Part 105: I guess this is it.A major, major reason
Girl's Voice: Kevin! Ries!
Boy's Voice: Please...wake up!
Where are we...?
You scared us half to death when you passed out the second the battle ended.
I imagine she summoned your spirits to an area of her creation, leaving your bodies behind.
There you are...
I felt the return of all my power a short while ago.
Did something happen, Kevin?
Kevin explained to her that they had said farewell to Rufina, and that the Stigma that once ruled the land of Phantasma had completely disappeared.
She must have been an incredibly strong person...
I may have never had the chance to meet her... but she sounds like someone I would have liked to talk to.
That being said, there's no longer any time to waste.
Now that Phantasma has lost its master, it will revert to being unstable once more.
This castle will be no exception. I imagine it will disappear before long, unable to retain its current form any longer. The same will likely be true of all the planes, even. Only the garden will remain.
Are you really so surprised, Estelle?
We know about how this world works. This was always a likely possibility.
I-It sure wasn't one I was thinking about...
Besides, if you knew all of this already, why is this the first time we're hearing about it?!
We should hurry to the Arseille and make our escape at once.
There's no need.
I can open the gates of heaven from here.
As in the ones in the Testaments?
I believe so. To my recollection, they are the counterpart to the gates of Gehenna, connecting the world in which you reside to heaven above.
A replica was prepared for us in the area where we stand. I can only assume the one who created them was the woman who you bade farewell to--the one who was assimilated into the Lord of Phantasma.
Hmm... I see.
Then if we pass through there, we can return to our own world?
Though perhaps seeing is believing. Allow me to open the gates.
If we walk through here, we can go home...
I imagine you'll appear somewhere near wherever it was you were when you were first drawn in here.
Those who were on airships will likely reappear somewhere inside them.
Just how 'likely' are we talking here?
I guess this is it.
We've been in here so long together, my brain's having trouble processing that it's actually about to end...
I was hoping we would have time for one final feast before we went our separate ways...
...but I suppose there are few partings in this world that would allow us the good fortune.
Haha... You're probably right.
...allow us to be the first to take the plunge.
-To Meet Again Someday-
At this rate, we're gonna be here forever 'cause no one wants to be the first to say bye and leave everyone behind.
What Zin said. So as the eldest members of the group, we thought we should be the ones to take the initiative, so to speak.
You guys're all right, you know.
Haha. Think nothing of it.
This is nothing compared to the kindness you've shown by welcoming me into your numbers despite my past transgressions.
Because of you, I was able to achieve something truly important. You have my deepest thanks.
You're very welcome.
Just know that you have ours, too. I don't know what we would've done without you.
We may have to part for now, but I imagine your work will bring us together again in the future. I can't wait to see you again.
I'm honored you would say so, Your Highness.
Should you ever require my services, please don't hesitate to call on me.
As for me...well, it was great getting to see you all again.
Didn't ever picture us having a reunion like this, but I'm sure glad it happened.
Haha... You got that right.
I still wouldn't have turned down a few more rounds of duking it out with you.
Same here. Next time I get some free time, I'll have to pop over to Liberl and rough you up a bit.
Or, you know, you're all welcome to swing by Calvard if you want. Kilika and I would welcome you with open arms.
You bet! Count on it!
Really? Then I'll start making preparations for my visit as soon as I leave here!
You're not doing anything until you've finished the mountain of work that's waiting for you.
Hah. I'm sure me and Ries'll eventually make our way there once the work comes knockin' on our door.
I hope that day comes soon.
Haha. Same here!
Well, I think that's about everything. Let's get going, Colonel.
Honestly... Now even you've started calling me that?
Although, I suppose being referred to in that way by all of you may not be so bad.
Haha... Perhaps we should be the next to leave, then.
I feel as though the longer I stay, the less I'll want to leave at all. It would be best for me to get this done and over with.
So, this is farewell for now.
Heh... Yeah. For now.
I was honestly expecting you to hang on longer. I'm surprised.
Oh, Joshua! You twist my arm, but the pain only leaves me weak with pleasure.
How I crave whisking you up as my prince and taking you back with me!
Over my dead body, creep.
*sigh* I don't think I'll ever be able to believe this guy is actually royalty...
Truth be told, I honestly never thought I'd be blessed with an opportunity like this.
The thought of it coming to an end is making me uncharacteristically emotional.
...Haha. It's certainly a new side to you.
Before I go, however...I do want you to give some serious thought to what I said, Schera. While I do realize it was brazen of me to ask...
...you wouldn't deny me the joy of believing you may one day say yes, would you?
I swear...you are unbelievable.
All right. I will. You'll have an answer someday. In the meantime, you better work hard at what you need to do!
Heh. But of course.
U-Umm... What's this all about?
I think we're missing something pretty big...
Yeah. Something interesting happened right under our noses, didn't it?
For my part, I would like to thank you for all you have done for me and this one here.
I feel as though this experience has allowed me to improve my swordsmanship all the more. I am truly grateful.
Heh. I'll have to make sure I don't let you get too far ahead of me, or I'm gonna have a hell of a time catchin' up again.
The same goes for you as well, of course.
I do hope we will have the opportunity to meet again one day.
...As do I.
One last warning: I fear the Empire has some truly stormy times ahead of it.
I would advise against all nonessential travel there.
Please be careful, then, Major.
As long as this idiot pulls his weight, we should be able to avoid the worst-case scenario.
If you'd all pray Aidios doesn't give up on him, I'd appreciate it.
Sure thing. Praying is kinda what we church folk do.
I can't think of a simpler and more enjoyable request.
How tragic it is that you all trust me so little.
But they do say that people bully those they love the most. You're no exception to that, are you, love? ❤
...Am I to take that as confirmation that you would like to be dragged out of here by the scruff of your neck?
I'd rather walk, please.
Well, then, everyone. Until our next meeting!
Haha... He managed to keep pretending he was fine until the very end.
You two are next, then...?
Yeah... This is it.
Most of the people here I could go and see if I set my mind to it...
...but as for you two, Estelle and Joshua--take care on that journey of yours, okay?
We'll be sure to keep writing to you as often as we can.
Haha. There's no need to send too many of them! It won't be easy for my replies to reach you.
Plus, there seems to be a lot of maintenance work going on with the orbal communications network lately. If you reeeally need me, just get in touch with the Grancel branch.
Okay! We will!
You can always get in touch with us if you need us in the same way.
*sigh* It's gonna suck not to be able to see you again for a while though, Estelle. But it's gonna especially suck not to be able to see Renne or Tita...
And YOU, Ries!
Duh! I was really happy to get to know you, you know.
So if you ever come to Liberl again for work or whatever, come see me, okay?
I'll give you the scoop on all my favorite ice cream spots!
...I'd be happy to accept that invitation.
Coming to Liberl is now my top priority after leaving here.
Let's not forget about work, now...
At least you'll be easy enough to see again, Tita. I should be able to pop over and mess with you any time your scaaary boy toy's not hovering over you.
Don't you even think about it, kiddo.
Heh. How serious I am is for me to know.
Okay! Just one more thing before I go...
Do you like Estelle and Joshua? Or don't you?
That's what matters the most. I want you to keep that question in mind as a favor for your big sis Anelace.
Wh-What do you mean...?
Oh, and expect a bajillion hugs next time I see you. I'm not gonna let you get away! ♪
*sigh* All right, I think we've hung around long enough.
See you later.
Take care, Schera!
Thank you both for sticking with us.
Okay. Guess we might as well be the next ones to step up.
This is it, huh?
Time to say farewell.
Heehee. I'll miss you both so much!
You, too, Renne...
You mean it, Tita...?
I can't say anything thought provoking like Anelace... and I don't have the power to chase after you like Estelle and Joshua...
...but I'll always be waiting. I'll always be waiting for the day you three come back to Liberl together.
It's okay to hope for that, right?
Hmph! P-Please. You can do what you like.
As long as it's not getting sloppy with finishing your Orbal Gear. You better finish that!
Pater-Mater welcomes all challengers!
Okay! I will!
I swear... Kids sure are violent these days.
Like Schera said, you guys take care, yeah? Especially you, Estelle. You ain't a rookie now, so make sure you start lookin' before you leap.
I know, I know.
You just try not to fight with Tita's mom every other second, okay?
H-Hey, I'm not the one pickin' fights! She's the one who's always trying to make my life hell!
I'm already dreading going back and getting blamed for Tita ending up here...
Haha. Yeeeah... I'm sure she'll find some way to pin all this on you.
You're only laughing because you ain't gonna be on the receivin' end of it...
Oh, and one last thing. I've got somethin' to say to you.
The first time I met you, I thought you were some sketchy weirdo, but you showed some real guts this time.
Good on you.
Huh? I say somethin' funny?
N-No... I just never thought the day would come when you'd praise me. Like, at all. What brought that on?
Heh... No real reason.
Just my way of sayin' let's keep on truckin', I guess.
*sigh* Why do conversations like these between two guys always end up so awkward?
Aww, cram it.
Anyway...you ready, Tita?
I think that marks our turn, Julia.
...As you wish.
I guess this is goodbye for now.
I'm afraid so.
This was an opportunity that I never expected to be blessed with. I owe Aidios my deepest thanks for being able to see you two again.
I'll keep writing to you, Kloe! Count on it.
I won't get my hopes up the next letter will be any time soon.
Erm... Wh-What's up?
I really enjoyed spending time with you. I'd love to have the opportunity to hang out again one day.
Sure! We'll make it happen! We have a few hobbies in common, so I bet we could talk for hours and hours.
Work'll mean I have to go to Grancel a lot, anyway, so I'm sure we'll get the chance.
Heehee. I'll be looking forward to it.
If you're feeling jealous you've got, like, nothing in common with her, maybe you should try taking up baking and handcrafts.
Can't wait to see the efforts of someone with all the creativity and dexterity of a drunk pom.
...I wish I could disagree, but you totally got me.
It's okay, Estelle. No one's good at everything.
Please, don't feel obliged to say anything to me.
I'm not your ancestor, but merely a sentient replica of her.
Even so...I still wish you could have had the opportunity to meet with my grandmother.
I'm nowhere near as capable or intelligent as she is...and after meeting only me, I can only imagine you must be so disappointed...
It's almost eerie how much you remind me of myself in that regard.
...I do? How?
I imagine your grandmother must feel the same way.
There's nothing to be ashamed of if you don't know which way you should go sometimes. Just follow your heart, and it will never betray you.
One day, you'll be able to spread your wings wide and fly. I'm sure of it.
I certainly hope so.
Thank you for your words of encouragement.
Haha... Well, I suppose we should be going.
...Oh, before we do. After we return, Kevin, I imagine things will be more than a little chaotic.
So should we require the church's help again, I expect you to be there for us.
I'll be getting in touch with the Congregation for the Sacraments after I get out of here to decide what to do next.
Heehee. Well, then, everyone... take care of yourselves!
I'm glad we had this time together, Josette.
If you're gonna try and force yourself to say something all emotional and crap, save it.
I don't wanna hear it from you.
Oh, that's REEEAL SWELL.
If it looked like you and Joshua were finally breaking up, then I was gonna use this chance to take him from you. If only I was so lucky.
Actuallyyy...you wanna come through the gate the same time as me, Joshua? Maybe we'll reappear in the same place if we do!
I'm on to you, missy. Hands off.
Umm... Do you guys really have to fight this way right to the very end...?
You stay out of this!
(This is such a pathetic spectacle.)
Hmph. But you know something?
It was fun being here with you, Estelle. In a way.
Yeah... I could say that, too. In a way.
Don't overdo it with that business of yours, you hear? Your line of work's like ours--you're out of luck if you work yourself sick.
Heh. Right back at you.
But you can go causing trouble for yourself all you like. Just don't go getting hurt and causing any for Joshua!
(I don't think I've ever met two people who hate each other so much who are so similar...)
Anyway, guess I should actually get going now.
I'll be sure to write, Joshua!
Thanks. Can't wait to hear from you.
Sounds like you two are gonna have your work cut out for you...
Take care, all right?
May the Goddess' light shine upon you and your ship.
Can't ask for better from a sister. Thanks!
All right. Later!
You okay, Renne? You've been kinda quiet for a while now.
...Why...? Why is everyone smiling...?
What do you mean?
I mean...you're all saying goodbye. For all you know, you might never get to see each other again...
So why do you all look so happy?
Everyone keeps saying they're sad to see one another go... Why don't you all just stay here, then?
As long as the garden's here, everyone can stay and turn this place into whatever they want it to be! We can laugh and have fun tea parties forever and ever and ever!
...I get it now.
It hurts you to think that you might never see them again, doesn't it?
It hurts that no matter how much you care about someone... no matter how much you want to be with them... you might never see them again... Is that it?
N-No! Of course not! That's not even possible!
Even when I heard that Loewe was dead, that didn't hurt one bit! I was sad, but it didn't hurt!
That's because that's not the same. The reason it didn't hurt is because you were able to accept Loewe's death.
You knew that there was no chance you'd ever be able to see him again, and that was why you were able to grieve.
But this is a case of knowing that you could meet the people you care about, but at the same time, maybe you can't. In some ways, that's even more painful than never being able to see someone ever again.
No! You're wrong!
That's why you...
Should I tell you, Renne? Tell you why everyone was able to smile as they said goodbye to us all.
I don't want to know! I don't need to know!
Well, too bad. I'm going to tell you anyway. It's because no matter how much you love someone or how much you hate someone...
...eventually, you'll end up having to part from them. That goes for everyone. No exceptions.
Yep. Even me and Joshua.
Even if we get married, have kids, and live out the rest of our days happily together... eventually, one of us is going to die and leave the other one behind.
We can't rule out the possibility that one or both of us might lose our lives in an accident. We could even fall out of love someday. Every day you spend with someone could turn out to be the last, and that's a reality all of us have to face up to and fight every day.
And that's why we have to smile!
When everyone smiles, we don't have to worry about the bad stuff, and we can be positive together!
We know we're not alone and that everyone else feels the same way we do! And best of all, it fills us with excitement at the thought of when and how we might see each other next.
So we put on our bravest face and promise to meet again--whether it comes true or not--and we go back to our lives and keep on going.
That's how it is for everyone, I think.
It's really everyone...?
You, too. So...will you try and smile with us?
Maybe I can't promise we can be together forever.
But I can tell you that we really, really love you. That's why I want to watch over you, at least until you become a grownup. If that's what you want, too, then I'll do what I can to be by your side no matter what.
Then when you grow up, maybe you'll decide you want to do something with your life that means we have to part ways. And if that happens, that's okay.
But if it does, then we'll part ways with a big smile.
How does that sound? Good?
*sniffle*...*sniffle*... I... Umm...
You don't need to decide what you want to do now. The choice is yours to make. We've already made up our minds what we want to do.
We want to be your family, Renne.
Like Joshua said, we can't force you. If you don't wanna be with us, that's fine.
Dad's given his okay. All that's left is yours.
If that's what you want, then I'm gonna run and run and run! I'm gonna run so fast, you'll never be able to catch me! So... So...
We're ready for that.
You can keep running for as long as it takes to make up your mind one way or the other.
Heehee. But just so you know, I'm REALLY bad at knowing when to call it quits.
You might be really good at playing hide-and-seek, but no hiding place can stay undiscovered forever.
*hic* I hate you...
I hate you both!
But... But I love you both just as much...
We finally got to tell her...
We finally got to tell her how we feel...
Yeah, we did...
You did great, Estelle.
Still, the hardest part's yet to come.
Yeah... You're right...
Sorry for making you wait through that, guys.
But now I think it's time we went, too.
Don't sweat it. You're gonna get back to chasing her the second you get out of here, right? Good luck. Don't give in, and I'm sure it'll work out.
May the Goddess' blessing be with all three of you.
I'll be looking forward to the next time we meet. ...And I'll be praying that the three of you will all be together when that time comes.
We will! I'll make it happen!
Till next time!
Those two really are something special...
Yeah... You're tellin' me.
Just looking at those two...
...I can't help but feel that maybe Rufina's dream isn't so impossible after all.
Which means all the more that we'll need to get to work on making it a reality.
I'm afraid this place likely doesn't have much time left.
I think you should leave before it's too late.
Hmm? Somethin' wrong?
I just...can't help but feel like we've forgotten something...
Y-You're awful! Was giving me that halfhearted explanation and then vanishing the best you could do?!
I-I'm sorry... I did have a lot to do at the time.
Still, that explanation was enough to allow you to reach here, wasn't it?
E-Eventually, but I had a heck of a time getting here! I'm no good with directions!
I had groups of angels chasing after me... Chariots trying to run me over...
A-Anyway! What's with all the shaking?!
Oh. Right. So apparently, this castle's going to vanish soon. That door up there will let you return to our world, so go ahead and run on through it.
Wh-Why are you only telling me this NOW?!
I'm outta here!
By all means.
...Thank you for your help.
Hey, you played an important part in us making it through all this.
When we get out of here, we'll be enemies again, but there's no harm in acknowledging that.
Just don't go causing too much trouble out there so we have to go after you, okay?
Heh! Worry about yourselves first! Next time we meet, I'll be a changed man! Higher ranking and much, MUCH stronger!
You mark my words!
Now please, hurry.
I doubt this castle has more than a few minutes before it disappears.
What will happen to you after that, by the way?
I imagine I will return to my lengthy slumber in the garden, in the same state I was before the Lord of Phantasma first appeared. ...And I will remain that way until this land of Phantasma eventually finishes disappearing.
After that...I will finally be free from the duty which keeps me here.
Thanks for everything. I don't know if words can express how grateful we are.
May your dreams be pleasant indeed.
Heehee. Thank you very much.
After you've stepped through the gate, I will disable the Recluse Cube's functionality. Its power will never return again, so deal with it however you see fit.
I know exactly who's going to be getting it.
You're thinking of giving it to the professor?
You honestly think she'll let all of this slide if we don't? Especially after her daughter got caught up in it. She's gonna be unbearable.
Well, then, Ries. Time for us to go!
...Would you like to hold hands?
-Looking Up at the Sky (Ending)-
Heehee. I was only joking, of course.
But I do want us to step through together. Just like how together, we'll make Rufina's dream come true.
I'm counting on you, partner!
SHUT UP I'M NOT CRYING YOU'RE CRYING