Under the setting sun, the rolling hills were dyed with bright red. Glenn and the others were on their carriage, slowly making their way back to Fejite.
“…Seriously, that was dangerous.”
“Mm. For a second there, I wasn’t sure how it would end up.”
Sitting near the window of the carriage, Rumia and Sistine reminisced about the journey.
“I’m glad that everyone got back safely…”
“…Ruins exploration is known to be dangerous, but usually nothing like what we encountered. Next time, I hope to pick safer ruins to investigate instead…”
Rumia gently rubbed Re=L’s head, who was sleeping on her lap, while Sistine let out a long sigh. Around them sat Kash, Gibul, Cecil, Wendy, and Teresa, all seemed utterly exhausted and slept sitting in their seats. The five students all believed in their safe return, and waited at the camp for an entire day. Rumia rejoiced about being able to meet with everyone again.
“Mm… More importantly…” Sistine puffed up her cheeks in anger.
She had been sneaking peeks at the driver’s seat, for which Rumia let out a wry smile.
“What now? Sistine, could you possibly be… jealous?”
Sistine responded explosively to Rumia’s accusation and fervently tried to hide her embarrassment.
“W-who is jealous?! I-I am only…”
“Mm… I understand what Sistine is feeling, but I think it is better to leave them alone for now… Alright?”
“Y-you are definitely mistaken about something! Seriously! I’m tired! Going to sleep now!” Sistine angrily slammed against the back of her seat and closed her eyes. The loud noise seemed to wake Re=L up.
Re=L looked around with her sleepy eyes, and then fell back onto Rumia’s lap.
“Hehehe…” Rumia let out a small chuckle while looking at her friends.
◇ ◇ ◇
On the driver’s seat, at the boundary of the rising darkness and the setting sun.
Glenn and Celica sat next to one another as the carriage traveled on the road surrounded by a golden field of grass.
Glenn held the reins, while Celica sat with both hands around her legs, and her head resting on Glenn’s shoulder. The two just sat silently on the gently rocking carriage, with the brisk afternoon breeze blowing in their faces.
The atmosphere was a pleasant one. They sat at peace, with no need for words to communicate their feelings. Even without Celica’s magic, the time seemed to stand still for the two.
“…Hey, Glenn.” Celica said in an almost dreamlike trance.
“What is it?”
Glenn let out a troubled sigh, while Celica meekly chuckled.
“Still, you seemed to be holding up quite well.”
“No way, I was really pushing myself back then…” Celica calmly responded.
“Umm… That… Are you really no longer able to use magic?” Glenn somewhat hesitantly asked.
Glenn had learned the details of what transpired after everything had ended. Having performed such a large spell despite the crippling damage to her astral body, Celica likely had pushed her astral body beyond repair, and possibly would never be able to use magic ever again.
Glenn asked the question fully braced for the worst possible answer, but…
“Hmm… Perhaps not completely… I am quite surprised at the realization myself.” Celica closed her eyes, and replied after confirming the condition of her own body, “Although I will probably need to undergo various treatments for a long time to come, I should still be able to use magic…”
“…Really? You aren’t just fooling me?”
“Yes, it is a miracle. On top of my own luck, it was all thanks to a certain nosy individual.”
Celica’s cryptic response made Glenn tilt his head in confusion.
“Regardless of treatment, I doubt I will be able to use magic as willfully as I had done in the past. If anything, in the future, I will be dealing with numerous restrictions and limits to when I use magic.”
“Is that so…” Glenn meekly drooped his shoulders.
Although they managed to avert the worst scenario, Glenn nevertheless felt down at Celica’s injury.
“Are you feeling guilty about what happened?”
“Yes… If I didn’t permit you to join our expedition, none of this would hap-…”
“You dummy. All that happened to me this time was my own fault.”
Tap. Celica butted Glenn with her head that rested on his shoulder.
“Not to mention, if I had continued to challenge the Underground Labyrinth, I definitely would have met the wraith sooner or later. At that time, I would be alone facing off against him. In a certain way, you had saved my life.”
Glenn paused for a moment, and then turned to Celica.
“Hey… Are you really planning to continue your hunt for the mission you forgot? To continue challenging that Underground Labyrinth and uncover the secret to your immortality?”
Inside Glenn’s mind, he recalled his final conversation with Namenlose before they departed from the Underground Labyrinth.
◇ ◇ ◇
After they had managed to barely defeat the wraith, Glenn and the others once again followed Namenlose. Soon, they were brought to a large room with a familiar stone tablet at the center of the room. According to Namenlose, these control panels were littered throughout the Underground Labyrinth.
Under Rumia’s assistance, Glenn followed Namenlose’s instruction and operated the control panel, once again created a portal in midair – one that led to the Taum Observatory’s planetarium chamber.
Ah… We are finally heading home.
Sistine, Rumia, and Re=L all passed through the door with relief. Glenn, with the sleeping Celica on his back, was the last to proceed through the door.
“…I have something to tell you, Glenn.”
Namenlose whispered to Glenn just before he stepped into the portal.
“What is it? The door will close if we don’t hurry.”
“Do not worry, we have the time. Just listen to me, it is important.”
Glenn could not help but pause his footstep and listen to Namenlose.
“Glenn, in the near future, you will need to go with Celica to the Taum Observatory once more.”
“Huh? Are you joking? Who would ever want to return to that lousy place? I won’t go even if I am dragged there in the future…”
Namenlose ignored Glenn’s outburst, and continued.
“There, you will be met with an important decision… a choice between things irreplaceable to you.”
“…Are you a fortuneteller or something?” Glenn let out a long sigh.
“Namenlose, I am very grateful for all the help you rendered in our escape, despite you being a complete mystery. Not to mention, despite looking identical to Rumia, you are incredibly arrogant, making it difficult for anyone to like you. You are also not very talkative, and all you say are such distasteful things… In spite of all these faults, I am very grateful to you…” Glenn continued, “An honest advice, it may be better to be silent than to constantly saying nonsense…”
Namenlose once again just brushed off Glenn’s insults and continued her stern warning.
“If you wish to avoid the future I speak, do not let her remember.”
“Ah? What? Who is ‘her’ that you are talking about? Is it Celica? Or…”
Before Glenn noticed, Namenlose had vanished.
◇ ◇ ◇
“Personally, I wish you won’t do something as dangerous as that.” Glenn asked, while trying to purge the conversation with Namenlose from his mind.
Despite all that had happened, and despite losing her magic, Celica might continue to seek her lost identity and mission. Although Glenn had no intention of believing in Namenlose’s hogwash, he nevertheless felt uneasy. However, Celica’s answer cleansed Glenn of all worries…
“…I won’t.” Celica clearly answered, “I have already given up on my old identity. Not to mention, with the condition my body is in, all that is just a pipe dream anyways.”
“In a way, I no longer have a need to seek it anymore. With a family that cherish and support me, why won’t I be satisfied?”
Celica revealed a charming smile.
“Ah, yes, that is true…”
“Not to mention, I can’t let my beloved family member get worried~”
“Tsk… S-so you finally came around… honestly…” Glenn turned his face away in embarrassment, with his ear revealing a tinge of red.
“Ah, though I should say, if you were to marry someone in the future and leave the house, mommy will get lonely. Even if only occasionally, you should come home from time to time to visit. If mommy gets too lonely, mommy may end up being tempted back into the Underground Labyrinth to search for the meaning of life~”
“Listen to what you are saying!”
Celica teased Glenn as usual, and then let out a hearty smile…
“…What is it?”
“Not sure what you mean…”
After that, they said nothing more to each other. With the gentle wind blowing, the two just huddled next to one another as the sun slowly disappeared below the hills.
With the illusionary castle hanging high above, the group traveled on the road to Fejite, in blissful silence.