52 – The Haunted Mountain Streams – III
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Akane glanced at Celes and tilted her head for a bit. Then she smacked her fist against her palm and said, "Ah! You're Sennie's girlfriend!"

Celes felt her face heat up and then cleared her throat. "T-That's correct. But what are you doing here, Miss Akane?"

"Oh. Well, I'm technically part of the school faculty now and there were rumors about a ghost wandering around here, so I came over to convince it to move on."

Akane cracked her neck and then stared at the pale specter who was cautiously staring at both Akane and Celes.

"Hm..." Akane tilted her head and said, "I was expecting something like an evil old man though, not a beautiful young woman." She sighed and said, "Sennie always draws all the weird ones to him..."

Celes shifted Sen around to block him from the spirit's view before looking at Akane. "...I take it events like these are a common occurrence?"

"Oh yeah." Akane nodded and said, "It's why Uncle Hajime told us to keep an eye on him. But anyway..." She threw a punch in the air before pointing at the ghost. "Hey. Give it up. Sennie isn't yours to take."

The ghost bristled, her hair spreading out behind her like dark tendrils. After that, a chilling voice echoed in the forest.


Celes sighed and then reached up to tie her hair in a knot.

Akane glanced over with an approving nod. "That's the spirit! Sennie's girlfriend should beat up all the hussies trying to snag him!"

Celes smiled back and said, "I am glad you approve. Now." She looked at the ghost and said, "Would you mind assisting me in this exorcism, Miss Akane?"

"Just call me Big Sis!" Akane smiled and then cracked her knuckles. "Now, to send this obsessive girl on her-"


An energetic female voice echoed from the trees behind the ghost. Shortly after, a blur of colors shot through the air, colliding with the ghost.

And not just colliding, but sending the ghost tumbling through the air and sprawling on the ground.

Celes froze and then slowly looked at the person who randomly appeared.

Eyes that were a shimmering iridescent color. A face that vaguely resembled Sen's, but more closely resembled Sen when he was Sena.

Wearing a roughed up and mud-caked school uniform with leaves stuck all over her body, Cici jumped to her feet and then dashed back to the ghost.

"Take that! And that!" Cici swung her leg, kicking the ghost. "How dare you stick me in that muddy pit! How dare you jumpscare me! Do you know how long I spent doing my makeup today?! And you ruined the drawings I had of Sennie-poo too! And you scared Yuyu!"

The ghost curled up on the forest floor, whimpering while trying to avoid Cici's kicks.

Celes blinked and then slowly turned to look at Akane.

Akane blinked and then shrugged.

Celes sighed.

At that time, trees rustled before a bedraggled Yui stumbled into the clearing. Completely covered in mud and random leaves, she walked over like a zombie, shivering. "Ghosts are a paranormal phenomenon." She muttered under her breath and said, "There is a scientific explanation for everything. Right. So that wasn't a ghost. It was just delusion. The result of sleep deprivation. Or maybe it was just a lost student. Yes. Definitely-"

She paused, noticing Cici kicking the ghost. And then she noticed the ghost.

When Yui saw that, she let out a shrill scream and collapsed, her eyes rolling up in her head.

Meanwhile, Cici had changed tactics to pulling the ghost up and slapping her face over and over.

Celes watched all of that unfold before letting out a deep sigh.

"Life is never boring around you, I suppose, Sen..."


I had a dream- No. It was a nightmare.

Although it started out sweet with me going on a lovely stroll through the woods with Celes, it took a dark turn after a ghost jumped out and chased us around.

It was terrifying. Just like the ghost from the R*ng or the lady from the Gr*dge, that ghost had been all pale with white clothes and creepy black hair.

[Help: Um... It wasn't a dream, Mister Sen?]


...Weird. I could have sworn that I just saw a floating message box. But it must have just been a figment of my imagination.

[Help: I am not a figment of imagination! I am a real girl! Big Sis said so!]


[Help: A-Ah. Sorry. Anyway, it wasn't a dream, Mister Sen! You're dreaming right now, but that wasn't!]

Crazy. Now I'm dreaming about Help-chan talking to me and saying that I wasn't dreaming about the ghost.

But that's silly.

First of all, ghosts aren't real, so it's impossible that-

[Help: Ghosts ARE real, Mister Sen! And even then, Ghost-chan is a mission reward, so she's alive again now.]


[Help: You should wake up! The field trip is almost over!]


[Help: Mou~! Okay! If you're not waking up, I'm making you wake up! Yoisho!]

What the heck is a yoi- Whoa!

A faint breeze blowing past. A warm and soft cushion. The faint scent of vanilla and lilies.

Confused at what was causing all of that, I opened my eyes. The moment I did...

[CG: The Awaiting Princess]

A beautiful and noble young woman with hair spun like gold. Clear blue eyes quietly observing.

A faint breeze shifted her hair slightly, causing her to tuck a strand behind her ear to tidy it. Even so, she wasn't bothered, her face still carrying a gentle smile.


I blinked, processing the situation.

Celes was looking down at me, so I had to be laying on her thighs.

Judging from the clear blue sky behind her, we weren't in the forest anymore...

So did she carry me out?

That was embarrassing. But even then...

"You're finally awake, Sen." Celes' smile widened and she said, "Did you have a pleasant dream?"

Seeing that smile, I couldn't help but smile back. "Not really. But it's better now that I've seen your smile."

Celes laughed and then gently placed her hand over my head, patting it. "I'm glad to hear that. Please, take all the time you need to feel better, Sen."

Since it was comfortable, I nodded and started to close my eyes again. "I think I will. Thanks, Celes. L- *ahem* ... love you."

I quickly shut my eyes before I could see Celes' reaction. But just before I did, I caught a brief glimpse of her face turning a deep red.

[Help: Um. Mister Sen...]


Are the messages being beamed directly into my eyeballs? How am I reading that when my eyes are closed?!

[Help: Oh! That's because the messages are actually just your physical brain's way of interpreting extraplanar atma signals from a metaphysical-]

[Help: ...Um. Please ignore that. But Mister Sen, you need to wake up!]

Nah. I'm fine.

I'm here on a private and intimate date with Celes who is being super adorable, and I've got a cozy lap pillow that I've only ever dreamed of, so I'm good.

[Help: But you aren't!]

...Aren't? What do you mean by "But you aren't?"

[Help: You aren't alone with Miss Celes right now! If you don't get up now-]

A loud whistle echoed from nearby, shortly followed by Akane's voice.

"Sennie is a full-grown adult now, huh? Acting all lovey-dovey in public without caring what anyone else thinks..."

Right after that, Ren's voice echoed. "It seems Sen-kun and Celes are truly in love."

Cici scoffed and said, "True love? More like true bluff. Isn't that right, Hanako-chan."

A meek female voice echoed right after, saying, "Y-Yes, Cici-san."

"It's 'sama', not 'san'."



"Yes, Cici-sama..."


[Help: Yes, Mister Sen?]

If I just keep sleeping, do you think this will fix itself?

[Help: Um... I think if you keep sleeping, you might get a forced story mission and title change...]



I sighed and opened my eyes. After that, I sat up, taking a look around... and then abruptly froze when I saw a person in the crowd who definitely wasn't there when we started the fieldtrip.

It was a man wearing a sleek, tailored suit. He was wearing a pair of designer shades and carrying a silver briefcase in his left hand. And in his right, he was holding up a phone to take a selfie with me and Celes in the background.

But when he saw me staring, the man stopped and tucked the phone away. After that, he waved his hand and said, "Yo, kid. For a guy desperately saying he's into masculine things, you sure like playing a damsel in distress."

Dammit, Dad.