But why? What have you done to deserve this kind of dream?
Now, it's more like a nightmare.
The question repeats in your mind, and without thinking...
It spills out of your heart in desperation.
- Nino: Why is this happening?
- Nino: Why... do things have to be decided in this way?
- Nino: Why...? You know why. You said it yourself earlier.
- Nino: Isn't it natural to want to protect the one you love?
All of these restrictive thoughts, and those words, "I only have myself"...
Nino: Either of you can be anything, from a split soul, another personality or part of a whole. You may not know which, but you both must focus.
Because there's always a possibility of being left behind, and there's a chance that other people will not reach back, so... why should you ever risk it?
Reaching out might only end up hurting you.
Therefore, this mess transpired in the name of "self-love", to protect yourself from what you fear most.
But for that to take such a painful form, tearing oneself apart in the name of protection... it doesn't seem right. However, the feelings behind it are genuine.
From one innocent thought, a seed planted by a frightened child, something bloomed. A sprawling tree, whose branches are in the shape of a cage, rests in this ocean. Its job is to keep its owner in, and bisect him if he dares to leave its shade.
In the name of love, you pledged to never ever let yourself out.
Rejection... and loneliness, they haunt the back of your mind.
The taste of this meal is one you're well acquainted with, despite having no memories of how that came to be.
That's right, you have always been alone.
...Until now, that is.
Nino: You saved Corvus because this pain will be gone in an instant, but the agony of losing a life would last an eternity. Whether as an ally or asset, and everything in between, take it as you will.
- Nino: I knew it, it always ends the same way.
- Nino: As always, there's never a reason to reach out.
- Nino: There's no point at all...
- Nino: ...Hey... isn't it fine to be a little more honest?
- Nino: Asking for help isn't always a weakness, I think...
- Nino: Even if there is a chance that it'll be rejected.
- Nino: I know why it's worrying to do that, I really do, but...
- Nino: I'm also really, really tired of this now.
You wouldn't have been this much of a handful if you'd just swallowed your pride back then, and were honest about what you needed out of the others from the very start.
Yeah, now that you think about it...
The phantom, and these images, everyone here is a coward.
And the biggest coward of all is you. You're too scared of losing anything, so you won't let yourself gain anything in the first place.
- Nino: Right, I thought I'd be fine if I didn't have any attachments...
- Nino: But I think I already failed that anyway... didn't I?
- Nino: I've already chased after Mei without thinking,
- Nino: Because... I was just so worried.
- Nino: I was scared of losing something important again.
In that case, you'd rather never have that person enter your life at all! But thinking about it now, it's difficult to say you fully agree with this sentiment.
Right... yesterday, you learned that you had forgotten the existence of other people like they were nothing to you. And when you met again, when Aria's feelings could not reach you anymore...
How did that make her feel?
It's a fact that anyone who grows closer to you risks being forgotten.
But despite this being the case, those guys never outright rejected you for it. Most of all, Aria herself didn't mind taking the risk of her kindness being forgotten yet again. And yet, you couldn't return any of it.
Instead, you refused to take even the smallest risk of pain.
Nino: Try to make a wish.
Suddenly, you find the deepest part of you praying to the stars.
Despite my foolishness, despite my worries, please, do not let me forget to repay the warmth of others ever again.
But in here, there is no sky to receive those wishes.
Only a vast, rotten ocean, engulfing both regret and hope.
- Nino: ...You're right... it's dangerous to get close to the others.
- Nino: Because after spending time with them, I think...
- Nino: It's kind of difficult to remember how things were before I met them.
- Nino: Instead, I just want us to stick together for longer.
- Nino: But that means it'll just hurt worse when they leave... right?
- Nino: See, you do understand after all.
Nino: Even in your selflessness, you are still somehow very selfish.
There is a hint of loneliness, but it is not one exhibited by someone who has never had anyone to rely on. Rather, this is the solitude of someone who had once lost this very precious treasure from his life.
Once in the past, a severe loss ruined you so terribly that you decided to never do anything that might dredge up this same, awful taste again.
Yes, the kindness of the people you've met was in fact poison to your soul. But if you never risk getting hurt by choosing to trust and receive those feelings, then you might never reach the potential reward of obtaining something that lasts, for once.
Oh, how badly you want to rise to the surface now... but the thought of wading through this entire ocean all by yourself sends paralyzing fear through your body.
In the face of such overwhelming fear, what is there left to do?
Maybe, the only thing you can do now is sink like the rest-
- Reed: Why are you such an idiot sometimes?
- Nino: Woah... Reed!?
- Nino: Why are you all the way down here...?
- Reed: Reasons.
- Nino: Huh... well, it doesn't matter anyways.
- Nino: This is just a memory again, like Aria and Mei...
- Nino: So it's not like I'll hear something I haven't heard before.
- Nino: Sorry. I think I'm kind of having a moment down here.
- Nino: It's been very, very confusing and tiring...
- Reed: Come on.
- Reed: Aren't you keeping a little too much to yourself at this point?
- Nino: ...?
- Reed: Well, yes, that's exactly my point. The fact that this is coming from me means its pretty bad in your case, I'd say.
- Reed: I mean, you still haven't even said why you crossed over in the first place.
- Nino: ...The reason I originally crossed over to the monster world?
- Nino: Well, of course I can't say... I still don't remember why.
- Reed: Yeah, you're lucky I'm good enough of a person that I'll choose to forgive it.
- Reed: But if you ever change your mind, I'll be waiting to hear more.
- Nino: What... really?
- Reed: Like I said. You say very little compared to how much you expect. Like anyone could have some magical insight on what you're thinking without you having said anything. Bit unfair, don't you think?
- Nino: It's not like I'm keeping secrets! Well, not too many, but...
- Nino: I can't say much because I don't know much.
- Reed: Eh, whatever. Suit yourself.
- Reed: I can wait as long as it takes, anyway.
- Nino: Huh? Um, I don't get it...
- Nino: Does this mean that you'd be okay with helping me find out more?
- Nino: ...Hey, wait... we've...
- Nino: We've never had this conversation before.
- Nino: So how is this possible?
- Nino: Are you actually somehow here?
- Nino: Even though it's just a dream, are you...
- Reed: Anyway. Come on.
- Reed: You're straying behind and wasting time.
People here seem like one-way images, whom you cannot actually reply to.
...Except for the phantom, the only one you could have a back and forth with.
But still, even though that was an inexplicable thing to hear, it does make you happy to think about it. If it turns out that even Reed wouldn't mind helping you find your memories, then maybe they all wouldn't mind helping too.
Maybe it's fine to try reaching out, just this once.
Boy, if the real Reed could somehow be here, and see all of this... it feels like he wouldn't let you live it down, right? Well, obviously! You must've looked so, so stupid, floating upside down in an ocean of tears.
"Seriously? Why are you spending so much time inside your own head, weirdo?"
He'd probably say something like that!
Everyone else, too... they'd probably tell you not to overthink what happened to this degree, wouldn't they? Yeah, you can imagine what they'd say very clearly! It's definitely something along the lines of...
"Please, don't beat yourself up over this so much!"
Oh, and how about what happened in the rift?
You still haven't even properly rescued Mei yet! As the leader, the most important thing to do now is to confirm that she is safe.
"Do you think this is the right time for this sorta thing? Don't be silly!"
Everyone is probably either furious, concerned, or a combination of both.
Whichever it is, they must be ready to unleash some barrage of words upon your poor little soul when you wake up!
And strangely enough, a part of you is looking forward to it. Yes, when you wake up... you'd like to see those guys again.
- Nino: I know you can't see or hear me...
- Nino: But when I remember anything, I think you guys will be the first to know.
- Nino: I wanna know where my home is, and reach it with your help.
- Nino: And there's no way I'll tell you this part so directly, but...
- Nino: Haha, I feel like I can't do it on my own!
- Nino: So I'm gonna bother everyone with a little request later.
- Nino: ...Probably after I apologize, first.
Ruminating here is a waste of time if you can just leave, and forget these burdens.
Knowing all that you know, you are now ready to answer the phantom. Really, although you recalled some things all on your own in order to prepare this answer, it's still one you couldn't have found without the help of people you've met.
After all, those memories had to originate from somewhere.
Nino: He only represents a small part of you, and not a very well-adapted one at that.
- Nino: ...That's your last answer?
- Nino: Hmh. So that's how I'm choosing to rationalize things.
- Nino: Which is "very begrudgingly", apparently.
But until then, well...
It would be nice, if, at the very least...
You could be honest with everyone else about what you really want to do, after all. And maybe about the fact that you might need to rely on them for help along the way, just a little bit... even if your request for assistance might be rejected.
Surely, it won't get rid of all this bitterness in one go, but it might cover up the taste with something more pleasant for a time, no?
And that wouldn't be so bad, you think.
- Nino: Well, are you satisfied?
- Nino: You came all the way here to have a new realization.
- Nino: No one can judge whether it was correct or not besides yourself,
- Nino: But it is something of your very own.
Nino: Give answers, and turn your back on the devil from this day forth, becoming your own compassionate companion and friend of Nino's friends. Then you will find a way to be far from left alone and abandoned.
- Nino: ...So, all things considered...
- Nino: You still want me to tear down what little protection I've built for myself.
- Nino: That's a stupid idea.
- Nino: But, for now... I'll stand by as you want, on one condition.
- Nino: Since it's an agreeable first step.
- Nino: A condition...? Uh, I don't see why I have to play by your rules.
- Nino: Doesn't matter what you think of it.
- Nino: As long as you abide by it, then there's no issue.
- Nino: But don't think you'll get away so easily if you ignore it.
- Nino: Ugh, whatever! Just say it!
- Nino: What's your condition?
- Nino: That I will not forget myself in the process.
- Nino: No matter what, I am incomplete.
- Nino: And what would fill the rest of my shape isn't other people,
- Nino: But the missing pieces of my memories. Don't you agree?
It's okay to trust those guys just a bit more... but, first and foremost, you came here for your memories. You mustn't deviate from this goal.
Only... it might be alright to walk that path alongside everyone else too.
Nino: Can you wake up now?
Hold on... since the two of you finally agree on something now, does this mean you've done it? You've successfully ended the conflict here, haven't you?
So that means it's okay to wake up now, right!?
Err, it feels like you should be able to do that, but...
For some reason, you are still here.
- Nino: Hey, I agreed to your condition,
- Nino: So hurry up and undo whatever you did to get me here!
- Nino: Whoa, what? I did nothing at all.
- Nino: Why am I being so accusatory?
- Nino: Huh? Well, you were so eager to present your list of questions.
- Nino: That's suspicious if you ask me!
- Nino: Uh, I have nothing to do with this.
- Nino: You're here because you had to be.
- Nino: And, well, this lasted a while because it got hit pretty bad again.
- Nino: You know. On the head.
- Nino: Huh? So I hit my head and passed out?
- Nino: It's mine too.
- Nino: What? I'm confused.
- Nino: Tough luck. Anyway, it's dangerous to be knocked out too long.
- Nino: So go, just wake up already.
Nino: Flick forehead.
- Nino: Wait... ah!