— 4 —
“Here you go, Ringo. It’s the orb you wanted.”
After putting away the handkerchief and leaving the store, I held the Replaying Orb out towards Ringo.
However, instead of reaching for it, Ringo just continued to stare at the orb. After how much she had wanted it, this behavior was worrying.
“What’s wrong? Don’t you want it?”
I tried asking, and Ringo slowly shook her head.
“…I have nothing to give.”
“To give…? Ah, ahhh!”
Was Ringo concerned about all that give-and-take stuff the employee had been talking about?
“…Souma, do you want, anything?”
Ringo asked me back.
It would’ve been easy to just answer that I didn’t want anything, but asking for something small in exchange might be better for Ringo’s development.
Searching for something to ask for, I glanced over Ringo, and I found my eyes drawn towards her brilliant blue hair.
“It’s, not quite a thing that I want, but. Ringo, your hair is really pretty.”
So could I try touching it a bit, was what I wanted to say. But before I could, Ringo took action.
While I was still trying to figure out what her words meant, Ringo gathered her hair with one hand and quickly drew the Wakizashi with the other.
Without a moment’s hesitation, she swung it by her head, cleanly cutting off her beautiful blue hair.
“W, wha, what are you doing!”
I involuntarily howled at her.
But, could you blame me for that? Seeing that long and beautiful hair being cut off, anyone would want to shout out. Especially since the hairstyles of characters in the world of Nekomimineko didn’t change, so who knows if it would ever grow out again.
As I stood there, shocked speechless, Ringo held her hand out towards me without a shred of remorse, but rather with a look of satisfaction.
In her hand was the blue hair she had just cut off.
Well, I did say that it was pretty, and after she asked me what I wanted. But this wasn’t what I meant.
While agonizing over my own carelessness, I once again came to realize that Ringo was definitely lacking in common sense.
“Thank you, Ringo. But please don’t do something like this ever again. Your hair is the prettiest when it’s on your head.”
As gently as I could, I explained to her.
“…This is, not good enough?”
I was trying to scold Ringo on her recklessness, but, seeing her ask nervously, it seemed that her interest was solely in finding something to exchange.
“…Nah. It’s a rare gift from you, so I’ll accept it. But it might make me even happier if you would work hard with me during this Extermination Fest.”
“…Mm. I’ll try, my best.”
Seeing Ringo tightly grasp her Wakizashi, I felt relieved. With this, everything should have been sorted out. It would’ve been nice to hype up the Extermination Fest a bit more, but…
“Well, before that, how about giving the orb a try? You wanted it, right?”
Ringo gave a sincere nod, putting away the Wakizashi and grabbing the orb.
She then immediately tried to open her mouth…
“Ah, wait! Ringo, do you still remember your old name?”
“Yeah. Shelmia El Licht. Don’t mess it up.”
I reminded her once again and, after looking at me curiously for a little while, Ringo gave a small nod.
I held my breath and watched over her. With this, Ringo might be able to regain her memories.
Carrying both of our hopes, Ringo, with what almost seemed like anticipation, hoisted the orb with both hands as she yelled out a name.
…Wait, what? That one?
In the end, the orb never activated.
Just in case, we also had her try saying “Shelmia El Licht,” but nothing happened.
I thought that there might’ve been a chance in this world, but as an item for a unreleased feature, it was apparently just a piece of junk with no meaning whatsoever.
“Still, why did you say my name instead of your own?”
Hearing my question, Ringo tilted her head as if I were asking something completely outside of her expectations. It seemed that, for Ringo, there never was a choice besides saying my name to begin with.
“…I wanted to learn about you.”
“Mm, but still, aren’t you at all interested about your past?”
There was no doubt in her reply. She seriously didn’t seem to care much about it.
“But, it’s really too bad that it doesn’t do anything.”
I tried to say something to comfort her, but Ringo shook her head instead.
“…It’s okay. Present, remains.”
The Replaying Orb was a single-use item. If the replay were successful, then the orb would’ve shattered by now. As if happy that it was able to stay in a tangible form, Ringo rubbed the bag she had put the orb in with satisfaction. But, the next moment, her elated expression turned into a shudder.
Her drastic change induced me to ask, and for someone who didn’t show any reaction when the orb failed to work, Ringo seemed like she was almost about to break out in tears as she answered.
“…I should’ve kept the apple core too.”
“That’s something you should throw away!”
Mhm. I really don’t understand the way Ringo thinks.