uh...maybe...some kind of love?
Hey, please give me a break! I don't have that kind of taste.
You know, shopkeepers' love is wonderful.
What the hell does that even mean?
There's a jinx that says that if you infuse a weapon you're making, the weapons gets really strong.
...Didn't you know of that?
I've never heard of it, either.
Well, you guys lack love in your life or maybe he's just different from all of you...
(Sometimes the things he says make no sense...)
(Whew...thank Goddess they changed the topic. ...That was close.)
Aoto was a little worried about Finnel leaving, which is funny since he ditched his job to run away with a girl hed just met.
By the way, is it okay for you to be with us?
Why is that?
Youre the mascot girl of the bistro, right? Dont you have to work there?
Oh, its fine.
As long as the food is great, the customers wont care that much about the mascot.
Yeah, the food there sure is great.
Thats right. What matters to a bistro is the taste of the food they serve.
So, even without me, the bistro will be fine.
But thats kind of sad
Yeah, sort of
They left for the Hamlet, and were already encountering problems before theyd even reached it.
Video Record- Sarapatras Lie
...What's happened, Aoto?
The Great Fang Militia... What are they doing over there?
What is that in their hands?
That's...a Reyvateil radar.
They've gotta be looking for Saki. But they're depending on that device... Maybe they forgot what she looks like.
Then, what's the point of our decoy? They'll probably capture anyone who sets off that machine, right?
Dont worry Use this.
Tatsumi was well prepared for every situation, it seemed.
Wow, looks like you've got something for everything.
Yeah, sort of
Okay, lets go!
With the patches in place, they headed to the checkpoint.
Hey, man! Long time no see!
Great Fang Soldier: You've been gone for a while. Do you know what's been going on since you disappeared?
There's a rumor that you ran away with a Reyvateil...
Hey, what're you doin'? We hafta check 'em out.
Is that really necessary? As you can see, there's nothing fishy about us.
Great Fang Soldier: You never know. Just in case, I better check everyone.
Great Fang Soldier: ...No reaction. It seems like there aren't any Reyvateils among you.
I told you. Okay, let us go through. Come on, everyone. Lets go.
The guards had another concern, though.
...What is it now? Do you guys still suspect us?
Great Fang Soldier: ...That woman's not from our hamlet. Is she...
Great Fang Soldier: ...Aoto, is she your wifey?
...Huh? Wh-what the hell are you talking about!?
We're engaged. We came back to have our wedding in his hometown.
Great Fang Soldier: Wow! That's great news! And she's so beautiful! Way ta go, Aoto!
Uh? Yeah-hah hah! Of course! Ah-hahaha!
Alright, shall we go, Aoto? Gentlemen, would you please be guests at our wedding? Toodleoo...
Sarapatras lie had gotten them past the guards, and whats more Aoto got to feel what it was like to be messed with.
B-but, Ms...uh...Sarapatra! That was way too smooth to be an ad lib! You!? Aoto's fiance!? That's not funny!
Oh, that wasn't really a joke. I was able to come out again, so I want to make a lot of sweet memories with Aoto.
Huh? Uh...ah...well, I don't know what to say about that... Heh heh heh.
Calling Finnels move a tackle isnt quite doing it justice, really. Even normal Finnel is actually more athletic than she thinks.
Don't take her seriously, you stupid idiot!
Ooh...scary... Do you happen to fancy Aoto, as well?
What-no! I like T-Tatsumi! Yeah! I only like Tatsumi!
...Can you leave me out of this?
Hmhmhm. That girl has sass. But in order to attract a boy, you may need to gain a little more fruit on your chest.
Whoa! That's just mean...
Unfortunately, they continued to suffer under one of the greatest flaws of good people, to trust others to be good.
Great Fang Soldier: Yeah, it's quite a surprise...and with a bride! Steeps'll be happy to hear the news.
Great Fang Soldier: More importantly, let's report this to them.
Great Fang Soldier: Wait!? Are you seriously gonna sell him out? I can't stab him in the back!
Great Fang Soldier: Of course WE are! Do you want all of us to be Cleansed? We have families! He brought this all upon himself...
Great Fang Soldier: Sorry, Aoto
They split up shortly after they reached the village.
I'll go to the temple where I used to stay.
Then why don't we spread out into two groups? Sarapatra, Finnel and I will...
I want to be alone with Aoto.
Um uh well
Hmm...then I'll go with Tatsumi! We'll be alone together! It'll be like a date, right!?
Huh? I thought you were gonna guard me.
I don't need any company.
But I want to go with you! Aoto, you should go have fun with Sarapatra!
Why are you pouting?
I-I'm not pouting!
Hmhm...you're so cute.
Okay, I'll go with Aoto, too. I'm worried about Saki, though I'm sorry about being a third wheel...
Oh, how sad.
E-et tu, Doc!
News had spread through the village quickly.
Man: Yeah, and even more so, he brought back a bride!
Man: A bride! Thats big trouble
Yo, you guys! Long time no see!
Man: Oh, speaking of him...!
Hey! Everyone! The happiest man in the world has come back!
Man: Congratulations, man!
I remember when you were a little kid, but now you're getting married! Time does fly!
Well, this is just...
Young Woman: That's the beautiful bride!?
Sarapatra seemed to be quite enjoying messing around with Aoto.
Woman: Yes, she is indeed an extraordinary beautiful woman!
Man: I don't think Aoto deserves such a beauty! Hahahahaha!
That's not true. I love him from the bottom of my heart.
H-Hey, Sarapatra! Don't joke around!
Man: Don't be shy, happy man!
Man: Damn! What a sweet wife! I feel like I lost to him as a man!
They returned to Aotos place to talk to Steeps, who seemed to be much less angry than one would have expected.
Video Record- Home Again
Hey Steeps, I'm back. Sorry I made you worry.
Steeps: You !
...? ...Uh, Steeps?
Steeps: Ah...well, welcome back, son. You had me worried!
Um, yeah...I'm sorry.
Steeps: ...So, is this...? Is she the smashing bride you brought back with you!?
Not this again...
Steeps: H-hello, angel, what's your name?
My name is Sarapatra, sir.
Steeps: What a mean name! It's not very common, but it's the same name as the Goddess of Love from ancient mythology.
Aoto told me a lot about you, sir. Please allow me to call you my father-in-law.
Steeps: ...What a nice beauty. Are you sure you deserve this fine young woman, Aoto?
I heard the same thing a million times before I got here...
Steeps: ...Hmm...I still can't believe it... You're getting married! Anyway, we have to celebrate. I'm proud of you, Aoto!
Aoto could see it, but not take things to their logical conclusion.
Steeps: Whoa, what are you talking about? Nothing's wrong!
R-really...? But...I'm really sorry. I didn't mean to make you worry.
Steeps: ...That's all in the past. Today is a day of celebration! Here, I just made this! Eat! Drink! Sing!
...He certainly is a nice man, Aoto.
...Yeah, he is.
Theyd had a long day, and Aoto was getting ready to retire for the night when he had a visitor.
...What'll I do now? At this rate, I'm gonna have to marry Sarapatra... Oh no!
It'll just be a mock wedding! We're not really getting married! What am I doing here? I better go to sleep...
Uh? Whos there?
I'm having trouble with the nightly chill. It's particularly harsh on my unweathered skin. Will you keep me warm?
What!? Do you know what you're asking!?
Oh? Now my body's too hot... It's almost burning. And it's all because of you. You better take responsibility, Aoto.
Oh!? You're no longer cold? Well, good for you!
But you better go back to your room before you catch a cold, alright? Goodnight!
*sigh* What a wuss... Although it's not like I mind your innocence...
Listen! I'm only doing this because I've been thinking about many ways to protect Saki. This is the best I can do.
Hmph its fine.
You're so nice. ...Almost too nice. I understand why Saki's attracted to you.
Sarapatra was messing around with him, but the discussion itself was important.
However, they completely belong to Saki. I just share a body with her. But she's so shy, so I thought I'd help her out.
It seems like I've been rejected.
You know, it's not that I don't like you... I mean, I wouldn't mind if it was Saki, but...this is just too confusing.
Well, color me jealous...but that's alright. You're like my cute younger brother. Besides, you're not my type.
...Huh? Each persona has different taste in men!?
Of course. Each one of us grew up in a different environment and we all have different lives.
Is that right?
Yes, it is. Although for us, it's a serious no-no to fall in love with someone.
Its taboo ?
Exactly. But now that I'm out in the world, it's boring not to be able to love someone. Don't you agree?
Therefore, although it's forbidden, I'll support your lovely future together. Personally, I think it's good for her.
So youre like Sakis big sister, huh?
Hmm...sort of. We personae are always watching her from inside her mind.
She's reserved and doesn't assert herself as much as she should, so we're all a little frustrated, but...
Now she's going to be your bride. I'm more than happy to help her.
Hey, Aoto...I feel like...kissing you.
Whoa! Hey! Sto-...!
...Okay. Why don't we hold off on this until the ceremony?
Aoto didnt feel right about this whole thing, though.
Oh, do you want to sleep in the same bed with me?
No! Are you really gonna go through with the wedding!? I know it's for Saki's sake, but we're not even in love...
It's just a formality. We can't get away with not doing it after inviting everybody to come.
Yeah, but I can't have a wedding with her other persona while she's...like asleep. I feel bad for her.
You sound like a boyfriend who doesn't want to make her jealous.
It's not like that! I just... Why don't we tell them the truth?
If we come clean with everything, they might let Saki escape.
Aoto, you trust people too easily.
This isn't just between you and your boss.
Besides, if protecting Saki truly is your top priority, you shouldn't have a problem with deceiving people sometimes.
Even if it means you have to deceive Saki herself. We'll only be protecting her.
Don't worry. As I said before, I'm still Saki, and Saki is still me. Her fate is my fate. Do you not like me that much!?
No thats not what I meant.
...Hmhm, I'm sorry. I couldn't help picking on you. Let's get some rest already. Goodnight, Aoto.
Thank you for caring about Saki so much
I guess shes just messing with me. Alright, whatever. Im tired, so Im going to sleep!
Meanwhile, across town, Finnel and Tatsumi had finished up for the day and were finally getting a chance to talk.
Video Record- The Heart
Sorry. I didn't mean to drag you along my whole "Hey, I'm back" tour.
No worries. I had never been to a temple before. That was fun.
Alright, my room is next door, so... if you need me, please knock first.
Oh, hey! We finally have the chance to talk alone.
Look, I don't wanna get involved in your whole drama thing. If you really need to do that, do it with Aoto.
Why did you bring him up!? ...I mean, please sit with me! Just for a minute!
*sigh* What did you need to talk about?
Umm...I always wanted to ask you something.
What is it?
It just took three little words to make this conversation much more serious, the words Finnel had failed to get out last time.
...! ...Who are you?
You do, don't you!? Please give it to me!
Are you crazy!? I can't just give it to a girl who likes me! It's something precious that was entrusted to me.
Who entrusted it to you!? What are you supposed to do with it!?
...Well, first of all, how do you even know about the Heart of Gaea? And second, why do you want it!?
Finnels question had given Tatsumi one of his own.
...Oh, yes! I know her.
Do you also know where she is!? I was told to deliver it to Harvestasha!
I can't tell you where she is! I've been sworn to secrecy.
Damn... Then what should I do...?
I-I can deliver it to her for you!
In fact, Harvestasha herself told me to do so! She told me to bring her the Heart of Gaea.
No, I can't. I have to deliver it myself. That is my true purpose here.
...So, she wants the Heart of Gaea, but she can't let anyone know where she is? What's up with that!?
Well, you see
Alright, let's just say for a second that your story is true. I can believe that, because you're a Reyvateil...
At least Tatsumi was thinking things through enough to be suspicious.
...N-no! That's not true! Sure she's in the Tower, but she's not a Clustanian...
Oh, so she's in the Tower?
Well, anyway...I can't give you the Heart of Gaea. There are still too many mysteries about you.
B-but...then Harvestasha will...
...Alright, then what about this? Take me to see Harvestasha. We'll go together.
Even if she told you not to tell anyone where she is, if we go together, she can still meet both of us.
I-I don't know about that...
I hafta meet Harvestasha for myself. There's a very important question I need to ask her.
Tatsumi was quite eager to get started towards a meeting with this Harvestasha, and didnt want to wait.
We were both asked to do it, and we better do it quick. I wanna set out tomorrow morning.
But what about Aoto?
We can tell him we suddenly got some stuff we need to do together. Do you owe him or something?
N-no...not really, but...
...You're right. He's got Saki, and I'm just a servant to him, after all...
Alright, let's tell him first thing in the morning, and then we can head off for Ciela Gate.
The next day started exactly how one would expect. Its weird how oversleeping for a wedding is a cliché. I mean all you have to do is make sure people understand that their lives are on the line and it cant happen.
Video Record- The Ceremony
Good morning, darling.
It's almost time for our wedding. You better start getting ready. I'm going to put my dress on. See you at the temple.
...Hey! What do you mean by wedding!? Are you really gonna go through with this!?
Steeps: Yo, Aoto! On such an important day like this, how can you oversleep for your wedding ceremony, you bastard!
Steeps! Even the Mayor is here !?
Mayor: ...Wake up and get prepared.
Steeps: Once you're ready, come to the center of the hamlet.
H-hey, wait! I'm just...
It seems like it's time to make up your mind, Aoto.
Doc! Don't just watch from over there! Help me out!
Why? What's wrong with this? I love to see people happy.
Steeps: Stop whining! What? Got the wedding day blues? We've got no time for that now!
Time!? What are you talking about!?
Mayor: Your honey is waiting for you, my son. How can you keep her waiting? Get ready and come to the Hamlet Outskirts.
Don't blow your own ceremony, Aoto.
Though he didnt want to go through with it, Aoto had no choice.
Man: May the Goddess of Love be with you, Sarapatra!
Hm...thank you, everyone. Aoto, we'll live happily together forever and ever.
Hahaha Youve got to be kidding.
Mayor: Don't dilly-dally around. We're gonna go impromptu on this. Let's get it done fast.
When they said fast they meant it, too.
And the timing could not possibly have been worse.
I was wondering why no one was at Steeps' house... Wow, this is a big event.
Now, Im not going to lie to you. There is a time and place for violence. This was neither of those.
Oh, and it turns out that hitting Sarapatra hard enough turned her back into Saki, making matters much worse.
Finnel!? What are YOU doing!? ...Huh? What's this soft thing I'm grabbing...?
*gasp* ...Aoto... Y-you...like it rough...?
S-Saki!? I'm so so sorry! It was just a mistake!
Hmmm You stupid idiot!
Man: Huh? What the hell is going on!?
Sarapatra turned into someone else!
Oh shit, oh shit! This isnt good!
H-hey, everyone, listen up! I can explain everything!
Steeps: Aoto, who is this girl?
It was actually much worse than Aoto had thought.
The villagers had sold them out to the Clustanians.
Who's a butch!? Aoto! Play time's over!
Steeps: Wait! This isn't what I was expecting!
Steeps: I thought you would wait until the ceremony was over!
Hmph, you humans took too long! I don't have that much patience!
...Steeps! What the hell's going on!?
Steeps: Sorry, Aoto.
What's that supposed to mean!?
Mayor: Please don't hate us. We had to do it, for the sake of the future of Great Fang.
I appreciate your cooperation, Mayor. The report said he was with his allies, but I didn't expect Saki to be with him.
As promised, we wont Cleanse Blue Canyon Hamlet.
Aoto was willing to fight to the end.
Man: Cut it out, Aoto!
Man: Please don't bring any more trouble to our village.
...Aoto, it's over. They sold us out to Clustania.
Son of a bitch!
Here I am, you scum! I'll deal with you all myself! I don't need anyone's help!
Unfortunately, he never even had a chance.
Uh...I feel...drowsy... Can't keep...my eyes...open...
Saki! Hey! What did you do to her!?
I put a tranquilizer in the sacred wine you had during the ceremony. It should be about to kick in. Goodnight, sucker.
Damn it...my body...won't move...
Hmph! Stupid, pipsqueak. Hahahahaha!
Sh-shit. You son of a bitch...
...I won't fall asleep...I won't let Saki go...
I said it's no use. You guys, take Saki!
I won't let any of you...lay a finger on her... I promised...
In the end, though, Aoto collapsed. They would have been doomed, except I suppose that will have to wait for next time.