Merry Christmas from the Underworld

Section 1: Snow Falls in the Underworld

Fou: Fou...

Mash: Fooou...

Jeanne Alter Santa Lily: Fooou...

Santa Alter: Fooou...

Fujimaru 1: Well, this doesn't look great.

Fujimaru 2: Unseasonably hot, isn't it?

Santa Alter: How can you be so calm about this!? It is winter, and you are lounging around as if nothing important is happening! Must be nice!

Jeanne Alter Santa Lily: Yeah, no fair, Reindeer! How are you the only one who's okay with this?

Jeanne Alter Santa Lily: It's almost forty-two degrees Celsius! What self-respecting Santa could work in conditions like this!?

Fou: Fou, fooou... Fo–(Thunk)

Mash: Even Fou has collapsed from the heat too... Not that I can blame him.

Mash: Hard as it is to believe, Chaldea's being scorched with summer December...

Mash: And with the heat has come some kind of plague.

Mash: We're still in the middle of preparing to move our entire operation, but most of Chaldea's staff has called in sick with high fevers...

Mash: Da Vinci just collapsed into bed before she could even begin the monumental task of transferring control over Chaldea to the new team coming...

Mash: Mr. Holmes, however, adamantly refused to remove his coat for anything, and ended up collapsing from heat stroke while working in the hangar.

Mash: And every other Servant in Chaldea is out of commission with some kind of strange fever...

Mash: The way we're going now, Chaldea would be lucky to last another day...

Jeanne Alter Santa Lily: But...what about this year's Christmas...?

Jeanne Alter Santa Lily: If only my mentor...Santa Island Mask...were here now...

Fujimaru 1: He was one of the first to collapse.

Fujimaru 2: He's got his own problems to deal with right now.

Jeanne Alter Santa Lily: Super...Amakusa... (Thunk)

Santa Alter: There is nothing to be done now. If Santa can't go to work, there will be no Christmas this year.

Santa Alter: And if this world falls to ruin without Christmas, that is just the way this gingerbread cookie crumbles.

Santa Alter: I do wish I could have delivered a present to Gilgamesh in Uruk, but...

Santa Alter: No, that hardly matters. I shall just put him out of my mind for good.

Santa Alter: It all falls to you, Reindeer. Remember my chocolate mints and dozen turkeys when you are treating me.

Fujimaru 1: Even the diehard Christmas fans are giving up!

Fujimaru 2: This might be even worse than I thought...

Mash: ...I'm afraid so, Senpai. I guess it was hard for you to see how serious this has gotten since you're the only one this heat isn't affecting, somehow...

Mash: But I'm afraid I'm at my limit, too... I'm feeling incredibly sluggish...

Mash: Fou... Sorry, but I'm going to have to lie down next to you. ...Senpai, if I could make a request, I'd like to have some of the Queen Witch's special porridge...

Fujimaru 1: Oh crap, I'm the only one left standing!

Fujimaru 2: I'd better go get some ice for everyone!

Fujimaru 1: What the...? It's like a sauna in here!

Fujimaru 2: There are Servants collapsed all over the place...!

???: Fwahahahahaha! (Cough, hack) Bahahahaha!

???: Foolish mongrel! Only now do you see your peril! But too late. Chaldea's Heroic Spirits are finished!

???: ImaginE! HerOic SpIRits dyInG of a siMpLE COLD! LoOK Upon me ANd leARn from mY ExamPLe! NeVEr mINd that one time I wORkeD mysELF to DEath!

Fujimaru 1: That voice...!

Fujimaru 2: Something is very wrong with you...!

Gilgamesh: Fwahaha. Now, now, no need to bring that up. Yes, it is I, King Gilgamesh, the healthiest of all.

Gilgamesh: It seems that you have not yet succumbed to the fever, Fujimaru. In which case...

Gilgamesh: You must have acquired some resistance to it during your escapade in the underworld. And then there is this heat...

Gilgamesh: ...Hmph. I see what is happening here. Those idiots in the underworld have made another mess of things.

Fujimaru 1: You know where this heat is coming from!? Great!

Fujimaru 2: Do you have any treasure that can fix this!?

Gilgamesh: Heh. No matter how capable a sage I may be, you cannot simply expect me to solve all your problems for you!

Gilgamesh: However, in recognition of your piety, I will be generous enough to summarize what is happening.

Gilgamesh: Listen well, mongrel! If something is not done, Chaldea is doomed!

Gilgamesh: Ridiculous, you say? Right you are! This is absolutely ridiculous!

Gilgamesh: A cold is a nightmare even for a Servant! And this...this is no ordinary cold!

Gilgamesh: This is the terrible illness that even the gods themselves fear: Sumerian Summer Fever!

Fujimaru 1: Sumerian...Summer Fever?

Fujimaru 2: (I think the heat may have gotten to him too...)

Gilgamesh: Indeed. It is Mesopotamia's leading cause of death, and an invitation to the underworld that always comes in the heat of summer.

Gilgamesh: Some modern countries have times when the souls of the dead mingle with the living... The Bon festival in Japan, for example, yes?

Gilgamesh: In the Age of Gods, summer was our season of death.

Gilgamesh: Its merciless heat sapped the lives of the frail and aged alike.

Gilgamesh: Unlike any other mere virus, the Sumerian Fever has a sort of will to it. It is an invitation to die, a plague sent by the gods of the underworld.

Fujimaru 1: So, this heat is from the Mesopotamian underworld?

Gilgamesh: Indeed. Believe me, I know what I am talking about. The underworld is attacking Chaldea!

Gilgamesh: Only one person can resolve this great crisis. The task of figuring this out falls to you, mongrel.

Gilgamesh: Surely you have some idea? You owe a great debt to the underworld. Now the time has come to repay it.

Gilgamesh: That is all I have to tell you! Remember, there will be no Christmas until this has been resolved!

Gilgamesh: Do not look at me like that. I am just as unhappy about this as you are!

Gilgamesh: I was so sure this was the year that Dark Santa would pay me a visit!

Fujimaru 1: I see. Well, I guess even kings can dream.

Fujimaru 2: Hey, wait! Exactly what do I do here!?

Gilgamesh: I shall take that as a sign of your consent! Heh... Seems you are prepared to descend into the underworld.

Gilgamesh: That is how a true traveler of Uruk should conduct [♂ himself /♀ herself]. Now go, reclaim Christmas for Chaldea, and more importantly, for me!

Gilgamesh: I shall use every resource available to assist you in achieving this goal! And so, I shall make my most tyrannical move to date...

Gilgamesh: I shall commandeer Chaldea's systems and use the last of my power to Rayshift you!

Gilgamesh: But be warned! At this time of year, the underworld is transformed into a cavernous pit!

Gilgamesh: Don't think you'll just waltz right to your goal the way you did on your last visit. Fwahahahaha!

Fujimaru 1: Glad somebody's enjoying this...

Fujimaru 2: Hm? What do you mean, last of your power?

Gilgamesh: The underworld's seven gates are protected by foul souls indeed! Do not let them stop you!

Gilgamesh: And be warned, that is not all you will need to do there.

Gilgamesh: Gather the Sands of the Underworld! Its weight shall lead to your salvation!

Gilgamesh: May the Sheep God keep you safe! When your goal has been accomplished, a glorious Holy Night will be upon you and I once–

Fujimaru 1: Your Majestyyy!

Fujimaru 2: It would take a real miracle for that!

Fujimaru 1: Ugh...huh...?

Fujimaru 2: Huh. The underworld has a sky. Who knew?

Fujimaru 1: ALWAYS with the falling!?

Fujimaru 2: ...Huh, this is kinda a slow fall...

Gallû Spirit: Oooooohhh... WoOoooohhh!

Fujimaru 1: (Just when I thought everything was fine...!)

Gallû Spirit: GalluUuuuu! ...?

Fujimaru 1: Rainbow...trails...?

Fujimaru 2: It's a bird! It's a ROMA! No, wait...

A:???: Ho ho ho. I see you're in quite the predicament.

A:???: Would you like some help from Santa Claus, young [♂ man /♀ lady]?

Fujimaru 1: Yes please!

Fujimaru 2: (So this is this year's Santa...!)

A:???: Ah, excellent. It warms my heart to hear that. I could ask for nothing better.

A:???: That's the Fujimaru I know and respect.

A:???: To be honest, I still don't know what I'm doing, but I'll do the best I can for you, Master.

A:???: Don't worry. I may be new to this Santa thing, but I am an expert at battle on horseback!

A:???: ...Ahem. Now then, let me introduce myself properly.

Altera Santa: Hear me, ghost that wanders the Holy Night! My name is Attila the San(ta)! You may call me Altera Santa!

Altera Santa: I have taken up the role of Chaldea's Santa to replace my honorable predecessors.

Gallû Spirit: San...? San...ta...? Santa... Sweeeeeet!

Altera Santa: ...So, you want this holy outfit for yourselves, hm? I understand. I'm fond of it too.

Altera Santa: But I had this outfit custom-made. If you want it, you'll have to defeat me, or order one yourselves.

Altera Santa: ...Have at you then. I ride the skies tonight, bearing the cane of the god of war! This rainbow shall be your present...!

Gallû Spirit: Woooooo Hraaaaaaaaa!


Gallû Spirit: GwaaAAaa! SAnTAaaaaaaaa!

Altera Santa: Farewell, strange ghosts with silk hats. If you haven't had your fill yet, come back and see me again.

Altera Santa: Are you all right, Fujimaru? Good. That's the most important thing.

Altera Santa: Hmm... Yes, I can see you're still in free fall. Hurry, grab onto my sheep and–

Altera Santa: Oh. Never mind. It seems that's not necessary. You are falling slowly, as if through a pile of sheep's wool.

Altera Santa: So you will not need my help to reach the ground safely. See? So soft...

Fujimaru 1: Whoa, you're right. I AM falling slowly...

Altera Santa: Indeed. No wonder you are the great sage who led not one but two Santas to success. A Christmas miracle.

Fujimaru 2: Never mind that. What was with those ghosts' hats!?

Altera Santa: It IS Christmas, you know. Even ghosts dress for the occasion. Of course, as Santa, my own dedication goes far beyond mere accessories.

Altera Santa: At any rate, now that the danger has passed, allow me to introduce myself again. I doubt you recognize me in this outfit, after all.

Altera Santa: I am Altera, the great warrior-king of the Huns.

Altera Santa: ...And, as you can see, I am also Santa Claus. THE Santa Claus.

Fujimaru 1: Yeah, I uh...I got that...

Fujimaru 2: Are... Are you seriously THE Santa Claus?

Altera Santa: Hmm, I see. This outfit is not quite complete, so it only makes sense you'd have your doubts.

Altera Santa: Wait right there. I'll be right back as a perfect Santa.

Altera Santa: Ho ho ho. It's me, Santa.

Altera Santa: Ho ho ho. It's me, San–

Fujimaru 1: Can you tell me what's going on here?

Altera Santa: That's...kind of a long story... And I'm not sure I can tell it properly...

Altera Santa: To tell you the truth, I thought everything would just fall into place once I met up with you...

Altera Santa: No, I must not become dejected. I am Santa Claus, and I am here to judge the value of Christmas.

Altera Santa: I must see for myself whether this civilization is naughty or nice.

Altera Santa: If you understand my circumstances now, then I would ask you to be my guide.

Altera Santa: Fujimaru, you have led many Santas to success. You are clearly the master of the ways of Santa.

Altera Santa: Now...I would like to debut as a great Santa Claus in my own right.

Altera Santa: I want to show everyone that even we Hun warriors can throw a good party.

Altera Santa: But to do that, I will need your help. Fortunately, there is still some distance between us and the first gate of the underworld.

Altera Santa: So let's share what we both know while we're still falling. Is that all right with you, Master?

Fujimaru 1: Uh... I guess...

Altera Santa: I'm glad to hear that. This will be a great help for me too.

Fujimaru 2: Fine with me. Anyway, thanks for saving my life!

Altera Santa: N-not at all. I should be thanking you. This was my very first battle, so I was more than a bit nervous.

Altera Santa: All right then, let's head for the first gate. I'll explain more once we are on solid ground.

Altera Santa: You'll descend into the depths of the underworld, and I'll go deliver presents. The sheep from before said our goals are in perfect alignment.

Altera Santa: So you could even say we're of one mind and body.

Altera Santa: Okay, our goal is to reach the very bottom of the underworld, the pure water abyss. You can employ my cane of the god of war as you see fit!

Section 2: Splendid Sacrifices

Altera Santa: We are sinking through the underworld's night sky... Strange and even contradictory as that might seem, I find it rather beautiful. Almost poetic.

Altera Santa: And there's this dark gold dust. I doubt it serves as currency here, but it IS tinged with magical energy.

Altera Santa: I bet I could make a lot of presents if I collected it. It's like this world was made for Christma–

Altera Santa: What's wrong, Fujimaru? I thought you would be happier now that we've finally reached the first gate.

Fujimaru 1: I mean, just take a look around.

Fujimaru 2: This isn't anything like the underworld I know!

Altera Santa: I see from your expression that you are wondering why this place is so “rocking.”

Altera Santa: Let's see, what did he say to do in these situations... Oh, right. I need to read this letter.

Altera Santa: Ahem-hem. Ho ho ho! Listen well, young Fujimaru.

Mysterious Letter: “Christmas has never been bigger here!”

Mysterious Letter: “Why, you ask? Because our underworld is merging with Chaldea's accumulated knowledge.”

Mysterious Letter: “And why is THAT happening? I'm afraid that is a secret, so no specifics!”

Mysterious Letter: “But I cannot hide anything from Santa Claus, so I will tell you what I can.”

Mysterious Letter: “I took the liberty of paring things down to the basics to save time.”

Mysterious Letter: “Now that the oath of the goddess is broken, the underworld has gone crazy! Even the very concepts of time and place are all wonky!”

Mysterious Letter: “This is all Chaldea's fault, so it should be fixed if we blow Chaldea up.”

Mysterious Letter: “But that would be so much trouble, so a plague is a nice compromise. It's also a more reasonable and, dare I say, economical use of godly power.”

Mysterious Letter: “I basically want to get rid of everyone who knows about Kur. Does that sound okay to you?”

Mysterious Letter: “Please forward all your thoughts, concerns, or complaints to the underworld temple. I will happily respond to each with a present.”

Mysterious Letter: “Re-sheep-fully Yours”

Altera Santa: ...

Fujimaru 1: ...

Altera Santa: What a wonderfully comprehensible letter. I knew I could count on the spirit of Christmas.

Altera Santa: ...There you have it, Fujimaru. Now you know our great secret.

Fujimaru 1: What do you know about that letter's writer?

Fujimaru 2: Does that letter say anything else?

Altera Santa: Let me see... Yes, it DOES say something else. Here it is.

Mysterious Letter: “PS - At this time of year, the underworld is narrow and deep, not wide and shallow.”

Mysterious Letter: “This means that its seven gates are now seven layers, and at the very bottom, beyond even the seventh layer, lies something truly special...”

Mysterious Letter: “...the ocean of pure water that serves as the root of Sumerian myth. Originally called 'the Abzu.' Today people often refer to it as 'the abyss.'”

Mysterious Letter: “In the dark reaches of its depths lies the underworld's temple...”

Mysterious Letter: “Anyway, that's where the Queen of Kur is, and Chaldea won't cool down until she's defeated.”

Mysterious Letter: “So if you want to save Chaldea, you should head for the abyss.”

Altera Santa: ...There you have it. It sounds like this Queen of Kur person is the problem.

Fujimaru 1: So...Uruk in Abyss, eh?

Altera Santa: You really wanted to say that, hm? I understand.

Fujimaru 2: So, the abyss is below the underworld?

Altera Santa: There's a proviso included here.

Mysterious Letter: “It'll help to think of it as the underworld existing right in the center of the abyss.”

Altera Santa: So, I suppose that would mean there's a shallow abyss, and a deep abyss...?

Altera Santa: I must say, navigating the weird spaces of the Age of Gods is a bit beyond me...

Altera Santa: Getting around is so much simpler on the surface. Up there, it's easy to tell how close or far you are from something when you're just walking about.

Altera Santa: At any rate, now we know exactly where we need to go. Any other questions? Ask, and I shall answer.

Fujimaru 1: Okay, I think I understand now. So, uh...about you...

Fujimaru 1: What does all this have to do with you?

Altera Santa: I am here for the dream collaboration of the Mesopotamian underworld and Christmas. Together, we have crossed mythological lines all at once!

Altera Santa: Santa was never connected to the underworld at all. Actually, neither were the Huns, now that I think about it...

Altera Santa: No matter! Wherever there are people crying out for presents, there must be a Santa to deliver them. Or, that's what I was told...

Altera Santa: At any rate, I have presents I need to deliver to the abyss, so I will go with you.

Altera Santa: ...I would like to tell you more, but I can already see the first gate.

Altera Santa: Be on your guard, Fujimaru. There's a gatekeeper here, just like I heard there would be.

Gatekeeper: I'm amazed to see intruders so brazen as to attack from the sky. Are you idiots, or just braindead?

Gatekeeper: Whichever it is, this is where your journey ends. Kur is full of souls, and the living are unwelcome.

Gatekeeper: If you wish to continue on, you will have to die.

Altera Santa: ...So, to enter here you must be nothing more than a soul. I didn't know that... No wonder it's so cold.

Altera Santa: Still, a Heroic Spirit essentially IS a soul, so I should be fine. As for Fujimaru here...

Altera Santa: [♂ His /♀ Her] soul is so courageous [♂ he /♀ she] may as well have actually died at least once, so [♂ he /♀ she] should be fine, too.

Gatekeeper: Halt, intruders. I'm not here to judge your souls. All I care about is whether you're alive or dead.

Gatekeeper: [♂ He's /♀ She's] a living human, and you're a Servant who hasn't been defeated.

Gatekeeper: You have no right to pass, nor have you met the conditions to open this gate.

Fujimaru 1: I think I had to answer some questions here...

Fujimaru 2: This is that goddess game show thing, right?

Gatekeeper: ...I see you do know your way around here. That's certainly good.

Gatekeeper: Unfortunately, that premise is no longer the one on which these gates operate.

Gatekeeper: It is no longer a question of fairness, which is a trial that anyone could potentially succeed in.

Gatekeeper: Now there is a single condition that must be satisfied to open this gate: something must be sacrificed.

Gatekeeper: Do you understand? If you wish to proceed from here, you must either suffer defeat at my hands, or...

Fujimaru 1: ...Or?

Fujimaru 2: ...(Gulp)

Gatekeeper: Or give me a present. Do that, and I would be willing to make an exception and open the gate.

Fujimaru 1: ...Pardon?

Gatekeeper: I said, give me a present.

Gatekeeper: Christmas is all the rage in the underworld right now. I even hear that Santa Claus is coming to town.

Gatekeeper: And surely Santa must have butter cake, the most amazing of all treats in Uruk.

Gatekeeper: If you don't, then go home and stop wasting my time.

Fujimaru 1: (...How's your stock of butter cake, Santa?)

Fujimaru 2: (...Aww, little Ana grew up so much...!)

Altera Santa: Ho ho ho. Then this is your lucky day, for I am Santa.

Gatekeeper: ...I see. I thought that might be true, but I didn't want to believe it...

Gatekeeper: I'm ashamed of you, Fujimaru.

Gatekeeper: I expected Chaldea to have a much better Santa than...this...

Gatekeeper: Still, as long as the presents are good, I suppose it doesn't matter if Santa's an oddball.

Gatekeeper: Yes. The quality of the presents is far more important to Christmas than the quality of the Santa.

Fujimaru 1: Well don't just come out and SAY it!

Altera Santa: Yeah. Santa has feelings too, you know.

Fujimaru 2: I think someone just got her name on the naughty list.

Altera Santa: Hmm. I suppose this means even Santa has a dark side.

Altera Santa: All right, I see how it is. I didn't expect to meet someone awaiting a present so soon, but no matter.

Altera Santa: Very well. Ready your weapon, Little Black Riding Hood. Santa Claus is fair to all!

Altera Santa: I shall see for myself whether you are worthy to receive a present from Santa!


Gatekeeper: ...Excuse me. I realize it's a bit silly to ask this now, but...

Gatekeeper: Why did we have to fight just so you could give me a present?

Fujimaru 1: Yeah, I was actually wondering about that, too.

Altera Santa: I... I was just doing what the manual I was given said I should do...

Altera Santa: “Those who aspire to be Santa Claus must do battle before giving presents.”

Altera Santa: It's stamped with the official seals of the first and second Chaldean Santas. That masked man with a kind voice said as much, too.

Fujimaru 2: What do you mean? That's just how Santa rolls.

Altera Santa: Ho ho ho. And I am Santa.

Altera Santa: So, now that victory is ours, you will accept this present with no further resistance.

Altera Santa: Santa Claus knows when you've been bad or good. And you, Little Black Riding Hood of the underworld...

Altera Santa: You are very lonely. I understand. I am too.

Gatekeeper: (Does this mean...she can read minds? Then, she must know what I really want...)

Altera Santa: And so, I have the only present you could ever need. For you, I have...a friend!

Gatekeeper: No. Please leave.

Altera Santa: Wha... You mean, that wasn't it...? But, if it wasn't that, then... Hmmm...

Great Sheep Zerco: Baaa. (Lady Altera, that's my stomach.) Ba-baaa. (That's not it either, Lady Altera.)

Fujimaru 1: (Her sheep doubles as a present sack...!)

Altera Santa: There we go. This one's still a prototype, but never mind that. This one must be right for you!

Gatekeeper: ...

Gatekeeper: ...Well, I guess you are still new to Santadom. Okay, I'll take it. I can think of one thing to do with it.

Gatekeeper: Since my soul seems to be ascending, you can go on through if you want.

Gatekeeper: But know that the other gatekeepers won't be as kind as I was...

Gatekeeper: That strange, sheep-riding Santa still has no idea what it truly means to be Santa Claus.

Gatekeeper: Fujimaru, I hope you'll help her to be the best Santa that she can be.

Gatekeeper: ...And that is the end of my role. Maybe someday, we'll meet again on the surface.

Fujimaru 1: That sounds nice. Take care, Ana.

Fujimaru 2: Oh, hey, why are you even doing this?

Gatekeeper: That's supposed to be a secret. Let's just say I felt like going out, since it's Christmas and all.

Altera Santa: ...The gate's open... I wonder how it actually works...

Altera Santa: I'd heard the gates of the underworld were gates of judgment, and didn't open except for the dead...

Fujimaru 1: Maybe it's because the gatekeeper felt saved...?

Fujimaru 2: Don't believe everything you hear.

Altera Santa: ...I see. So “sacrifice” doesn't necessarily mean death...

Altera Santa: Her soul ascended to heaven when she got a present. So that is a Christmas miracle...

Altera Santa: I knew I was right to seek you out, Master. I'm guessing you have the right idea.

Altera Santa: The underworld is supposed to be freezing cold, but my heart couldn't be warmer right now.

Altera Santa: That makes our objective all the clearer.

Altera Santa: We will descend deeper from here, find the next gate, and give a present to its gatekeeper.

Altera Santa: As long as we keep that up, we're sure to reach the abyss. This is a difficult assignment for my first time, but I won't give up!

Altera Santa: Well, Master, now our journey truly begins. It's time to descend into the depths of the underworld.

Altera Santa: Why is Chaldea being attacked? Why did the underworld change so dramatically?

Altera Santa: And why am I the new Santa Claus? I believe our trip to the abyss will answer all of these questions!

Altera Santa: Ho ho ho. Here comes Santa Claus!

Section 3: Stars at Dawn

Narration: I saw a star streak across the sky. A shooting star with a trail of gleaming silk threads in its wake...

Narration: It was the gleam of Venus, shining so bright that it was even visible from the deepest reaches of the underworld.

Girl: Wow... I can see it so clearly up there, even with the ground in the way... I wonder what it looks like from up on the surface...

Girl: ...Then again, I don't have time to bother with silly nonsense like that.

Girl: There's so much to do now that I've been left in charge of the underworld. I need to till fields, build houses, level mountains...

Girl: I'll do everything I can to make this land into the best nation ever! I can't wait to get started!

Girl: There's bound to be other gods stopping by here soon, so I need to make sure they'll be comfortable here!

Narration: When I awoke to my Divinity, which world I would rule had already been determined for me.

Narration: The world below the surface... A freezing, untamed wilderness where the souls of the dead roamed free. A lifeless world bordering the abyss itself.

Narration: No sun shines here. No stars twinkle, no wind blows, no water flows, and no flowers bloom. The underworld is only frigid cold, and now it is my task to care for this place.

Narration: That is the role–the only role–given to me.

Girl: Now what do I do...? I've been at this for a thousand years, and I haven't had a single person come to help!

Girl: This is impossible. I can't possibly warm up a freezing world like this all on my own!

Girl: They said I could ask the Anunnaki deities for help, but they all lost their Divinity ages ago!

Girl: The seven judgment pillars are basically nothing more than automatic law-reading lumps of clay!

Girl: The underworld's seven gates don't do a single thing unless I tell them to!

Girl: And there are new souls coming every day! It's all I can do to build houses for them!

Girl: I haven't even had time to start building my own temple... (Sigh)

Girl: Some cold-blooded goddess feared by all the other gods I turned out to be...

Girl: ...No, I shouldn't say that. Sitting on the top of the underworld's mountain whining about this isn't going to help anything.

Girl: This world is still new, and they say there's more people on the surface every day!

Girl: At least I have plenty of books to read here, so I'll just keep studying until I find what I'm looking for.

Girl: Somewhere out there, there's got to be crops that grow without sunlight and water...

Girl: ...livestock that doesn't need grass, and buildings that can safely, comfortably house disembodied souls.

Girl: Every living thing ends up here eventually. It's the last world most souls will ever see.

Girl: Being in charge of this land is an incredibly important job. S-so what if I haven't accomplished much over the last thousand years?

Girl: Just you wait. I don't care if it takes another ten thousand years, I'm not gonna give up. This place may not be as pretty as the surface, but...

Girl: No, on second thought, not having any stars shining down here means I can make this into a land fairer, more equal, and more beautiful than any other nation. And that's just what I'm going to do.

Girl: That's the whole reason why I awakened as an earth goddess. Bringing order to the underworld is my entire reason for being.

Girl: Which is why...

Girl: ...I don't have any desire to fly across the sky, or even to leave this subterranean world.

Girl: And I refuse to tolerate the use of power for one's own benefit, or for humans, the way Ishtar did.

Girl: And so I vow that I will only ever use my Authority for the benefit of the underworld.

Girl: Thanks to the power of that oath, not even the other gods can defy me here.

Girl: ...That's right. This is how it should be. I don't want anything for myself. That's my oath; it is the source of my power.

Girl: ...Honestly, part of me wishes I hadn't gone that far. I wish that I'd made an oath that was a bit easier on me.

Girl: If I break the oath, I might end up losing all my power and become a Gallû Spirit...

Girl: Then again, why should I worry? It's not as if I would ever break my oath, you know!

Girl: The only things I care about are the underworld and making sure souls can rest in peace! Maaaybe I have my reservations if I'm being honest, but still!

Girl: But anyway, from now on, I'll never use my power for any one person in particular!

Girl: And forget about free protection! As if you guys have any idea how lonely it gets down here!

Girl: I'll never just help you humans on the surface out! So there!

Girl: If I do, I'll just explode right there on the spot!

Altera Santa: Fujimaru? I hope I did not wake you?

Fujimaru 1: It's okay. I just nodded off for a bit...

Fujimaru 2: I dreamed about a girl who was lying to herself...

Altera Santa: I see. I suppose you might have blacked out, or redded out, if you had been flying on a fast sheep.

Altera Santa: But fortunately, you are in a gentle free fall. I suppose that, along with the sight of these sheep before you, would be enough to send anyone off to sleep.

Altera Santa: We still have some time before we reach the next gate. Feel free to use my sheep as a pillo–Achoo.

Altera Santa: The underworld is so strange. Not only is the bottom too deep to see, but it's impossible to figure out our altitude here.

Altera Santa: I suppose it'll reset when we enter the next layer. Or perhaps altitude is not even a concept here...

Altera Santa: I get the feeling that the only sense of height here is based on something's level of importance.

Altera Santa: The gates must be so high up because of how important they are.

Altera Santa: Even if it were in the middle of an otherwise level field, a gate would be about five hundred meters higher up, I think.

Altera Santa: We can probably apply that methodology to lifeforms as well.

Altera Santa: The underworld's ruler would normally be at the highest place here, but– Achoo.

Fujimaru 1: Is that your new catchphrase?

Altera Santa: Ho ho ho, "achoo" isn't a catchphrase, it's my body responding to the external environment. What I mean is, it's cold here.

Fujimaru 2: Don't tell me you've caught the Sumerian Fever too...?

Altera Santa: No, I haven't. This is just a consequence of our environment. This Santa outfit isn't as warm as it looks, you know.

Altera Santa: ...Hmm. We do have a few minutes until we reach the second layer.

Altera Santa: As a special treat, I will tell you how I came to be Santa Claus.

Altera Santa: It's a complex and labyrinthine tale, so make sure you listen closely. Aaand...flashback.

Altera: ...Servants collapsed all around like sacks of meal. Looks like a battlefield.

Altera: Von Hohenheim says they've all caught a summer cold.

Paracelsus: It looks like you have an immunity to this disease. I imagine it's a combination of your Natural Body, which keeps all manner of ills at bay...

Paracelsus: ...and what I'm guessing is a strong innate resistance to this planet's mythology, particularly the Age of Gods. I must say, I'm quite jealous.

Paracelsus: I tried every sort of prescription I could think of, but to no avail... If anything, I'm in worse straits than before thanks to their combined side effe–Gurk!

Altera: He's coughing up blood like it's going out of style. Should be fine, though. I put him in the refrigerator to cool him off.

Altera: Can't celebrate Christmas like this, though...

Altera: This year was supposed to be my chance! My chance to see if Christmas was good civilization...or bad civilization. ...Hm?

???: This is terrible. I have a terrible feeling about this. I can't believe the underworld would stoop to such underhanded measures.

???: Goodness, look at all of these Heroic Spirits. Every single one has collapsed.

???: I see King Gilgamesh is still standing, but only because he's too proud to admit defeat.

???: His pride has him propped up like a house of cards. A lovely picture, that.

???: what do I do? There doesn't seem to be anything I CAN do. Guess I may as well go home then.

Altera: That's...a sheep.

Altera: Oh, just seeing the fluffiness takes me back. Still remember how soft and cozy my sheep's wool was, and how delicious they tasted.

Altera: You there. You must be a special sheep. Do you mind if I touch you? You look so fluffy.

???: Oh. It looks like there IS someone still in good health here.

???: I can't believe this. You're beautiful, and you can clearly see me.

Altera: Yes, I can. I can hear you speaking, too. Who are you?

Altera: Were you perhaps a Christmas decoration that got away?

???: Christmas... Aha, there's an idea. I think I see a way out of this mess now.

Dumuzid: I'm a mysterious sheep. You can call me Dumuzid.

Dumuzid: Would you be so kind as to tell me your True Name, Class, and marital status?

Altera: My name is Altera. I am a Saber. I have been married many least on paper.

Dumuzid: Only on paper, hm? Very practical. I approve. You must have ended up with quite the dowry.

Altera: I suppose so. I did gain more wealth every time I tied the knot. But never mind that now, sheep.

Altera: You said your name was “Doom Zed”...? I see... So are you going to make monsters grow into giants?

Dumuzid: Giants? I see... That line of thinking does sound very much like you. But if anything, “Doomzy” might be better.

Dumuzid: Now then, on an entirely different subject, may I tell you something? ...I'll take that as a yes.

Dumuzid: Altera, this is happening because the underworld didn't get any presents. I thought of that. Just now.

Altera: ...Just now?

Dumuzid: Never mind! That doesn't matter!

Dumuzid: HERE'S what matters! You're up against the underworld. The Sumerian underworld.

Dumuzid: And its ruler has turned her Authority against Chaldea. She wants to kill you all.

Dumuzid: Altera, you won't get anything out of this, but would you help me pacify her anger?

Altera: This is a lot to take in, and that on top of hearing it all from a talking sheep...

Altera: I would like to ask wiser Servants for their thoughts...but they have all collapsed already.

Altera: ...Very well. If I'm the only one who can help you, then I will.

Altera: That said, exactly what is it you want me to do?

Dumuzid: I've got four words for you: it's Christmastime, Santa Claus.

Dumuzid: I'm told that Santa Claus can pay a visit to lonesome children, no matter where they may be.

Dumuzid: I would like to lend you my power so that you can become Santa Claus.

Altera: I accept.

Dumuzid: That was fast!

Dumuzid: You must be awfully dependable with conviction like that. All right! I hereby entrust you with my Authority, and this precious cargo.

Dumuzid: Oh.

Altera Santa: Yes? What is it? ...Hmm. It looks like I've changed classes.

Altera Santa: Did you do this, Doomzy?

Dumuzid: Yes, I did, though I never expected this. You have quite a flair for being Santa, Altera.

Dumuzid: That enormous flock of sheep is proof. You must have lived a very nomadic life back when you were alive.

Dumuzid: Though I do wonder, why has your horse also become a sheep? Don't you have a great, noble steed?

Altera Santa: What do horses have to do with Christmas? Isn't Santa Claus supposed to ride a sheep?

Dumuzid: Yeah, sounds right. We're clearly well-matched. You're the best Servant I could have hoped to meet.

Dumuzid: All right then, Altera Santa, do you know what the duties of Santa Claus are?

Altera Santa: Yes. I merely have to deliver presents to all the good children on the night of the 24th, right?

Altera Santa: That's not very long at all. Will I really have time to deliver presents to children all around the world on my own...?

Dumuzid: Hmm, I see. I do feel bad using someone so naive, but my honor AND my life are at stake here...

Dumuzid: Perfect, Altera. I've never seen such a perfect Santa Claus in all my life.

Dumuzid: Not that I've ever seen a Santa before in any case...

Altera Santa: I'm sorry... What was that?

Dumuzid: Don't worry about it. Forget it. You heard nothing.

Dumuzid: Now, I've given you the Authority to descend into the underworld. Use it to deliver a present to the very lowest level.

Dumuzid: Here, take this manual I prepared just for this occasion. Feel free to read it if you have any questions.

Altera Santa: I see. So, I am the perfect Santa Claus... All right, Doomzy, I'll take care of this.

Altera Santa: Your parcel is safe with me. I too believe its contents are something one should never throw away.

Dumuzid: That's...

Dumuzid: Yes, you're exactly right. I can't tell you how relieved I am to hear that, Altera.

Dumuzid: The Master of Chaldea will soon head to the underworld [♂ himself /♀ herself]. I can already see the scene playing out between [♂ him /♀ her] and King Gilgamesh.

Dumuzid: I would like you to rendezvous with [♂ him /♀ her] along the way. Not as Altera the Saber, but as Altera Santa.

Dumuzid: That Master is the source of this calamity. Once [♂ he /♀ she] reaches the seventh gate, I wonder what [♂ he /♀ she] will choose.

Dumuzid: Pay close attention, because that'll be the moment when you understand the true meaning of Christmas.

Altera Santa: I see. Very well, then. I will see that this most important of tasks is carried out wi–Achoo.

Dumuzid: Why did you sneeze? I thought you hadn't caught the Sumerian Fever.

Altera Santa: ...It is simply my body reacting to the world around me. You are partially at fault, Doomzy.

Altera Santa: Look at how little of me this Santa outfit covers. How could I not be cold?

Dumuzid: I see. You are clearly a woman of taste and discernment.

Altera Santa: ...There you have it.

Fujimaru 1: Altera, you got scammed.

Altera Santa: Scammed? N-no... He wouldn't... Well...I haven't seen him since we got here...

Altera Santa: But... But he had such a wonderful name... No creature with a name like that could be bad...

Fujimaru 2: Sooo, where's that sheep now?

Altera Santa: ...Hm, now that you mention it, I don't know. How odd. He was by my side until we came here...

Altera Santa: At any rate, I appreciate you following along with my difficult tale. Have a candy.

Fujimaru 1: Ow! Wait...did a candy just pop out of me?

Fujimaru 2: I a vending machine?

Altera Santa: Ho ho ho. That is the blessing of my cane.

Altera Santa: All I need do is tap you with my cane, with gratitude in my heart, and you get a candy just for you.

Altera Santa: I think Doomzy must have vanished after entrusting his Santa powers to me. What a good sheep.

Altera Santa: I am here to deliver these presents in accordance with his wishes. You are headed to the bottom of the underworld to save Chaldea.

Altera Santa: We may have different goals, Fluffy Master, but our destination is the same. Yes.

Altera Santa: All right, prepare to land. I can see the second gate now.

Altera Santa: I sense a dark and evil aura emanating from that gate. Its gatekeeper is nothing like the last one...

Altera Santa: Keep your wits about you, Master.

Gatekeeper: Hey, there you are, Santa Claus! Took your freaking time, didn't you!?

Gatekeeper: Where's my present? You DO have one for me, yeah? Good thing I've been nursing this grudge for so long!

Gatekeeper: Who'da thunk I'd be meeting Santa Claus at this age!?

Gatekeeper: Well? Don't you have a present for everyone who waits long enough?

Gatekeeper: Even if they're evil murderers and stuff?

Gatekeeper: C'mon, spit it out! Isn't that kinda compassion crap your whole deal?

Altera Santa: Wha...

Fujimaru 1: Darker than...okay, hearing ABS now.

Fujimaru 2: I feel like I've seen something like this before...

Gatekeeper: What? You're stiffing me on presents? Seriously?

Gatekeeper: Freakin' weird. Here I thought I was a perfect fit for the underworld. I'm an old hand when it comes to human sacrifice, y'know.

Gatekeeper: Guess I'm just not famous enough, huh. Figures. I never did get much in the way of name recognition. I think they call me a Rogue Servant?

Gatekeeper: Anyway, you can just call me Shadow Santa. I'm actually a saint, if you can believe that! Heeheeheehee!

Altera Santa: What...? Then, you're telling me you, too, are Santa Claus...?

Altera Santa: Because you don't exactly seem, um...dressed for the part...

Altera Santa: Nor do I see a sack of presents anywhere...

Shadow Santa: Well of course you don't. I don't got anything like that. I just deliver a buncha fakes and crap.

Shadow Santa: When I'm Santa, I just run to a dollar store and load up on cheap garbage.

Shadow Santa: Let me give you a little tip as your Santa senpai, you sheep-riding weirdo... Seriously, what the hell...

Shadow Santa: Christmas is an event. It's all about the PRESENTS.

Shadow Santa: The value of goods changes every year. All they need is someone to give 'em, and someone to get 'em.

Shadow Santa: The present's genuine worth is secondary at best. Not that anyone these days seems to remember that.

Altera Santa: ...Are you sure you're really Santa Claus?

Shadow Santa: Oh, sure. You and I are two peas in a pod. At least, when it comes to making shit up.

Shadow Santa: Seems like you're in a hurry though, huh? Fine, fine. Don't worry about me and my tragic backstory.

Shadow Santa: You just gotta focus on getting rid of me, otherwise the gate won't open.

Shadow Santa: So come on, lady! Let's DO this!

Shadow Santa: Christmas comes but once a year, right? What better way to deck the halls than with some good, old-fashioned murder with a smile!?

Altera Santa: So, this man enjoys killing...! Come, Master!

Altera Santa: It seems this Servant has no need of a present!


Altera Santa: Take that! It's over, Shadow Santa!

Shadow Santa: Aaaaaaghhh! Sheep! Sheep everywhere! What the hell!?

Shadow Santa: ...Man, you guys really don't pull your punches. I was just trying to scare you a little.

Shadow Santa: I actually do want a present, though. Nobody wants to just get written off as a one-note bad guy.

Altera Santa: Hm... I suppose you have a point. Still, I'm afraid you're rather... How can I put this...

Fujimaru 1: You don't look anything like Santa Claus.

Fujimaru 2: You're not exactly Christmasy...

Shadow Santa: Oh, yeah? So I just gotta look more Christmasy, is that it? Okay, then check THIS out!

Shadow Santa: TRAAANSFOOORRRM! Decorations, activate!

Altera Santa: ...! That gleam...

Fujimaru 1: Now THOSE are Christmas lights!

Shadow Santa: Check out this badass body lighting! Even I can shine at least once a year!

Shadow Santa: You can use me as mood lighting for a romantic night or whatever if you wanna.

Altera Santa: I suppose you are a Santa...kind of. I guess there's more to being Santa Claus than I thought.

Altera Santa: I owe you an apology. I'm sorry for writing you off as an evil hooligan of a Servant...

Shadow Santa: Ah, don't worry about it. False charges? Punishment? Get it all the time. Anyway...

Great Sheep Zerco: Baaa. (That hurts.) Ba-baaa. (That hurts too.)

Altera Santa: What are you doing to Zerco!?

Shadow Santa: Hmm, how 'bout this one? Yoink!

Shadow Santa: Hmm, nah, that's not it. It oughta be something that can help me stay out of trouble down the road.

Shadow Santa: ...

Shadow Santa: Good enough! I think I can let you off the hook with this!

Altera Santa: H-hey! Only one present per person! These are special gifts, I'll have you know!

Shadow Santa: Ah, get the stick out of your ass. Who even made that rule anyway?

Shadow Santa: Nothing wrong with taking two or three, long as it's stuff you really want!

Shadow Santa: The problem comes if they start grabbing so much crap they're dropping things all over the place.

Shadow Santa: Doesn't mean you shouldn't get yours while the getting's good!

Altera Santa: R-really...? I thought that Santa Claus never visited greedy children...

Shadow Santa: Not too bright, are ya? Anyone who waits for Santa to show up and give them presents is greedy, right?

Shadow Santa: And Santa himself ain't much better, visiting people who don't believe in him.

Shadow Santa: Huh, guess that's all it took to open the gate. Not bad, me. Pretty good for something you just made up.

Shadow Santa: Still, there's no way you'll stop the current underworld boss like this. You guys are WAY too by the book here, y'know?

Fujimaru 1: What do you mean? Do you know something?

Shadow Santa: Who, me? Nah, I don't know shit. I'm just a sacrificial lamb!

Fujimaru 2: Tell us more! Who is this “boss”?

Shadow Santa: That'd be Ereshkigal, the only boss of the underworld. Who the hell else? Don't you already know her?

Shadow Santa: Welp, looks like this is it for me. Thanks for the present!

Shadow Santa: Just a heads-up, there's a goddess you're familiar with at the next gate. You know, the one who's bright, cheerful, and really into pro wrestling?

Shadow Santa: I bet she'd be willing to fill you in some more. She's a total free spirit, after all.

Shadow Santa: Huh, guess I ended up doing the whole “leaving you with information before I disappear” bit after all.

Fujimaru 1: He's gone...

Fujimaru 2: A goddess... (Gulp)

Altera Santa: ...So the next gatekeeper is a goddess. Yes... I sense a powerful divine aura from the third gate.

Altera Santa: Lucky for us, I'm sure a goddess will understand our circumstances. Let's hurry on, Fujimaru.

Altera Santa: Next time, we should find out more about the underworld boss Shadow Santa spoke of for sure.

Section 4: Poisonous Reunion

Narration: –––“Where am I?”–––

Narration: –––“What is this place?”–––

Narration: –––“It's dark.”–––

Narration: –––“So dark.”–––

Narration: –––“So cold.”–––

Narration: –––“So cold.”–––

Narration: –––“I'm all alone.”–––

Girl: Oh, there you are. Are you okay? Hanging in there?

Girl: You're not the first soul to end up in the wasteland instead of the plaza.

Girl: Good thing I decided to go on patrol just in case. Now I've got another lost soul to add to my collection.

Girl: Hehe, hope you didn't have any plans for the afterlife. Here in the underworld, I literally own you.

Girl: Now that Ereshkigal, the Queen of Kur herself, is here, you'll never be free agai–

Girl: Wait! Ohhh, you're almost faded away! Hang on! Just hang in there!

Girl: I didn't mean it! I was just trying to scare you a little! Come on, you can't give up on me that easily!

Girl: ...Phew, it stopped flickering. Judging from its voice, it must have been a human child.

Girl: Let's see, it died from...strangulation? According to my death records... Oh. It was killed by an abusive family member.

Girl: ...I'm afraid I have no idea what it is you souls are saying, but...

Girl: that you're here with me, you have nothing to worry about. I'll make sure you're always fed and clothed.

Girl: I may not be able to heal your wounds...

Girl: ...but I promise that no matter how cold you get, you'll never fade away. Not with these soul cages here.

Girl: You can hang on to your sense of self as long as you like, or you can let go of your regrets and return to the abyss.

Girl: If you had a hard life up on the surface, you can at least enjoy some peace and quiet here.

Girl: I am Ereshkigal, the goddess of the underworld, and the leader of the Gallû Spirits who see the dead off.

Girl: And I swear to you that so long as you are here in my care, you will always know peace.

Girl: I know it's freezing cold here...but hopefully your dreams will at least be pleasant.

Narration: –––“Oh.”–––

Narration: –––“I feel...a little warmer.”–––

Altera Santa: ...

Fujimaru 1: What's up, Santa?

Altera Santa: I was just dreaming about...

Altera Santa: N-never mind. ...I was just thinking that it's getting colder the further down we go.

Altera Santa: Zerco's wool will keep me nice and warm, though. I just hope you'll find a way to manage too.

Altera Santa: Anyway, I can see the third gate now.

Altera Santa: You know the Heroic Spirit who's been summoned to be its gatekeeper, right? In that case, I'd like you to talk to her before we fight.

Fujimaru 1: Sure. It's probably the Mesoamerican goddess.

Altera Santa: Mesoamerica, hm...? She sounds like a warmhearted deity. I wonder how well we'll get along now that I'm Santa Claus...

Fujimaru 2: It'd be best if we didn't have to fight her...

Altera Santa: There are things one can only learn from battle. My predecessor taught me that.

Altera Santa: Okay, we're coming in for a landing. ...Wait. What's going on?

Altera Santa: It looks like...the gate is already open? What happened to its gatekeeper?

???: Unfortunately for you, I already punished Quetzalcoatl myself.

???: Demiurge or not, an outsider's an outsider. And outsiders aren't allowed to stay in the underworld, not for any reason.

???: Besides, she's a goddess of Venus, and that's just rubbing salt in the wound as far as I'm concerned.

???: She didn't deserve any leniency whatsoever. So as the ruler of the underworld, I crushed her mercilessly.

Altera Santa: You're... It can't be.

Fujimaru 1: Ereshkigal...!?

Ereshkigal: How dare you speak my name so lightly, outsider!?

Ereshkigal: ...Thanks to a report from my Gallû Spirits, I know you are attempting to descend my underworld.

Ereshkigal: Normally, I would commend your bravery and await your arrival in my temple...

Ereshkigal: ...but I'm in the middle of making some changes in the underworld, so...I can't let you go any further.

Ereshkigal: You are free to return to the surface. But if you defy my commands, I will punish you severely!

Altera Santa: You say you're Ereshkigal...? The ruler of the underworld?

Altera Santa: ...Something about this doesn't add up. Weren't you supposed to be in the abyss?

Ereshkigal: ...Oh, you're a smart one. I AM in the middle of a ritual to hand over my Authority down in the abyss.

Ereshkigal: I don't generally set foot outside that place. But given who I was up against, I had no choice.

Altera Santa: I see... Then, you really did defeat Quetzalcoatl.

Altera Santa: I can tell she was a powerful goddess just from the lingering scent of her Divinity.

Altera Santa: Yet you defeated her all on your own? At first glance, you don't seem to be well suited for violence...

Ereshkigal: True. Quetzalcoatl said the same thing, right before she challenged me. And look where that got her.

Ereshkigal: Muscles, weapons, Authority... Anything you can throw at me is like water off my back.

Ereshkigal: In Quetzalcoatl's case, I ended up making her as small as a pebble and flinging her back up to the surface.

Ereshkigal: Even gods can't stand against me. Humans have NO chance. If you aren't sure why, I'll tell you...

Fujimaru 1: The stronger you are, the weaker you get here.

Fujimaru 2: You're pretty much invincible here, Ereshkigal.

Ereshkigal: It's because here in the underworld, I have more power than any god to ever have–

Ereshkigal: Wait. How did you know that!?

Fujimaru 1: You...told me, Ereshkigal.

Fujimaru 2: Hi, Ereshkigal. Been a while!

Ereshkigal: ...Don't you speak my name without my permission. I don't know who you or that, uh...

Ereshkigal: Servant...?

Ereshkigal: (...Who IS that, anyway? Maybe she's got something to do with those weird decorations that popped up?)

Ereshkigal: ...Oh, forget it. I'll just pass judgment and be done with it. Eat this.

Ereshkigal: You deflected my red lightning just with your Divinity!? Don't tell me that's a brand-new Anti-Curse Mystic Code!?

Altera Santa: Ho ho ho. I'm Santa.

Fujimaru 1: (She doesn't actually have any Divinity...)

Fujimaru 2: (Yeeeah... That's Ereshkigal, all right.)

Ereshkigal: I-I see. So your name's Santa. Is that right? I know all about you! I'm not THAT out of touch!

Ereshkigal: Although...

Ereshkigal: (That human isn't the least bit afraid of me... Actually, it seems like [♂ he's /♀ she's] dying to talk to me...)

Ereshkigal: (N-no, that can't be right! I'm just jumping to conclusions again! Come on, Ereshkigal! Don't forget all those times you got your hopes up only to have them shattered again and again!)

Altera Santa: ...Okay. That matches up with the Ereshkigal I remember.

Altera Santa: Ruler of the underworld, please listen to me. This [♂ man /♀ woman] is the Master of Chaldea.

Altera Santa: The underworld has launched a terrible attack on Chaldea. If it is not stopped, all of Chaldea will be wiped out by tomorrow.

Altera Santa: That would make it impossible for us to celebrate Christmas.

Altera Santa: So, Fujimaru would like you to please stop this attack now, if you can.

Fujimaru 1: “If you can” my ass!

Fujimaru 2: No, I just want you to stop it right now.

Ereshkigal: ...

Altera Santa: And I'm Chaldea's newest Santa Claus. I actually have a present for you.

Ereshkigal: Shut up! I never asked what you were doing here!

Ereshkigal: I was going to let you return to the surface, but now that I know you're from Chaldea, I'm done being merciful!

Ereshkigal: You are doomed. Nothing can stop your destruction now.

Ereshkigal: The new laws of the underworld hold everyone who broke the goddess's oath responsible!

Ereshkigal: I may be awaiting punishment myself, but for now, I'm still in charge of the underworld. Now you'll see just how terrifying that power is for yourself!

Altera Santa: ...! This is bad, Master! She won't listen to us!

Altera Santa: I guess we really do need to be victorious in battle before people can accept our presents!

Fujimaru 1: Um, that's REALLY not the point of Christmas...

Fujimaru 2: Ereshkigal, please, listen to me!

Ereshkigal: Ugh, I TOLD you to stop being so familiar! You know what!? I'm going to make a special exception JUST for you and toss you into an ugly cage!


Altera Santa: Urk...! She really IS trying to kill us! Get out of here, Master! Hurry back to the second gate!

Fujimaru 1: I can't! I can't fly!

Great Sheep Zerco: Baaa. (Yeah.) Baaa. (You tell her.)

Fujimaru 2: ...But I'll get sick trying to ascend!

Ereshkigal: Huh!? You're kidding me! My underworld doesn't have any awful curse like that!

Ereshkigal: I mean... (What's with this [♂ guy /♀ girl]? [♂ He's /♀ She's] so easy to talk to...)

Ereshkigal: ...Hmph, no WAY would I let you get away! Now that we've fought each other, you're not going anywhere!

Ereshkigal: I hate to capture a living soul, but those are the rules of the underworld. No exceptions.

Ereshkigal: Go on and tell me your name, visitor! You've earned at least that much!

Fujimaru 1: I'm Fujimaru, and I know ALL of your secrets.

Ereshkigal: What the...!? You're not kidding, are you!? Seriously!?

Fujimaru 2: I'm , and I transform when I sneeze.

Ereshkigal: ...You transform when you sneeze?

Ereshkigal: ...Why did my head start to hurt just now...?

Ereshkigal: You're incredibly rude, but...I can see in your eyes that you're telling the truth... Could it be...

Ereshkigal: Could it be that the things that I've forgotten...have something to do with you?

Evil Gallû Spirit: ...It's time, Lady Ereshkigal. You must return to the abyss.

Evil Gallû Spirit: If you are not present in the abyss when the ritual is conducted, the underworld will disappear.

Ereshkigal: ...I know that. I guess I ended up wasting time here.

Ereshkigal: You there, Santa Claus. And you, Fujimaru, or whatever your name is.

Ereshkigal: I'm letting you off this one time. Now be good and go back to Chaldea while you still can.

Ereshkigal: You saw for yourself how outmatched you are, right? It doesn't matter who I'm fighting. As long as I'm here in the underworld, I can't possibly lose.

Altera Santa: ...Yes, you were absurdly strong. But we can't go back to Chaldea.

Altera Santa: If we do, it would only be a matter of time before Fujimaru succumbs to the Sumerian Fever too.

Altera Santa: Is that what you want? For [♂ him /♀ her] to die?

Ereshkigal: ...There's nothing I can do about that. I have to erase everyone who knows me.

Ereshkigal: Otherwise it won't be possible to transfer control of the underworld. So...

Evil Gallû Spirit: Hurry, Lady Ereshkigal. The path to the abyss is closing.

Ereshkigal: ...I'm sorry. I don't have any other choice.

Evil Gallû Spirit: I knew you would understand, Lady Ereshkigal... You are the picture of grace. Please, do hurry. You still have so much to atone for.

Altera Santa: ...I'll be honest. I don't think I know what's going on anymore...

Altera Santa: The underworld is attacking us, Ereshkigal is a bad guy, I have presents to deliver...

Altera Santa: ...and you know Ereshkigal personally, but she doesn't know you.

Altera Santa: Doesn't this all seem a bit...odd to you? It feels like my head is going to explode...

Fujimaru 1: ...Okay. Let's get some things straight.

Fujimaru 1: First of all, Ereshkigal is NOT the bad guy.

Fujimaru 1: Second, I have no idea what's going on either.

Fujimaru 1: And third, we need to talk to Ereshkigal again!

Section 5: Dog-eared Subscription List

Gilgamesh: It's time for Gil...

Altera Santa: ...and Santa's...

Both: ...“Get to Know Uruk”!

Altera Santa: King of Uruk, can you tell me more about Ereshkigal?

Altera Santa: I know that she's the goddess of the underworld, but I don't know anything else about her.

Altera Santa: I did hear something about how she was assigned to the underworld from the time she was born, which is why she wields immense power there...

Altera Santa: ...but exactly what sort of Authority does she possess?

Gilgamesh: An excellent question, Santa.

Gilgamesh: Ereshkigal is the twin sister of Ishtar, the greediest goddess of all time.

Gilgamesh: And just like her sister, Ereshkigal possessed the capacity that let her attain all manner of Authority.

Gilgamesh: But, unlike her sister, Ereshkigal never allowed herself to indulge in her own personal desires.

Gilgamesh: She was diligent, industrious, genuinely considerate, and responsible to a fault. She was cold and proud, yet for some reason, she thought poorly of herself.

Altera Santa: ...? Is that even possible? To be proud and think poorly of yourself at the same time?

Gilgamesh: Of course it is. She puts on a proud, blustering front, never showing any sign of weakness, as befits her role of ruler of the underworld.

Gilgamesh: But she is constantly berating herself internally. She is a classic example of the sort who works hard to overcome her lack of faith in her own abilities.

Gilgamesh: Ishtar may be a cross between a horde of locusts, a sandstorm, and a toddler's tantrum...

Gilgamesh: Ereshkigal, though, somehow possesses the diligence of a honeybee, the temperament of a storm cloud, and the innocence of a child, all at the same time.

Gilgamesh: Not one other Sumerian god has an ounce of self-control. Ereshkigal, though...she was serious to a fault.

Gilgamesh: Her innate earnestness made her well suited to rule the underworld.

Gilgamesh: Well, at times she did acquire Authority beyond her own, but only from the other gods' foolishness.

Gilgamesh: Which brings me to one of these other gods: Nergal, a god of the underworld.

Altera Santa: Nergal... I've heard that name before. I believe he's Ereshkigal's husband, according to Sumerian myth...

Altera Santa: ...but I can't imagine the Ereshkigal I know ever attracting a lover... Was theirs a false marriage?

Gilgamesh: Hahaha, you little scoundrel. Your perceptions can be downright cruel. Do not give them further voice.

Gilgamesh: Nergal is now known for ruling the underworld at Ereshkigal's side. However, his original domain was actually the sun.

Gilgamesh: In the world of Sumer, the sun was viewed as a blessing, but it was also treated as something dangerous that claimed the lives of many people.

Nergal: Fwahahahaha! I am the great Nergal, embodiment of the sun!

Nergal: My divine power is the greatest and most terrifying Authority! Ereshkigal is nothing compared to me!

Nergal: It is not the underworld that claims the most human lives, but the fever my sun creates! My light shines brightest in all the heavens!

Nergal: The underworld is no more than a coffin filled with writhing grubs. It should be closed down immediately, and a thrilling Sunnyland built in its place!

Gilgamesh: These defamatory statements of his stemmed in part from his desire to take revenge on Ishtar, who ruled the heavens as she saw fit.

Gilgamesh: Most likely, he was attempting to lay claim to the heavens for himself by disgracing Ishtar's sister.

Gilgamesh: Naturally, the humans turned a deaf ear to his wild boasts, but so too did the gods, for Nergal was indeed formidable.

Gilgamesh: As for Ereshkigal... Well, everyone expected her to cry herself to sleep, but she surprised them all.

Gilgamesh: Much to everyone's surprise, Ereshkigal confronted Nergal by way of a letter sent from the underworld.

Ereshkigal: “I will grant that on the surface world, no blessing is greater than the light of the sun.”

Ereshkigal: “But that light cannot reach my underworld, and here even the gods may meet their doom.”

Ereshkigal: “Should you ever set foot in my realm, I will see you suffer at the hands of the powers you so scorned!”

Ereshkigal: “Or, put differently: I hope you die a million painful deaths, you big jerk!”

Gilgamesh: This letter unnerved Nergal.

Gilgamesh: Deep down, the Ereshkigal he had dismissed as shy and timid was actually as fiery and capable as Ishtar.

Altera Santa: Did that lead to war between the two gods? What did Nergal end up doing?

Gilgamesh: Naturally, he made his move while he was still alive! Imagine how difficult things would have been for him had he keeled over from exhaustion or something!

Gilgamesh: He dared not contemplate what terrible vengeance Ereshkigal would visit upon him the moment he fell into her domain!

Gilgamesh: And so, Nergal borrowed fourteen diseases from Ea, and set off to the underworld.

Gilgamesh: He decided he would conquer the underworld before death could claim him.

Gilgamesh: But the moment he entered, he had lost. In his final moments, he was no bigger than a locust.

Altera Santa: Ah, I see. So he was an idiot?

Gilgamesh: Now, now, be generous. It might be fairer to say the underworld's rules were difficult to crack.

Nergal: Curses. To have my strength run out with the throne before me... Everything has slipped through my fingers... I deeply regret my choices...the words and actions that brought me to this moment.

Nergal: I apologize for my many insults. The underworld is far more formidable than I thought...

Gilgamesh: One of Nergal's best qualities was the fact that he was able to swallow his pride and admit his failings.

Ereshkigal: ...All right. I'll let bygones be bygones and forget your slander of the underworld.

Ereshkigal: I'd gain nothing from killing you, and the humans on the surface would be lost without the sun.

Ereshkigal: But! If you truly regret your actions, then I demand you prove it by leaving behind half of your power!

Altera Santa: Ah, now I see. So she stripped Nergal of his power to ensure he could never cause trouble again.

Gilgamesh: Correct. In exchange for sparing his life, Ereshkigal commanded two things of Nergal.

Gilgamesh: First, that he leave half his power with the underworld. Second, that he spend half of every year there in repentance.

Gilgamesh: Nergal agreed, albeit reluctantly.

Ereshkigal: (Yes! With Nergal's Authority, I might be able to create a sun here in the underworld...!)

Ereshkigal: (That way, I'll be able to warm up my souls, even just a little...!)

Nergal: Very well. From now on, I shall spend half the year in the underworld, and I shall further give you half of my Authority, as you demand.

Nergal: However...that half will be the plagues, diseases, and calamities I borrowed from Ea!

Ereshkigal: What!? No faaair!

Ereshkigal: You tricked me! I wanted central heating, and you stuck me with a bunch of disasters!

Gilgamesh: Thus did Ereshkigal gain control of Nergal's Authority. Unfortunately, it dealt with illness and disease.

Gilgamesh: Unable to use the sun Authority she desired, her dark nature grew darker still...

Gilgamesh: And that is the story of Nergal and Ereshkigal. Did you learn something useful from it, foreigner?

Gilgamesh: Good. For my next story, I shall regale you a tale of a greedy goddess and her poor husband, the God of Shepherds.

Gilgamesh: Until I have time for that, enjoy your descent into the underworld, and remember to guard the mongrel well!

Altera Santa: ...The end.

Altera Santa: I hope you enjoyed Santa's first illustrated story.

Fujimaru 1: So there are other underworld gods, huh...

Altera Santa: So it would seem. That said, these other gods' main focus isn't on the underworld.

Altera Santa: Ereshkigal is probably the only one who takes ruling it seriously. And she really gives it her all.

Altera Santa: I admire that sort of civilization. I think she and I could be good friends...

Fujimaru 2: It was amazingly high quality...

Altera Santa: Santa can do anything. I even have a different cast for the second one.

Altera Santa: Hm. That sounded like swordplay coming from the surface... It looks like someone is fighting, Master.

Altera Santa: But I don't sense any Divinity. And I doubt Ereshkigal is fighting one of her own gatekeepers.

Altera Santa: Hmm. I don't sense much bloodlust... It's probably...a brawl. With swords.

Altera Santa: This won't do at all. Quarreling at Christmas is bad civilization. As Santa, it's my job to mediate this!

Ushiwakamaru: It's cold! Absurdly cold! It was cold even before it started snowing!

Benkei: Please have patience, Lord Yoshitsune. I understand your desire to exercise to keep warm here...

Benkei: ...but I fail to see why that requires slashing at me like I am among the ships at Dan-no-Ura.

Ushiwakamaru: Do not worry about it! This is just my way of expressing myself! And if this weren't all bad enough, I have not even had any sweet bean paste down in this accursed underworld!

Ushiwakamaru: Damn that Ereshkigal. How dare she order me to level these mountains without preparing a meal!

Ushiwakamaru: Even though I am doing this to atone for my misdeeds, I cannot endure ceaseless toil!

Ushiwakamaru: If she wants to cultivate this land, she must do something about the soil! It lacks proper nutrients, just like me!

Benkei: Hahaha! I'm glad to see you still have plenty of imagination, Lord Yoshitsune.

Benkei: You, lacking nutrition. Mwahaha!

Benkei: Have you finally realized that no matter how much you grow, you'll never fill out quite like Lord Raikou?

Ushiwakamaru: Very well. I have decided this place will be your grave. I may not be able to till this field, but I can still make a burial mound for your head.

Benkei: I apologize for my rudeness, Lord Yoshitsune! But if I may, that would only prolong your sentence even more!

Fujimaru 1: Hey... That's Ushiwakamaru and Benkei!

Fujimaru 2: I've never seen Benkei look so forlorn...!

Altera Santa: You know these people, Fujimaru?

Altera Santa: A young, raccoonish swordswoman attacking a giant man with beautiful swordplay and horrific insults...

Altera Santa: ...and a giant who is only defending himself. Yet there is something strangely beautiful in his swordplay as well. I recognize that. It's a samurai dance!

Altera Santa: Still, while I could watch it all day, I'm afraid we don't have much time. May we greet them, Master?

Fujimaru 1: Sure.

Fujimaru 2: Greet them? Let's make it quick.

Altera Santa: ...All right. Here goes... (Adjusts mustache)

Altera Santa: Stop that, you overgrown children. I'm Santa Claus, and I say no more fighting!


Ushiwakamaru: Now I see. So you're wearing that bizarre costume because you are Santa Claus.

Ushiwakamaru: To think you are bringing a present to that cold, obstinate, stingy, isolated Ereshkigal...

Ushiwakamaru: It is no easy feat to traverse this frigid wasteland, yet you do it to bring cheer to others... Impressive.

Ushiwakamaru: Although...I am a little disappointed you did not come here out of concern for me. Tch.

Ushiwakamaru: Well, no matter. It is not as though I would do anything differently anyway.

Ushiwakamaru: I would much rather celebrate Christmas with close female friends than this dim-witted stick-in-the-mud.

Fujimaru 1: Wait. Back up.

Fujimaru 2: Weren't you all gray and stuff like a minute ago!?

Ushiwakamaru: Your eyes were playing tricks on you! On my honor as a Minamoto, I have never succumbed to the lure of evil!

Benkei: Hah! It seems Lord Ushiwakamaru still has spite to spare.

Benkei: Please forgive her mischievous indulgences, [♂ Lord /♀ Lady] Fujimaru.

Benkei: I must say, though. After hearing your whole story...

Benkei: ...Hmm. If you don't mind my asking, which Christmas will you be celebrating where you're from? Which year?

Altera Santa: December 2019. What of it?

Benkei: I see. Now I understand. It's no wonder we had our differences.

Ushiwakamaru: Hm? What do you mean by that, Benkei? Whisper it into my ear, so that we are on the same page.

Benkei: (Well... Right now, time in the underworld is... I don't know the details, but I believe...)

Benkei: (...Ereshkigal couldn't be erased until after the battle of Uruk...)

Benkei: (So please keep this to yourself, Lord Yoshitsune. It would only complicate matters if this got out.)

Ushiwakamaru: Very well.

Ushiwakamaru: ...I must say though, you are too clever for your own good. Once a sage, always a sage, hmm?

Benkei: Don't be silly. I am but a Musashibou with great strength. I have long since left behind the path of the sage.

Ushiwakamaru: ...Hmph. Well, no matter.

Ushiwakamaru: Normally, we'd have a great deal of catching up to do, but I can see you have more pressing matters to attend to.

Ushiwakamaru: As such, we ought to conclude our business here quickly. Go ahead, [♂ Lord /♀ Lady] Fujimaru.

Ushiwakamaru: Surely you know what comes next. One cannot have Christmas without it.

Ushiwakamaru: Bring on the alcohol! The kind that is just to my liking! The kind that turns tears into laughter!

Altera Santa: Of course, young swordswoman! Oooh, your outfit looks so warm!

Altera Santa: Let's see... Here you go. I think you'll be very happy with this bromide.

Fujimaru 1: You look awesome here, Ushiwakamaru!

Fujimaru 2: Wow, Altera! You actually got it right this time!

Ushiwakamaru: ...I'm sorry, but that's, well... I'm kind of sick of seeing that sort of thing by now...

Ushiwakamaru: I already have more pictures of me, Ushiwakamaru, in action than I know what to do with.

Benkei: What a waste that would be! If you don't need it, I would be happy to accept it myself!

Benkei: Just look at this composition! The detail on the armor! The fiery courage in your gaze!

Benkei: There may be many picture scrolls of Ushiwakamaru, but I have never before seen one that so thoroughly erases all the ways you are disappointing, Lord Yoshitsune!

Benkei: What a miracle to encounter art of this quality in the underworld! I shall cherish it forever!

Benkei: Thank you! Thank you, Lord Santa Claus!

Altera Santa: Ho ho ho. Yes, I am Santa.

Altera Santa: Now I'm getting the hang of this. If bromides of your partner make you that happy, what about this one?

Benkei: Oho! What a handsome depiction, and so modern! This masterpiece reminds me of the great Hokusai himself!

Ushiwakamaru: No thanks. I couldn't even use that for an oilcloth.

Fujimaru 1: I-I guess not...

Fujimaru 2: Fine, what DO you want?

Ushiwakamaru: Hmm...

Ushiwakamaru: If those are the sort of gifts you have to offer, Lord Santa Claus, might I make a private?

Altera Santa: I see. I did want one of those for myself, but I can let you have this one.

Altera Santa: Now then, there's a bunch of different kinds. Which one would you like?

Ushiwakamaru: The one with Lady Mash, of course.

Ushiwakamaru: ...This is one of my fondest memories. Indeed, it is wasted on a fool like myself.

Fujimaru 1: Hey look, the gate opened!

Benkei: So it did. I suppose this means that something has been saved.

Ushiwakamaru: We have nothing further to discuss. The underworld is in turmoil, and time is of the essence.

Ushiwakamaru: You must hurry on to the next gate. Farewell, [♂ Lord /♀ Lady] Fujimaru.

Benkei: Do not worry about us. Knowing that you are here to save Christmas is the best news we could get.

Benkei: Now we can see you off with a clear conscience.

Fujimaru 1: ...?

Ushiwakamaru: Merely the passing remarks of a Nurikabe. Pay them no heed. I pray that fate brings you and a different me together again one day!

Altera Santa: Wait, Fujimaru! It's too dangerous to go alone!

Benkei: There they go. ...I must say, I can't help but worry.

Benkei: Once [♂ Lord /♀ Lady] Fujimaru fixes things and restores the underworld to its proper stability, everything should return to normal.

Benkei: I cannot speak for [♂ Lord /♀ Lady] Fujimaru, but I doubt that we will remember this.

Benkei: ...Lord Yoshitsune? Why are you smiling like that?

Ushiwakamaru: Oh, I was just thinking how nice their smiles are in this picture. I'm told they went on to enjoy a wonderful New Year's afterwards.

Ushiwakamaru: In which case, what happens to us is of little consequence. Musashibou, if you truly claim to be my attendant...

Ushiwakamaru: I would have you stay here with me, until I finish atoning for my crimes.

Benkei: ...Of course I will.

Benkei: I will gladly serve as your bulwark until the day you meet your end.

Section 6: Dreaming of the Nomadic Life

Altera Santa: Jaguar Warrior... Truly a fearsome opponent.

Fujimaru 1: Yeah... And a sad one.

Altera Santa: True... I barely understood half of what she was saying, even without the feverish ramblings.

Fujimaru 2: Next up: the sixth gate.

Altera Santa: Yup. I'm glad I've been able to hand out so many presents. Zerco's happy about it too.

Sheep: Baaa. (I'm Zerco.) Baaa. (I'm Zerco.)

Altera Santa: All right then, I think now's a good time for that second Santa illustrated story I promised.

Altera Santa: And since we're flying to our destination, I believe I will play a flight attendant this time...

Altera Santa: Ladies and gentlemen, flight Xmas-1, bound for the sixth gate should be touching down in approximately one hour.

Altera Santa: Please ensure that your seatbelt is fastened and that your seat backs and tray tables are in their upright and locked positions...

Altera Santa: ...Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy our in-flight movie.

Altera Santa: ...Nowadays, one can travel great distances while comfortably seated, and even be treated to a film.

Altera Santa: It is so very much better than walking...I wonder if airplanes are good civilization or not...

Gilgamesh: It's time for Gil...

Altera Santa: ...and Santa's...

Both: ...“Get to Know Uruk”!

Altera Santa: King of Uruk, I've brushed up on the underworld a bit, and there's something I'd like to ask you.

Altera Santa: One thing I learned is that the underworld is home to a “god of life.” What's that about?

Altera Santa: Life doesn't seem to be a big part of the underworld. Does this god help to grow plants?

Gilgamesh: Oho. A most excellent question, Santa. You are correct! There is one rather...peculiar god to be found in the underworld.

Gilgamesh: His name is Dumuzid! He is the god of livestock, rich in wisdom but bereft of courage!

Altera Santa: Dumuzid, hm? I've never heard that name before.

Gilgamesh: Dumuzid, later known as Tammuz, became the god of death and resurrection.

Gilgamesh: But before I can tell you his story, I must tell you the tale of the greedy goddess.

Gilgamesh: For this man...has the great misfortune of being Ishtar's husband!

Dumuzid: Hmm. I know you need the God of Shepherds, but are you sure I'm the best choice to play him? Did you make sure to clear my portrait rights?

Dumuzid: Still, I don't mind doing it, since you're paying me extra and all. So, who am I wooing this time?

Dumuzid: I'd be fine with a rich heiress just coming of age. The hotter she is, the better.

Dumuzid: Then again, I guess money IS more important right now, since running a proper farm is VERY expensive...

Dumuzid: I want to raise sheep, grow wheat, brew beer, and hold tours. I also have ten wives, so I'll need a huge house with a separate bedroom for each wife!

Dumuzid: Yeah, I'll be honest! I'm powerless to resist the allure of wealth and fame!

Ishtar: That's great to hear, yes! I've got wealth and gold to spare, oh yes!

Ishtar: Now then, are you the fool who married me?

Ishtar: I guess you haven't learned the difference between bravery and recklessness yet, have you?

Dumuzid: Feeling...weak! Strength...fading! Can I go home now!?

Dumuzid: She's nothing like the goddess I expected! Not to say that she isn't beautiful...!

Altera Santa: I see. So Dumuzid is an idiot.

Gilgamesh: Indeed. I hate to say it, but Dumuzid only became a god after acquiring Authority. Before that, he was King of Uruk; his reign came between King Lugalbanda's and mine.

Gilgamesh: At any rate, Dumuzid's greatest weakness was a lust for glory.

Gilgamesh: He foolishly believed that marrying Ishtar would lead to him being worshipped by more people even than her.

Altera Santa: So he didn't even love her? How cruel of him.

Gilgamesh: Heh. That's something only he knows for sure. But marry they did, at least on paper.

Gilgamesh: As Ishtar's husband, Dumuzid gained a position amongst the gods and began whiling away his days in Uruk.

Gilgamesh: Little did he know that Ishtar would shortly cause an incident that would drive everyone mad.

Gilgamesh: “Ishtar's Descent to the Underworld”... The story of Ishtar's defeat at Ereshkigal's hands.

Gilgamesh: After she lost her life in the underworld, the surface fell into a panic.

Gilgamesh: You see, Ishtar was the goddess of fertility, as she inherited her father's Authority over the harvest.

Gilgamesh: So with her suddenly gone, crops were bound to fail.

Gilgamesh: ...What a pain she is. She causes chaos when she's alive, and even dead she makes no end of trouble.

Gilgamesh: She is, as they say in the human world, the sort we cannot live with, nor without. She's basically a fortune stone too powerful for humans to use.

Gilgamesh: At any rate, the wise god Enki resurrected her body using the grass and water of life.

Gilgamesh: However...

Ereshkigal: Don't mock me. The laws of the underworld are absolute, and any who break them must be punished. Enki is no exception.

Ereshkigal: As the ruler of the underworld, I cannot simply let anyone go between here and the surface as they please.

Ereshkigal: Her body may be restored, but her soul remains under my domain. That's not changing, no matter what sort of gifts you try to ply me with.

Ereshkigal: The only thing I'll accept is another soul in Ishtar's place. Otherwise, the whole balance of the world will be thrown into chaos.

Altera Santa: Ereshkigal is certainly responsible, isn't she? Why can't Ishtar be more responsible with her own life?

Gilgamesh: ...Believe it or not, that greedy goddess IS responsible, at least in her own way.

Gilgamesh: Part of her acutely feels the weight of the responsibility her divinity confers, while another part enjoys it, and yet another respects it.

Gilgamesh: All that aside, Ereshkigal really had no desire to destroy the surface world.

Gilgamesh: If anything, having Ishtar running around the underworld was nothing but a nuisance.

Gilgamesh: So the Queen of Kur set the Queen of Heaven free, though only temporarily.

Gilgamesh: Ishtar wasted no time making her way to the surface, where she ran hither and thither to find a soul to take her place.

Altera Santa: But there was no god that would possibly consent to being a prisoner of the underworld, not even for her.

Altera Santa: ...Don't tell me she forced a human to take her place?

Gilgamesh: No, she did not. She may be rash and impetuous, but she is still fundamentally good.

Gilgamesh: More importantly, her pride would not permit another to save her life.

Gilgamesh: So, until and unless someone gladly volunteered to give her their soul of their own volition...

Gilgamesh: ...she would never let someone else take her place.

Gilgamesh: Furthermore, her sacred prostitutes were the only ones who were truly willing to trade their lives for hers.

Gilgamesh: And not even Ishtar would willingly sacrifice one of her own servants.

Gilgamesh: Thus, Ishtar resigned herself to her fate and headed back to the underworld...but not before making one final stop at her city, Uruk.

Gilgamesh: There, she saw her husband mourning the loss of his wife.

Dumuzid: Yahooo! Springtime is here again! Oh, I'm so sad about Ishtar going to the underworld!

Dumuzid: Go on, everyone! Eat, drink, and be merry! There's never been a better time to celebrate!

Dumuzid: You're looking at the new patron deity of Uruk! Now I'M the one in charge of all its wealth and riches!

Dumuzid: Ahh, it's so sad that she's gone! The only time I've felt sadder is when I hit it big in the stock market!

Altera Santa: That's awful.

Gilgamesh: Indeed. Dumuzid was holding triumphal processions every day of the week to celebrate Ishtar's death.

Gilgamesh: Of course, Ishtar was not happy about it, but even the other gods found themselves a bit...disgusted.

Gilgamesh: Much as they understood how he felt, they couldn't help but deplore his foolishness and poor taste.

Ishtar: You've got some nerve, you dimwit!

Ishtar: I didn't think you'd be all broken up about my death, but I sure as hell didn't expect you to make it into a national holiday!

Ishtar: If that's how you wanna play this, then no more Ms. Nice Goddess! Gallû Spirits! Here's my substitute. Right here. Take him.

Dumuzid: Aw crap, it's the piper–I mean, Ishtar!?

Dumuzid: Wait! No! I did nothing wrong! All I did was take your bank accounts, your PIN, and all your worldly possessions for myself!

Dumuzid: I promise you, I didn't do anything illegal! You must understand, this was all very above board!

Dumuzid: Ereshkigal, please, listen to me! I believe I have a right to contest this nomination!

Gilgamesh: But Ereshkigal refused to listen to Dumuzid's pleas, and accepted him as Ishtar's substitute.

Gilgamesh: Davi–I mean, Dumuzid did everything he could to fight this.

Gilgamesh: His many desperate attempts included begging Utu to turn him into a serpent and asking his older sister, Geshtinanna, to hide him, but in the end, he was caught and taken to the underworld.

Dumuzid: I demand a fair trial! What did I do that's so wrong!?

Altera Santa: Nothing. And that's the problem... Had you just mourned for Ishtar, things may be different, but...

Dumuzid: Why would I waste my time on that?

Dumuzid: If one patron god dies, another has to take their place as soon as possible, or the economy goes kaput.

Dumuzid: This isn't over, you know! I'll be back for an appeal!!!

Geshtinanna: ...Even if he did bring this on himself, I can't bear to see my little brother like this.

Geshtinanna: Ereshkigal, would you please reconsider?

Geshtinanna: Ishtar may have refused to accept me as her replacement, but I can still take my brother's place.

Geshtinanna: If the cosmic scales require a soul for a soul, can't you just let me stay in the underworld instead?

Ereshkigal: Geshtinanna... I can't believe you'd go that far just to help that worthless good-for-nothing...

Ereshkigal: Very well. Out of respect for your devotion, I will give Dumuzid the same sentence I did Nergal.

Ereshkigal: If he is willing to leave half of his Authority here, I will permit you to take your brother's place for half of every year.

Geshtinanna: (...If Ereshkigal relaxes the underworld's laws that were set in place by the old Anunnaki deities, she'll be the one punished for it...)

Geshtinanna: (She knows that, yet she is still willing to show mercy. Never mind how hard it must be for her, being saddled with the underworld all by herself...)

Geshtinanna: ...You have my deepest thanks, Ereshkigal.

Geshtinanna: I hereby swear that I shall attend to your every need during my time in the underworld.

Geshtinanna: I know that grape vines don't grow here, but I'm sure I can at least bring you their scent.

Ereshkigal: Geshtinanna...

Dumuzid: Hey there. Sorry to interrupt your moment, but I think I'm gonna bounce. Got stuff to do on the surface, sis.

Dumuzid: Oh, and I'm gonna take the water of life with me, so in exchange, I'll leave this Authority behind.

Dumuzid: It's the unbeatable power I acquired during this whole kerfuffle...

Dumuzid: The Authority over serpents and gazelles I used to transform and make my escape! How cool is that!?

Ereshkigal: Wha–Hey! What am I supposed to do with the Authority of a womanizing jerk who only knows how to run away by turning into serpents and gazelles!?

Ereshkigal: Arrrgh! Why couldn't he have at least left behind his Authority over sheep!?

Gilgamesh: Thus, Dumuzid returned to the surface as the god of resurrection, and was thereafter worshipped as the ruler of death and rebirth.

Gilgamesh: No doubt it was a most humiliating and disastrous experience for him.

Altera Santa: ...King of Uruk, there's one thing I still don't understand.

Altera Santa: Both Nergal and Dumuzid returned to the surface, which means there must be a way to get back.

Altera Santa: So why did Ereshkigal stay in the underworld?

Altera Santa: In Sumerian myth, did she truly stay in the underworld all her life, without ever once going to the surface?

Altera Santa: ...That would basically make her a prisoner. It would be like spending eternity inside a stone chamber.

Gilgamesh: That was her role, and the sort of person she was. Someone had to serve as the pillar of the underworld.

Gilgamesh: If she were ever to venture to the surface, the underworld as we know it would be destroyed.

Gilgamesh: For better or worse, she cared for the underworld far more than necessary. She trusted her love more than her desires.

Gilgamesh: Thanks to her devotion, Uruk's underworld remained peaceful and orderly.

Gilgamesh: She would never abandon her duty merely because it was hard. That was the greatest Authority she possessed.

Gilgamesh: Do you understand, Santa?

Gilgamesh: She was the only one who could manage the great feat of ruling the underworld in all its frigidity.

Altera Santa: ...

Altera Santa: And that concludes our in-flight movie and Santa's second illustrated story. I hope you enjoyed it.

Fujimaru 1: ...This makes even less sense now...

Altera Santa: ...I see. I'm sorry my story wasn't clearer. I was afraid this might happen...

Altera Santa: I must have inadvertently polished it too much, and taken it to the realm of high literature...

Fujimaru 1: No, no, I understood it fine. It's just, why...?

Fujimaru 2: No, what I don't get is why she's attacking us.

Altera Santa: ...Good question. Even in Sumerian myth, Ereshkigal doesn't seem like a bad god at all.

Fujimaru 1: And there's no reason why she would do this.

Altera Santa: You know...that's a good point. Ereshkigal DOESN'T have a reason to do this.

Altera Santa: So, if not her, then who is attacking Chaldea?

Altera Santa: Do you have any idea, Fujimaru?

Fujimaru 1: Maybe...Nergal?

C:???: Well done. That is the logical conclusion to this story, after all, since it concerns who gets to rule the underworld.

Fujimaru 2: ...Dumuzid seems very suspicious...

C:???: Oh yes, Dumuzid is part of this too. But he wouldn't do anything unless there was something in it for him.

Altera Santa: Ah! Master, down there!

Altera Santa: There's another Servant of the same type as me in front of the sixth gate!

C:???: Evening, fellow underworld travelers.

Mister Sheep: I've been touring this place myself and just happened to get here first. You can call me Mister Sheep.

Fujimaru 1: Is that you, Merl...?

Fujimaru 2: Oh great, this isn't shady at all...

Altera Santa: You really are the same type as me... But, why are you wandering here alone? Who are you?

Mister Sheep: Didn't I tell you? Touring this place. I'm not at all associated with the underworld, and I'm not your enemy.

Mister Sheep: Sometimes I like to toss out the odd spoiler, too. After all, I'm not on Nergal's side either.

Mister Sheep: Nergal is the one attacking your base and holding Ereshkigal prisoner.

Mister Sheep: Well, more accurately, it's less him and more the malice he left behind in the underworld.

Mister Sheep: Now that the gods have left Mesopotamia, they can't materialize unless humans explicitly summon them.

Mister Sheep: I swear, I can't tell if he's just that resilient, or that hell-bent (no pun intended) on holding a grudge.

Mister Sheep: Usually he wouldn't amount to more than a pile of residual thoughts wandering around the underworld, but with Ereshkigal weakened, I suppose he decided to bet it all on one last move.

Mister Sheep: He's trying to steal Ereshkigal's rulership of the underworld and reign supreme as a god once again.

Mister Sheep: The age of Nergal, god of the sun, is long over. But Nergal, god of the underworld? Maybe not.

Mister Sheep: Unlike Mesopotamia, the underworld is still alive and kicking, so to speak, so if he can become its god, he can take the place over.

Fujimaru 1: Easy with the spoilers!

Fujimaru 2: I knew it. It IS you, isn't it, Merl...?

Altera Santa: This rumbling is coming from nearby...! You're not the only one here, Brother Sheep!

Mister Sheep: I'm sure not! Nergal's been hiding out here, waiting to ambush you!

Mister Sheep: He thought he could keep would-be intruders out by closing the underworld's gates, but you two still made it this far.

Mister Sheep: That pissed Nergal off, so then he figured he'd take you out with a trap.

Mister Sheep: Too bad for him I wasn't going to let him end this story on such a grimdark note!

Mister Sheep: Who wants to see a Christmas story where Santa Claus never shows up!? I certainly don't!

Evil Gallû Spirit: Cursed incubus! How dare you interfere!?

Evil Gallû Spirit: As if Santa Claus wasn't bad enough! How did you learn of my plan!?

Evil Gallû Spirit: It should be impossible for anyone outside the abyss to know what transpires there...!

Mister Sheep: Oh, that? Trade secret. Let's just say I know more little birdies than you might think.

Mister Sheep: ...You really let your greed get the better of you this time, Nergal.

Mister Sheep: Even if you do become king of the underworld now, what do you think's going to happen? Are you really that ticked off about losing to a girl?

Mister Sheep: If you'd only bided your time and waited for Ereshkigal to fade away, there would've been no one leaking your secret plans.

Evil Gallû Spirit: ...What do you know, you uncouth Peeping Nightmare!? Let us see how much you can chatter on after I have killed you and your little friends!

Mister Sheep: Whoops, it seems I've gone and poked the bear. Looks like we're just going to have to fight!

Mister Sheep: Very well, Santa! You too, Master of Chaldea, my old friend!

Mister Sheep: If we want to celebrate Christmas, we'll have to beat this evil Ghost of Not-Christmas Past first!

Fujimaru 1: Got it! Just keep those heals coming!

Fujimaru 2: Thanks, Mister Sheep!


Evil Gallû Spirit: Aaarrrgggh! I was so clooose!

Mister Sheep: Phew, glad that's over with, eh? You were pretty tough out there!

Mister Sheep: Oh, and I should apologize for writing him off as just a residual evil thought.

Mister Sheep: I'm shocked he had such a grudge that he was still surviving on it thousands of years after Ereshkigal kicked his butt.

Mister Sheep: Man, I'd hate to get on one of these ancient gods' bad sides. I feel sorry for the souls who'll have to live in the next underworld.

Altera Santa: I am grateful for your help, Brother Sheep. Now, could you please explain something to me?

Altera Santa: Since we just defeated the mastermind, does this mean the attack on Chaldea will stop?

Mister Sheep: Nope.

Mister Sheep: After all, Ereshkigal's the one sending the plague there.

Fujimaru 1: What do you mean?

Fujimaru 2: Didn't you just say Nergal did all this?

Mister Sheep: Yes, that's the troublesome part. Just because Nergal is gone doesn't mean the plague goes with him.

Mister Sheep: Even as we speak, Ereshkigal is attacking Chaldea from the abyss in order to kill herself.

Mister Sheep: You see, in order to help you, she broke the oath she took as a goddess.

Mister Sheep: In consequence, she should have lost her Spirit Origin and returned to the normal underworld system. But...

Altera Santa: ...she couldn't do that.

Altera Santa: It's because there are still humans at Chaldea who remember her, isn't it?

Altera Santa: Gods die when faith in them evaporates and there is no one left who remembers them.

Altera Santa: Ereshkigal tried to comply with her oath and disappear, but because of all the people in Chaldea who remember her, and the records of her battles stores there, she wasn't able to do so fully.

Altera Santa: isn't that she bears any animosity towards Chaldea.

Altera Santa: It's just that, if she's going to disappear, she has to make Chaldea disappear too.

Fujimaru 1: ...

Fujimaru 2: Why would she do that...?

Mister Sheep: I imagine Nergal must have gotten into her head.

Mister Sheep: Look no further than the fact that she's already finished her ablutions.

Mister Sheep: She chose to cut out that part of herself so that she wouldn't be a burden to you.

Mister Sheep: The reason she didn't react to seeing you is because she's not the same goddess she was back then.

Mister Sheep: You saw her yourself back at the third gate, right? How did she seem to you?

Fujimaru 1: So that's why she didn't know about Chaldea...

Fujimaru 2: (She didn't seem any different, but I'll keep that to myself...)

Mister Sheep: Now that she's not under the influence of a human avatar, she's the cold-blooded Queen of Kur that the myths made her out to be.

Mister Sheep: The problem is that Ereshkigal never much liked her true self's sense of responsibility.

Mister Sheep: After she got rid of her memories of what happened back then and returned to being the same goddess she was before...

Mister Sheep: ...she couldn't stand the thought of letting herself off the hook just by forgetting about you.

Mister Sheep: Now that Ereshkigal knows about the outside world, her heart is shaking the foundations of the underworld.

Mister Sheep: Ereshkigal decided that leaving the underworld in that state was too dangerous. And so too, she thought, was this version of herself.

Mister Sheep: So she tried to erase her own existence, and leave Nergal in charge.

Mister Sheep: As we speak, she's bathing in the pure water of the abyss in an attempt to dissolve herself.

Mister Sheep: She thinks that's the best way for her to take responsibility.

Mister Sheep: I swear. Depressing enough for you?

Mister Sheep: Then again, I should've realized that breaking the goddess's oath could end this way.

Mister Sheep: If only she could have disappeared on her own, and spared the rest of us all this trouble.

Fujimaru 1: ...So now what do we do? Got a plan?

Fujimaru 2: You haven't changed a bit, Mister Sheep.

Mister Sheep: You bet. You know me! I'm always two steps ahead!

Mister Sheep: Individual resolve and personal dignity can be nourishing for the soul, but that in itself isn't really enough to get me motivated to help out.

Mister Sheep: Which is why...

Mister Sheep: ...this is your call to make, Fujimaru.

Mister Sheep: If you want to save Chaldea, you'll have to defeat the Queen of Kur.

Mister Sheep: But if you let Ereshkigal disappear, you'll be playing right into Nergal's hands. And I really don't think you want him ruling the underworld in her place.

Mister Sheep: Souls would suffer and disappear... The air would go stagnant... Maggots, flies, and decay would spread everywhere... In the end, the whole underworld would be nothing more than a graveyard.

Fujimaru 1: ...

Fujimaru 2: (But, if we don't beat her, Chaldea is finished...)

Altera Santa: ...Come on, Master. Ereshkigal is waiting for us in the abyss.

Altera Santa: I have presents to deliver, and you have to save Chaldea. That's why we've come this far.

Mister Sheep: Right you are. Besides, just getting to the abyss will be eighty percent of your battle.

Mister Sheep: Don't worry your little head over it too much. Oh, and as for this gate's lock...

Mister Sheep: Pardon me!

Great Sheep Zerco: Baaa! (Hey!) Baaa! (Get your hands off me!)

Mister Sheep: Here we go. This ought to take care of things.

Altera Santa: That's... ...What IS that?

Mister Sheep: I guess you could's a dream that a different you wished for?

Mister Sheep: I burned a ton of calories to make it this far, after all. It's only fair I leave with something rare enough to be worth the trouble.

Mister Sheep: Don't worry, I'm not going to eat it. Setting aside that it's not really to my tastes, it isn't even from this universe.

Mister Sheep: Rest assured that I'll take good care of it. At least until your wish and you manage to find one another.

Mister Sheep: Okay, Santa Claus et al, it looks like this is goodbye! Did you enjoy this? I certainly did!

Mister Sheep: But don't let your guard down! You'll be up against what is arguably your most terrifying foe yet at the seventh gate!

Mister Sheep: Someone who belongs to neither the Ereshkigal side nor the Nergal side; they are desire incarnate, and want nothing more right now than to beat you two into a pulp...

Mister Sheep: It would be safe to call this foe the greatest demon Mesopotamia ever encountered.

Mister Sheep: Be ready to make the leap. And to be disappointed.

Altera Santa: The greatest demon... Could it be the other pillar of the underworld?

Fujimaru 1: ...Dumuzid?

Fujimaru 2: Desire... Demon... Ugh, my head...!

Mister Sheep: Hahaha, now that I've fanned the flames, I think I'll take my leave! Farewell, Fujimaru of Chaldea!

Mister Sheep: Next time, come see me directly! Hopefully, that future will be one that brings hope to the far reaches of the land!

Section 7: Stars Shot into the Celestial Journey

Narration: The adventure has come to an end. By this time tomorrow, the underworld will be closed.

Narration: Today is the last day I will be able to look up from here and see the sky.

Ereshkigal: ...The smell of dirt, the fragrance of flowers, the colors of the wind, the sheer height of the sky.

Ereshkigal: Hmph. Turns out none of it was anything special.

Ereshkigal: If that's all the surface has to offer, the underworld is better off without it. Not to mention it's way dirtier up there thanks to all that life!

Ereshkigal: Now I know for sure that my underworld is darker, quieter, bigger, and cleaner!

Ereshkigal: So it's not like I'm jealous...

Ereshkigal: ...Nope! Not even a teeny, tiny bit!

Ereshkigal: ...But I did have a lot of fun traveling around with [♂ him /♀ her].

Narration: All those blooming flowers that Merlin guy brought with him have disappeared. Everything that reminded me of [♂ him /♀ her] is gone.

Narration: ...Come to think of it, I tried several times to make flowers bloom here, didn't I?

Narration: ...It was hopeless. All I had to show for it after thousands of years was a bunch of dead seeds.

Narration: “Don't be sad.” “The underworld is completely barren. It's not your fault they didn't grow.”

Narration: The gazelle droned on like usual while I glared at the sky, fighting back tears.

Narration: “The underworld doesn't need flowers anyway.” “It's not as though they're anything special.”

Narration: I put on a brave face and agreed...however reluctant I was to do it.

Narration: “Who needs flowers? The poor things would never be happy here even if they did bloom, dark as it is...”

Evil Gallû Spirit: ...Lady Ereshkigal. Preparations for the ritual to transfer your Authority are complete.

Evil Gallû Spirit: Now that you have broken your oath, you have no right to rule over the underworld.

Evil Gallû Spirit: As long as you harbor such doubts, it is only a matter of time until this place falls into disorder.

Evil Gallû Spirit: Which is why I must ask you... Please, cut out those memories.

Evil Gallû Spirit: Return to the perfect woman you once were, before you sinned and became an imperfect goddess.

Evil Gallû Spirit: Once you have done so, you must sleep forever in the abyss. Through your sacrifice, the underworld will continue in peace and prosperity.

Evil Gallû Spirit: Leave the rest to us... We will see that the underworld gains a more fitting ruler.

Evil Gallû Spirit: All of this is to ensure the underworld's survival... Please, fulfill your final duty as the Queen of Kur.

Narration: I let myself fall into the abyss. I cast away this new me that was created when I gained this avatar.

Narration: ...How strange. Usually I would be crying from loneliness, but right now, I'm actually smiling.

Narration: Now that it's all ending, just thinking back brings a smile to my face. I've been so lonely, but back then, I had so much fun I can't help but be happy.

Narration: Goodbye, memories of the surface.

Narration: Goodbye, first friend I ever made. Thanks for all the lovely conversation.

Narration: I wonder if I'll ever be able to listen to another of your stories while I look up at the starry night sky.

Narration: Oh, right... Even if I do, I won't be me anymore.

Altera Santa: ...

Fujimaru 1: Altera Santa...?

Fujimaru 2: Is there something on your mind?

Altera Santa: Ho ho ho. Santa has nothing to hide.

Altera Santa: I'm just not quite sure how to explain this, since it's a bit complicated.

Fujimaru 1: ...

Altera Santa: ...Don't look at me like that. This is awkward for me too. It's even rather frustrating.

Altera Santa: ...If only I didn't have this slight fever, I'd be able to fill you in as coolly as Brother Sheep...

Great Sheep Zerco: Baaa. (No you couldn't.) Baaa. (No you couldn't.)

Altera Santa: You think so too, Zerco? There, there. I'll give you some nice hay later.

Altera Santa: Anyway, don't worry. Everything will make sense once we get to the abyss.

Altera Santa: Look, there's the seventh gate now. Only one more left to go, Master.

Fujimaru 1: ...That's weird.

Fujimaru 2: ...I don't see anyone here.

Altera Santa: ...Me neither. And I don't think they're hiding, like they were at the sixth gate...

Altera Santa: I know that Brother Sheep said the greatest of Mesopotamia's demons would be here, but... Hm?

Altera Santa: The sheep are terrified... They're scattering like baby spiders...

Altera Santa: Why would they...?

Altera Santa: Ah! Up there!

Fujimaru 1: Something's punching through all the other gates!

Fujimaru 2: Something's headed straight for us!

???: There you are! You've got a lotta nerve, trying to get the jump on me!

???: If anyone's gonna make it all the way to the bottom of the underworld, it's gonna be me!

???: No way I'm letting Fujimaru and a rookie Santa beat me to it!

???: Let's do this, Maanna! Maximum power! Maximum energy!

???: I'm gonna rewrite the whole god record with a single strike!

Altera Santa: This divine aura is unbelievable...! So you must be the demon of Mesopotamia!

Ishtar: That's right. It's me, the ruler of Venus and war! The embodiment of beauty and fertility! The blazing supernova synonymous with Mesopotamia!

Ishtar: Ishtar, soaring across the sky to avenge her humiliation in record time!

Fujimaru 1: Damn, Ishtar's looking badass!

Fujimaru 2: NOW what are you wasting your money on!?

Ishtar: Sweet! My idea to blast through the gates before I could be punished worked awesomely!

Ishtar: No more black mark from the Age of Gods for me! It's the start of a new legend!

Sheep: Baaa! (It's the sheep hunter! The sheep hunter!) Baaa! (She'll shear us for every bit of wool we've got!)

Altera Santa: Ishtar... What are you doing here? Did you come to see Ereshkigal too?

Ishtar: Huh? Why the hell would I do that? I couldn't care less about her.

Ishtar: She and I have completely opposite Divinities. I've said everything I want to say to her!

Ishtar: Anything else is her problem to deal with. Me, I'm just here for revenge.

Ishtar: I mean, come on, how'm I gonna set a new course record once the underworld disappears?

Ishtar: And since it looks like Ereshkigal's not gonna get in my way, I thought this'd be the perfect chance to dominate it at full strength.

Ishtar: And I was right! Things turned out perfectly! Not that I ever doubted they would, since I went at it with everything I had☆

Fujimaru 1: Aha... So that's why you look so demony...

Fujimaru 2: Aha... So that's why you look so demony...

Ishtar: I'm not a demon! I'm just taking this seriously! This is who I used to be back in the Age of Gods, you know!

Ishtar: Right now, this goddess has got her new Manifestation of Beauty and War! I'm basically Super Ishtar here!

Sheep: Baaa. (Super?) Baaa. (Super?)

Altera Santa: I see... I had no idea you wished to restore your tarnished name so badly...

Altera Santa: Disgracing yourself even further just to erase your humiliation... I guess the Sumerian gods like to live dangerously and...thoughtlessly...

Super Ishtar: Hmph. Say what you will. You outsiders could never understand why we hate each other so much.

Super Ishtar: Anyway... I see you're out on yet another adventure you didn't really think through, Fujimaru.

Super Ishtar: I'm guessing Gilgamesh talked you into this? Either way, this is waaay beyond you.

Super Ishtar: Not to mention, letting a human go to the abyss? No way. Out of the question. Now come on, let's go back to the surface. I'll even take you there myself.

Fujimaru 1: Huh?

Fujimaru 2: But, if I don't do something, Chaldea's...

Super Ishtar: Don't worry, it's not gonna get wiped out. Worst case, Christmas'll just be ruined is all.

Super Ishtar: I was planning to take care of Nergal myself, but you already got to him, right?

Super Ishtar: In that case, the Sumerian Fever'll take care of itself.

Super Ishtar: It'd take seven days for Ereshkigal to wipe out all of Chaldea with a plague.

Super Ishtar: And she'll disappear before that happens anyway.

Altera Santa: ...

Super Ishtar: Got it? So come on, it's not too late. Go back to Chaldea while you still can.

Super Ishtar: Remember, the Ereshkigal who's down in the abyss isn't the same Ereshkigal you knew.

Super Ishtar: She has no idea who you are, and the second she sees something alive in her underworld, she'll try to kill it without so much as a hello.

Super Ishtar: So come on, you don't need to bother with a goddess of death like that, right?

Fujimaru 1: Be that as it may...

Fujimaru 2: I'm still going down to the abyss.

Super Ishtar: I see. Just gonna ignore my warning, huh... (Sigh) Well, in that case...

Super Ishtar: Heh. Hehehe. Hehehehehehehe!

Super Ishtar: If you won't listen to reason, I'll just have to beat some into you! And since I'm doing this out of the goodness of my heart, I think I've earned the right to go a little nuts!

Super Ishtar: Get ready, Fujimaru! I'm gonna test you to make sure you're strong enough to set foot in the abyss!

Super Ishtar: I'm gonna give you the fight of your life! This'll be WAY better than anything Ereshkigal could pull off!


Plain Old Ishtar: I lost!? But I was REALLY going all out this time!

Fujimaru 1: I couldn't have won if you'd stayed super.

Fujimaru 2: (Guess the underworld just isn't her place...)

Altera Santa: ...We win, Ishtar. You fought well.

Altera Santa: And I can tell you acted out of concern for Fujimaru's safety.

Altera Santa: But please, let Fujimaru handle this. Don't you trust [♂ him /♀ her]?

Ishtar: ...Dammit, I can't fib when you're being all earnest like that. Look, I DO trust [♂ him /♀ her], stupid side and all, but...

Ishtar: ...(Sigh). Okay, you win. I'm kind of wiped, anyway.

Ishtar: If you've got the guts to go toe-to-toe with super me, you should be able to face Ereshkigal without just dying instantly, at least.

Ishtar: Fine, go on down to the abyss if that's what you want. But what are you gonna do about the gate?

Ishtar: I was planning to smash through it, but I don't have any magical energy left after that battle.

Ishtar: Do you have a way to break it? Come to think of it, how'd you get past all the other gates, anyway?

Altera Santa: We opened them with presents. Now that you're here, this should work out nicely.

Altera Santa: When someone receives a present that makes them truly happy, the gates count that as them being saved and open.

Ishtar: Are you serious!? What the hell happened to this place!?

Altera Santa: A once-in-a-lifetime collaboration between Christmas and the underworld. May I, Master?

Fujimaru 1: Go for it.

Fujimaru 2: No time like the present to choose a present.

Altera Santa: Ho ho ho. Here you go, little flying girl.

Ishtar: Hey, thanks. I'm always happy to get a new jewel♡

Underworld Gate: ...

Altera Santa: ...So, this isn't the right gift? But, Ishtar seems happy with it...

Sheep: Baaa. (It's not enough.) Baaa. (Her greed knows no bounds.)

Ishtar: Wh-what's with that look!? I really am happy about it, okay!?

Ishtar: But... Okay, if I'm being totally honest, I guess I'm just looking for something that's a little more exciting, or touching!

Fujimaru 1: Now what would a goddess find touching...

Fujimaru 2: Now what would a goddess find exciting...

Altera Santa: ...Well done, Master. I knew you would have an idea.

Altera Santa: Can you please tell me what it is? What do we need to make Ishtar happy...?

Altera Santa: Is that...some sort of terminal device? It looks like a cataclysmic Noble Phantasm...

Ishtar: What is that!? It's AWESOME! Talk about thinking big!

Ishtar: Imagine, a temple that takes people's faith and transforms it into plain old magical energy...

Ishtar: That's a feat on par with anything the gods could pull off! Whoever came up with that's gotta be a true demon!

Fujimaru 1: Oh yeah.

Fujimaru 2: You've got that right.

Ishtar: ...But I guess now's not the time to be celebrating. I'll just file this idea away for later.

Ishtar: Now that the last gate is open, there's nothing standing between you and the abyss–the primal sea that was once home to Enki, the god of wisdom.

Ishtar: I wish I could go with you, but me being there would just piss Ereshkigal off.

Altera Santa: ...Good point. Fujimaru and I will go ahead alone.

Altera Santa: You wait here, Ishtar. And if you sense any danger...

Ishtar: I know. I'll swoop in and make sure Fujimaru escapes with [♂ his /♀ her] life.

Ishtar: So don't think you need to conserve your magical energy or anything. Don't worry about what might happen; just go talk some sense into her!

Ishtar: Besides, thanks to these sheep, I think I've got a pretty good idea of why it's all Christmasy down here.

Ishtar: So maybe, juuust maybe...

Ishtar:'ll actually be able to talk that stubborn, gloomy teacher's pet of a goddess out of this.

Fujimaru 1: ...Okay, let's go!

Altera Santa: ...Right. It's finally time to deliver the present I've been waiting for.

Altera Santa: Let's go bring Ereshkigal what she lost...!

Section 8: Flowers Bloom in the Abyss

Narration: ...I woke to the sound of waves. Someone had come to the abyss.

Narration: ...It must be that human and Servant. What fools they are, coming here even after I warned them not to.

Narration: I may be losing my power, but I still won't have any trouble sweeping out a couple of pests.

Narration: Let's make this quick. I don't have long before I disappear, after all.

Narration: Yes. I'm going to disappear here since I broke my oath.

Narration: ...And yet, I don't know why.

Narration: I don't remember anymore. The person I was when I broke that oath was the first thing I discarded.

Narration: I may not know why I did it, but the fact that I'm weakening proves that I did it all the same.

Narration: It's only right that I disappear. So I'll dissolve into the abyss and leave Nergal in charge.

Narration: I'm not afraid, and I have no regrets. If I had it all to do over again, I wouldn't change a thing. ...But, there is one thing I can't help but wonder about.

Narration: I know I broke my oath, past self would never have done that, no matter what.

Narration: ...So I admit, it's kind of painful.

Narration: Something must have happened to me that led me to do what I otherwise never would.

Narration: And I'm sad and sorry that I can't remember what it was.

Altera Santa: So this is the abyss... There really isn't anything here besides this water...

Altera Santa: I've heard the herb of immortality grows at the bottom, but I can't seem to sink past these waves...

???: Of course not. Did you really think a living creature could sink to the bottom of the abyss without even a guide to show them the way?

???: Now that Enki is gone, the bottom of the abyss is not primordial, but hollow.

???: To reach the bottom of this sea is for every part of you, down to your soul, to return to nothingness.

???: A living human can never become part of it. Just like they can never hope to soar among the clouds.

???: You are trapped here now, repulsive visitors. This is the end of the line.

Fujimaru 1: That voice...

Fujimaru 2: Nergal...!?

Evil Gallû Spirit: You should have resigned yourself to dying on the surface. What do you hope to accomplish here?

Evil Gallû Spirit: Did you come to save Ereshkigal? How foolish. No, not foolish. Disgusting beyond belief.

Evil Gallû Spirit: The Queen of Kur felt ashamed of her irresponsible conduct, as she should, and chose to leave the underworld to us.

Evil Gallû Spirit: She vowed to make amends for ever helping Chaldea, and for permitting them to record data about her.

Evil Gallû Spirit: No doubt you came here thinking you could save her from her fate...

Evil Gallû Spirit: ...but as an outsider, the only thing you are accomplishing is sullying her noble sacrifice.

Fujimaru 1: ...

Altera Santa: Good, Master. Just ignore him. He doesn't know what he's talking about.

Altera Santa: For one thing, we're not outsiders. After all, you're Ereshkigal's...

Altera Santa: Um...friend? Classmate? Coworker from her part-time job...?

Altera Santa: The point is, neither you nor I are outsiders.

Fujimaru 2: Where's Ereshkigal?

Evil Gallû Spirit: Where, you say? Heh. Hehehe. Hahahahaha...!

Evil Gallû Spirit: Think what you like. This is no courtroom, and the decisions here are not up for debate.

Evil Gallû Spirit: All I require of you is your deaths, here and now. For Ereshkigal's sake.

Evil Gallû Spirit: Once you disappear, everyone who knew Ereshkigal will be gone. Faith in her will vanish completely.

Evil Gallû Spirit: Do you understand? The reason Ereshkigal continues to humiliate herself at the bottom of the abyss is because you're here.

Evil Gallû Spirit: You came to help her, didn't you? Don't you want to respect her wishes?

Evil Gallû Spirit: Then I shall kill you myself. Once I do, the underworld will finally be mine!

Fujimaru 1: Bring it on, Nergal...!

Fujimaru 2: (So Ereshkigal's at the bottom of the abyss...!)

Altera Santa: The bottom of the abyss... An ocean... I can't believe it. Another hurdle, right at the end...

Altera Santa: My sheep can cross a river if they really have to, but there's no way they can reach the bottom of an ocean...

Altera Santa: Well, I can figure that out later. Right now, Nergal comes first...! Let's show him who's boss, Master!


Evil Gallû Spirit: It's useless. Our malice has taken root in the underworld itself. We are the collection of voices calling for a new underworld.

Evil Gallû Spirit: You cannot kill us. Only the underworld's ruler can keep us in check.

Altera Santa: We can't do this without Ereshkigal's help...! Fujimaru!

Altera Santa: We need to dive to the bottom of the abyss and pull her out...!

Fujimaru 1: Got it!

Fujimaru 2: But, how exactly!?

Evil Gallû Spirit: Precisely. You have no way of doing that. The only path left to you is death...!

C:???: THIS is a job for...muscle pooower!

Evil Gallû Spirit: What!? A third prisoner...!?

Altera Santa: Who are... Wait, don't tell me! You're candles given human form!

Leonimas I: Wrong! I am the guardian of flame who awakens only at Christmas. My name: Leonimas I!

Leonimas I: At least, that is what Lord Merlin asked me to call myself. I hope you will oblige!

Leonimas I: [♂ Lord /♀ Lady] Fujimaru! Trust in my words, and in my muscles!

Leonimas I: Look to your hand and grasp what you hold there with all your might! You already have everything you'll need!

Fujimaru 1: ...!

Fujimaru 2: The Sands of the Underworld...!

Evil Gallû Spirit: What...!? What are the keystones that guided the King of Uruk to the abyss doing here...!?

Gilgamesh: Fwahahaha! Gather as much sand as you can!

Gilgamesh: Do that, and its weight will lead to your salvation...salvation...salvation...

Altera Santa: Now I see! The sands' weight can help us sink down to the bottom...! Let's go, Fujimaru!

Altera Santa: I'll hold on to you...! O Candleman, take care of that whiner for us!

Leonimas I: Hahaha, it shall be done! Handling complaints and suppressing riots are two of my specialties!

Leonimas I: All you need worry about is speaking with the goddess of the underworld!

Fujimaru 1: Thanks, King Leonidas...!

Leonimas I: Not at all! Now go! Descend into the abyss! Godspeed, my friends! Godspeed!


Altera Santa: ...You ARE there, right, Fujimaru? I can sense you, but I can't see you...

Altera Santa: I can't even see myself, for that matter. So this is the bottom of the abyss, a place devoid of light...

Ereshkigal: ...I can't believe it. A human, ignoring my warning, and coming down all this way.

Fujimaru 1: Ereshkigal!

Ereshkigal: That's the fifth time you've spoken my name. Now you are REALLY dead. That said...

Ereshkigal: ... (Sigh)

Ereshkigal: Whatever your reasons are, I really must commend you for actually making it here.

Ereshkigal: So before I skewer you with my spear, I can at least ask you this:

Ereshkigal: Why did you come this far, human? Why have you shown yourself before me?

Fujimaru 1: I came here to see you, of course.

Fujimaru 2: I'm here to help you, whatever the circumstances.

Ereshkigal: I see. In that case...

Ereshkigal: Can you still look upon me so fondly, even after seeing me like this...?

Altera Santa: ...! (Her face... It's rotted off...)

Fujimaru 1: ...

Ereshkigal: I don't know anything about you. Any memories I had of fighting by your side are gone.

Ereshkigal: Nergal told me about Chaldea. He also told me that as long as you're around, I'll never be able to disappear.

Ereshkigal: ...I can't have that. Now that I'm losing my power, I can't rule the underworld anymore.

Ereshkigal: I have nothing against you personally, but I need you to go away if the underworld is to survive.

Altera Santa: ...Wait. I've been thinking about this a lot, and it doesn't make any sense.

Altera Santa: You say you need Chaldea to go away so that you can disappear yourself.

Altera Santa: But I also heard that you'll disappear even before Chaldea succumbs to the Sumerian Fever.

Altera Santa: So then, why attack Chaldea at all if things are going to turn out the same regardless?

Ereshkigal: ...It would not be the same. Anyone who could reduce me to this state is far too dangerous to let live.

Ereshkigal: Whether I exist or not, Chaldea is a threat. In which case, as the ruler of the underworld, it falls to me to do something about it.

Ereshkigal: So before I disappear, I'm going to make amends for my sins. When you are facing death, you humans put your affairs in order, right?

Ereshkigal: That's what I'm doing. I'm using the last of my power to help the underworld.

Fujimaru 1: ...

Altera Santa: Fujimaru?

Fujimaru 1: Why do you have to disappear at all?

Ereshkigal: Well... Because...

Fujimaru 2: Just forget about this place.

Altera Santa: ...Oh, that's bad. Really, really bad. That's the sort of thing Ishtar would–

Ereshkigal: ...You're right. I must thank you for your words.

Ereshkigal: Now I no longer have the slightest compunction about punishing you.

Voice: That's enough, Ereshkigal. You and your guests have said plenty.

Voice: You have done your job well. Now, I shall take over for you.

Voice: The underworld is the last bastion for the gods that have declined and vanished. A mystic land of darkness the light of humanity can never reach.

Voice: If you truly wish to protect the underworld, then you will obey me. Do that, and the underworld shall become a land where the dead writhe in pain...

Voice: Do that, and it shall be reborn as a garden of terror, as a world of death, dust, maggots, and plague!

Ereshkigal: ...

Fujimaru 1: Is that Nergal...!?

Fujimaru 2: Don't tell me he's down here too...!?

Altera Santa: ...I see. Now it all makes sense.

Altera Santa: That's Nergal's Authority. The same one Ereshkigal laid claim to.

Altera Santa: When Nergal lost to Ereshkigal in the underworld, he left behind his hatred. His rage.

Altera Santa: Now, with Ereshkigal weakened, that rage has gained new life...and it's using Nergal's remnants–his Authority–as an avatar.

Altera Santa: It's basically Nergal's spiritual substitute, representing his essence.

Altera Santa: Another ruler of the underworld who would never have shown himself if Ereshkigal hadn't been weakened.

Voice: Correct. Ereshkigal is the good Gallû Spirit, and I am the evil one.

Voice: We are both incarnations of the underworld itself. We both represent its future.

Voice: Humans cannot hold gods to their standards of good and evil. There are times when so-called good decisions can kill an entire world.

Voice: Now, come, Ereshkigal. The time has come to fulfill your duty. Kill them, and disappear completely.

Ereshkigal: ...

Fujimaru 1: Ereshkigal...!

Ereshkigal: ...I am not the Ereshkigal you know. I am the Queen of Kur, fallen to disgrace.

Ereshkigal: It is only right for one who has lost their power to vacate their position. ...But before I do, I must make amends for the wrongs I have committed.

Ereshkigal: I have watched your descent through the underworld, mage from a distant land. I will even admit that I enjoyed it.

Ereshkigal: But I cannot forget the ruin and disorder that you have brought to the underworld. Now, I will pass judgment on you myself...!



Voice: Now do you see? You never stood a chance!

Voice: There is no one in the underworld who can hope to defeat Ereshkigal!

Voice: Absurd. You should have seen the futility of your struggle, but you persisted in this ill-conceived venture.

Voice: Just how foolish are you? Is your skull empty of anything but air?

Voice: Then again, humans were originally born from clay. I suppose there was no chance of you being intelligent!

Ereshkigal: ...

Ereshkigal: ...I'm sorry. I apologize for Nergal's harsh remarks.

Ereshkigal: But, I can't blame him for thinking that. Your recklessness defies comprehension.

Ereshkigal: ...I will ask you one more time. Why did you come all this way?

Ereshkigal: To save Chaldea from the Sumerian Fever?

Fujimaru 1: Because...

Fujimaru 1: ...I couldn't give up on you.

Fujimaru 2: I wanted to see you again, Ereshkigal.

Voice: Ahh... So this is what it means to pour salt on a wound. How tragic. It brings tears to my eyes.

Voice: Tears of mirth, you pathetic cretins! You've come all this way only to fail!

Ereshkigal: ...I see.

Ereshkigal: Thank you for trying to help me. I do appreciate that...and I'm sorry.

Ereshkigal: But...there's nothing you, or I, or anyone can do now. I cannot accept your kindness. I have no right.

Ereshkigal: After all, I've already cast it aside myself.

Ereshkigal: I no longer have any precious reason to–

Altera Santa: I have them.

Voice: Hahaha–huh?

Ereshkigal: ...Huh?

Altera Santa: I was waiting for you to mention it. For a while, it looked like it might never happen.

Altera Santa: But you finally mentioned something precious.

Altera Santa: Which means this belongs to you after all. It's not right for me to keep it.

Altera Santa: All right...

Altera Santa: Ho ho ho. Thank you for waiting, children.

Altera Santa: Santa is finally ready to deliver her present.

Altera Santa: Something a certain little sheep entrusted to me...

Altera Santa: The very memories that Ereshkigal discarded.


Voice: You have Ereshkigal's memories!? That can't be! How did you...

Voice: Oh, never mind! Ereshkigal! Kill her! Shut that foolish Heroic Spirit up before she can say another word!

Ereshkigal: Well... Uh... You know, I'm actually really interested to find out–

Voice: Oh, don't give me that now, you fool! You were the one who discarded those memories, remember!?

Voice: Enough of this! Lend me your body! I shall kill her myself!

Fujimaru 1: Oh no...!

Fujimaru 2: Altera Santa...!

???: I can't let you do that. Deliveries must be signed for by their intended recipient.

Altera Santa: Doom Zed... It's you!

Dumuzid: I told you Doomzy sounds better. And to answer your question, I'm the one who recovered Ereshkigal's memories and kept them safe.

Dumuzid: I even threw in the gift wrapping for free.

Voice: You're...Dumuzid, the God of Shepherds!?

Voice: Come to think of it, I haven't seen you around in some time. What have you done now...!?

Dumuzid: I would prefer not to comment. I've never gotten along well with bullheaded boors like you.

Dumuzid: Now then. Beautiful Altera, fluffy Fujimaru.

Dumuzid: You did well to make it this far. I'll take it from here.

Dumuzid: Terrible Ereshkigal!

Ereshkigal: Wh-what!?

Dumuzid: Now is the time to return to your true form. Remember Nergal's Authority? The brilliant light of the sun you once laid claim to?

Dumuzid: Now is the time for you to awaken to the sun's gleaming shine. As they say, no time like the present.

Dumuzid: After all, don't you feel like you could pull that off now?

Dumuzid: If these memories are truly precious to you, you should also start to shine bright.

Dumuzid: Proud goddess of the underworld, there was once a time when you didn't even know what the sun was.

Dumuzid: You knew nothing of the light. You did not know what it was that you admired.

Dumuzid: Baaa. But as you are now, you just might be able to shine.

Ereshkigal: Ah...! Ah, ahhh!

Voice: What have you done, you foul creature!? Her memories are even stronger now than they were before!

Voice: They would have just disappeared if you'd let them be, but you went and reinforced them! How dare you use the water of life for something like this...!

Voice: Dumuzid! Whose side are you on here!? We are both gods of the underworld who have been cruelly mistreated!

Voice: Have you forgotten your humiliation at Ishtar and Ereshkigal's hands!? The anger it aroused!?

Dumuzid: Oh my, this is terrible. Just terrible. I think I'll turn into a serpent and make my escape.

Voice: Dumuziiid!

Ereshkigal: Shut. UUUP! Get out of my body, NOW!

Voice: Wha... Aaah! Nooo! We're being stripped away... This can't be...!

Ereshkigal: Oh yes it can! I'm back to my old self!

Ereshkigal: And this light is nothing less than the heat of the glaring sun! In your honor, I hereby name it this:

Ereshkigal: The Scorching Shrine, Ki Gal Meslamtaea! It shall be the sun of the underworld! It shall be the mark of peace that warms its untamed lands...

Ereshkigal: And, um... As for you, human!

Fujimaru 1: It's been a long time, Ereshkigal.

Ereshkigal: R-really? It hasn't even been a month since all that went down, has it?

Ereshkigal: I-it feels like it happened just yesterday for me, but I guess for you, it feels like it's been way longer!

Fujimaru 2: First things first: thanks, Ereshkigal.

Ereshkigal: ...You're welcome. But you don't have to thank me for anything.

Ereshkigal: I did it because I wanted to. I only helped you for my own sake.

Fujimaru 1: On another note, that spear is pretty boss.

Ereshkigal: I know, right!?

Ereshkigal: I-I mean, that's not important now! Hmph, you really do just say whatever comes to mind, don't you...?

Ereshkigal: Still, I think I've powered up a fair bit since last time!

Ereshkigal: But that's not important right now, either. This is great and all, but there's something I need to handle!

Voice: You... How dare you purge me from yourself... What happened to your responsibilities, Ereshkigal?

Voice: How long will you cling to that unseemly Spirit Origin!?

Voice: Do you plan to leave the underworld behind and be free? Or perhaps to abandon it for a life on the surface?

Voice: How dare you... I forbid it!

Voice: All the hate and rage swirling around forbids it! You WILL disappear, and the underworld will be reborn!

Ereshkigal: Don't get the wrong idea, Nergal! I admit, I'm not giving up this Spirit Origin.

Ereshkigal: But I'm not sticking around for my own sake. I'm sticking around to protect the underworld!

Ereshkigal: Now that I've heard your plans for it, I realize what my real mistake was.

Ereshkigal: It wasn't breaking my oath. It was deciding to let you take over the underworld for me!

Ereshkigal: You don't actually care about the underworld. You just want a place to call your own.

Ereshkigal: A world that exists just to worship and glorify you. No way I'm entrusting my underworld to a god like that!

Ereshkigal: This is a land of tranquility that exists to shelter souls after they die, to protect the longing they still have for their lives!

Ereshkigal: And no one–human, god, or otherwise–gets to threaten that!

Ereshkigal: I am Ereshkigal of the underworld, the Queen of Kur!

Ereshkigal: On my honor, I hereby banish Nergal's residual malice from the my domain! Effective immediately!

Altera Santa: ...All right. Let's do this, Fujimaru.

Altera Santa: I may have delivered the present, but I think I can afford to put in some overtime.

Altera Santa: The best celebrations are those you share with others. Now let's join forces with this goddess and play our victory jingle together!


Nergal's Malice: Gwaaaaaaaaa!!!

Nergal's Malice: Why!? Why is this woman able to use my Authority so well!?

Nergal's Malice: No... Why did I ever give her my Authority!? Does this mean I've forgotten the humiliation I endured? The hatred and resentment I felt in defeat?

Dumuzid: You were the only one fixated on that Authority. But there's hardly any sense pointing that out now.

Dumuzid: You are the malice that was born from your battle with Ereshkigal, so you don't know what happened afterward.

Dumuzid: Nergal was an arrogant god, but that arrogance was tinged with generosity.

Dumuzid: Nergal did not begrudgingly submit to his victor.

Dumuzid: He willingly handed over his Authority to the goddess who defeated him, as a friendly gesture of respect.

Dumuzid: But you never knew that, because you were left behind and forgotten.

Nergal's Malice: That cannot be true... It cannot! I refuse to accept it!

Nergal's Malice: The underworld is a land of suffering, of humiliation! It should be a world ruled by fear and lamentation!

Nergal's Malice: Just like me! That is how I have always been. If the underworld was like that too, then...

Nergal's Malice: ...then both it and I could have remained a part of humanity's mythology forever...!

Dumuzid: I understand how you'd see it that way. But I'm afraid you're the only one who does.

Dumuzid: It's sad when one simply cannot understand, isn't it, Nergal?

Dumuzid: You've been that way since the Age of Gods, which is also why you never had many friends.

Fujimaru 1: ...(Gasp!)

Fujimaru 2: We're back at the top of the abyss!

Ereshkigal: I-I'm impressed you managed to make it back up here on your own. You must be a pretty good swimmer.

Altera Santa: I can't say it was as easy for me... I can't believe I couldn't use my rainbow rail underwater...

Dumuzid: There's only so much sheep can do, you know. If you want to get around the seabed, you should look for a dolphin, or a Heroic Spirit with a submarine.

Ereshkigal: Wait, Dumuzid!? You're really here!?

Ereshkigal: I guess I wasn't seeing things after all... But, why do you look like that?

Ereshkigal: Wait a second... That's the Authority I always wanted, isn't it!? So you stuck me with serpents and gazelles and kept sheep for yourself, huh!?

Dumuzid: It's all about affinity. Serpents and gazelles simply take to you.

Dumuzid: At any rate, we're running out of time faster than a sheep loses its flavor.

Dumuzid: In a few minutes, this descent into the underworld will be over. And with time to spare before Christmas, too!

Dumuzid: Once the date rolls over to December 24, we shall all go back to our own times.

Dumuzid: Chaldea will return to December of 2019, and the underworld will return to December one year prior.

Dumuzid: Of course, the time difference won't matter if you choose to stay here, but if you did...

Dumuzid: Fujimaru would either be stuck in the underworld forever, or emerge to find [♂ himself /♀ herself] much older or much younger.

Ereshkigal: R-really!? Wait, what time is it now... 11:30 p.m.!?

Ereshkigal: That gives us hardly any time at all! We finally have a chance to see each other again, and I don't even know what to say!

Fujimaru 1: It's okay, Ereshkigal.

Fujimaru 2: ...You're right. It's a real shame. But...

Dumuzid: ...I can see from your smile that you know this isn't the end, Fujimaru.

Dumuzid: You're right. This is not goodbye forever. I can see you're very smart.

Dumuzid: True, even after all your hard work, you won't be leaving with a reward from Ereshkigal...

Dumuzid: ...nor will the underworld be throwing a party in your honor. That's just not the sort of place it is.

Dumuzid: But...the bonds you've forged here are greater than anything more earthly.

Ereshkigal: ...You're right. Since I did break my oath, I was planning to give up this avatar and go back to being my old, gloomy self...

Ereshkigal: But if I just said goodbye now, after everything you've done for me, I really would be a failure as a goddess.

Ereshkigal: You saved me. You've more than paid me back. From now on, I can hold my head high...

Ereshkigal: ...and continue to help you as this Spirit Origin...the Ereshkigal you know.

Ereshkigal: Call it a Chaldean bond!

Ereshkigal: I'll do my best to–oh, um, I mean, depending on how your adventure goes, we'll still have plenty of chances to see each other!

Dumuzid: Exactly. Though I'm afraid you will have to wait another year before you can be summoned.

Dumuzid: I'm sure it will be dull and torturous, but at least you will have something to look forward to.

Ereshkigal: I-I know that. I'm a goddess, remember? I'm not gonna go jumping the gun.

Ereshkigal: I can wait here for another year, no problem! ...Although...

Ereshkigal: calling for me and me running to your aid are different things. So, if you ever need help, even if it's not “you” you...

Ereshkigal: ...I promise I'll be there.

Ereshkigal: I'll show up looking super awesome, and be your totally amazing goddess of victory.

Fujimaru 1: I know.

Ereshkigal: Hey... Why're you so confident about that? Now I'm getting kind of nervous...

Ereshkigal: (Don't tell me I'm the type who screws up when it counts? I'll start practicing in front of a mirror every day as soon as I get back to my temple...!)

Fujimaru 2: (Think back and laugh a bit)

Ereshkigal: Wh-what's so funny!? I'm gonna do a great job, okay!?

Ereshkigal: No, wait. Messing up is one thing, but if I embarrass myself as much as Ishtar did...

Ereshkigal: J-just don't give up on me, okay!? And if worse comes to worst, just pretend you didn't see anything...!

Ereshkigal: ...Anyway, we don't need to talk about the future now.

Ereshkigal: ...

Ereshkigal: I really thought I wouldn't mind disappearing. After all, there was something I valued more than myself.

Ereshkigal: ...So I figured, as long as that was safe, it wouldn't matter if I was gone.

Ereshkigal: No... Even if I did disappear, I thought your world would be just fine without me.

Ereshkigal: ...But honestly, I was really anxious.

Ereshkigal: Even if nothing ended up changing, I wasn't sure if those unchanging things would remember me.

Ereshkigal: Which is why...

Ereshkigal: ...I'm so happy you came all the way to the abyss just for me.

Ereshkigal: Thank you...for being you.

Ereshkigal: Thank you for staying true to what you think is right, no matter who you meet or what happens to you.

Ereshkigal: No... No present–no matter how grand or extravagant–could ever make me happier.

Altera Santa: ...What a wonderful smile. That alone made this whole journey worthwhile.

Dumuzid: Right you are. It's embarrassing, even as a sheep. But, it's all part of Christmas.

Dumuzid: Even a young girl who has always had trouble expressing herself gets to experience a little happiness.

Altera Santa: Indeed. ...I know now that Christmas is warm, heartfelt...good civilization.

Altera Santa: Although...there is still one thing I don't understand. What was YOUR objective, Doomzy?

Altera Santa: You hated the underworld just like Nergal did.

Altera Santa: Well...I suppose your grudge should be against Ishtar and Ereshkigal. They're the ones who took your power and your life, after all.

Altera Santa: So why did you help Ereshkigal?

Dumuzid: You misunderstand me, beautiful Altera.

Dumuzid: I am Dumuzid. I don't take sides. Yes, Ereshkigal may have worked me to the bone, and punished me relentlessly...

Dumuzid: ...but I still owe her a debt.

Dumuzid: And, yes, Ishtar made my life hell...but I don't exactly hate her.

Dumuzid: I don't really see a problem with the fact that I once held a, uh, Goddess Downfall Appreciation Sale...

Dumuzid: ...and so I can't really blame Ishtar for making me take her place.

Dumuzid: Yes, I may have experienced great pain, and begged and pleaded for mercy, but I don't bear them any ill will.

Dumuzid: That's just how we gods think. What matters is that it all works out in the end.

Dumuzid: And this turned out very much to my liking. Though it is a shame that I wasn't able to save Nergal.

Altera Santa: I see. I knew I was right to trust you, sheep. I always thought there was something different about you.

Dumuzid: Not at all. I was blessed to find such a wonderful partner. In fact, I think I'm falling in love with you.

Dumuzid: If only you didn't have those marks on your body, we could have “collaborated” in the best sense of the word.

Altera Santa: I see you're just as fickle as your myths made you out to be.

Altera Santa: Tell me then, where does Ereshkigal rank on your scale?

Dumuzid: ... ...Good question.

Dumuzid: Ereshkigal has often lamented how there are no flowers to be found anywhere in the underworld...

Dumuzid: ...but if you ask me, there IS one beautiful flower here. And it's much closer than she realizes.

Dumuzid: ...Now, as lovely as it would be to end on that note, I believe it will soon be tomorrow for us?

Altera Santa: Oh, right! Master! We need to escape from the underworld right away!

Altera Santa: Quick, get on Zerco, before it becomes the 24th! Hurry!

Fujimaru 1: I-I'm hurrying, I'm hurrying!

Fujimaru 2: Well... See you around, Ereshkigal!

Altera Santa: Did you finish saying your goodbyes? Are you certain you have no unfinished business?

Altera Santa: I see. ...Yes, that is a lovely promise. That is exactly how Christmas should be.

Altera Santa: Very well then, hold on tight, Master. We're going to break out of the underworld at Mach speed.

Altera Santa: But before we do that, I have a message for the underworld as well.

Altera Santa: ...I don't know what I was thinking. I've been here all this time, and still haven't said the most important words of the season.

Altera Santa: One could hand out all the presents in the world, and they would still be wasted without these words.

Altera Santa: Would you mind saying them with me? I don't think I'm quite up to it on my own.

Altera Santa: Ho ho ho. Are you ready, Master?

Altera Santa: What is the most important message to spread at this time of year?

Fujimaru 1: What else...?

Fujimaru 1: Merry Christmas!