- Nino: ...Right.
- Nino: Among what little memories I have, there is an odd one.
- Nino: I can't say anything about it, besides the fact that it merely exists,
- Nino: Buried somewhere deep beneath the surface.
Nino: No, it must be asked. What were all of the other slaughtered "Ninos" in the flock? Why were they impaled by their own blades, and resting within their own blood? Why did they vary so much in appearance?
- Nino: Ah, don't get me wrong.
- Nino: I'm saying that it's in your memories.
- Nino: Memories that can be revisited, mind you.
- Nino: Even though you have no explanation or understanding of it, just like me...
- Nino: It remains ignored in here, sleeping in the depths.
- Nino: But now that you're more willing to confront all sorts of uncomfortable things, it would be a good time as any to give it a closer look, right?
- Nino: Go on. Call that memory forth and examine it again if you want to.
- Nino: ...I can do that?
- Nino: Sure. You've always been able to, as long as you were willing.
Yes, in this place... you stand atop an incredibly deep ocean.
Then, the memory he's talking about rests inside these murky waters.
Nino: Reach in...
After all, it was unsettling to see the mirage in the cave.
You shut it from your mind right away, and didn't want to think about the implications it carried. It can't be helped, since you had more important things to care about at the time, right? It's fine...
Nino: ...And bring them out yourself.
In order to do that...
You have to find the holes in his argument by any means necessary.
One by one, many hands grip yours. Ever so slowly, they ascend.
And with your help, they finally emerge.
Nino: Examine the image.
- Nino: ...There it is again...
- Nino: Haha. It's... interesting, to say the least.
- Nino: But there is no explanation for it in my mind at all.
- Nino: And yet, even with such mysteries sleeping in here,
- Nino: You think I have time to worry about other people's issues at all?
- Nino: Look, I'm just begging you to never forget your priorities again.
- Nino: Understanding myself comes first.
You sense that you're all the same, but also somewhat different.
Each images feels like its own person, in a way you can't exactly put your finger on... but just by looking at them, you do sense some of your individual differences.
Nino: Carefully look at them, one by one.
The first one approaches you with a warm expression. He has an air of tranquility about him, which feels like something you totally lack. Yeah, considering everything that's been happening, you really cannot imagine yourself ever being this composed...
Nino: The second one... is it a girl?
Next, to address what is perhaps the most major difference of all, this is indeed a girl - and for some reason, you know for a fact that she is also the most mature here!
It's not like you're a clueless child, but...
You sense disparity between your mind and hers, even though you also somehow know that she's the same in age as the rest here. In those eyes lies something you lack. It is the mellow outlook of a grown up, telling you that you still have much to experience before your growth is deemed complete.
Is this a maturity that was robbed from you, or one that you have yet to develop?
Unfortunately... it's not a question either of you can answer.
Nino: What about the remaining two?
The third one's face is full of frustration, reflecting a certain rage dwelling in his heart... but the fourth one's mind is full of regret, and his heart is heavy for reasons you do not know. It's a stark contrast from the levelheadedness of the other two.
And yet, despite various disparities, even the major biological one...
It feels like you are all the same at the end.
Nino: And even after noting down all of your observations...
Was it a useless point to bring up, after all?
Even thought it's something he has no explanation for, either...
It's something that you had seen in the cavern first.
Dammit, his expression says he's got it all figured out already.
Then, it would be a fruitless endeavor to continue thinking about this.
But, but then... what else is there?
How else can you call his bluff, deny him, and silence him right now?
There must be something else, anything... come on...
Nino: Illusions are able to draw ideas from a target's mind to shape themselves. The Phantom could simply be an elaborate spirit's illusion. In general, mind readers, such as spirits, are perfectly capable of doing all that without needing to actually be you.
- Nino: Hm? What? You... you're now saying...
- Nino: That I'm one of those spirit things Aria mentioned?
- Nino: Hah, did you become an expert about something you've never faced overnight?
- Nino: So let me get this straight. A spirit could've accompanied you undetected throughout everything up until now? What a funny story.
- Nino: In order for your claim to be true, I guess everyone around you must've gone blind, then. Especially Aria and the ever-so-careful Reed, right?
- Nino: The two who are the source of anything you know about this enemy...
- Nino: Who were overfamiliar with the methods of detecting and disposing of it?
- Nino: Seriously. Get real.
Nino: All of this can be considered Celestial influence.
- Nino: ...What? A celestial!?
- Nino: You mean like the queen Kaji talked about?
- Nino: Why would that kind of person even bother with me?
- Nino: You can't be seriously saying that now...
- Nino: She had a history with Kaji,
- Nino: But what in the world do you have to do with any of it?
- Nino: Or... do you just want to attribute everything here as someone else's doing?
- Nino: Ah, yeah, you know what? For a coward like you, that makes total sense.
- Nino: Now knowing so little about who you're choosing as a perpetrator suddenly seems awfully convenient for your new argument too, doesn't it.
- Nino: Come on. You were doing much better before this.
Nino: That is all info any entity within your mind would possess. It's not you, and it doesn't have to be.
- Nino: So you... are you at your wits' end? It sure feels like it.
- Nino: Admitting defeat would be easier at this point.
- Nino: Then, to sum it up...
- Nino: Basically, you're saying in various ways that I'm someone, or something, that invaded your mind at one point - whether by my own will, or the will of another - and my motivation is to simply mess with you over and over. Is that it?
- Nino: After all of this, do you still deny me?
- Nino: Well, hey, I'll let your draw whatever conclusion you want!
- Nino: But for your own sake, let me warn you first.
- Nino: Words here have consequences, so think about it carefully.
- Nino: Now... is that really your answer?
You may have sensed something from those four, but you'll never accept this phantom's existence. No matter how much he talks, you will never be swayed by his words.
You are you, and you know you well enough to say that this can't represent you.
With those words, you'll force this dream to finally end.