Part 24: Star Door 3: The Banquet-Primal Grounds-
Fools might assume this door opens for Joshua and Kloe.
They'd be right.
But still fools.
Get a move on, or I'm gonna leave you behind!
We're talkin' about a big celebration held by the queen, here! Being late isn't an option!
B-But I'm so hungry...
I can't walk another step...
...I have a horrible feeling I know what's going on here.
You skipped lunch so you could eat more at the banquet, didn't you?
I didn't even eat breakfast... I haven't eaten a thing since yesterdaaay...
Going thirty hours without eating is making me feel all kinds of lightheaded...
What the hell were you THINKING?!
I can't mooove... Carry meee...
Come on--we're going! There's no way we can miss an occasion like this! There's gonna be Aidios-knows-how-many famous people there!
First on the agenda is snapping a photo of Her Majesty and the crown princess, and THEN...
This actually isn't so bad. ❤
If you would, Klaudia?
All those invited to today's party contributed in one way or another to protecting the peace of Liberl by ending the peril we were faced with.
Whether it was extending a helping hand to those in need or working to fight off the threats that instilled fear in the hearts of our people. As this country's future monarch, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to each and every one of you.
Thank you all very much. Holding this party is nothing compared to all that you have done, but...
Nial: We JUST made it!
Dorothy: Wh-Whew... We're finally here... F-Food! Someone give me fooood!
The crown princess' speech might be finishing soon!
Dorothy: *sigh* Awwwwww, okay...
...Erm... Well, I do hope you will all enjoy your time here all the same.
I'm sure you are all busy men and women, burdened by a great many responsibilities and concerns...
...but today, I would ask that you all cast those aside in order to rest, relax, and enjoy yourselves. The food on offer here is some of the finest in Liberl, so by all means, partake until you can no more!
Got any Tomato Sandwiches?
And may the Goddess bless this nation!
*clap clap clap clap clap clap*
-Go In Good Cheer-
I'm not sure I could dress super nice, get up in front of a crowd like this, and make a big speech the way she just did.
Yeah, she is. She said she wasn't feeling confident about how she'd do as crown princess before...
...but from where I'm standing, she's doing just fine.
Princess Klaudia knows that speeches are a big waste of time, especially when everyone wants to eat. She's got my vote.
Seeing her is making me kinda jealous, though.
I wish I could pull off fancy dresses the way she does...
You got somethin' to say, mister?
Oh, it's nothing.
You're just not all that girly most of the time, so it always takes me by surprise when you suddenly are.
What do you mean, I'm not girly?!
Sure, lately we've been so busy with helping get Liberl back in shape so I haven't even had time to go home...
...but that doesn't mean I don't wanna wear a pretty dress or something once in a while, you know!
I know, I know.
Still, it really is surprising just how much you've grown even in these past few weeks.
Well, it's been pretty tough running up and down the country so much, but you've kept up with ease. And your judgments as a bracer are getting more spot on with every decision you make.
Fancy dress or not, I think you're a pretty wonderful person, Estelle.
I don't know why, but it's weird hearing you pile on the compliments so much...
But what can I say? I'm glad that things seem to have finally calmed down a bit on the work front these past few days. The capital might not be entirely the way it was, but it's getting there. I think we can finally afford to take a breather.
Look at all that food!
The chefs in the castle supposedly made the entire spread, too.
I didn't get to enjoy the food back during the birthday festivities, so now's my time to pig out big time!
Heehee! I'm gonna eat until I barf!
Stay right here, okay, Joshua? I'm gonna go scope out the goods!
Estelle not here with you?
She just went to get food a second ago, actually.
Are you two here more for work than fun?
Bingo. There aren't many occasions where this many famous faces are gathered in one place. There was no way we could pass up the chance to come and score some interviews!
Don't think you're getting out of here without answering some questions, either. We'll get to you two later. So no going home until you've spoken to us, all right?
Haha... All right.
Great! Next up is the crown princess.
Hop to it, Dorothy!
I-I can't go on... I need something to eat...
Let me have something to eat...
Not until we're done! Questions to ask, photos to take!
I wonder how Estelle's doing?
(I suppose this is as good a chance as any. I owe a lot to the people here on a personal level, too.)
(Maybe I should go around and thank them while I have the chance.)
I was ever so worried when I first heard the news...
It was certainly a shock to the students, but they're all back to their usual, cheery selves now.
You, too, Lila. Have you been well?
I have, thank you.
Although, I wish I could say the same for the mayor. She collapsed from overworking herself the other day. As such, I had no choice but to force her to take some time off work.
I'm afraid so. She was finally able to rest and recover enough to my satisfaction, thankfully, so she's now returned to her duties. Left unattended, Mayor Maybelle would likely work herself into her grave, so it falls to me to make sure that she rests when necessary. I'm determined to make sure she takes a good, long rest after things have settled down enough in Bose.
I assure you that she's in good hands.
Mayor Norman: I don't think you'll find a banquet with a guest list quite like this anywhere! I used to be a businessman, so I've been to my fair share of occasions like this... but I've never been to any with this many famous people in attendance.
It has! I didn't know you were here, Mayor Klaus.
The mayors of each of Liberl's cities and towns were invited, I believe. I'm not sure why I was when I didn't do all that much to contribute to anything, but I decided to attend nonetheless.
That's not true at all. I hear the food supplies that were delivered to Bose and Grancel were done so on your orders.
That was particularly well received here, and we all know how dire things were at the time. You've got as much right to be here being thanked for your efforts as anyone else.
Well, that's certainly a relief to hear...
Thank you very much for letting me know, Joshua. Whew... It's a relief to know I was able to contribute in some way after all. That said, do come back to Rolent to visit, Joshua. I'm sure everyone would be overjoyed to see how you're doing.
It just goes to show that if we endure, the Goddess will eventually extend Her hand of salvation to us all. That's reassuring to know...
(Poor Mr. Murdock...)
I'm afraid we've still got a lot of work on our plate. The orbment factories under ZCF are operating at less than 28% of their full capacity. Then we still need to finish rebuilding the Capel's systems, work on overhauling the Arseille...
*sigh* My workload's not looking lighter any time soon.
I'd like to take this chance to thank you again for all your team did to thwart Ouroboros' schemes and return peace to Liberl. The debt of gratitude we owe is beyond measure.
Please! You're exaggerating, sir. We might've been the ones who entered the Liber Ark, but we wouldn't have had a chance of success if we were on our own.
It was only because of you, Richard, Kurt, and the others fighting on the ground that we were able to succeed.
We could certainly say the same of you, though. Although, it IS true that none of us could have brought about peace alone. Still, I've been wanting the chance to thank you personally for all you did. The faith we had in you to see your work through to the end was just what we needed to fight.
I'm not usually one for praying, but even I found myself looking to the Goddess when the Liber Ark started collapsing.
I'm so relieved you all came back to us unharmed.
I've heard you've been lending a hand with the restoration efforts in addition to all you did with the Liber Ark.
The Bracer Guild has helped us in a number of ways recently. You have my thanks.
Y-You're quite welcome, sir... (I wasn't expecting him to thank me... I wonder if something happened.)
Care to join us for a few drinks?
The night is only just beginning...
...but I want to see those exquisite amber eyes of yours swim before it comes to a close.
...I'm good, thanks.
Aww, c'mon! We're at a celebratory banquet here! Don't be such a spoilsport.
Oh, I know! Why don't we have a few drinks to celebrate you becoming a senior bracer at the same time? It feels like it was ages ago, but we never did get to celebrate your promotion. Only Estelle's.
About... Well, about Luciola...
Silly Joshua. What're you getting all worried about her for? You really needn't be.
Heh. Schera's right. Especially not now. We all have our concerns and worries after all that happened over the past few weeks and months...
...but this is not the time to be thinking about them. This is the time to be making merry and drowning in fine drink.
From sunset to sunrise!
I don't think there's ever a time for NOT making merry as far as you're concerned.
He's got a point, though.
Oh, and while I've got the chance to say this to you...no more going off on your own, you hear?
You have no idea how worried Estelle was about you after you last disappeared. I could barely bring myself to watch her.
I've got no intention of doing anything like that again. I'm fine now.
Well, if you say so!
Haha. That docile expression of yours is so adorable, Joshua. Don't go showing off that face too much tonight, all right?
Feels like no amount of alcohol's enough to get me drunk lately. I don't know what's up with me...
On the positive side, though, maybe now I can actually beat Aina in a drinking contest!
(Trust her to find a positive in that.)
Anyway, it's about time I seriously started thinking about returning to Rolent, hmm?
Olivier, is it okay if you're here in Liberl? I would've thought you'd be needed back in the Empire.
Well, I will go back. Eventually...
For now, however, I intend to savor the lingering feelings of this whirlwind of a ride. Remaining behind afforded me the chance to attend this wonderful party, to boot. As you can see, my fine instincts have yet to fail me. Incidentally, Schera...while you'll forgive me if this is just my imagination...
...are you not drinking a liiittle too quickly?
Y-You're starting to scare me a little!
I'm surprised to see you here, Dad. I thought you said over the phone you wouldn't be able to attend because you were so swamped?
Oh, 'swamped' is an understatement.
Transporting goods needed to get the country back in order, making sure every area has all the utilities it needs... I'm drowning in work. It's going to take a while longer before we can say Liberl is 'back to normal,' too, I fear.
Come to think of it... Estelle and I certainly didn't expect to find soldiers even in Liberl's smaller villages, so it threw us off to see as much while we were helping out where we could. Doesn't come as a surprise if you're the one responsible, though. It should go a long way toward helping people feel at ease.
It's times like these when we've got to do all we can for one another, and the army's no different. With Erebonia and Calvard's internal political situations a mystery to us, the reorganization of the army has had to be shelved for now, too.
Still, no matter how busy a man is, everyone needs to kick back once in a while. So make sure you make the most of tonight, Joshua.
I think you need to 'kick back' more than I do, Dad... Estelle's been pretty worried about you, you know.
Haha! There's no need to worry about me. I'm hanging in there. In fact, I'd say I'm taking it too easy!
Hey, man. Makin' the rounds?
Something like that, yeah. Anything interesting going on with you?
Sort of. Agate said he was gonna come over for dinner in Zeiss a while back.
So I was just asking him when he's free.
Oh, that's right. So he did. When we were getting off the Arseille, right?
I didn't really mean it, though... It was just one of those things you say in passing but don't give much thought to. I ain't exactly swimming in free time, you know. Being a bracer's busy work.
I'd like to go, sure, but I've got no idea if I'll actually have the time to do it.
But I've been looking forward to you coming ever since...
Ugh... O-Okay, okay! Argh... Let me think...
M-Maybe the end of the month? That should be okay... I think that Friday's free? Think.
Really?! Heehee. Is that a promise?
Y-Yeah... I guess...
So what kinds of dishes do you like?
Any old set of groceries I can shove down my neck is fine by me.
N-Nothing special at all...?
(I think I'd better leave them alone for now. I wouldn't want to get in their way.)
Tita took out a small notebook and started scribbling in it.
It's been a long time since I last saw you.
It's good to see you again, too, Professor. Although speaking of the last time, I heard there's a plan in motion to pull up the Liber Ark from the lake and investigate it?
You heard right! It'll be carried out in conjunction with the Royal Army. That's not to say it'll be easy, of course. Valleria Lake's fairly deep, so we can't start hauling up bits of the city all willy nilly. So we're intending to work on making a map of the lake's bottom using sonar first.
Which is going to take quite some time as it is... *sigh* I wish it hadn't collapsed all of a sudden like that to begin with. If I'd had just one more hour, I could have taken a research sample, too... Ah, well. There's no point in lamenting what you can't do anything about. I'll just have to make do with what I've got.
I've received an official pardon from Her Majesty for my actions.
Probably for foiling the society's attack on Grancel, right? That's good news. I'm happy for you.
I wish I could say the same...but I don't feel as though I deserve to be pardoned at all. Now that the nation is at peace, I feel this is the time I should be facing up to my crimes--not having them swept under the rug.
I can't say I don't understand, but still...
Haha. Please, Joshua. You needn't look so concerned.
I have no intention of refusing Her Majesty's kindness or going against her will. I merely feel a strong desire to settle things within myself, and I fully intend on following through.
That is all.
...All right, then.
Still, thank you very much for your support during the attack on Grancel. It really did help us all.
Make no mistake: I wouldn't have helped any of you worthless drecks otherwise.
(You wouldn't think it would be so hard to accept a thank you...)
I-I presume your business here is finished? Then kindly begone. You'll get in His Excellency's way standing around here.
I wasn't expecting you to still be in Liberl.
Oh, 'sup? You were invited too, huh? Makes sense.
So? Having fun? You better be. Take it from me--if you don't make the most of times like these and eat your heart out, you're gonna regret it later.
...Thank you very much for all you did for me, Kevin. If you hadn't come to Liberl when you did, I...I...
Ahh, don't sweat it. Not like I did anything special.
Glad to see all the side effects look about gone, too. You're lookin' spiffy these days, Joshua.
So yeah. Just forget about owing me or whatever. It's all in the past now.
... I'm not sure if I should ask this, but are you..?
...Joshua. I'm not gonna be in Liberl for much longer, so this might be the last time we meet for a while.
But I hope we'll get the chance to see each other again one day.
...Yeah. I hope so, too.
Damn! This sirloin steak's like a little piece of heaven in my mouth.
I sure wish I could take a lifetime's supply of it back home with me...
It truly drives home the point that this nation is back at peace again.
The trouble regarding the Liber Ark and subsequent restoration efforts have really shown me anew how capable a ruler Queen Alicia is. She's handled all that's happened impeccably. If all of this had happened in the Republic, it wouldn't have been resolved anywhere near as smoothly, let me tell you.
Speaking of the Republic, parliament is still very much in confusion over the Orbal Shutdown Phenomenon. To say nothing of those steam tanks of Erebonia's. It's going to be quite a while before things settle down there, too, I'd wager.
Hello, Zin. Thanks again for all the help you've been giving with the restoration efforts. I don't know what we'd have done without you.
Hahaha! Hey, think nothing of it! It's all part of being a bracer, really.
Can't say how much longer I'll be able to lend a helping hand, though. Gotta pack up and head back home at some point. The political situation isn't exactly stable over there, you see.
Was that why Kilika wasn't able to make it, then?
Yeah. The guild receptionists are basically chained to their seats at the moment.
Although to be honest, I can't picture her getting all dressed up and coming to a party like this, anyway.
Miss Maaaaaaid... I need some foooood...
Nial told me not to move on my own, so I'm stuck here...
I still haven't gotten any foooood... I guess I'll just have to fill myself up with liquids instead!
Is this the boy you were speaking of earlier?
That's correct. This is Joshua.
I was just telling the ambassador here about your various accomplishments, Joshua.
It's an honor to finally meet you. I'm the resident Erebonian ambassador here in Liberl, Davil Crainagh.
I-It's nice to meet you...
The tale of how you flew on top of that flying city all while knowing it may be the last thing you did brought tears to my eyes. How you were able to participate in an operation that may have brought your death, casting aside even your girlfriend's objections, I don't know...
...but I do know this: Liberl needs more young men and women like you.
Th-Thank you for saying so, sir... (Just what has the duke been telling him?)
It should go without saying how touched I am to see such spirit from our youths of today.
You are truly Liberl's greatest treasures.
Ah, good evening to you. Thank you so much for taking the time to attend tonight's banquet.
Oh, not at all. How are you feeling now after having some time to recover, Phillip?
I'm feeling quite well. You're too kind. I do believe I may have overexerted myself--that's how things are once you've reached a certain age. I find myself wondering whether I would have been able to do more if I were thirty years younger...but I suppose there's little point in doing so.
(I wonder what he looked like thirty years ago...)
(...Nope. Sorry, Phillip. I just can't picture it.)
But all was well that ended well, for by miraculous chance, the two were able to reunite...
The duke has been a much more positive, forward-thinking man since that day. That fact alone makes all I did feel worthwhile. It feels like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders watching him now.
I was just discussing the aftermath of the crisis here with Major Vander.
Fortunately, the Liber Ark's collapse caused little direct damage by itself.
That might not have been the case if there had been any ships on the lake at the time, but due in part to the Orbal Shutdown Phenomenon, none were.
The tsunami afterward was quite small, too. I'd say we were rather fortunate.
Estelle and I were able to see as much when we traveled around the lake shore. A few people who were watching the city collapse were caught up in it and a small number of fishermen were splashed with water, but that's about it.
Indeed... If anything, the much greater problem was the confusion that came about as a result of losing orbal power.
Liberl is, after all, one of the most advanced nations on the continent when it comes to orbal technology.
Ordinarily, that is one of our greatest strengths...but in this case, it worked against us.
The crisis has now passed, but that doesn't mean our work is done. We still have plenty ahead of us to take care of.
The confusion created on Erebonia's southern edge as a result of the Orbal Shutdown Phenomenon calmed itself down rather quickly. But over in Erebonia, no more is being reported about the city than that it was a 'mysterious floating object.'
Either the central government is still in confusion and that's why it isn't releasing any more information, or...
Well, well, Sieg! It's good to see you.
(After all he did, I'd say he deserves a good party as much as any human.)
Thank you very much for inviting me today.
Oh, not at all. I'm pleased to see you've come. I've been eagerly awaiting the day we could meet again. I hear you and Estelle have been traveling and helping with the restoration efforts?
That's correct. We both wanted to see how things were across the kingdom with our own eyes. I'm glad we did, too, because now I can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
People really are strong.
...That they are. I have been queen for over forty years, and the strength of Liberl's citizens continues to amaze me to this day.
There are plenty who like to credit either my abilities as a ruler or orbal technology for this nation's good fortune... but we would be nothing without its people. I wasn't the one who allowed us to overcome the recent crisis--or the war ten years ago--and neither was orbal technology.
No, I believe it was the will of its people to live. That's what I believe supports our country, both then and now.
People's will to live?
Indeed. You were gracious enough to call this country your second home, Joshua. From now on, your will to live will be another great support for this nation. As its queen, that makes me happier than you can imagine.
...Thank you, Your Majesty.
Your words mean a lot to me.
Haha. My apologies. I didn't intend that to become such a serious discussion. I would much prefer for tonight to be a night all of this banquet's guests can enjoy rather than one for serious issues. Please, do try and enjoy your time here.
If you would, Your Highness. A comment in celebration of the fact that the crisis is past now. Just nothing too formal, all right? I'd prefer somethin' that brings out your bright and cheery nature.
(Looks like she's being interviewed at the moment. I should leave her be for now.)
Tonight's party is hosted by Her Majesty in all her grace. So I do hope you'll enjoy yourself.
Shea: You're always welcome back to the castle any time. I'd be more than happy to help you get dolled up for the occasion, too. ❤
I'm never wearing a maid outfit again. Just so you know.
Well now that you've gone and totally jinxed it...
I heard you're here as the Bracer Guild's representative today. Is that true?
That's too bad.
Isn't it, though? This would've been a fine time for us to exchange information.
But oh, well. There's always tomorrow, as they say.
You've done some fine work these past couple of weeks. The damage reports on the regions of Liberl you've been providing have proved invaluable in allocating personnel. I really can't thank you enough.
Oh, you needn't thank me...
By the way, Kurt...I feel like I need to say something regarding my bracer badge.
As you probably already know, what power I have was given to me by the society. Before becoming a bracer, I used it to commit many unforgivable crimes, too...No matter how much I think about it, I just can't see how someone like me is fit to call himself a bracer.
You know, Joshua... I've always seen power as an imperfect concept. And that's why I believe people are able to use it.
Am I wrong?
...No, I suppose not...
Then what difference is there between us? We are both keenly aware of our flaws, and yet we both use what limited power we have to do what we believe to be right. I see no difference.
...Well, I can't really argue with that logic. I still can't pretend to be completely confident in myself, though...
Be that as it may, that's nothing to be ashamed of--you should simply continue striving to overcome it.
And while this is but my personal opinion... I'd say you're a model bracer.
Still, I'm feeling keenly these days just how much I need to improve myself. I'd love to go on some kind of extensive training program, but this hardly seems the time for that.
Perhaps I'll bring the matter up with Elnan once things have calmed down a little.
Looks like I'm the most fit to be at this party after all.
Because I've been to plenty of high society gatherings wearing poofy dresses!
Hey! Don't make it sound like I've never worn a dress before! Because I HAVE, for your information!
I just don't need to go around trying to convince everyone that I'm not a boy! Unlike SOME people I could name...
Try saying I look like a boy again and see what happens!
Look, you two. I appreciate that you have your differences... but we're kind of in a really public, really high-class place, here, so could you take this fight somewhere else?
Shut up, Joshua!
Hah. Okay, then. Have it your way. How about you and me settle this with an honorable duel? Think you can handle it?
Damn right, I can! You're on! Just don't cry when you realize you can't actually beat me, though.
I always pictured Erebonian nobles as being real stuffy and scary...
Heehee. But maybe there are a few cute ones mixed in there?
The food's pretty good, too! *munch*
It's wild just how much energy these two have. Are they always like this?
It's great that we're peaceful again and all, but I think these two are taking things a little TOO easy.
I didn't expect to see you guys here. You were invited, then?
Nope! They parachuted in. Don't tell the guards.
Sure was! An invitation just showed up out of nowhere. You can imagine our surprise when we saw the thing. No way were we turning down some high-class grub, though, so we hurried on over.
Haha... That's very like you.
Not gonna deny it.
That aside, thanks to Her Majesty pardoning us, we're now free to walk around in the open. Feels like we should start thinking about how to make a good, honest living for ourselves.
That's not the first time you've said that. Something about wanting to start up a courier service, right?
Well, maybe, but that's not the only thing we could try out.
Whatever we settle on, it should involve flying the skies. That's how we've lived so far--I don't want to change now. Still, the best thing about starting up a company is we'd be able to employ all the guys who worked under us while we were in the sky bandit business.
I mean, I ain't saying it's gonna be EASY. We don't have any funding, and we don't know if we'll even be profitable once we do get things up and running.
*munch* You're not gonna hear ME say no. All the complicated financial stuff goes right over my head, so just don't count on me there.
That might even be right up Josette's alley.
There were a few people I didn't get to talk to, though, so hopefully I can make another round of the party later once they're free.
Come on, Dorothy! We're talking to the military guys next!
Get a move on, woman! We haven't got all day!
I don't feel too goooood...
My stomach feels like a giant bottle of water...
That's what happens when you drink way too much in a short period of time, you idiot.
Trust Nial to know about drinking.
But never mind that! We've got work to do!
I hope Dorothy doesn't throw up on General Morgan.
Girl's Voice: ...Joshua?
Heehee. I suppose it is a little.
Not too bad, though. I've had to do a lot more of them ever since becoming crown princess, so I'm starting to get used to them.
I can believe it.
It feels like I've been seeing your face in all kinds of papers and magazines lately. I think anyone would learn to adjust after a while.
Well, you know...
It probably won't be too long before it starts to die down, so just hang in there.
All you can really do is grin and bear it until then, unfortunately.
...Yes, I know.
That's exactly what I intend to do, too. I swore to myself that I would do all I could to help and protect this country's people. Accepting a few interviews here and there is the easy part.
Well, if you say so...
...Haha. You really are strong.
I'm not so sure about that. I still feel as if I'm doubting myself a lot of the time. Like I just have to keep going out of my comfort zone, feeling reckless with every push...
Maybe so. Still doesn't change the fact that you're strong. Not to me, anyway.
I remember the strength you showed trying to protect Clem when we first met, too.
A-Ahaha... Thank you.
I-I nearly forgot about that...
(...Maybe now would be the best time after all?)
Something on your mind, Kloe?
Could I have a little of your time, Joshua? I've got something I want to say to you.
U-Umm... Sure? Okay...
This way, then...
(Is it just me, or does she seem kind of bothered by something?)
(Where's Estelle right now, anyway?)
I got stomachs to spare!
Oh, she's picking up her pace! This could get interesting!
Wh-Whose side are you on, anyway?!
(I should go and see what Kloe wants, then. Have I done something to make her angry, though? I don't feel like I have...)
What was it that you wanted to tell me?
If I've done something to offend you, I'm sorry, all right?
I love you, Joshua.
-The Dream Continues-
I'm happy you feel that way, but...
Heehee... Don't worry. I knew exactly how you were going to respond before I said anything.
I just felt like I had to get that out before I could really start moving on.
The sky sure is beautiful tonight, isn't it?
How long have you, well...felt that way?
...Say, Joshua? If you had met me before Estelle...
...do you think you would have...well...
...No. I'm pretty sure that never would have happened.
I told you! Don't worry.
I can't deny there's a part of me that wants to keep you all to myself... but even if that were possible, I don't think it would be what I truly wanted.
Because when it comes down to it...
...I really love both you and Estelle.
That's partly why I wanted to see that troubled face of yours one last time.
It was worth the effort to bring out, too.
That was probably the best expression I've seen to date.
...You can be kind of a bully sometimes, you know that?
Maybe. This feels like the most fun I've had in some time.
...what's on YOUR mind, Joshua?
Heehee. I can easily tell you're worried about something. My instincts are quite sharp, or so I'd like to believe. Besides...
...I was watching you the whole time I was handling that interview earlier.
How exactly am I supposed to take that?
Still, you're hiding something, aren't you?
Are you planning on doing something all on your own again?
*sigh* Your instincts are sharp, all right...
Estelle surprises me from time to time, too, but you're definitely up there.
Well, that's just how us girls are.
So, come on. Tell me what's troubling you.
It's nothing that major, really.
I intend to leave Liberl by the end of the month.
The country is finally at peace now...
That's exactly why I think this is the right time. Ouroboros seems to have completely withdrawn from the country, and the restoration efforts are coming along smoothly.
So maybe it's about time for me to leave on a journey of my own.
It's taken me a long time to get this far... but I've finally been able to start thinking of myself as a person and not some kind of broken doll. I was finally able to achieve the very thing everyone wanted for me.
...That's been both a good thing and a bad thing. Good in that I finally feel human, bad in that my heart's been aching in a way it never did before. Broken dolls can easily look away from all the terrible things they've done...but I can't do that anymore.
That's why I need to go on this journey around the continent. So I can work towards atoning for all that I've done...
So I can start embracing the person I now am, in the truest sense of the word.
But if you do that, that means you won't be able to see Estelle for a while.
Yeah... I know.
It might not even be for a while--it could be a long time. I'm still not sure how to break that to her, either... That's the part that's on my mind right now.
You've still got a lot of growing up to do, young man.
If you ask me, you should just tell her in the way that comes most naturally to you. You don't have to write some big speech in your head in advance; speak to her from your heart. You believe in her, don't you?
No matter how you phrase it, she'll understand. All you have to do is get those words out there!
You owe that much to her if you love her.
You know that, right?
Yeah, I do. I really am hopeless, aren't I?
You shouldn't have to tell me something that obvious.
You wouldn't be you if I didn't have to tell you.
Plus, that kind of thing's part of why I love you, too.
Please stop teasing me...
Just remember: it'll be okay. If anyone knows you, it's Estelle. Although if you ask me, she'll...
Energetic Voice: Joshuaaa! Where are you?
Look at these! They're Josette's goggles!
Heheh. I took them from her as spoils of war!
I'm...glad you were having fun, Estelle?
Make sure you give those back to Josette later, okay?
Maybe I will, maybe I won't! Tune in to next week's issue to find out!
...Wait. Hold on...
I suppose it's about time I returned to the banquet now.
You can have Joshua back now, Estelle.
So, umm... I'm not sure how to best put this, either, but...
...thanks. I'm glad I was able to talk to you like this.
Really, I am.
You're very welcome.
Well, then. I wish you both a very pleasant night.
So, Joshua, what did you two, you know... t-talk about?
Oh, nothing much.
She just gave me a bit of much-needed motivation.
O-Oh, really? That sure clears things up...
(It's been five years, and Estelle has believed in me for every single one. And I...)
(...I believe in her, too.)
Argh, no it doesn't! What motivation?
I've got something I need to tell you.
I'm all ears. What's up?
Well, you see...
-The Whereabouts of Bonds-
You see, Estelle...
Side Story [The Banquet] finished!
Learned the recipe for Luxurious Lunch.
Received 3,500 mira.
So luxurious, you'll come back from the dead.